Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The more I think about it, the more I believe that this may be the ideal pistol for what I want in a high capacity 9mm concealment gun. I wrote about the gun last week, and have been doing lots of thinkin' about this gun since then. BERETTA PX4 STORM SUBCOMPACT 9mm

First, I want and crave an equilibrium of safety and reliability in any gun. I like having a thumb safety that I can switch on, even with a double action/single action pistol. Even better when that thumb safety doubles as a decocker. It holds 13+1 rounds and larger magazines are available (which extend somewhat from the bottom). My friend Max, my kindred handgun enthusiast whose sister just bought one of these, says that a 20 round mag is available.

I'd often though it be cool, were I to have a much larger gun buying budget, to have for a car gun a Glock 9mm subcompact that accepts the longer mags of the 19, 17 and the 33 round 9mm mag.

The FN pistol that shoots the rifle ammo is cool and it holds 20 rounds, but I'm afraid it's high velocity and small bullet size don't do much fer me. It is said those types of bullets tumble upon impact, and I know it's a devastating gun, but I fear over-penetration of targets as well as misses that would endanger others. But that's just me.

I didn't get to handle the subcompact variety of this pistol this weekend. Academy was out of them and the local range/gun shop didn't have any in stock either. I did get to handle several varieties of the full size and (I think) compact versions of the PX4, and was told by several sellers that the basic grip width was the same on all of them. If so, it wasn't bad.

Max says you can use the larger mags from the full size PX4's with grip adapters to fill in the space. I like having my little finger on, not under, the grip of a handgun. Call me old fashioned, but also call me a better shot when I have a little finger purchase on the grip.

I like the fact it has a hammer I can see and touch and feel and cock if I want to and that it's not striker fired. I just can't totally trust something I can't see, even if I know how it works (as with Glocks).

I like the fact it has interchangeability with other magazines and grip adapters. Apparently, one of the 13 rd mags it comes with new has some sort of flip down ledge for the little finger to grab onto at the base of the mag. Max thought it was cool and it worked well.

I like the fact it has an actual thumb activated safety. I did get to sample the safety and the decocker on the other models, and I liked it's positive and sturdy feel. With a DA/SA gun, you might not always want to use it but it's nice to have for those situations where you want it. Besides, so many of the guns I've had have safeties that I really prefer it that way.

I have seen the results of an accidental discharge of both revolvers and 1911's, and it wasn't pretty. I think one of the safest guns ever made is the H&K P7, and I wonder why more haven't emulated it. I lament the fact that H&K doesn't make it anymore. A PSP/P-7 combo would be a great pistol.

Beretta makes fine guns. I've owned a .380 Cheetah, and it was a fine gun. Shot very well, and I'd love to have one in .22 caliber. I've shot very serious Beretta shotguns and handguns and have never had any issues with their weapons.

I look forward to shooting, or at least holding, a PX4 Subcompact in the near future, ideally with some different magazines and grip adapters. The shooting reports I've heard about them have been very positive, for what the PX4 is: a close range combat pistol.

Looking at other similar guns, of course, I have ruled out the FAIL: SIG SAUER P250 COMPACT 9mm AND LPS. and MORE FAIL: THE SIG SAUER P250 AND LIGHT PRIMER STR... , which before shooting it and having multiple misfires FTF/LPS, I was sold on it's shape, it's balance, it's grip size, it's capacity and it's carry-ability. It sorta had a hammer/striker fire combo but I was willing to deal with a partial hammer.

And then it misfired so many times. That's bad. Real bad. Unreliable bad, and few things are worse than an unreliable gun. "It shot 90% of the time" are words I don't want on my tombstone. It's that 10% that's gonna happen when heavy duty stuff is coming down.

So I looked at the XD subcompact, which has no thumb safety or hammer. IMHO, the grip safety precludes good use of a rubber grip (although at least one is made for the XD) and besides, I don't like the fit of the grip in my hand.

Likewise with the Glock. The grip is a bit large on all but the Model 36. I shot many rounds through a Model 21, but found it a bit large. The next Model 21 I buy will be the 21 SF. But I prefer something thinner than Glock has on their 9mm models. I've yet to try the Gen 4 Glock with the smaller backstrap, but these guns offer neither a thumb safety and are striker fired.

The Walther P99 is a nice gun, but again, striker fired and no safety. Does have a dandy decocker, though, and a very nice grip.

I need to shoot the PX4 soon.


As I wrote here DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE? ALASKA AIRLINES D... [amned Sure Does!], I recently took a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Leaving my home for my Texas airport, I was already drenched in sweat at 5:30 in the morning loading my car for the airport with a couple of bags. The A/C finally got me back to normal about 1/4 of the way to the airport, only to be repeated as a lugged bags hurriedly to catch the parking tram to the terminal.

I had to check a bag, and the curbside folks weren't going yet, so I had to get inside. A very nice American attendant totally walked me through getting my boarding passes and paying for my checked bag, then I got the bag checked in and was off to the gate. My new tennis shoes got selected for a swabbing by the TSA folks, and that's damned OK by me. Search my stuff. Make me spread it all out and taste my toothpaste in front of you. It's for our safety, and sometimes we don't know everything the gub'ment knows about current threats and trends and intell.

So what I do when I approach the screening area is take my fishing stuff out of my carry on (if not in the checked bag) and put it on top of the backpack in large ziploc bags, because they're gonna want to inspect it, because there will be lead or sharp hooks and the like that will go BOING BOING BOING on the xray machine. That's just the way it is.

I didn't get my bags inspected this time, as I think they're supposed to leave a note when they do it. In any event, no biggie. I was able to carry a knife and pliers in my checked bag, along with a variety of lead weights and lures and flies and the like. A steel cable lanyard.

I took my rods, a Fenwick ultralight spinning travel rod from the 1980's, a newish 7' euro casting rod that breaks down to six pieces and a Orvis Frequent Flyer rod in 6 wt. and carried them in the bottom of my carry on small garment bag. I taped a piece of cardboard across the middle of all three cases to keep them from lumping in the bottom of the garment bag. Otherwise, I would have carried them in a carry on bag and/or a backpack [well, peaking out the top of the backpack by 5 inches or so].

In my backpack, along with my laptop and other personal stuff I can't afford to be without, like personal toiletries, meds, my notes for the school, electronic media for the school, etc. and a change of clothes in case the checked bag gets lost or misrouted, I carried a Scientific Angler reel with some new 6wt forward floating line, a Curado and a Shakespeare UL spinning reel.

I carried a White River small fly fishing bag with fly stuff, pliers, hook remover, dry fly liquid, and a Plano box full of small spinners, plugs and various small hooks and weights. I carried a similarly sized box with some hooks, leaders, weights and a few lures for the Curado/Euro Rod combo.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


To the experienced fisherman, sailor or boater, the term "sailboat fishing" probably makes little sense. Skippers of sailboats shudder at the thought of a sharp hook or hooks being bandied about their ropes and sails, and with good reason. I've bought more than one line during my time having snagged it with a larger hook, causing some damage to the line removing it. It ruined it's structural stability, and ropes on a sailboat often have BIG stress upon them. So I just always bought new lines when I was careless.

But fishing on a sailboat is entirely enjoyable and sometimes very profitable. Sailboats don't make much noise as they sail, compared with their motoring brethren. And more than one time we slid into an evening's anchorage silently, allowing me to tap into a resident population of fishes that dwelled on and around the shell reef we anchored over.

Most of my fishing on sailboats was done on a Catalina 27 or 29 (the years have blurred my recall) that a friend's father owned. We sailed on it most weekends from the 7th grade until several years after high school, until his parents divorced and the boat went away. They also had several Sunfish, and I fished all over East Galveston Bay and it's environs many a day in a Sunfish with a Zebco rod and reel, some shrimp, some water and a forbidden beer.

Most skippers abhor any fishing done on their boat when under way. In fact, it often times is very difficult, what with tacking and all. I found that a pocket fisherman could be used in these circumstances, but again, Skippers I've known frowned heavily upon it and so I just didn't do it.

Most skippers didn't mind if you fished at anchorage, as many regattas and cruises I went on involved anchoring for at least one night. I mostly used a Zebco spincasting travel rod, with either the Zebco 33 it came with, an Abu Matic 290 or an Ambassador 5000. Skippers generally don't like large one or two piece rods blocking any area of the boat, on deck or in the cabin below. That's why the travel rod could be stowed into my duffel in my sleeping area and it caused no problems.

On several larger boats where we actually went out into the Gulf, I carried a heavy duty 5 foot one piece fiberglass pier rod with a wooden handle and a large, ancient Ocean City reel (similar to a Penn reel) with 60 lb. test line on it. Fishing 20 miles out of Galveston in the Gulf of Mexico, you never knew what you might hook.

When my friends parents were not out with us on their boat, which grew more often the older we grew and the less his parents sailed or did anything together, the boat became our apartment, our solace. When still in high school, we'd take my family ski boat down to the Houston Yacht Club, pick up some groceries and beer somewhere along the long drive to Shore Acres, Texas to the HYC and get the ski boat launched.

We'd throw a line to the sailboat from the ski boat and tow the sailboat out to an anchorage. We'd find a place to spend the evening fishing off the stern deck of the sailboat, listening to lots of Jimmy Buffett tapes on the stereo. The next day, we'd use the ski boat to both ski and fish East Galveston bay. I'll note for the reader that water skiing in East Galveston Bay was usually more of a concept than a reality due to the extreme chop present, but since we were young and made of rubber it didn't matter how many times we surfed off huge waves into a crash landing.

My buddy whose dad owned the boat was quite a sailor himself, and he could basically take out and more importantly, return to dock completely under sail and again, by himself. Oh yeah, I'd work a rope here or there or jump onto the dock to tie up when landing but I've seen him launch or land that roughly 30 foot boat with no motor and just under sail power and let me tell you, under sail only is a trick.

The outboard that my friend's dad had on his boat rarely worked, and thus we really sailed that big old boat all over East Galveston Bay and Clear Lake. We used to have a time in Clear Lake, and back then a certain run down bar in Kemah, as well as a 7-11 in the back of Deer Park, were well known for selling cases out the back door. In the case of Maribelle's, if you got to the Yacht Club by 3 pm on Friday, you could sail from the HYC to that certain un-named run down bar in Kemah in a few hours, God and wind willing. $10 bucks at the backdoor got you a case of your favorite, ice cold from the freezer. Although much of Deer Park was dry, there was a line of demarcation where they sold beer and wine and a certain 7-11 in Deer Park became well known for not carding "close to 18 years old" minors on Friday nights when a certain visually handicapped person worked the store. It was an easy detour into Deer Park for a beer run, particularly given the fact that we were underage much of the time.

All of these stories deal with fishing on a sailboat, even the stories about underage beer and Jimmy Buffett, because these things just naturally go along with fishing on the back of a sailboat anchored on a moon lite night, with clear water below and a breeze keeping it cool. The smell of salt water and the life around the sea comes with the breeze. The gentle rocking of the boat and the clanging and banging of the metal halyards and lines that hold the mast to the boat and hoist sails up and down make for a serenade of wind chime like sounds, mixing with the ruffling of furled sails to the wind and the sounds of the rocking of the boat.

It was tough fishing off of small sailboats like a Sunfish while underway, but it could be done. Many times, I'd drop sail and just drift fish on calmer days. It was as close to paradise as I've ever been. If you began to drift too close to shore you could just pull the center board out and paddle back away from shore. Sometimes, I'd remove the center board and drift through shallows, sight casting at tailing redfish with tout tails and popping corks.

Fishing on a larger boat conjures the memories I mentioned above. I remember lots of different kinds of days, from hot to cold to sunny to overcast, and specific fish I caught or saw caught. We had our favorite places, trying to anchor in deeper water over shell banks so as not to be affected or trapped by tidal action when anchored. We didn't get too fancy, mostly using dead frozen shrimp and then moving to larger fish like croaker, mullet and sea perch that we either caught or netted with a small tube net we'd sometimes tow behind the boat to get live shrimp, mullet or whatever we could get.

I think I'll have to rent a boat from someone and have it anchored at a nice spot. I don't care about cruising in a sailboat, but a couple of nice afternoons and evenings in a fishy anchorage would be a cool way to spend a weekend. It's a different layout than a small houseboat, but altogether cozy in a big way. It rides the waves better than a houseboat, and makes for a much smoother anchorage in these 30 foot or so boats.


At his request, I took Billy Ray's new Sig P250 to the range today to see if I could recreate the failure to fire/light primer strike misfires that occurred on our last outing with his gun. Billy Ray is currently doing a concert tour of sorts in the Appalachian region of our country with Ricky Ray. I know they had a farmer's market gig Saturday, sharing the bill with belly dancers of some sort. Hey, it's better than the musicial gigs I've been doing lately...

In any event, I bought a box of Winchester factory solid bullet ammo and some high end reloads, both running 115 grains solid bullet type. I've noted previously that this gun was LPS'ing on P&B ammo (I think that's the name) which is new but low end ammo. Out of all of the many autoloaders I've owned, I've never had this problem of LPS. I think in the history of shooting cheap loads in my Glock M21 for practical shooting practice, I had one misfire out of about 10,000 rounds. I shot that gun A LOT. And that misfire would not fire again in the Glock or either of the 1911's I tried it in afterwards. It was a true bad cartridge.

El Fisho Jr. and I ran those two boxes through the P250 this morning, and again I'll mention that I find the gun to be outstandingly accurate. I really like the grips, which fit my small/medium sized hand far better than a Glock 19, a Walther P99 or any of the large capacity Sigs (229, 226, 2022). That's why it's so sad that it's having the misfire problem, because who wants a gun prone to not working?

It is mentioned enough on the various gun forums, as a simple google will tell you, that it appears to be a design defect. I've mentioned before that the Federal Air Marshal's have ordered this gun as a replacement for the Sig 229 all metal gun, a big mistake. The 229 is well known as being accurate and reliable. It's one of the few guns I'd risk my life on in a law enforcement job like the Marshal's. It's reasonably concealable compared other guns of it's ilk (Glock 32, Springfield XD, Smith and Wesson, etc) and more concealable than it's big brother the Sig 226. All things considered, if I had to carry a duty gun in .357 Sig, that's the one I'd carry.

With the prevalance of LPS in Billy Ray's pistol, as well as the large number claimed on the internets in forums, as I said, it appears to be a design defect. Some spring needs to be weaker or stronger, or some piece of metal needs to be heavier. The DA pull is long as hell, and I can't believe that it would need a longer pull. In fact, it would be good if the pull was half it's current length, as far as I'm concerned. It would still be more pull than any Glock. It's gotta be that the hammer actuated striker or some spring attached thereto is not getting enough "getem-up-and-go" to hit the primer hard enough to detonate. Why it happens sporadically is beyond my limited mechanical engineering knowledge. But you don't have to know why, you just have to accept that it does misfire.

And move on.

I've urged Billy Ray to get a Sig 229 as a replacement, and there are tons of models to choose from. Billy Ray is leaning towards a Browning Hi-Power, and that's a fine weapon as well.

It's really too bad about the P250. It functioned flawlessly today with the Winchester ammo, but had FIVE LPS's with the 50 rounds of high end reloads I shot. Ten Percent. That's about the same as happened last time, and utterly unacceptable that it happened more than once. At this point, the gun has had about 200-300 rounds through it, and although I know some guns are claimed to need "breaking in", none of the autoloaders I've owned ever had this issue.

This might be the one bad pistol in Sig's history. Shame too. With a safety/decocker, an actual hammer, a da/sa trigger and an available .22 plinking replacement kit, the P250 could rock out. The design was not well thought through, and the lack of availability of the replacement barrels, slides and magazines has made it's converible features mute. It's size and shape is great, but the reliability is horribly disappointing. I mean, it's really worse than a gun that jams feeding or ejection issues.

Friday, June 25, 2010


As any occasional reader of my guns posts here might recall, I've mentioned that I've been wanting a polymer frame, high capacity 9mm with a thumb safety, traditional DA/SA action and a hammer I can see, not a striker.

I love Glocks, but like the 1911, a Glock is pretty much carried "cocked and locked" for defensive use. Holster selection, to me at least, is essential in preventing an accidental discharge with either of these fine weapons.

I've longed for a composite frame, hi cap 9mm that has a thumb safety and an actual hammer. The PX4 subcompact has this as well as a decocker, which is coupled with the thumb safety. I have not held one or shot one yet but my good friend whose sister purchased one rave about how the grip fit his smaller hand well. Guns tend to fit he and I similarly and we have similar taste in grip sizes. So that's a good sign.

My friend also said it is available with higher capacity mags but stock runs with a 13 round mag. You use grip adapters on the larger capacity mags made for the full size PX4, with up to apparently a 20 round mag. Yee-haw.

On the Berreta website, there is a nice comparison photo of this pistol and other pistols of it's size and capacity range. The Springfield XD's grip is a bit much for me, but I'm hoping the interchangeable grip pieces of the PX4 might make it fit my had well. It's a bit thicker in the slide (due to the safety) than a Glock or XD sub, but the grip is thinner. I like the fact I can extend the grip with a full size PX4 magazine yet have the compact barrel length for easy concealment.

I'll be calling several ranges tomorrow to see if they have this pistol as a rental so I can check one out. It's certainly a contender, particularly since the P250 experience with LPS's occurred. Prior to shooting the P250 and having issues with it, it was a top contender, but now is at the bottom of the list, barring a fix by Sig of the LPS problemo with it.


As I've noted here before, I've been keeping Billy Ray's Sig P250 compact 9mm model, in two-tone finish, off and on for the past few months. We recently went shooting, and were both disappointed in the P250's ROUGHLY 10% RATE OF "FAILURE TO FIRE" (FTF), or what is apparently also referred to as "LIGHT PRIMER STRIKES" (LPS). About 1 in 10 rounds resulted in a misfire, or non-firing cartridge where "pull trigger, no boom" occurred. Bad news in a defense pistol.

Billy Ray, is of course, understandably devastated with this event from his new pistola.

The sad part is that this is a highly accurate and easy shooting pistol. I shot two mags through it, at 15 and 25 feet, shooting 4" groups both times. El Fisho Jr. shot an even smaller group than mine on his first and only mag through the gun. IT WAS DAMNED IMPRESSIVELY ACCURATE, despite the fact I had never shot a DAO semi-auto pistol before. More about this later.

So what a shame that there is some sort of problem with the force of the firing mechanism of this gun.

A quick review of the internet forums reveals this is apparently a big problem with this gun. Even the Sig forum has a huge number of posts, with one sticky'd thread having over a 100 pages of folks often talking about LPS. There all are sorts of theories, ranging from one of several springs needing to be stronger/weaker. Some of the posters blame the ammo, but I've never had a semi-auto EVER have a misfire before where the cartridge didn't go off. I've had feeding jams with varied pistols that aren't around anymore, but NEVER an FTF. In his more limited shooting experience, neither has Billy Ray. Or any of my handgunning friends who I recently discussed this failure with.

I didn't read anywhere where Sig has a fix for this problem, which seems to be occuring to a number of owners of new guns. So if anyone knows let me know in the comments or by my email, which is in the profile and I'd appreciate it. Some blamed the ammo, as I said, and claimed that it wouldn't occur with certain ammo. Having owned and shot a variety of 9mm pistols, I can say they all digested reloads and new shells alike: flawlessly. Some of the reloads jammed when feeding but that's not a misfire of a chambered round.

So at Billy's request and expense, El Fisho Jr. and I will be taking it out this weekend to shoot couple of hundred more rounds through it and see if it happens again. Some claim it's a break in problems but all of my break in problems with pistols have related to feeding from magazines.

My advice is to send it back to Sig, or better yet, go to the dealer where he got it and ask for an exchange on an all steel Sig 229 or maybe a Hi-Power. Billy Ray loves the Hi-Power, and really, who doesn't? For many years in the 50's and 60's and early 70's, it was THE ONLY option for hi-capacity firepower as a back-up gun that the police had. I knew lots of hardcore detectives in the 6o's and 70's who carried a Hi-Power under the seat in a shoulder holster with a couple of extra mags for police situations. Otherwise, they carried a revolver or 1911 as their duty gun, but had a Hi-Power as their gunfighting pistola. Even Serpico carried one of these as a backup gun during his heavy duty undercover law enforcement days in NYC.

I'll let you know how it goes at the range with the P250. The gun is already doomed, as it can't be relied upon in a defensive situation, which is why Billy Ray bought it. It would be concerning if it occcured even in a plinking gun, but with a carry pistol it is, of course, unacceptable.

Reading the internets it appears the Federal Air Marshal (FAM) program has order thousands of the P250 in .357 Sig to phase out the Sig P229 in .357 Sig. The reports don't say how many because the number of FAM's is secret, as it should be. I hope there are FAM's everywhere, but fear that there are not enough. In any event, what a poor choice for a replacement for the P229, which is ideal for LE work.

I have to say that I don't understand the rationale behind using a .357 Sig in the air, instead of a high capacity .45 ACP Glock or the like. If shooting through seats to get perps is a concern, then perhaps a .45 +P could be used, but in any event the huge mass of the .45 and resulting low penetration beyond your target would seem to be the best choice for shooting in a plane. The .357 Sig is just too hot, and I can't imagine a scenario less well suited for either .357 Sig or .357 Magnum as with the old Sky Marshal's program.

Any big, slow bullet will penetrate less than a much faster and lower mass bullet. And who wants to be blowing a hole in the side of an airliner? I've seen those movies where people get sucked out of jets thousands of feet in the air from holes created by gunshots. Haven't you?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I'll tell you what. I'm so danged impressed with the fact that Alaska Airlines deplanes onto the tarmac there OUT OF THE FRONT AND THE BACK OF THE PLANE that I'm beside myself.

I flew through there today on Alaska and was off the plane in like 5 minutes, sitting in the back portion of the plane. I've never done that before and thought it was the coolest thing ever! We were delayed taking off when headed to San Jose and so I had a very limited time to change planes to get home to Texas. We had some mechanical problems that took about an hour to fix before we headed to San Jose, and there was just an hour between flights in San Jose, so I knew we would be cutting it close.

So get this: there was a crew of folks from the Alaska Airlines waiting at both front and back exits of the plane when we landed an hour late waiting to escort the passengers getting on my flight to Texas to our plane, which was already boarding. Our Texas bound plane was one gate away, so they escorted us to ensure safety from the fueling/luggage/food/etc trucks running between the two planes.

Really, I swear that's true! The boarding agents were on the ground and gathered our boarding passes and took the passes inside and scanned them, then returned them to us on the plane, as we boarded whilst they were scanning the passes. I have not had such a high level of airline customer service EVER!

I've been on numerous flights the past few years on American, Continental and U.S. Scare where either weather or mechanical problems caused the flight we were on to be late, making it very real that we'd probably miss our connecting flight home. In fact, the last Continintal flight we took a couple of months ago to the East Coast we had to reroute through Chicago with a lengthy layover and then on to DFW for another layover before we could get home all because the initial flight had issues and was very late, adding hours to our flight time.

On these other airlines, they tell you pretty much too bad too sad when their issues cause you to miss a connecting flight. Today, Alaska HELD the connecting flight home to Texas knowing there were about 30 passengers on our plane taking it. And then sped us to the plane.


Our Stew today told us when we finally took off that the Captain had called San Jose and that they would hold our flight for us. I couldn't believe it but they really did. Outstanding job, Alaska!

So Alaska is going to get a lot of my west coast travel in the future.

Along with discovering the majestic wonder that is Alaskan Amber beer this week, I also discovered that Alaska Airlines kicks major rear in the customer service department. Sadly, Alaskan Amber beer is not available in Texas, unless via an online order, which is fixing to happen in a few moments. I'm an occasional beer drinker, but after drinking Alaskan Amber beer, I really for the first time found a tasty beer that goes down good that my body (.i.e. hangover central, even after one beer) likes as well. I've never been truly excited by a beer before, although having spent many musical drum playing nights in various bars and brewpubs and places that had several hundred different types of beers on tap or bottled, I've sampled a few different kinds of beers.

Prior to the Alaskan Amber awakening, I've tended to favor Coors Light, Lone Star, and Shiner Bock for the past few decades. If you wanna try some, you can find it in stores and bars as close as Colorado and Arizona. The Alaskan beer website has some companies that sell online and ship. I just want a mini-keg of the stuff to throw in the man fridge, but I'm pretty sure it's limited to bottles.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Pictured above is the Glock 36, a 6+1 .45 ACP single stack pistol. The thinnest Glock currently made, it became very popular with Glock fans looking for a powerful yet concealable pistol and for those with smaller hands. I fall into both catagories.

Since it's introduction about 10 years ago, it's become a very popular self defense carry weapon for many folks, including me. As I mentioned in the previous post, using Federal low recoil self defense ammo, it has the recoil of a .380, or at worst, a 9mm. Even with +P loads it's a very managable gun for a lightweight .45.

El Fisho Jr has no problem whatsoever doing double taps with the M36, even though he is a child. We often shoot ball ammo at the range, which has more recoil than the Federal loads mentioned above, and it's still no problem for El Fisho Jr. One reason I want to get a Model 19 is for the cheapness and availability of 9mm ammo, and because I think El Fisho Jr. would enjoy shooting it more. He's about to begin a combat shooting league with his dad, but he is adament he wants to use my M36 or get his own because of the grip size. So who knows, we may get another M36 instead of a M19 for that very reason.

I live in an urban area, so if the unfortunate situation evolved where I had to use deadly force to protect me or the family, I'm concerned about over penetration of my target. Like the sage Texas Ghostrider would say, use the handgun to get to the long gun, and for sure, the ideal home defense weapon is a shotgun with a light on it. Point light at target, destroy target with ultra minimum chance of over penetration. We don't want bullets going to visit the neighbors, and if it was in public, we certainly don't want to injure an innocent person. We just want to stop our intended threat.

If I were out in the country, choices for a defense weapon grow to include long arms and shotguns. My personal favorite long gun is the Ruger Ranch Rifle in .223, followed by a reliable AK. Just talk to anyone who was in Nam. When their M16's malfunctioned because of dirt, mud or other contaminants, it was not uncommon for them to grab an AK off an enemy and a bag of mags to fight their way home. Many developed such an affinity for the AK that they just packed away their M16's and used the AK's.

I too, prefer shooting an AK to an AR clone. I had good luck with the AR-15 I bought years ago, but still prefer the AK. For a scoped rifle, I've long been partial to my first deer rifle, a Marlin lever action 30-30. I've shot it so much and it shoots so dead on that I feel comfortable with targets at a distance.

For 30 years, I've believed that the Remington 870 is the perfect shotgun for me. 18" or 20" barrel, parkerized with a wooden stock that can be substituted with a Pachmayr pistol grip if necessary for slipping under the bed or carseat and an extended magazine. Add some buckshot and a few slugs further down the magazine in case the buckshot is not doing the trick and you're all set for self defense.

What is your favorite long gun for defensive use? And what is your dream self defense gun?

If I was ever going to get a Class 3 license, I'd want some form of high capacity .22 in full auto. I wonder how come no gun maker has ever made a belt feed .22 in full auto? I've seen a very cool aftermarket stock that (at least used to be sold) that mated two Ruger 10-22's to a single trigger mechanism. Outfitted with extended capacity mags, you can't imagine the damage a double .22 semi-auto rifle can inflict upon targets with bullets hitting a target about 1" apart.


I've been a steady Glock user since 1992, when I bought my .45 ACP Model 21. For shooting enjoyment and accuracy, it's the finest firearm I've ever shot. I must admit a long time respect for 1911 Colts, and have owned quite a few Colts and other brands over the years. I've always had an affinity for the Lightweight Commander, and during my policing days that was a fairly common off-duty carry gun. When I wasn't carrying a Commander, I often carried a Colt Cobra in .38 Special. I like those lightweight Colts.

But then I shot my first Glock in the early 1990's. They were old news by then, and had taken the law enforcement world by storm. Although skeptical of owning "a plastic gun", I kept hearing reports of absolute reliability and amazing accuracy from all of the cops I knew whose departments had switched to them. I shot many rounds through a model 17 9mm Glock, and became convinced it was the finest shooting handgun I had ever fired, despite it's rather large (for me) grip.

As a .45 ACP fan(atic), I waited until a .45 Glock came along, and as soon as the local reasonably priced gun store had one, I ran out to buy it. Billy Ray came with me, 'lo those many years ago, and we immediately drove to Bailey's Shooting Range south of Houston proper to give it a try. We ran several hundred rounds through it that afternoon, and were amazed at it's accuracy, easy recoil and ability to digest any ammo put through it. We ran a box of Corbon .45 +P ammo through it that day, and although the recoil was obviously more than with regular ammo, it wasn't intolerable.

That night, we were at a dinner gathering and ran into a DPS narc. DPS at the time, I recall, was still using revolvers in it's uniform division. I could be wrong about that, but I know this fellow was carrying a 1911 .45 auto in his investigator position. He scoffed at the plastic gun, despite it's mag capacity of 13 rounds, but I bet now 12 years later that narc more than likely respects Glock as a reliable sidearm.

I got into combat pistol competition shooting shortly after that at the American Shooting Center or whatever it's called out at Westheimer and Hwy 6 in Houston. They had an excellent combat league, and I came to enjoy the weekly competitions. It also made me a much better shot and improved my awareness about shooting situations when doing timed courses with frequent magazine changes.

When I first started shooting combat competition, there were very few Glocks present with other shooters, and my Glock attracted quite a bit of attention. At the time, I had a customized race tuned 1911 whose previous owner had spent several thousand dollars to make more accurate for exactly this type of shooting. I saw where 9mm's were not enough to knock down metal silhouettes that were part of the course, even though the metal targets were designed to be downed by as low as .38 Special and 9mm. Most 9mm's I saw barely cut it, and only if they were shooting hot ammo. Soon, it seemed like everyone was showing up with Glocks, not so much for their increased ammo capacity, as the course called for frequent mag changes after 4 and 5 rounds, but for their accuracy and easy shooting. The Model 21 doesn't beat you up when you shoot it, compared to some 1911's.

My second Glock is also a .45 ACP. I looked at the double-stack mini-Glocks that came out in the mid-1990's, but their grip was too fat for my hand. In fact, ironically, to make the Model 21 grip more palatable, I put a rubber Hogue grip sleeve on it and although it made it slightly thicker, it was easier to hold and shoot with the Hogue grip on it. I recommend any of the aftermarket rubber grip sleeves for Glock shooters who feel the grip is a little fat for their hands. Again, even though you're adding to the size of the grip, I know it helps me hold onto the Model 21 better.

My second Glock is a Model 36, which is unique among Glocks because it is a single stack magazine, holding six rounds of .45 ACP. It's thinner than other Glocks, particularly in the handgrip area. You can buy extensions to add to magazines that add two rounds, but I believe in carry guns being used exactly as they were designed, sans modifications and sans add-ons.

I'm trying to find a grip sleeve that will fit the Model 36. It fits my hand well, much better than other Glocks, but I do like the tactile feel of a rubber handgrip. I'd love to see Glock make pistols that not only had interchangeable backstraps but also rubber grip panels that screw to the grip.

Of course, I'd also like to see a manual safety/decocker on a Glock as well. There is a gunsmith in Abilene who installs safeties on Glocks, but again, that's not how they were designed to function.

You have to treat carrying a Glock like carrying a cocked and locked 1911. The thing I've heard said about Glocks which I feel strongly about is regarding their reliability: "Pull trigger, gun goes boom".

The Model 36 has now been a mainstay in my carry arsenal for many years. I've been hankering lately for a Model 19 in 9mm, just for shooting fun, but have not yet had the opportunity to see how the interchangeable backstraps of the 4th Generation Glocks will make the gun fit my hand. I hope it's a bit reduced from the normal Model 19.

I carry the Federal low recoil self defense ammo in my .45. It has remarkably low recoil, in fact, as I've noted elsewhere, several of my diehard .45 shooting friends remarked that the Glock with the Federal low recoil ammo kicked about like a .380, which is to say, not much at all.

To close out this rave fest on Glocks, I'll mention that until recently, I was unhappy with every holster for concealed carry that I had for the Glock 36. Then I discovered the High Noon line of Holsters. Particularly, the Mr. Softy and the Bare Asset IWB holsters. The difference is that the Mr. Softy rides lower in a straight drop, hence more concealable, whereas the Bare Asset rides higher and has a 15 degree forward cant. Me Likee.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I'm a big fan of the Daiwa Silvercast reels that were sold in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Memory fails as to where I picked up the one I had or even when, but it's been an outstanding reel for at least the past 25 years. As I recall, I bought it because the Abu-Matic series by Garcia had been discontinued, and I was on a fishing trip with a fly rod/reel and an ultralight spinning rod/reel, and had not brought a spincasting reel with me for the casting rod I had brought.

The particular model I first bought was strung from the factory with 15 pound test line. Over the years, I've marveled at it's baitcasting reel like distance that it achieves on long distance casts. Long distance casts are not something that spincasting reels are noted for. It has a decent drag, not as nice as the star drag of the Abu-Matic series of reels but it works pretty good. I'd still rather fight a huge fish on an Abu-Matic 170 or 290 with a star drag, but most of the fish I catch are not huge, despite my best efforts.

I've used this reel for varied fresh and saltwater fishing all over the state and in several other states. It played out of the 90 yards of line it holds when it went to the Bahamas with me during the 1990's, but I still managed to land the 2 pound bonefish that took out all that line. I learned my lesson and have restricted it's use to fishing trips when 90 yard runs are unlikely.

In recent months, I've acquired several more of these same model reels in very good used condition, not spending over $4.00 for each reel, exclusive of shipping. There are apparently a lot of these reels on the used reel market, and for some reason, they have yet to become overpriced. I've cleaned up and oiled/greased the ones I have and recently used one for some jetty fishing.

El Fisho Jr. likes these reels for their simplicity, and you can't argue with the durability factor. Mine has withstood rugged use over the past two decades plus, and is still in fine form.

So if you're looking for a great reel buy and you appreciate at times a good spincast reel, then check out the older Daiwa Silvercast line of reels. Unfortunately, the newer lines of Daiwa Silvercast and Goldcast reels just don't measure up to the older Silvercast, although the Goldcast comes close in freshwater. The current Goldcast reels just don't cast nearly as far as the old Silvercast reels do. Besides, you can get a used RL for about a tenth as much as you can a new Goldcast, and the innards of the new reels are not as durable as the old ones either.

Pick one up and you'll be amazed with the distance you can get out of this reel. If it only held more line, it'd even be useful for ultralight surf casting, but as it is I've landed some hefty catfish in the 10 pound or so range with this reel.

I have used this reel, along with a Cabela's travel rod, for surf fishing in California, since one is likely to catch much smaller fish in the California surf than in the Texas surf. Mostly what I've caught when surf fishing in Southern California has been fish like halibut and surf perch, which tend to be around the 1 and 2 pound catagory.
I had some Malibu surf fishermen looking at me all goo-goo-googly eyed one October several years back, as I was casting my Berkley Gulp sand flea baits (with no weight) a good distance further than their ultralight spinning reels and longer rods were reaching. They came over, and were very curious about the reel I was using and why it's casting reach was so far.

I couldn't explain to them why it casts so far, but I'm pretty sure those fellows were on Ebay that night looking for one of their own. They were very impressed with the distance, and were surprised that it was an older reel and not some new high dollar creation. I let them make a few casts and they were duly impressed. They made sure to write down the model number before they left.

So if you're looking for a good reel for smaller bass and just about every other freshwater fish in Texas, look no further. I'll be trying it out on some mountain trout in a few weeks in another state, and I'll feel well armed for rainbows and golden trout with a nice ultralight casting travel rod I have. It'll do double duty on that same trip doing some light saltwater bay fishing as well, with a more stout rod.
Despite the low line capacity, I've done a lot of bayfishing with this reel, and it works great in saltwater. It takes a well made and somewhat heavy duty reel to even take saltwater fishing to begin with, much less repeated trips over 25 years. Even when dirty, it still functions until you can give it a good cleaning and oiling, and that's saying something. There is not a bit of rust inside or out on the original reel I bought, nor on any of the recently purchased versions.

It's a good buy right now, and there are a lot of them out there. Just call it our little secret. You can't say I never did nuthin' fer ya! You'll thank me later.

Tight lines!

Friday, June 11, 2010



I recently went on a RV trailer trip to the beach with El Fisho Jr. We were the invited guests of one of El Fisho Jr.'s friends and his father. Very nice folks. And it's hard for El Fisho to pass up a beach trip where the goal is fishing, particularly when the trip is to one of my favorite beach towns..

Any regular reader who suffers through this blog knows I like surf fishing and saltwater fishing in general and that our family spends a lot of vacation time at the beach every year. It's our vacation place, and has been for quite a long time. But my family are condo or beach house rental people, not RV'ers. Although I've been on road trips in some of the smaller Class C motor homes (i.e. all in one), I'd never been on a camping trip in a separate trailer and tow vehicle combo.

My experiences with pulling things behind cars is somewhat extensive as to pulling boats, or as my wise father used to say, "dragging" a boat. Because that's what it is some of the time. Dragging a boat over potholes and inclines and the like. Back in the day, I drug our family fishing boat up and down Highways 59 and 77 many a time to Port Isabel for fishing. It's been to East Galveston Bay and Lakes Conroe and Livingston and Houston many times as well. Even with a powerful tow vehicle, it's dragging a boat. After many years of boat ownership, we decided it is cheaper and lots easier to either rent a boat or better yet, hire a guide at the fishing location with a very nice boat to take us fishing.

When you figure in buying the boat, buying gas and oil, maintaining the boat, keeping the boat legally registered, keeping new tires on the trailer and keeping the trailer bearing maintained, it does become cheaper if you're just using the boat 2 or 3 times a year to just hire a guide or a rental boat. Hell, gas savings alone can pay for a half day of a rental boat or a cheap guide.

I make the same analogy for having an RV as owning a boat. As I said, I'm a condo and beach house kind of guy. Although I'm not by nature claustrophobic, throw in a noisy kid who can't sit still (El Fisho Jr's friend) and a dad who is constantly fiddling and adjusting with every aspect of his trailer and the small space of a trailer becomes el tiny. Extra tiny. With no escape.

I think our host was nervous about having non-family members in his sacred trailer. We, of course, treated it with great respect. We made sure no sand from our feet entered the trailer. We made sure to keep sandy and wet clothes outside either drying on the awning arms or in an old sail bag I use for beach and fishing trips to keep wet and sandy clothes in.

I think the first clue that I knew it was going to be a loooooonnnnnnnnnnnnng weekend trip was when our host announced that our prior plan of staying actually "on the beach" was no more and that we would be staying in a "five star" RV campground. I've never set foot in an RV campground before, but somehow this announcement sent chills of fear through my very being.

My daydreams of keeping rods in the water held in sand spikes and going to check on them every now and then was, of course, out the window. My daydreams of listening to the crashing of the waves washing away my stress was no more. My host said he had a generator, so I had dared to daydream of an air conditioned repose at the beach, a retreat from the heat and humidity. When the sweating got too much, we could just retreat into the trailer to get cool.

Of course, when one is staying "on the beach" and fishing constantly, the chances of catching fish rises exponentially. Just being able to keep a couple of surf rods out there with several types of bait on each means that some passing big fisho might bite in the middle of the night. Of course, you don't want to leave rods unattended for any length of time at the beach, as they could be hauled into the surf by a shark or other large fish, but having a cowbell on the rod pretty much works as a strike alarm if you're in the general area and a fish hits.

It's been awhile since I had been at a beach fishing camp, and this seemed like the ideal way to test how comfy and fun a trailer at the beach would be.

No matter that I had packed in anticipation of such an adventure. We were off, and soon we were at the promised land RV park. We set up the trailer and got the A/C blowing. I could pretty instantly tell that the small A/C unit was going to be laboring against both the high temperatures and the near 100% humidity. It didn't seem to be putting out much more than the A/C in some SUV's I've owned. In fact, I've been in Sequoias and vans that put out more and colder and less humid A/C than this trailer.

But again, trying to look on the bright side, I reasoned that some A/C was better than none, and on this point I was right. At least we sweated less in the trailer than outside, even with the A/C running at maximum the entire time it was hooked up. After we got the trailer all set up in the five star RV park, I used the restroom, which apparently caused no small degree of concern with the host.

Silly me figured, hey, trailer has a restroom, I have to go, hence I use the restroom in the trailer. My host was outside when I committed this transgression, but perhaps he heard the flush, as he then announced that "we would not be using the bathroom in the trailer but instead the one at the RV community center/pool area", which was conveniently located about 200 or 300 yards from our trailer. I did end up finding a route to the restroom that cut through empty spaces (which by the way is against one of the many, many rules at this RV park to walk through empty RV spaces as one is to use the streets and driveways) that was closer to 200 yards, but if one followed the RV park rules and walked only on the streets, it was near to 300 yards.

Which is problematic when you are drinking gallons of water to stay hydrated in the stifling heat and humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife. So I made the walk to the restroom many, many times for both me and El Fisho Jr, at all hours of the day and night. The sometimes sketchy types who tend to favor the RV lifestyle means no kid of mine gets to wander around without me in the RV park.

There are a lot of really nice folks and what appear to be good folks who follow the RV lifestyle. Unfortunately, like in every other group, there are also the sketchy, random and weird ones that automatically scream "STAY AWAY FROM ME" when you first see them. And these are the types that seem to like to hang out in the community center, looking to "make friends" with everyone who crosses their path.

At this point in my life, I have all the friends I want or need. In fact, I've been blessed to have more friends than I can really tend to. I have many good friends who have been friends of mine since I was in my teens and early twenties, and these are the relationships I tend to pay attention to. I'm always open to making a new friend, but I prefer to make my friends through established friends I already have. It lessens the chance of meeting what one friend used to call "BeBe LaStrange" types of persons who you know nothing about and whom you soon regret meeting.

Big Jim, an old friend of mine, used to say that He can only have ten friends at any given time, and that any more friends than that is too many to deal with.

In any event, life at the RV park was, like the inside of the trailer itself, cramped and in your face. No privacy whatsoever. Your neighbors were close enough to touch on three sides. They could clearly see into your trailer and you into theirs if blinds were open. Their sounds, smells and sights become yours, and yours become theirs and there is no choice about this.

In addition to the previously mentioned sketchy types, there were two other distinct life forms I encountered at the RV park: The Swingles and The RV Commandos. I'll talk about them in a future post, but suffice it to say that the RV Commados work part time for the RV parks in exchange for rent reductions and their job is not only to think up silly rules but also to enforce them at every opportunity. No rule is too useless or stupid or minor to be enforced as if someone's very life depended on it. Which leads to lots of folks who have never had any power in their lives suddenly becoming the RV police.

The Swingles, of course, act and appear to be hep cat, free drinking, hot-tubbing swingers, and although most appeared to be couples and not singles, Swouples isn't as catchy or descriptive as Swingles. Swingles are not, by nature, rule followers, and thus the Swingles and the RV Commandos are constantly at odds, with the RV Commandos trying to get the Swingles to (as South Park's Cartman would say) "Respect My Author-i-tay" and the Swingles basically not giving a damn what the RV Commandos say or do.

For a short weekend trip like the one we took, I fail to see the economy of staying in an RV park. $140 in gas to drag the trailer down and back, $30 space rental fee and other miscellaneous costs (propane, etc) means we coulda stayed in a cheap condo or motel with a better performing A/C unit for damn near the same money. For just a bit more money we could have stayed in a nice condo with a view of the waves. As it was, our trailer space was about a half a mile from the beach, and so really staying in a nice condo or motel room to me makes a lot more sense.

When you factor in the cost of buying the trailer, say $2oo or $300 a month, you lose any economy. Yes, you do own it, but again, you're not staying cheap or free when you travel. We go to the beach several times a year and we don't spend anywhere near $2400 or $3600 (the amount of trailer payments one would make) for our condos as we often get deals of free nights when staying for several days. And we don't have to empty the restroom or drag the condo room back home with us.

I've written recently about building a fishing vehicle, and to me, a nice used 4x4 extended size van with a top mounted A/C unit and a generator makes a lot more sense than having a huge 4x4 truck to tow a trailer, as far as having a fishing camp vehicle goes. You can find a real nice used conversion 4x4 van for the same price as a trailer, with about as much useable room in an extended van as in a trailer.

So for me, unless you're staying in the wilds fishing or hunting, an RV makes little sense. If I was a big deer hunter and had a deer lease where I could leave my RV, or if I had a piece of land and didn't want to build a cabin, I could see having an RV for awhile. But even then, I think I'd opt for a much larger used mobile home instead of a trailer.

And I'd make damn sure it had a high performing air conditioning unit.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Rod De'Ath update

There have been a bunch of comments today on the post I did in October of last year about Rod. If you're not a Rod fan, listen to some Rory Gallagher music and become one! See the comments at More about drummer Rod De'Ath.
And Rod, if you somehow stumble across this post, your fans remember you and this fan thanks you for teaching me, through your recordings, what it is a real blues rock drummer is!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


As I mentioned in an earlier post, Billy Ray and El Fisho Jr. and I went to the indoor range the other night. You never know what kind of folks are going to be at the shooting range, and that night was no different. Sometimes it is a very serious female crowd who take their practice with zenlike concentration. Sometimes, it's hunters sighting in some obscenely loud .300 magnum bolt action rifle at 100 yards. Sometimes its just normal folk, either shooting for fun or practicing for self defense.

I recently saw the Zombieland movie with Woody Harrelson. Excellent flick. I'm sure I'll buy it soon, because it's gonna be another classic like Escape from New York. Like they say in the movie, *always double tap*.

This was a Friday night, and it seemed, post college dude night. It was a well behaved bunch of twenty and thirty somethings, each with their Glock or Sig or HK. It seemed like most of them were shooting guns in .40 and .357 Sig calibers. The .357 Sig's were LOUD compared to Billy Ray's 9mm, my various .45 ACPs and .38 Specials and the .40s.

At one point, I put a fresh target on and put it out about 10 feet. I got my Colt Cobra Snubnose, fitted currently with HUGE Pachmayr Presentation Grips, which are a bit oversize for this smaller gun but really have a great grip angle and make shooting the Cobra fun fun fun. It's harder to conceal with these grips on the Cobra rather than the Pachmayr Compac rounded butt grips or the factory wood grips, which conceal the easiest.

With the factory wood grips, I need to use a Tyler or Pachmayr T-Grip adapter, although I have a set of Diamondback grips that are considerably larger than the Cobra stock grips. But the Diamondback grips are the same size roughly as the Presentation grips, and the Pachmayrs take all the sting out of shooting a 15 oz. snubnose.

I started doing double taps, and it's a very accurate gun, for what it is anyway, and I've been shooting it an awful long time, nearly 30 years. I'm *somewhat comfortable with it*.

The younger folks all began to gather round to look at the pistol as I was reloading. "That's not a Smith", one of them said, "it holds six bullets". "And look at the cylinder release...IT GOES BACKWARD!".

After we finished shooting, the youngsters approached and asked about the Cobra. I told them about it and it's history. I showed it to them. We talked about my job and they asked what I carried when not working. I told them usually a Glock Model 36, which I had on me and fired a few rounds with at the range.

I told them that I often carried revolvers, either the Cobra or a J frame during hot weather. The most concealable. They asked me how I felt about having just five or six shots, since their guns hold more than two times what the revolvers hold.

I asked them if any of them had any misfires or jams in their autos. Several sheepishly nodded yes. I told them that the Cobra was good for "just" six shots, but that they were *generally* "for sure" six shots in a row. Pull trigger. Gun goes bang. Six times.

They wanted to know where they could get a Colt. I told them a gun show or a used gun dealer or online. Several of them said they had various J frames which are their carry guns, since even the compact semi-autos require some work to actually conceal in the summer weather of Texas. But all agreed that the trigger and ergonomics of the Cobra was a pretty nice change from a J frame. They especially liked the larger Presentation grips.

I looked at their guns. Various USP HK Compacts and Glock 32/22's and some Sig 226 and 229's. One guy in their group had an HK USP but also had a nice little .45 ACP Kimber 3" Ultra CDP II 1911 models, and no one in their outfit seemed much interested in his shooting of that gun. He was a good shot, and was pulling in some very small groups during some close range draw and fire shooting with double taps.

These were kids that were not raised, for the most part, with revolvers. By the time they could tell about guns, the armed forces and pretty much all law enforcement (except for that park ranger chick in Broken Arrow who carries a .357 magnum revolver, although the pilots have Berettas) carried semi-automatic high capacity pistols.

Back in my day, there were two hi-cap 9's: The Browning Hi-Power and the Smith and Wesson Model 59. The Browning is essentially a 1911 without a grip safety but with a magazine safety, and the Smith and Wesson was a DA/SA external hammer early version of the now everywhere Sigs and HK's.

These were nice folks. You could tell they were working folks, with college degrees. They were dressed very casually in jeans and tennis shoes, not in corporate casual, but you could tell from their haircuts and their demeanor that's where they come from. They had manners and they were serious about their shooting.