Monday, April 25, 2011

Ballseye's Gun Shots 131: Glock 26 & Light, Off Center, Primer Hits

The last time I went out to shoot my Glock 26, I noted with just a small amount of dismay that I was getting a misfire about every 10th to 20th round. I examined the pistol with a quick once over and saw nothing wrong, though I knew it was dirty -m very dirty. I am guessing I had fired about 750 or more (probably closer to a thousand) rounds through it, over the course of 2 or 3 range trips, without a cleaning. After taking a look at the Glock 26, I gathered up some of the spent shell casings and gave them the once over. Ah,there was the problem. The primers were being struck by the firing pin off center on the rounds that failed to fire. A closer look and it seemed the hits were also lighter than usual. Being the trained and certified Glock Armorer that I am, I immediately realized that the problem was probably caused by the pistol being as dirty as it was and more specifically that the locking lug was dirty thus preventing the pistol from going perfectly into battery but still enough to operate the trigger and firing pin.

Being that I was at the XXXXXXX County Rifle & Pistol Range, I could not clean it there, then try firing it again to see if that was the problem. They do not allow gun cleaning at the range though I am willing to bet there is someplace in there where it could be done safely. That really did not matter too much, as I recall, I was pretty much out of ammo anyway. So off to home I went and the Glock was cleaned up and put away. That was weeks ago. Last night I gave it another light cleaning in anticipation of going to the range for work today to qualify. I can happily say, the cleaning did the trick. The Glock went into battery perfectly for every shot of the qualification course, all shots fired. I did not check any of the shell casings to determine if they were still being struck off center but am pretty satisfied that the problem has been solved. next time I am at the indoor range I will check the shell casings, there just was not time today during the quals.

If you wind up ever having the same problem, I recommend that you field strip the Glock and do a thorough cleaning. Then take it for a test firing. If the problem has been solved after the cleaning, then things are probably well and good. If not, get it to an armorer for inspection. By the way, this is something that can happen with Glocks such as the Glock 17, 19, 26, 22, 23, 27 and so on. I do not recall if this applies to Glocks of the Gen 4 design or not.

All the best,
Glenn B

Ballseye's Gun Shots 130: Blued Steel Snub-Nosed Revolver - A Real Man's Gun

Average women: moms, housewives, teachers, police women, barmaids, accountants, truck drivers, nurses, old ladies and even most librarians (I can think of one who probably would be the librarian exception) would not stand much of a chance at hitting their targets with one of them. I mean it when I call it a real man's gun because I think a snub-nose revolver in .38 special, or larger caliber, is just too much for most women to handle. What with the heavy double action trigger pull and the whamo effect of the recoil out of that small of a package, you get the picture, cracked fingernails and a ruined manicure at the very least. Oh my goodness, did I just write that for all to see. Yes I did, so if it got your panties all in a wad, get over it because I am not changing a word of it.

Now, getting back to reality, the truth is, it is not only women who have problems with them. Wimpy men (as in girlie-men or sissies), metro-sexuals, and most average Joe's of all types cannot handle one either regardless of profession. So who can handle them? Really huge he-man types can do okay with them. You know the type, those guys with hairy barrel like chests, thickset uni-brows, big burly hands with pudgy sausage like fingers and the strength of Hercules. Sure they can handle them but many of them cannot get their fingers through the trigger guards. Those few who can get their fingers in there are usually able to just about hit the broad side of a barn with one of them. There is one other small group, an elite group at that, who can do well with them - but more on them later. For now, let me point out that thousands of these small revolvers are sold every year and it surely must make one wonder, if all I just said is true regardless of it being said tongue in cheek, then why would anyone buy one of them. I mean, I wold think them pretty stupid to keep on buying them if all the above was true. For some reason though, people keeping do just that - buying snubbies, so tell me - are they being that stupid? I don't think so, at least not if they have made an educated choice.

There has been a lot said about these small revolvers, over the years, that makes them seem like the perfect gun for concealed carry or for home defense. There has also been a lot said about what a poor choice of pistol they are for self defense. Which you choose to believe may determine how you feel about snub-nose revolvers and whether or not you would choose one as a primary, or even a back-up, self defense weapon. It may turn out being a decision on which your life may someday depend, so make it wisely.

Personally, I do not carry one. Not because I am not a manly man mind you. I am no sissy-boy (the classic meaning as in not a wimp and not anything to do with alternate sexual preference though I am not of that ilk either) by a long shot. It is also not so much because of how I shoot with one of them. Heck, I know I used to be able to regularly hit steel man sized torso targets at about 90 yards with one but now that my eyes are not as good as they once were, I am guessing I could still accomplish that at 50 yards and that is good enough for me. Nor is it due to the fact that when shooting them I have torn up my knuckles, the webbing between my thumb and index finger and my both thumbs as the recoil propelled gun metal slammed back into my less than Herculean hands. After all, being a somewhat manly man, I consider it a sort of a rite right of snubby carry to be allowed this honor. It is certainly not due to the fact that they are not easily concealed because if anything, ease of concealment is one of their better qualities, at least with the smaller models. Add to that speed of draw. Not having more than a 2 or 2.5 barrel, means they clear leather (or Kydex if you prefer), pockets, attache cases, handbags and belly bands quite rapidly. If they have a hammer shroud then there is no need to worry about the hammer getting caught up either. Despite that short barrel and their overall small size, they are not wimpy guns. I mean just look at the rounds they fire. Depending on model, they can handle anything from the mid-power level .38 Special to the pretty darned powerful .357 Magnum, to the chest deflating .44 Magnum to the... whatever. Of course, they are also pretty easy to operate so no that is not one of the reasons I do not carry one now.

Now that I think of it, those are most of the reasons that I did carry them back once upon a time when I had the opportunity. One of the other main reasons I carried them is that they often were issued back-up guns for my job. Truth be told though, I have owned at least a few myself. I can think of the Charter Arms .38, and two S&W Model 66s, I have owned, all with snub-nosed barrels. I liked them but will admit I am not that partial to them now.

Why did I change. I much prefer the higher round capacity of the semi-automatic pistols. Being restricted to only 5 or 6 shots (remember I am talking snubbies in .38 or higher caliber, not 22s) makes me feel somewhat unprepared for the type of shootout you usually only see in the movies. Note, I just said usually. The fact is that criminals, and in today's world terrorists, are not lone wolves. That might be enough said, for some, about why to carry a gun that holds more ammo but lest I be anything other than honest allow me to cover all the targets on this one.

The other reason to carry a gun holding more than 5 or 6 rounds is the pucker factor. If you have read my stuff regularly, then you may well know what I mean. If not, then let me explain it this way. The pucker factor is a bodily phenomenon that allows you to keep your pants seat clean when in the face great danger. You know the type of danger am talking about, the kind that literally can scare the shit doody out of you. The thing about the pucker factor is that the higher the stress level the more difficult it is to maintain the necessary amount of force within the sphincter muscle and in trying to maintain it the body can actually begin to sort of convulse with mini spasms or should I say you begin to shake with fear. This can be an impediment to a shooter who is trying to hit his or her target. Then too, loosing control of the pucker factor can also cause a shooter to become concerned with that warm gushy feeling and may lead him or her to worry about something other than shooting accuracy until bullets whizzing by your head bring you back to reality. Control of or loss of control of the pucker factor may cause a shooter to shoot less accurately than say, when shooting at a paper target in a nice climate controlled range during your leisure time. In other words, being scared shitless badly can adversely effect your accuracy and that is something to consider if you are debating carrying a 5 or 6 shot revolver as your primary carry piece. (That all may or may not seem funny to you but truth be told, you should think about things like being extremely scared, shaking from nervousness, crying, an overwhelming feeling of wanting to make it go away, the pucker factor, wetting or dirtying yourself, being wounded and in essence prepare for those possibilities under the extreme duress of combat even if it only lasts a few moments, then think about how to ignore them and/or overcome them. Think about them now, in the comfort of your living room or den. If and when you are fighting for your life, sometimes the best thing to do is to ignore them completely and fight on. Letting them bother you can be all too distracting from the fight for your life that you are facing and such a distraction could get you killed.)

So, there are a lot of things in a real gunfight that can effect accuracy, the pucker factor not the least nor biggest concern among them but a real one. The others could be: moving targets, multiple targets, being nervous, being terrified, being caught off guard or surprised, your heart pounding at super-normal speeds, adrenaline flowing, tunnel vision, your having been wounded and other things that can take a toll on your ability to hit your target. Of course, you may overcome all of those things and hit your target, the bad evil doer who was intent on killing you, with one shot dead center to his chest. Good for you but hey, wait a second, is he still up and attacking? Holy cow, you just fired another 4 or 5 shots into him and he is still coming - is he on drugs or something? Maybe he is. Maybe you need to reload now that you fired all your revolver will spit out. More bullets = more chances. I like the odds with more of them in my gun in the event I might need them and I am or was no slouch in reloading a revolver. I could reload a revolver to capacity faster than about 80 or 85 percent of the other shooters, with whom I shot (on my job) at the range, could reload a semi-auto. Still though, if a bad guy is still presenting a threat, that is not the time I would choose to be reloading so I choose a gun with more bullets in most instances.

There are reasons though, other than round count, to make some folks consider not carrying a snub-nose revolver regardless of their good points. The knuckle and thumb bloodying recoil of the snub-nose revolvers is infamous, at least for smaller models that have small grips on them. Those small grips give less purchase to your hands and thus allow the recoil to cause the snubbies to jump a lot more than would a pistol with larger grips and or less recoil. Snub-nose revolvers, the smaller ones, are usually very light weight. Even all steel models, using regular steel as opposed to something even lighter weight like titanium, are pretty light. Light weight guns tend to recoil more, it is just a fact of physics. Those that recoil more are harder to hold, harder to handle, harder to get back on target quickly. Sure, you can watch an expert fire off 6 shots in the blink of an eye or two but bear in mind the same person could shoot a semi-auto, with less recoil, just as fast or faster. I am talking about the average shooter, and for the average shooter, snubbies are usually harder to handle due to recoil than are many semi-autos of comparable size. Of course their is a difference in caliber between something like a .38 special and a 9mm but not enough to make me want to change from a semi in 9 to a snub-nose in .38.

So why not just use larger grip on the snub-nose. You can do that and I think it helps improve gun handling immensely. In fact, when I used to carry a S&W Model 60 or Model 36 (I carried both for my job) I used Pachmayr grips on them. Leaving in place the tiny little grip panels that came with those guns was asking for trouble as far as I was concerned. Putting on those larger grips took away from concealability somewhat but not enough to be of concern to me. The truth is though, even with larger grips, snubbies are often too much for some shooters to handle because they do not like the recoil and are squeamish about adjusting to it and learning to shoot them well. I am confident though, while most shooters may never like the amount of kick they can inflict, they could learn to shoot them well if they have the right mindset and are instructed properly.

Then there is the sight radius and the sights. The sight radius is basically the distance between the front and rear sight. In general, the longer that distance the easier it is to accurately aim. The shorter the distance, the more difficult to aim. This is one of the reasons that most people would not consider shooting a snub-nose pistol at beyond 10 to 15 yards. Let's face it, the snub-nose revolver was not designed to be a long range firearm, virtually no combat or self defense pistol was designed for such. Pistols are generally meant for close in work. As I explained above, you can reliably hit stationary targets, at a firearms range, at much further distances with a pistol, even a snub-nose, but it takes good shooting skills and lots of practice. While it is easier to shoot at greater distances with a pistol having a 4" barrel, and even easier with ones with 6" and 8" barrels you are giving up concealabilty for accuracy. You need to weigh one against the other when choosing your carry firearm and truth be told, there are enough small frame semi-autos out there with longer sight radii that fit the bill. So remember, if you do choose to carry a snub-nose, you may find yourself in a situation demanding that you use it to defend yourself at longer than desirable distances for a snub-nose. That is another thing to consider before carrying one as a primary defensive firearm.

While you may never overcome not liking the amount of kick these little revolvers can pack, you almost always can overcome it and adjust to them enough to shoot them well. Some people just do not want to be bothered with learning how to shoot them well by overcoming the recoil, grip size and sight radius, and some will seemingly never learn how to reload them fast enough for most situations that require a reload. For those people - snubbies are a poor choice of carry gun. For those who still are considering them, let me cover a few more of the positives and negatives about them.

As I already mentioned above, some folks consider revolvers easy to operate, at least when it comes to shooting them. basically you get a grip, aim or point and squeeze the trigger. That is pretty much what you do with a semi-auto too. The thing that is different is this, if the semi auto has a loaded magazine but not a loaded chamber, then no matter how many times you squeeze the trigger, without first loading one into the chamber, the gun will not go off. With a revolver, if the chamber that first aligns itself with the forcing cone or breech end of the barrel is empty, all you need to do is to keep pulling the trigger until one that is loaded falls in line with the barrel. Of course if it is not loaded at all - shame on you but that goes for both a semi-auto and a revolver. While it may seem like a no brainer to have your carry gun loaded and ready, look at it this way. You are in a gun fight, you need to reload because the bad guy is still shooting and your gun has gone empty. You throw a mag into your semi auto and action the slide but your hands are sweaty and you do not realize it never is drawn fully back, never strips a bullet from the mag to load it into the chamber and you go to fire because the bad guy is almost on top of you. Click, click, tap, rack, reassess, reengage, fire as necessary - oh no did you run out of time - did he get you. With the revolver, under the same circumstances, you come up empty, you go to reload, you are sweaty and nervous and you only get a round or two into the cylinder and drop all the others. What to do, the bad guy is almost at point blank range, you close the cylinder, reassess as you come back on target and click, click, click, bang, bang, click and if you were very lucky the bad guy falls at your feet. It usually takes longer to do the tap, rack, reengage than it does the click, click, click bang. Yes, I know, depending on how each situation unfolds, it can happen that a semi-auto is a better choice in a self defense incident, by speed of reloading and by how many rounds it can hold. I am just giving you some points to consider.

One other set of points and I will leave it at that. These will do with inherent reliability of function in both semi-autos and revolvers. For years many have claimed that the revolver is inherently much more likely to function properly than is a semi-automatic pistol. I have been shooting both, with some frequency, for over 31 years now. I was a firearms instructor for 14 of those years. I have seen a lot of people fire both. I can say without a doubt that I do not know if one is inherently more reliable than the other. Revolvers are probably somewhat more reliable when speaking about getting them to shoot. That is when you consider shooter error in the equation. It is a bit more difficult to screw up when shooting a revolver in as much as getting it to fire goes. Note, I am not talking about getting it to fire accurately, just making it go bang. A semi-auto is probably a bit more likely to fail to fire due to shooter error than is a revolver.

If, however, a semi-automatic fails due to shooter error, ammo defect, or mechanical problem, the shooter is, based on my experience, much more likely to be able to overcome the problem with the semi-auto than would be the case with a revolver that fails for similar reasons. Many people cannot even envision a revolver failing during combat unless it is something like a spring breaking. That would probably be catastrophic with either style of pistol. There are other ways in which revolvers fail and they are much more commonplace than some folks think. I have seen bullets caught under the star extractor, unburned powder under the star extractor not allowing the cylinder to be closed, the cylinder going out of time when shooting, the cylinder falling out of a revolver while firing and other problems. Sure, bad things can also happen to a semi auto but if you have ever tried to get a bullet out from under the star extractor you probably realize the gun is good as little more than a paperweight or small club at that point in a gun fight. In addition, it is usually much easier to properly maintain a semi-automatic pistol than it is to maintain a revolver. The secret here though should be no secret. Buy high quality firearms, maintain them well, use proper high quality ammo and the handgun, whether revolver or semi-auto, hopefully will last a lifetime without such problems - just remember shit bad stuff happens so take that into your considerations as well.

All in all, I am not trying to sell you one way or the other here. I am not telling you one is definitely better than the other. I am not saying, that because I now choose one over the other, so too should you choose likewise. I am giving you some considerations so as to make you able to make a more intelligent decision about which to choose. If you are considering carrying a snub-nose revolver as a primary or secondary firearm, then why not go to a range and shoot one before buying. You may also want to consider getting some good training too. I do not mean from Uncle Joe, or Aunt Mitzi, or your buddy Bubba from work, or from your local library or the Internet but rather from someone who has some credentials to be a handgun instructor and who is well experienced with giving firearms instruction with the type of weapon you have under consideration. One of the best ways to find qualified instructors is by way of the NRA. They have been training firearms instructors, who go on then train others in the basic and advanced use of firearms, for many a year now. In other words, don't go off half cocked - get your facts together, learn the pros and cons of each type handgun, and when you decide on one over the other, get some training in how to use it safely and properly - and definitely know how to shoot it safely before you ever attempt to do so. If you choose a snub-nose revolver - good for you - you are among a smaller group. If you learn to shoot them well, you are among a group smaller still but certainly also among an elite group in the shooting world, that of they who carry and shoot well with a Real Man's Gun. ;)

Now, that I've written all that, I've got to go clean my Glock 26. Later 4 U.

All the best,
Glenn B