Sunday, December 28, 2008

I guess they don't wanna sell 'em

I've been wearing my Danner Agitators for about two and a half years now, and they're pretty much well and truly used up. I've almost walked the sole off these things. I'd replace 'em, except for two issues: my employer doesn't carry Danners anymore, and they've discontinued this model. Can't figure that one out; we always seemed to sell quite a lot of 'em.

I have several friends that have Merrells, of various styles and makes. They've all got good things to say about 'em, so I figured I'd brave the crowds on Saturday and head out to Opry Mills Mall in Nashville. It was a balancing act: not really wanting to be at the mall on the Saturday after Christmas, versus knowing there were three different stores that carry Merrells, as well as a bunch of others that I would be willing to try. However, that's not how it all worked out.

I went to every place that had hiking boots, and to be honest, there were almost no decent sales going on. At best, there were a few styles that they had thin stock of, marked down to, at best, 20%. Most were along the lines of 10%. They still had quite a bit of stock; I was able to try on three or four different styles and brands. That's not always easy, as I wear a 13 wide. That's to be expected, since I'm 6' 6". I have fairly small feet for my size, and can ususally buy off the rack. That wasn't the case this time around. Stuff I was interested in was either full retail, or they had 5's and 6's left, with a puny discount.

Seems to me, if you're gonna depend on Christmas to make your year as most retailers do, you'd want to move as much product as you could so as not to have to pay taxes on it. That would seem to say that the economy, while not doing well, isn't quite as crippled as we'd been lead to believe. Stuff not being on sale, and indeed being priced at the regular retail price after Christmas, is a sign that they either misjudged badly (unlikely, because so few places were doing the normal deep discounting) or they felt that it wasn't the strategy that was necessary. Either way, I didn't buy any Merrells yesterday, or North Face, or Columbia.

But I didn't walk away empty handed yesterday. The Oakley Vault store pretty much always has stuff at the full retail price, so I don't generally buy stuff there. There are ways to get that stuff wholesale, if you know the right people, even though we're not an Oakley dealer anymore.

When Oakley is dumping footwear, they discount it very, very deeply. What I ended up scoring from the discontinued section was a pair of the Flak Low tactical shoes. I would have prefered the mids, or even the highs, but for $20, I'm gonna rock these until they fall apart. Yeah, that's right: twenty bucks. Even online most places have 'em between $80 and $90+. To say the least, I'm quite pleased. These are going to work nicely at the SHOT show in a few weeks.

San Diego is whipping Denver right now. Looks like the Chargers are gonna take the AFC West crown. All is right with the world tonight.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Good timing: wore out my slide stop

I've had my Springfield Armory 1911 A1 Lightweight for, oh, a dozen years or so. Its been getting customized over the course of most of that time, and is almost finished. Once I decide what night sights I wanna have low mounted on it (I'm thinking about 10-8's for it and the MnP), its gonna get refinished and then the work will probably stop. Probably.

The original slide stop that was one of the first things I had customized, was a King's extended part. At the time, I shot a Weaver stance with crossed thumbs. With that method, having the gas pedal didn't hurt.

However, I reached a plateau in my shooting, and wasn't getting better. I came to the realization that "Do whatever works for you" was, in fact, a very stupid philosophy if one wishes to be the best one can be at a given pursuit. The Way is thumbs forward, with a version of the isosceles stance, and being extra sure not to hook your support hand index finger on the trigger guard.

That posed a problem with that original slide stop; I was overriding it regardless of how I gripped the gun; I was either holding it down or pushing it up. I knew I needed to change the part, but we were out of stock at work, so I put it off.

Well, we got some Wilson Bulletproof slide stops in right about the time I found that my baby wasn't locking back in empty mags. I had worn out the original slide stop after ten or eleven years. Nice timing! I picked up the new Bulletproof part, and found that it didn't need extra fitting. That's a good thing, since I don't know of any 1911 smiths around here. I don't let anyone who's not the best available wrench on my guns.

I'm quite pleased with this new part; if I had known the what's up, I'd have had it on there all along. I guess JMB really did know what he was doing with that part. I still believe that 1911's have to have beavertail grip safeties and extended thumb safeties to be a usable fighting gun. Add to that high profile, quality sights, and you've got something goin' on.

I can't tell if this is an artsy shot; I kinda think it is. Since I don't have to pay for bandwidth, I'm gonna go ahead and put it up.

Lastly, here's the off side of this gun, for the sake of completeitude.

Couple things to note: the finish appears to be kinda two toned because, through shooting the hell out of it, I've rubbed most of the finish off the frame. This gun has an arched mainspring housing, where my Kimber Custom Royal has a flat one. I can't tell the difference. I shoot the SA better, but that's probably just because its got a hard fit Bar-Sto barrel in it.

The background I shot these on is my new TNF hooded fleece. It was a gift from a connected friend of mine; he's a cop that's got a lot of friends. There's no model name on it, and the numbers don't tell me what it is, either. What I know about it is that it's made in the US of A, and similar jackets are seen in pics of very high speed dudes. I'm pretty sure I know where it came from, but I can't prove it. Doesn't matter; I have my story and I'm stickin' to it. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

San Diego Chargers: What is goin' on there?

I'm keeping tabs on some football today, essentially procrastinating the taking of the laundry to the laundromat. The 12-1 Tennessee Titans had something to play for this week: a win and a Steelers loss gained them home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They lost. The Chargers, on kind of the opposite end of the scale at 8-5, trailed the Kansas City Chiefs through almost the whole game. They took a one point lead with :36 left. That's really unacceptable.

Jeff Fisher's job is not in jeopardy. Norv Turner's, though, absolutely has to be. I wondered why they made that hire in the first place, since the Chargers should have been very familiar with Turner when he was with the hated Raiduhs. Since the Chargers probably won't make the playoffs with one of the highest powered teams in quite a while, his job and most of his staff will have to go. Ron Rivera may be able to stay; I guess that'll depend on how much management likes him. The question then becomes: who's going to replace Turner?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another reason to hate me: new S&W M&P 9

I lucked into quite a fortuitous trade this week. One of my friends had a .300 Whisper AR upper that he wasn't planning to use, so he traded it to a local dealer for the only thing that was of remote interest to him: an Mn'P 9mm cop gun. The cop guns come with three mags and don't have the magazine safety in 'em. 

So, he got rid of an upper he didn't really want for a pistol he didn't really want, and came into the shop with it. He knew I had a Glock 19, because I traded my Glock 30 to him to get that 19. He also knew that I was looking to get an MnP to solve some of the issues I was having with my 19. He asked what I had to trade for it, and I told him the truth: right now the only thing I have to trade is my 19. He thought about it for a moment, and asked if I wanted to trade it straight up, the MnP with three magazines for the G19 and 3 magazines.  I really like the G19, so it wasn't necessarily an easy choice to make, but I decided to do it. I know, it was obvious, but I made the right choice.

ATS started back with Saturday hours today, but arrangements were made for Matt and Paul to work. That is as it should be: I had a new, unfired firearm, and that just can't be allowed to stand. They both agreed that it was something that had to happen. I only had a hundred rounds to test it with, but I hadda use what I had.

I don't know if the MnP is more accurate than my G19, but I do know that I shoot it better. I shot noticeably tighter groups with it, and I do know why that is: the 17 round magazines of the MnP mean that the grip is a bit longer, and my hand fits it better. Because of the sheer bodacious size of my giant bear paw hands, manipulating reloads was a bit of a job with the G19. The magazines occasionally dragged on the bottom of my hand. That grip simply wasn't made for me. Additionally, I overrode the slide release fairly regularly, so I didn't always have the slide lock back. That's all attributable to trying to run the premier small carry gun when it doesn't fit quite right. 

What I found out today was that the MnP is a better platform for my physical attributes. In a lot of ways, the MnP is a refining of the Glock. Its not necessarily the G19's equal, but it has couple of features that are key. Other than having a grip frame that fits my hand better, it also has a short beavertail tang. The Glock has been known to cut the back of my hand because I have so much beef in the back of my hand and I take the highest grip I can. The MnP allows me to get up into the gun, but still protects me from blood loss. Bottom line: I'm very well pleased with the MnP in most areas: a grip that fits me better, no bleeding, and good accuracy.

I'm not sold completely on the sights. They're either Novaks, or a Novak design. The sight picture is fine, but the wedge shape means that they can't be used as a way to rack the gun. They're also not night sights, and that's going to have to change. If I can get the 10-8 sights with tritium, I think that's what I want to do. I have to give props to SnW, though, because the sights on my new kid were well regulated on elevation, and dead on for windage. 

The other area that the MnP falls short of the Glock is in the trigger. The sear break is a little creepy, but different from the Glock. The reset, though, isn't as good. If I can find somebody who can fix that up, and make the reset more like the Glock in terms of a positive "snap", that will go a long way to improve the MnP. As it is now, its a feature that I tolerate and may have to get used to. Of course, I have 100 rounds through my MnP; my Glock had 2200.

Does this mean I'm done with the Glock? Absolutely not! Glocks are still among the handful of real combat guns that have just about everything: adequate triggers, good accuracy, simple manipulation, and a legitimate 100,000 round service life. I think I may end up get a Glock 17 next, but another G19 is definitely in my future as well. 

Much is said about how "Glocks are uncomfortable", and "I just don't like the way they feel". I recently heard a statement from one of the LF forum members that answers those questions directly: "Unless its a female, I don't make choices based on feelings".  What the MnP and Glock both have is that once you shoot one and make it run, you kinda turn it in your hand and stare at it with your eyes bugged out a little, while saying "Where has this been all my life?"

Monday, December 08, 2008

An important video

Of particular note in this video, pay attention to her last few comments. Also note how Chuckie Schumer's expression says "I've already made my mind up, regardless what you say".  Her definition of what the 2nd Amendment is really for is exactly what the Framers had in mind when they wrote it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Funny Dream

I dream pretty regularly, but its been a long, long time since I was able to remember them. Most of the time, I don't remember them at all, and on the occasion that I wake up remembering one, I can't usually retain it. That may mean something, but I really don't care. If they don't revolve around shooting, then there's not a lot that's interesting about them anyway.

Last week, I did have a dream I remembered, although I woke up before it had completely run it's course. Where I remember it starting was in the showroom. Matt E. and I were both near the back of the store, talking about something important, like whether to pick up a Glock 17 or an MnP next. We both look towards the front of the door as we hear a vehicle pull up in front and jump on the brakes. Five masked bad guys come charging through the door (I'm not really sure how they got in so fast and so well stacked, since the door opens out, not in) and start splitting down the front of the store. Matt and I each take opposite sides of the room; I go right, he goes left, and we draw and start shooting on the move. In this case, we were both running Glock 19's, but I wouldn't have felt odd about the dream occuring with 1911's. 

The five miscreants (you can always tell a miscreant in a dream, because whether its cold or not, they wear full face beenies) split three to my side, two to Matt's, and we hit each with multiple shots. They're all down, and we clear their weapons. Somehow, we know the Police are coming, but we apparently had plenty of time for what happened next: Matt and I start arguing that it's not fair that I got three and he got two. I guess he was offended that only two went his way, but it's my dream. If it's my dream, then I gotta be the star, right? At that point I woke up, so I don't know how long it took the PD to get there. Since those guys all know who we are and that we roll armed all the time, I don't think, in the dream, that they were in any particular hurry to get there. lol!

Tropic Thunder: a comedy that's actually funny!

My schedule didn't match up to see Tropic Thunder in the theater, which I regret now. I watched it on DVD this evening with homeboy and shooting partner Paul J. The interesting part of the experience was that the film was a Whollyweird comedy, and yet we were both actually laughing! I'd have never thought that possible if I hadn't seen it muh damn se'f.

I'm usually lukewarm on Ben Stiller. His movies can be quite funny, but more often he falls into the "cute" catagory for me, such as with Night at the Museum. Unfortunately, they're gonna do a Night at the Museum II. He was great as White Goodman in Dodge Ball, but that wasn't a Ben Stiller movie as much as it was a Vince Vaughn vee-hickle. In Tropic Thunder, though, he was outstanding.  There were times that I forgot that he was Ben Stiller and I believed he was Tugg Speedman. With some actors, that's easy to do; Robert Downey Jr. should be up for an Oscar for his performance as Jeff Lazarus, "I know what dude I am. I'm the dude playin' the dude, disguised as another dude! ".

The best part by far, though, was the parody of Whollyweird as a Whole. The drug addict, the agents, the deal makers, the Method actors, the consultants, and more, all skewered. While America was laughing hysterically, there were plenty of folks in The Biz squirming in their seats. After the flick, Paul and I were laughing at various lines that were added to the Chrystal Method's "That's the Name of the Game" ride out credits song, and we agreed that it seemed hard to believe that this movie got made. I still marvel that somebody green lighted a movie that made fun of what they do. For that reason alone, this one's worth seeing.

There's a lot of profanity in this flick, which is kinda typical for a comedy these days. I guess a lot of people find swearing funny; I'm not really one of those. This is still a funny movie, and I really do wish I'd seen it on the big screen with the digital sound system. Woulda been fun!