Sunday, November 12, 2006

Saturday Gunblogging: Summer Love

"Saturday Gunblogging" posts are posts with which I indulge myself by talking about (usually) the equipment of the shooting sports. These are often topics extensively covered elsewhere in the gun world, but whatever; I like talking about 'em.

Yeah, I know, it's Sunday, but being in the stands for an SEC football game (see below) is, I believe, a daggum good excuse for being away from the computers. Better late than never, eh? Anyway, lately I've been thinking about a new, preferably brand-new, summer/lightweight/smallish concealed-carry handgun. Yeah, I know it's November, but hey, no time like the present to start thinking about these things.

Living in Georgia forces a major, unalterable, and rather glaringly obvious, condition into my concealed carry choices: it's too hot and humid to easily wear clothing suitable for concealing any sort of large or medium framed handgun. I'm a pretty big guy (6'1", 240, big shoulders) but my preferred carry gun, a Colt Commander (see the end of this post) is just a bit too large to easily carry unnoticed under an un-tucked polo, golf shirt, etc., especially since I like to carry it outside the waistband. So when conditions force me to go a bit smaller, I've been using a semi-borrowed (long story) blued aluminum-framed S&W 2" barreled J-Frame loaded with either .38 Special +P 125 or 158 grain. It's a nice piece that's loaded fairly well, but it's really TOO small, better suited as a backup gun or for those times when carrying a piece is socially verboten, like a wedding (unless you're the father of the bride, but then you really should be carrying a shotgun for the sake of tradition), church, etc. I could carry something bigger for those events, but I'd feel a little guilty sitting next to, say, the 80 year old aunt of the groom while packing a Colt .45 under my suit jacket. Events like that are perfect for a snubbie. Besides, that sub-2" barrel doesn't do much for accuracy out beyond 5 yards, unless I put about a million rounds down the practice range.

No, what I need is something between a full/service-sized pistol and a tiny little revolver. It's not like there's a dearth of medium-framed autos or revolvers out there, but I'm a bit discerning in my tastes, so here's my criteria:
1)It has to be reliable, without question,
2) It has to conceal fairly well,
3) It can't be too heavy, but it shouldn't be so light that I can't use full-power loads,
4) It has to be chambered in a reasonably-powered centerfire cartridge,
5) It has to have some style, look good, etc. (that takes GLOCK's out of the equation)
So with that in mind, I put my gunny thinking cap (seriously, it's a hat with the logo of my "home" range/gun shop) on and started going through my choices, narrowing it down to two semi-automatics and two revolvers. . . kinda.

Auto #1: Kahr K40
I've loved this little pistol since the Father of Garm bought one awhile back for exactly the same reason that prompted this post. Wonderfully comfortable grips, beautifully finished stainless steel, just the right amount of heft, but not enough weight to bother while carrying. It's chambered in .40 S&W, which, while having a little bit of "pop" in the hand, has plenty of street and lab proven power downrange. Accurate? You better believe it. The first time I shot it, I was frankly amazed at the accuracy (the polygonal rifling in the barrel is the main factor for this), and even now when F.o.G. let's my dirty mitts touch the K40, it's a little amazing how well fitted and accurate it is. The trigger is very smooth, with the same length of pull on every shot, no creep, and a slight tightening toward the end of the pull. Think about a really smooth old S&W revolver DA trigger; that's about where the Kahr is, especially once it gets broken in. Durability? Well, it's still fairly new (the gun world often measures model longevity in decades), and I have heard of a few incidents, but they were with the polymer-framed versions and besides, I always take internet complaints with a rather large grain of salt. Sorry about the picture quality, by the way, but it was a quick n' dirty find.

Auto #2: SiGARMS P229 SAS
I've liked this little guy for quite awhile. One of the latest versions of the venerable SiG 220/226/229 series, which means it has quite a bit of "real-world" reliability testing behind it. Plus, it's a SiG, so you KNOW it's accurate. Also chambered in .40 S&W, I have nothing to concern myself with in the power category. I've only had the opportunity to dry-fire, but it does have a pretty nice trigger pull, though things do change when there's a round in the chamber. I love the two-tone stainless finish, and the "melted" treatment on the frame and slide make it both easy to conceal (hard edges "print" through clothes more than rounded edges) and more (to my eyes) aesthetically pleasing. Plus, wraparound wood grips! SWEET! It's only slightly more expensive and, in my opinion, somewhat better looking than the Kahr. However, this 229 is slightly wider than the K40. I think if my choice came down to these two, it'd really depend on what kind of deal price-wise I could get.

Revolver #1a: Ruger SP101 (KSP-331X)
This is one of those handguns I keep coming back to when thinking about a summer gun. Reliable without question, the timeless beauty of a stainless-steel six shooter, and a lower price than the two autos above. It's chambered in the venerable .357 Magnum, though of course .38 Special (standard, +P, and +P+) can also be loaded, as full-house Magnum loads are a bit stout. It's accurate, it's weight and balance are just about perfect, and it's fairly easy to conceal under a shirt, especially as I can carry one of these inside the waistband comfortably. I love Ruger revolvers; you just can't break the damn things. I'm really leaning toward one of these. However, there is Revolver 1b to consider:

Revolver #1b: Gemini Customs SP101 (third item down)
I lust after this pistol. There's no other way to say it. It's the same SP101 as above, but customized into a work of art: hard chrome finished, ported barrel (aids in recoil reduction), gorgeous grips, action job (stock Ruger triggers are consistent and creep-free, but a tad on the heavy side), a bobbed hammer (which I really like, as a hammer has the potential to snag on a shirt at a very bad time), and a bunch of other custom touches. This is one beautiful custom. I want one. Badly. The price tag of $550.00 (not including the gun itself; that's 550 for the custom work) is a bit steep for a small/medium frame revolver, but damn, it's worth it, and really isn't that bad, as custom guns go. I don't know if I'd be able to afford it before next spring/summer, but I'll sure be pinching pennies in a valiant attempt. Even if I can't get one anytime soon, this bad boy is on the "Must-have-before-I-die" list.

Although I'd be well-served by any of the above pistols, hopefully that custom SP101 will find a home on my belt when the weather warms up. Whichever way it turns out, it looks like I'll be giving a range report on a new summer carry piece next spring. Stay tuned, keep 'em in the X, and be safe.

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