Monthly Archives: July 2017

Range Report for 6 July 17

My friend Don came by for a little show-and-tell, some coffee and a range-trip. Got to try something new- the Advantage Tactical Sight. This stock photo will explain it better than I can:


S&W M&P with sight picture

It’s pretty simple- put the point of the pyramid where you want the bullet to go. Don had just gotten this installed on a Sig P320 .45 and it was the first time either of us had tried it. It works, and I can see that with practice it would be a fast sight. My first group was dead at point of aim and reasonably tight at seven yards. I’m generally pretty skeptical of new-fangled sights, but I think this one shows real promise; fast, easy to use and intuitive. I like it.

The Sig P320 .35 was a pleasure to shoot- the grip had an excellent ergonomic shape and the trigger was decent. Recoil with WW 230gr. FMC White Box range ammo was pleasant. Unsurprisingly it’s a very nice, good-shooting gun.

As usual there were things to test- The S&W m1903 .32 Hand Ejector and my first reloads of .32 S&W long, the repair of the Helwan and the Beretta 1951 Egyptian Contract, and a new, heavier load in .355/19R.

First was the S&W m1903. It has some minor issues, but accuracy isn’t one of them. Despite the tiny sights tight groups weren’t difficult at seven yards but the gun manifested an odd issue- occasionally you’d pull the trigger and the cylinder wouldn’t budge until you jiggled it. Some of the cartridges exhibited a build-up of lube on the bullet and were seating a few thousandths short. Pressing the rounds firmly into the cylinder largely solved this. I was unable to replicate this problem dry-firing or with expended cartridges. By the end of 100 rounds or so this problem had basically disappeared. Examination of fired cartridges did not show any primer-bulges or other issues. Bit of a mystery.

The load used was a 96gr. LRNFP over 2.7gr. of Unique with a CCI Small Pistol Primer. While these loads displayed good accuracy- not much of a trick at seven yards, really- they did not seem to do a good, consistent job burning the powder. There were a lot of un-burned powder flakes and while there weren’t any true squibs the sound of the shots varied- through my sound-cancelling headphones some would ‘bang’ and others it was more of a ‘PFHOT’ sound. I’d been advised that small charges don’t always work well with Unique in this cartridge unless using deep-seated wadcutters. Loads of 3.3 gr. were suggested for this bullet but I was being perhaps too cautious. I will try a moderately heavier load next time.

The gun is a pleasure to shoot; the trigger-pull is quite nice and the grips, while small, work well with the addition of a T-grip style adapter. The sights are tiny but the gun shoots to point of aim. The only other note is that the cylinder-gap seems a touch large on this gun; I may take steps to remedy that but I’m going to leave it as-is for the moment.

.355/19R- my version of 9mm Rimmed based on .38 Special brass

The next item for testing was the new .355/17R load. these retained the 155gr. TMJ-RN of the previous load. Everything was the same except the powder charge, which was 4.5 gr. of Unique rather then 3.5gr. in the previous load. As you would expect there was noticeably more recoil, but it was by no means unpleasant. A bit like shooting target wadcutters from a 4″ .38. Accuracy was identical to the previous load, producing nice tight groups at seven yards- certainly acceptable from a 1-3/4″ barrel DAO revolver like the Taurus m905. From a 4″ gun this might make a very nice small-game load; enough punch without tearing things up excessively.

Up next were the m1951s- a Helwan and a Beretta Egyptian Contract gun. The Helwan had suffered from peened lugs on the locking block- totally my fault. I disregarded the advice to avoid +P ammunition in these guns, and five shots was all it took. I repaired the locking block and over the afternoon fired about 75 rounds through the gun. Works a treat and is back to being as sweet-shooting as ever. Firing the Beretta was more of the same- accurate, reliable and sweet-shooting. The larger sights of this gun were nice, but didn’t provide any notable improvement in accuracy or target acquisition; the smaller stock sights of the Helwan are quite adequate, which is undoubtedly the reason Maadi didn’t bother with the larger sights when they began production.

All the 9mm was my standard reloaded ammo- a 115gr. TMJ-RN on 5.3gr. of Unique with a CCI primer.

Not much to show in the way of targets; Don and I were sharing them and they filled up with holes rather quickly…

A highlight of the afternoon was the fellow the next lane was shooting a 6″ Python; beautiful gun. He offered to let me run a cylinder through it and it was about what you’d expect- excellent. The heavy barrel tamed the .357 loads nicely and the trigger was exquisite. Wonderful gun, though in truth I think I preferred the 4″ gun my partner carried back in the day.

It was great shooting with Don, and I had a good time with the show-and-tell and visiting.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 7 July 17

Reasonable Fear

I just watched some video footage from a smoke-shop in Nevada. The store clerk was behind a counter at the rear of the store. Two middle-school aged boys rushed in the front door and began grabbing items off the shelves. The clerk instantly drew a semi-automatic pistol and shot one of the boys seven times from a distance that appears to be 25-30 feet away.  The other fled suspect fled.  He then called the police, reported that he had been robbed and, in fear for his life, had shot one of the robbers.  He is now up on charges for murder, and on the strength of the store’s video footage he is likely to be convicted of homicide, if not 2nd Degree Murder.

Damn right I am going to ‘Monday-Morning Quarterback’ this one.

‘But Tinker,’ I hear you cry, ‘The man feared for his life!’ I seriously question this; events moved so quickly I don’t think there was time for fear; he drew and fired immediately. No challenge, no demands for surrender. The gun came out and he opened fire. It’s irrelevant anyway; the standard for the use of lethal force in Nevada (and most places) is that you must have a reasonable fear of imminent death or grave bodily injury to yourself or another innocent. Even if the clerk did fear for his life his fear was not reasonable. Why?

First and foremost neither suspect was displaying a weapon.

The suspects moved straight to the shelves and began grabbing merchandise , offering no direct threat. Were they, perhaps, going to assault him with their armloads of loot? Or were they going to bolt right back out the door, as is usual in snatch-and-grab theft?

The shooter had time to assess the situation. He was behind a counter 25-30 feet away, and could move freely to his left or through the open door to his immediate right, giving himself more time to make an accurate assessment of the situation. He did not take that time, but instead opened fire as soon as he had a shot. He did not issue a challenge.

Now a child is dead and a citizen, whom for all I know is a decent person, will spend several years in prison. Not only will he lose his right to bear arms and bear the stigma of a convicted murderer, he will have to live with the knowledge that he killed a kid when he didn’t need to.

Now the clerk might have been justified in drawing a weapon while he evaluated the situation; startled by the abrupt and fast entry of the thieves it would arguably not be out of line.  But he did not evaluate the situation. He opened fire and now life as he knew it is over.

I cannot say what he felt in the moment. Maybe he was terrified of being pelted with random merchandise. But whatever he felt in that moment it was inarguably not a ‘reasonable fear.’ Perhaps he panicked. Perhaps he had enough and resolved to make the next thief pay. Most of us are not aching to shoot someone, but we cannot know.

I suppose I’m being rather hard on this fellow. After all it’s not as if he shot an unarmed child with his arms full from twenty-five feet away. Seven times. Oh wait, yes he did.

I am a strong proponent of self-defense. I generally have no sympathy for criminals. I generally feel that they get what they deserve. If that child had a knife in his hand and blood in his eye I’d be saying, ‘Yay team!’ But he did not. He had an armful of things that weren’t his that he barely had time to grab before he came under fire. He deserved to be apprehended and prosecuted and to pay for his crime. Instead he was killed.

Reasonable fear of imminent death or grave bodily harm to ourselves or another innocent. That is the nearly universal standard in this country, and it is a moral and ethical rule. But it’s a line in the sand- the line between justifiable self-defense and prison. Between a life ruined and another ended. Over maybe as much as $100 worth of merchandise.

If you are going to carry a weapon you need to educate yourself as to what constitutes a reasonable threat. Research this, take classes, read books, watch videos- think about it. Be mentally prepared not just to shoot- but to not shoot. This is- literally- life and death. There is no margin for error.

You have a right to defend yourself- but there is no right that does not carry responsibility with it.

Michael Tinker Pearce 4 July 2017

Egyptian-Italian Shooters

Two m1951s- a Beretta and a Maadi, both from Egypt. The lower gun is an Italian-made Beretta M1951 Series 2 Egyptian Contract gun. The Egyptians were interested in the M1951 but requested a number of changes; a slightly longer barrel, a simplified grip, larger sights and a heel-magazine release.You can also see the Egyptian crest on the slide. 50,000 of these were made for them in this form; this is a relatively early gun with an EC3000-series serial number and the slide is marked ‘1955.’  Mechanically this gun is smooth as butter despite it’s hard-used cosmetics. It also has no importer or import marks; one wonders exactly how it got here…

After that contract was completed the Egyptian arms manufacturer Maadi licensed the design and bought tooling from Beretta to do their own production version, the Helwan. Strangely the Helwan did not include any of the modifications requested on the Egyptian Contract guns- it used the shorter barrel, smaller sights and magazine release from the standard m1951. The grip is unique to the Helwan, but mimics the shape of the Italian production M1951s. This particular gun was a commercial gun imported by Interarms, probably in the 1980s.

The M1951 is a design based on the Walther P-38, and uses a very similar tilting locking block under the barrel. It is a single-action auto, and the unconventional cross-bolt safety looks awkward, but is actually very easy to remove with the ball of one’s thumb. These guns feature an 8-round single-stack magazine. They are the immediate ancestor of the Model 92 and all of it’s descendants.

These guns attained a reputation for infallible reliability in the desert, and variations of the M1951 were used by a number of middle-eastern nations including Israel, Tunisia and others. The Iraqis produced their own licensed version.

While the Italian guns will tolerate a limited amount of high-pressure rounds their middle eastern counterparts will not; the materials and heat-treatment are inferior to the European product. This Helwan required repair after a single magazine of +P ammunition.

Helwans can usually be bought for $200-$300 dollars, with the military-marked guns fetching a premium as they are reputed to be of higher quality.

An M1951 in decent condition will run considerably more- if you can find one. They were imported to America for a short time, but the high-capacity Model 92 was introduced in the same period and totally eclipsed it’s older sibling.

The gun became famous for a time as one of Mack Bolan’s guns in ‘The Executioner’ series of novels, and over the course of dozens of books he used it to dispatch enough Mafiosos to populate a small city.

These are rather flat guns, easy to carry, accurate and comfortable to shoot. The Helwans can be a great bargain- or a dreadful mistake- as quality can vary considerably.


Michael Tinker Pearce, 1 July 17