Three Gunning for Home Defense?

Two of the pistol choice contenders: Springfield Armory TRP 1911 (left) and Beretta PX4 Storm (right)

Two of the pistol choice contenders: Springfield Armory TRP 1911 with Crimson Trace Master Series Laser Grips and Lightguard (left) and Beretta PX4 Storm with Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro (right)

In a rare fit of advance planning and organization, I’m starting to think about what gear to use at this year’s Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational match. The event takes place August 12th through 17th in the high desert outside of Bend, Oregon, so I’ve got a little time.

As the event title implies, I need to pick, you guessed it, three guns to use – one handgun, shotgun and rifle. Stages are designed in such a way that you must always use at least two, and usually all three guns. Some targets require use of a specific gun type. For example, you might have to obliterate targets 1 through 9 with your pistol and targets 10 through 17 with your rifle. Other targets are optional, meaning that it’s the shooters choice whether to use a shotgun, rifle or pistol.

The event is more fun than should be legal, especially as it takes place in the absolute dark of night. Last year, shooting started sometime after 9pm and finished up some mornings near 5:30am. Who needs sleep?

This year, I’ve already decided to use the Midnight 3 Gun event as a home defense equipment trial of sorts. Rather than picking guns that are perfectly optimized to three gun competition rules, I’m going to pick guns that are reasonable to use in my home for protection of self, family and my ABBA vinyl record collection.

What does that really mean? If I was choosing to optimize for the competition and game the rules, I might select the following:

Tweaked out “competition optimized” guns like the shotgun mentioned above are obviously are not necessarily well suited for home defense. You wouldn’t want to be navigating your home in the middle of the night with a six foot long shotgun complete with magazine tube extending into the next room. A short and compact model would almost certainly be more appropriate – even if it had lower capacity.

With all that said, here’s what I am considering for each gun category:

Pistol

Last year I used a Glock 17 with rear activated laser and front activated light.

Last year I used a Glock 17 with rear activated laser and front activated light.

I’ve got a number of contenders going for the perfect home defense / M3GI pistol. Last year I shot a Glock 17 equipped with Crimson Trace Lasergrips and Crimson Trace Lightguard. It’s certainly no slouch for a home defense gun. 9mm is acceptable as a defensive round, capacity of 17+1 is solid and you can find a holster to fit a geared up Glock. But it’s a new year and a new match. I’ve been there and done that with the Glock, so I’ll be trying something different. Perhaps one of the following:

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Let’s Talk Silencers!

Why not put a big honkin' silencer on a Glock 26?

Why not put a big honkin’ silencer on a Glock 26?

Silencers remain a mystery in more ways than one.

Are they legal? Can you buy one? Can anyone else use it? Do they really silence a gunshot? Has Hollywood completely misrepresented yet another gun safety topic?

In this article, I want to focus on the fun part – using and shooting silencers, but first let’s take a quick look at how to legally get one. After all, you can’t shoot what you don’t have.

Buying a Silencer

As of this writing, 39 states have some legal provision for private silencer ownership. Yeah, I know, it’s none of the government’s business. And that leads me to the next point. Check out the American Suppressor Association. They’re a consortium of companies and individuals who are trying to fix ridiculous things like onerous regulation of mufflers for guns.

Since silencers fall under jurisdiction of the 1934 National Firearms act, there are two ways you can own one, both of which are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

First, you can fill out a Form 4, Application for Tax Paid Transfer and Registration of Firearm. This method is a bit of a pain as you have to submit fingerprints and get a signature of a local law enforcement official. Some designated LE folks will sign your application, and some won’t. The dealer who sells you a silencer will help you navigate the process.

Second, you can set up a trust. That’s a legal entity that “purchases and owns” the silencer. The benefit is (for now away) that you don’t need fingerprints or a local law enforcement signature. Also, four individuals can be members of the trust and all will have legal access to use the silencers owned by the trust. The drawback is it will cost you some extra cash, but I think it’s worth it. I set up one with GunTrust.com, and it was a piece of cake.

With either method, you have to buy the silencer, pay for it, and then submit paperwork to the BATFE for approval along with a check for $200. Then you wait. And wait. And wait. The approval system is hopelessly backlogged, and the current peanut gallery in Washington doesn’t seem to be in any big hurry to fix the process. That’s one of the things the American Suppressor Association as well as the NSSF are working to change.

Note that I’ve been using the words silencer and suppressor interchangeably. The correct term for the invention is silencer, based on the name “Maxim Silencer” invented by Hiram Percy Maxim back in 1902. The industry called these devices suppressors for a long time but have recently shifted back to the term silencers.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

Grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips. It will help make you a better shooter and the envy of your range in no time.

Glock 42: Late To The Party? Or Worth The Wait?

The New Glock 42 .380 ACP

The New Glock 42 .380 ACP

I have to admit I was skeptical to get all lathered up about the new Glock 42. Most other gun companies launched a pocket-sized .380 ACP option years ago. But I decided to give it a shot (ha!) at SHOT Show Media Day at the Range.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a comfortable gun to shoot and it does an admirable job of soaking up whatever recoil a small .380 ACP has to offer.

There are no big innovations with this gun. It’s a ¾ size Glock, more or less. The most notable difference is that the frame is has much more rounded contours, which certainly contributes to its comfort.

It’s a single-stack design, so it’s thin, unlike the “Baby Glocks.” This limits capacity to 6 in the magazine and one in the chamber. If you’re in the market for a pocket .380, it’s worth a look.

10 Reasons To Consider A Light On Your Concealed Carry Gun

I’m a fanboi.

Of lights on guns.

I used to be a super fan of lasers on handguns. Then I shot the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational. After what I learned there, I’m a fan of lights AND lasers on guns – like the Crimson Trace Lasergrip / Lightguard setup. To me, having a light and laser combo on a home defense gun is kind of a no-brainer. Of course you’ll also want a quality flashlight like this one on the nightstand strictly for looking. Having one mounted on the gun also speeds and simplifies target confirmation and aiming.

In fact, with today’s weapon-mounted light offerings, there is no reason not to have a light on your carry pistol as well. The only real drawback is holster availability and/or not being able to use holster you already own.

My daily carry setup: Springfield Armory TRP with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Crimson Trace green Lasergrips. Shown with a White Dog IWB holster.

My daily carry setup: Springfield Armory TRP with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Crimson Trace green Lasergrips. Shown with a White Dog IWB holster.

I got to thinking of reasons to mount a weapon-light on your carry gun, and here’s what I came up with:

1. According to the FBI, the busiest hour for crime is midnight to 1am. Remember what Mom used to say – nothing good ever happens after midnight! Need proof? 93.72% of Lindsay Lohan’s arrests were after midnight.

2. Daylight savings. Or maybe you’re just burning the midnight oil at work. What time do you get home from work? Yeah, I know, later than you want. But is it dark when you get home? At least during the winter months? Might be nice if the gun you have has a light. If Sasquatch is hiding in your dark garage, you want to be ready with more than a Jack Links jerky stick.

3. If you have to use your light-equipped gun in the daytime, who cares? Worst case, you burn some battery, and batteries are cheap when doing a spreadsheet on life and death cost / benefit considerations. If you’re just practicing, the Crimson Trace Lightguard has an on / off switch so you can save your battery.

4. Powerful lights are now really, really small. I’ve got a number of Crimson Trace Lightguards on Glocks and 1911s. They add no width or length to your pistol. The placement just in front of the trigger guard means that there is no real impact on my ability to conceal a Lightguard-equipped gun – even using an inside the waistband holster. You get 100 lumens of light with no additional storage requirement. Why not?

5. Theaters. Remember Aurora? Enough said.

6. Restaurants (where legal) for the same reason. The good ones tend to be all romantic and dark. That’s great for foreplay, but no so good for gunplay.

7. Adding a light to your gun gives you an excuse to buy a cool new holster. Like this one. Or this one.

8. Light over 60 lumens has the possibility of temporarily distracting or disorienting an attacker. Don’t count on it, but a surprise flash in the eyeballs just might buy you a couple of seconds of much-needed time. Of course, since the light is mounted on your gun, this scenario only applies if you are in a position where pointing your gun at someone or something is warranted.

9. Even in reasonably well-lit indoor environments, a weapon mounted light will dramatically clarify both your target and your gun sights. Try it.

10. Your carry gun is also your home defense gun. Hey, if your carry gun lives on or near your nightstand while you’re sleeping, you definitely want a light on it. Yes, you want a separate flashlight nearby too for pure “looking” purposes. If you find any bad surprises, you’ll want that light on your gun.

An alternate carry setup: Glock 31 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips. Too big? The same configuration works on a Glock compact like the 19, 32 and 23.

An alternate carry setup: Glock 31 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips. Too big? The same configuration works on a Glock compact like the 19, 32 and 23.

 

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

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

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

A Handgunners Holiday Gift Guide

Giving season is almost upon us! And when it comes to handgun-related shooting gear, it’s better to receive than give, right? So point your loved ones to this article and tell them to break out their wallet. You’re worth it!

And you rifle aficionados? Never fear, the folks here at OutdoorHub.com are doing a special gift guide just for you. Stay tuned…

Let’s get to it. Here are some of my favorites. Some are old, some are new, but all are awesome.

BLACKHAWK! Diversion Courier Bag ($139.99)

The BLACKHAWK! Diversion Courier Bag is a master of disguise. All business on the outside, tactical on the inside.

The BLACKHAWK! Diversion Courier Bag is a master of disguise. All business on the outside, tactical on the inside.

The BLACKHAWK! Diversion Courier Bag looks like an ordinary briefcase, but makes for a truly outstanding and infinitely versatile gun bag, range bag, bug-out bag, daily carry bag, or just about any other bag type you can think of.

In the picture to the right, I have it configured like a pistol range bag. Since it’s in this handgunner gift guide, you can correctly assume that it’s got a concealed carry compartment—large enough to carry a Desert Eagle if you want. My full-size Beretta 92 fits in there with room to spare. The concealed carry compartment features side-access zippers on both ends of the case to accommodate righties and lefties alike.

The front exterior of the bag features a full-width multi-purpose pocket for magazines, tools, or whatever else you may want to store. It’s covered by the messenger bag flap, so the contents are still invisible yet immediately accessible via a zipper slot in the top of the bag. Adjustable dividers and elastic tabs allow easy and secure storage of pistol magazines, rifle magazines, and all sorts of other gear.

The main compartment has a primary divider, zipper compartments, mesh pockets, and elastic loops to organize your gear. The inside of the main cover flap has a clear plastic zipper compartment for documents or maps—no need to open to read your protected paperwork.

I love this bag. It’s freaky flexible. Get more info here.

Crimson Trace Lightguard ($159)

Here’s a Glock 31 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips. The Lightguard-ready holster is a DeSantis Speed Scabbard.

Here’s a Glock 31 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips. The Lightguard-ready holster is a DeSantis Speed Scabbard.

I’ve been a huge fan of pistol-mounted lasersfor home defense and concealed carry guns. Now, I’m an equally big fan of weapon-mounted lights on those same handguns.

Last year, there were great options for pistol-mounted lights. My favorite is the Crimson Trace Lightguard. Why? It’s small and light, yet blows out 100 lumens of light—plenty enough to identify your target in a pitch-black environment. The Crimson Trace Lightguard mounts under the dust cover and just in front of the trigger guard for supported pistols. It’s also narrower than the slide of your pistol, so it adds no “carry penalty” in terms of size or weight. But, last year, holster options for Lightguard-equipped pistols were few and far between. Thankfully, that problem has been solved. With options from Galco, DeSantis, CrossBreed and more, you can carry your pistol and your Lightguard, too.

Learn more about available Crimson Trace Lightguard options and compatible holsters.

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel Ammunition (roughly $25 per box)

Note the perfect expansion of these Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 9mm projectiles after passing through two layers of leather and four layers of fabric.

Note the perfect expansion of these Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 9mm projectiles after passing through two layers of leather and four layers of fabric.

Spoiler alert! I’m finishing up this gift guide with an actual short-barreled pistol, so I figured I out to highlight ammunition built specifically for it.

Yes, purpose-built ammunition for those of us with short barrels is important. If you shoot the same ammo from a pistol with a five-inch barrel and one with a three-inch barrel, you might see a reduction of up to 100 feet per second in velocity from the shorter gun. Modern hollow-point bullet performance relies on proper velocity to drive the desired level of expansion.

Speer Ammunition has developed a complete line of ammunition optimized for real-world velocities in short-barrel guns. The bullets are specially built to expand at lower velocity, yet still penetrate to the desired depth. Available in 9mm, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, and .22 WMR, there’s a Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel offering for most any pocket gun. Don’t use it in full-size guns as it will over expand and penetration will suffer. You can read more about Speer’s Short Barrel technology here.

Spyderco Des Horn Folding Knife ($199.95)

The Spyderco Des Horn folder is about four inches long closed, and 7-1/4 inches long open.

The Spyderco Des Horn folder is about four inches long closed, and 7-1/4 inches long open.

Even a handgun gift guide has to feature a cool knife, right? I picked this one up recently and find it insanely practical, yet elegant. It’s ultra-lightweight with a comfortable pocket clip, so it’s easy to carry all day.

It’s got a super-pointy tip, which means this knife is lousy for non-knife chores like hammering and prying things open. But the sharp point makes all those mundane activities like opening boxes and envelopes a snap.

In case you have state laws unfriendly to useful pointy tools, and need to check against your allowable length, the blade itself is 3-1/8 inches long. Learn more at Spyderco’s website.

Find more great handgunner gifts in the rest of the article on OutdoorHub.com!

How To Peep Through A Glock: RAPS Rear Aperture Pistol Sights

The RAPS (Rear Aperture Pistol Sight) replaces the rear sight only on your Glock.

The RAPS (Rear Aperture Pistol Sight) replaces the rear sight only on your Glock.

Have you ever shown someone how to shoot a handgun for the very first time?

If so, how did you explain the proper relationship between front and rear sights? Did you use the two fingers on one hand and single finger on the other to illustrate the concept? One of those drawings you see on the wall of shooting range classrooms? Or perhaps a custom Lego structure?

While second nature to experienced shooters, standard notch rear sights are a little tough to explain to someone who’s never handled a gun.

“Hold the gun so the front sight is exactly centered in the notch of the rear sight. Good. Now make sure the top of the front sight is exactly level with the top of the rear sight. OK, now turn back around and face the target. Yes, but now the front sight is not centered sideways anymore. OK good. Now make sure all that lines up with the target. Say what?”

Battle rifles like the M1 Garand, Springfield Armory 1903 A1s, M1 Carbines, M14s, M16s and many more use an aperture sight system. So do long-range iron sighted competition rifles. And those World War II ship-mounted anti-aircraft guns.

Why?

Mainly because aperture sights work half-automatically. When you look at a post or dot on the front through a ring in the back, your brain kicks in to mega-OCD mode and wants to automatically center the front sight in the aperture circle. It’s a biological process called “magic.” It means you don’t really have to think about anything. Look through the hole at your front sight and place it over the target. The rest is auto-magical. Your brain subconsciously makes sure that the front sight is in the center of the rear sight circle.

Note the flat front edge. This allows one-handed slide racking on a belt or table if things really go south.

Note the flat front edge. This allows one-handed slide racking on a belt or table if things really go south.

While I’ve shot lots of rifles with aperture sights, I’ve never shot a pistol with aperture sights. Until now.

I mounted a RAPS (Rear Aperture Front Sight) on a Glock 17 Gen 4 to test it out.The RAPS is a new offering available through White Raven Communications and it sells for about $30.

So how did it shoot?

The RAPS configuration is fast. Scary fast. There is no conscious process of sight alignment. Bring your gun up, look for the front sight and the rest is automatic. One of the unexpected benefits, and reason for the speed, is that there is nothing on which to focus on the rear sight. It’s just a big hole. You simply can’t help but to immediately focus on the front sight and front sight only. With standard rear sights, you may think that both front and rear sights are in focus, but they’re not. That’s just your brain rapidly switching focal points between the front and rear.

I had no problem with precision using the RAPS. My outdoor range is chock full of fun, and small, targets like golf balls, tennis balls and spent shotgun shells. I was easily able to hit any target I’m capable of hitting with any other type of sight. The large rear aperture may look imprecise, but it’s not. Your brain deals with it. In short, the sight didn’t limit my shooting accuracy.

The rear sight unit is slightly higher than a standard Glock sight.

The rear sight unit is slightly higher than a standard Glock sight.

One other thing to note. The forward edge of the RAPS is milled flat. So, in a pinch, you can hook this on to a belt or holster and rack the slide one-handed should you need to.

The manufacturer states that the RAPS sight “This sight should not be used for competitive shooting where finite accuracy is required.” I think that statement needs a big qualifier. If you’re shooting bullseye pistol events where you care about 1/10 of an inch at 50 yards, maybe. If you shoot the “speed” pistol sports like Steel Challenge, IDPA or USPSA, I completely disagree. All of those events have targets inside of 25 yards and I find the RAPS sight noticeably faster to acquire than standard sights. I’m not a bullseye target shooter, but I had no problem hitting golf ball size targets at 25 yards with the RAPS.

Installation is easy once you get the Glock factory rear sight off. If you have a sight pusher tool, or know someone who does, like most any gun store, cool – use that method. If not, you can use a brass punch to drive the factory sight out. Be careful, it’s tight in there. Once you get the Glock rear sight removed, the RAPS will slide right into place. Center it and tighten it to the frame using the small allen screw that is just forward of the aperture ring. If you need to adjust, loosen, move and re-tighten. Piece of cake.

This is a nifty upgrade. Given the price, and that it’s easy to reinstall the factory sight, give it a try. I got spoiled by the speed of these sights and intend to leave it on my Glock 17.

Why Green Lasers Aren’t Green – New Native Green Technology from LaserMax

While at a LaserMax media event, I learned a lot about lasers. Like most everything else with a battery or plug, the technology is evolving at a dizzying rate. One of the things I learned was that green lasers aren’t green. Actually, they’re invisible (to the human eye) as they are derived from infrared light.

The LaserMax Native Green UNI-MAX (top) is noticeably brighter than traditional DPSS green laser light (bottom)

The LaserMax Native Green UNI-MAX (top) is noticeably brighter than traditional DPSS green laser light (bottom)

Allow me to explain. To produce green laser light, you need to shoot an infrared laser beam through some seriously mysterious conversion crystals. It’s a process called diode pumped solid-state technology or DPSS for short. The invisible infrared light goes in one end of the crystals and comes out the other side green. It’s a process called “magic.” Make sense?

While DPSS works, and does produce bright and easy-to-see green light, there are some drawbacks.

The Native Green Laser dot (left) and traditional green laser (right)

The Native Green Laser dot (left) and traditional green laser (right)

First, those magic crystals add bulk and weight. Not much, but when you’re trying to build a laser device small enough to work on a gun, every little bit counts. Think about those Ghostbusters Proton Packs. While not technically lasers, they generated some awesome light shows, but required a full-sized backpack particle accelerator. That would never be practical on a carry pistol as concealment would require a cover garment the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

The other consideration is efficiency of the DPSS system itself. At high and low temperature extremes, the conversion process starts to break down and the light becomes less effective. For example, standard DPSS lasers (which use the crystal conversion process) operate beautifully at temperatures between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Those temperatures don’t cover the full range or normal field environments. Any area north of the Florida border is likely to experience near freezing temperatures for a large part of the year. And while 100 degrees sounds like a reasonable top end, think of our men and women deployed in sandboxes around the world, where temperatures reach 120 degrees. Or, consider interior environments like those spooky shipping containers and warehouses prevalent on TV crime dramas. Those non-air-conditioned places get insanely hot in the summer, right?

Native Green lasers generate green light right off the bat using a green laser diode. With a native green light source, there is no need for the extra bulk of crystals to convert the light beam to green. Additionally, the effective temperature operating boundaries are extended. For example, a Native Green laser retains operating efficiency all the way down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. At the high-end, they continue to generate bright green light up to about 150 degrees.

Read the rest at Outdoorhub.com!

How To Deal With Gun Terminology Snobs

Half-Cocked: Gun Terminology Gone BadWe’re not going to get wrapped up too much in the specifics of proper gun terminology. It can be intimidating and quite frankly, it’s not all that important as long as people know what you’re trying to say. But we will try to be accurate most of the time so you have the full picture.

Right off the bat, we’re going to run into a problematic situation. You see, some gun folks are so darn persnickety about using the correct words that someone, somewhere, is bound to correct you on your use of a gun word. Maybe you’ll walk into a gun store and ask if they carry extra clips for your Springfield XD handgun. Or perhaps you’ll refer to your Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight as a “pistol”. Do they know what you mean? Yes. Is it really necessary to cop an attitude and correct you? No.

Here’s one way to deal with that kind of thing should you walk into a gun store and get the terminology treatment…

You: Hi! I have a question…

Surly Gun Store Clerk: (Ignores you and continues talking to the gun shop groupies behind the counter)

You: Ummm, hello! I was wondering if you could help me out?

Clerk: Yeah, what?

You: I need to see if you have some extra clips for my new Glock.

Clerk: (Slowly turns to friends and does a full-body eye roll…) No, sorry, we don’t.

You: Aren’t these Glock clips here in the display case?

Clerk: Nope, those are magazines.

You: Well, do you have any that fit a Glock 17?

Clerk: Yeah.

You: Bless your heart… Now will you be a dear and sell me some of those MAGAZINES?

See what you did there? Here in the south, the phrase “bless your heart” loosely translates into something along the lines of “you’re really a clueless jerk, aren’t you?” The beauty is that you can say it with a bit of an accent and dripping with more sweetness than an extra large Chick-Fil-A iced tea. It’s a beautiful solution to many of life’s challenges. While we’re on magazines, let’s define “magazine” and “clip.”

Gun Terminology Alert!

Magazines and Clips

You know how you can spot a high school prom couple at an exclusive restaurant? Like when the pimply mannish boy requests A-1 Steak Sauce with his Chateaubriand?  Well, there’s a similar thing in shooting – when people carelessly throw around words like clip.

Clips and magazines are both legitimate shooting related objects. While sometimes subtle, there are differences.

A clip is a device used to hold cartridges for the purpose of storage, packing, and easy loading into a magazine. Clips were a big deal back when the world had anger issues expressed by frequent large-scale wars. Five or ten rounds of ammo might be attached to a clip, which would allow a soldier to slide the rounds into the magazine of his rifle or handgun quickly and easily. Clips are still used today. Some .223 or 5.56 ammunition comes on clips to make it easier to load lots of rounds into a magazine at once.

A magazine is the container that holds cartridges for the purpose of feeding them into the chamber of a firearm. Magazines can be built into the gun, as with many rifles, or they can be removable, as with most semi-automatic pistols and AR type rifles. That thing that falls out the bottom of a Glock? That’s a magazine.

Confused? No problem. We’ve got a near fail-safe tip for you. These days you’re pretty safe referring to most things that hold bullets as a magazine. More often than not, you’ll be correct referring to it that way.

Read more about guns and shooting, in plain English, in our newest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition.

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

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

Do You Suffer From A Short Barrel? Try Speer Gold Dot 9mm +P 124 Grain SB!

Look, it’s OK. If you have a short barrel, you need to compensate. The sooner you face that fact, the happier you’ll be. My barrel is about 3 1/2 inches and I’ve learned to deal with it.

But just because your barrel is short, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to achieve great performance. Time after time after time. You’ll be popular, good-looking and fun-loving. Just like in the commercials.

Actually, I have several short barrels. I have a Springfield Armory XD-S. I’ve got a Springfield Armory EMP. And I’ve got a Glock 26. The longest of the bunch is about 3 1/2 inches.

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel ammunition is designed for guns with 3 1/2 inch or shorter barrels, like this Springfield Armory XD-S

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel ammunition is designed for guns with 3 1/2 inch or shorter barrels, like this Springfield Armory XD-S

Why the big fuss about the length of your barrel? Shorter barrels mean lower velocity. Modern self-defense handgun bullets are carefully designed to operate within very specific velocity parameters. Designers need to ensure that hollow-point projectiles will expand, but not over-expand. They need to penetrate, but not over or under-penetrate. All of this delicate balance is designed for an expected velocity range.

if your barrel is shorter than average, your bullet is going to travel at lower velocity. There are 362,176 different factors at play, but you can assume that losing an inch of barrel length will reduce your expected velocity by 20 to 80 feet per second in a handgun. That’s a big rule of thumb, so don’t hold me to the specific numbers in every case. Just know that the velocity of a given projectile from a five-inch barrel is going to be more than the speed of the same bullet fired from a three-inch barrel.

The engineers at Speer have addressed this challenge by designing special loads for compact guns with shorter barrels. The projectiles are designed to expand properly and consistently at lower velocities. So, when you use Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel ammunition in guns with 3 1/2 inch barrels or shorter, you’re going to get proper expansion.

But beware of too much of a good thing. If you use these rounds in full-sized guns, they’ll work. But they will over-expand and therefore under-penetrate. That’s why Speer makes many Gold Dot loads for both standard and short barrel guns.

We tested the Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 9mm +P 124 grain bonded hollow point load in a variety of barrel-challenged pistols and found expansion performance to be excellent. Fired from a 3.3 inch barrel Springfield Armory XD-S through two layers of heavy leather and four layers of fabric, all projectiles expanded properly. None suffered from the “clog up and fail to expand syndrome.”

Bullet expansion performance, even through tough barriers, was excellent.

Bullet expansion performance, even through tough barriers, was excellent.

We tested velocity using our Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet downrange with this load fired from a Springfield Armory EMP 9mm. The EMP has an even shorter barrel than the XD-S at 3 inches even. Average velocity worked out to 1,159 feet per second.

This load performed exactly as advertised, so do yourself a favor. If you suffer from a short barrel, just admit it, and use the right tools for the job. You’ll be more satisfied.

Anatomy of a Stage at the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

I just finished shooting and covering the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational in the high desert miles and miles from Bend, Oregon. It was an enlightening experience, and I’ll write about that in my weekly column on OutdoorHub.com. Shooting at night was also ridiculously fun. More fun than should be legal, perhaps. To give you an idea of what it was like, let’s look at just one of the 9 stages of the event. Keep in mind, this all happens in the pitch dark between 9pm and 3am. 

It almost looks easy. In the daylight.

It almost looks easy. In the daylight.

Hey, the following scenario could happen in real life. Right?

First, pick up your fully automatic SCAR, equipped with light and laser of course, and engage two, two-dimensional (cardboard) bad guys. That’s an easy one, problem solved!

There are not too many problems a grenade launcher won't solve.

There are not too many problems a grenade launcher won’t solve.

But wait, as you’re putting down your SCAR to celebrate your success with a post engagement cookie, you notice a car full of evildoers intent on doing you harm. Fortunately, you have an FN grenade launcher loaded and ready for action. From about 50 yards away, using a Crimson Trace RailMaster green laser aiming system, lob a 40mm grenade through the driver side window. Problem solved.

But hordes of evil two-dimensional dudes are called hordes for a reason. You see more headed your way. You notice 8 of them about 20 yards away. Drawing your Glock 17 equipped with Crimson Trace Lasergrip and Lightguard, you sprint in their direction and hit each twice while on the run. Good thing you have a pistol mounted light as they’re blending into a sandy berm, and hard to spot. 

These evil d00dz are about to get SCARed in full auto mode.

These evil d00dz are about to get SCARed in full auto mode.

But, as you can probably guess, there is no rest for the weary. 8 ground-dwelling DHS drones, looking deceptively like steel plates set in the ground, are headed your way. As you continue to move towards the threats, you take out a couple of them with the remaining rounds in your Glock.

And that’s when the real trouble starts. Your Glock runs dry, and there are still drones to engage. 

No worries, just grab your Lightguard equipped shotgun. While heading down the dark path, whack em’ with some bird shot loads. and take them out.

It’s only then that you spot 8 NSA disk drives with recordings of all your most personal online conversations, cleverly disguised as 4 inch clay targets. These are scattered across a wide area in the sand, so it’s a good thing you have a tac lite to spot them. 

This is how the stage looks in the dark. You can easily see the need for lights and lasers!

This is how the stage looks in the dark. You can easily see the need for lights and lasers!

After you deal with those you can take a brief rest, until the next stage. 

And so it goes. 9 different stages designed to force reliance on lights, lasers and skill. Just for fun, there’s a daylight hours side match, where you clear six buildings with a fully automatic PWS Diablo short barrel rifle. As you have daylight on your side, that seems easy in comparison. 

Running around the desert shooting all night long is exhausting. But given the chance, count me in to do it again!

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