Leverage your friends, they have cool guns too!

Sunday I agreed to go shooting with a friend I haven’t seen since I before I started shooting. He saw me on the news in an interview done by the local station and he reached out. I never feel I spend enough time at the range and I didn’t want to give up my structured practices to hang out with someone I wasn’t even sure was safe with guns… so I procrastinated.

Bad girl! Other than dealing with the chaos that is becoming normal on the weekend at a gun range, I had a good time. He has a nice collection of Springfield Armory guns. I let him shoot my 1911. Until I had to admit that my XD9 was really too wide for my hand, I loved that gun. It’s simple to use, reliable, and simple to clean. I shot a .40 and .45 caliber pistol for the first time. Very manageable.

I bought a 1911 with a 5″ barrel to replace the XD9 as my competition gun but haven’t yet bought a carry gun because there are just too many decisions to make and I don’t want to buy a gun I don’t end up liking and that I have not shot.

I walked away from shooting with my friend with a slam dunk of a choice. He has a Springfield XD-S in .45 calibre. It’s small, it’s thin, and it’s an XD! It’s a bruiser to shoot but I felt that with practice I could manage it nicely. It never jammed for him. It did jam for me, but I think I must have been limp-wristing the gun.

I made a decision early on that I wasn’t going to buy any more guns unless they were in 9mm. I don’t want to have to stock up on multiple calibers. My life, my decision.

Word from the SHOT show is that Springfield will be producing this gun in 9mm in the spring. I want this one. Easy, easy decision. To make it even easier, holsters should already be available as the .45 holsters should also fit the 9mm model. Win!

Now, I need to figure out how to get on a list somewhere to order this as I get the impression it will be popular.

For my reference, here is a review:







Shooting is fun. Cleaning is frustrating…

Last weekend I decided to clean a few guns:

Field stripped S&W 22A

  • The .22 target pistol Mom likes to shoot,
  • the Springfield XD9 I last shot in November as I don’t know when I’ll shoot it again,
  • and the 1911 as I’ve put about 700 rounds through it.

The .22 and the XD9 were simple to disassemble, clean, lubricate and reassemble. The 1911, not so much.

The 1911 took me about 2 dozen tries to get the slide lock back in the gun after I cleaned it. I never got frustrated. I just read a bit in the 1911 maintenance manual I bought from my favorite gunsmith, and I knew I’d done it before so it had to be possible. Also I knew that if I paid the gun smith a visit, he’d help me.

Field stripped Springfield XD9. Easiest gun I own to field strip and reassemble.

I don’t like cleaning my guns, but there is a real since of satisfaction when I take the time and I’m actually able to take them apart and put them back together. At first I was only focused on getting them apart and back together. Then I focused more on cleaning. I think I’m doing a pretty good job of both now. Where I still feel short on knowledge is in the area of lubrication. But I took my best guess and I’ll be doing some research on that for the future.

I’m still missing a grip screw on the 1911. I ordered a set that I thought would fit my grips but it was clear when I looked at the gun then at the new screws that this was a “wrong” purchase. I checked the Brownell’s site again and I’m just not seeing the screws I need.

So I’ll be visiting the gun smith this week any way. I’m really thankful I took the time to get to know him and I trust he can help me figure this out. Then there is the conversation about way to keep the screws in the grip…. LockTite? Finger nail polish?


Taking Mom Shooting

Last weekend I took my mom shooting. She won’t go unless someone goes with her and I’m the one that has stepped up to make that happen. So when she asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told her that time with the people I cared about was more important to me than “things”. I wanted to book a weekend to come visit her (she’s 4 hours away from me), to take a side trip that was important to both of us, and to take mom shooting. She seemed excited about that. I looked at the calendar and just before Christmas I gave her the dates for the trip.

Last weekend I went down to honor that commitment. I took my .22 target pistol as she feels more comfortable shooting that than the .38 Special the fellow at the local gun store sold her. I also brought my 1911 so I could get in some practice with the gun I’m competing with.

Sunday morning she asked me to take a look at her computer. I do tech support for a living. I will bow out of working on friend’s computers because I do too much of that at work, but my parents ensured I got a good education and helping them with their computers feels like a small payback for their contribution toward helping me develop a very marketable skill. While I was dealing with that she said she’d pack up her gear to go to the range.

She came to me and told me that she could not find her gun. Really. I’m not making this up. I wish I was. What good is a gun when an intruder busts in your house if
(a) it’s not loaded and
(b) you can’t find it ???

Another 15 minutes and voila! We found her revolver. Then we had a discussion about how much good a gun will do you if you can’t lay your hands on it instantly when there is a threat. I told her to remind me to show her some bio-metric hand gun safes when we went to the local range. We found one at the range where we shot so now she understands that option.

We headed to the local range. I’ve shot their with her once before so I knew that all I needed was a driver’s license (ID) to book a lane. Mom lives in a different state and the range closest to her house requires no test or confirmation that you know how to shoot safely. Just ID. That actually freaked me out the first time we went…. because I was so new to shooting that I still felt like a “poser”. But the fact was I knew enough to be safe since Mom would listen to me and we had a good experience on our first trip to this venue. That was Mother’s Day 2012. Yes, I took my mom shooting for Mother’s Day. I consider that a truly inspired “gift”.

I skipped the safety briefing this time as I’ve gone over that with her several times now. We got a lane, laid out 3 guns: her .38 Special,. my 22. target pistol, and my 9mm 1911 competition pistol. I noticed that one of the grip screws on my 1911 was missing… and wasn’t too happy about that.

Mom shot my .22 and her .38. She never shoots much and you can tell she’s pushing herself to shoot the .38, but she was significantly more accurate than the last time I took her shooting. I was really proud of her!

I put about 70 rounds through the 1911. The rules at that range said that I couldn’t draw from a holster so I worked on keeping my grip strong and not adjusting my hands between shots. I also worked on longer distance shots.

After shooting we split a pizza and than headed back to her house. Mom told me she could clean her revolver herself and asked if it was ok to wait till the next day. I often procrastinate on cleaning my guns so I’m the last one to insist on immediate cleaning. I also knew she’d only put about 12 rounds through her revolver, so I told her tomorrow would be fine. I didn’t plan to clean my guns till the following weekend.

I headed back home and felt pretty good about my choice of Christmas gifts: because Mom is building her confidence and I’m happy to help with that.




New Year, New Match

I missed the IDPA matches nearest where I live in November and December due to family holiday obligations. I am also getting used to the 1911 I bought and was finally able to shoot in mid-November (after getting the grips downsized). I’m not used to a gun with a thumb safety and I can’t say I’m a big fan at this point. However, I bought the gun, I paid a twice what I’ve paid for any other gun and I want to spend the time to give it a fair assessment.

So after 7 trips to the range to practice things that are new with this gun like the grip and draw with a thumb safety, I decided to shoot an outdoor match at The Range in Oxford today. This was my first outdoor match and the first match I’ve decided to shoot and not arranged to meet a friend there. I did email Frank to ask about the calendar and confirm what time the match started. I told him I’d be there as I wanted to make a commitment to someone. I’ve found that knowing I’m accountable to my word is a strong motivator for me and I was very nervous about this due to the new gun, new range, and no friends for moral support.

This morning it was raining as I left my house but was clear as I arrived at The Range. The first lesson of the day is that registration starts at 11am but the match doesn’t start until 1pm. I’ll be targeting a 12:30 arrival in the future.

I wasn’t sure what to wear as it was just over freezing when I left my house. Ideally I wanted to tuck in everything but my concealment garment. By 1pm it was warm enough to easily do that but I might consider a larger pair of jeans to be able to manage that with thicker layers on colder days. I used a fleece vest as a concealment garment today and that worked well.

I brought no food or water. I did eat a substantial breakfast and they sell bottled water at a bargain (50 cents), but I should be more self sufficient. Beef jerky, granola bars, or something portable would be a good idea.

My range bag is heavy. At an indoor match I’d park it in the room where we wait for an open stage and come back to it between stages. At an outdoor match you haul it around. The only thing I really needed was ammo and my UpLULA (for me an absolute necessity). In the future, I think I’ll leave the range bag in the car and bring a smaller bag from stage to stage with just food, water and ammo.

I attended a safety briefing for “new shooters” and was reminded to put on the gun & holster at the car then DO NOT take the gun out of the holster until I get up to the line to shoot. It stays in the holster until I put it back in the car at the end of the match.

They split us into 6 squads and started us in one of 6 bays. Our squad started in Bay 2. We proceeded to 3,4,5,6, and 1. It went fairly quickly. There were about 10 shooters per squad so about 60 folks competing.

Here’s how it went for me:

  • The thumb safety caused me all kinds of issues. I had not practiced loading a barney round then doing a chamber check. I loaded the first round. The RSO says, “put on your safety”. I pulled the empty mag out and put in the full mag. I went to do a chamber check and it turns out you can’t if the safety is on. I worked this all out but it flustered me enough I didn’t check that the mag was seated and…. of course…. it wasn’t.
  • I ran into multiple issues on the 2nd stage I shot. At one point I did a tactical reload and popped the partially full magazine in the waist band of my jeans. I must I pushed a bit harder than usual as the next thing I felt was the magazine snaking down my leg until it hit the ground. Another first!
  • I was more accurate than previous matches, at the cost of speed. But for now I’m happy with that trade-off.
  • I had a few conversations with other shooters and felt that the Range Safety Officers were supportive.

It was a good day!