Fifteen years ago when this old shotgun and revolver guy decided to jump into the concealed carry world, the first semi-automatic handgun I bought was a Taurus PT 24/7 Pro DS. The DS stands for double-strike, which I’ll elaborate on later in this post. Pro was in the name because the gun had been created to compete for selection by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). It turns out the request for which Taurus and other manufacturers were competing was later shelved. Working toward that potentially lucrative contract, Taurus developed a gun with lots of features that made it attractive to the civilian personal defense and concealed carry market.
I didn’t know beans about semi-automatics in those days, but my friend Jerry Colliver did and this was the gun he recommended. It was a great choice. I used that PT 24/7 to qualify for the Texas Concealed Carry License, NRA Basic Pistol Instructor and Texas License to Carry Instructor License. When I got in the gun store business, I “upgraded” to something more expensive because I could. The lure of wholesale prices and “extra” income from selling guns set me on the trail of building a collection. The Taurus was forgotten—for a while.
Cost is a factor for many just entering the concealed carry world. I found myself recommending the Taurus PT-111 often. Then it went through a marketing challenge when there were claims of accidental discharges happening when the gun was dropped. A class action lawsuit was settled without Taurus admitting liability, but one of the results was a G2 version of the gun, a model which I’ve come to trust.
In 2012 S&W released the single-stack Shield, followed over the next few years by similar offerings from Springfield, Glock, Sig Sauer and others. These guns all cost $400–$500 and up with capacities in the 6-7 round range. Meanwhile the Taurus G2 was available for $200 with a 13-round capacity. I sold a ton of them and got one myself. It’s an easy carry gun with great reliability and accuracy.
I no longer conduct the License to Carry courses nor own a gun store, but I’m still in a position to let folks know about a good value in a firearm. Recently I reviewed two new offerings from Taurus for American Handgunner and GUNS Magazines. The first was the TX22, a really neat .22 that has operational features which make it a great practice tool for shooting a 9mm. I could shoot that gun all day. I’ve taken my grandson Josh and one of his friends shooting with the TX22, including shooting it with a sound suppressor added, and we all agree it’s a hoot to shoot. You can read the review here in American Handgunner Magazine.
I’m not sure when my stories on the new Taurus G3 will be published, but I wanted to let my blog readers know about this new $300 gun. It has all the features that made the PT 24/7 popular, several of them unique to the Taurus handguns. The grip has a palm swell that more or less forces your hand high on the grip frame. Indents that Taurus calls shelves are on both sides of the frame to align your trigger finger properly. And when your trigger finger is indexed as it should be when your you’re not on target ready to shoot, Taurus Memory Pads™ are there to facilitate finger placement. The texture on the grip helps provide an excellent hold, even with sweaty palms. All of this together makes the G3 a very comfortable gun to shoot. The PT Millennium G2 and the new G3 share the double-strike capability with their older brother the PT 24/7. What this means is when you pull the trigger, if for some reason the gun doesn’t fire, you can pull it again for a second chance. Actually, you can pull it again and again. These guns are constructed so the sear essentially rotates around an axis and is back, ready to fire again as the trigger is released. This happens whether or not the slide cycles as it does when a round is fired.
I’ve put quite a few rounds downrange with the new G3 and have encouraged others to shoot it as well. I’m so confident in it I’ve been carrying the G3 for three weeks now and will probably continue. Funny, how this almost takes me back to the roots of my concealed carry days! If you’re looking for an economical carry gun these Tauruses should be considered. They are hard not to like.
Something has changed in America that has brought on school and church shootings and it’s not the availability of guns. We’ve had guns for 500 years. Just a generation ago kids had guns in their vehicles at school, even brought them in from time to time for show and tell at the Rod & Gun club weekly meeting.
Kids learned to shoot in Boy Scouts, 4-H Club, Junior ROTC, and OMG from their fathers. Guns were everywhere, but there were no school shootings. So what has changed? We now have a society largely shaped by a liberal “progressive “ agenda.
God and prayer are no longer allowed in schools. Teachers aren’t allowed to discipline. The media, in particular television, constantly barrage those who watch and listen with anti-family, anti-father, gender confusing, politically correct programming. Kids play electronic warfare games with little or no supervision. It’s more common to have a fatherless family than what used to be called a “traditional” family.
What does all of this have to do with school shootings you may ask. Everything. It’s not the guns that do the shooting, it’s kids. Mixed up, insecure, unloved kids. Passing another law won’t change that. What will change it is a massive shift of values.
First up is God. Everything about the liberal agenda is anti-God. Liberals don’t want there to be a God to whom they must answer. To them it’s all about man and his independence to do whatever he or she wants and what anybody else wants is irrelevant.
If you want school shootings to cease, love your children. Be with them. Take them to church. Show them a happy family. Teach them to shoot responsibly. It doesn’t take laws. It’s all done with freedom. Freedom to worship God. Freedom to respect your parents. Freedom from ridicule for not being politically correct. Freedom to discipline your kids in love. Freedom to be a family.
What? We don’t have those freedoms? Those of us who are older may understand we do, but for a youngster growing up in today’s society those concepts are alien, so much so that trying to adhere to those values will subject them to ridicule. No wonder some resort to violent acts to scream “pay attention to me!”
M&P could stand for “Mom” and “Pop” and at our house that could be true since Mom has one on her bedside table and Pop has one on his bedside table. Since you’re reading a gun blog you will know I’m talking about Smith & Wesson’s Military and Police branded firearms. Mom’s happens to be a 9mm trade-in from the Colorado Springs police department. Mine happens to be a .40 S&W trade-in from the Atlanta police department. I’ll come back to the trade-in story, but first a little background on why there are M&Ps in my family.
My first encounter with an M&P came in the form of a snub nosed .38 Special Model 10 revolver. The Model 10 wasn’t being called an M&P at the time we got it in the mid-1950s, but it came from a line of guns that had been called M&P since 1899. In recent years those revolvers have once again become identified with the Military & Police designation.
My dad acquired this revolver when I was in my early teens and kept it in his sock drawer. Since he was frequently out of town on business and only changed his socks before I got up in the mornings when he was in town, he never missed the times I took the little revolver along when hunting, fishing, or just out rambling, at times on horseback, at times on a Honda Scrambler and at times on foot. Having the little revolver along in its Bucheimer & Clark FBI holster came in handy when encountering snakes or other varmints while on the trail. When Dad was moved to a VA Home in the last few months of his life, I told him I was taking his revolver home for safekeeping. “Son, I never shot that gun,” he told me, his voice made gravelly by recent breathing tube invasions. “Don’t worry, Dad,” I told him. “I shot it a lot!”
I carried a similar Army issued Model 10 in my survival vest when flying a medevac helicopter in Vietnam. I figured it’s primary purpose if we were shot down would be to destroy our encrypted KY-38 radio. The other crewmembers and I had a variety of rifles and even shotguns hanging on the backs of our seats for defending ourselves against Viet Cong or NVA should that need arise.
Forty years after Vietnam I began attending classes to obtain the instructor ratings necessary to teach basic and advanced handgun courses as well as the Texas Concealed Carry (now called License to Carry) Instructor rating. In my thirst for knowledge I asked the other attendees in these courses why they chose the particular handgun they were shooting. There was the expected scattering of Glocks, but the Smith & Wesson M&P was also well represented. The answers for why people chose the M&P were usually along the lines of “less felt recoil” or “it doesn’t kick as much.”
Having fallen in with the commonly spread belief at the time that if it didn’t start with a ‘4’ it wasn’t enough cartridge for the job, I obtained a .45 ACP M&P to see for myself if the recoil was noticeably different. After firing the M&P alongside the a Springfield XDm and a Taurus 24/7 in .45ACP I came to the conclusion the S&W was a little easier on the hand and wrist. Some of that I attributed to the texture of the grip. Smith & Wesson claims it’s the angle of the grip, and I have to admit the M&P does feel good in the hand.
When you start teaching is when you really start learning. Having obtained the necessary ratings, I hit the ground running with two classes a week, each averaging 30 attendees. Week after week of watching what people were shooting and how they shooting, I gained considerable insight into what works and what doesn’t. In the years before the introduction of the modern single-stack nines, the M&P became one of my most recommended handguns for new shooters. A ton of experienced shooters already trusted the full-size or compact M&P as easy-to-carry, easy-to-shoot, reliable and accurate handguns.
I tend to think of Glock, S&W, and Springfield—as being like Toyota, Honda & Nissan. They’re all excellent, affordable and reliable handguns so pick the brand you like. I’m not a Glock fan, but I’m not against them any more than I’m against a Toyota. I just like the Smith & Wesson, much like I might prefer a Honda over a Toyota.
Handguns are a little less expensive than cars, so if you like a brand, you can have more than one, right? Maybe a lot more than one. I’ve gone through a number of them while helping family and friends find the right firearm and we have several in our family ready to perform m defensive duty should the need arise.
I’ve already mentioned our by-the-bed-guns. Joyce’s Colorado Springs PD trade-in has a known story. Colorado Springs first purchased M&Ps with a magazine disconnect safety thinking conservatively in case a gun got ripped out of one of their officers’ hands. But after some experience they decided they preferred a smoother trigger pull than what they were getting with the disconnect safety. Smith & Wesson accommodated them with an even trade for models without the magazine disconnect safety. The previous guns were reconditioned and put on the block by a major online retailer. After learning about the availability of police trade-ins, I found myself checking online from time to time, even though I prefer buying from a local gun dealer. Over the past five years I’ve acquired several M&P trade-ins, all at very reasonable used-gun prices.
I wish I knew the story behind all of them. Atlanta switched to Glocks in 2013, with the .40 Caliber G22 being the primary side-arm. Supposedly they were dissatisfied with their M&Ps, but I suspect Glock being located in nearby Smyrna, GA, and contributing considerably to the Georgia economy had something to do with it.
Whether the Atlanta PD liked my M&P or not, I sure do. It’s my upstairs bedroom gun equipped with a Surefire combination light and laser to help me determine if friend or foe is coming down the hallway towards my bedroom when things go bump in the night.
I keep another former police gun, this one compliments of the West Palm Beach police department, in the console of my Jeep. I’m always personally armed when driving the Jeep, but you never know when a backup might be needed.
Two additional former police M&P trade-ins I keep around are one from the Vermont State Police and a never-issued example from the Detroit PD. These two are both .40s. All of the trade-ins came with 3 magazines and night sights and were purchased for less than $400, a good value in my book. Police may be bailing from the .40 in droves because of the FBI decision to go to 9mm, but all of the original reasons for choosing a .40 caliber handgun are still valid. And with Polycase/Ruger ARX cartridges, as my go to defensive round I’ve discovered their lighter weight and decreased powder load lessen the recoil enough for my arthritic hands and shoulders.
One of my regular carry guns is a 9mm VTAC M&P. Several features differentiate this gun from its brothers. First is the FDE finish. Is it just me or does Flat Dark Earth look like OD to the rest of you, as well? Next is the Viking Tactics sights, which is really where this model get its name. Both front and rear sights are serrated to cut down on glare and best yet they have fiber optics sights front and rear on top of Tritium Night Sights. Awesome!
You can see these sights very well in all kinds of lighting conditions and my eyes have no problem picking up the right sights for the conditions. Either set aligned with the target will put your rounds where you want them, assuming you do your part with the trigger. And speaking of the trigger, I put an Apex Tactical Action Enhancement Trigger and Duty Kit in my VTAC M&P. This has resulted in a smoother trigger pull, reduced pre-travel and overtravel, reduced reset length and a consistent 5.5 lb. trigger pull.
When S&W released the full-size M&P in .22 caliber, I just had to have one. The ads promised practicing with something similar to your full-size carry gun but with lower ammo cost and no recoil. Their promise was nullified by an extended shortage of .22 ammunition during which the cost of .22 rounds went from a penny apiece to something close to a dime. I beat that rap, however, due to my ammo hoarding tendency and continued begin shooting one of the most fun guns around. Load the .22 S&W M&P with CCI Stinger ammo and you get a loud bang, a lot of muzzle flash, so you feel like you’re shooting a large caliber gun, except there is no recoil.
Near the end of 2014 the company introduced the M&P Compact .22. The ads for this one said something like, “Shooting .22s is fun! Ours is funner!” and I believe they are right. The compact is a delight to shoot and just the right size for my granddaughters to enjoy.
My .45ACP M&P has a threaded barrel and we often shoot it with a suppressor attached. My .22 M&P, the full-size one, also has a threaded barrel and it, too, is often shot with a suppressor. The little .22s work consistently with almost any ammunition on the market, so I consider them both to be top value for plinking and pest control.
I’ve bragged on the M&P line without even mentioning the compacts, Shields and the AR rifles, the latter available in both rimfire and centerfire AR versions. Smith & Wesson has done an amazing job at providing excellent equipment for law enforcement and making that same equipment available to the rest of us for personal protection, hunting, training and just plain fun.
As I write this, it’s too late for the Texas Gun Pros gun store, although our training will continue at locations to be announced. After seven years of what started out to be a great run, we are closing our store. Our loyal customers want to know why, so I’ll explain it. I’m going to give you the bullet points up front. Detail will follow.
We didn’t have a gun range.
We didn’t have enough capital to sustain a long-term slump.
The gun industry as a whole is in a slump that began around the first of November 2016.
Gun buying is changing to the point where it is difficult for a local retailer to compete with online retailers who somehow manage to sell guns at or below our wholesale cost.
Gun Shows. Around here there seems to be a Gun Show somewhere every weekend. Whether true or not, shoppers seem to feel they can get a better deal at a gun show. But they don’t mind doing their research at the local gun shop first.
The Gun Range Issue
From the first day we opened in April 2010, the majority of the calls or email inquiries we got were about our gun range, the one we didn’t have, but Google seemed to think we did. Funny thing about a gun range. We have wanted one for years. I grew up country and the idea of paying other people so I could shoot is foreign to me. We used to drive by this place on I-35 that was vacant and every time we’d drive by I’d think, “That would be a good place for a gun range.” One day, a couple of years after I started doing this, a sign went up: Shoot Smart Gun Range.
A couple of blocks down the street from our first location was an empty Expo building. My son Phillip and I put together a business plan to convert it to a Main Event of shooting ranges. Our plan called for 60 lanes of handgun, 12 lanes of rifle, 6 classrooms, a large retail store, a gunsmith, indoor paintball, a shooting gallery for kids, a large media-enhanced meeting room for events and a restaurant. The cost, if we could purchase the building reasonably would be about $7 Million. Not having a clue where to go to find that kind of money, since we had no history of development, we put the plan on the shelf. Then one day out of the blue, a financial guy I had helped with a web project several years earlier called me and said he was bird dogging for some private investors and wanted to know if I knew of anyone who had a project they could look at. I knew him and knew his integrity. He presented my plan and the investors said they’d never seen one so well-written. They verbally committed and followed up with a Letter of Intent. Meanwhile, someone else bought the Expo building.
We turned our attention to an outdoor range. An old friend in the Real Estate Development arena turned me on to a piece of property in the heart of the Metroplex that was for sale cheap. I mean really cheap, because it’s in a flood plain. We loved it and figured how to overcome the flooding issue. We obtained a signed loan agreement from the private investors, put down earnest money, incurred legal fees, had engineers do feasibility studies, had architects design a building, got approvals from US Fish & Wildlife regarding lowland marsh areas, and then we were stood up at closing by our lenders. What had seemed too good to be true turned out not to be true. We battled for years, we spent a ton of money. This place was going to be the shooting adventure park all America would love. Indoor and Outdoor Pistol Ranges; Indoor Rifle Range; Archery, Paintball plus all the other stuff we had envisioned for the Expo Building.
In the end, the money didn’t come through, we had expended all of our savings, 401k, profits from the gun business, credit cards, etc. trying to make a gun range happen. We couldn’t do it.
I’ve been part of several startup companies that were successful enough to be sold to large corporations. From those experiences I came to believe the way to grow a company was to bootstrap it from its own earnings. Apart from what I now call the Gun Range Fiasco, that’s what we did with Texas Gun Pros. It started with a dream of mine to be a CHL Instructor as a part-time endeavor. Jerry Colliver, a friend from work, decided he wanted to do that as well. So in 2010 we started teaching CHL, NRA Basic Pistol and Texas Hunter Education Courses. In April, 2011 we rented a facility on Davis Blvd. to teach those classes and made arrangements with the Shooting Gallery in east Ft. Worth to do the shooting portion of the classes at their range. It wasn’t long before people in our classes started asking us about guns. We obtained an FFL license and started selling guns from a little side room in what was originally designed to be just a classroom.
During the years 2010 to the end of 2016, we trained over 11,000 students and sold somewhere close to 1800 guns. The guns, displayed in a 300 sq. ft. side room to the classroom, easily equaled about 70% of our revenue. Sales growth was steady. In fact, sales almost doubled between 2012 and 2013, then again between 2013 and 2014. We needed to expand. We felt we had to separate the classroom from the gun store to avoid class interruption, plus we required more space for inventory. Our existing landlord wasn’t able to accommodate us, plus someone else was doing at least part of our dream almost in our front yard at the Expo building. A move seemed in order. Somewhere during this time, Jerry Colliver became so involved in his work in the insurance industry that he stepped aside. My son Phillip, an entrepreneur at heart, stepped in to run the gun store. He was responsible for bringing on board Jerry Lonon, Ryan Bruntz and Sal Castilleja as store employees. Phil Epps, who just passed away in March and Richard Balestrieri were on board as CHL/LTC Instructors.
We wanted to stay in the North Richland Hills area, but being right at the corner of Keller, NRH, Southlake and Colleyville and in a high traffic area couldn’t be bad, right? Even though the rent was four times what we’d been paying? Wrong. Almost nobody comes in our store these days. When they do, they rarely buy. Our income dropped off a cliff. When I say dropped, since the election, our monthly gross receipts have been approximately 1/3 of what they were in 2015. Less than the rent. Less than the payroll. Less than what we have to pay suppliers for the merchandise. Far less, and the hole was getting deeper every day. We were borrowing at a very high rate just to keep the doors open until things turned around.
The Gun Industry as a Whole
From the manufacturers on down, the industry is suffering a major setback since the November 2016 election. The candidate who loves guns and gun owners got elected, so what happened? I’m not sure we have it all figured out, but I’ll summarize our thoughts:
The pressure is off. As a whole, politicians won’t be trying to take away our rights to buy and own guns for a while.
Prior to the pressure being off, many people bought more guns than they could afford. They’re still paying off credit cards for them. They evidently now believe they don’t need any more guns.
Society has its head in the sand regarding what many of us believe are rough days ahead. In those days, it will be more important than ever for individuals and families to be able to defend themselves and their property.
Manufacturers, I believe, are doing the wholesale and retail industry a disservice by providing many new guns, each with a number of options, each year. Nobody can stock them all, but the gun buyers who are still buying want their particular choices once they know those choices are available.
Gun Buying Today
Some guns are being sold. There are still newcomers to the fold and there are still collectors. Today’s shoppers, as a whole, have no understanding of business. They believe no one should make a profit, not understanding that margin, the difference between what the retailer buys a product for and what he sells the product for is necessary to pay rent, salaries, utilities and hopefully, a little ROI. Nope, can’t have that from me! You’ve got to get that from somewhere else. Therefore they’re always looking for the cheapest price, with no regard for their local store.
A common occurrence–way too common–a person walks in the store and starts asking about guns. They’ll spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour examining and handling our products, asking questions of our salespeople (who are all certified instructors), and instead of buying the gun they want from us, will turn around, walk out the door and order it online or buy it at a gun show. A few days later it shows up at our place for a transfer, or they come back to us for training for this fine new gun they bought at a gun show for pretty much the same price we had on it.
For the online purchases, we, or some other dealer, charge a transfer fee, and the buyer paid freight, so in the end they didn’t really save any money. But they did help a dealer in Kentucky stay in business while a dealer in their own backyard is struggling. If this is you, please think about the consequences. And, if you’re going to buy online, don’t utilize the resources of a local dealer to educate yourself on the product, unless you offer to pay them for their time and expertise. And if you think dealers are making big profit on your purchases, you’re sadly mistaken. Dealers are lucky if they can make a 10% margin on a typical gun sale. So if you buy a $500 gun they paid about $450 for it. That other $50 goes to pay rent, salaries and electricity. If you bought that same gun online, at least $50 is going to go to freight and a transfer fee.
We have closed the store because we were unsuccessful in our efforts to build a gun range in spite of sinking a lot of time and money into the effort, our capital is depleted, and our sales fell off the cliff starting last November. The website will stay open for training and our great instructors will still be available. When September hits, I hope to have an online certification process for the new online License to Carry training.
For those of you who were faithful and steady customers and for all your kind words, thank you! For those of you who came into our store in our closing days with somewhat hurtful comments about our failure, you have the same opportunity we did. Go and do it better. I’ll promise to shop at your store and NOT buy online or at a gun show.
Update January 2018
I promised to keep the website online and indicated we would be attempting to conduct online classes. Much has changed:
The gun range we were using in Grapevine has now shut down. Sal Castilleja was teaching classes there and doing business as Guardian7 and I can provide you with his contact details upon request.
The state has not yet approved my application as an online instructor. The longer they delay the less inclined I am to undertake the effort to produce the courses.
Pressure on the Texas Gun Pros Corporation from creditors caused us to dissolve the Corporation and with that went the website.
Most people I know who have been around handguns for long, especially those committed to daily carry, admit to having a drawer (or drawers) filled with holsters they’ve tried but just weren’t up to their expectations. I’ve got a different story! Being fortunate enough to have acquired a number of excellent handguns, any one of which are suitable for a daily carry gun, I feel guilty if I don’t rotate them some.
For me, having a bunch of guns has not equaled having a bunch of holsters. Guess I’ve just been lucky and chosen well up front. My first concealed carry holster was a Crossbreed SuperTuck, purchased a little more than eight years ago for a Taurus 24/7. There it is right there, with that original 24/7 in it. It has held up well.
The Taurus got replaced with a Beretta PX-4 Storm 9mm. Okay, not replaced as in traded. I kept the Taurus, but carried the Storm a while. It fit the same holster, just fine. Then I got a Springfield XDm .45 ACP and was pleasantly surprised to find it worked in that same Crossbreed Holster. So did a Smith & Wesson M&P and a FNX 40 and a Sig P226.
When we started carrying D.M. Bullard Leather Holsters in our store, I figured I’d give the local company a try. I’d become a 1911 person by then so I got one of their 1911 holsters for a 5 inch gun with a rail. Works fine with my Colt and Springfield 1911s, but it also works fine with any of the 4.25 inch barrelled 1911 Commanders.
I liked that holster so much I decided to get one for my double stack 9s and 40s, but hmm, let’s see, which one. The biggest and heaviest of the bunch was a Sig P226, so I ordered a custom D.M. Bullard leather holster custom made for a Sig P226. It was no surprise that it also fit the Sig P229, but guess what else fits in that holster?
That original Taurus 24/7 fits it. The Springfield XDm fits it, All of my M&Ps (9, 40 and 45) fit it. The FNX-40 fits it. The gun you see in it here is a CZ-P07. They all fit with what’s commonly called Level 1 retention. That’s enough friction to hold the gun snugly in the holster so there is no danger in it falling out as you move about. These guns a all draw easily from the holster, as well.
So don’t go getting all antsy about having to have a bunch of holsters on hand if you want to grow your gun collection. Get a custom holster for something like the Sig P226 and chances are it will work just fine for many of the other guns you may want to try that are of similar size and capability.
Tell you a secret. I’ve been known to carry a 1911 Commander in my D.M. Bullard Sig P226 holster without realizing I’d put on the wrong holster that morning. Heck I might could have gotten by with just one of their wonderful holsters! Just kidding. The 1911, being a single stack, was just a little loose, if I’m honest about it.
A young lady comes into the gun store alone and timidly approaches the counter. “I want to buy a gun,” she says to the salesman who approaches her.
“What kind of gun, ma’am? Shotgun, rifle, handgun”
“A pistol,” she replies. “A Glock, the little one, I think it’s a 42 or something . . .”
The fact that her voice trails off signals the salesman he needs to ask some questions. “A Glock, that’s what you want? Do you know why that’s what you want?”
“Well, my brother-in-law is a policeman and that’s what he carries.”
“Oh,” our helpful salesman replies. “What does he drive?”
“You mean his police car?”
“That’s probably a Dodge Charger, would be my guess. No, what’s his personal car?
“I think it’s a Toyota . . . maybe a Camry?” She’s not sure, but the salesman has the information he needs to help her with her gun purchase.
“Is that what you drive?” he asks her.
“No, I drive a Lexus coupe. You know the IS 250?”
“Nice car,” our salesman replies, then challenges our new gun buyer. Now remember, he could have turned around, picked up a Glock 43 and he would have had a sale. I’d would have been proud of him for making a sale, because we sure need to make sales, but I’m more proud of him for what he did next.
“If you don’t drive the same kind, or even brand of car, your brother-in-law drives, could it be possible you may prefer a different kind of gun than the kind he uses?”
“Well, I’ve always heard that Glocks are good guns,” she says, just a little defensively.
“They are,” our salesman replies as he puts a Glock 19 in her hands. “But so are Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, CZ, Beretta, Bersa, Springfield and lots of other brands.” As he says this, he gestures to the counter where various 9mm handguns are on display. “Why don’t you pick up some of these, see how they fit your hand. See how they feel when you cycle the slide. Try the trigger. You may find the Glock is the one you like best, but you may find others you like better.
“Oh, I like this,” she says, heading away from the 9’s and over to a pink Taurus 738. “And it fits in my hands so well and I could hide it easily . . . ” and on and on with the arguments that sound so right for picking a self-defense handgun, especially for a small-framed woman, but which in reality aren’t really right.
“It’s a pretty gun,” our salesman agrees, then asks her, “What is your primary purpose for buying a gun today?”
“Self defense,” she replies. “I want some protection the way society is going today.”
We had a sure sale with the Glock 43. The Taurus cost less than the Glock and it’s pink so it could easily be a sale right now.
BUT . . . is this the right gun for the lady. Probably not. Our professionals will hopefully coach her a little by explaining in terms that you don’t have to be a gun guru to understand about how bigger is better when it comes to protection . . . bigger bullets . . . a bigger gun to hold onto . . . more weight to absorb recoil . . . and perhaps encourage her to get a little training and some range experience before plunking down her dollars. Is this a lost sale for our gun store? I hope not. I hope it’s just a delayed sale. Or if she really wants to get a gun today, I’ll bet my guys can steer her into something that feels good in her hands, she can manipulate all the features on and would provide some decent firepower for her protection.
What someone’s brother-in-law, brother, boyfriend, father, husband . . . whatever . . . would choose for a gun is not necessarily the right gun for you to choose, whether you’re a man or a woman. A handgun is a personal thing and there are lots of very fine handguns from which to choose. A little research, a little time at the gun store or at the firing range and some bonding should go into picking your perfect packing gun. And if you don’t get it right the first time, you’ll have gained some experience to help you make a better choice the second time.
Some of you long-time readers may remember my 1911 love affair began with a Ruger. It was the original .45 ACP all steel commander-sized Ruger that caused me to totally re-evaluate my understanding of the 1911 platform. Prior to having that particular pistol in my hands, I just didn’t understand why the 1911 continued to be so popular when there are so many excellent newer designs available.
Even though I’m a firm believer in the .45 ACP cartridge for personal defense, arthritis is taking it’s toll on my hands and shoulders to the point I carry a 9mm about a third of the time. Continuing developments in 9mm ammo make me more comfortable with the 9mm’s ability to get the job done.
The Ruger 1911 LW CMD has been one of my favorites. When Ruger announced they were coming out with a 9mm version of that handgun, I put my name on the waiting list because I knew it would be popular and that I should evaluate one for the benefit of my students.
I bought the first one that came into our shop and the other two sold almost immediately. We ordered more as soon as we could.
It came with black rubber grips. Those didn’t appeal to me, but I’ve got a drawer full of 1911 grips (try Amazon.com) so I swapped out the grips. That’s the 9mm at the top in the picture. The one on the bottom is my .45 ACP LW model. As you can see, they changed the color scheme slightly, but everything else looks pretty much the same. The trigger is the same, the sights are the same. The cocking serrations are slightly different, but other than that, it’s really hard to tell the difference.
Some things I noticed when holding the gun and checking it out: 1) it is easier to rack the slide on this gun compared to my other 1911s and most of the double-stack 9mms I have. 2) it has some side-to-side motion in the slide that I thought might affect accuracy. It doesn’t. 3) it was very difficult for me to load rounds into the magazine. So difficult, I couldn’t do it with out resorting to my UpLULA.
Today, after our License to Carry class had finished shooting and we were packing up to go back to the shop I told my instructors I had 4 magazines loaded. Some were loaded with ARX and some were loaded with 124 Grain Gold Dot JHP. That’s the heavy end of the spectrum and the light end of the spectrum as far as 9mm rounds go. We hung a target and pushed it downrange approximately ten feet.
I shot the first magazine, resulting in 10 shots (I had one in the chamber) in pretty much the same hole. The target was approximately 10 feet away. Each of the instructors at the range with me picked a different aiming spot and emptied a magazine with the same results, one ragged hole. The gun did not care if it was 80 grain ARX rounds or 124 Grain Gold Dot HP rounds. It handled them all the same.
The three guys who didn’t own the gun, each placed an order.
Here’s what I know about the magazines. I don’t think Ruger has made the wisest choice in selecting who makes their magazines. They work, but they don’t load well and in my .45 Ruger 1911, I can’t make the slide go forward with an empty Ruger magazine in it. I told their product manager about it and he didn’t seem to think it was an issue to be concerned about (meaning, probably they have a contract and are committed). I solved that problem by buying some Colt magazines to use with the Ruger. In the .45 platform they hold an extra round even with the flush base-plate, so they have become my go-to source for .45 ACP 1911 magazines. The Colts work in everything.
When I discovered the loading issue with the 9mm magazines, I ordered to 9mm Colt magazines. They’re easy to load. When we shot today, we shot with two of the Ruger magazines and two Colt magazines. As far as shooting goes, the gun didn’t care. They all worked the same. It’s just that the Colt magazines are much easier to load.
The shooting experience was pleasant. One of my instructors who previously didn’t like the Ruger 1911s (he’s a Springfield guy) said this one shoots much better in his opinion.
I believe this is going to be a mainstay. I know mine will be on my belt often.
I have long been an advocate of carrying a gun that holds more than five or six rounds and in a caliber that everyone agrees would do some damage. When I speak on this subject it’s from more than just a personal preference but from the point of view of an instructor who has some personal experience, but who has also thrown his life into studying everything he could get his hands on. Often, I’m simply ignored. “The guy at the gun store told me this would be enough gun,” seems to be the common response. I sure hope the guys at MY gun store didn’t tell you that!
I decided to aggregate in one place some of the incidents that have shaped my thinking so that my readers can understand it’s not just me that’s saying it. Let’s look at some real-life incidents and see what conclusions can be drawn from them
August 25, 2008, Officer Tim Grammis of the Skokie, IL Police Department found himself engaged in a firefight with a fleeing bank robber, who did not want to go back to prison. In the ensuing gun battle, Officer Grammis emptied two magazines of .45 ACP from his Glock 21 at the robber and was on his third when the robber, Raymond Maddox, stopped shooting. Reconstruction of the episode revealed that 54 rounds had been fired during the incident, 33 from Officer Grammis. Autopsy results revealed that 17 of Grammis’ 230 Grain Speer Gold Dot Jacketed Hollow Points had struck Maddox. Some had struck extremities but Maddox had also been hit in one kidney, both lungs and his heart. The last three rounds that Grammis fired had hit Maddox in the head, but two were in the face. Only the last had pierced his brain and ended the fight. Arguments that he was on drugs and that’s why he didn’t succumb easily when shot were nullified when autopsy results revealed he was totally drug-free at the time of the incident. You may deduce from this incident that if even the big gun wouldn’t stop this guy, why carry one? I would argue differently. My thoughts on it are if it’s this hard to stop somebody, I need to start with something that might have chance instead of something that would just irritate him.
Tammy Sexton, age 47, was shot in the head with a .380 by her estranged husband. The bullet struck her square in the forehead and exited the back of her head. Sheriff Mike Byrd of Jackson County, MS said, “When a sheriff’s deputy responding to a disturbance call arrived, she met him at the door holding a rag on her head and talking. She was conscious, but she was confused about what had happened,” he said. “She had made herself some tea and offered the officer something to drink.” Byrd said the bullet passed through the lobes of the woman’s brain without causing major damage.
January 8, 2013 – Melinda Herman was working at home when a man began to ring the doorbell. She called her husband at work, who told her to gather their 9-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and go hide. All three of them went to an upstairs crawl space, and Melinda brought along a .38 caliber handgun to the hiding place.
The man broke into the house and rummaged around before making his way to the crawl space, where he found the mother and children hiding. Melinda shot the intruder five times, hitting him in the face and neck. She told the man if he moved she would shoot him again, although she had run out of bullets. The intruder, who police identified as 32-year-old Paul Slater, managed to get to his car and as he tried to flee, crashed into a tree. That’s five times in the face, folks, and now the gun is empty, but the guy is still on his feet!
October of 1997 – Jacksonville, Florida officer Pete Soulis made contact with a suspicious driver, Joseph McGrotha, at a gas station. McGrotha produced a 9mm handgun, firing one round into Soulis’ chest (it was stopped by his armor). Before it was over Soulis was shot three more times while shooting McGrotha 22 times, 17 of which were described as “center mass.” It would take McGrotha as long as 4 minutes to die after the last shot was fired. Officer Soulis service weapon was chambered in .40 S&W, Winchester Ranger SXT rounds.
I’ve been aware of various studies about what happens in real-life scenarios, including the one by Tom Givens of Rangemaster Training in Memphis, who has been able to track graduates who have been involved in shootings over a twenty-five year period and whose findings I’ve quoted in some of my training. The results of Tom’s research indicate that encounters involving firearms are usually 3 shots within 3 seconds from 3 yards or less, with the success rate from pocket guns being something like 50%, meaning the good guy lost about 50% of the time. Not very good odds in my book.
I recently came across another study conducted in central Texas by Karl Rein of KR Training in which he put students to the test with pocket guns and with medium to full-size guns. It’s an interesting study that you can read about here at usconcealedcarry.com/is-a-pocket-gun-enough. If you don’t have the time or inclination to read it, here is his conclusions:
Data analysis indicates that a five-shot .38 probably holds enough ammunition to handle 70 percent of all likely situations. In the hands of a “low skill” shooter (anyone lacking training beyond the CHL level), the odds of getting acceptable hits are poor; that group averaged 57 percent on the test. When those two probabilities are multiplied to calculate total probability, the result is 40 percent, which isn’t great, but is better than 0 percent (no gun).
What’s interesting to me is that the majority of the comments following Karl’s article are justifying anything from .32 to .380 to .38 caliber guns and basically telling him his research is full of it.
I want my loved ones, my students and myself to have a much better success ration than 40% if we’re ever involved in an armed encounter where we are fighting for our life. For this reason, I do my best to teach people to shoot and carry handguns that are at least 9mm with 10-12 rounds of ammo or more. Keep that pocket gun around as a backup for when you’ve run your fighting gun dry.
The Taurus PT111 is just one of many choices for a decent-sized, affordable carry gun in a caliber (9mm) and with a capacity (13 rounds) that should provide adequate protection in almost any civilian armed encounter imaginable. If you’d put this gun up side-by-side with most of the popular pocket guns you’d have a hard time making the argument that you could carry one, but not the other.
Some things you can measure: height, width, weight, trigger pull, magazine capacity, barrel length, etc. Some things are totally subjective. You may like or not like something and not be sure why, or at least not be able to explain it to someone else. That doesn’t mean your subjective comparisons aren’t important. I think you should like the car or truck you drive, even if no one else does. I think you should be happy with how you dress, even if other folks think it’s funky. Objective is facts; Subjective is feelings.
Why am I on this rant? Because I’m on my fourth day of feeling really good about carrying a gun I’d never really thought about until a few days ago. For the best part of this year my carry gun has been a Sig, either a 1911 Commander or a P229. Occasionally, I carry a S&W M&P. If it were just me, I’d have no real reason to change this trend. But, I’m not just me, I’m the head of an organization that’s goal is to train and equip others to defend themselves with a handgun. I take this responsibility seriously, so I make it a point to familiarize myself with a variety of options, because one person doesn’t necessarily like, feel comfortable with, or can afford, what’s right for someone else.
I practice drawing and aiming my pistol multiple times a day, no matter what I’m carrying. While doing these drills with the CZ-P07, I found it darn near as comfortable as my 1911. Knowing this was probably just a subjective observation, I decided to do a little testing.
I unloaded and placed 4 handguns on a table. The P07, a Glock 23, the Sig Legion P229 and an M&P .40. I closed my eyes and had my wife mix them up. Then I picked them up one at a time, still with my eyes closed, feeling and pointing and trying to decide just from feel which one I liked best. Of course I could tell them apart since I’m very familiar with all four.
I had my wife do the feel test, then I had two of my grandsons try it. Funny, both the boys picked the P229 as their favorite, while the wife and I both preferred the P07. I thought for a minute she was going to go for the Glock and had it been a Gen 3, I believe she would have. But the texture on the Gen 4 grip wasn’t comfortable for her.
The boys liked the tactical feel and the heft of the P229, but they didn’t know what it was when doing the test. When you consider you can buy two P07s for the price of the Sig Legion P229, it seems to me a pretty good endorsement that at least 50% of the testers (admittedly a very small group to start with) like it best.
I’m going to keep on carrying it for a few days and I’m going to shoot it some more. It remains to be seen whether or not I’ll go back to one of the Sigs for daily carry.
UPDATE July 5:
I keep putting his gun on every morning. It is still very comfortable to wear and my daily drawing drills are right on the money. This is definitely a great handgun for Every Day Carry.
In Europe they love CZ pistols like we love 1911s. I guess when I say “we” in Europe I’m mostly talking about police and military since very few countries outside of Switzerland allow their citizens the freedom to own and shoot firearms like we have here in America. Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod is a firearms manufacturer in the Czech Republic responsible for some of the finest-made firearms in the world. They make pistols, rifles and shotguns that are held in high esteem in the military, hunting, sporting and personal protection arenas. In the US these are imported by CZ-USA.
The most popular of their handguns since before WWII has been the CZ-75 of which there are many models. There are also many clones. I first came to know this style of pistol through the EAA Witness and the SAR B6 and K2 models imported by European American Armory. These are all clones of the C-75 and my experience with all three of these models has led me to like them, trust them and recommend them for several years now. Throughout those years, I’ve owned several EAAs and SARs but I’ve never actually owned a CZ manufactured version. Until now, that is.
The original CZ-75s are all steel. They have several models such as the 75, 85, Compact, and others with differing features such as size, finish, capacity, caliber, etc. The one that I felt I just had to own is the CZ-P07. As you might surmise, the “P” stands for Polymer and I’m guessing the ’07’ means it’s a James Bond gun. Oh, wait, not enough zeroes. Okay I think the 07 has something to do with size, since I know the P09 is bigger and maybe the P05 and P06 are smaller. We gun guys can’t know everything.
What I do know is I really like this gun. I know what you’re thinking . . . “but, David, you like ALL guns!” Well, that’s simply not true. I’ve handled guns I don’t like and I’ve handled guns that I’m just indifferent about. For me to like them they have to 1) feel good in my hands, 2) fit my hands well, 3) have good sights that I can easily pick up and align, 4) have a decent trigger, one that is easily operated without pulling the sights off target, 5) be absolutely flawless in operation under normal and sometimes a bit stressful conditions, 6) be of a caliber that makes sense for it’s purpose, 7) be affordable and 8) be comfortable to shoot. The CZ-P07 passes all of these tests.
But if you’ve already got your gun needs and a lot of your wants covered, there has to be something else, doesn’t there? Otherwise, it’s a “ho, hum, just another gun.” This gun looks like a real gun to me. It’s a bit futuristic, but frankly it looks all business. It’s got the different-sized backstraps that are commonly offered with modern firearms, so it was no trouble to make sure it fits my hands. When I pick it up or pull it out of my holster it’s in the right place in my hand, ready to go with no shifting around. The sights line up and I can easily put my finger on the trigger with the proper positioning.
The slide-lock lever, which doubles as a takedown lever, is big and it’s flat with a surface that’s easy to work. There’s a decocker. The grip surface has just the right amount of aggressiveness to make the gun easy to hold onto without hurting my hands.
I tested it with my common defensive rounds: Ruger ARX, Speer Gold Dot and Fiocchi JHP. It did what I expect a carry gun to do, which is shoot one ragged hole at 10-12 feet and keep everything in a fist-sized grouping at 20-21 feet. If it can do that it will keep the shot placement relatively tight at 15 yards. I don’t have a bench rest and my personal arc of movement is enough not to blame the gun for what happens at 15 yards.
So, I’m carrying it for a while. It’s comfortable, fits in my P226 D. M. Bullard leather holster, and draws easily. If I have to use it, I’m confident the results will depend a whole lot more on me than the gun. It will do its job.