Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The last handgun in the state

I bought my last handgun Saturday. With the upcoming October first implementation of the new firearm laws, this is the final pistol I will be buying while I live in this state. I don’t mind the background check. The 7 day waiting period is tolerable. But the requirement to get fingerprinted and obtain a special license to buy handguns after October first is too much. I’m not a criminal. It is deeply offensive to be forced to go to a police station, have my prints taken, pay a registration fee, and then still wait 7 days for the State to decide it’s OK for me to have a firearm. From my perspective it’s the difference between a few inconveniences that *might* protect public safety and starting off the process as a second class citizen. I recently sold my magic collection. That sale left us with enough working money to pay down some debt, get the brunette her first rifle and handgun, and finance my most recent acquisition. Deciding to sell the magic cards was a difficult choice. I collected MTG for over a decade. Unfortunately, my chances to play have gradually decreased. I put years of effort into building decks, selecting good cards, and learning the game. Magic cards don’t generally decrease in value; so unlike many of my extracurricular interests, the resale potential of my collection had steadily increased. In the end it came down to the fact that I had things to do with the money the sale would generate. There wasn’t much chance that I’d get to play more than once or twice a year in the foreseeable future. So off to the auction block the cardstock went. That left me with the problem of deciding what handgun to buy. My collection consisted of 3revolvers and two semiautomatics variously chambered in .22lr, .38 special, .32acp, and .45acp. I wanted something in wood and steel. I would have preferred something produced by Colt or designed by John Moses Browning. I unsuccessfully searched for a reasonably priced Colt python or Dan Wesson bobtail commander. I hunted for a Colt trooper, delta elite, or browning high-power to no avail. I spent way too much time researching pistol caliber carbine and reciprocal handgun combinations. After several responses of “no we don’t have that either” I finally came across a product called a mech-tec CCU. The mech-tec is a conversion unit that replaces the slide and barrel on a 1911, turning the handgun into a pistol caliber carbine. Prices range from $300 for the basic model to upwards of $600 for one of the loaded models. That was a eureka moment. I’ve been looking for a marlin camp45 for several years. The CCU was almost as good as the classic marlin brush gun, has the potential to share magazines with my colt, and let me tweak another handgun. It remained only to decide which one. I own a tricked out colt goldcup trophy match; so I wasn’t looking for a competition or range piece. Knowing that I would be using it as a conversion platform for the CCU, I started looking for 1911s that I wouldn’t have to modify much beyond a grip replacement. During this process I got fed up with my normal range’s consignment and resale practice. I’ll go into that some other time, but suffice it to say that I didn’t feel like throwing more business their way. One thing lead to another and a week ago I ended up at Duffy’s guns, picking through their 1911s. I wanted a commander length, preferably with a bobtail grip. They didn’t have one. I was interested in a 10mm or .38 super chambering, but they didn’t have one of those either. I narrowed the choices down to a S.T.I. sparton, a Remington R-1, and a Magnum Research 1911G. The S.T.I. has a great street rep, but felt sort of sloppy in my hand, so the Spartan got cut. The Remington R-1 is a classic, blued 1911 in the traditional style. It felt slim and balanced well. The trigger break was excellent and the action was very crisp. The contender and ultimate champ was the Magnum Research though. The desert eagle 1911g is a government frame, 5 inch barreled, feature packed 1911 that feels perfect to the hand. It features: • Skeletonized hammer and trigger. • Beavertail grip safety. • Extended thumb safety. • Adjustable dovetail sights. • Checkered mainspring housing. • Mat-black finish. • Checkered walnut grips. • Two eight round magazines with extended base plates. Picking a handgun for me is all about matching comfort to function. Guns are projects, works of art, tools, and investments. The desert eagle was the only 1911 that checked every box. • The controls are set up for a minimalist footprint, perfect for use with a holster or carbine conversion. • I found 0 bad reviews of this gun. • The manufacturer has a great reputation. • The price is reasonable given the features, intended use, and projected modifications. • The gun balances well with a variety of grips and stances. • The total package is something I can be proud of. That last is the most important component. I’ve bought and sold a lot of guns over the past four years. Some fell out of favor as my tastes changed. Others simply didn’t live up to their reputation. Some proved economically unviable on the fun-to-expense scale. Mostly though, the ones that were sold became ugly ducklings in my eyes. I can’t afford to have a gun just sitting around that never gets shot and has no purpose. After a few impulse purchases gone bad, I’ve learned to research extensively before buying. I want each of my guns to be uniquely mine. I spend as much time researching upgrades and accessories as I do reviewing the gun in the first place. The 1911g is slated for a full scoped CCU unit, custom grips from gungrips.net, refinished exterior in Robar’s roguard black satin finish with NP3+ internals, and a trip to crusader weaponry for their slipstream treatment. Sunday the brunette and I went to the range with friends to try out her new ATI 1911, my repaired colt 1903, and my Anschutz 1400. I just got the colt back from Robar after they did a complete NP3+ treatment, inside and out. The action had been mushy and a bit ruff before the makeover. Now you can’t even feel the slide moving. To put this in perspective, of my first 5 shots, 3 hit the bulls eye and the other 2 hit the 9 on a standard 208 target. The only reason it wasn’t all 5 on the X was because my spotter readjusted my aim after the third shot when she couldn’t figure out where the other two rounds had gone. That little project was definitely worth the wait. While I was doing that, the brunette got to try out her newly cleared ATI 1911. Breaking in a new gun can be challenging. If you read articles by professional gun reviewers, it often seems as if every gun they get comes to them with a flawless mechanism. For most of us it doesn’t work like that. Right off the bat, the gun refused to chamber a second .45acp round. After several cycles of dropping the mag, clearing the action, reloading the mag, and rechambering, we determined that the issue was the magazine and not the gun. I replaced the factory magazine with a colt 8 rounder from my range bag. After that we experienced 0 problems shooting through the rest of the box. I blame myself for that issue. The ATI is a solid entry level 1911. It ranks above the Charles Daily, Rock Island armory, and Torus for quality, but it’s still an entry level 1911. I should have loaded the magazines and let them sit for a week or two so as to break in the springs, followed by 200-500 rounds of break in on the gun itself. Firearms and handguns in particular have a lot of moving parts, springs, levers, and such. Good custom guns come pre-broken in by a master smith. For the average pistol though there’s a period in which all the components develop a rhythm and find a happy medium. You’re going to get some issues until that period is over. In any semiautomatic pistol the biggest weak point is the magazine. If the cartridge isn’t presented to the action at the correct angle with the right amount of upward spring pressure, the round will jam every time. Good 1911 magazines run $30ish a piece and are worth every penny. Under a certain price point it’s unfair to expect the manufacturer to provide a quality magazine, nice if they do, but still unfair to expect it. I’ve started breaking these ones in and in a few weeks we’ll know if they are just stiff or actually poor quality. The surprise for the session came when the brunette decided that she didn’t like the recoil of the ATI. Specifically, it didn’t have enough of a distinct recoil sensation for her. One has to understand here that the 1911 government pistol shooting .45acp pills is a substantial pistol with significant if manageable recoil. I’ve never, not once, heard anyone say that they wanted more recoil than JMB’s masterpiece can provide till then. We’re going to have to find something else for her. She’s taken to the ruger Blackhawk so maybe we’ll look at one in .45lc or maybe a super redhawk in .454casul. I’ve given up trying to figure her preferences out. We’ll try a .44 magnum the next time we hit the range and see where that goes.

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