Sunday, June 7, 2020

Things That Actually Served Me Well

I'm a firm believer in sharing solid information with other folks who are interested.  That's the entire purpose of this blog.  My wife and I took a trip to Africa last year.  We spent almost almost two years planning and booking the trip.  During that time I read hundreds of gear reviews, not wanting an essential item to fail and to ruin the trip.  Towards that end we purchased quite a bit of new gear, most of which performed as advertised or even exceeded our expectations.  In other cases we used items that we had owned for some time and had a proven track record.

So what served me well?  Here's a short list of items I used.


We live in a digital age where everything is interconnected.  I was actually looking forward to unplugging from the world while exploring the national parks of Kenya.  As fate would have it, there was almost no place that I was not connected.  Imagine if you will, riding in the back of a Land Cruiser, poised to take a shot of giraffe and zebra, when your son texts you from 8000 miles away to complain about his car acting up...

While that part was a bit of a let down, the ability to access the web was handy while traveling.  Pulling up maps, navigating Heathrow, navigating the Tube, taking short videos of wildlife and the countryside, using the phone as an alarm, listening to music, watching movies, and even tracking finances were all done with our phones.  Most any quality smartphone would suffice.  My company uses iPhones so I use one for my personal use for consistency and convenience.

Carhartt Clothing:

Specifically a hat and a couple pair of cargo shorts.  The hat was Carhartt's Odessa Hat.  I was specifically looking for something that didn't have bright colors, was washable, packable, and low key.
Carhartt Odessa Hat and WileyX Hayden glasses.

WileyX Hayden Prescription Sunglasses:

Eyewear is a rather subjective topic.  I was looking for something that I could use on our trip for eye protection, use at work for eye protection, use on the range for eye protection, and still be able to use my prescription.  I do not wear contacts so my choices are somewhat limited.  The WileyX Hayden glasses fit the bill quite well with the added benefit of having transitional, polarizing lenses.  I found them to be heavy for prolonged wear and the curve of the lenses create a blurred area at the edge of my peripheral vision, both of which are limitations however, I wear them daily at work and when I go to the range and have been quite satisfied with them.

Merrell Moab Hiking Boots:

I really thought we were going to spend a lot more time walking than we did.  Most of our foot travel was getting through airports and moving from our vehicle to various structures.  The most walking we did outside of moving through the various airports was a short visit in London.  I had spent a a fair bit of time prior to our trip walking and breaking in my Moab boots.  They did quite well on the trip and have seen much harder use at home than traversing the 'wilds' of Africa.

Columbia Ultimate ROC Pants:

Quite easily some of the most comfortable pants I've ever worn.  I've used the original ROC pants at work and they held up much better than I expected in a trade that tends to eat pants and spit them out ripped and torn.  The Ultimate ROC Pants were comfortable for moving through the airports, long flights, long rides in Land Cruisers, getting in and out of those same Land Cruisers, and were nice enough for casual wear to dinner.  I'm still using the same two pair I took with me and they have held up well.  The right, front, zippered security pocket was great for stowing my wallet so I didn't have to worry as much about pick pockets while in crowded areas.

5.11 Covert Boxpack:

I didn't use the Covert Boxpack much on the trip to Africa but used it while there and on the return trip home.  I'm not all that thrilled over the black interior of mine, especially in the Admin section of the pack.  It makes it very difficult to find items without using a flashlight.  With that being said, it was an excellent option as a carry-on pack and for navigating the wilds of international airports.  It also served well as our tech gear bag while traveling around Africa.  Since being home I've used it for several weekend jaunts and for a couple of clamping trips with relatives.  It's an excellent 24 hour pack at roughly 1800 cubic inches or 30 liters.

Damn the Spammers! Half speed ahead!

It seems that a spammer has found my little blog and has started posting spam comments.  While there's not a lot of discussion I don't care to have the comments section cluttered up with malicious links.  The options available were to either shut down the comments entirely, only allow blog members to comment, or to moderate the comments.  I've chosen to moderate for now but may go to a members only comment section at a later date.

Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

10 Shots Quick!

When people discuss Savage firearms they are usually referring to rifles and shotguns. A little over a century ago Savage Arms not only made pistols, they gave firearms manufacturing giant Colt and firearm design icon John Browning a run for their money during the 1907 US Pistol and Revolver Trials held by the US Army.

During those trials the US Army sent out invitations to twenty manufacturers to submit a pistol or revolver design for testing.  By the end of the testing the only remaining contestants were what became the Colt Model of 1911 and the Savage Model 1907.  Both pistols were chambered in 45 ACP per the specifications.  The Colt pistol was adopted and went on to serve with the US military through two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and various other conflicts.
Savage model 1915 on left, Savage model 1907 on right.

Savage on the other hand, never produced any of their .45 caliber pistols other than those for the trials.  Instead the decision was made to use the lessons learned during the pistol trials and sell the same guns in calibers .32 ACP and .380 ACP.  Savage had one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns f the time and made use of endorsements by such notables as Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, and Dr. Carver, who was a noted wing shooter at the time.  Much like recent advertising slogans that have become part of pop culture, Savage's "10 Shots Quick!" was a recognized, household term at the time.

The decision to pursue commercial rather than military sales and the aggressive advertising campaigns were ultimately successful.  Around 200,000 units were sold between 1907 and the late 1920s, including just under 30,000 sold to the French and Portuguese militaries.  Even the 288 .45 caliber pistols were resold commercially.

The Savage 1907 came on my radar when watching Road to Perdition, a 2002 movie about an on the run mob enforcer played by Tom Hanks who's son witnessed a murder.  One of the assassins sent after them, played by Jude Law used a Savage 1907.  I thought it was one of the most stylish pistols that I have ever seen.  The term "Art Deco before Art Deco was cool" has been used to describe the little Savage pistols.
"Art Deco before Art Deco was cool."

The 1907 line of pistols included several innovations that were not repeated in American firearms production for decades.  The 1907 is a striker fired pistol that was mass produced 76 years before the Glock 17 was accepted by the Austrian military and 79 years before the Glock USA factory was built in Smyrna, GA.  The 1907 was also the first mass produced pistol with a double stack magazine.  The Browning Hi Power, which was noted for utilizing a double stack magazine, wasn't produced until 1935  in Belgium.  That's 28 years after the 1907.  The next American mass-produced pistol with a double stack magazine was the S&W Model 59, which didn't come onto the scene until 1971, 64 years after the Savage 1907.

Savage 1907 in .32 ACP made in 1913.

Savage spent a LOT of time and effort advertising their pistols as premium, defensive pistols.  In order to test that claim I used a modern shooting drill, electronic timer, and a IPSC target to test the viability of the pistol for defensive use.  I used the IDPA 5x5 Classifier as a baseline and shot it from seven yards instead of the proscribed ten, mainly due to the minuscule sights on the gun.  I do not have a suitable holster and those were not considered as important to the use of private citizens as we prefer now.  Since it was advertised as a pocket pistol I worked out of a pocket with a loaded magazine, chamber empty.  I'm only willing to trust the mechanical safeties of a 107 year old pistol so far.  Additionally, the Safety Lever was designed for right handed use and I'm left handed, so chamber empty it was.

The ultimate conclusion's viable a defensive pistol, even by today's standards.  I shot this drill cold taking only three shots to verify function, accuracy, and feeding.  The times were extremely slow.  Drawing from the pocket and chambering a round, then acquiring a sight picture and decent trigger press was tough to start off.  Stage 1 required 5.4 seconds to run through that process.  By Stage 4 I had pared it down to 3.24 seconds.  Splits (the time between shots) were also very slow by today's standards, the average of splits on the first stage was 1.69 seconds.  By Stage 4 that had been whittled down to 1.04 seconds.  Neither is all that great however, keep in mind I ran this cold, with an unfamiliar gun with a very stiff trigger.  Those times could be worked down to an acceptable level.  A decent holster would get the presentation to the first shot down to well under two seconds and I would be satisfied with .40-.50 splits.
Results of the modified IDPA 5x5 drill from seven yards.

So if I'm transported back to that seemingly magical time that existed before the First World War and need to arm myself, the Savage 1907 is going to be at the top of my list.

Author's note:

I edited this post due to the cumbersome wording and numerous spelling mistakes.  My apologies and thanks for those who managed to work their way through the first writing.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Beretta M9

The Beretta M9/92 series of pistols is nothing short of iconic.  The M9 is the pistol that replaced the 1911A1 in US military service.  Many police departments and sheriff's offices adopted it.  it is quite easily one of the most recognized firearms used in movies as well.  Like most icons it is loved and hated.  I have never had any serious interest in one until I started working with the Beretta 81.  I was so impressed with that pistol as well as the 84 series that I decided to go on the hunt for one of the 92 family.
Beretta M9

I came across a lightly used USA made M9 with a few, minor upgrades.  The guide rod was metal as opposed to polymer.  The OEM plastic grip panels had been replaced with aluminum panels, and the hammer spring had been replaced with the D spring.  Not a bad start for folks that like to tweak their guns, unfortunately other than the guide rod none of those modifications suited me at all.

One of the many complaints about the M9/92 pistols is the size of the grip, especially for a pistol that originally only held 15 + 1 rounds of 9mm.  I was not at all happy with the size of the grips and the difficulty I had getting a solid grip.  The alternatives were to modify the existing grips or purchase thinner grips.  There are several companies making G10 grips so I decided to take that route.  I chose, with my wife's help, a set of grips from Cool Hand Gear.
M9 with Cool Hand Grips

Even with the D Spring I was having difficulty managing the trigger.  This was a bit of a departure for me as I have a lot of experience shooting double action revolvers, TDA pistols, and Double Action Only pistols.  After running 1024 rounds through the pistol and still not having the trigger management I preferred, I installed a 13# Hammer Spring from Wolff Gunspring.  The next 103 rounds of 9 mm and 300 rounds using a 22 caliber upper were much more pleasant to shoot.

So in order to make the pistol shootable for me I had to install a thinner set of grips.  They still require some modification to fit me better.  I also had to drop the Hammer Spring down to 13#s.  Of course I did my usual modification of painting the front sight and blacking out the dots on the rear sight.  So to make the M9 suitable for my purposes I've invested an additional $40 in gun parts.  The 1127 rounds of 9mm and 300 rounds of .22 are difficult to track for investment so I'll leave that out.  I'll also do a separate post on the .22 upper.