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Posted by Administrator in : Politics , trackback

Warning: gun talk up ahead.

This May 12th I’ll be 61 years old. To my readers who are a great deal younger, I know this seems ancient, but believe me, it doesn’t seem that way from the inside. When you’re looking out at the universe with eyes the age of mine (and it’ll happen to you so soon it’ll make your head spin), it won’t seem ancient to you, either. Everything that you love — pretty girls, steak and lobster, Jameson’s, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” — I love, too. The difference is, I’ve learned to appreciate them more than you can.

But don’t worry, you’ll learn, too.

Most of my best friends and associates (with notable exceptions) are about my age, or ten years older, or ten years younger. I refer to that twenty-year bracket as the “Forty-Something Generation”. That’s because we’re of an age to have grown up alongside the Colt Government Model 1911A1 .45 caliber automatic pistol, designed by Saint John Moses Browning. Most of us have used it much, become very familiar with it, and even regard it with a sort of reverence.

It was not always so. When I was a kid, my dad, a member in good standing of what one might call the “Seventy-Something Generation” (because of the Winchester Model 70 rifles they all seemed to own, and the 700 Remingtons and 77 Rugers made in flattering imitation of that august number) didn’t have handguns. He didn’t have anything against them, mind you. They were regarded by most shooters his age as weak and inaccurate. Dad was also a victim, early on, of some of the most pathetically idiotic self-defense training in human history: pistol fighting as instructed for Strategic Air Command by the 1950s FBI.

Thus the handguns I knew best (from movies and the flickery TV screen) came in pairs. They were often nickel-, silver-, or chrome- plated, heavily engraved, with ivory or mother-of-pearl grips, and held six rounds of a different .45 cartridge than the 1911 used (although it was wisest to load five and let the hammer nose rest on an empty chamber). Another thing about those guns, they were round everywhere: round cylinder, round barrel, round front sight, even a handle that was roundly oval in cross-section. They were round.

By contrast, the G.I. .45 was square — or squarish — everywhere, full of corners, flat surfaces, and right angles, like Dick Tracy’s chin. That struck me, at whatever age I first noticed it, as kind of nifty. The first firearm I ever owned was a good Spanish copy of a Colt pocket pistol (turned out the Spaniards made the “real thing” for Colt, as well). It was squarish all over, just like the big ones.

Starting around 1873, the Army had issued .45 revolvers in that “different” cowboy caliber, and it served them well, although the gun only held six (or five) cartridges and was slow and clumsy to reload. After a bad time in the Philippines with a ridiculously ineffective .38 revolver, they went back to the old .45 “wheelguns” until a new pistol, automatic, could be commissioned. The informal specifications, so it’s said, were that it had to be able to “kill a man and make a horse sick”. Saint John Moses gave them their pistol in the end, along with a cartridge that offered about the same power as the old sixguns, but was shorter because it used more efficient modern powders. The 1911 carried seven in a box magazine in the handle, plus one “up the spout”, in the chamber. No great improvement, there.

The new weapon served very well, with only a few minor changes, from 1911 until the mid-80s (though there was an attempt in the 40s to fill its place with maybe the cutest but puniest rifle ever issued to troops anywhere), when it was replaced with a brand new, ridiculously ineffective “.38″ automatic — the Beretta Model 92F nine millimeter (9mm) pistol. It isn’t the fact that folks keep reinventing the wheel that I mind so much, but that they keep reinventing it with corners.

Saint John Moses’s invention seemed made for practically anything, mostly with big, rugged parts that worked no matter what. Constructed loosely — on purpose — so dirt and mud and dust couldn’t bind it up, it was nevertheless remarkably accurate. Some found it too robust to master, although I’ve trained women and children to handle it well.

If it had any drawbacks, they were range and capacity. Seven plus one doesn’t seem like much to take into battle, and it’s downright abysmal if you have to venture into the jungles spawned by left wing socialism, the shadowy urban realm where trouble comes in packs. In the field (I mean the real field, with sagebrush and prairie grass) the .45′s stubby 230-grain bullet, meant for short-range, last-ditch self-defense, almost seems to fall on the ground at about 75 yards.

Around the time when I was getting interested in the technical aspects of firearms, I ran across a novel by Randall Garrett, called Too Many Magicians, about a detective, Lord D’Arcy, solving murder mysteries in an alternative reality where magic works and has produced a culture that feels as rational and progressive as our own. D’Arcy carried pistols for self-defense, one in an imaginary caliber Garrett christened “.29 Heron”, and another in “.40 McGregor”.

That’s all it took for me. Back then the only serious alternative to .45 ACP (“Automatic Colt Pistol”) that provided longer reach was .357 Magnum — which took you back to a six-shot wheelgun. Or you could have a 9+1 .38 Super Automatic, which I did for quite a while, or a 13+1 Browning P-35 “High Power”, but the former has some inherent accuracy problems, and — although Saint John Moses had designed the latter for an interesting experimental .39 caliber cartridge — the Belgian factory chambered it for the wimpy 9mm.

What the world needed was an autopistol cartridge with the high velocity and (therefore) flat trajectory of .357 or even 9mm, but also possessing the guaranteed horse-sickening knock-down power of the .45. No such cartridge existed in the mid-1960s, so I wrote two or three short stories that I could have called Buffy the Government Slayer, in which Kimberly Bright, a girl hero long before it became trendy, carried a big, powerful .40. Regrettably, those adventures, written about the same time as my Bernie Gruenblum stories, were rejected by every editor I sent them to, and were lost in a flood we had in 1997.

Around the same time, a friend of mine and I began to experiment with an idea we had for a new cartridge. We never got further than a mock-up (cut from a .30 Remington rifle cartridge) into which we planned to load a .40 caliber round-nose, flat-point cast lead bullet meant for the .38/40 Winchester, a cartridge that was, all by itself, more than a century ahead of its time.

Gratifyingly, we were on the right track. Many years later, after Norma introduced the 10mm auto cartridge (actual size: .400″) for the ill-fated Bren Ten pistol, the only way Norma’s baby differed from our mock-up was that it was 1/16 of an inch shorter. I became terribly interested and enthusiastic in 10mm (I still am, in fact) and have had several different weapons that use it. In many ways, it is the best handgun round ever devised. The only one that rivals it — for its general effectiveness and reliability — is another big favorite of mine, .44 Magnum.

If you’re gonna use a revolver, use a frigging revolver.

The 10mm load I prefer is the Winchester SilverTip, a 175-grain bullet travelling at 1290 feet per second, yielding 647 foot pounds of energy and an “Efficacy” (my way of calculating effectiveness, and I have discussed it at length elsewhere) of 81. (By comparison, .45 ACP’s numbers are 230 grains, 850 feet per second, 369 foot pounds, and an Efficacy of 59. .44 Magnum’s are 240 grains, 1180 feet per second, 741 foot pounds, and an Efficacy of 107.)

Unfortunately, the 10mm has drawbacks, too. It can be rough on some of the guns that end up getting chambered for it; I’ve seen it do awful things to Colt’s “Delta Elite”. Without some special measures, the poor old 1911 wasn’t meant to take stress like that. The heavy, big-framed EAA Witness handles it just fine, as does Glock’s big Model 20 in the combat Tupperware line.

Since slide velocity is key in all this, I’d love to try an AMT Javelina — a 1911 with two extra inches of slide and barrel — or the L.A.R. Grizzly 10mm conversion, but I haven’t had the opportunity. The N-frame Smith & Wesson Model 610 revolver is also well suited to 10mm (used with “moon clips”) and very accurate, which is why I prefer it for 100-yard metallic silhouette competition.

Another drawback to 10mm — if you want to classify it as such — is that it’s just too big and powerful for the Waco Baby Killers, otherwise known as the FBI, that “thin gray line” whose sworn duty is to protect us out of every right we have left. They tried the cartridge (in one of Smith & Wesson’s horrible autopistols) and the poor dears just couldn’t take it.

As Gary Larsen put it, “Yoo-hoo! I think I’m getting a blister!”

Their “solution” was to persuade some of the ammunition companies to produce a special government load that (using my Efficacy numbers) was 25% less powerful than the original, and therefore a great deal easier to shoot, although it cancelled out most of the new cartridge’s advantages. Same theory as the M-16, I guess: if the boys and girls in sillyflage can’t handle a real rifle, give them a .22.

With 10mm, however, It turned out to be “a serendipitous exercise in unintended consequences”: before long, some genius realized they could load a much shorter cartridge that still met FBI specs, but would also fit the frames and magazines of weapons that had been designed for 9mm. The happy result was called “.40 Smith & Wesson” — which I have long referred to as “.40 Liberty” because of a dirty deal the company was persuaded to sign with Waco Willy Clinton. The factory load I like best — Winchester SilverTips again — drives a 155-grain bullet at 1205 feet per second, delivering 500 foot pounds even, for an Efficacy of 63.

This means that, along with .357 Magnum, .40 Liberty is the full equivalent of .45 ACP for self-defense. .45 gets there with a big, heavy, slow-travelling bullet. .357 gets it done with a small, light, very fast-moving slug. .40 splits the difference almost exactly.

As Mr. Spock would say, “Fascinating.”

I have a big bulletin board in my office covered in overlapping blue and red ribbons — from Handgun Metallic Silhouette competition — that prove the .40 has the same long reach and potential accuracy (at least in a revolver) that .357 is famous for. Although it isn’t big-game-legal under a ballistically ignorant State Fish and Wildlife bureacracy that measures hunting cartridge effectiveness by case- length (and would really rather people didn’t hunt with autopistols), I wouldn’t hesitate to take deer with it.

Best of all, when I grab my EAA Witness pistol, it’s exactly like strapping on a 13-shot .357 Magnum. While it isn’t quite as capable, ballistically, as the 10mm Witness, it’s smaller and lighter — and a great deal hand-friendlier than the Glock, which, for all its virtues, feels like a 2×4 when I wrap my fingers around it.

My next project, when time and money permit, will be to have a Marlin 1894C lever action rifle refitted from .357 to .40 (although 10mm is tempting, too) and see how the cartridge does out of a 20″ barrel. That long magazine oughta hold a lot of flat-point cartridges.

Load on Sunday, shoot all week.

I read somewhere recently that nearly every police officer in America now carries an automatic pistol instead of a revolver — something that would have seemed like science fiction back in the 1960s, when the standard was a 4″ .38 caliber S&W Model 10, gradually being replaced by the Model 15, which sported adjustable rear sights — that 60% of them are Glocks, and that the vast majority of those are .40s. Nearly everyone I know in the Forty-Something Generation now leave their Forty-fives at home and pack their Forties, instead.

Too bad those girl hero short stories of mine got washed away in the flood. Who knows, I might have acquired a rep for predicting things.

If anyone had ever published them.


1. Warren - April 24, 2007

Here is the thing for me and the .40. Due to a car accident I have damage in my right elbow. After firing 100 rounds of .40 it stiffens up and starts to hurt and ends my shooting session and will hurt until the next day. This may be due to the recoil impulse of the round, I don’t know.

I don’t have this problem with .45 (ACP or even Colt) so I sold my PX4 Storm .40 and went back to my SiG P220.

Lately though I’ve been thinking about going to a 9MM. A GLOCK 17 to be exact.

17+1 or (more with mag extenders) chances to stop the pukescum is very attractive. Any one of which can affect the CNS just as well as other ammo.

Cheap to practice with means a lot more practicing.

Low recoil means getting back on target faster.

This last is important since with any handgun ammo the bad guy will likely have to be shot multiple times and being able to hose more lead into the guy quicker will lead to a faster exit for him.

2. al perez - April 24, 2007

H. Beam Piper liked 10 mm. (See Space Viking for example).
Forty Liberty sounds nicer than .40 S & W, but play nice, the British Company that sold out American gun rights did eventually sell S&W to an American company that pulled out of the deal with the Clinton administation. Give the new owner a break so that his sales keep him from having to sell to someone who doesn’t believe in the 2nd Amendment or the rest of the Bill of Rights.
It’s ridiculous that practically implementing our rights can become so dependent on foreigners who do not share our ideals (RKBA doesn’t mean much when there aren’t anyguns for sale.) Then again it’s ridiculous that we keep electing people to off ice who don’t share American ideals.
The Jesuits used to brag that they could convince people to become Catholics without resorting to force. I’m not saying they didn’t ever use force or work too closely with those who did, just that they bragged they didn’t need force, One reason the crown heads of Europe didn’t like them was because they appeared to have been able to back this brag.
Maybe the friends of liberty need to to vecome as effective on proselytizing for the cause of liberty.

3. Eric Oppen - April 25, 2007

I’ve often thought that a big part of the problem with handguns is that “a soldier is not a policeman is not a hunter is not a ‘civilian.’” (And, yes, I know that policemen and hunters are civilians; I did put “civilian” into quotes.)

Most handguns are or were originally designed for the military or the police, and present problems to many “civilian” users. They can be hard to conceal, or ergonomically wrong; my dad never liked the Government Model because it was too big for his hands. I don’t have a problem with it, but my hands were as large as his before I was twelve. (And I also love my Marlin Guide Gun in .45-70, although the last time I took it out, I had to stop shooting after about ninety rounds because my shoulder was bruised. )

Lately, I’ve been drooling over a Bond Arms “Snake-Slayer” derringer in .45 LC/.410 Shotgun caliber. I figure if I can’t handle whatever’s wrong with two shots at close range in those calibers, I’m in deep trouble no matter what. And those things are hard to make misfire AFAIK, but easy to slip into my pocket.

4. Bill St. Clair - April 25, 2007

.40 Liberty works nicely for me from my Kel-Tec Sub-2000 carbine. Don’t have any way to measure muzzle velocity, but Speer Gold Dots sure sound faster than the Wolf I use for practice. The 16″ barrel may have something to do with that. Anyway, it’s light-weight, has very little recoil, and has a direct blow-back action with a stiff spring, providing the advantage/disadvantage that small kids can’t cock it.

5. Administrator - April 25, 2007

Okay, let’s start with Warren.

If you’re having the trouble you describe with your elbow, you should have it looked at. My wife is having acupuncture right now because she strained her elbow shoveling snow during our recent blizzards, and she’s also soaking it in ice water at his suggestion. I got “tennis elbow” a few years back, from hand-fitting a rear sight to a slide, and then makjng it worse by shooting my .45 magnum Grizzly and my Dan Wesson .445. I finally had to have a cortisone shot — very painful, but (eventually) no more tennis elbow.

I agree that the recoil impulse of .45 seems less abrupt than .40, but 9mm is worse than either of them. I don’t know about this PX4 Storm you mentioned, but the tendency has been to make pistols in .40 smaller and lighter, and it’s a serious mistake. I know a lady — an NRA-certified pistol instructor and a fine shot — who won’t have a .40 for the reasons you mention. But the only .40s she knows are like the Star FireStar, which is a tiny gun. My Witnesses (and Springfield Armory P9) are big, stout weapons actually a bit heavier than the 1911, and they are a joy to shoot, as are the S&W M610s. I also shoot my own FireStar .40, but I have a better idea of what’s really behind that nasty recoil and how to deal withy it, since I shoot the bigger guns, too.

On the principle you describe, why bother with 9mm? Why not just go straight to .22 (won’t the Tec22 hold 30 rounds or somewthing like that)? I’ll tell you why: because it can’t get the job done, and neither can 9mm, which has _half_ the one-shot stopping power of either .40 or .45. That’s why people in all walks of life are dumping the 9mm as anything but the pocket pistol round it is. It’s just fine, for example, in the Kahr K-9, where it beats hell out of .32 or .380.

The trouble with _planning_ to shoot multiple times is that there’s a diminishing returns phenomenon associated with it. In my experience — meaning research I’ve done over the last 40 years — the second shot has _half_ the physiological effect of the first, and the third has half the effect of the second, and so on. Nothing mysterious, it’s just a matter of adrenaline and shock. You can fill a guy full of 9mms and not stop him. You will hurt him and he will kill you before he dies. This is not a good trade-off for cheap practice ammo and “getting back on target faster”.

(For what it’s worth, I can get a capacity of 17+1 with both my Glock 20 and my Witness 10mm, neither of which has any stopping-power problem at all.)

As with any other field of endeavor, you can’t get something for nothing. I know there are all kinds of “experts” out there, computer modelers and Jell-o shooters, with a line of stopping-power bullshit to sell you about the central nervous system and hydrostatics. I don’t want to go into it at length here, but let me tell you what four decades of study and experience have taught me:

Take the kinetic energy in foot pounds of the cartridge you’re considering. That’s what you’ve got to do the work. Think of it as horsepower. Now multiply it time the cross-sectional area of the bullet in inches (9mm and the various 35s are all about 1/10 of a square inch). That’s the number I call “Efficacy” (symbolized in equations as “F”) and it’s sort of like the traction supplied by your tires, or the hooves of all those horses. If that number isn’t 50 or better, then you’ve got a pocket pistol at best, and a swell way to get yourself killed at worst. You can’t kid or fudge this number. .38 Special and 9mm are in the 30s, and woefully inadequate. .38 Super and factory .44 Special are right on the line, proving that it isn’t just a matter of bullet diameter.

Warning: there are plenty of inadequate commerical loads for 10mm and .40 Liberty out there, which is why I rely on Winchester SilverTips.

There are exceptions here and there, but as somebody recently said, “If it doesn’t start with a 4, it’s no good for self-defense. And if it doesn’t have an F of 50 or better, forget it.

6. Administrator - April 25, 2007

P.S. Okay, I just looked up the Beretta PX4 “Storm” and it weighs 27.7 ounces — almost exactly what my Walther PP .22 weighs. No wonder it hurts to shoot it. It almost falls into the category of self-abuse.

7. Lawhobbit - April 25, 2007

Kewl – El Neil’s talkin’ ’bout boomsticks!

I know you prefer your Mini-30 (when it works, of course, heh heh heh) to the AR, but just thought I’d share a fun good deal I assembled. I think the pictures should come through for guests:


8. Michael B. - April 26, 2007

Arrgg! Neil NO! Stop your sweet siren’s song, I tell you!
I’ve purchased only ONE(1) pistol so far in my life (I’m 22 at the moment). And it is a super pistol that fits my hand and handles like a dream. Your article has made me question the wisdom of my purchase of my lowly inadequate 45….you have ignited my shooters fire within my chest to spend MORE hard earned (and worthless) cash to purchase this wonder weapon you speak of. Oh, the tragedy *sobs* How shall I continue in this new land of shadows and torment….

But seriously…stop tempting me. ;-)

9. Lawhobbit - April 26, 2007

Not to fret, Michael, even Neil had a point in his life where he’d only bought one. You’ll get past that soon enough and into the great wide world of More Guns.

And, of course, entire herds of cattle and kydex* will be sacrificed in your search for the Perfect Holster.

*an African critter of some sort, I believe, having very thin and rigid skin.

10. al perez - April 26, 2007

Whether you have no guns (or knives, or computers or…) or a couple of dozen the right number to have is one more, as I’ve said elsewhere. If acquiring guns (or whatever) isn’t your bag, you still have to shop around for “your” gun, the specimen perfect for you. Enjoy the hunt

11. al perez - April 26, 2007

I tried to send this through twice, so this is a third time’s the try effort.
As I’ve said elsewhere the right number of guns ( or knives or computers or …) is one more, whether it’s your first or fifty first. Even if you are not a gun (or whatever) collector you will still feel the need to find “your” gun, that perfect specimen meant for you. The one that in your hands, and yours alone, hit’s like a .475 and kicks like a .22. in your hands itshoots straighter with iron sights than others do with scopes and lasers.
Assuming you are an honest person you will acquire the wherewithal to carry out this hunt by producing goods and services that others value. This on top of the wealth you create earning a living and supporting your family.
It’s your money, so enjoy. Meanwhile you will do as much or more to end poverty and secure rights for the ethnic group of your choice than any government program.
Enjoy the hunt

12. Warren - April 27, 2007

9mm is the smallest I’m willing to go. Unless the rounds are going really fast. I think I read in a book about a healer who had a gun that shot super small-bore but fast moving needles at some chimps.

If I could find the right gun I’ll rethink my anti .40 stance.

You must have an older Witness as the ones on the website now are 33 ounces or for the “Limited” 39 ounces.

I cannot find much on the Spring P9 but it is a clone of the CZ 75 which weighs in at 35 ounces. Is the P9 close to the IMI Baby Eagle? Both are CZ 75 clones and the Baby E is a great gun. I’ve fired
the full size 9mm and the compact .45 and both rocked. I also fired the Desert Eagle in .44 Mag and that was hell of a gun.

Regarding the 10mm: I have fired the G20. I rented one at a range and had to use their ammo which came in a baggie so I have no idea how strong it was though I felt no ill effects afterwards. It might have been loaded to mild .40 levels for all I know. My wife and kids did say the muzzle blast was the biggest they had ever seen from a handgun I have shot.

The GLOCK did not feel all that great and I’ve looked up the Witness and it is wider than the GLOCK and has a longer trigger reach so it is unlikely to fit right in my hand.

If I were to buy a 10mm it might be Dan Wesson Razorback, though it is only 8+1.

Any chance of you posting photos of your guns?

13. Azathoth - April 27, 2007

As 10mm, both the steel framed Witness and plastic framed Glocks have points going for them.

The Witness has a CZ75 based design, a fair trigger and real steel. I find the grip a touch easier to hold than the Glock. Mine needed some sharp edges broken and polishing on the barrel and feed ramp. If the frame looks familiar, that is because Tanfoglio (the shop in Italy that makes them) also makes frames for the baby eagle, the CZish springfields and the Israeli army. Many users also retrofit with stronger springs for dealing with real (aka magnum pistol class) 10mm loads.

The Glock has a better (and easier to find) magazine and a touch better sights. I don’t have any problem with the grip but I have the largest size hands for which you can actually buy gloves. On the downsidethe trigger is crummy by the standards of the Witness, but fixing it can put you on touchy legal ground and isn’t really recommended on a pistol with no manual saftey or decocker. (The NYPD, which has literally thousands of Glocks in 9mm and .40, has delt with the lack of saftey with an even crappier cap-gun trigger that breaks at about 12 pounds and goes a long way towards explaining their fire-until-exhaused and hope we hit something marksmanship.) Even so, these are pretty much good to go out of the box.

14. DarianWorden - April 27, 2007

Awesome – gun talk!

Maybe I’m just unobservant, but I never noticed much of a difference between 9mm and .40 recoil. I’ve never shot them side by side though. Speaking of 9/40, they make a .40 Hi-Power. I think I’ll stick with my xd40 though.

This blog has convinced me that I should get a 10mm in the future. What do you think of the .357 Sig, by the way?

How does that sub-2000 work? Reliably? I was thinking of picking one up at a gun show a while back, but there were none in .40.

15. Roberta J. Barmore - April 27, 2007

Warren, the Witness line (and CZ, too, of course) draws heavily from the Browning High Power; don’t assume the grip is too big or the reach too fasr until you’ve held one.

I’ve never gotten fond of .40; it’s that “short, sharp shock:” that does it. After the first 50 rounds, I start sayin’ bad things under my breath.

But as L. Neil points out, those of us who favor smaller sidearms are just gonna have recoil issues, period. It’s part of the trade-off.

If I’ve got to carry a weapon on my person, concealed and easily accessable, it’s got to be tiny.

I can find decent guns in .45 the right size, plenty in .9 and (ever so dainty) .380, but in .40, not much and they’re all less hand-friendly than a Star PD or smallest Detonics in .45.

So I’ll stick with personal protection calibers I can find a carryable weapon for and look forward to practicing with. Isn’t that what most of us do anyway? If .40 works for you — and it does for many — it’s an excellent choice. But even a .32 is better than a sharp stick or an empty hand.

16. Warren - April 28, 2007

I’m a big guy, I can hide a lot of gun so the length does not bother me and I can get used to the weight.

At another site one fellow mentioned the HK P2000, while light it has a recoil buffer system. I’ll rent one and try it, it just may be the best solution.

17. Donald Qualls - April 29, 2007

Okay, call me stone age, but (having fired .45 ACP, 9 mm Parabellum, .380 ACP, .32 ACP, and .25 ACP as well as .22 in both revolver and self-loader) I still prefer my .357 Magnum wheelgun.

Yes, it only holds six (though a modern transfer bar system means it’s safe to carry with all six holes filled). Add a speed loader, and that’s 12 without much if any more delay than you’d need to get to 15 with your Colt 1911. However, I can shoot any bullet that will fit in the case and cylinder, without wondering how it will feed; any load I care to work up without wondering if it’ll cycle or smokestack. I can load down to a pipsqueak round roughly like a .22 Magnum rimfire (still a .357 diameter bullet, though — either a round ball sized from .360 or a light wadcutter or round nose), or make some of my carefully worked up home defense rounds (ultra-light Hornady XTP designed for .380 ACP over a huge dipper of H-110, intended to ensure the bullet doesn’t penetrate a second wall if I miss — but will still stop a bad guy when I hit).

When you can show me a reciprocator that can handle the range of ammunition I use in my wheelgun, and prove to me that misfires are absolutely impossible (I don’t mean improbable — they’ve been that way for decades — I mean *physically impossible*, which I don’t believe is acheivable), then and only then will I give up being able to recover from a misfire by simply pulling the trigger again.

I would surely prefer a *bigger* wheelgun — I’d love to have a .357 Maximum, even more so a .41 Magnum or even .44 Magnum — but haven’t the budget to upgrade, and likely won’t have in the foreseeable future. Meantime, though, if I can’t solve a problem with twelve rounds of either my light-bullet home defense load, or twelve of my car-stopper (160 grain half-jacket over an only slightly smaller dipper of H-110), I really very much doubt a magical .40 Liberty with a dozen rounds in the magazine would have gained me anything…

18. "lee n. field" - April 29, 2007

“I know you prefer your Mini-30 (when it works, of course, heh heh heh) to the AR, but just thought I’d share a fun good deal I assembled. I think the pictures should come through for guests:” –LH

Alas they do not. Pink furniture?

I have a love/hate relationship with my Mini, and am considering selling it to finance an EBR build.

“a super pistol that fits my hand and handles like a dream. Your article has made me question the wisdom of my purchase of my lowly inadequate 45″ –M.

If it’s reliable, fits and you can hit what you point it at, _never_ let it go.

“you have ignited my shooters fire within my chest to spend MORE hard earned (and worthless) cash to purchase this wonder weapon you speak of.” –M

Ah, the never ending quest for the prefect gun. I may have found mine with the XD40 I picked up at Christmastime. Everything a Glock is, and handload friendly. Now if Springfield would just sell service parts for it.

19. Warren - April 29, 2007

I have an N frame .45 Colt that I could carry, plus speedloaders If I choose too. I just don’t.

The way I figure it I probably will never have to shoot, but if I do I will probably need quite a few rounds. Having to reload after six might get me killed. And having 12 + more ready to go in case the first 12 don’t do the job is also a comfort.

20. al perez - April 30, 2007

If Parker v. Washington D.C. is decided right it is very possible that we will be discussing the relative efficacy of smaller gauge double barreled whippets versus larger gauge short barreled shotguns or whether or not full auto makes up for relative lack of stopping power. Pray, pray, pray, hope, hope, hope.
Meanwhile libertarians must start getting in the habit of referring to the 14th Amendment as well as the Bill of Rights. This is because the 14th Amendment requires that states extend the same rights as the Federal government.
Law and order fascists complain about criminals getting off on a technicality. By failing to invoke the 14th Amendment when challenging state laws we hand our enemies a huge technicality.

21. Lawhobbit - April 30, 2007

Al, even if Parker goes the right way (up and win) Miller is still “good” law and that means that your short-barrelled shotgun stuff is still going to be subject to regulation. For that matter, Parker still has commentary about, essentially, “reasonable regulations,” albeit to a “speech” standard, which would be far and above what we have now.

And Roberta – I love the grip shape on the HP and the CZ series, but boy is that a long trigger reach on the CZ. Not that that’s stopped me from having a few over the years, to include one of the first Italian clones ever to hit the market.

Sorry the pics didn’t make it through – it’s pretty much a step-by-step of the building of my neat new toy. But not, I have to admit, of any pink furniture. Not that the nice gentlemen at Guncoat Northwest couldn’t accommodate me there, should I so choose.

22. al perez - April 30, 2007

I in fact at this time do not own a short barrelled shotgun or any other restricted weapons. Mr. Horiuchi ( I hope I spelled that wrong) will have to forgo the pleasure of shooting the womenfolk in my house while they are holding children.
Miller was based on the belief held by the deciding judges that short barrelled shotguns were not military weapons and therefor not protected by the 2nd Amendment. I believe a body of anecdotal evidence has built up proving otherwise. Regardless, the burden of proving that a regulation is needed and that you or I or some other fulano fails to meet will be even more completely on the regulators, not the regulatees.
And again, keep after that 14th Amendment. Those who would sacrifice states’ rights to federal power used Reconstruction to force it on the US. So be it. Let free citizens use it as a weapon to protect themselves from those who would steal their freedom.

23. Warren - May 1, 2007

The more I read about the .40 the more I think I should just buy a 10MM. Damn the elbow, full speed ahead!

Maybe buy a G20 and find some way to add some weight to it.

24. don wilson - May 1, 2007

a lazer sight adds a fair amount of weight in the handle of most glocks there are even special plastic plugs sold to fill this hole before it fills with dirt or dust
a packed powder could easily fill it if it had a flexible container
you probably want a weight nearer the barel though???

25. al perez - May 1, 2007

Try a laser sight and/ or flashlight under the barrel. m any newer guns come with appropriate rails. if Glock sn’t making the G20 this way yet they soon will.

26. Warren - May 1, 2007

The Witnesses are heavier and less expensive, but the GLOCK is probably much easier to get ahold of and a likely bit more reliable with more after market support.

Such as a recoil dampening replacement guide rod. And I could send the gun out for a grip reduction.

I like the friken lazer idea. Maybe a flashlight/lazer combo.

Oh and Neil, happy soon to be 61st.

27. Curt Howland - May 2, 2007

Actually, reading Miller the judges _didn’t_ voice their opinion at all. They did indeed use the rationalization that regulations could be passed on weapons that were not “militia” arms, but they _remanded_ the case back to the apelet level for fact-finding. Even the “ok to regulate” is a backwards reading. What the court found was that no evidence was presented that such weapons were useful to a militia, so they could not rule that the 2nd Amendment applied.

Under an explicit reading of Miller, the “assault weapon” bans are what are completely unconstitutional. An honest reading (hahaha) would allow completely free trade in anything being used in any army.

But US vs. Miller is actually undecided. The fact-finding case that the SCOTUS ordered never took place. The last case in the series that was actually decided came down completely on the side of Miller, that the 2nd means exactly what it says.

As for perfect pistols, I adore the look of the AMT AutoMag. If I had the where-with-all, I would have one made that ate .44RemMag, for the sake of ease of feeding. As mentioned above, the cartridge is used in the Desert Eagle, so it does work in an autoloader configuration.

For fun, and because it was cheap, I picked up a CZ-52. The .30 slug makes for very small numbers on the efficacy rating, but the speed of the slug is tremendous. Oh, and I have a lot of it sitting in my “stockpile” because I found it cheap. Too bad it’s less accurate than spitting.

If it were accurate, I would love to try loading some 30cal rifle bullets, something pointy instead of the round-nose solids I have now. Being an “ugly black gun” it has wonderful emotional impact when drawn.

I finished reading _1632_ last night. It’s available on Baen free library if anyone is interested. Quite well written, solid story, but I kept screaming in my head “COVENANT OF UNANIMOUS CONSENT!” When the protagonists are arguing with the king of Sweden, about taxes being a perview of the lower house of the government, again I was screaming (quietly) that the Revolution is being betrayed … again!

Oh well. There was quite a bit of good economics, excellent historical detail, so I have concluded that the author is a Chicago economist, rather than an Austrian. Oh, and lots and lots of guns, and the Sheriff uses a .40Liberty.

28. al perez - May 2, 2007

Eric Flint is in fact a self proclaimed Trotskyite ), read his bioblurb on his books, including those he does with David Drake. He also is trying to deal with the problems of itroducing American style concepts of liberty into 17th Century Europe.
He is also dealing with the problems of how do you make the tool to make the tool reverse engineering of tech by his protagnists.
So, if you had to give up a lot of your support tech what guns would you want to have along?
As a nonsequitor, I am a typo king. It gripes me that I spelled one of the Evil One’s name correctly. I’ll try to do better in both departments in the future

29. Curt Howland - May 2, 2007

As I said, it’s a solid story. There is much about it I very much enjoyed, such as the interplay of “downgrading” technology to something sustainable without the world-wide infrastructure “we” have now.

The problem with “what would I bring along” is that no matter what I do personally, I’m going to run out of ammo because I don’t know how to mine lead, I don’t know how to mine iron, I don’t know how to mine sulphur.

Unless, like in StarTrek, the minerals are just lying there in a pure form, I’m down to a leather sling and stones.

Maybe I could find copper on Cyprus, but only because it’s impossible _not_ to find copper on Cyprus.

Oh, and I’m pretty good about the theory behind steam engines, which even with raw 17th century technology, would not be hard to build. Hard to build _well_, yes, but that’s a different matter.

Would I trade living in the 1632 version of the “united states” for pretty much anywhere else in the world in 1632? Heck yes. But I’d still try to make taring and feathering tax collectors a respectable passtime again regardless of that fact.

30. Warren - May 5, 2007

Called around to the ranges in my area, only one had a 10mm for rent.

It was NOT a G20 or 29. It was an EAA Witness Hunter with a 6″ barrel.

This was a weird looking gun. The slide and dustcover ended at about 4″ then the barrel and the guide rod kept going and then about an inch later met up with the muzzle piece. I don’t recall seeing anything like that before.

It looked like the type of gun a movie or TV director would choose to be the villian’s personal pistol because it looks “extra ominous”.

Onto the shooting of it: Up thread I posted I was unsure of how the grip would feel. Well….the gun fit was just about perfect. [George Takei] Oh my! [/JGeorge Takei]

Trigger reach in SA was short enough that I could press with my finger pad all the way back on the face of the trigger instead of with some guns where I have to drag on the outside edge of the trigger and then press with my pad.

The ammo was Remington 180 JHPs which is rated at 960 FPS and hits 45 on the efficacy scale with 368 footpounds of energy. Which is weaker than most .40 Liberty rounds.

I don’t get the point of loading a 10mm JHP round so light. Cheapie FMJ practice rounds? Sure. But a fighting round? Who would but a 10 just to load those? They could buy a .40 instead.

Anyway I had no elbow pain. I would not expect any with such a light load in such a heavy gun.

The store worker says she can get Witnesses and she will get back to me with a price.

If I get a 10MM thse will be my defense loads:


135 JHPs going 1600 FPS for an efficacy of 94 and 767 footpounds of energy. This is more than double the power of that Rem load the range uses. So if I’m going to wreck my elbow I might as well do it with style.

31. al perez - May 5, 2007

Warren: SounDs like you got a hold of some old FBI lite loads. Try 180 jhp’s at 1100 to 1200 fps.
Curtis: Set you up, sorry man. If you have to go 1600′s level tech you obviously want .45- .69 pistols and muskets.
A pepperpot flint lock revolver as referred to in The Galatin Convergence would give you a sample to join forces wih some local gunsmith and get into business.
Tke a leatherman type multitool and other “Why didn’t I think of that?” type tech to use as models with business partners.
Regarding 1632 I mentioned that Flint is a self proclaimed Trotskyite. That comes under “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Flint’s writing to date indicate that he belongs to Heinlein’s archetypical party that believes people should be free. Trotskyite and anarchocapitalist are just labels to confuse the issue. I want to acknowledge that Mr. Flint was the first to criticize in writing those who try to reduce faith to gang colors. I used a similar line in commenting on L. Neil’s December blog and I swear I thought of it first, but he wrote it first.
L. Neil: To my certain knowledge you have no more than 1499 copies of FOtE left to sell. Start warming up your short story pen.

32. Roberta J. Barmore - May 6, 2007

…Have not ordered a (second) copy of “Forge” yet, but I’m workin’ on it! It will be a gift to a lost and recently rediscovered old friend.

Warren: See, we wouldn’t steer you astray! The Witness/CZ/HP family all have excellent grip shapes, pointing very naturally for most folks and sitting comfortably in the hand. There are minor differences but the basic design is one of J. M. Browning’s best.

I am tempted to try 10mm myself, mostly to see if the recoil feels less abrupt than that of the .40 Liberty. IMO, non-FBI-weak 10 is a bit much for most shooting situations a city gal will encounter (summers, I’m comfy even with .380 [oh, this is endlessly debatable except I won't]) but it would still be fun at the range.

A story I was tempted to tell last time: the owner of our “neighborhood” (the far side of town!) range, knowing my fondness for plinkin’ and comments about top-heavy plastic guns and the zing of the .40, handed me his brand-new pocket Glock in said caliber with 200 rounds and — with a wink and a wicked grin — asked me to “break it in.” “Happy to,” says I, and you know, while I do mutter a bit about the sting, it’s really quite mananagable….when you’re shootin’ for free! ;) Haven’t the heart to tell him the thing shot exactly the same after 200 rounds as it did the first time; he’s a traditionalist.

33. Jac - May 7, 2007

With regards to the young healer and her fast moving needles: my handy-dandy Efficacy Calculator (ripped off a bit from Bill’s at http://www.billstclair.com/energy.html) tells me that, assuming a projectile weight of 25gr (that’s purely speculation based on .22lr numbers, not a number Neil gave), has an efficacy of 52… I guess a bit of velocity (10,000fps, in the book) can help. ;)

I’m a disciple of Saint Browning and his 1911 myself, but every time I look at a 10mm Witness, my wallet starts smoking. I also get a little starry-eyed when reading about Mr. Browning’s medium bores: 9.65mm, 9.8mm, and .41ACP.

I suppose I should just admit it… I’ve got a thing for high power, medium bore pistol cartridges.

34. Warren - May 9, 2007

Neil said—Since slide velocity is key in all this, I’d love to try an AMT Javelina — a 1911 with two extra inches of slide and barrel — or the L.A.R. Grizzly 10mm conversion, but I haven’t had the opportunity.—


Maybe a B-day gift to yourself.

1000 bucks and it is yours. Though I don’t know what they book at.

As for myself, now that I’ve decided to buy a Witness 10mm there are none to be found. Gunsamerica.com has one but I think I can do better on the price if I wait for EAA to import some more.

Or I could buy the .45 and get the 10mm conversion kit. I’m going to ping EAA and see if they have any, if so I’ll have decision to make.

Mr. Perez thank you for the load idea. They hit 70 on the efficacy scale. And I really like the idea of the 135s that hit 94.

35. al perez - May 10, 2007

180 grains at 1100 is more a hot .40 liberty load. 1200fps should be the floor for this weight in 10mm. (at least in theory, I admit I’m talking wish list and not range time experience with loads.).
Remember that what makes a good house/ open carry gun might not be practical for concealed carry.
Pick guns to meet all three needs and if you are under financial constraints pick the one that strikes you as the best compromise. Then go out and earn the monety to buy non compromise guns, one for each job you can think of.
let’s hear it for consumerism.

36. enemyofthestate - May 13, 2007

“With regards to the young healer and her fast moving needles: my handy-dandy Efficacy Calculator (ripped off a bit from Bill’s at http://www.billstclair.com/energy.html) tells me that, assuming a projectile weight of 25gr (that’s purely speculation based on .22lr numbers, not a number Neil gave), has an efficacy of 52… I guess a bit of velocity (10,000fps, in the book) can help. ;)

I’ll leave aside the problems facing a hypersonic projectile and talk about recoil which is a product of conservation of momentum. A 230gr bullet at 850 fps has momentum of:

(230)(850)/(32.174)(7000) = 0.87 lb-ft/s

Your hypothetical needle:

(25)(10000)/(32.174)(7000) = 1.1 lb-ft/s

So each of those needles would have about 28% greater recoil than a 45ACP.

I’m betting if El Neil’s needle gun existed it would rely on very light projectiles and multiple hits. More like a hypersonic flechette load but in serial rather than parallel.

Which brings up my real question about efficacy.

As an empirical comparison between various handgun and maybe rifle loads I think it useful. It covers two essentials — depth of penetrantion (energy) and size of wound channel (area). However, how does it scale to multiple projectiles?

For example, a 2 1/2 inch 410 triple-0 buckshot round will have three pellets. Each pellet is 0.36 dia and about 68 gr. At a muzzle velocity of 1200 fps this gives each pellet has an efficacy of 22.

But what is the composite efficacy of three pellets? To say 3 X 22 = 66 (about equivalet to the 45 ACP) seems excesive to me since penetration will happen on an individual pellet basis. OTOH, it has to be greater then 22 since there will be multiple wound channels.

37. Curt Howland - May 15, 2007

“Remember that what makes a good house/ open carry gun might not be practical for concealed carry.”

I’ve got a very pretty mirror-finish .44Mag revolver for carrying openly (really hard not to see!) if I ever get to live in a place that doesn’t prosecute people for “creating an environment of fear” even though it’s technically legal to carry openly.

I’ve never shot an autoloader that stung like that .44 wheelgun does. I guess I’m glad that each one counts.

38. Janet Lowther - May 18, 2007

Doggone it! Neil’s darn near talked me into getting a .40 or 10mm.

In .40 I’d probably go with a CZ75 ’cause I’m pretty used to the CZ75 in 9mm. In a 10, I guess it would be the Witness, which is derived from the CZ as well. . . Hmmm Anyone know if the CZ97 was derived from the .45 Witness? Seems like the .45 Witness has been around longer. Or did CZ go off in their own direction to make a .45?

“In a gunfight, the best gun is the one you have.”

“The first law of gunfighting: Bring a gun.”

A teeny weeny Kel-Tek P32 that you have all the time, everywhere is better than a .45 (or .40, or 9mm or .357) that you wind up leaving home (or in the car) ’cause it’s too big, heavy or hard to conceal.

That little bitty Kel-Tek is a remarkable little stinger: It kicks less than a Baby Browning despite weighing considerably less and packing a significantly bigger bite.

The exact design of a gun can make a considerable impact on how shootable it is: A 9mm Makarov is only marginally more powerful than a .380, but in a FEG PA-63, it hurts WAY more to shoot than full pressure .44 Magnums out of a model 29.

The High Power/CZ/Witness frame style is an admirable design: I have no trouble handling them, while my hands are small enough that Beretta, Glock, and Ruger double stack 9mms just don’t work reliably ’cause I can’t get a good enough grip.

39. Dennis Wilson - May 28, 2007

Great article based on the Liberator! http://www.ncc-1776.org/tle2007/tle419-20070527-02.html

No mention was made of the ammo, but in keeping with the polymer theme, I visualize something like a .410 shotgun shell with plastic end & wrap and a plastic slug. Not sure about the primer, but I’m sure one can be created from existing tech–perhaps even electronic ignition, built into the ammo.

40. Donald Qualls - June 5, 2007

You know, I thought about building a gun along those lines a while back, at the time mostly as proof that a determined, technically able individual could easily get a weapon aboard an airliner anytime, anywhere he could afford a ticket (heresy, I know, but they’re another “free fire zone”, as the article calls it — want to prevent hijackings? Issue guns — with frangible ammo, please — at the gate, to every adult and every kid with a handling certificate).

The idea was to put four barrels in a single block, like a C.O.P. .357 hideout pistol. Each barrel would have a high pressure reservoir, “flush valve” triggering mechanism, and carry a plastic dart similar in general layout to the dart you can fire from smoothbore air guns (back in the early 1970s, the makers of suitable air guns used to encourage using those, indoors, in low powered guns to play actual darts on an actual dart board — changes the game a bit when you can use sights). The trigger would have a hesitation lock to require four separate pulls to fire the four barrels. Every single part of the gun would be plastic, including the one spring that’s an indispensible part. It wouldn’t show up on metal detectors at all, would be indistinct on x-ray (it could be made to look like a flashlight easily enough, though that would make it harder to aim — not really an issue at contact ranges), and would require only one machining operation (multi-spindle reaming the barrels to diameter so the darts would fit closely), all the parts being injection molded (better for mass production and potentially capable of deleting the barrel reaming) or resin cast (amenable to runs of one to a few dozen).

Don’t like spending many minutes and needing a source of 2000 psi air to reload? Package the high pressure in a cartridge behind the dart; the gun would be more complex as a result (multiple firing mechanisms required, more springs needed, might not work well with plastic springs), and there’d be some manufacturing cost for the cartridges, but the piece could be reloaded with something akin to full moon clips in 2-3 seconds (you might be able to compromise with replaceable barrel blocks, preloaded, to use the hesitation lock firing mechanism in the grip/receiver section).

The latter version would be perfectly suited for the inner city air drop distribution method, even down to including a bag with 2-3 clips of rounds along with each weapon. Best of all, many municipalities that outlaw effective possession of a weapon have overlooked air guns and the things might well be *legal* to possess, if not to carry concealed, even in places like New York City. Not much danger at a significant distance, but it’d be plenty to ruin a mugger’s or home invasion burglar’s day…

41. al perez - June 5, 2007

The weapon you describe sounds really cool. It might even be feasible in most municipalities with repressive weapons laws. Would not want to be caught trying to take aboard plane, federales haveno sense of humor and need busts to justify their existence.
Assuming dealing with terrorists armed with box cutters or other contact range weapons, tightly rolled magazine is effective for jabbing, blocks, and traps. Since one reason Muslim extremists feel we “deserve” their attentions is American lack of morals, porn recommended. Just be careful not to display to and unnecessarily offend the vast majority of Muslims and other religious believers who are decent human beings and don’t deserve it, On the other hand, no harm in offending wannabe thought cops.
Fight two struggles for the price of one.
Disclaimer: Am not trained martial arts artist, Have picked up a few tricks over the years, mostly by study and watching others. have had to break up fights, sometimes of people bigger than me. If you use magazine trick(s) get pro to teach how to use most effectively and get refresher course before traveling if not frequent traveller or practitioner of martial arts.

42. al perez - June 6, 2007

Obviously magazine as defensive weapon is more a confidence builder than top of line technique. It does provide that one or two percent improvement in odds that makes it worthwhile to try. It also is an excuse to go to dojo and get proper training. Even without these, remember you’re probably going to die one way or another. So do you just curl up and make it easy for the bastard, or do you do what you can to fuck up his plans?
The one sine qua non of winning a fight is having a fighting spirit. We take it for granted that we have this spirit, but sooner or later this blog will be read by people that aren’t part of the “family.” We owe them reminding them of this point. Chalk up previous comment to trying to bolster the never quit attitude more than to fatuousness.

43. A. Robert Malcom - June 8, 2007

Just tuned into this – discovered one of my fave authors has a b’day the same month as I, mine being the 26th of May, when I turned 62…. so Happy belated Birthday to ye – and may ye be around to write as many more as ye already have written… love every one of your books, from The Probability Broach onward….