Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wife and Gun Club

This is probably going to be my weird thought for the week.
Long guns aside, I was raised on wheel guns and Colt semis.  I learned handgun on a Smith and Wesson K22, moving up to a Colt Police Positive.  Then the .45 Mark IV series 70.  They pretty much defined what a handgun should be to me- solid, reliable, very fast from holster to hand and (with the exception of the K22, which was a kid's gun) they made big holes.

Over the years I played with other guns.  I loved the sleek Browning Hi-Power.  Giggled at the deadly accuracy of the Ruger Mark II.  Had a passionate crush on the Sig Sauer, but she was out of my league, far more gun than I could afford as a starving student.  During these swinging years of my life I often found myself falling back on revolvers, like a Smith 686 or Ruger GP100.  Reliable, accurate, and they felt like a gun should feel.

Then the Glock.  It was an arranged marriage.  The team was going lethal. The Captain (was he still a lieutenant back then?) wanted everyone to have ammo and magazine compatibility.  He wanted reliable and, with his bureaucrat hat on, he wanted cheap.  We went with the Glock 23 in .40 caliber.  
I hated it.  It felt like a toy, too light to be a real gun.  The grip was too big for my hand.. but it was a done deal.  The way it was.  And it was one of the things that I might never need, but if I ever did it would be the most important thing in my life.  I didn't like it, but we were stuck with each other.  So I practiced and came to learn that it was reliable.  No matter how hard I shot or how much dirt I dragged it through, as long as my form was good, the Glock would fire every time.  And she was accurate.  If both bullets didn't go through the two inch square, it was me.  As long as I did my job, she would do hers.  It was never really love, but after a few years we got along very, very well.

My second arranged marriage was with the Beretta 92 (M9).  The Beretta had a bad reputation around the barracks- unreliable and puny.  Failed consistently to do her duty.  Fit my hand better than the Glock, though, and that was something.  On the range, she lived down to her reputation- it was mostly bad magazines and I had to ruthlessly cut those out when found.  She was picky and didn't care much for getting dirty and this can be a dirty place.  Accurate, though.  Moreso even than the Glock.  The rangemaster kept my qualification target around for months to scare the locals.
Picky and unreliable, but accurate and fit my hand.  That was enough to work with, since we were stuck together anyway.  I would just have to supply whatever she couldn't in the relationship.

Most people have comfort foods.  I probably have comfort weapons.  Blades aside, the revolvers are probably closest.  Comfort isn't enough, though. You and your weapon are a pair.  Without your weapon, you are unarmed and can only do what meat can do. Without you, your weapon is an inert lump of metal.  Together is all that counts.  Comfort isn't enough for that. It takes work and practice to make that pairing effective. Even more work to be phenomenal. 

There are certainly passions as well.  I love the way the Browning Hi-Power feels, the way it comes up on line effortlessly.  But it still takes work to be good and no weapon is so thrilling or so reliable that you can ignore basic maintenance forever.

And there is commitment: "This is my rifle, there are many like it but this one is mine..."

I was a little heavy handed above, but I noticed today that some people act towards the weapons that their lives depend on and the mates (that sometimes their soul depends on) in very similar ways.  

Some won't commit until they find the one that is 'just right'.  Some collect as many as they can but never really work on any one.  Some get stuck with one they aren't interested in and instead of getting to know each other, leave it rusting in the holster until they retire.  And some, whether it was a love match or an arranged marriage practice, work hard and never neglect maintenance.

I don't know if there is a correlation, if the officers with serial divorces are the same ones that go from weapon to weapon.  If the same guys who notch bedposts are the ones with a room full of guns that they have almost never fired.  If strong, stable marriages are the same households where the guns are quick and steady from long practice.

But it is an interesting thought for the day, and I never would have thunk it without an exposure to the local custom of arranged marriages.


Steve Perry said...

Six for sure ...

I come from the days when the first semi-automatic pistols were relatively unreliable compared to wheelguns. Not so much a problem with a .22 Woodsman or HIgh Standard if it stovepiped or bent the bullet while you were plinking cans, but the term jamomatic was in vogue for a reason. The gun gurus allowed as how you should keep looking at ammo until you found a configuration that your pistol liked, and two hundred rounds without a failure was the recommendation.

These days, combat sidearms out of the box are a lot better, and everybody teaches tap and rack rack and tap drills for the rare time that you get a jam or failure to feed. I'm not a Tupperware guy, but I'm comfortable with a SIG nine, and I've had a couple of Colt 1911 patterns, (including one in .357 Magnum -- a Coonan, and it was Thor's hammer.)

Still, if I had to pick a serious handgun to go where I thought I might have a good chance at needing it to save my ass, I'd go with a K-frame revolver in .357 Magnum. Jerry Miculek can put a cylinder downrange on a target with his wheelgun faster than most semiautos can cycle, and I've got one that I've put about twelve thousand rounds through over twenty years than has never jammed with storebought ammo. (I did have one jam -- a handload that didn't get powder, only a primer, and it went pap! and put the bullet halfway between the cylinder and barrel. My fault, and it would have done the same to a semiauto. If you hear click! when you want bang! in a revolver, you just pull the trigger again ...

Can't get it done with six, you probably can't get it done ...

Jay Gischer said...

I like the "weird idea" of this post.

One of the first things you learn in flexibility training is that flexibility is position dependent. That is, the same muscle and joint combination will have a different range of motion if you place the rest of the body in a different position. Flexibility learned/gained in one position doesn't translate. However, if you learn the method of gaining flexibility, the concept, it can be applied to all positions.

Lots of things in human beings are like that. Just because learns the sort of work ethic you're discussing in one area of their life, doesn't mean they will apply it in another. Because they are stuck in specifics, and not thinking about broader concepts.

So, I'm kind of doubtful that there's much correlation between the gun collectors and the bedpost notchers.

Unknown said...

Like you and Steve P., I started with revolvers. First a .38 and then, because my department let me buy my own, a Smith .357. They did limit the ammo to .38+P. And I'm sure we all followed that rule (wink, wink). Then we went to the Smith Mod 39 9mm. Still one of the best shooting guns I've ever held, but a single we eventually went with a S&W with a higher magazine capability. That's the one I retired with (note: 4 months after I retired, they went to Sigs. 4 lousy months and I could have had a brand new Sig. Bastards.). I worked in NC with a Beretta and now carry a Glock. Whatever gun I've carried, I've always been real, real serious about it. When you get down to it, the use of the gun is just another martial art and if you fail to practice, you get rusty. I can't afford rusty. So no matter what gun I have, I'm going to be as good with it as I can be.

Unknown said...

Oh, and I agree with Steve P to some extent - larger magazines just encourage spray and pray ( the Miami FBI shootout not withstanding). A note for those transitioning from revolver to semi-auto - change your grip. Seems like common sense, right? But when I shot the Mod 39 for the first time, I instinctively locked in my revolver stance and grip. Solid isosceles with the left thumb locked over the right. Immediately after the first shot, I noticed that 1) there was pain in my left hand and 2) there was crap all over my glasses. The slide had cycled back and dug a divot out of my left thumb. My glasses were covered with little drops of blood and a tiny sliver of flesh. I learned to shoot Weaver.

Drew Rinella said...

What a fun thought!

Unknown said...

It's a gift

Anonymous said...

Like the Hoplology guys say: "Any weapon. One mind."

And someone else said (I forgot who) "Either you are the weapon and your gun is a tool... or your gun is the weapon, and you are a tool."