September 15, 2005

New Gun Nut Progress Report III

Here's the next in my series of novice gun reviews. This post should be subtitled "Teutonic Target Shooting, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

progress report

My quest for the perfect handgun to purchase started out with the 9mm Sig Sauer P226. i think you all remember how crazy i was for that gun. i'm glad it was the first pistol i ever fired because it has become the benchmark by which all others are measured. In fact Sig Sauer has reinforced my long-standing preference for Teutonic engineering. So i figured, as long as i'm test driving guns, i should check out all the German makes i can get my hands on. more...

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September 04, 2005

New Gun Nut Progress Report II

Me and my roommate Megan tried two more pistols today, both Smith & Wesson. Here's my novice review.

progress report

The first was the venerable Smith & Wesson Military and Police .38 special. The particular model we rented was the Model 64. Someone told me that this gun is used by California prison guards, but i have not been able to verify that information.

sw64.jpgi chose this revolver because it's what i always pictured when i thought of the word "gun." The design dates back to 1899. It's simple to operate and easy to shoot, but i didn't like the sights. The rear sight is really a groove along the top of the cylinder. i had trouble lining it up with the front sight in the low light of the range, and consequently i shot worse with the .38 than i have with any other gun.

The S&W 64 retails for $583, but i wouldn't buy it. Here's what Dirty Harry said about .38 calibers in The Enforcer:

Kate: You're 'cold bold Callahan with his great big .44'. Every other cop is satisfied with a .38 or a .357. Why do you have to carry that cannon for?

Harry: So I hit what I aim at, that's why.

Kate: Oh I see. So that's for the penetration.

Harry: Does everything have a sexual connotation with you?

Kate: Only sometimes.

Harry: The .357's a good weapon, but i've seen .38 slugs bounce off of windshields. That's no good in a town like this.

i heard somewhere else that the .38 special cartridge is really good for punching holes in paper, but not much else. The casing is the same size as a .357 magnum, except it's full of wadding, according to the range dude i talked to. i know because some wadding flew up and landed on my head. i thought it was a bug at first, but when i put my hand through my hair it was like a gray powdery chunk of dust. Gross.

The next gun we tried was the Smith & Wesson 4006TSW, which shot the .40 S&W cartridge. Now this was more like it. i had been curious about the .40 S&W round, because i'd been told that it had more power to stop an attacker than a 9mm, while still being easy on the arm. i found the kick of this gun comparable to the Sig and Browning 9 millimeters i loved so much.

sw4004.jpgi also like the fact that it had an actual safety, unlike the Sig Sauers, which have none.

Megan and i split a box of 50 bullets, and i shot 17 rounds at ranges of 7 and 15 yards. i kept all but three inside the 9 ring, which for me is okay. Then i switched to the head at 25 yards for the last eight rounds, and missed only once. So i'd say this is a pretty accurate pistol.

Another neat feature of this weapon was the rack on the bottom of the barrel, which can be used to attach a flashlight or a laser sight. i love accessories!

This might be the all around defensive weapon for me. It satisfies a number of requirements i have. Good power, reliable (it jammed only once), it has a safety, it's accurate, not too much recoil, has a comfortable grip, and holds at least ten rounds. i also like that it's made in America, and the stainless steel is supposed to resist corrosion.

i don't like the sights as much as the Sig Sauer's three dot system, which is really easy for me to see. The Smith & Wesson has a white dot on the front sight, but the rear sight is all black. i like the three dot system better because i can tell whether the gun is lined up from left to right by judging if the three dots are equally spaced apart. i can't do that on the 4006 because i only see one dot.

i don't think they make this model anymore. i picked up a Smith and Wesson catalog for 2005 and the closest thing they had with a 4 inch barrel was the model 410, which doesn't come in stainless steel. But i'm not ready to buy anything yet anyway. There's plenty of other pistols i need to sample first.

Update: Boone Country wrote a spirited defense of the .38 special way back in 2003 that is worth reading.

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