Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Time for A New Multi-Tool

   I started carrying my Eddie Bauer multi-tool regularly about a week ago. I had used it off and on over the last few weeks while doing various projects around the yard (e.g. landscape wall building, chicken coop retrofitting, paver setting, and well, just getting the nozel off the end of our new non-ergonomic male fitting on our garden hose). I started carrying it everyday, because: (1) it doesn't weigh that much, (2) it weighs less than my Ruger P95 but as much as a paperweight (I'm trying to prove a point to myself), and (3) who knows when you'll need a set of pliers.
   I received my Eddie Bauer 11-function multi-tool as a stocking stuffer a couple years ago. I probably would have ended up with a Coleman equivalent, but I fell for the the bonus flashlight. The tiny flashlight is convenient, but I never planned on replacing the four costly button cells, which are almost dead.
   One of the grip/accent-pieces disappeared a few months ago, so I was loosing faith in its durability.
   Then I started to use the blades to cut stuff - twine, primarily. Memories of my father-in-law's nerve-damaging accident with his company's promo pocketknife (which I had carried the same model until losing it in a swimming pool) came to mind.
   You saw, the blades do not lock in place or even have any tension that holds them in place, and neither do any of the other tools. The only usable stability is when the multi-tool is in the form of pliers.
   Though it was worth it at about $18, including tools that function adequately, I don't feel comfortable with those blades flapping around. Also, I've pinched my fingers multiple times with the screwdrivers.
   I went to the source - Leatherman - and discovered the Skeletool. I'm this --> || close to ordering one.
UPDATE: I don't have to worry about the blades flapping around anymore, because they fell out. I guess that a little tool maintenance would have prevented that, but I never thought I would have to tightened the screws on a "pocket knife." Lesson learned - even more!

 UPDATE: HOLY CRAP! While on my Independence Day weekend camping trip, all of the other tools fell out of the other side of my multi tool. And that side was tight before I left for the weekend. I'm glad I took my Swiss Army Champion as backup - the original multi tool.

Virtual Gunsmith

Being a bookworm that is not fully participating in the real world, I was excited when I saw that The Truth About Guns blog was reviewing some new software. But it turns about that "Ghost Recon: Future Soldier" just has features where you can build up an AR. Not really gunsmithing. Where's the end-user-friendly CAD software that I can design my next pistol and email the file to a machine shop? Real gun geeks would be looking for that.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Insane Classification Systems: Handguns

Handgun Size - Pocket, Subcompact, Compact, Service, Tactical

My favorite size difference is between Service and Tactical pistols. Springfield has made the most cut and dry division between the two, in my opinion. A Service XD has a full-size grip, a double-stack magazine, and a four-inch barrel. A Tactical XD is the same but with a five-inch barrel.

But what is "Service?" "Police Service?" What is "Tactical?" "Police Tactical?" So a police department's Tactical would be a military's Service, and a military's Compact would be a police department's Service. Uh, well, I'm not sure!

First of all, does Springfield really label their XDs that way, or am I getting delusional trying to make XDs fit my own thought process. Excuse me while I check out their website ... Yes they do.

I am prone to insane classification systems. I want everything to have its place. And because I want everything in order, it might be in my imagination that the terms "service" and "tactical" are used for the above distinction outside of Springfield Armory. STI has a Tactical model in 4.15" and 5" barrel lengths, so they are not following that rule. They apparently define tactical as having a double-stack mag and a "tactical" rail. And I think I'll dump revolvers in this mix, since revolvers can apparently be tactical too. included a picture of the Smith & Wesson 8-shot "Tactical" revolver in their 2006 SHOT Show coverage.

It looks like I have much to investigate. But first let's look at a rough mostly made-up classification system for handgun sizes that are related to size and based on opinions partially remember from many sources:

2"     concealed (bodyguard/detective/chief)
3"     concealable power
4"     service
5"     tactical
6"+   PDW

And since I got so caught up in the barrel-length distinction, I totally forgot about the overall size and weight issues of handguns. I guess STI hints at the overall size issue with its double-stack Tactical models.

Gotta go read up!

 A few definitions:

"Using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront"

That makes roundabout sense when you are talking about SWAT units. They are ready and called-upon to go into "combat" when situations go out of control, or when things are expected to go out of control.

Wikipedia describes a service pistol as any pistol (including revolvers) issued to military personnel in their "Service Pistol" article.

Google provides the following definition of "Service Pistol" attributed to the above Wikipedia article:
A service pistol is any handgun (revolver or semi-automatic) issued to military personnel, or in some contexts, law enforcement officers.
 But that article does not contain Google's definition.


So, is the "service" and "tactical" distinctions purely marketing? I don't think so. As far as I can tell, police service pistols have been trending toward 4" barrels for some time. That's semiautos. I am not sure about revolvers, but I think they were 3"-4" before the switch to semiautos. SWAT handguns seem to trend larger in the 5" range with Glocks and 1911s being the predominate choice [cite something!]. And it now comes to mind that another distinction needs to be made. Police "service"-size pistols are uniformed "service" pistols, though the trend toward 4" barrels has made the same pistols attractive to plain cloths officers and detectives. For example, multiple articles have reported that the Glock 19s/23s have replaced backup guns (carry a second 19 or 23) and off-duty guns, allowing officers to focus their training on one firearm type and size.

Initial Review: Uncle Mike's Inside-the-Pant Nylon Holster with Retention Strap - Size 5

I recently decided to get my concealed carry permit, so I've been shopping holsters and handguns. Due to a number of factors, I've decided to work with my Ruger P95 as a concealed-carry gun. One prominent factor is that I do not want to invest in another handgun until I have a better idea of what I can conceal and where. The process of getting aquainted with the Uncle Mike's ITP holster has shone some light on my personal concealability issues, which I'll touch on later in this review. Also, I like the idea of carrying a service caliber in a service-size gun, since I am not ready to step down in power or shootability. Of course, I do have some issues with the P95 grip, which I am addressing in other posts.

Uncle Mike's Inside-the-Pant Nylon Holster with Retention Strap is a budget holster. You can find it from about $11-19. I paid about $16, because I was combining Amazon shipments and saved overall on shipping.

I bought a cheap holster, because I wanted to experiment with different locations of carry: hip, between hip and lower back, appendix, and cross draw. I had looked at other makes, including Crossbreed, Blackhawk!, Bare Asset, and Bianchi. I was real close to purchasing a Crossbreed, but I could not commit to any carry location.

First, I tried between hip and lower back carry. It felt fine, but I think I would need a heavier untucked shirt than the t-shirt I was using to test concealability. No matter how I canted the gun, the butt kept catching my shirt.

Second, I tried appendix carry. It was the best for concealability. The gun did not print at all - as long as I was standing. Sitting was impossible. The gun dug into my leg, and half the time the gun and holster started to pop out of my pants. Canting the gun had no positive effect.

Third, I tried cross draw carry. The butt printed no matter what I did, so I quickly gave up on that location.

Fourth, I tried hip carry. It made me look like I had gained 20 lbs on my right hip.

While trying different locations to conceal my gun I was also testing how well I was able to draw the pistol. It was an UNMITIGATED disaster, except that it was the first time I was attempting to draw with a new holster. Every time I drew, the holster came with the gun. The plastic belt clip is just not strong enough to keep the holster in place, even when my pants were cinched down tight. With the retention strap in place the holster might not come off the gun at all. The retention-strap is NOT a thumb-break design, so you have to fiddle with it to keep it out of the way of your draw. The Velcro tends to restick once you've opened the strap. I intend to practice a two-handed draw, but really don't want to tie up both of my hands getting my gun unholstered. I was able to get the retention strap to fold inside the holster, and with the P95 the strap still helped to keep the gun from sliding around.

After I tried all those locations for IWB carry, I figured that the holster was worthless for it - between the gun printing (And as I've mentioned, I still intend to try a different shirt.) and coming out with the pistol (And as I've mentioned, I still intend to practice a two-handed draw.). So after one of my attempted draws, when I pulled the gun WITH the holster and the retention strap securing the holster TO the gun, I just shoved the whole lot in my front pants pocket. Hmm! It printed a little bit more that all the crap I carry in my pockets (e.g. cellphone, keys, change, pens). And with a shirt untucked it was barely noticeable. And that was while I was wearing run-of-the-mill dress pants. Then I tried cargo shorts. I had to cant the pistol forward to completely conceal it, whether my shirt was tucked or untucked. Food for thought: Full-size "service" pistol pocket carry!?!

I have decided to forget about reholstering a firearm while the holster is still in my pants. This holster completely collapses. I am afraid that I would shoot myself. Reholstering was ALMOST a nonissue for me. If I have to defend myself I would not care about reholstering.  But I want to compete in IDPA with the holster I'll conceal carry. I doubt this holster will fill those two roles.

PACKAGING: The holster comes in a nice plastic bag with a ZipLok-style closure that broke when I initially opened the bag.

DOCUMENTATION: Still haven't read it. But when I bought the pistol, Uncle Mike's size chart on their website said it fit full-size autos with 4-1/2 to 5" barrels. I bought a slightly "larger" size than was specified for my pistol, because I wanted to make sure the pistol sat as low as possible. But the packaging insert said it fits 4" autos. What should I trust - the website or the packaging?

ERGONOMICS: Felt fine IWB. It helped distribute the weight of the gun, especially with the suede-like grippy texture on the outside. The retention strap didn't work for me. It just got in the way. If anything, I'll tuck it inside - and with my gun it helps hold the gun in place. My opinion is that the only holster that should ever try to get shot off your gun is a pocket holster.

MANUFACTURER'S/CATEGORY'S INTENDED USE: Why manufacturer's and category's intended use? Because sometimes individual manufacturers bow to their lawyers and say a wolf is a lamb (e.g. firearms makers saying that you should never carry a loaded gun until you are about to fire, even though they manufacture concealable defensive guns.). It meets the minimum need of having a holster. But I don't think anyone would accept an IWB coming out with the gun.

MY INTENDED USE: To have a holster? Yes. To have a functional holster? Partially. To have a duel-use holster? No.

COST: Though this is one of the cheapest holsters you'll find, the quality is cheap. I got what I paid for.

Real Time Web Analytics