Ah, yes…I know I’ve seen a bunch of these.

The local shooting range does a bunch of training courses and the former military and contractor guys are way to into the Central Axis Relock and C-Clamp bullshit. They’re not any better shots for it — it just looks tacticool. The CAR “check your six” whiplash thing? Stupid. The over the barrel hold for rifles? Great if you don’t need those iron sights. (But the modified Rambo..? That totally works. Totes.)

Three things make you a good shot: practice, find the grip that works for you…and practice. Think about all those amazing rifle(wo)men and pistoleers across the last two centuries — their stances and holds were what worked for them — but in the end, they shot. A lot.



For the last decade, I’ve had a selection of rifles — mostly AR-style carbines from various manufacturers in gas port and gas piston, but I never meshed with the ergonomics of the weapon. i was much more fond of the FN PS90 in 5.7mm — sure, it didn’t have the power of the AR-15, but for most urban engagements or home defense SHTF situations, a pistol cartridge carbine has a few definite advantages: 1) they’re lighter, 2) ammo is interchangeable with handguns, 3) they’re easier to control and shoot. The downsides are obvious: 1) lower power, 2) shorter effective range.

The PS90 served the house for a decade with the FiveSeven as my carry gun, but over the last two years or so, I realized i wasn’t carrying the FN, despite the lighter weight; my 1911 was more concealable. Also, I hadn’t shot the PS90 in almost three years. Time to make some room in the gun cabinet. I decided I wanted a 9mm or .45 for cost efficiency (and because it’s near impossible to get a 10mm carbine.)

There were only a few options — an AR in 9mm, but i don’t like the ergonomics and if you’re going to buy an AR, buy a rifle cartridge; there was the Hi-Point, which had some real boosters online, but looked like crap; and the Beretta CX4. The Storm is a sexy looking thing that uses M9/92 model magazines, and those are plentiful. All the reviews touted the reliability and the accuracy. I borrowed one from the local range and put a few boxes through it.


The bad first: The trigger’s a bit heavy, but better than the PS90. The iron sights are spot on but horrible for quick use. The gun needs a decent reflex sight or a simple red dot. I dropped one on and I can still see the iron sights through the glass, just in case. Some might not like the safety — it’s a cross bolt and hard to operate unless you’re used to a shotgun; then you’ll be fine. The magazine well is a bit clumsy for seating the standard 15 round M9 magazines, but I suspect the extended 30 round ones should go in much easier. It’s a little pricey at $700 when a el-cheapo AR is running $850.

The good: Accuracy is great out to the 30 yards I tried it at. My suspicion is it should be spot on out to 100-150 yards. Reach to the trigger is about the same as the PS90. Recoil is very manageable and the rubber cheek pad and buttpad is very comfortable. There’s a Piccatinny rail on the top for optics, a light screw-on rail for the side near the front for a light, and there’s a very small nub of a rail under the barrel that after cleaning the Storm, I noticed connected to a long bit of plastic in the upper. Pushing in the front sling post allows you to slide a long, useable rail out under the barrel.

The great: It looks amazing and futuristic. You can swap the ejection port and charging handle with ease from right to left hand. The takedown is as easy as the PS90 — knockout a wee pin from either side of the foregrip, pull the stock out, pull the bolt out. Done.

New CX4 with a crappy BSA red dot scope.

New CX4 with a crappy BSA red dot scope.

So is it worth it? Yes.

UPDATE: I took the Storm out this morning and dropped 200 rounds through it. The old BSA RDA30 scope shook itself apart about halfway through the shoot and had to be junked in favor of a new BSA reflex sight. The rifle had no malfunctions, shot true to it’s iron sights and my original red dot, and once I got the new one sighted in, here were no issues. It is, however, a dirty gun — 200 rounds had me with soot all over my fingers and I could feel the oil from the ammunition on my face.

Lage Manufacturing builds custom accessories for submachine guns, and here they make the dreams of millions of geeks come true with a function replica of the Colonial Marine’s M4A1 Pulse Rifle called the MAX-41A:

Submachinegun component is a NFA registered SWD M-11/9 with an Anthony Smith style Suomi upper receiver. Magazine used is a Suomi “Coffin” magazine that holds 50 rounds of 9mm. No modifications or alteration of the M-11/9 lower receiver is required. Shotgun component is a NFA registered Remington 870 short barreled shotgun. BATFE letter was obtained confirming this is a legal configuration, prior to manufacturing.

The original Pulse Rifle was built off of a Thompson .45 submachinegun and SPAS-12 shotgun. In the film it was a 10mm caseless rifle with a 100 round magazine, and with a 30mm 4-shot grenade launcher. Considering there is the FRAG12 round out there, you could get darned close to the actual weapon…

Arsenal Arms created a “ballistic knife” — a combat knife with a six shot .22LR revolver cylinder inside the handle of the knife. The gun is actuated by turning a portion of the trigger, which levers up and for every squeeze, a round is fired. Some of the game stat stuff is conjecture based on videos on the web, as I’ve not actually seen one of these. The trigger looks very heavy and awkward, so accuracy is going to suffer severely. The cylinder looks like it might be off the NAA pocket revolvers, so you can probably carry an extra cylinder (if you can figure out how to keep the rounds in, and hot swap the cylinder. Reloading looks like you’d have to take the cylinder out, knock the rounds that don’t fall free, out, then feed and replace the cylinder before closing.



PM: o  DC: +2   CON: +1   DRAW: 0

(as gun) PM: -1   S/R: 1   AMMO: 6   DC: D   CLOS: 0-1   LONG: 3-6   CON: +1   JAM: 97+   DRAW: 0   RL: see GM information… COST: ~$2000

GM Information: the RS1 is designed to be a last ditch weapon, so reloading was not a priority. To hot-swap a cylinder, the reload time can be dropped to 3 rounds, to feed the cylinder in the weapon new rounds takes 5 rounds.

(Ed. If anyone has one of these and care to correct me on elements of the function, etc., please do…)

Here’s some vid of the thing in action:

This post was prompted by an incident at the local gun store this morning. A couple came in, with the guy asking the dealer if they had any pistols for his girlfriend. He was looking for a subcompact Glock in .40 for her to carry. The girlfriend, through the entire exchange, says nothing. The dealer had none — they were sold out in the crazy hitting the nation. The dealer points out a few excellent carry pieces, including a Kahr .40. I pointed out the equally superb CZ-75 P-07 Compact (also in .40.) Nope — gotta be a Glock.

The warning bells were going off for me at this time. Not just because I was certain this carry piece wasn’t for his girlfriend, but for this tattooed douche. He most likely couldn’t buy one legally, and dragged the cow-eyed chick in to do a straw purchase. But even if that weren’t the case, it told me — and I had gone over this multiple times with male customers looking for guns for their wives/daughters/girlfriends/mothers while working at a small local gun store — they hadn’t thought a second past the classic “we can’t buy her too much gun” or the “it’s small, so she’ll be okay with it” thought processes of the Y chromosome.

Keep in mind several things: 1) Hand size. Most women have smaller hands than you, tough guy. The Glock is a fine pistol (but, I think, highly overrated compared to some of the competition) but it’s not the self-defense/combat panacea most of its fan base would have you think. It’s also got a brick for a handle with an unnatural grip angle for many people. A lot of women have thin hands with long, long fingers. Grips with the finger grooving isn’t as good for them. 2) Grip strength. This is especially important for the older woman. This can make choosing the right grip size, but also grip shape even more important to give positive control of the gun. It’s also the main factor to consider for trigger weight. 3) Overall comfort with a weapon or shooting. Don’t start them out with the damned .40 or a magnum cartridge until they’re used to shooting and are comfortable with the weapon. .40 — I find, it prone to a lot of muzzle flip that 9mm, .45, and even the bigger brother 10mm don’t. 4) What’s it for? Is it for the home, the car, to carry?

So here’s the best first guns for a woman:

1) 1911A1 (any size or caliber save 10mm)


Really, Scott? The 1911? But .45’s too much gun for a chick. Wrong. The 1911 in Officer’s size (3″) is a perfect carry gun for the purse of backpack. It’s small, relatively light, and can be had in the three big self-defense calibers of 9mm, .40, or .45. My ex-wife had tiny hands with low grip strength; this was what she swore by — both in .45 and later 9mm. If you’re just going to have it for the house, the full size 1911 is accurate, powerful, with a low kick, and decent safety features (leave the hammer down and you’re good.) Most importantly, it’s a short reach to the trigger and even crappy 1911s run about 6 lbs on a short trigger pull, as compared to the heavy, long trigger pull of the double action only hammerless revolver a lot of guys buy for their ladies as a first gun.

What about jams, you say? Revolvers are better because they don’t malfunction! Girls aren’t strong enough to rack the slide! 1) Wrong. Revolvers malfunction. It’s happened to me. 2) Most modern autos function quite well thanks to modern ammunition and better workmanship. 3) That’s why you practice. Practice mean if you get a jam you know what to do. As to working the slide — practice.

The downside: Price on 1911s tends to be high with even cheap handguns starting in the $700s here in the Southwest.

2) Walther PPQ


The Walther PPQ shares similar positives to the 1911. The grip has interchangeable backstraps that allow you to size the weapon to the shooter. The trigger is light — about 5 lbs — and has a short reset. It’s light, concealable, and has 15 rounds in the 9mm. You can get it in .40. They function well and are fully-ambidextrous for lefties.

Downside: There’s no active safety that you can turn on or off. If the shooter is nervous about safety of the weapon, they might want to carry it without a round in the chamber, which runs into one of the perennial issues for “chicks are too weak to shoot autos” buyers; you need to practice running the slide. Period. I’d suggest getting a good retention holster, instead. Price-wise, I’ve found them for about the same price as the Glock, Smith & Wesson M&P, or similar polymer pistols.

Speaking of…

3) Smith & Wesson M&P Shield (or any M&P)


The M&P has all the same upsides as the PPQ, but the Shield is their new concealed carry version of this series. Like the PPQ, the backstraps can be interchanged for different sized hands (making them very popular with the female officers here in Albuquerque.) They have a safety. The larger versions of the M&P have more options for caliber — 9mm, .357 SIG, .40, and .45. Take down for cleaning is dead simple. And they’re relatively cheap — the full-size M&Ps start in the $500s. For the new shooter, especially if it’s for just for home defense, a full size M&P is probably a better choice, as the shooter has a better amount of grip surface to work with.

4) Smith & Wesson Model 36 (or similar)


The honorable mention, the S&W 36 — or any similarly hammered .38 special revolver — is an excellent choice for a beginner for several reasons: 1) Simplicity of use — point and click. 2) You can cock the hamer to lower the weight and distance of the trigger, which is important for the beginner, the person with small hands, or a weaker grip. 3) Ease of maintenance. 4) They fit well in a purse or a backpack, but they are a bit harder to conceal due to the size of the cylinder.

The downsides: 5 or 6 shots of a relatively anemic .38 special round (as compared to the other guns highlighted.) the range and accuracy of the short barrel work against the beginner shooter, as well, and they tend to be a bit jumpier in recoil than autos. Slow to reload, and can be difficult in high pressure situations. Lastly, they’re no longer cheaper than autos.

A friend of mine was divesting himself of some firearms this year, and one of the weapons was a Kimber Stainless Pro Carry II .45ACP. I took the pistol out for a run this week, and while I didn’t put a lot of rounds through it, I did enough to get a good feel for the pistol.

First off — aesthetics: The pistol is lovely. The stainless steel slide and the aluminum frame give it a two-tone silver look. The rubber grips look all right, but I think I’d like to swap to the black and brown grips they use on the Eclipse. It had come with the Hogue rubber finger grips for the front of the handle. Hated them, even though they probably contributed a bit to the excellent performance of the gun. The pistol is a commander-sized 1911, so it’s a 4″ barrel and a normal grip size. Here it is now…

IMG_0146Next, let’s discuss the carry factor. The size is nice — about on par with the Walther PPQ I like to carry. Weight-wise, I was very surprised. The Walther PPQ tips the scales with a full magazine of 115 grain 9mm at about 24-25 oz., the FN FiveSeven with twenty 27 grain about 25-26 oz., and the Pro Carry with eight 230 grain rounds is 32 oz. About half a pound heavier than the other two guns, but still well inside the comfortable to carry all day range. It also fits in the chest pocket my motorcycle jacket — the main requirement for a concealment gun — well enough to be drawn quickly. In short, it’s an excellent choice for carry based on weight to power.

Function: The accuracy of the gun is astounding. For as light as it is, the recoil is very manageable; certainly no worse than any other 1911 .45 I’ve fired. The sights are minimalist — no dots, just black front post between two black back posts…the way I like it. At 10 yards and a steady but not slow pace, I put eight in a 2.5″ group. Most probably never touched paper. At fifteen, which seems to be where I start to see degradation on accuracy for most pistol, I was still getting 3-3.5″ groups. I didn’t try a 25 yard test as I was out of ammo quickly. It’s a blast to shoot.

(Side note — the new eyes [I had LASIK done last week] probably helped with my accuracy. I’m about 20/10 now and could actually make out the 5.7mm hits a friend was making at 10 yards with little difficulty!)

As to the mechanical function – here we run into one of my complaints on Kimber. I doubt the previous owner(s) had put more than 200-400 rounds through the pistol, and the function was still a bit rough. The whole “you need to break it in” thing that shooters put up with is stupid. If you buy a guy and actually need it that night, what bloody good is it if the thing malfunctions because the manufacturer couldn’t do a bit of polishing and testing? I have never had to break in a Tanfoglio Witness (as much as folks love to malign them), nor my CZ, nor the FN, nor the Kel-Tec .32s I’ve owned. They worked.

The Kimber loved to jam up on the first round or two. I swapped mags — not the issue. Once running, it was fine after the first shot or two. the spring, to me, felt weak. The Pro Carry’s supposed to have a 22 lb. recoil spring, but it was about the same strength as my colleague’s Witness .45 (also on the range at the time) — a 16 lb. spring. I had my Witness with a Wolff 20 lb spring. this was not a 22 pound spring. I think this was the issue with the function, which admittedly eased toward the end of the session.

So I ordered up a 23 lb. Wolff spring for it.

Outside of the break-in or weak spring nonsense, the gun ran like a top. Enough so, it is replacing the Kel-Tec .32 I’ve carried in my motorcycle jacket for a decade. It’s not as light, true, but it doesn’t print and doesn’t seem to weigh the jacket down. I’m calling it Wee Jock.

The MSRP on the Kimber is just shy of $1100. It’s not worth that. Find a used one for about $700, it’s definitely worth it. Find it for less than that — jump on it.

UPDATE: My second outing with the Kimber saw no malfunctions, using crappy Blazer ammo. Shot a few rounds of Critical Duty .45, and wow! do you feel the +P with that frame.

I’ve yet to figure a name out for it, since I haven’t had a chance to shoot it, yet — but yesterday I got a smoking deal on a Benelli Nova Tactical 12 gauge shotgun. The plan is to add a +2 round extender to the magazine tube eventually. This model has the typical Benelli combat “ghost ring” sights — superb for fast target acquistion. The pump action is smooth, and I’ve yet to lubricate the thing. There is a magazine arrestor button on the pump to allow the chamber to be loaded without having a round leave the magazine. Total capacity right now: 6 rounds with one in the pipe? It can fire 2 3/4″ to 3.5″ shells. It’s very light, modern-looking, and shoulders very quickly.

I’d love one of their M4 Super 90 semiautos or the MR1 carbine in 5.56mm but we’re a bit tight on the budget at the moment. Still, a great buy from a great company.

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