Small Pistols for Small Hands

Mary Katherine takes aim with a Hakim 8mm battle rifle.

Mary Katherine takes aim with a Hakim 8mm battle rifle.

Editors NoteWe’re pleased to welcome a new ‘riter to the My Gun Culture project – Mary Katherine. I’ve been shooting with Mary Katherine and her family on and off for years. She’ll be offering some women’s perspective on things like guns, gear, concealed carry and more. By the way, she shoots a Beretta PX4, Smith & Wesson Shield and Marlin 30-30 – just in case you were wondering.

I think most shooters, new or experienced, will agree with me when I say we have all had the urge to reach for the biggest, flashiest firearm in the store or on the range. Bigger is better. A larger round means more power and a bigger boom is much more impressive than anything else. Or is it?

I have battled with the instinct to reach for a bigger pistol myself. No one wants to be laughed at for using a “girl gun” even if you are a girl. I thought, “If I prove I can shoot a large caliber, they will stop talking to me like I am clueless.” What I should have been thinking was, “If I shoot the right sized gun for my hands with perfect accuracy, who will care what size or caliber it is?” You should start thinking the same.

While firing a few rounds with the big guns can be a thrill to experience for any level shooter, a handgun that you plan to fire often at the range or use in defense doesn’t have to be big to be the best. The most important thing to take into account is your size and stature. If you have small hands or wrists, you need a smaller pistol with less recoil. This will usually mean going to a smaller caliber. A heavier gun will have less recoil, but heavier often means larger in physical size. Just remember, it isn’t about avoiding the “girl gun” size or caliber. It is about accuracy. After a few rounds, every pistol seems to gain a little weight. Recoil can catch up with you faster than you think. Focus should be on what you are doing, not struggling to keep the front of the pistol from drooping towards the floor.  It won’t be the target that is trembling if your arms are tired.

My advice to you is to get a little hands-on when choosing a personal defense or home protection firearm. Don’t let someone else pick it out for you. You need to experience how the pistol feels in your hand. Check the weight, but remember it is going to change a little once a fully loaded magazine is inserted. That will balance out a gun that feels a little front-heavy with a tendency to dip down towards the floor. Next, check out the grip. A grip that is too small can be just as awkward to hold as one that is too big. There are a lot of different sized grips out there so find one that is comfortable and makes the gun feel secure in your hand. If it feels right, try it with both hands. Using two hands while shooting is going to make for a more accurate shot so make sure you can fit both around the grip in a proper way.

The last steps in choosing a pistol involve the mechanics and recoil. Make sure the slide isn’t too tough for you to rack by yourself. Check out this article on how to properly rack a slide so you are prepared. If you are looking at a revolver, check to see if you can release the cylinder in a way that doesn’t feel clumsy. Once it passes those tests, take it for a spin. Rent the same model at the range or borrow it from a friend if you know someone who owns it, but if your gun is the appropriate size and weight for your hands, it is unlikely that recoil will be a problem.

Your personal firearm should feel like an extension of your hand – familiar and reliable. When faced with a dangerous situation, you want to know that you can handle using your pistol without having to think about it. Don’t choose the bigger caliber for the bigger bang because it might be too physically large for your hands. Choose the gun that fits your stature for a more accurate and consistent firing capability. It might save your life and it will definitely make you a better shot.

What’s Better? Revolver or Semi-Auto Pistol?

Which one is best for you?

Which one is best for you?

I feel sorry for new shooters.

Back when I was a new shooter, movable type had just been invented and the internet wasn’t even part of Nostradamus’ wildest dreams. Learning about guns and self defense was hard, but easy. It was hard because I couldn’t sit at my computer and browse the opinions of thousands of self-proclaimed experts. It was easy because I had to get my information from face to face conversations, and it was clear when someone was full of baloney.

Now, with the advent of online advice, it’s up the the new shooter to filter out the good information from the chaff. Ask a simple question like “should I get a semi-automatic or a revolver” and you’ll get 4,357 opinions and a few offers for diet plans of the stars.

For this inaugural issue of the NSSF First Shots Newsletter, I wanted to address one of the most persistent, and challenging, decisions for new shooters: revolver or semi-auto? Granted, to you, I’m also one of those 4,357 opinions on the internet. But on the plus side, I do this for a living and I’m a student just like you. I’ve been shooting and studying shooting issues for decades, yet I still learn something new every day. I love that. More importantly, I love sharing what I learn. So what do you say let’s get started?

The first order of business is to resolve some of the perpetual myths that surround the revolver versus semi-automatic decision.

“Revolvers are more reliable!”

“Semi-auto’s are prone to jamming!”

“A snub-nose revolver is the perfect carry gun for beginners!”

“Semi-automatic pistols are hard to operate!”

And so on… You could write a book on revolver vs. semi-automatic myths.

Let’s address these issues with the appropriate level of detail and care.

Bull hockey!

So what are issues to consider? Let’s talk about some real decision criteria. The goal isn’t to provide an answer for what’s the best choice for you, but rather to give you things to think about. Why? Because there is no “best” choice. The best choice for you depends entirely on your situation and preferences.

Let’s take a look at a few factors that might influence your decision.

Read the rest at National Shooting Sports Foundation First Shots!

How To Rack Your Handgun Slide Like A Boss

Rack [rak]
verb

  1. to torture; distress acutely; torment: (His body was racked with pain.)
  2. to strain by physical force or violence.
  3. to strain beyond what is normal or usual.
This Beretta PX4 .40 S&W has a strong recoil spring, so proper racking technique is important. First, Keep the gun close to your body to gain leverage.

This Beretta PX4 .40 S&W has a strong recoil spring, so proper racking technique is important. First, Keep the gun close to your body to gain leverage.

In the shooting realm, rack has a different meaning (although the classic definitions of torture, strain and torment still apply for some people). For shooters, rack simply means to cycle the slide of a semi-auto handgun manually. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, racking the slide is a source of pain, angst and frustration for many new shooters. Far too often, it causes people to make buying decisions that compromise what the really wanted for a model with an easier slide racking motion.

What if I were to tell you that anyone can easily rack most any slide using the right technique? Alright, that’s a pretty bold statement, and I realize there will always be some exceptions. Heck, right now I’m battling a shoulder injury that has me reduced to a whimpering puddle of whine and complain. But for the vast majority of folks, technique, body mechanics and simple physics make all the difference when it comes to successful racking.

First, let’s clarify racking, so we’re all on the same page. Racking the slide refers to the procedure of smartly (that’s a power word, isn’t it?) pulling the slide back in order to eject an empty cartridge case (if present) from the chamber. The passive part of racking refers to releasing the slide, allowing it to sling back into position, picking up and loading a new cartridge on the way. As you can tell by the description, racking applies to semi-automatic pistols, not revolvers.

If you use a semi-automatic pistol, effortless racking is a critical skill. Sure, it’s required to load the first round in the chamber. Just as importantly, it’s used to empty the gun after the magazine is removed. Racking is often required to clear a malfunction, and if you compete, it’s how you show the range safety officer that your gun is clear after completing a stage.

So why does racking the slide give so many people grief?

I think it’s a result of the curse of opposable thumbs.

Since we have them (opposable thumbs), we want to use them and pinch things between our opposable thumb and index finger – like babies noses, hors d’oeuvres and pennies. Unfortunately, we also want to pinch things like the back of pistol slides to draw them away from the frame. It’s only natural.

Here’s the problem. Thumb and index finger muscles are tiny and weak, at least compared to other muscles in the body.

Keeping that in mind, let’s walk through a simple way to use bigger muscles, the mass of your body and motion to rack even the most difficult slide. After all, we’re much stronger than recoil springs, so it’s just a matter of technique.

Read the rest at Beretta USA.

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

How To Choose The Best Handgun For You

The good news? There are lots of excellent handgun choices. The bad news? There are lots of excellent handgun choices!

The good news? There are lots of excellent handgun choices. The bad news? There are lots of excellent handgun choices!

What defines the “right” gun for you?

The “right” gun is the most powerful one with which you can hit your target consistently. If that’s a .22 caliber pistol, then so be it. A .22 pistol that hits your intended target is more effective than a .45 caliber that misses. Make no mistake, bigger and more powerful is always better for self-defense, right up to the point where you can still safely and properly handle the gun. But many new shooters need time, training and experience to reach their “full-power” potential. Start with what you can control and move up from there.

Bigger is actually better.

There is an assumed myth that large guns are too much to handle. First, let’s define two types of “large.” The first type is large size – as in length, height, width and weight. The second type of “large” refers to caliber or power. For the first type of “large” bigger is actually better. Here’s why. Remember that guy Newton? Not Wayne Newton, the older, English one. He figured that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So let’s consider an extreme example. If you fire, say, a 9mm bullet from a 1 ounce pocket wonder gun, the same force as the 9mm bullet going 1,200 feet per second forward will be transmitted backward towards your wonder gun. Weighing only 1 ounce, it’s probably going to fly at you like a drunk pterodactyl. Now, think about firing the same 9mm bullet from a 20 gajillion metric-ton pistol. The same force is being transmitted backwards, but you’re not going to feel that gun move very much. All this goes to illustrate that while the recoil force of a given cartridge is the same, a larger gun will “soak it up” a bit more and the shot will feel less forceful to the shooter. Here’s how it all nets out. A cute and portable 10 ounce pocket pistol will kick like an ill-tempered mule. The same cartridge fired from a full-size steel handgun will be quite comfortable to shoot. Make sense? So, don’t choose a smaller caliber just because you tried a pocket cannon that weighs 4 ounces. Try a larger gun in the same caliber first. As you become more experienced, you can reduce the size and weight of the gun you carry with your chosen caliber.

Choose your own gun!

Ladies, we’re generally speaking to you here. Husbands or boyfriends are NOT allowed to choose a gun for you! It’s important for you to choose your own. The very best way to do this is to invest in the last item on this list – spending some quality time with a trainer. Preferably without your significant other there.

Try it on for size.

Just because a gun does not have room for all of your fingers, that doesn't mean the fit is wrong.

Just because a gun does not have room for all of your fingers, that doesn’t mean the fit is wrong.

Just like a pair of boots or that cute little cocktail dress, you’ve got to try it on before you buy. It has to feel great in your hand. Even if you are not able to test shoot it, check to make sure that the grip fits your hand comfortably. Can you reach the trigger without stretching or changing your grip? Does your trigger finger rub along the side of the gun? If so, the grip is too large for you. Can you operate the controls easily with a normal grip? Can you rack the slide without weight training? If the answer is “no” don’t rule out that gun just yet. See our tips on racking the slide like a pro. Using that technique, just about anyone can manage just about any modern pistol slide. Check out our article on how to make sure your handgun fits you for more information.

Carefully consider whether the price is right.

Most consumer product buying decisions don’t have life and death consequences. Except of course Shake Weights. With guns, your life may very well depend on the quality of gun you buy. This is not a place to save a few bucks for the cheapest gun out there. The good news is that modern gun manufacturing techniques allow gun makers to produce fantastically reliable guns at very reasonable prices. If you stick with a big brand name, it’s hard to go wrong these days. If your friend’s cousin Cleetus bought a lathe and wants to make you a pistol, run, don’t walk away.

Think about ammunition availability.

You also may want to consider availability of accessories like these Crimson Trace light and laser products. More popular guns will have more accessory options.

You also may want to consider availability of accessories like these Crimson Trace light and laser products. More popular guns will have more accessory options.

We’ve run across a lot of people who have bought some super-cheap surplus gun for self-defense. At deal time, buying a gun that was used in the battle of Stalingrad sounds charming and pocketbook-friendly. However, when it comes time to find self-defense ammunition, things aren’t so rosy. Sure you can get 64-year-old crates of surplus war ammo, but finding modern expanding ammunition that is safe and reliable is about as easy as getting Dianne Feinstein to speak at the NRA Annual Meeting.

Try before you buy!

The very best way to buy your first gun is to hire an instructor for an hour or so and ask him or her to bring a few different guns. Any experienced instructor will have a variety of guns. If they don’t, look for a new instructor! Have them show you some of the basic shooting skills with a couple of different guns. You’ll quickly see what you like – and what you don’t. As an added bonus, having a qualified instructor supervise you will ensure that you are handling each type of gun correctly so you can make a fair appraisal. Many a fine gun has been tossed aside when a new shooter didn’t know how to handle it properly.

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

How To Make Sure Your Handgun Fits You

Today’s handguns come in more shapes and sizes than a random assortment of Wal-Mart Thanksgiving sale shoppers. Not only that, many modern handguns come with replaceable grip panels so you can adjust the size to fit.

When deciding what’s best for you, comfort is a factor, but it’s not the definitive method of fitting a handgun. Just because one grip or another “feels good” doesn’t mean that you’ve got a proper fit. To be sure, you’ll want to check a couple of other things to help you decide which gun, or grip panel configuration, is right for you.

Trigger finger placement

Some experts will insist that you should press trigger with the pad of your index finger. Other equally credible experts insist that you should use the first joint in your index finger. Some of the difference in opinion stems from the anticipated “style” of shooting. Are you at a range doing slow and methodical shots? Or perhaps you plan to compete in bullseye target competition? Or you want to take up action shooting sports? Or maybe your interest is pure combat or self-defense. I don’t particularly care which trigger press placement you prefer. Settle on one, then let’s check to see if your guns grip size is too big or small.

With a very, very unloaded gun, assume a normal firing grip and point at a safe backstop. Now move your finger to the trigger as if you’re going to fire. Hold that position.

I want you to look at the lower portion of your index finger – the area from where it plugs into your palm up to the first joint. When your trigger finger is ready to press, do you see daylight between the gun and your finger?

Notice the gap between my whole index finger and the side of the gun. If I press the trigger correctly, only the tip of my finger will move against the gun.

Notice the gap between my whole index finger and the side of the gun. If I press the trigger correctly, only the tip of my finger will move against the gun.

If your finger looks something like the picture here, you’re good to go. If the bottom surface of your lower index finger is pressed against the side of the gun, you’re having to reach for the trigger. This means that your grip is too large for your hand size. That matters because as you flex your finger to press the trigger, your index finger will be contacting the side of your gun and gently encouraging it to move off target! The good news is that if you’re a lousy shot, you can blame the fit of your gun.

Alignment with your arm bone

This second test is a little less obvious. At the range, I see all sorts of shooters struggling with accuracy and ability to control recoil as a result of a crooked arm / gun relationship.

What does this mean? It’s simple. When you hold your gun in a firing grip, with your trigger finger placed to pass test one above, the gun barrel should be in perfect alignment with your “radi-ulni.” That’s short hand for the two bones in your forearm – the radius and ulna. You don’t just want the gun barrel to be parallel to these two bones, you want it to be a direct linear extension of these bones.

If your gun grip is too large for you, there will be a necessary tendency for you to grasp the gun so that the web of your hand wraps around towards the trigger, so your index finger can reach. This means that your thumb moves around and is directly behind the gun. Check out this picture to see an exaggerated view of what I mean.

If you have to “reach around” the grip to get your finger on the trigger, you might end up supporting the back of the gun with your thumb! Note how the gun will recoil in a direction with no support. Also, you’re fighting the natural pointing position of your arm.

If you have to “reach around” the grip to get your finger on the trigger, you might end up supporting the back of the gun with your thumb! Note how the gun will recoil in a direction with no support. Also, you’re fighting the natural pointing position of your arm. That means you’ll miss more.

With a properly fitted grip, you won’t need to reach around to get proper access to the trigger. Your natural alignment will look more like this.

Here’s what you want to see. Everything is in one straight line. You’ll control recoil better and have more natural ability to aim. Why is this so important? In the first photo, you can see that when the gun recoils, it’s going to press right against your thumb. There’s not much body mass in your thumb to control that recoiling gun, and you’ll feel the recoil. More importantly, your gun will be likely to jump radically off target with each shot.

Here’s what you want to see. Everything is in one straight line. You’ll control recoil better and have more natural ability to aim.

Why is this so important? In the first photo, you can see that when the gun recoils, it’s going to press right against your thumb. There’s not much body mass in your thumb to control that recoiling gun – even if you’re all thumbs. You’ll really feel that recoil. More importantly, your gun will be likely to jump radically off target with each shot.

By aligning the bigger and heavier parts of your body directly behind the recoil impulse of the pistol, your body mass controls the recoil. Additionally, the gun benefits from your natural pointing direction. If you close your eyes and try to point your fist at something, you’ll notice that your arm bones end up pointed directly at your target. Why not make the gun a simple extension of that natural process?

So pick up your verified unloaded handgun and try these two tests. If you struggle with either, try a different gun. Or, if yours has an adjustable grip, try a different size.

 

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

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

The Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting: An Undisciplined Muzzle

Discipline is one of those words that, more often than not, conjures up unpleasant thoughts.

Muzzle-discipline-laser

Imagining a giant lightsaber extending from your muzzle helps you think about where that muzzle is pointing!

When you’re trying to enjoy a quiet dinner date at Applebee’s, undisciplined children at nearby tables can ruin the ambiance and atmosphere you tried so hard to obtain with your careful choice of a romantic restaurant. Of course my own children were never undisciplined in public places. Just ask them about the “you better stop that tantrum right now because we’re in public” secret pinch. As soon as they get out of therapy, they’ll be more than happy to tell you all about that.

As I live in Charleston, South Carolina, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Pat Conroy’s epic novel, The Lords of Discipline. While a fantastic read, that book is filled is bad imagery of discipline gone wild. Spoiler Alert: While seemingly polite and disciplined, Tradd St. Croix turns out to be a bad guy who was disciplined ineffectively as a child.

And of course, there’s Piers Morgan. Talk about an undisciplined muzzle! If he was really disciplined, perhaps be would have celebrated Independence Day by independently deciding to go back to his old job in England fabricating the news.  But that’s beside the point.

Most disciplinary issues are simply annoying. When it comes to gun muzzles, disciplinary failures can be really, really bad.

So what is muzzle discipline? Simply put, it’s making sure that the muzzle of your gun obeys your safe intent – at all times – no matter what. It can never, ever, ever point at anything you’re not willing to destroy, not even for a split-second.

Every time I take a new shooter to the range, I give them a lecture about Obi Wan Kenobi. I have them pretend that their gun has an infinitely long light saber inside the barrel. This light saber is always on and swishes through the air as an extension of the barrel, destroying everything it crosses. Besides being  cool fantasy, this imagery seems to help people understand that “pointing” a gun at something is more than just aiming deliberately. Pointing involves every movement of the gun. That means every movement from table or holster to shooting position and back. And removing the gun from a case and putting it back. And handling it for cleaning. And showing your buddy. And any other movement.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

A Brief History of Guns, The Early Years…

Here’s an excerpt from our brand new book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s part of the Insanely Practical Guides series and is loaded with light-hearted education, lots of helpful photos and some comedic relief. Hope you enjoy!

Before there were guns...

Before there were guns…

Guns have been annoying politicians longer than you might think. Before we jump into modern day firearm knowledge, let’s take a look at the long and winding road of gun history…

1,100 BC

Legends of the earliest known uses of guns have been passed down through generations of Zoran women. Historians believe that many women folk of Zorah, then near Philistine, gushed and swooned at the sight of Samson’s guns. According to the folklore, Samson had two guns, of exceptionally large caliber. Also according to history, he used those guns on more than one occasion – smiting at least one lion and many Philistine warriors. Sadly, the Zoran Congress, led by Senator Delilah of Timna, Philistia, soon enacted an assault hair ban and Samson was stripped of his guns.

 

1250 AD

Most historians believe that the key ingredient required to make all those useless guns work was invented around this time. In fact, NRA National Firearms Museum Director Jim Supica claims that Franciscan monk Roger Bacon wrote of the mixture shortly before 1250 A.D. That was an awfully long time ago – just after the birth of Joan Rivers.

Anyway, according to Bacon’s ancient texts, the lute and dulcimer trio of Guns and Roses discovered gunpowder while searching for better ways to wow the crowd at outdoor concerts. The forward-thinking band found that a mixture of charcoal, sulphur and salt peter provided plenty of noise and flash for bitchin’ stage theatrics. Salt Peter, Saint Peter’s long-lost stepbrother, was not at all happy about this recipe and he immediately started work on development of smokeless powders that did not require any of his bodily parts. Progress was slow as smokeless powder was not invented until the late 19th century.

 

1300

The earliest cannons appeared on the scene. After all, what good was the newly invented gunpowder without something to shoot it from? Early cannons were quite simple – nothing more than a tube open on one end and closed at the other. A small hole near the closed end allowed cannoneers to light a powder charge inside. Crudely constructed from iron, wood and sometimes Mighty Putty, these weapons applied the same basic principles used by guns today.

 

1350

While loud and impressive, early cannons did little to meet self-defense requirements. Since gun holsters had not yet been invented, concealed carry was not feasible. Hunting with the newly invented firearms was also problematic as many animals were reluctant to stand in front of cannons long enough to be converted to SPAM. In response to complaints of supermarket butchers everywhere, the “hand-gonne” was invented. Simply a downsized cannon mounted on a pole, the hand-gonne struggled for popularity mainly because no one knew how to pronounce the word “gonne.”

 

1400 to 1639

Clearing up name confusion, people stopped making “hand-gonnes” and replaced them with matchlocks and wheellocks. Matchlock guns featured an exposed flash pan filled with fine – and easy to ignite – priming powder, which would light the main charge to fire the gun. A dangling, and lit, fuse was suspended over the flashpan. A mechanical linkage was used to lower the smoldering fuse into the highly combustible flash pan. Occasionally, the matchlocks would fire when the user wanted, but usually before, after or not at all.

 

1526

The gun company Beretta is founded in the Foccacia region of Italy, in a town called Brescia. Having made guns prior to this date, company founder Ben Cartwright achieves his first commercial success with production of 185 Arquebus Matchlock barrels for the Arsenal of Venice. The British Secret Service, Double-0 branch, is issued the 186th Arquebus. England quietly canceled the Double-0 program when it was discovered that matchlock rifles concealed poorly under dinner jackets.

 

1640

The first kinda, sorta reliable flintlock was built. Some astute marketers even guaranteed their flintlocks to be 31% reliable, 67% of the time. Offering major advancements in luxury and comfort, such as heated drivers-side seats, the flintlock allowed shooters to carry their guns pretty much anywhere, except schools and government buildings, of course. As the flintlock features a covered flash pan for priming powder, users could even take their guns into rainy conditions. No longer would major World Wars endure rain delays, thereby minimizing network television scheduling challenges.

As a side note, the phrase “keep your powder dry” came into vogue during the flintlock era. As guns of the time relied on ignition of two separate powder charges – one in the flash pan and one in the barrel – keeping powder dry and flammable was a requirement of guns going bang instead of fzzzlpphhtt.

Stay tuned for the the next phase in firearm history…

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition is available on Amazon.com now!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting: Bleeding All Over the Range

Crossed thumbs shooting grip

This grip technique may cause you to bleed all over the shooting range. Not recommended.

This week’s Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting Tip involves keeping (most) of your body parts attached.

Specifically, we’re talking about your thumbs. You see, opposable thumbs are one of the things that give us humans a real advantage over the rest of the animal kingdom when it comes to important things like opening Pringle’s cans and getting those straws into juice boxes without making a big mess.

Dan Akroyd Julia Child SNL

Don’t do this! Image: NBC / Saturday Night Live

Admittedly, the odds of actually slicing off one or more thumbs is fairly low, but the wrong thumb position may cause you to bleed all over the shooting range. We don’t recommend it. I can share this new-shooter tip from a vantage point of, ummm, let’s call it personal experience.

Remember Ghostbusters? And how it’s really bad to cross the streams of the Proton Pack particle accelerators? Well there’s a similar rule of thumb (pun fully intended) for shooting semi-automatic pistols. Don’t cross your thumbs as in the picture. Sooner or later, that thing called a slide is going zoom backwards at Warp 17 and slice the dickens out of the webby, sensitive skin between your thumb and your index finger. Again, trust me, I know this from experience. And as a side note, the bottom of the slide on a Series 1 Colt Woodsman is really, really sharp. Just as a disclaimer, this happened a really long time ago – back when I thought I did not need any instruction on how to properly shoot a pistol. Don’t worry, I’ve learned many things the hard way since then.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

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

If you’re thinking about buying a gun, are new to shooting, or have had a gun forever but just want a refresher, this book is for you. Heck, even if you know a lot about guns, it’s still entertaining – to read yourself or give to a friend.

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

In light-hearted style, it will give you easy-to-understand and insanely practical tips about topics including:

  • Types of guns
  • Gun safety tips
  • Things to consider when choosing a gun
  • How to buy a gun
  • How to handle a gun
  • Getting started: A fistful of shooting tips
  • What to expect at the shooting range and what to bring
  • What you need to know about ammunition
  • How to clean your gun
  • Cheat sheet resources to help you find training, ranges and local gun stores

We’ll help you make sense out of all that complicated gun stuff while having a laugh or two. From the chapter “Gun Holsters – Do It Right!”

“Far too many new gun owners purchase a really nice gun, but then skimp on the quality of their holster. Seriously? You wouldn’t drink a Louis Roederer, 1990 Cristal Brut from a red Solo cup. Unless of course you’re attending a Real Housewives of Yulee, FL baby shower. If you’ve been invited to carry the Dubai First Royale MasterCard, you certainly wouldn’t whip it out at the Monte Carlo Van Cleef & Arpels from a velcro wallet. Unless you’re total nouveau riche like Justin Bieber. So why do people think it’s no big deal to buy a $9.95 holster from K-Mart for their brand new gun? It’s not like it’s a life and death investment. Or is it?”

Why do you need “The Rookie’s Guide To Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition?” Go to any shooting range and observe what happens when folks show up without knowing the first thing about their new gun. Not only will you be safe by comparison, you’ll look like a seasoned pro.

The editors at MyGunCulture.com have painstakingly documented all the experiences, mistakes and learnings we’ve seen over the years. In other words, we’ve tried just about everything. We’ve had great successes. We’ve experienced colossal failures. We’ve listened to so many gun show huckster sales pitches that the late Billy Mays would be impressed. And the result? “The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition.”

Loaded with pictures and the comedic illustrations, this book will tell you just about everything you need to know to get started with the shooting sports.

Enjoy!

 

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