Personal Security for Ordinary People

By David Freeman

Guns are great equalizers. You don’t have to be big, physically fit or trained in the Marshall Arts to defend yourself  when you have a gun.

So much of the training I see about personal defense features young, physically fit, police or personal security-type individuals. You know what I mean, the ones with the ripped abs that run 10 miles before breakfast, rappel off the side of mountains and eat rattlesnakes for breakfast.

I’m not like that, but I can defend myself. I legally carry a concealed handgun and I’m relatively proficient with it. So while I’m not looking for a fight, if one comes my way I have a good chance of prevailing.

With a gun, a small woman can defend herself against a man the size of a defensive linebacker. An old guy like me can defend himself against a young, agressive street thug. A person in a wheelchair with a gun is no longer the easy victim an assailant might plan to rob.

While carrying a gun doesn’t require Olympic-like training, there are some things  you should do to insure you’re prepared to use one effectively to defend yourself:

  1. Be mentally prepared. This involves always being aware of your surroundings and recognizing potential threats early enough to do something about it should the potential threat become an actual threat.
  2. Have the right gun. The gun should fit you, it should be reliable and comfortable for you to shoot. It should also be of a large enough caliber to actually stop an attacker.
  3. Have your gun accessible. It must be concealed, but if it’s hidden away where you can’t get to it quickly, it’s of no use.
  4. Be proficient with your gun.
  5. Practice, practice, practice!
  6. Mentally rehearse possible scenarios, including how you would react.
  7. Get involved in the gun community – read the magazines, participate in shooting sports, train when you can.

Bottom line:  guns are great equalizers, but only if you know how to use them

Cutting the 357 Maximum Down to Size

By David Freeman

I picked up the Ruger 357 Super New Blackhawk 357 Maximum a few years ago when I was working at Cheaper Than Dirt. The gun came in on a trade-in and was priced reasonably. It was not something you see every day. I bought it, not because I needed it, but because I liked the way it looked.

I’ve read the history of Ruger’s venture into the 357 Maximum and know that Ruger recalled the revolvers some years ago because a few folks who loaded overly hot rounds for long-range steel plate competition experienced some issues with top strap burning. My revolver shows no indication of any such problems. Prior to my ownership, it doesn’t appear to have been fired much at all. I’ve put approximately 21 rounds of 357 Maximum through it along with a box of 357 Magnum and maybe a box or two of 38 special.

Mostly it just sat in my gun closet and looked pretty. As much as I liked owning it, there was something not quite right about it that kept me fromshooting it much. Then it hit me. It was that 10 1/2 inch barrel. I’m not into handgun hunting or long range target shooting with a handgun and that long barrel made the gun unweildy to carry and out of balance to shoot. I talked to my partner Jerry Colliver about shortening the barrel to 6 inches and he agreed to help me. Actually, Jerry had the tools and the experience so he did most of the work while I took pictures.

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We measured 4 1/2 inches back from the muzzle and marked the location of the cut with electrical tape. I wanted to make sure our cut was perfectly perpendicular, but Jerry assured me that at this point it only had to be close. Jerry cut the barrel using an air-driven diamond cutter. Next came touch up work on the small grinder. After the grinding came hand filing. The objective was to eliminate the courseness from the grinder wheel, leaving the metal surface as shiny as possible at this stage.

The factory barrel end had an inside bevel around the bore and an outer bevel around the outer circumference of the barrel. Jerry used a stone with his Dremel tool to grind the inside bevel to match the factory original as closely as possible. Then he filed the outside bevel by hand, carefully eyeballing the width of the bevel as he went around the barrel to make sure it was even and consistent. Final touch up on the outside bevel was done with the Dremel tool using a diamond bit.

When the bevels were done, Jerry went back to the grinder, this time with a cloth wheel and rouge to polish the end of the barrel before bluing. There were several steps in the polishing process before Jerry was satisfied. He used a cloth polishing wheel attached to his vertical drill press, periodically coating the wheel with polishing compound.

We blued the barrel, tapped out a hole for the sight mounting screw and put the original target front sight back on the gun. It wasn’t long before I figured out this wasn’t going to work. Since I could now carry the Blackhawk in a regular holster, I found the backward slant in the target sight hung on the holster when drawing. So, I ordered a non-target sight from Ruger, mounted it to the barrel using JB Weld (I know, but it will be there as long as I’m around) and re-blued the barrel using Midway’s Oxpho Blue and I’m a happy camper!

The Crossbreed Super Tuck – a Holster that Works Well for Me

By David Freeman

I’ve read a number of comments from magazine writers and bloggers about having a “drawer full of holsters” most of which were accumulated while trying to find one that works best for them as a concealed carry rig. Sometimes it’s a function of different holsters for different clothing. I’m very fortunate. The first holster I tried after obtaining my Concealed Handgun License worked perfectly for my needs and continues to do so.

I stumbled across the Crossbreed SuperTuck in a few forums and decided to try one. My initial carry gun was a Sig Sauer SP2022 and I ordered the holster to fit that gun. It also fit my Taurus 24/7 very nicely, though not contoured for it and was workable for the Beretta PX-4 Storm that I like to carry on occasion.

My son, who is a lot thinner than I am doesn’t have the same luck with his Crossbreed which he uses to carry a Stoeger Cougar 8000. The other night we were going out to dinner and he watched me pick up my rig and stuff it in my pants ready to walk out the door in about 20 seconds. He said it wasn’t that easy for him.

I wear my rig at about 2:45. Rarely do I wear tuckable shirts. Banded bottom knits work best for me. If I wear a shirt with a tucked in tail, I almost always wear the gun outside it and a vest over it. Here are a few photos showing my rig in action:

Supertuck with Taurus 24/7
This shot with the shirt lifted shows how the rig fits in my pants along
Crossbreed Supertuck tucked.
Same seated position with the shirt pulled down
Supertuck not visible at all.
Here I am standing with a different shirt. The gun isnt visible at all.
Heres how the gun rides at this position. I simply lifted the shirt to show you.
Heres my well-worn Super Tuck. The Gun is a 45 Caliber Taurus PT 24/7. Dont tell the SuperTuck folks, who like to customize a rig for every gun, but I use this same rig for my Sig SP2022 and my Beretta PX-4 Storm. It fits the Sig perfectly, in fact, was probably made for it rather than the Taurus.
This heavy duty gun belt from Crossbreed turned out to be a necessity for me. I tried the holster for a month or two with regular belts because I didnt want to spring for the gun belt. Its a waste of time. Get the gun belt, if youre staking your life on having a proper carry rig.

David Compares the 9mm and 45 ACP versions of the Taurus 24 / 7 DS

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By David Freeman

Personally, I’ve been amazed at how easy the Taurus 24 /7  DS Pro has been to carry as a daily concealed carry weapon, especially since I’ve previously carried various 9mm semi-automatics. I borrowed my former 9mm pistol for a little show and tell. I can show you better with pictures than with a lot of writing, but I do want to mention just a couple of things before show and tell.

First, in size the guns are almost identical. The perspective in some of my photos may skew that a bit, but they are very difficult to tell apart. The magazine wells are at slightly different angles and of course the 45 is a tad wider. The ejection port is slightly larger on the 45, and of course the inside dimension of the barrel is bigger – not the outside, though. The external barrel dimensions are almost identical.

The guns weigh the same. Empty, they weigh in at 18 ounces on my postal scale. The loaded magazines–17 rounds in the 9mm and 12 rounds in the 45–both tipped the scale at 10 ounces. So there you have it – 28 ounces fully loaded.

The double action trigger pull on the 45 seems a little longer to me–not harder, just longer. They both point and shoot the same. I’m sure the 45 has more recoil, but honestly, I don’t notice it and am able to get back on target quickly.

I hope this is helpful for anyone trying to decide. The price is the same, at least where I bought mine. $379 at Academy Sports.

Update May 2016:

Taurus upgraded the 24/7  series, along with the Millennium Pro series a couple of years ago. The new guns are supposed to be better, but frankly, I’m glad I still have my old ones. There was some issue that resulted in a law suit claiming the originals would, or rather could, fire if dropped at a certain angle. Taurus did the right thing by offering a repair/replace program to existing owners and modifying the guns resulting a G2 version. Either version are fine guns in my book.

SigPro SP2022

Sig Pro 2022The price was unbelievable. A Sig Sauer for $399? Something must be wrong with it. There were a few rumors on the net about a new Pistol, the SP250, coming out as a replacement for the SP2022. Wrong! They’re both stil in Sig’s lineup. Maybe it was a police buy that got caught up in politics. Who knows, but Cheaper Than Dirt had ten at this unbelievable price and they were sure to go fast.

I didn’t need another pistol, especially not another 9mm, but what the heck. It was a Sig and I could always get my money back. When I got to looking closer, I discovered the gun had a few add-ons that would normally jack the price up. It has Tijicon night sights and a double action only (DAO) trigger.

The gun feels good in the hand. It hold 15 + 1 and magazines are readily available. I bought one at the Fort Worth Gun Show and a couple more from CDNN Sports in Abilene. The gun came with two. There’s no question that it’s a Sig with the quality typical of the brand.

At the range I found it frustrating at first. The trigger pull is just over 10 pounds and it’s a long pull. I found myself tiring while waiting for it happen. More than once I did the shooter’s equivalent of stepping out of the batter’s box on my first shot. After a while I got used to it and my shots didn’t suffer. Here’s a target from my third or fourth trip to the range. This was shot at 15 yards.

Sig Pro Target

I made one adjustment to the gun that doesn’t seem to make much difference in either shootability or accuracy. I replaced the stock trigger with a short pull trigger, a $9.95 mod. This didn’t change the weight of the pull, but was supposed to shorten the length of pull. I honesty can’t feel any difference.

The SP2022 spent a few months as my daily carry weapon. Although it has no external safety, the heavy double action trigger makes it a very safe IWB carry weapon. Had I needed the gun, the trigger pull would have been a non-issue. Now, it’s my upstairs household gun and with it’s Trijicon sights and excellent accuracy, it is comforting to have around.

Follow Up – April 2011

It’s now a year after I wrote the original blog entry and I still have an SP2022, but it’s not the original DAO pistol. I advertised the original one for sale on TexasGunTrader.com and it found a new home. A couple of months later Academy Sports put the Sig Sauer SP2022 on sale for $399 and this one was a DA/SA pistol. I bought one. It doesn’t have the night sights the original one had, but it sure shoots easier. I often take it to our CHL classes to let people who have not yet decided on the gun they want to carry shoot it for their proficiencey test. This one I’ll probablykeep.

Update May 2016:

I’m now surrounded by Sigs. The second 9mm, the one written about in the April 2011 follow-up is one of the loaners we use at Texas Gun Pros for our License to Carry Class. After 5,000 to 6,000 rounds the slide got to where it wouldn’t lock back after the last round was fired, no matter what magazine was in it. A quick trip back to Sig with a very small repair charge and it’s back at work again.

I got a replacement for the house, one with night sights and it’s now my wife’s upstairs comfort gun. She has an M&P 9mm by her side of the bed. One thing that continues to intrigue me about the SP2022 is the quality for the money. I have a couple of P226s and a couple of P229s that are $900 to $1200 pistols. The SP2022 is almost exactly the same size as the very popular PP229. The slide operation is easier, or seems so to me, and the slide lock is definitely easier to operate. There is not $500 difference in those guns. The SP2022 is one of the best values on the market for a good 9mm or .40 ACP handgun.

Comparison of Stoeger Cougar 8000 and Beretta PX-4 Storm

By David Freeman

These two pistols are similar in design, though more than a decade apart in orginal manufacture. Both were designed by Beretta and originally manufacturered by Beretta. However the Cougar 8000 was discontinued by Beretta some years back and in recent years returned to production by Stoeger, a Beretta subsidiary who manufactures the guns in Turkey.

The two firearms share a unique design–a short-recoil, locked-breech system that uses a rotating barrel. When the gun is fired, the recoil impulse pushes the slide and barrel to the rear. After a short movement, the barrel is revolved by cam action against what is called the central block tooth, which is best described as an angled protrusion on the top of the locking or central block. This block rides on the recoil spring and guide rod inside the frame, turning the barrel as it moves back and forth. This unlocks the barrel, allowing the fired case to eject and then chambering a new round. This rotating design keeps the barrel in alignment with the target, potentially creating a more intrinsically accurate firearm. The barrel is throated and the frame relieved so that the chamber will accept a wide variety of bullet styles, reliably keeping feed malfunctions to a minimum.

The models compared here are 9mm models, both were purchased in 2009 from Academy Sports. The Cougar retailed for $399. The Storm retailed for $519. The Cougar is all metal, the Storm has a Polymer lower housing.

Here other some other comparisons:

Stoeger Cougar 8000 Beretta PX-4 Storm
Weight (loaded)  28.5 oz  29 oz.
Height  5.5″  5.5″
Length  7″  7.5″
Mag Capacity  15  17
Barrel Length  3.75  4

Before we get to the photos, I must tell you that these two guns have been totally flawless in operation. We’ve fired hundreds of rounds of Winchester White Box, Federal, Monarch, and Remington FMJ ammo through them and several brands of JHP, including Winchester, Magtech and Hornady. Both guns are a pleasure to shoot. They are Double/Single Action, hammer-fired pistols with an external safety on the slide. Double-action trigger pull is very comfortable and the single action trigger pull is very light. Both are very accurate out to 25 yards, shooting groups as tight as we can hold them.Hopefully, these pictures will help you with the subtle differences and the similarities.

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Taurus 24/7 DS – 45 ACP

By David Freeman

Taurus 24/7 45 ACPI grew up shooting revolvers. The first semi-automatic hangun I owned was a Stoeger Cougar 8000 in 9mm. It was a sweet handling and shooting gun. My son liked it and I had been eyeing a Taurus 24/7, so I sold him the Cougar (at least it’s still in the family) and picked up a 9mm Taurus 24/7 at Academy Sports.

The gun was winner from day one. No jams, no misfires and right on target. Plus the trigger was nice and smooth and easy. Since I was getting the gun bug, I soon bought a Sig Sauer SP2022 (it’s a Sig, right?) on sale at Cheaper Than Dirt for a really great price. You can read about that gun elsewhere in my blog, as well as the Beretta PX-4 Storm. Here I was with three 9mm semi-automatics (one to carry, one for the truck and one for the upstairs bedroom was my argument). I carried the Storm, kept the Taurus in the truck and the Sig upstairs. But on range day, I carried all three. Even though the Taurus was the least expensive of the three and the one from the company that has to fight against a bad rap from years gone by, it was the most fun to shoot and at least as accurate as the other, two, if not more so.

Because I had so much invested in 9mm pistols and had good supply of ammunition, I tended to resist the magazine articles and instructor admonitions that for defensive carry, a 45 is better. It was while attending the NRA Handgun Instructor Course that it finally dawned on me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t effectively stop a bad guy with my 9mm. It was more about who else I might endanger while doing so. The instructor explained quite graphically, that even with hollow point ammunition, because of it’s muzzle velocity, a 9mm will shoot through things, including people and possibly hit innocents, even if they’re behind a wall.

I sold the 9mm Taurus 24/7 and bought the 45 ACP version of what I thought was the same gun. It looks the same. It feels the same, even weighs about the same. It carries well. I loaded it up with some 230 grain hollow point ammunition and felt safe. Until I went to the range. Bang – jam. Bang – jam. Over and over.  I took the gun home, cleaned it really well and tried it again. I got as much as a bang, bang jam out of it this time. I tried different ammo and discovered I could shoot FMJ (full metal jacket, also known as “ball”) ammo through it without jamming.

It seemed at first it was a magazine problem. Taurus offered to send me a new one if I sent in the bad one, but I felt a little more testing was in order. I tried three different brands of 225-230 grain hollow point ammo:  Winchester Supreme Elite, MagTech Gold and Remington Golden Sabre. None of them fed without jamming. They did what gun people call “nosediving” where the nose of the cartridge doesn’t slide up the ramp into the chamber like it’s supposed to.

Most gun guys caution that it takes from 300 to 500 rounds to “break in” a new semi-automatic handgun. That wasn’t true with my 9mm Taurus. It was perfect right out of the box. But I after shooting 300 or so expensive rounds through the Taurus 45, it wasn’t getting any better.

I made another stop at Cheaper Than Dirt and picked up two types of 185 grain JHP (jacketed hollow point) — Black Hills and Speer Gold Dot. Problem solved. I may try some other brands later, but for now, I’m satisified that my 45 will perform when and if called upon in a defensive situation.

Oh, and it is pretty accurate. What misses is my fault, not the gun’s. Here’s an example:

Targets 04172010

UPDATE MAY 2016:

One of my mentors suggested trying Winchester Silvertip 185 Grain jacketed hollow points in the Taurus 45. After shooting two boxes of that ammunition with no failures I discovered that for this particular gun the break-in rule appeared to be real. It shoots anything and everything I feed it now with no problems whatsoever. Now that I’ve discovered the Ruger/Polycase ARX rounds, this .45 ACP Taurus 24/7 makes a nice addition to my carry gun rotation. I know many people opt for carrying the same gun all the time, but I like to vary my carry guns to justify having a “collection of them” (just kidding). The real reason is so that I have a broad experience from which to provide advice and guidance to the many students that come through our classes.