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August 21, 2003
Frank on Guns: So Many Handguns, So Little Time
In previous issues of Frank on Guns, I went over gun basics and gun calibers; now you need to pick out a gun to do your killer'n. I'm just going to focus on handguns right now because I know them better and they're cool.
One of the questions I commonly get from people who don't anything about guns is how much does a gun cost. That's like asking how much does a car cost. In just handguns you can range from a $150 dollar Yugo to a $5000 dollar Maybach. Then there is customization, and you could easily put thousands more on to any gun's price. Also, if you want a full-automatic mp5, it's time to mortgage the house (and check the legality of owning one in your state).
Generally you get what you pay for, though sometimes you do pay for the name (if you want an official Colt peacemaker, you better be prepared to put out the big bucks). Anyway, I'm going to discuss my opinion on different handguns based on my personal experience, what I've heard, what I think I've heard, and what I've just plain imagined.
The first thing you need to decide is whether you want a revolver (based on a nearly 170 year old design) or a semi-automatic pistol (based on a much newer design just barely over a hundred years old). First I'll talk about the revolver.
The revolver is the most simplistic of the gun design (read "less to go wrong"). Pretty much all of them have no more to their operation than pulling the trigger (except for single action; cock it, then pull trigger). Even a moron or a curious five year old could operate one of these. Loading is more of a problem as each bullet has to be put into the chambers individually, and you're not going to get high capacity (try imagining a 19 round kill'n wheel, a.k.a. cylinder). IMHO, if you find yourself in a situation where you need more than six rounds, though, then you were looking for trouble.
If you don't care about size, you can always go with the legendary S&W Model 96 (or newer 629) .44 magnum just like Dirty Harry, or get a sweet .357 magnum Colt Python (if you can find one). If money is no object, you could get the Korth Combat Revolver for $4,700. To the layman, it looks just like a revolver you could buy for $300, but, to the more discerning eye, it costs $4,700.
For conceal carry, you want a nice snub-nose revolver, the ultimate backup gun. Ruger has some great ones that don't cost very much, and S&W as some good ones too, including hammerless ones so the hammer won't snag (secret: it actually has a hammer; it's just hidden). They also make the LadySmith, the first gun tailored towards women's kill'n needs. It's a perfectly fine gun for a man to use as well, but, if you shoot a mugger with it, his dying words will imply you're gay.
Semi-automatics are much more complicated, using the force of the bullet explosion to push back the kill'n cover (a.k.a. slide) and chamber a new round from the magazine. It's much more complicated (read 'more to go wrong'), with each gun having its own take on safeties and what-not. Still, if you get yourself a good model and train on it, a semi-auto is a great weapon. Plus, reloading is quick and cool, as nothing beats slapping in a new magazine and raking the slide (note: the manual says to not "slap" the manual in, but what does a manual know). Plus, you can get really high capacity if you want to pay for it.
I guess this is a good time to discuss pre-ban magazines. For those who don't know, in 1994 the evil Clinton passes a bill banning magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
"Oh, he only shot me ten times. Thank god for that law which... Oh no! He's reloading!"
The law was not retroactive of course (try walking from gun owner to gun owner and demanding they hand stuff over) so there is a premium on high-capacity pre-ban clips. As for guns that were made after 1994 (such as the Walther P99) you’re kinda screwed. This law, of course, was un-American, as we should be working towards larger and larger capacities until you don't need to reload at all. A very American gun is the Calico which has a 100-rd cylinder magazines that go on top of the gun ("I know what you're thinking, punk: Did I fire all 100 bullets or just 99? To tell you the truth, in the heat of the past six months, I lost count myself..."). We need to repeal that evil law, and thus make my dad having wasted money spending over a hundred dollars for some Glock magazines.
Anyway, here are some notable semi-autos:
Beretta 92FS: This is the current military sidearm, and I've fired one, borrowing it from my brother, Joe foo' the Marine. It's most noticeable in how the slide is cut so that most of the barrel is visible (and you will see it in about any movie or TV show with guns). This is to help prevent jamming (a casing or improper loading of the next round which ceases the semi-auto's functioning). Jamming's can get you killed in battle, so jamming is bad (i.e., not good). With any gun, test a hundred rounds through it with the ammo you plan to use to test for jamming. IMHO, the Beretta 92FS is kinda big for something that fires a dinky 9mm, but you can get Beretta's that fire more manly, non-metric calibers. 15rd pre-ban clips for the 9mm are pretty easy to find, though.
Desert Eagle: Most notable for that kill'n end is triangular shaped... oh yeah, and it's frick'n huge. Fires magnum rounds usually only found in revolvers and it's own .50 AE ammo. I really would love to own this $1000 handgun, but I don't know of any practical purpose for it. It's too big for conceal carry... or even just regular carry. The only thing I've seen it used for is as a great gun for villains in movies (see the Agents in The Matrix).
Sig Sauer: A gun made my the Swiss and sold by the Germans. Expensive, but supposed to be worth the money. Don't have too much experience with them, and would be interested in comments.
Glock: Durable, high capacity, simple to use, and no safeties (I don't count the frigg'n trigger safety). You can get these in about any caliber you want (9mm,.40,.45,10mm,sig.357... did I miss any?). Plus, you have the option of regular size and compact for conceal and carry (high capacity clips will still go into the compacts but stick out underneath, defeating the point of it being compact). They all look the same, which is great if you have a wife who doesn't like you owning lots of guns, because then you can get guns in a bunch of different calibers and make it look like you only have one gun (not that I know anyone who fits this description
Glock is most notable for being the first gun to use composite materials. The frame is plastic, while the slide and barrel are metal like God intended. Also, they were one of the first guns to offer ridiculous size ammo capacities (you can get a 19 round magazine for Glock 17). They cost big bucks now. We spent $125 dollars as a present for my Dad so could fire three more bullets out of his Glock 21 (.45 caliber).
My complaint about the Glocks is that, once a round is chambered, a not to stiff trigger pull is all that keeps it from firing. I like either a stiff double action on the first round or a manual safety. Something to keep in mind for conceal and carry, because you really want a gun you feel safe with a round chambered in it so that it can be drawn and fired quickly.
Walther: Want to be like James Bond? I'm sorry, you're too lame, but you can own his guns like me. I have both a Walther PPK (PPK/S actually; they had to change the frame to comply with some idiotic gun regulations) which was the old bond gun and the Walther P99 which is the new bond gun. The Walther PPK is a nice metal gun that fires a dinky .380 round with good accuracy at a self-defense range. Good for concealment and not too expensive. The Walther P99 comes in 9mm and .40 and has a composite frame like the Glock (I'm still getting used to it). It's a bit bigger and harder to conceal. Also, composite frames aren't so good for hitting someone over the head with the beat'n end of the gun.
1911: The pistol. The original is made by Colt, but everybody and their sister makes one now (even S&W has come out with one). It fits in your hand like it's supposed to be there, and fires that .45 bullet like a dream. You can either buy a simple platform and customize it (like the Colt 1991 I have), or get a nicely souped up one from Kimber or Springfield. There are also compact models for conceal and carry (though I successfully conceal and carry my full size model). The gun only fires single action, which means the way to carry it is cocked and locked, i.e., round in the chamber, hammer pulled back, thumb safety on. This is scary to some people, as some people are pansies. Also, the regular magazine for this gun holds only 7 rounds, but that's seven dead perps in my book. There are double stack magazine versions, but then you have a bulky grip. Para Ordnance makes a double action 1911, but, to me, that's just wrong.
Before you buy a gun, you have to make sure it's right for you. If you have friends with guns, see if they let you try them out. Also, many gun ranges let you rent guns (the one I go to in Idaho has a fully-automatic Thompson "You'll never take me alive, coppers!" submachine gun to rent; sweet!). You want to at least hold the gun and see if the grip is comfortable to you. Most importantly, you need to ask yourself, "Can I see myself killing someone with this gun."
Sorry, I think I ended up actually trying to be informative instead of just funny today. It's important to note that I don't actually know jack. Anyway, next week we'll talk about how you store your gun, either in your home or on your self.
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