Monthly Archives: March 2023

Target Shooting and Unrealistic Expectations

A friend sent me this photo today. He was shooting a Glock 21 .45 ACP standing-unsupported at 25 yards and commented he needed to work on this. Yes he does; we all need to work on getting good hits and it’s a never-ending process. But as I told him, if you aren’t a bullseye competition shooter this is a perfectly respectable target.

It’s difficult if not impossible to train too much, and a good variety of training, different drills etc. is important. But basic putting-holes-in-the-paper skill matters and is often the easiest way for a lot of us to get some practice in.

The conventional wisdom is that under extreme duress your group-size will increase by 75%, and as a rule of thumb this isn’t totally invalid. Anecdotal evidence has shown that if you shoot some form of action-pistol shooting competition your group may expand less, maybe dramatically less. This is because you are used to functioning with your pistol under duress; maybe not as stressful as a lethal-force incident but having some familiarity with shooting under stress seems to be very helpful. Personally I typically shot better in matches than I did at a less structured shooting session.

If this was in competition this target would be appallingly bad. For rapid-fire with a snubby I’m not unhappy at all. It’s all relative.

Target practice allows you to focus on the essentials- sight-picture, trigger-control, breathing etc. You will fight as you train, so training all of these things to the point they are automatic will stand you in good stead if the excrement hits the rotary impeller.

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth I trained to pick up the front sight as I raised the gun to eye-level. Thousands of reps with my duty pistol, somewhat less with my back-up/off-duty gun. On a couple of particularly high pucker-factor occasions I realized I had drawn my weapon when the sight picture intruded into my field of view. My body did what I trained to do while my mind was busy with things like situational awareness and keeping track of the other participants.

Same principle applies to simple target-shooting. If you’re trained to do it right then under stress you’re more apt do it right, or at least right enough. Yes, of course target shooting alone is not comprehensive training but it is a useful part of comprehensive training. Also shooting at different distances should not be neglected. The odds that you will need to engage someone at 25 yards in a civilian self-defense shooting are incredibly small. But if you can hit at 25 yards you can hit at 7-yards and closer.

25 yards with a mouse-gun? You might be surprised. If this were center-torso I reckon this would be downright discouraging.

One thing I hear a lot of is, “It’s just for table-top distances.” In most civilian self-defense shootings that’ll do, but if you don’t practice you may well find yourself missing at tabletop distance. It’s happened, and more than you might think.

I don’t recommend tiny .22 or .25 ACP guns for self-defense, but in some environments it might be the best you can do. The thing is the smaller and weaker the caliber the better you need to be with it too make it work. You need to practice and you need to shoot the gun at targets to build basic skills. This is true whether your tiny gun is your great-grandpa’s Colt Vest-Pocket .25 or a brand-spanking new Ruger LCP.

We are always saying ‘and gun is better than no gun.’ Similarly any useful training is better than no training. If the best you can do is dry-fire, manual-of-arms and target shooting do that. If you can run drills do that. If you can shoot competitively do that too, and don’t let some Neo-Fudd tell you it’s useless because you can’t afford to do every tactical shooting course under the sun on a constant basis. We can’t all be ‘lifestyle shooters’ and we don’t need to be.

25-yards, and you can bet I can’t do that every single time!

One thing to remember: a target is a snapshot in time, and we all have good and bad days. If you have a bad day at the range, or the class, match or whatever just remind yourself of this and soldier on. It’s all a learning experience and skill is an ongoing process, not a destination.

Stay safe and take care,

Michael Tinker Pearce, 25 March 2023

.380 ACP with 95gr. Cast-and-Coated Bullets

“Optimized for Secret Agents.” Hey, I’m just reading what’s on the box!

No, I don’t know how these bullets are optimized for secret agents. I suspect someone at Missouri Bullet Company has a sense of humor and doesn’t know James Bond’s PPK was a .32 ACP.

I’m waiting for a tool to arrive to replace the one tool in my shop I pretty much can’t do anything without, and I was recently given a box of 1000 of these 95gr. bullets so it seemed like a good time to try these out. They look good and are very consistent in weight and diameter as you might expect from this company, with a black coating designed to reduce leading.

I could not find load data among my usual trusted sources for a 95gr. cast bullet, so I pored over other loads for a while and settled in 3.8gr. of Unique. I have Magtech no.1-1/2 small pistol primers and used those. The average of five shots from a 2-3/4″ barrel was 800 fps. on the nose, with an extreme spread of 82 fps.

These bullets are at 18 Brinell hardness which is pretty hard, and between that, the coating and the appropriate velocity I have no concerns about leading. All loads cycled the gun properly, but Linda’s Sig P-238 needed to re-strike the Magtech primers on three occasions. I have noted that these primers are unusually hard, and several of our guns have issues with them. *shrug*

So looks like a useful and reasonable target load. I’ll add it to the Reloads page.

Stay safe and take care,

Michael Tinker Pearce, 20 March 2023

I’m Not a Fudd, But I Sometimes Play One in Real Life

I know, this isn’t ‘Tinker Talks Cars,’ but bear with me here.

I like old cars. They have history, character and sometimes represent a seminal change in the industry. They can be a functional and useful piece of rolling history. But, and this is a big one, modern cars are better by any and every objective standard.

The cars that many people of my generation revere were less safe, less reliable and less durable than modern cars. The cars I grew up with almost universally had bad brakes, horrible gas mileage and despite being made out of steel instead of ‘recycled beer cans’ were flimsier than modern cars. Yes, if you took exceptional care of them and got a car built on Wednesday they could last a long time. But they required constant maintenance to stay on the road. Rebuilding the heads was ‘maintenance’ and rebuilding the engine at 50-80K miles was not unusual. While they often wafted down the road like a magic carpet they handled like a bowl of pudding on wet linoleum. Oh, and if you wafted down the road for an extended period of time you were likely to have a sore-butt and a stiff back when you stopped. YMMV.

My old Afa Romeo. It was a great car, but not a very good car.

Still, I have some affection for these cars and not all cars were created equal; there were exceptions that proved the rules. Sometimes a particular car, while sharing the general faults of its age-mates, has a particular feature that appeals to us and makes the inconvenience worthwhile. For a number of years my daily driver was a 1974 Alfa Romeo 2000 Spider. While it’s performance limits were lower than its modern equivalents it’s exceptionally tactile driving experience and heavenly engine noises made up for that. Got non-tragic mileage too, which is a plus.

But it was expensive to keep working. While it had more utility than you might imagine it was not great in that department and if I ever got in a serious accident I was dead. We don’t often think of it but driving is a life-or-death activity and accepting that increased risk of death for intangible benefits was not an entirely rational decision. Eventually it just got too expensive to keep on the road and we sadly parted with it.

The average car of today gets several times the gas mileage, stops from 60 mph is 1/3 to 1/2 the distance, can go around corners faster and you are enormously more likely to survive an accident. Rebuild the engine at 50-60K miles? Dude, your first tune-up is at 100K! Yes, you still need to change the oil after a few thousand miles; some things don’t change.

No, cars were not better in the good old days, we just had a crappy standard for comparison. Oh, and when they were new they did not have ‘more character,’ they were just what cars were like then. The ‘character’ thing comes from their relative rarity and our memories of them.

You see where I am going with this. A 1968 Mustang is cool and it will still get you from Point A to Point B, but seriously it’s not going to do so as well, as fast, as safely, as reliably or efficiently as a 2023 Ford Mustang.

I know, that’s not why one would choose to drive the ’68 Mustang over the ’23 Mustang. You drive the classic because it’s cool and you feel good doing it. But if someone t-bones you I guarantee you will miss the side-impact beams and airbags of the newer car. If you are alive to do so.

You see where I am going with this, right?

If I am hosting a gun-related social event or am attending a certain sort of barbecue I am going to pack a cool gun over a practical one. Risk is low, the gun is still likely to do anything I actually need and I’ll have plenty of back-up. I can afford the potential or actual lesser practicality of the cooler gun. But day-to-day, in less controlled and predictable environments another choice might be prudent.

No, this does not mean I need to always have a Glock 19 and two 20-round magazines on my person, but a modern and sensible option generally speaking seems like a good idea.

I’m human and sometimes I just can’t be bothered. For some time if I was running out to the local convenience store for a pack of smokes and a Maple Bar for the wife I’d toss and Airweight Chief’s Special in one pocket and a speed-loader in the other and call it good. This wasn’t stupid; having lived in the neighborhood and patronized that store for almost 25 years I have a decent handle on the level and type of threat that’s likely. I didn’t do this because the gun was cool, for nostalgia or to feel good. I did it because it was probably adequate, its was handy and I was lazy. So what changed?

Not the store. Not the neighborhood. Not the perceived threats. No, the thing that changed was I got an option that is more likely to be adequate and is just as handy and easy. I get to keep being lazy but be better equipped while doing so.

If you’re interested that’s the Taurus G2S from the $200 challenge, which has yet to have a malfunction and is surprisingly shootable. It’s also very flat, not too heavy and drops nicely to a pants-pocket for a five-minute jaunt in a low-threat scenario, and it is undeniably more capable than the old S&W in almost every way.

If you’ve been paying attention at all you know I absolutely love old guns. I also love doughnuts and while they have their time and place they are not a valid staple for one’s diet. My go-to EDC is a modern pistol, and while I may change that in the near-future to an older style of gun it possesses modern features and significantly enhanced capability.

Just some food for thought on a Sunday morning.

Stay safe and take care,

Michael Tinker Pearce, 12 March 2023