Reviving a Revolver

All 38 gripsI bought a gun many years ago for personal protection. It was a snubnosed revolver. I didn’t pay much for it as guns go. I didn’t train with it, or practice with it and mostly it remained in a drawer, unloaded, for most of two decades.

It’s the gun that prompted me in 2012 to get training, buy other guns and start competing. So it has a bit of a special place in my shooting journey.

In February 2012, I took it to an NRA 1st Steps Pistol class. It was painful to shoot, but I hit paper and I was thrilled. I had a bit of work done to it as I started getting more interested in shooting. I replaced the small wooden grips with slightly larger rubber grips to make it easier to hold and less painful to shoot. I asked a friend re-blue the short 2” barrel where a bit of rust had taken hold. But the cylinder jammed on me multiple times and the few people I knew to ask couldn’t help me figure out how to fix that. So it went back into the drawer as I moved my affections first to .22LR then to the 9mm flavor. I’d always heard revolvers didn’t malfunction, but clearly that wasn’t true.

Last September I made a new shooting friend, Adam. He likes to tinker with guns and based on the work I’d seen him do, he has a talent for it. He asked to see the revolver after it came up in a conversation. He said he might be able to fix it so I left it with him after an afternoon of shooting. I got a bit of grief over the fact that there was rust and lint inside the gun, but it was worth the teasing. He fixed it. He test fired it and asked me to pick up rounds known to have hard primers (Blazer Brass) to verify there would be no light strikes with the firing pin. He showed me a bit more about the gun. He walked me through the process of removing the hammer spring with such high tech tools as a fork and a paperclip. Really. He showed me how to polish the rod the that the hammer spring rides on to get the gritty feel out of the trigger. I thought it was great to actually understand more about how my guns worked.

The other thing he helped me with was painting the sites. The front site is part of the frame and with the shallow black sites are a bit hard to see if the light  isn’t good, so I took painters tape to the front of the barrel and put a few thin layers of bright orange paint on the fixed front site. As I said, this wasn’t an expensive gun and it could always be removed with a bit of paint thinner (or gun solvent as it turns out).

Then he asked me to shoot it.

I shot 50 rounds through it over two days. It didn’t hurt to shoot as much as I thought it would. These were lead rounds I must have bought soon after I got the gun. He told me that I needed to clean the gun well after shooting leads rounds and before shooting jacketed rounds through the gun. The jacketed rounds can push in lead deposits into the rifling of the barrel and, over time, damage the barrel. I thought he was just giving me a hard time, telling me this as he knows I’m not the best at cleaning guns. But I asked around and found at least 3 other friends that confirmed that advice. I really wanted to hear a different answer, but figured that after he spent the time to work on the gun I should step up and treat it well. I found this discussion when I sat down to write this blog entry so clearly there is some disagreement. But I did clean the gun thoroughly after I sent the entire box of rounds down range. I’ll only be buying jacketed rounds from now on.

I noticed that one of the 5th Sunday BUG Matches was scheduled the 31st of January at The Range in Oxford and decided to shoot the match with this gun if the BUG gun limit was 5 rounds. I called and confirmed that was the case. After putting this much effort into fixing up the gun, I wanted to shoot it in a match and this was an excellent choice. There are no reloads on the clock, there is a limit of 5 shots per string, and no holster is required. And you get to do “New York Reloads”. So stay tuned… and I’ll let you know how it turned out.

Using Armslist to sell used guns

Armslist SearchAs a follow up to my previous post with guns I have for sale, I wanted to describe the process used to post guns for sale on the internet via Armslist.

The process is very straight forward. First you have to prove you are human by entering text from an image. Next you enter a title, descriptive text and choose categories that describe the item for sale: manufacturer, caliber, action type, etc.. The next page lets you upload 3 photos. The final page asks you to agree to the terms of Armslist. All done.

The ads are free and will stay posted for 100 days.

Lessons Learned:

  • You do not need to include contact info in the text of the ad. The “Contact Seller” button will supply your email address to interested buyers.
  • Unless you are paying for the ad, no HTML markup is allowed. My first attempt was rejected as the Armslist software tagged the description as having HTML. I was a bit confused as there was no HTML markup. I removed the semicolons from the ad and was able to proceed.
  • The first photo uploaded is displayed with the ad in the search results. For the XD9, I had a photo that was taller than it was wide. It was a photo of the open gun case with accessories at the top and the gun and magazines at the bottom. Armslist cropped the photo to just show the top part so only the accessories were displayed. I made some adjustments to the first image then replaced it to show the gun with the search results.

What about the legalities of selling a gun?

I’m not a lawyer, I’m not in the business of selling guns for profit. However, after President Obama’s recent press conference about his actions to address gun violence, I’ve had several people ask me whether buying and selling guns on the internet is legal.

Private party sales incorporate background checks by requiring the same paperwork required for a retail sale. In North Carolina that is either a Pistol Purchase Permit (PPP) OR a Conceal Handgun Permit (CHP). The seller is required to collect the PPP or the CHP number and retain this with the record of the sale. To obtain either a PPP or a CHP, the purchaser went through a background check.

Is is possible to find sellers that do not require this paperwork? It might be but it seems unwise of the seller. If the gun is later used in a crime and you have no proof of a legal sale, you would be putting yourself in a bad situation. So most sellers will absolutely require the accepted permits.




For Sale: S&W 22A and XD9

After buying the M&P Pro and deciding I really like the way it fits my hand, I’ve decided to sell two of my guns then purchase replacements from the M&P line. I’d also consider a trade. I posted free ads on Armslist today and started spreading the word. Both guns are in good working order.

Details are on Armslist:

When I find a buyer and actually sell these, I may have an additional story to tell.


Buying a Gun from a Stranger on the Internet

Armslist Ad for M&P Pro

Armslist Ad for M&P Pro

For several reasons, I became interested in purchasing an M&P Pro in 9mm. The short version is that it is fairly narrow on the grip up near the tang and I’ve been struggling with keeping my grip consistent when I shoot. I loved my 1911 when I could get it to run. It was very narrow with super slim grips, but I’ve given up that battle. I wanted to find a gun with a narrow grip that has a reputation for being reliable. The M&P Pro fits those requirements.

I have a friend that bought the M&P CORE. It’s almost the same gun except for the option to swap optical site on/off the slide. The fixed sites are higher to ensure they will co-witness if the optic is installed (ie: you can use the fixed sights along with the optical sight), but the frame, trigger, and magazines are identical. He’s been making some upgrades and I really like how the gun handles. So I started doing some research to determine cost and purchase options.

I started with This site will give you a quick overview of current new prices, auction prices and classified prices. In this case the lowest new price was $551. Assume you’d also pay shipping and FFL fees. I found a used pistol in the “Classified” section that pointed to The pistol was in a city about 2.5 hours away from me. The price was $475. The seller did mention the gun had a scratch and showed that in a photo. The price was good but not good enough to schedule 5 hours of driving.

A week or two passed. I planned a trip to a beach in South Carolina to visit family. I checked the ad again and the price had been dropped to $425. I checked the map and a detour through Wilmington added no significant driving time to return home. Although I was somewhat hesitant to make the purchase, because I always think twice before spending, this looked like a good opportunity and good timing. I contacted the seller by email.

First I asked for the production date on the gun. I wanted to upgrade the trigger using an Apex trigger kit. After some google-fu I determined that, most likely, pre-September 2010 guns had the older 1/16th inch sear plunger and sear spring in the sear housing block. After that date, they changed the size to 1/8 inch. I needed to buy the newer model to avoid even more cost in upgrading the trigger. The seller said the production date was December 2013.

I emailed back and said, “I’m interested. I have a NC concealed carry permit. I’m in Myrtle Beach today and will be driving back to Raleigh tomorrow. I can route through Wilmington but I’d want to shoot the pistol. I have factory ammo in 115gr. 10 rounds through each magazine is sufficient. Are you available tomorrow and is there a range where we could meet?” I included my cell number.

Part of me was hoping the seller would refuse to let me shoot the gun. Then I could walk away from the deal and still have my cash. I wouldn’t buy a used car without driving it and I didn’t want to buy a used gun without shooting it. He was very reasonable. He offered two options: a local indoor range or his parent’s house. I let him pick. The fact that he offered to meet me at an indoor range made me feel safer, but I didn’t want the additional cost and potential wait time if we met at the indoor range. I agreed to meet him on Sunday afternoon at his parent’s house.

I emailed my friend with the M&P CORE and let him know all the details: the seller’s name, cell #, email address and where we were planning to meet. When I left the beach I told my mom I was stopping on the way home to “see a man about a gun”. I was excited and scared.

I had packed: eyes & ears, my uplula loader, a box of Remington factory ammo, some IPDA targets, and an envelope with $425 in cash. I was wearing a high necked shirt. I punched the address into the GPS and hit the road.

Around 2pm, I turned off the highway at the address listed. It was a dirt road. I figured that might be the case if I was going to shoot. I drove past a building that looked abandoned. It had a sign that said “Upholstery” on it. The dirt road kept going around a corner and into a pine forest. I briefly thought this might not be a good idea, but if it went wrong, at least someone new the details.

I finally came around a corner and saw a house. Unlike the shop I passed, it was in good repair. A tall, lean man was walking through the yard holding a toddler. This was isolated but didn’t look threatening. I got out of the car. I told him who I was looking for and he told me that was his brother. He’d been delayed and was on the way. After a 15 minute wait and some laughs at the antics of the toddler, the seller came driving up the driveway.

Things went very smoothly.

  • I asked if he minded putting on the small backstrap. He did that for me.
  • I asked if he was OK letting me field strip the pistol. He looked a bit surprised but said he was fine with that. I could tell the pistol had been shot but the feed ramp had some shine to it. It came apart and went back together with no issues.
  • I asked where I could shoot the pistol and he pointed me to a huge pile of wood chips. He asked if I wanted to judge the accuracy and I said yes. He said he’d go look for some cardboard but I pulled out an IDPA target. He propped it up in the wood chip pile while I loaded magazines.
  • My friend happened to call to check on me and the seller heard me say, I”m getting ready to shoot the gun now. I’ll call you when I’m done.” I did want him to know I was checking in with someone.
  • The pistol shot flawlessly. I collected the target.
  • I told him I was happy with what I saw and wanted to buy it. He pulled out a form he’d downloaded from the internet. I found it here. He filled out two copies. We each kept one.
  • He asked to see my driver’s license and CCW. I asked to see his and asked to take a photo of each with my cell phone. He wrote in the DL # for the buyer and the seller. I read through the form and signed. He said he never put names on the form. I verified the DL # he listed for himself matched what was on his DL.
  • I gave him the envelop with the cash.

We chatted a bit about IDPA, concealed carry (he showed me his), and what he was now shooting (a Glock). I got in my car and headed home.

I called my friend to let him know I was safe, I’d was on the road driving and that I’d bought the pistol!. We talked about upgrades after I got home.

I called my gunsmith on Monday and told him I’d bought a gun. He replied, “Uh oh, what did you buy?” followed by “How much did you pay?” He told me I’d gotten a really good deal assuming it was in good shape. Time will tell, but I wanted to document the experience. I’m pretty excited about the new gun.

I found magazines under $25 apiece, with free shipping, at Arms Unlimited.I placed the order Monday night and they arrive Thursday evening. They were S&W magazines, not aftermarket knock offs.

Next is a holster and magazine pouches.Then the Apex Trigger Kit. And possibly an extended magazine release. And, of course, much, much more practice.


DQA shooter I respect told me soon after I started shooting that there are two kinds of shooters:

  • Those that have been DQd
  • Those that will be DQd

I have joined the ranks of the latter category. A bit of translation in case you are not familiar with the term “DQ”: disqualified, no longer allowed to shoot in the match.

Most of the DQs I’m aware of are a result of a safety violation. I this case there is no question. Here’s what occurred:

I shot stage 3 of a match Saturday night that was challenging. It started with the description, “You are sitting on the bank of a river fishing when a bunch of bad guys decide to ruin you day…” The entire stage was shot from a seated position. The bad guys included two poppers that were concealed behind cardboard. I’m usually good with steel poppers. When I can’t see them, it’s a bit more challenging. I lost count but it’s possible I put 6-8 rounds into one popper before I got it to fall. My brain was still spinning on “why wouldn’t it go down?”.

I stood to reholster and the RO gave me clear commands: “SLIDE”, “TRIGGER”. At which point my gun went “BANG!”. That is considered an accidental discharge and is without question a DQ.

What went wrong? I didn’t take the magazine out of the gun. Neither I nor the RO noticed that the magazine was still in the gun. We didn’t visually inspect the chamber to verify it was empty. The RO was as stunned as I was and shared the blame. However, I believe I am always responsible for the safe use of my gun and, in my mind, take 100% of the blame.

What did I learn? When the stage is over, you need to let go of any thoughts about what went right or what went wrong. You need to focus on the task at hand: safety unloading your weapon.

What went right? I’ve heard that there are multiple gun safety rules so that if by some chance you fail to follow one rule, the others will keep you safe. In this case I did follow this rule: “Never point a gun at anything you are unwilling to destroy.” I was holding the gun firmly in my right hand and had the gun pointed downrange. It startled us but caused no danger to anyone in the bay. I am thankful for that.

A good friend was DQd earlier this year for loading his gun before the RO stated , “Load and make ready”. He sat out the rest of the match and I have been hyper alert about waiting for verbal commands since that occurred.

If my mistake can help raise the awareness of other shooters to pay close attention in the “Unload and show clear” steps of a stage, that is worth sharing the experience.

Have fun and stay safe!




Concealed Carry Fashion Show – Sept 19th 2015

2015-0919 Sadie walks the concealed carry purseThe Gun Powder Gals in Fayetteville, NC put out a call for volunteers to participate in a Concealed Carry Fashion Show hosted last weekend. I wanted to know more about carry options for women so I volunteered. I bought a holster (discounted for the models) and then walked in the show.

I got a first hand report on all the holsters as I had time to talk to the models backstage about how they liked each of the options they would be showing. I have one or two new items added to my future shopping list as a result.

There were news crews onsite and two versions were aired. I managed to get a copy of each though the shorter version is not the greatest quality. I’m the one trying not to smile in the pink shirt.

The event included vendors, speakers and the fashion show. Food was available at the venue. A knife fighting demo was also included. Several guns were raffled off with the proceeds (over $2000) donated to the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County.

I intend to write more but for now here’s the video. Enjoy!

Want to get a recommendation? Ask Triangle Tactical!

I asked a question over on the Triangle Tactical Q&A Podcast looking for a recommendation on a shot timer. Luke and Ben delivered. They followed up a week or so later and noted that the timer was at the lowest price it’s been at a long time on Amazon. I went to their site, clicked through to Amazon (to give them a kick back) and saw there was also a used timer listed, so I picked up a Pocket Pro II for about $90.

It showed up this week and I skimmed through the instruction manual. I opted to check out the gun show this weekend and stick to dry fire practice so it’s still a “virgin”, but I’ll be putting it to use soon with live fire practice. I’m still fine using the IPSC Shot Timer app on my Android phone for dry fire.

I don’t listen to many podcasts, but I listen to these guys. They have a nice mix of gear reviews, tips for improving in competition, gun related politics and a generally well grounded outlook on all things guns. Recently they started fielding questions from listeners. I think they give excellent advice and I highly recommend checking them out!

The site is here:

If you are local, check out the calendar for local matches also.




Fun trip to the mountains!

Added a few 9mm holes to the gate sign!

Added a few 9mm holes to the gate sign!

I took a trip to the Virginia mountains with friends and the cabin where we stayed had a shooting range. I brought my 1911 and helped my host out by adding a few 9mm holes to the sign he bought to post on the gate at the road. I wasn’t sure if I’d get any splatter or flying metal, so I shot it at about 10 yards. I have no idea if anyone would take it seriously but it was a fun project!

My host has a collection of restraints so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try shooting in restraints while I was there. I included photos of two of the options I tried shooting with.

Restraint Photo

The challenge was the preparation steps: draw the pistol, load the magazine and then rack the slide. I was able to do that in 4 different types of restraints but not without difficulty. In the case of the bracelet restraints, I could only rack the slide if the metal was lined up with my wrist joint. If they slipped down on my arm at all, I could not rack the slide.

I remember hearing that you can rack the slide one handed by hooking it over the heel of your boot, but I decided that trying that for the first time in restraints with a loaded gun wasn’t a good idea. I’ll have to try that later with an unloaded gun. You never know when you may be wounded and down to a single hand in a defensive situation.

I don’t honestly think I’d ever end up with cuffs and still have my gun handy, but in that far fetched scenario, I know I can shoot and accurately.

I also tried filming video from the front for the first time. I bought a gorilla tripod for my flip camera. We set it up down range and just let it run. I used VideoPad to clip out the segments that looked like they might be worth sharing. I edited out the “load and make ready” segments because they took way too long. I’m thinking practice would make a difference but I’ll reserve my practice time for more realistic scenarios. So just to make it 100% clear: no one was downrange filming to get these video clips.

Trigger Control

I shot a match last Monday night (July 20th, 2015). I had put about 120 rounds through the 1911 since I got it back from S&W and it had worked flawlessly, so I decided to shoot it again in a match. I switched from a USP Compact (a DA/SA gun) to a 1911 (a SAO gun). In more specific terms:

  • DA/SA is a double action trigger pull followed by single action trigger pull. The first trigger pull has to both cock and release the hammer. When the gun fires, the action of the slide cocks the hammer for subsequent shots. So the first pull is long and heavy. Subsequent pulls are light and short in comparison.
  • SAO shoots in single action only. My 1911 has a factory trigger but it’s light at about 3.25 pounds.

To increase my speed with the USP Compact I worked to prep the trigger as I was extending the gun for the first shot. When I shot the first stage of the match I had an AD (accidental discharge). I pulled the trigger after the gun was out of the holster and pointed down range but well before I intended to pull the trigger. The habits built with the H&K were not transferable to the 1911. Here are stills of the first accidental shot and the first intended shot:

AD & 1st Shot-vertical

The RSO noted that at matches with more structured rules I would have been disqualified. I would not have argued with that. Since the shot went into the backstop they did let me continue to shoot. The rest of my match went well.

This was a huge wake up call to focus even more on my draw and where my trigger finger is at all times. To pull the still of the AD, I found a way to step through the video in slow motion. I then saw all the extraneous movement in my draw and alignment for the first shot. That was another eye opener. When I watch it at full speed I don’t really see all the small movements, but in slow motion it becomes very clear.

I’ve included the video of the match. I’ll be shooting these stages again next Wednesday night. The Wake County Range will be closed for most of August for cleaning and renovation. The next Monday match will be in September.

Start with an unloaded gun. Really.

Stage start with magazine and empty gun on the barrel.

Stage start with magazine and empty gun on the barrel.

I shot the IDPA match in Oxford today. Frank let us opt out of cover garments due to the heat. That was a great start to the match. Our squad started on Stage 2 so shot Stage 1 last and I got a treat: something totally new. We started the stage with the gun unloaded and both the gun and magazine lying on a flat surface (barrel top).

When the buzzer went off, I picked up the gun and the magazine, loaded, racked a round into the chamber and got buzy shooting. The video clip shows the first half of the stage with 2 shots on each cardboard target and one shot to knock down the plate.

New challenges are the #1 thing I like about shooting matches. This isn’t a difficult way to start a stage but you do need to try to get the parts together and get it loaded quickly to get to the actual shooting. Here’s how it went: