How To Improve Your Handgun Accuracy In One Easy Step

Make your dry fire practice even better with a small investment in an assortment of snap caps.

Make your dry fire practice even better with a small investment in an assortment of snap caps.

Here’s a shooting tip: if you do this one practice routine, you can learn to shoot without missing. Before we get into the secret of how to always hit your target, we need to talk physics.

I know, this is a gun blog, and you never use that high school science stuff anyway. Just hear me out for a minute…

Almost any handgun, like a Beretta Nano, Beretta 92 series or Beretta Px4 series has less weight than your trigger finger has strength. To go into a little more detail, let’s look at the factory specified weights of a few common handguns:

Beretta Nano 1.24 pounds
Beretta 92FS 2.08 pounds
Beretta Px4, 9mm 1.73 pounds

By now you’re probably thinking, “OK, Tom, that’s a fascinating display of your ability to read the Beretta catalog, but what does that have to do with never missing a target?”

I’m glad you asked! Now, let’s add one more piece of information to that list of gun weights. Now, we’ll consider the weight AND the number of pounds of trigger finger force required to fire the pistol.

Beretta Nano 1.24 pounds 6 to 8 pounds depending on who you ask
Beretta 92FS 2.08 pounds 12 pounds (first shot) and 5 pounds (subsequent shots)
Beretta Px4, 9mm 1.73 pounds 12 pounds (first shot) and 4.5 pounds (subsequent shots)

If we do some fancy math, compare pounds and carry the one, we’ll see that in every case, the force required to break the trigger is more than the weight of the gun. This means that unless you hold the gun perfectly still while applying pressure to the trigger, the gun will move. if the gun moves during the firing sequence, the shot will impact somewhere other than where it was originally aimed.

When you look at it that way, it’s a pretty simple concept. But what do you do about the problem? The answer is easy. You learn how to press (not pull) the trigger without moving the gun. If you learn how to do that, every time, you won’t miss – assuming you have the gun pointed properly at the target.

How do you learn to press the trigger without moving the gun? Dry fire practice. We’ve talked about it tangentially here at Beretta USA a couple of times. Jason shared his dry fire routine and some tips. I mentioned it in an article about the value of practicing with .22s. But we’ve never covered a step by step process on how to dry fire at home without harming yourself, your family or your new love seat from Haverty’s.

Basic dry firing simply allows you to practice pulling the trigger pull on your gun without all that distracting flash and bang. All kidding aside, it’s a way to train your eyes, body and trigger finger to pull the trigger smoothly, without moving the sights off target. The real benefit is that you can do all this without that instinctive flinch when the gun normally goes bang. By conditioning yourself to perform a smooth trigger press, without a flinch reaction, you’ll eventually find that you do the same with a real gun when it does go bang.

The most important consideration is safety. You have to develop your own method that insures that you will never, ever, ever have bullets anywhere near your gun when you dry fire. All four gun safety rules apply when dry firing too: 

  1. Treat your gun as if it’s loaded.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire, or even dry fire.
  3. Never point your gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
  4. Be sure of your target and what’s behind it.

Here’s a dry fire practice checklist:

Step 1: Remove all ammunition from your gun.

Remove the magazine from your gun. Next, rack the slide to remove the cartridge from the chamber. Look in the magazine well and chamber to verify that your gun is truly empty.

Step 2: Move the ammunition away from your practice area.

Humor me here. Get those bullets you just removed and place them out of reach from your practice area. It’s amazing how life’s distractions can cause you to forget you just reloaded your gun after dry fire practice.

Step 3: Choose a safe target and backstop.

Since we’re obeying Rule 1 and treating our gun as if it’s loaded, we need to aim at a safe target and backstop during dry fire practice. I use a dresser that’s backed up against a stairwell wall. If I did manage to launch a bullet at it, the dresser full of junk would stop the projectile.

dry_fire_ammo-1

If you line up the ammo from your gun like this near your target, you will have an additional visual cue that your gun is still unloaded.

Here’s a tip that I use. I line up the ammunition I removed from my gun on top of the dresser. I place the rounds from the magazine next to each other and set the round I removed from the chamber a bit off to the side. That’s a visual cue and reminder that all of the bullets from my gun, magazine and chamber, are safely removed. 

Step 4: Focus on your front sight!

Focus on your front sight, so it’s crisp and clear. Your chosen (safe!) target will be a bit blurry and that’s OK. You want all of your focus on the front sight. Your sight will move around a bit as no one can hold a handgun perfectly still. This is OK and normal.

 

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

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10 Ways To Convince Your Wife You Need A New Gun

Beretta Diamond pistol

Unlike Mia, I had no problem whatsoever addressing this scenario. After all, I’m a world-class expert at rationalizing my gun purchases. Don’t believe me? Then explain how I have so many guns, yet am still happily married. At least until my better half reads this article.

For a limited time only, I’m going to share some of my top secret methods. Just be warned, these ideas are powerful. They’re 100% successful almost 47% of the time.

1. Play the man card.

You’ve got to play the “man’s responsibility” card. A lot. “Honey, the only thing I lose sleep over is that I’m not living up to my obligation as a man to protect you and the kids. It’s my obligation, and I’m honored to have this opportunity.” How can you go wrong when you’re telling your wife you’re HONORED to protect her?

2. Get gun trash.

Acquire some good trading trash. Excellent! Buy a couple of “trade guns.” They can be worthless and non-functional. Don’t spend more than $20 each on them. Buying trade trash is your first victory. When you get home, confess to your wife that you bought a new gun. Then tell her you spent less than the steaks you had for dinner last night. That gives you some advance “frugal shopper” credibility. Next, when you’re hankering for a new Beretta ARX-100, take one of your trade trash guns to a gun store and trade it as credit towards your ARX-100 purchase. When you get home, you can tell your spouse that you “traded” that old Rust Collector .38 Special for the ARX-100. Don’t worry about the details of the transaction, like the fact that you had to trade your junker plus the full retail price of the new gun, plus a $20 environmental impact fee to the dealer to get rid of your trade trash gun.

3. Tool time.

Guns are just another type of tool, right? Use your imagination here. Who would object to you buying another tool that will benefit the family? “Honey, I need to run out and get a tool for that project I was working on. You know, the one on my list?” Hey, it sounds like you’re dealing with that list of household maintenance items. Be creative, vague and run with it! The spoils go to the bold.

4. Look how much money I saved you!

Turn the tables on her. You know how, every now and then, she comes home with something extravagant and justifies the purchase saying something like “Honey, you wouldn’t believe the deal I got on this, it was on SALE!” You can do the same thing, as long as you don’t make a stink when she does it. You let her impulse buys slide, then she lets your impulse buys slide. Quid pro quo.

5. BOGO!

While this is related to the previous strategy, it’s subtly different. For those who aren’t professional shoppers, BOGO is professional shopper code for buy one, get one free. “Honey, I bought a new gun, but it was a BOGO deal, so I took advantage.” Who can argue with that?

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

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A Look At The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun

The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun is all business.

The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun is all business.

I recently got my hot little hands on a Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun. After checking out the floor model at the 2014 NRA Annual Meeting, I decided I had to have one. Why? Because it handles like a shotgun carbine. If you’ve shot short, light weight and compact rifles, then you know exactly what I mean. Now envision those attributes in a shotgun and you’ve got the Beretta 1301 Tactical.

The Aimpoint Micro H1 optic fit perfectly and allowed for co-witness of the ghost ring sights.

The Aimpoint Micro H1 optic fit perfectly and allowed for co-witness of the ghost ring sights.

Right out of the box, it’s just under 38 inches long, which is right in line with other famous carbines like the Ruger 10/22 and World War II era M1 Carbine. Beretta ships this gun in its shortest configuration. The butt stock has removable spacers included in the box that allow you to add ½, 1” or 1 ½ inches to the stock length to arrive at the length of pull that you want. Me? I loved the short and handy configuration, so I left the spacers in the box for future use in the event my arms grow longer.

The 1301 Tactical is offered in 12 gauge only at this point and features a 3 inch chamber. In a small, lightweight shotgun like this one, you really don’t want to shoot 3 ½ inch shells anyway – it’s not intended to be a turkey hunting gun.

Differing from it’s 1301 competition sibling, the 1301 Tactical model sports some differences. First, it has an 18-inch barrel as compared to the Competition choices of 21 or 24 inches. It’s also got adjustable ghost ring sights. Both the ghost ring in the rear and sturdy post up front are protected with metal “wings” to save your sights from getting knocked around in the back of the SWAT wagon. More importantly, the 1301 Tactical model has a receiver-mounted rail just in front of the rear sight so you can mount optics. For me, this just screamed for an Aimpoint Micro H1. With a 2-MOA red dot and compact size, it turned out to be the perfect solution. The quick-release mount on the Aimpoint positioned the optic at a perfect height so the iron sights are just visible in the bottom section of the glass. If your battery croaks, you’ve got iron sights ready to go without need to remove your optic.

Beretta_1301_Tactical-15

Magazine capacity on the 1301 Tactical is a bit less than that of the 1301 Competition due to its shorter length. In mine, I can stuff 4, and sometimes 5, shells into the tube depending on the shell. Be aware that Beretta ships this model with a magazine plug in place, temporarily limiting tube capacity to two shells. No worries, just pop out the plug and you’re good to go.

Beretta_1301_Tactical-26Speaking of magazine capacity, I felt compelled to add a Nordic Components extension tube to my test model. While I could have chosen a longer tube, I opted for a 2 shell extension. This makes the overall length of the magazine tube just a hair longer than the barrel. I get two extra shells with no sacrifice of the compact handling qualities. Now, my total capacity, at least using Federal 12 gauge Gold Metal Target loads, is 7 in the tube plus one in the chamber. If you’re a 3 gun competitor, you might notice this sets this shotgun up nicely for…

The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Event!

While I was itching to try this shotgun anyway after seeing at the NRA Annual Meeting, I really wanted to test it in such a way as to give it a total workout. The idea was to configure this gun as a useful home defense model and the midnight 3 gun competition is a great way to test gear to see how it performs in the dark. In addition to the Aimpoint Micro H1 optic, I added a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro up front on the right side. A Nordic Components tube / barrel clamp with rail segment gave me the perfect spot to do that.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

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Premium Optics for the 300 Blackout Rifle

night·mare [nahyt-mair]

The Trijicon 3x30 ACOG for 300 AAC Blackout.

The Trijicon 3×30 ACOG for 300 AAC Blackout.

noun

  1. a terrifying dream in which the dreamer experiences feelings of helplessness, extreme anxiety, sorrow, etc.
  2. a condition, thought, or experience suggestive of a nightmare: the nightmare of his years in prison.
  3. reflective of the process of trying to design an optic for the 300 AAC Blackout.

I got this from Websters, really. OK, maybe not all of it, but you have to admit that the definitions of “extreme anxiety” and “helplessness” fit pretty well, right?

There aren’t many 300 AAC Blackout specific optics on the market and I can guess why. Imagine trying to design a reticle that can accommodate the incredible variety of ballistic performance of that round. As we talked about a few weeks ago in the article about 300 Blackout Ammunition and Reloading, there is no “standard” ballistic performance profile. You can do pretty much whatever you want in a broad range of subsonic to supersonic performance. And therein lies the challenge for the optics gurus. How do you design a ballistic drop compensation reticle to account for… infinity plus one?

Wonky ballistics

The Leupold design is classic AR tactical, with 1.5-5x magnification.

The Leupold design is classic AR tactical, with 1.5-5x magnification.

Before going into the specifics of these two optics, let’s take a look at the ballistic challenges they have to overcome – all in the same reticle. For purposes of the trajectories shown here, let’s assume a zero yard zero, and we’ll use two common and “representative” projectiles and “standard” velocities. For the supersonic load, we’ll show the flight path of a Barnes TAC-TX 110-grain bullet. As a side note, Barnes just released a 120-grain version of this bullet – I can’t wait to try it. I’ll assume a velocity of 2,500 feet per second. For the subsonic load, we’ll use the classic 220 grain Sierra Matchking and assume a traveling speed of 1,050 feet per second.

The purpose of the “zero yard zero” is to compare the absolute, unadjusted flight paths of the two rounds. Basically, we’re looking at shooting each round exactly parallel to the ground to see how it falls over distance.

Yards Barnes
110 grain TAC-TX, 2,500 fps
Sierra
MatchKing 220 grain, 1,050 fps
0 0.00 0.00
50 -0.72 -3.98
100 -3.00 -16.14
150 -7.05 -36.78
200 -13.13 -66.20
250 -21.52 -104.71
300 -32.57 -152.59
350 -46.68 -210.13
400 -64.31 -277.63
450 -86.02 -355.36
500 -112.41 -443.63

As you can see, the brick, I mean subsonic round, falls at about four times the rate of the supersonic. That’s a lot to account for. The idea behind a common reticle is to design it for the supersonic round and figure out a couple of realistic hold points for a short range trajectories of the subsonic round.

As we’ll look at in more detail this week, two premium optics companies have done just that. Trijicon and Leupold have each developed outstanding 300 AAC Blackout solutions. In my words, not theirs, the two options are not really comparable. They’re more like apples and oranges. Do you want applesauce or orange juice? More specifically, do you want adjustable precision or simplicity and speed?

The Trijicon offering borrows from the company’s ACOG line. It’s a fixed power optic that you adjust once, then shoot. And shoot. And shoot.

The Leupold offering is more of a scope tinkerer’s dream. With variable magnification and lots of fine lines in the reticle, you can get it to do whatever you want, out to very long ranges.

Let’s take a closer look at what each has to offer. One thing that both have in common is that they have boiled the ballistic ocean to two options at the extreme ends of 300 Blackout performance. The idea behind both the Trijicon and Leupold optics is that they design a dual reticle, with one-half mapped to supersonic projectiles in the 110-grain vicinity and the other mapped to subsonics in the 220-grain vicinity. If you want to use stuff in the middle ranges, it’s up to you to do some trial and error to map the reticle marks to specific ranges. On the plus side, at shorter and more reasonable ranges, it won’t really matter if you’re shooting 110, 125 or even 135-grain projectiles. That will only become significant past a couple hundred yards or so, so don’t get too concerned.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

 

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Pro-Gun Policy Will Fail Because There Were No Nuclear Wars

 

Cold War strategy sucked

Some gun control mantras make my head explode – and they don’t even use the phrase “for the children!” I’ll venture a guess they will cause you equal frustration. So go find a roll of duct tape. Then wrap your head with it. Done? Good. Now wrap an extra couple of layers, because I’m going to repeat the argument here loved by gun control groups like Moms Demand Alimony From Tyrannical Little Elitist Socialist Mayors with Napoleon Complexes (MDAFTLESMNC).

Concealed carry doesn’t stop mass shootings! There aren’t any examples of mass shootings where a concealed permit holder citizen stopped a mass shooting!

If you read this one slowly while moving your lips and concentrating really hard, you’ll detect some broken logic. The logic flaw boils down to this:

If someone is there to stop (or even disrupt) a mass shooting, the event never has a chance to become a mass shooting in the first place. The whole point is about the benefits of prevention, like blocking Anthony Weiner’s texting plan.

Buying into the exact same logic construct would mean that the Cold War failed. The whole point of the Cold War strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction is to prevent either side from throwing a pre-emptive nuclear missile haymaker. If you decided to evaluate the success of the mutually assured destruction strategy by counting the number of nuclear wars, then you would be well qualified to calculate unemployment numbers for the government.

“Hey! Our Cold War strategy sucked! You can’t name a single example of a nuclear war that was ended by the cold war strategy! Nyah, nyah, nyah! Now go get me a copy of the New York Times.”

Most studies define mass shootings as events where more than four people are deliberately killed in a single incident at a single location. Unless you develop the number using common core math, in which case you get an answer of -17.9 apples. But I digress. So, stick with me here, because the logic gets complex.

If a killer is stopped before they manage to harm four or more people, then it’s not a mass shooting.

See where I’m going here? If someone like, oh, say a concealed carry permit holder, is on the scene to disrupt a shooter’s plans, then they never get the opportunity to harm four people, so the event is not classified as a mass shooting, and like nuclear wars that never happened, it doesn’t factor into Emperor Mikey and Queen Shannon’s statistics.

The whole point of concealed carry is that first responders to an event – that would be you, not the police – have the right and responsibility to protect themselves. Rather than allow a homicidal maniac to proceed with their plans uninterrupted, an armed first responder – again that’s you – can disrupt the event as soon as it starts, so it never has the opportunity to become a mass shooting.

Let’s talk about the importance of disruption for a minute. Something sheeple don’t understand is that mass shooters are not highly trained Delta Commando Para Spetsnaz Seals. They’re psychopathic killers, but in terms of tactical skill, not so impressive. They rely on a docile and unarmed target environment in order to succeed. Rarely are special tactics are required to disrupt a mass killing plan. And disrupt is the keyword here. That’s all it takes. Disruption may, in fact, stop a killer cold or it may slow and delay their plan. Both are better scenarios that allowing them continue uninterrupted.

You don’t have to look far to find examples where armed citizens did, in fact, prevent mass shootings. The key word here is prevent, as the whole idea is to keep a criminal event from ever becoming a mass shooting in the first place.

In fact, you only have to look back as far as last week. Right here on Bearing Arms, you might have read about a doctor who stopped an armed killer in a medical facility. Unfortunately, one person was killed before the citizen was able to stop the killer. According to police, the armed doctor saved a lot of innocent lives.

Another classic example of the power of legally armed citizens occurred within one week of the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook. A 22-year-old shooter, who I will not name, entered the gun free zone of Clackamas Mall On December 11, 2012 and started shooting random people in the vicinity of the food court. A concealed carrier on the scene, Nick Meli, drew his Glock 22 on the killer, but held fire out of concern for innocent bystanders behind the shooter. When the shooter saw an armed Mr. Meli, he ran into a stairwell and ended his own life with this final shot. The shooter claimed two innocent lives and was surely intent on causing a tragedy of epic proportions. Only because a citizen on the scene disrupted the shooter’s plans, was a tragedy and “mass shooting” prevented.

Clackamas is a perfect example of the benefit of armed citizens. Mall customers, armed or unarmed, were the first responders. Our citizen first responder only had to disrupt the killer’s plan to save the day. It’s that simple.

Like mutually assured destruction, concealed carry is about preventing war in the first place.

Make sense?

Be sure to check out Tom’s latest books!  They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

What Makes a 1911 a 1911?

An example of a modern 1911, this Springfield Armory 1911 TRP has a number of tweaks to the original design.

An example of a modern 1911, this Springfield Armory 1911 TRP has a number of tweaks to the original design.

Love it or hate it, the 1911 pistol is kind of a big deal, even if just for its longevity. Just past the turn of the previous century, the Army figured out it wanted an autoloading handgun with similar ballistic capability to the .45 Colt which had served them well. Since our military folks rode around on horseback at that time, features like easy one-handed operation and grip safeties were important. If you drop your handgun mid-gallop, you don’t want it to go off when it hits the ground.

Is this Viet Cong copy of a 1911 really a 1911? Some of the controls are cosmetic only and it's a smooth bore! Image courtesy of the NRA National Firearms Museum.

Is this Viet Cong copy of a 1911 really a 1911? Some of the controls are cosmetic only and it’s a smooth bore! Image courtesy of the NRA National Firearms Museum.

In response, John Moses Browning, may he rest in peace, came up with the 1911. The Army liked its ease of use and hard-hitting power, which, according to 1911 guru Robert Campbell, is like “a velvet covered brick.”

You’ll hear gun folks talk in reverential tones about the pistol named 1911. Yes, it’s a year, but it’s also pistol design. Not a manufacturer or a specific model, but a design – kind of like how a pickup truck is a design. Lot’s of car manufacturers make pickups, and you can get them with different size engines, but they all have some common features, like seats in the front and a cargo bed in the back.

What makes a 1911 a 1911?

Two features of a classic 1911 are a grip and slide lock safety, both shown here.

Two features of a classic 1911 are a grip and slide lock safety, both shown here.

The purist definition of a 1911 might be an a pistol that exactly copies John Moses Browning’s famous design produced in the year, you guessed it, 1911. But even that was tweaked by the military a few years later with the A1 model. Since that time, thousands of gunmakers have produced 1911-style pistols with various tweaks to the original design.

At what point do “design enhancements” cause a gun to be something other than a 1911? Are there design features that, if tampered with, cause a 1911 to morph into something else?

Perhaps the best way to define the 1911 is by the collection of characteristics:

Short recoil operation with tilting barrel and swinging link

You’ll notice that 1911 pistol barrels have a moving link on the bottom under the chamber. As the pistol fires, the barrel and slide move backward together for a short distance. At this point, the link rotates the breech end of the barrel downward, unlocking it from the slide. This allows the slide to travel backward and eject the spent cartridge case. The recoil spring sends the slide forward, picking up a fresh cartridge along the way and recapturing the barrel.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

 

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5 Tips for New Concealed Carriers

One of the first steps is to get a proper holster, like this Galco King Tuk.

One of the first steps is to get a proper holster, like this Galco King Tuk.

Maybe you have recently completed the NSSF First Shots program or recently acquired your concealed carry permit. Alternatively, perhaps you are considering getting a carry permit. In any of these cases, there are a few things you need to know in terms of your next steps.

1. Get The Right Holster!

The right concealed carry holster will inspire confidence. You should be able to go about your daily business, whether your style is sedentary or active, without worry that your gun will move or fall out of your possession.

What do you look for in a “good”concealed carry holster? That’s simple. Focus on three things.

First, a good holster will help you access your gun quickly, easily and safely. It will hold your gun in a consistent position, so if you ever have to reach for it under stress, it will be exactly where you expect. A good holster will not move around and won’t require you to “check”the well-being or position of your gun as you move throughout your day.

Second, a good holster protects the trigger. No matter what your method of carry (waistband, ankle, purse, pocket or other), your holster needs to prevent stray objects or fingers from engaging the trigger. It is amazing how keys, change, chairs and other items can interfere with a trigger, potentially causing a negligent discharge.

Third, a good holster will ensure that your gun remains under your control at all times. It will not allow your gun to work its way out. It will not detach itself from your belt or clothing. If you have an active lifestyle, you may even want to consider a retention holster that requires a specific operation to release the gun from the holster.

If you don’t know anything at all about holsters and different ways to carry a gun, you might check out this book.

2. Practice with a purpose!

If you need to use your gun for self-defense, it won’t be much like your outings to the range. Most attacks are sudden and unexpected – initiated and resolved in seconds. Your attacker will be moving. You will (hopefully) be moving. If guns are involved, that means hitting moving targets while moving, and all while under enormous stress.

Standing at the range plinking at cans and paper targets is fun and satisfying. By all means do it! Just don’t think that prepares you for self-defense. If you want to start practicing skills that might help you in a defense situation, be sure to practice drawing from a holster, evaluating targets and what’s behind them, shooting quickly, but accurately and dealing with malfunctions in your gun. Have a friend load your magazines with random numbers of bullets so you might have to unexpectedly change magazines. Get some snap caps and have your friend insert them in your magazines randomly so you can practice what to do if your gun goes click instead of bang.

You also might create scenarios to track your progress. Try using a paper plate for a target and seeing how fast you can hit it from a draw with 5 straight shots at certain distances. Track your progress and set goals for improvement in both time and accuracy.

The very best way to practice is to make sure you complete step 5 in this tip list. Your instructor will give you lots of ideas for effective practice after your class.

Read the rest at NSSF First Shots!

 

Be sure to check out Tom’s latest books! They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

How To Clean A Beretta Px4 Handgun

Px4-Cleaning-Instructions

These detailed instructions are for a Beretta Px4, but if you have a 92/96 series, you can take advantage of this article too. There are a couple of different details, like how the takedown lever works, but everything else is pretty much the same.

The gun I’m using for this demonstration is a .40 S&W Beretta Px4 with a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro. That’s a combination light and laser unit that works with virtually any gun with a rail – like this Px4. The good thing is that it’s completely out of the way for cleaning and maintenance, as you see here.

First you have to take it apart, or field strip your PX4. There is no need to completely disassemble your pistol unless something is obviously wrong with its function. And even then, full disassembly and inspection is best left to a qualified gunsmith.

When you’ve field stripped your Px4, you will be left with six major assemblies:

  1. Magazine
  2. Frame
  3. Slide
  4. Barrel
  5. Recoil spring
  6. Central block

Beretta_Px4_Cleaning-6

All necessary cleaning and lubrication can be done with this level of takedown.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Even before step 1 of the field stripping process, you need to make sure that your pistol is empty. Remove the magazine. Most importantly, rack the slide multiple times to remove the cartridge in the chamber. Now visually check the chamber. Now do it again. Lock the slide open by pressing upward on the slide lock lever while retracting the slide. When you look through the top, can you see daylight through the magazine well? Can you see that there is no cartridge in the chamber? Good. Now you’re ready to proceed.

How to field strip your Px4

Step 1: Remove the slide.

Your Px4 should be decocked with the hammer in the “down” position. Using one hand, pull down the disassembly latch on both sides of the frame. Now move the entire slide assembly forward and it will come completely off the gun frame. Yes, it’s that easy.

Beretta_Px4_Cleaning-2

Step 2: Remove the central block and recoil spring.

The nice thing about a Px4 is that the recoil spring is captive, meaning it won’t go flying off across the room when you remove it. Turn the slide upside down and pull the central block and spring out. These two parts will separate easily as the spring is inserted into a hole in the block.

Beretta_Px4_Cleaning-4

Step 3: Remove the barrel from the slide.

Another easy step. With the central block and spring removed, the barrel will lift out of the slide.

All done! With the Px4, you want to be careful with the slide lock / slide release lever. With the slide removed, it’s fairly easy to knock off the frame, and the spring that holds it is a little bit tricky to reinstall. Just be careful and you’ll be fine.

How to clean your Beretta Px4

First you’re going to need some basic supplies. The Px4 includes a cleaning rod with a slotted end for patches and a brush, so technically all you need is cleaning solvent and lubricant.

otis-kit-only

My favorite cleaning rig: OTIS Technology

There are dozens of gun oils and cleaning solvents on the market. Fortunately, it’s pretty hard to go too wrong with any gun-specific cleaners and oils. Notice we say gun-specific. What you don’t want to do is use a general purpose penetrating oil like WD-40. We love WD-40 and it’s wonderful for many things, like getting bubble gum out of your hair. You may even use it to clean gun parts. Just don’t rely on it as a preservative and protectant for post-cleaning use. Guns tend to get really hot, hence the need for special oil and lubricant formulations that are designed to stand up to intense heat. Since the Px4 has a polymer frame, be sure not to use solvents than can damage plastic. Generally, only degreasing products will have this issue.

We’re going to pause and put in a plug for what I believe to be the best cleaning system on the market. It’s called the OTIS Technology System.

It’s well worth the money and the kits are designed to accommodate rifles, shotguns and pistols of various calibers. Their most basic kits will handle 9mm, 40 S&W and .45 ACP – all you need to clean the Beretta Px4.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

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Transforming A Basic AR-15 To A Home Defense Rifle

The "after" version of the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR. It's all geared up for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational and home defense use.

The “after” version of the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR. It’s all geared up for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational and home defense use.

A few weeks ago, I discussed my plan of using the upcoming Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational to choose, equip and practice with guns I’ll use for home defense. Since then. I’ve decided to use a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR for the rifle. It’s a standard AR-15 design with a notable exception. Instead of the classic A2 fixed front sight and gas block, it comes equipped with a rail gas block. And as a home defense choice? Absolutely. M&P 15’s run – reliably – and are cost effective to boot.

The before photo.

The before photo. When doing gun work, you’ll want a proper set of gunsmithing screwdrivers like this

Gearing it up for both the night 3-gun competition and home defense use requires some tweaks. Here’s what I decided to do.

Rail for lights and lasers

Installation of the quad rail was easy - I didn't need any tools.

Installation of the quad rail was easy – I didn’t need any tools.

The Smith & Wesson M&P 15 OR comes with the standard round plastic handguard. It’s comfortable and does a good job keeping your support hand cool when the barrel gets hot, but doesn’t have attachment points for rail accessories. I chose to replace it with a Blackhawk! AR-15 Carbine Length 2 Piece Quad Rail Forend. It offers rails on top, bottom, left and right and has great ventilation in between to let the barrel cool. You can also get it in rifle length if your gun is longer than mine but enough about that.

Installation is a snap. You don’t need tools, not even a hammer. Just remove the existing handguard by pulling down the delta ring in front of the receiver until you can pry the existing handguard halves out. The new Blackhawk! handguard also comes in two pieces, so put them in the same way. After they are pressed in place, you bolt the two halves together. It’s not a free-floated solution, but it’s rock solid and you don’t have to do any serious construction work to install it on your rifle.

A little detail that makes a big difference

I also chose to install a Blackhawk! Offset Safety Selector. This is one of those “oh duh why didn’t I think of that” inventions. It relocates the safety lever itself 45 degrees so you can easily reach it with your thumb without shifting your grip. A great aid for safety and usability, and for competition, it might just help you avoid a procedural penalty for not engaging the safety on your rifle.

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Dogs Gone By: On the Front Line in the War Against Prairie Dogs

The Battlefield: The Silver Spur Ranch in Encampment, Wyoming.

The Battlefield: The Silver Spur Ranch in Encampment, Wyoming.

We awoke at dawn.

Most of us were slightly nervous, but energized by the certainty of impending combat. I doubt the enemy ever sleeps. They’re too busy digging a tunnel network to support their underground trafficking enterprise.

We’d been the ones to choose the field of battle – the Silver Spur Ranch in Encampment, Wyoming. Encampment is an eerily appropriate name given the enemy’s permanent dug in positions.

Our foe has a great propaganda machine, although I have absolutely no idea how they can afford such a thing. As a result, most people know them as those cute, adorable and cuddly Facebook poster critters. Awwww.

The modern day tank that carried the day during the trench warfare stage - the Yamaha

The modern day tank that carried the day during the trench warfare stage – the Yamaha Viking UTV.

Like Hollywood celebrities, our enemy’s day to day behavior is somewhat different from their public image. They cause massive, and I do use that word deliberately, damage to agricultural and grazing land. They eat each other like real world zombies. They reproduce faster than Anthony Wiener texts his, well, you know. They carry the plague. They’re downright evil.

Yes, I’m talking about prairie dogs.

When it comes to setting a battle strategy, you need to use every possible advantage. If you’re fighting fair, your tactics suck, or so they say. And we had no room to give up the slightest advantage. The Silver Spur Ranch has been occupied with just over 15.371 billion prairie dogs – I counted. We numbered six, plus our guide Roger, and our hosts Jeff, Matt and Neal. By my calculation, that was just 10 of us, except when I used Common Core math. Then I got an answer of negative 19.7 apples.

Even though the numerical odds weren’t exactly in our favor, I was confident in our chances. I took stock of our advantages:

  • We have opposable thumbs and can do neat things with them like play Angry Birds.
  • We live in above ground structures and eat bacon pretty much whenever we want.
  • My brain is larger than theirs, so I figured my enemy had only 85% or so of my IQ.

Our enemy?

  • They have the intelligence of spackle.
  • They live in holes.

When you’re facing an enemy of near unlimited strength that’s dug in, you have to figure out how to break the trench warfare stalemate using technology. Back in World War I, they invented tanks to overrun the enemy. So did we, although ours were slightly more nimble than the Little Willy Tank of 1915. We used Yamaha Viking side by side UTVs – a two-seater and a six-seater. These off road wonders had plenty of capacity to haul a dozen guns, cases of Hornady ammo and us. And they navigated gulleys, sagebrush and prairie dog and badger holes with ease.

We also had the advantage of outspending our opponent in the arms race. The Blue Heron Communications team, representing Smith & Wesson, only brought 38 guns, so I was a little worried, but it worked out OK in the end. Hornady supplied somewhere north of 10 billion rounds of varmint ammunition by my best estimate.

On the first day of battle, I rode with Neal, the marketing head at Hornady ammunition. Smart move on my part to ride with the ammo guy, right? With 15 billion enemy, I was NOT going to run out of cartridges at a critical moment. Neal chose a Thompson Center Venture in 22-250 caliber and stoked it with Hornady’s .22-250 V-MAX loads. With that setup, he was the big gun on our team. One shot, one kill, if you get a hit pretty much anywhere. He backed that up with a Smith & Wesson 617 revolver offering 10 shots of .22 long rifle – just in case our perimeter was overrun.

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The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

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