Friday, August 08, 2014

Boring gun stuff.

Over in a discussion on the Book of Face, I had alluded to the fact that the main reasons I'd switched to carrying the M&P from the 1911 were convoluted and probably boring to anyone but me and nobody would read that post, but a Facebook friend said "I'd read it," and I'm hard up for material this morning, so...

The reason I ditched the hyper-expensive multi-kilobuck bespoke 1911s for carry and practice is because I was getting to the point where I was entirely too obsessed with the gun. My backup 1911 was a Pro that I'd carried for years; I'd switched to a bespoke gun whose build I'd specced out from the bare frame. I'd picked out the pins in that gun; they were the best 1911 pins...

I think the first crack happened when I had a trade offer made on my Springer Pro at a gun show, and my initial, internal emotional reaction was as if someone had offered to trade for my child. That started gnawing at me as I was walking through the parking lot. It was just a gun, and there were thousands more like it. There was no particular reason for it to hold any emotional significance to me; it's not like it had saved my life or anything. Did I own the gun, or did the gun own me?

And then I got to see real shooting. I watched Todd Jarrett shooting like a demigod in a class at Blackwater with a flippin' Painted Ordnance LDA Commander, guys at local bowling pin matches smoking pins with Glocks and DA Smiths, went to AFHF and watched Todd and the best shooter in the class crushing it with junky plastic LEM Kraut guns...

And here I was worrying about improving my performance by whether I had a curved or straight trigger in my special snowflake custom 1911? The variable here was obviously not the gun.

I decided to worry more about shooting than whose sear and disconnector I had in the gun. When I bought the used M&P, it was completely and solely because it was a better deal than the used Gen 2 Glock 19 at the same gun show. Would I prefer the Glock? Probably, but I've made my commitment to shoot the Smith. Maybe once I can shoot, then I'll consider switching, even if it will mean a fresh learning curve. At least it won't be as steep the second time around.

It's not so much that I'm all worried about my performance in some hypothetical gunfight that will almost certainly never happen, but because I like shooting, it's an activity I enjoy, and I was heartily sick of sucking at it due to obsessing too much over the less important half of the equation.
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39 comments:

Trevor Montroy said...

You made the right decision.

Weer'd Beard said...

Also god forbid you have to center-punch somebody, your carry gun might be in limbo for the indefinite future.

Always better your go-to gun is something you can easily get a duplicate for.

Anonymous said...

And this is why I have such respect for you as a thinker and a shooter.

Let me add one more thing that may not have been part of your equation, but maybe might apply to others: if you're so emotionally attached to your highly-personalized carry gun that losing it would be like losing your own child, you might find yourself even more traumatized after a shooting than you otherwise would be. After all, cops routinely take the death weapon into evidence for long time frames, and -- since it sits uncleaned (sometimes with blood on the finish) for who-knows-how-long -- it's apt to be returned, if it ever is, in much worse shape than one would expect.

Maybe the emotional attachments should be reserved for guns we aren't likely to lose to circumstance.

Tam said...

Weer'd,

That's got nothin' to do with it. I've got plenty of nearly-identical high-end 1911s, and if you've been involved in a self-defense shooting, there's a good chance that a $2,000 pistol will be far from the biggest line-item expense.

og said...

This. And it is precisely for that reason i was happy to see thst you thought well of the ppx volkspistole.

Also: supposedly MrKnapp would arrive in town and buy an off the shelf Benelli to do his fancy shooting with. That always spoke volumes to me.

Scott J said...

Thanks for sharing. I don't obsess to quite that level and certainly know that any bit of kit will have little effect on performance relative to the large one practice will have.

A master class shooter said to me early on in my (still new) IDPA career "It's not the Indian it's the arrow" referring to him observing another master win a local club match shooting a stock Sigma.

All that being said I do overly attach to guns emotionally. Even mundane stuff like my Tauri and Sigma. I tend to do it with vehicles too so it's a basic character flaw of mine. Hopefully it's not affecting my improvement.

I will say I won't own a gun I don't enjoy shooting. I could never own something unfired and keep it that way.

Knucklehead said...

Scott,

Just picking a nit but I believe the expression is, "It's not the arrow, it's the Indian" or, as I am familiar with it, "It's not the arrow, its the archer."

Just funnin'.

1911Man said...

Awesome.

Now, will you please write an essentially identical article, in the which you inform the sportbike community that they should stop swapping $5,000 titanium thingees onto their machine, and start paying for track time? :-)

Scott J said...

Knucklehead, yeah I had temporary dyslexia there.

Joseph said...

I don't know why really, but I simply love shooting a 1911 moreso than my M&P, Glock, HK or Sig Pxxx's. That said, my fave is a $400 POS Rock Island 9mm. So I certainly don't obsess over those little things like the name on the gun or the components within, so long as they work over time. (caveat, I have had to replace parts on the RIA with quality aftermarket parts due to malfs).

That said, I carry an M&P cause its dead reliable, accurate and super easy to get accessories and parts or a backup for it.

Anonymous said...

Makes a lot of sense, Tam. When you think about it skill is the most portable and valuable thing a person can possess. It increases your performance with every tool in the toolkit so it is better to invest your time, energy and money into improving your skill than buying an XYZ brand Sooper-Dooper race-gun to compensate for a lack of skill.

Al_in_Ottawa

Scott said...

Sometimes you write things that are too simple and truthful to dispute. Bless you.

Jeff B said...

I remember reading somewhere about an old shooter's advice to a novice about how best to spend money to improve long range proficiency. Wish I remembered where.

The story went something like this:

Novice: "I have a few hundred extra dollars for my gun. If I want to be better out past 800 yards, should I get the XYZ barrel and the fancy-gollywog scope, or the ABC barrel and this custom trigger...?"

Old Timer: "Neither. Get a stock rifle and spend the rest on ammo. You'll get better results that way."

Carl H said...

It's my birthday, so I can get away with saying shit like 'With age comes wisdom!' as well as 'you kids stay off my lawn'. Since you've never been on my lawn, you'll get that I approve of your logic and stuff.

Mark Philip Alger said...

Best example of skill vs eqquipment I ever saw was back in the '60s, when Popular Photography gave a bunch of world-class pros Instamatics and told them to go to town. Not one of them was recorded as complaining about the plastic lenses and the crappy film transit, the awful frame format or the tonal response of the emulsion. They just. freakin'. Made. Images. Better tools can make certain parts of the job easier, but they don't make it possible in the first place. That takes native human ability.

M

cj said...

Fortunately I've never ventured very far into the custom setup type approach, but this was validated watching local USPSA shooters. Some of the guys with the $2000 race guns with every little doohickey on them would do better spending some time at the gym and working on fundamentals than any contraption they could get added to their shooter.

Paul said...

Pick up any piece and ring the bell. I'm all over that.

Anonymous said...

I learned to shoot a pistol with my Dad's Vietnam bring back GI 1911. I'm most comfortable with 1911s so that's what I own and use. I've shot many other pistols but I prefer the 1911 over all of them.
I've owned many pistols, from cheap to very expensive but the one that I've kept and used for daily carry is a AMT Hardballer that I bought in 1984 for $300.
When I first got it I spent a few bucks on internal parts, did a little tweaking, and have a pistol that's as reliable as the ammo, as accurate as I need it to be, and won't be a big financial loss it the cops get their hands on it.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to adulthood. I had the same epiphany many years ago about cameras - after all my bodies and lenses got stolen (for the third or fourth time) I could only afford a cheap pocket - and noticed that my actual photos were MUCH BETTER, since all I could control was the composition.

It's like that with most all mechanical things. Focus on the fundamentals, not the toys

RHT447 said...

+1. I make the point to new shooters in NRA High Power Rifle this way---

If you have an un-limited budget, you might be able to buy 20% of your score. The rest you have already been issued, and most of that is between your ears. You just need to train it.

The more time on the range, the better. Practice the basics: sight alignment, trigger release, follow through, breath control, position. Stretch your ammo dollar as far as you can. Buy bulk ammo or bulk FMJ bullets if you reload. When it's time to upgrade to Sierra Match Kings, you'll know.

Anonymous said...

i gave up on the 1911 platform when 13 various models of same from the most prominent maker came thru with defects ranging from inconvenient to 'blowup in your hand unsafe'…
i bought one of those evil nazi made overpriced plastic lem monstrosities and have never looked back…
it isn't perfect, but it has never failed me in the 8+ years and uncounted rounds thru it…
do i miss my 1950's LWC, or my bob chow bullseye gun…?
well maybe a little bit, i mean 40+ years with a 1911, nothing else 'feels' right…
but my P200-LEM functions perfectly and i see no reason to change…*

Lergnom said...

The replace everything with Titanium syndrome is not restricted to the internal combustion crowd. When we first met, my GF had an 18-speed English bicycle, while I was happily tooling along with a three-speed a buddy had built from junkyard parts. She pointed out the hardcore riders on the trips we took, and commented on how many Compagnolo Titanium parts could be swapped in. The most expensive thing on mine was the Brooks saddle, followed by the Kryptonite lock.

Evyl Robot Michael said...

I bought my M&P because I knew I would never love it. It shoots just fine (wish I could devote the time and ammo to shoot it better), and there's nothing particularly wrong with it, but I got tired of every scratch on my 586 L-Comp breaking my heart all over again. I decided that I didn't want to carry a gun that I actually cared about. It's not exactly the same thing you're saying here, but it certainly reminded me of it.

Angus McThag said...

You're never going to get a sponsor talking like this!

Tony said...

I was hoping you would provide the "boring" explanation. Thanks for the explanation as it provides a useful check on my own process and rationales. I'm always interested in your reasons without feeling the need to duplicate them.

Anonymous said...

Opening morning of the Bondurant driving school, I noticed two remarkable things:

The instructors all showed up driving Mazda 323s, Corrolas and Crown Victorias, without a modification on a single one of them (that showed, anyway), and

Bob Bondurant loaded up every seat in a factory fresh, box stock, 14 passenger Ford Econoline van with students and took us out on the Sears Point Raceway at roughly DOUBLE the speed I’d have felt safe driving in my brand new RX-7.

I believe that was the summer I retired my Pachmayr-tuned 1911, bought 10 cases of WW white box and a progressive reloader, and started carrying Glocks.

FormerFlyer

mikee said...

My favorite gun to shoot, bar none, is a $65 Savage single shot 22LR Youth Model with a $29 scope on it.

The thing has an uncannily good trigger, I shoot it better than any other rifle or handgun I've ever owned, and best of all my kids outgrew it and when they flew the nest left it home with me.

Pew!... Pew!... Pew!

Anonymous said...

That's not boring at all. That and if I grind the front of the slide on my holstered Glock into the concrete while working under my pickup I totally do not care. If I ding the handle of a wrench I'd be more concerned, because that could irritate my hand when I'm using it. I don't hold onto the front of a pistol slide while shooting.

That blocky Glock slide has something of a function then. It better protects the muzzle. -- Lyle

Anonymous said...

I'm probably being dense, but I'm still not sure your blog post actually explains the switch from carrying 1911s to other pistols. It explains why you decided to start being more concerned with shooting than with the guns, but it doesn't make clear why you decided you can't do both.

It's not that you need to justify your choice, it's just less than clear from your post -- at least to me.

Robinson

Munitions & Miscellania said...

"It was just a gun, and there were thousands more like it." The Springer Pro is a bit different. You don't just find them in every gun store like a Glock or M&P, there is a long wait to get them from the custom shop, and if I remember correctly you bought yours at a good price. There's nothing wrong with hanging onto one if you like it. I don't see being mad at myself or questioning myself for not wanting to sell it.

Old NFO said...

Well said, and no not boring at all... Thought provoking though! :-)

Roger said...

I recently changed my EDC pistol from a very nice customized Kimber Compact Stainless II in .45 ACP. (Officers frame Commanders slide) Sweet trigger, accurate, Tritium nite sights and a CT laser.
I now carry a Glock 26, again with a laser and tritium nite sights.
The reasons? Weight, I lost about a pound on my belt, firepower, I now carry 30 rds of 9mm (12+1 & 17)instead of 14 of .45, 6+1 & 7), recoil, the 9 just recoils less. The Glock is not quite as accurate as the Kimber, but at 10 feet it is purely academic.
Regrets? Yes, the Kimber is a superb pistol, the Glock is - - - - - - well a good pistol. Both are totally reliable with never a failure.
I also must admit the 9's significantly reduced recoil does help my arthritic hands. I can still ring the 10" gong at 50 yards at my club though.

rremington said...

Tam this post is absolutely FULL of win.

SteveG said...

I love the 1911 it was the first center fire pistol I ever fired and I either used one of those or a S&W Revolver for decades. My decision to switch was based on several reasons.

Maintaining a 1911 is an intensive process thankfully I could do the work myself, but still it was a pain.

I don't own enough 1911s to easily replace one.

I just couldn't stand the thought of losing one to the 'justice system'

Now it's a Glock 19 or a Kahr CM series for carry and I'm much happier.

Tam said...

SteveG,

I carried 1911s daily for the better part of a decade. I have no idea what this "intensive process" is to which you refer. My custom 1911s were cleaned and lubed exactly as (in)frequently as my M&Ps are.

Texas Sean said...

I wanted to go M&P 9mm but my wife liked the Ruger SR9C so much more and I am a Ruger fanboy. So, it's a great little gun minus the easily removed mag disconnect safety and that damn loaded chamber indicator. I've learned to shoot it really well and get over the fact that it's not a VTAC M&P or a dremeled up G19. Not really on point for your topic, which I thoroughly enjoyed and understood, but with the $ saved, I've shot more, learned more and being a better pistol shot was the whole idea.

Anonymous said...

Like Tam, I don't understand people who say 1911s require a lot of intensive maintenance.
Sure, parts have to be fitted correctly, but they last a long time.
The AMT I carry needed some work when I bought it but I got good parts, fitted them correctly, and have fired many rounds through it without having to replace anything in 30 years.
I field strip, clean, and lube after each range session, and detail strip, clean, and lube the frame 3 times a year.
BTW, all my guns are lubed with 40 wt oil and wheel bearing grease.

BillCa said...

Be kind here as I'm one of those who much prefers a wheelgun to bottom feeders. Some simple trigger & action polishing, judicious spring replacements and you have a solidly reliable companion.

When it comes to actual combat, yes it really is a case of "the archer, not the arrow". Back in the 70's we were called to a shooting scene. Here was the defender, 72 years old standing tall while three 20-something thugs lay bleeding. They'd entered his watch shop just before closing to rob it. The old gent dropped them all ... with a beater looking S&W M1917 .45 wheelgun with the barrel bobbed to 3-inches. He was also a veteran Marine - Tarawa and Okinawa. He knew to shoot & move. The punks fired 19 shots to his 5 - two had Browning HP's - but his were accurate. When we took the gun as evidence he was fine with it, then pulled out its identical twin from his cash safe! These were war surplus guns with actions as smooth as butter, unlike today's Olympic finger-press triggers. His equipment was good enough but his skills were top notch.

Ken said...

Did I own the gun, or did the gun own me?

That right there.