a dose of sanity

Speak Out January/February 2020
1

I’m not in the habit of writing letters to the editor, but Tiger McKee’s column about being “Un-Tactical” (Tactics & Training, Nov/Dec 2019) was so on-the-head perfect I just had to. His drawing the distinction between LE/Military and civilian use of firearms was masterful. Most of the trainers I see are teaching LE/Military tactics to us plain folk and in the real world those will get us in trouble fast. Thanks to Tiger — and Handgunner — for putting this into print.

John Sullivan
Via email

And …

Tiger’s article was a breath of fresh air. Attended my first formal training course back in 1996. At that time, the recommendation to wear the clothing and gear you’d most likely be wearing as part of your daily attire was obvious for civilians. It was also intended to suggest to patrol officers they use their Sam Browne duty gear. It’s for this reason I curse the global war on terrorism for the impact it has had on the typical civilian student. Years ago I observed with disgust some class pictures from a course that displayed civilians jocked-up in all manner of battle-rattle. It looked like a modern rendition of the Bianchi Wild Bunch poster. Real world? Yeah, right.
Name withheld by request

Good Council

These are indeed troubled times, and in times like we’re experiencing now we need the counsel of people like Tiger McKee. I really like Tiger’s new column Tactics & Training, it’s the first article I read when I receive a new Handgunner. Tiger’s columns are logical, and well thought out — as he points out when he says most of us are not warriors. There may have been a time when many of us performed this type of work, but that was a while ago. Today we’re concerned with protecting ourselves and our families and trying to keep what we’ve got.

Robert Heinlein said, “Adversity is a strainer which refuses to pass the ill-equipped.” Hopefully with critical thinking like that found in Tiger’s columns we will be much better prepared.

Donald Cox
Las Vegas, NV

Tiger’s Right

I just finished reading the recent Tactics & Training by Tiger McKee. Under the heading of “Your Actions” in the center of the page is a paragraph starting with “If absolutely necessary …” and ending with “But, your intent is not to kill.” Everything in this paragraph was testimony I provided, under oath, in a preliminary hearing more than 20 years ago.

The matter was dismissed and the officer went on with his life. Some officers said I saved the day but that’s what I taught. I’m sure Mr. McKee makes more sense than anyone I’ve read, and not because I agree with him — but because he’s absolutely right!

Walter Leonetti
Via email

Karla Rocks

I’ve really had a good time reading Karla Van Horn’s leather stories, what a hoot! Your magazine surpasses all others, please keep strong!
Rod Campbell
Montana

Rod, check out this issue to find Karla’s take on how to care for exotic handgun grips. Another “vintage Karla” take on things. —RH

Hackles Raised?

I absolutely love Handgunner and GUNS magazines and never bother reading any other gun mags, except American Rifleman. But I have to say Roy Huntington’s article, “A Retro-Mod 1911” (Nov/Dec, 2019) issue raised my pet peeve hackles a might. Gun scribes often advise against refinishing old guns because it “Removes the history of that gun,” but this carefully applied “worn and patinaed” finish basically attempts to create a “history” that never existed! Sounds downright Soviet to me! But hey, to each his own, it’s your money, beauty is in the eye, and any other clichés you can think of!

If whacking your credenza with a rusty chain to make it “antique” is your thing, then this gun is probably right up your alley. Just do me a favor and be sure to wear your jeans when you take this gun to the range. You know, the “stonewashed” poly-blend ones with the carefully placed holes in the knees. As for me, I prefer the “history” on my guns comes naturally, and by my own hand.

Keep up the great work, and God bless!

Robert Sweeney
Pahrump, NV

Point well taken, Robert. Like you, I like my old Colts with genuine wear and tear. But having said this, I recently put some patina on a pair of clone-guns (an SAA and a Model 92) for a weekend cowboy action shooter. I have to admit, it turned what were boring, almost invisible guns into ones catching the eye a bit. A friend visited while I was finishing up and spotted the Model 92. “Hey, where’d you get that great old Winchester?” he exclaimed. Once he picked it up, it took him a few seconds, then he said, “I’ll be damned, you sure fooled me for a bit there! This looks great!” I admit it was a fun project. —RH

Shooting Back

Thanks to Alan Korwin for his article “Shooting Back Checks Out Bad Guys” (Gun Rights, Nov/Dec, 2019). His statements, “Even plainly clothed congregants are learning about directed observation, pattern recognition, spotting things out of the ordinary. Dangerous lone strangers are facing a new threat to their safety, to which they are virtually unaware. The Rabbis know who is armed in the congregation, pastors are participating, priests are privy to reports. Training is taking place.” — are exactly on-target. As a pastor, I am involved in training my congregation to take those exact measures. Although I would never have thought of this necessity a few years ago, it’s certainly a reality now and my congregation is thankful for the security measures we have established.

Perhaps a lesson from the founding of our nation can help. One of my heroes from the American Revolution is Rev. Jonas Clark. John Hancock and Samuel Adams were visiting in the home of Rev. Clark one night. As they discussed tyranny, oppression and independence, Hancock and Adams asked Rev. Clark, “If war came, will the people of Lexington fight?” Rev. Clark didn’t wring his hands and wonder, he simply replied, “I have trained them for just that.” The next day the “Shot heard ’round the world” was fired in the buggy lot of Rev. Clark’s church.

People of his congregation were killed. Looking with anguish, Clark said, “From this day will be dated the liberty of the world.” It began with the church, with a pastor — and many other pastors who were not afraid to speak out on liberty, oppression and tyranny. It must continue the same way in America today.
Rev. Jeff Jinks
Via email

Close ’Em Down!

I’m seeing a lot of the “close it down” mentality for sites that are simply hate sites. I strongly suggest all these be left up and open. Put an invisible listener/tag on the site, showing who is visiting it, and as much info as is possible to get about that person. Make it a legal requirement to inform about a person who is getting ready to cause a mass shooting. It seems most all post their intent, so they can be identified. When the police get a notification, it can be run against any tag list/data base, to see if the report might be valid. If that person has a “follow” tag, go get them. 

The thing is, if Google and Facebook can do this for underwear ads (remember how they follow you from browser to browser or website to website?), these tech people can do the same against mass shooters and terrorists. I feel methods of this nature would work better than the ignored laws all the knee jerk reactionaries propose.

Drake
Via email

.40 Or 9mm?

I’m fast approaching 80, but I still attend shooting classes at least 2–3 times a year. In the meantime, I shoot monthly in the Arizona desert where I can practice realistic shooting drills. For almost as long as I can remember, instructors recommend a 9mm as the smallest caliber firearm that should be used in self defense — and most still do. 

When I first got into self-defense shooting I started out with the 9mm. Then came police reports the 9mm could not put down a drug-crazed bad guy. Thus the police started going to the .40 S&W. So, I dumped my 9mm guns and went to the .40 as my self-defense caliber.

Now I see the craze is back to the 9mm, and even the .380. What am I missing here? Most of what I see in Handgunner are articles on 9mm and .380 pistols and how great they are. How are these two calibers useful as self-defense loads? I just do not get it. I’m sticking with my .40 HPs for my self-defense loads.

Chuck Stury aka “Bwana”
Tucson, AZ

Much of it is ammo technology changes, Chuck. In the early days of the 9mm (say, in the late 1970s and into the middle 1980s) bullet technology was unable to assure reliable performance in 9mm/.380 loads. So the idea of bigger holes (bigger calibers) made some sense. But by the early 1990s bullet tech caught up, and now today’s 9mm and .380 loads are extremely effective. Indeed, in the real world of documented shootings, there is essentially no difference between terminal performance between the 9mm/.40/.45 calibers. And recently, with the advent of some extremely effective .380 loads (like Black Hills HoneyBadger, CCI loads, Federal loads, etc.) the .380 is showing itself to be a reliable performer too.

I was a beat cop in San Diego, retiring in 1998. By then we had been carrying autos in 9mm for about 12 years. We used Winchester, then Federal 147-gr. sub-sonic loads in 9mm. When I retired we’d killed 74 bad guys with nothing I’d call a failure as long as the suspect was hit well. The 9mm worked fine and was easy to handle. Most agencies using the .40 are moving back to the 9mm for cost and the fact officers can shoot them better (faster follow-up shots, more accuracy, etc.) especially among the novice shooters being hired today.

You’re fine with the .40, but you can also be assured any good quality modern 9mm defensive ammo or even .380 ammo in a good gun would be fine too. I particularly like the S&W EZ .380 M&P. It’s a sort of medium-sized .380 with an easy-to-run slide, great sights, crisp trigger and easy to load magazine. Keep an open mind. —RH

Mass Shooter Studies

Mass shootings and suicides have something in common. They are generally perpetrated by those with mental issues. Yet because elected officials of a certain political bent do not want to stigmatize or label someone as having mental health issues they have drastically reduced funding for mental health services of all kinds over the past few decades. I am not a psychologist, but my wife (who is a concealed carrier by the way) holds her PhD in the mental health field. According to her there are multiple, valid testing tools available which could identify (and hopefully help) potential mass shooters or suicidal subjects in advance, but the funding to support such testing and the mental health professionals who could provide appropriate intervention is simply not there. 

On another subject, Dave Anderson’s article on “One Eye Or Two?” (Better Shooting, Nov/Dec 2019) caught my attention. I am an old school cop taught to shoot a handgun well over 50 years ago, and the non-dominant eye closed was what was taught. I stayed with that for decades until it occurred to me one-eyed shooting contributes to a loss of depth perception and results in more tunnel vision than desired in a combat shooting. I tried like heck to break the old habit. Two things have made it much easier. One is fiber optic sights and the other is a red dot optic on my handguns. My daily CCW gun has fiber optics and for those (even in retirement) times I choose to carry, I use my last duty weapon with the added advantage of the red dot. Maybe it’s just me but those two sight enhancements (compared to classic iron sights) make shooting with both eyes open much easier.

Thanks for the very best handgun magazine ever.

Jerry Boyd
Via email

Violence

Terry Baker’s letter “Our Responsibilities” (Speak Out, Nov/Dec 2019) was most thought provoking. While he addressed the use of firearms in violent crimes and suicides, he neglected to confront the cause of violence we are now experiencing. Over the last 60 years our society has abandoned its customs, morals, traditions and self-restraint to limit bad behavior, including criminality. Many of our politicians, clergy and educators avoid condemning the worst among us and the atrocities they commit. It has become commonplace for teachers to be threatened with violence, or actually to suffer it. Much of our “art” is little more than filth that in many circles is celebrated and defended. Much of this is aimed directly at our children. Our language too has become debased. Terrorist acts and other criminal mass murders commonly are referred to as “tragedies” when in fact they are atrocities. Those committing such violence are referred to as “extremists,” “militants,” “depressed,” “angry” or other euphemisms. Moreover, when the responsible parties are caught they are rarely ever executed. Does anybody remember Nicholas Cruz? For 20 months since he murdered over a score of students at Douglas High School in Florida he’s been provided with “three hots and a cot” at taxpayer expense. Why has he not been hung? We have become inured to behavior our parents and grandparents would never have tolerated.

Our violence problem is not caused by guns — it’s cultural degeneration and deviancy. These are incredibly complex issues, and not amenable to any “quick fixes.” However, until those matters are addressed and dealt with, the past is but a prelude to the future. It will not be affected by limiting the rights of the citizenry, limiting the kinds of firearms we can own or the number of cartridges they can hold. Such proposals come from fools or charlatans, and will do nothing to cure our nation.
I appreciate Handgunner’s willingness to allow people to be heard.
Nevin D. Holmberg
Via email

Close ’Em Down!

 I’m seeing a lot of the “close it down” mentality for sites that are simply hate sites. I strongly suggest all these be left up and open. Put an invisible listener/tag on the site, showing who is visiting it, and as much info as is possible to get about that person. Make it a legal requirement to inform about a person who is getting ready to cause a mass shooting. It seems most all post their intent, so they can be identified. When the police get a notification, it can be run against any tag list/data base, to see if the report might be valid. If that person has a “follow” tag, go get them. 

The thing is, if Google and Facebook can do this for underwear ads (remember how they follow you from browser to browser or website to website?), these tech people can do the same against mass shooters and terrorists. I feel methods of this nature would work better than the ignored laws all the knee jerk reactionaries propose.

Drake
Via email

.40 Or 9mm?

I’m fast approaching 80, but I still attend shooting classes at least 2–3 times a year. In the meantime, I shoot monthly in the Arizona desert where I can practice realistic shooting drills. For almost as long as I can remember, instructors recommend a 9mm as the smallest caliber firearm that should be used in self defense — and most still do. 

When I first got into self-defense shooting I started out with the 9mm. Then came police reports the 9mm could not put down a drug-crazed bad guy. Thus the police started going to the .40 S&W. So, I dumped my 9mm guns and went to the .40 as my self-defense caliber.

Now I see the craze is back to the 9mm, and even the .380. What am I missing here? Most of what I see in Handgunner are articles on 9mm and .380 pistols and how great they are. How are these two calibers useful as self-defense loads? I just do not get it. I’m sticking with my .40 HPs for my self-defense loads.

Chuck Stury aka “Bwana”
Tucson, AZ
     
Much of it is ammo technology changes, Chuck. In the early days of the 9mm (say, in the late 1970s and into the middle 1980s) bullet technology was unable to assure reliable performance in 9mm/.380 loads. So the idea of bigger holes (bigger calibers) made some sense. But by the early 1990s bullet tech caught up, and now today’s 9mm and .380 loads are extremely effective. Indeed, in the real world of documented shootings, there is essentially no difference between terminal performance between the 9mm/.40/.45 calibers. And recently, with the advent of some extremely effective .380 loads (like Black Hills HoneyBadger, CCI loads, Federal loads, etc.) the .380 is showing itself to be a reliable performer too.

I was a beat cop in San Diego, retiring in 1998. By then we had been carrying autos in 9mm for about 12 years. We used Winchester, then Federal 147-gr. sub-sonic loads in 9mm. When I retired we’d killed 74 bad guys with nothing I’d call a failure as long as the suspect was hit well. The 9mm worked fine and was easy to handle. Most agencies using the .40 are moving back to the 9mm for cost and the fact officers can shoot them better (faster follow-up shots, more accuracy, etc.) especially among the novice shooters being hired today.

You’re fine with the .40, but you can also be assured any good quality modern 9mm defensive ammo or even .380 ammo in a good gun would be fine too. I particularly like the S&W EZ .380 M&P. It’s a sort of medium-sized .380 with an easy-to-run slide, great sights, crisp trigger and easy to load magazine. Keep an open mind. —RH

Mass Shooter Studies

Mass shootings and suicides have something in common. They are generally perpetrated by those with mental issues. Yet because elected officials of a certain political bent do not want to stigmatize or label someone as having mental health issues they have drastically reduced funding for mental health services of all kinds over the past few decades. I am not a psychologist, but my wife (who is a concealed carrier by the way) holds her PhD in the mental health field. According to her there are multiple, valid testing tools available which could identify (and hopefully help) potential mass shooters or suicidal subjects in advance, but the funding to support such testing and the mental health professionals who could provide appropriate intervention is simply not there. 

On another subject, Dave Anderson’s article on “One Eye Or Two?” (Better Shooting, Nov/Dec 2019) caught my attention. I am an old school cop taught to shoot a handgun well over 50 years ago, and the non-dominant eye closed was what was taught. I stayed with that for decades until it occurred to me one-eyed shooting contributes to a loss of depth perception and results in more tunnel vision than desired in a combat shooting. I tried like heck to break the old habit. Two things have made it much easier. One is fiber optic sights and the other is a red dot optic on my handguns. My daily CCW gun has fiber optics and for those (even in retirement) times I choose to carry, I use my last duty weapon with the added advantage of the red dot. Maybe it’s just me but those two sight enhancements (compared to classic iron sights) make shooting with both eyes open much easier.
Thanks for the very best handgun magazine ever.

Jerry Boyd
Via email

Violence

ilities” (Speak Out, Nov/Dec 2019) was most thought provoking. While he addressed the use of firearms in violent crimes and suicides, he neglected to confront the cause of violence we are now experiencing. Over the last 60 years our society has abandoned its customs, morals, traditions and self-restraint to limit bad behavior, including criminality. Many of our politicians, clergy and educators avoid condemning the worst among us and the atrocities they commit. It has become commonplace for teachers to be threatened with violence, or actually to suffer it. Much of our “art” is little more than filth that in many circles is celebrated and defended. Much of this is aimed directly at our children. Our language too has become debased. Terrorist acts and other criminal mass murders commonly are referred to as “tragedies” when in fact they are atrocities. Those committing such violence are referred to as “extremists,” “militants,” “depressed,” “angry” or other euphemisms. Moreover, when the responsible parties are caught they are rarely ever executed. Does anybody remember Nicholas Cruz? For 20 months since he murdered over a score of students at Douglas High School in Florida he’s been provided with “three hots and a cot” at taxpayer expense. Why has he not been hung? We have become inured to behavior our parents and grandparents would never have tolerated.

Our violence problem is not caused by guns — it’s cultural degeneration and deviancy. These are incredibly complex issues, and not amenable to any “quick fixes.” However, until those matters are addressed and dealt with, the past is but a prelude to the future. It will not be affected by limiting the rights of the citizenry, limiting the kinds of firearms we can own or the number of cartridges they can hold. Such proposals come from fools or charlatans, and will do nothing to cure our nation.

I appreciate Handgunner’s willingness to allow people to be heard.

Nevin D. Holmberg
Via email

Home Defense Revolvers

ticle (Tactics & Training, July/Aug 2019) about revolvers and home defense. While my carry gun is a compact 9, my nightstand gun is a lightweight .38 snub. It’s also a great around-the-house gun. Nothing slides out of a pocket (holstered, of course) than the round frame of a wheel gun. With a bobbed hammer and smooth grips, it’s a pound of personal protection. It does take practice to keep up with it, but a box or two a month at the range will keep you consistent. You will not improve, that will take more time and ammo. But if you are at a good place, it will keep you consistent.

And for we lefties, Charter Arms makes the Southpaw. A lightweight .38 snub, +P rated revolver made from the ground up for we “10 percenters” — with the cylinder latch on the “proper” right side! I got one and I’m wondering where it has been all my life.

Keep up the great work!
Nathan Snell
Via email

A Changed Victim

In regard to Tim Schmeling’s letter about training new shooters (Speak Out, May/June 2919) I second the “Hat’s Off” given by Handgunner!

I was a victim of an armed robbery in Philadelphia in 1991 and since then, my wife/social worker says I was psychologically traumatized (which I can’t confirm or deny). I was not carrying at the time because I was a new concealed carry license holder and was unsure of all the rules and regulations regarding the responsibility. But I educated myself quickly after that.

I can say since then I have more situational awareness. The incident made me a firm believer in carrying concealed for protection and I do it all the time now. I don’t sit with my back to a door, I examine situations and places as I enter, I scan the area for potential hazards and exits, etc., and above all I don’t allow myself to appear as a target.

If more people like Tim and me — and you fine folks at American Handgunner — spread the word on the 2nd Amendment there would be a lot less thievery in the world. Tim has done his job and done it well. I preach concealed carry to anyone who will listen and I speak from experience. I even use my hobbies to make concealed carry holsters for those who own and carry firearms. Your publication provides information and education on a regular basis as well. I’m not saying to go all out Charles Bronson in Death Wish, but if all of this effort spares even one person the fear Alyssa Wade and I went through, then we can all give ourselves a pat on the back. 

Thanks for a great publication — and keep up the great work you do!

Bill Murdorf
Fairfield, PA

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