A J-Frame Date

Speak Out July/August 2018

A J-Frame Date

I once made a wager with a gal I was teaching how to shoot. I bet her dinner and a movie I could put three out of five shots onto a silhouette at 100 yards with her S&W 642. It was a most enjoyable evening, and I can say that without any gloating.

Norm Fishler
Roswell, NM

Raven .25

The first in the “Affordables” series by J.B. Wood (or is it Deplorables?) is spot on. I always like J.B.’s articles, and this one brings back two memories. The first pistol I ever bought was a Phoenix Arms Raven .25 ACP. It was $50 at a local flea market from an FFL dealer with a stall. It never jammed when fed brass-cased ammunition. I later sold it to a friend for $25. He was moving “out to the country” and wanted something for protection.

Wish I had kept the pistol now though.

The second memory was of an elderly neighbor who had a Raven. One night a prowler was opening a back window. My neighbor fired at the opening window and the prowler fled. We never heard if anyone was hit or not, but the Raven .25 ACP most probably saved the elderly lady’s life that night.

Much gusto!
James Glenn
Via email

And …

Three loud cheers and a huzzah for the new “Affordables” feature! J.B. Wood is a writer who commands my instant respect. His Beretta Pistols, the Ultimate Guide is by my bedside and his other books are on my shelves. I’m delighted to see some attention paid to the vast population of pistols not “interesting” enough to get much ink. 

I teach NRA Basic Pistol, specializing in older folks (like me) who usually don’t enjoy shooting something where their arthritis makes it painful to rack a slide. A .25 ACP is a perfectly viable option for most. My purpose in carrying a gun is to be able to change from being an Old Fat Guy to someone who is prepared to defend himself. The best studies show in around 80 percent of situations when a firearm is used defensively, it’s not fired. So the caliber of the firearm is less relevant than the fact I have one and appear comfortable in its use. I try to inspire my students to feel attached to their firearms, emotionally as well as intellectually, so they will be more likely to practice with it, appreciate it, and have it when they need it. Small inexpensive firearms often fit the situation nicely.

I was particularly glad to learn about the good qualities of the Raven. While it’s not in the same class as my Beretta 418 or a Baby Browning, it’s assuredly not junk. John Moses invented the .25 for a reason, and there was a day when a well-dressed gentleman considered a vest pocket pistol an essential part of his wardrobe. Shopkeepers used them effectively, and lots were imported for personal defense. I have reloaded .25s for years and found you can get a Speer Gold Dot to expand with the right load!

I hope future articles will look at the many Tanfoglio pocket pistols that went through peculiar evolutions, as well as the Beretta tip-up barrel models and the 318 and 418, the only pistols Beretta made with a grip safety.

Doug Pratt
Via email

Demonic Possession

Just read Dave Anderson’s column (Winning Edge, “Environmentally Friendly Products vs. Demonic Possession,” May/June 2018). That’s the kind of column I love to read, a feel-good article with excellent advice. I’ve been using one of the products you mentioned for quite some time. And I don’t watch chick flicks either, and I think you know why! Oh, shared the article with my wife of 49 years, and do you know what her response was, she thought it was cute! I guess she didn’t realize this is Man’s-Man magazine!

Via email

XS Sights Rocks

Very good choice on hiring Tiger McKee. I’ve enjoyed his books for many years and I’m very excited to see what he brings to the table.

Had a first-time run-in with XS sights. I have them on four guns, wife has them on one. Love every minute with them. My GLOCK 17 rear sight just went dead a while back outta nowhere. Couple emails with them and bam, a new free sight in the mailbox. In my 30-some years walking this rock I’m still blown away by the head-and-shoulders-above any other industry the gun world is. Customer service is a lost art in most places, not so with this crowd and I love it.
As always, you have by far the best read out there.

Wichita, Kansas

Wild Bunch

In case a thousand other aficionados of the Sam Peckinpah 1969 classic movie, The Wild Bunch, haven’t contacted you yet, the 1911 lookalikes, carried sometimes by the Bunch, were actually Star B 9mm pistols, reportedly because they worked better with blanks than the Colts (Taffin Tests, March/April 2018). This flick was once rated as the American male’s favorite of all time. The survey never said why, but my guess it’s the nostalgic theme of men outliving their frontier era, and the hardware, not necessarily in that order.

Overall, this last issue was superb.
Ken Wegman
Via email

We The People 1911

I’ve got goosebumps on my skin and tears in my eyes! Just read Will Dabbs’ article on SIG’s 1911 (“We the People,” March/April 2018). I wish every American would read it just once. I don’t see how anyone could without being overwhelmed with a sense of pride and patriotism. Well done, Will!

Jerry Aycock
Via email

More J-Frames

My own introduction to handgunning was in the Summer of 1962, when a neighbor invited me to shoot a .38 Chief’s Special. Talk about noise and recoil! Not long afterward I bought a .22 single-action revolver from one of the local toughs. A couple of months later an acquaintance and I went out plinking. He had his Ruger Blackhawk in .44 Magnum.

After a couple of cylinderfuls, he asked me if I wanted to try his Blackhawk. He explained the difference between Specials and Magnums, claiming he’s been shooting Magnums, but if I wanted to try his gun, he’d load it with Specials for me. He lied, of course. He’d been shooting Specials. I held on tight and emptied the cylinder, then asked if I could try the Magnums, since I thought I could handle it. His jaw dropped and the look on his face was priceless when he said, “Those were the Magnums.” Little did he know, after the J-Frame, the heavier Blackhawk with .44 Magnums didn’t seem all that much worse.

At heart, I’m really and truly a revolver lover, including J-Frames. I’ve owned autos on and off over the years, but as un-American as it might sound, I never even owned a 1911 until about a month ago! Cured that with full-sized and Commander-sized Ruger SR1911s by rearranging my investments in lead-and-fire breathing tools. They’ll never replace the GLOCKs I have for their intended purpose, but I’m going to keep the SR1911s. Famous last words, eh?

Roger Smith
Via email

No Chest Thumping

I really enjoyed Tiger McKee’s article (Tactics & Training, May/June 2018). In a subject so often dominated by shouting, red faced, chest thumpers, Tiger’s words felt more like a quiet, no-nonsense conversation over coffee at the kitchen table. Frankly, his authenticity was a much-needed breath of fresh air. You just can’t help but respect a man who quotes Helen Keller in a tactics and training article! I will be anxiously awaiting his next installment.

Ryan Ford
Via email

Stabilized AR Pistol

I purchased a 9mm AR pistol with a “stabilizing forearm brace” a few months ago. I have read it was okay to “shoulder” the brace like a rifle stock. I also heard opinions from shooters it was not legal to do that. I dug around for a while on the BATFE website but failed to find a position from them on the matter.

Can you help with the right answer and maybe an official something from BATFE?
Gordon Romeis
Via email

This is a big, convoluted and confusing subject. Long story short, it was legal, then it was not legal, and now it is legal again. But, with some relative caveats. SB Tactical has been the pioneer on this subject, working with the BATFE on clarifying the legality of this over the past several years. As a result, they are a great resource on this subject. I dug around and found this page on their site: 


This reflects the “reversal” from the BATFE in 2017 on their ruling in 2015 that the way you use the brace could alter the legality of the brace itself. If I were you, I would go sign up there and get them to send you a copy of the letter. That will give you something concrete and in writing on it and help you understand the legalities of this type of product. Remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse! I hope this helps. —Mike Humphries

Elmer’s Ego

In the article on bullet crimping by Randy Garrett (“Avoiding Crimp Failure,” March/April 2018) perhaps the 310-grain bullet did not move because it has about 50 percent more surface area on its O.D. (to provide friction with the brass I.D.). I also notice the 310-grain bullet has a 45-degree angle leading into the bottom of its crimp diameter, and the 250-grain bullet has a 30-degree angle. The brass could slip past the 30-degree angle easier. Angles are my guesses from looking at the photos in your article. The crimp angles are of different lengths too.

You also made an excellent point about the fact a cartridge might experience several bouts of recoil in the cylinder. It’s a good reminder to keep track of the cartridges that have been in the cylinder.

John Blanton
Carrollton, TX

Those of us old enough to remember Elmer Keith’s writings may recall his admonition to avoid using brass too many times due to decreasing crimp tension resulting from multiple crimping. Elmer was well aware of the crimp holding deficiencies of his Lyman bullet.

Although the extra bearing surface must play some role in the 310-grainer’s ability to hold crimps against the forces of recoil, clearly the primary problem with the Keith 250-grain SWC resides in its excessively sloping crimp groove. This was a product of the Lyman 429421 block. Interestingly, the Dean of all block cutters, Wayne Gibbs, modified the specs of the Keith SWC brought to him by Elmer, which Wayne designated the #503, increasing the bend required of the case as it was pushed into the crimp groove. But Elmer never endorsed Wayne’s improvement of his bullet, due to Elmer’s excessive ego — I knew Elmer. —Randy Garrett

Pulling Magazines?

Near the end of December (2017), I noticed all firearm-related magazines had disappeared from my local CVS pharmacy where I’ve been a customer for many years. I thought perhaps magazines were discarded at year’s end. When they didn’t reappear, I asked an employee who advised CVS’s corporate office had decided to no longer carry firearm-related magazines. This was some time before the Parkland, Florida school shooting incident. I contacted CVS’s corporate headquarters.

Customer Services Relations representative “Kristen” emailed me back with the following reply; “Firearm-related magazines are being removed from the stores. We appreciate your business and look forward to serving you again in the future.” I replied that, in judging something wrong and unacceptable about such magazines, they were in fact saying the same about those who read them — and that I was switching my accounts to Walgreens.

Larry Swickard
Blue Springs, MO

John Browning

Reading Gun Crank Diaries (May/June, 2018), I was drawn to the .22 autoloading rifle John Browning was fondling, and what caught my eye was the small splinter fore end. I had one just like it in Rhodesia with the small fore end, and until I saw this picture, it is the only other one I have ever seen with the splinter fore end. So I am guessing it was an early production gun.

It was extremely accurate and devoured anything I fed it, and I fed it often. But then came the transition to Zimbabwe, and we had to hand it to the police, or sell all our guns to government-designated buyers. And the kicker is, all our guns were licensed, so they knew who had what. As a test, I took my little rifle to the designated buyer and he did me a favor and gave me $22 for it.

Well that didn’t sit too well with me, so the day before I left for America, I dropped all the rest down a well on my property.
Did I enjoy doing that? Well, yes and no.

Charles Slement
Houston, TX

Charles, I’d agree what the photo likely shows is an early prototype, or even the tool room sample, of what later became the SA-22, a wonderful, take-down .22. Later versions had a more rounded, bulbous forend. Also, let’s all hear the lesson in Mr. Slement’s last few lines. Are we paying attention? —RH

Why I Carry

I’m grateful for your decision to republish Connor’s “Little Lizzie” column (Guncrank Diaries, March/April 2018) in American Handgunner. I am, of course, grateful to Connor as well. The column set off some light bulbs, leading me to put some thoughts to “paper.”

So there I was, a 51-year-old man in my favorite restaurant, slipping a butter knife into my pocket with a shaky hand, my best available defense against the real possibility of great bodily harm by a stranger with ill-intent. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Cancer took my father at the age of 56. The club named the following year’s trap league in his honor. My father smiled often, listened well, and was liked by all. My mother sold his shotguns and revolvers to a dealer in town. I never asked for them, a deep regret today. The shooting sports, if not the firearms lifestyle in general, never got fully baked in me.

We can now return to the butter knife. That dicey evening turned out sufficiently well. I left uninjured, and the knife continued its primary purpose of spreading condiments. But I left feeling unsettled and couldn’t shake it. I grappled with the reason for days, and then it hit me. Like Connor’s Little Lizzie, I suddenly felt defenseless and vulnerable, and I absolutely hated the feeling. This was an unwelcome discovery, the first of its kind in my life, and it changed me.

When I read a carry permit might be required for a purpose-built defensive knife, I obtained one. And that’s when past met present. During the proficiency component of the test, I shot my first pistol in almost 25 years, a Ruger SR22. The crack of the .22 LR took me back in an instant. There I was, holding my Glenfield, my father behind me giving instructions on proper breathing and trigger pull.

My body regularly finds creative ways to remind me the plan has changed, so considering hand-to-hand combat as my primary means of self-defense was nonsense. A handgun is an efficient, sensible and tailorable tool — my only logical choice. A light bulb moment.

After purchasing two defensive handguns, I immediately set about the task of learning about them, to include their use for the intended purpose. As a member of the concealed carrying public, I felt civic and familial duties to be knowledgeable and safe. I learned, in even a casual study of firearms, one will find physics, mathematics, engineering of all disciplines, ballistics, metallurgy, handloading, hunting and conservation, personal protection, war and peace, innovation, capitalism and so much more. You can even trace the history of civilization through weaponry, with firearms playing an evolving and critical role. There’s something for everyone. Those who attempt to categorize guns and gun owners in the simplest of terms are way off base. Or said another way, they don’t know what they’re missing.

Connor’s Little Lizzie column, and in particular ol’ Snidely Snotworth III, slapped me upside the head. I too found myself fielding questions about why I decided to carry. Some were curious, while others had an agenda. When people had open minds, it led to an enlightened discussion for both parties. With the Snotworths, it quickly became pointless and frustrating. In the process I learned something rather fundamental and unsettling about the “logic” underpinning their position in the great gun debate.

First, most deny the existence of everyday dangers. I was in a similar boat until a catalyst tripped my wires. But even when they are willing to accept evildoers have an uncapped membership and hold to no schedule, they embrace not their constitutional rights — but their rights to community services. They believe protection of their lives, family and property is someone else’s job. I now understand these are the sheeple (sheep people) of which Connor spoke, the entitled, the dependent. Their membership is quite large.

My son’s a Marine sergeant stationed in Okinawa. I’m proud of the service he gives our country, and I feel the same about all LEOs. They provide real security — and a sense of security. As a society, we need both. But it’s not enough. I’m thankful I didn’t discover this before it was too late. I had a defining moment where the threat of violence entered my life. It changed the way I think. Maybe this is what it ultimately takes for many people. But surely there must be a quicker and safer path.

Regrettably, I was apathetic about gun issues for most of my life. I became an NRA member and educated gun owner after my near miss, not before. Because I wasn’t carrying or shooting as an adult until recently, I viewed 2nd Amendment issues, gun bans and other restrictive legislation with mild curiosity. I didn’t believe these issues were relevant to my life. I see the folly of that now.

As the head of my family, as a property owner and, most importantly, as a United States citizen, gun legislation and 2nd Amendment issues pertain to me very much. They always have, starting in my childhood, when I opened my Glenfield on a snowy Christmas morning. I just didn’t see it. The same can be said of my wife, despite her being raised in a hunting family. She is now an NRA member with guns of her own, and she enjoys our weekend trips to the range. I suspect the line separating the profoundly ignorant from the gun owners of tomorrow is neither distinct nor impassable. Sometimes all it takes is a moment of clarity, however it comes. Which means there’s hope.

I now live and work in south Florida. My home is less than a half mile from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The park where I like to walk on weekends has become both the vigil and memorial site for the community. It serves as the rock and gathering place people need. There are 17 crosses marking one field. I visited each one on a weekend afternoon. There was a box of tissues next to each cross. I used more than my fair share that day, huddling with stunned and deeply saddened people of all ages and from all walks of life. Those who attempt to politicize, if not demonize, the NRA and its members after this horrific tragedy weren’t standing in my shoes that afternoon. Those who portray gun owners as single-minded caricatures who impractically obsess over guns and their lethality have never met my father or his fellow club members. These were the heroes of my youth. It just took me 25 years to understand.

These words may serve no other purpose than helping me make some sense of what I see going on in our country. But perhaps they may strike a chord with people in a similar situation. If so, then perhaps there’s some value there.

In any case, keep up the great work. I look forward to every issue.
Bernie Laurel
Via email

I felt what Bernie had to say — and the fact he said it perfectly — deserved devoting this space in our pages. —RH


I’ve been reading gun magazines for a good 65 years, so I think it carries some weight when I say your March/April issue is one of the best single magazine I’ve ever read. Every article was informative and enjoyable. Your writers were all zeroed in on their marks. I especially wish to commend Alan Korwin for his “From My Cold, Dead Fingers,” and you guys for publishing it.

I’m late with this note, but I was not late in sending my check for a two-year subscription renewal. American Handgunner, and GUNS, are at the front of the field.

Richard Hughes
Via email

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