Shameless Self-Promotion and the Thunderdome

Some of you may have noticed that I can’t stop talking about Gun Nuts Media and the article that I have up on their site right now.  It’s true.  I literally Can. Not. Stop. Talking about it.  That’s because I’m currently engaged in an epic fight-to-the-death in the Gun Nuts Thunderdome with three other wildly talented writers to become the newest addition to their staff.  The winner will be determined by total number of page views, comments and social media shares on his or her post.  I’ve been training like Rocky all week and now, the gloves are coming off.

Previously, in the second stage of the contest (when there were still ten of us in these literary Hunger Games), we had to make a short video answering five questions laid out by El Presidente, Caleb Giddings.  The questions were as follows:

1) What is your favorite gun and why?

2) Why should I hire you?

3) Which is better: getting lots of attention for mediocre content with lots of flash, or getting very little attention for great content?  Why?

4) If you could change one thing about the current editorial style/publishing on Gun Nuts, what would it be?

5)Who would win in a fight, a T-Rex or a Sasquatch with an AK-47?

And here’s how I answered…

Obviously, I mean business.  Doesn’t that flag in the background just scream deposed dictator?

So, if you haven’t already, please go check out the article here and leave me a comment.    When I win, I will thank you all individually in my nationally televised acceptance speech (along with  my mom, my grandma, my deity, my cats and my make-up artist).  Thanks in advance for your participation.  Also, if you’d like to weigh in on any of the above interview questions, I’d love to hear your answers.  **Attention all Sasquatch experts: this one’s for you**

If it brushed my teeth and answered my emails, then I might consider buying a Glock

Glocks and M&Ps. There can be only one.

Look, I’m just going to say it.  I don’t like Glocks.

I know I’m alienating all the fan-boys and the mall ninjas and I’m sorry, dudes.  I tried to write an extremely gentle, reassuring comparison of the Glock 19 and the Smith and Wesson M&P 9, but it was obvious even to me, that I just don’t like Glocks despite my best efforts to the contrary.  So, if you need to unfriend me on Facebook, now is the time.  It’s cool. I totally understand why we’re breaking up. It’s not me, it’s you.

Here’s the problem: I think shooting a staple gun is more fun than shooting a Glock.  I keep waiting to be proven wrong, but it’s not happening.  In fact, I recently rented some Glocks at the range in the hopes of understanding the deep love that folks have for these pistols, but all I got out of it was sore hands and more puzzlement.

I rented the Glock 26 and the 19, both Gen 4.  The 26 seemed good at first.  I liked the size, and there was still plenty of real-estate for both of my hands, especially with the grip extension magazine. I was drilling out the center of the target almost instantly. “Ok”, I thought, “Now we’re making progress”. But then the pinching began.  Apparently, the magazine shifts ever so slightly as the gun cycles, which resulted in my tender hand-meats getting trapped between the unforgiving polymer jaws of the magazine extension and mag well. (Note: I hate pinching).

No problem.  Maybe it was just the 26.  Perhaps there are other Glocks I would like.  So, I tried the 19.  I found there was appreciably less pinching.  So far, so good.  But then other problems became apparent.  The ultra aggressive grip texture on the light-weight frame, for example, is a bit like covering your aluminum baseball bat in course grit sand paper and then trying to hit 100 mph pitches.  True, you won’t drop the bat, but you won’t want to hold on to it for very long either.  Also, what’s with those weird front strap finger grooves?  They seemed like more of an impediment to a comfortable grip than a useful feature.  And then there’s the unfortunate side-effect of shooting a Glock for any prolonged period of time– it starts to feel like you’re trying to catch Chuck Norris’s foot, mid-round-house kick.  Allegedly, the Gen 4 Glocks are supposed to have a new recoil spring assembly that reduces perceived recoil, which is funny because the recoil is still really perceptible.

(A brief aside: I’m not particularly recoil-shy, in general.  I love shooting 1911s and other larger caliber handguns, as well as shotguns and rifles. My Mosin-Nagant is one of my favorite guns to take to the range, despite the large bruise on my shoulder that I inevitably come home with.  There is a difference between the giddy fun that is shooting a large caliber gun, and getting joylessly beat-up by a 9mm).

I’ve heard many Glock devotees confess that the shooting experience leaves much to be desired.  Whiskey tango foxtrot, guys?  Why are you so enthused about a gun that you don’t really like to shoot?  Especially when there are so many other lightweight, reliable polymer pistols on the market today, and more being released all the time?

I get the whole SHTF/easy to get parts and ammo/perfect for my bugout bag thing and I’m a big fan of being prepared.  I have Band-Aids in my house, but I’m not like, “Hey bro!  Wait til you see the flesh-colored, self-adhensive bandages I got!  They are so effective and reliable! You are an IDIOT for considering any other wound protection system over this obviously more awesomely superior first-responder, triage solution”. In fact, it might seem downright peculiar to be so animated about little strips of plastic.  And that’s because they are just tools I have to help me perform a specific task, in this case, staunching blood flow and preventing infections of minor cuts and abrasions.

That’s exactly what a Glock is—it’s a tool, not the end-all, be-all of striker-fired handguns.  Let’s treat it as such.

So here’s my TL;DR breakdown:

Things I like about Glocks

1  Accurate (Duh)

2. Reliable (Double Duh)

3. Simple controls

4. Easy take-down

5. Widely available, cheap parts

6. Angel of grip forces hands into a stable, high position

Things I hate about Glocks

1. Aggro grip texture

2. Weird front finger grooves

3. Materials feel cheap

4. Pinches pinky finger when using extended mag

5. Feels like getting nunchucked in the hands

6. Cordless drills are more fun

Final thoughts:

Would I carry this gun and brag to everyone who will listen about how amaza-increda-ballingly awesome it is, and what a tactical-ninja-eagle-strike-force pirate it makes me?  No.

Would I wrap this gun in a plastic bag and sew it into the headliner of my car in case of zombie apocolypse?  Hell, yes.

Why the Shield is an Ideal CC Gun (for Women)

Shield and sword. Ready for action.

I recently read this article by Lynne over at Female and Armed (which is a really fantastic blog, by the way) and it resonated so strongly with me that I thought I’d throw in my two cents concerning choosing a subcompact pistol for concealed carry.

Let’s be honest. How many abysmally awfully guns have you tried out in your search to find the perfect concealed carry pistol? I know I’ve shot more duds than I care to recall, and even own a few that ended up being entirely unsuitable for this application. It can be an expensive game of trial and error, not to mention extremely frustrating. Women have unique and specific requirements for purchasing a firearm to carry every day, and the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield fits those requirements better than any other subcompact, polymer pistol that I’ve tried thus far.

The Shield is a striker-fired pistol chambered in 9mm or .40 cal (I own the 9mm and have not yet tried the .40) that holds either 7+1 or 8+1 rounds, depending on which magazine you are using. Smith and Wesson developed the Shield to help meet the rising demand for a reliable pocket pistol that is easy to conceal and not a pain to shoot, literally. And they succeeded brilliantly on both counts.

Most importantly for an EDC pistol, I have found the Shield to be entirely reliable.  I’ve not yet experienced a single malfunction despite having close to 2,000 rounds through it.

Additionally, the Shield is amazingly easy to carry, especially considering its caliber and capacity. Even more remarkable when you take into account that apparently most women’s clothes are made for impractical, tiny-handed super-models who spend all day sitting around doing nothing but looking pretty. You know what I mean, ladies. Happily, the slim width (Smith clocks it at .95 of an inch)  causes it to nearly disappear even under a thin t-shirt. That, coupled with its compact size, produces an ideal pistol for inside-the-waistband carry. Even sitting down, the Shield doesn’t make you overtly aware of its presence. Which is good, because as we all know, if you have a gun that is uncomfortable to carry, or you can’t wear it with the majority of your clothes, you just won’t carry it.

There is more to an EDC pistol than just ease of carry and concealment, though. It is paramount to practice regularly with your gun, so you are familiar with the controls, grip and trigger. I very much enjoy practicing, (I’m a sucker for repetitive tasks), but shooting some of the smaller subcompact guns on the market can be frustrating and even painful, due to the reduced size and weight, heavy trigger pull and intense recoil. I’ve shot both the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard in .380 and the Ruger LCP and immediately discounted both of them as potential carry pistols due to the factors mentioned above. On the other hand, every time I go to the range, I end up buying a box of 9mm ammo because I just can’t leave without running a couple of mags through the Shield (at least that’s what I tell myself right before I blow through all 50 rounds). The Shield is tremendously accurate, the recoil is minimal for such a light gun, and the trigger reset is nothing short of sublime. Seriously, if you’re ever given the opportunity to pull the trigger on one of these little guys, do it. I’m pretty sure you’ll be reassessing your gun-buying budget post-haste.

While the Shield is a winner overall, there are definitely a few things that could be better. One of my biggest annoyances about this gun is the 7 round magazine. I find it  difficult to both load and seat into the gun. At first, I thought this might be a break-in issue, and would resolve itself over time. However, nearly 4 months later, my concerns are still present. The spring inside of the magazine is tremendously stiff making it cumbersome to load the rounds. Once it is loaded, I find that I am rarely able to seat it properly on the first try, not matter how much strength I apply. I almost always have to insert the mag and then give it another tap to push it into place. I don’t have either of these problems with the extended magazine. Mostly this is fine, since I prefer the higher capacity anyway, however sometimes it is easier to conceal with the shorter mag.

Appendix carry perfection. The Shield in a PHLster Skeleton holster.

Other perplexing issues: why is the safety minuscule and impossible to operate? And why even put a safety on it if you’re going to give it a six-and-a-half pound trigger? I have totally abandoned any hope of ever using the safety on this gun because I can’t actuate the darned thing without squinting and struggling. I am also seriously considering doing a trigger job on it to lighten the pull. While I love the crispness and reset, I find the weight to be a bit of nuisance. I very much like the Apex Tactical five-and-a-half pound trigger for M&Ps, so I think that might be next on my to-do list.

Final verdict—if you want to carry, but would prefer to not lug around a full-size firearm, choose the M&P Shield. The price is right, so you will definitely feel like you got a bargain when you realize how awesome it is. Also, it is really manageable to operate and take down, which means it’s a good gun to learn the basics with. You won’t find a lot of confusing controls or extraneous features, and taking it apart to clean it is almost as easy as taking apart a Glock. Unlike a Glock, however you will actually want to take your Shield to the range and shoot it.

In the interest of fairness and full disclosure, Brandon over at Monderno did experience a problem with his Shield that rendered it unusable and required a trip back to Smith and Wesson for repair.  Read more on that here.