Gunsmiths customize firearms to add value in different ways. To make the gun more accurate. To make it recoil less. To make it fit the shooter better.
My old friend Rick Devoid does those things for customers’ firearms, but he specializes in another kind of added value: he makes them safer.
Many people decline to keep a loaded gun at home or at work for fear that some unauthorized person may gain access to it. Rick is the sole purveyor of the one “smart gun” that actually WORKS: the Magna-Trigger conversion of a double action Smith & Wesson revolver. It can only be fired by someone wearing the provided, low-profile magnetic ring on their middle finger. I carried one for many years and kept it loaded at bedside when my kids were little. We tested hell out of it, even shot matches with it. The thing works: it shoots when its legitimate user wants it to, and won’t fire when someone else tries to make it do so.
Rick also has the exclusive on the less expensive Murabito safety conversion of an S&W revolver, invented by the now-retired Frank Murabito. It turns the cylinder release latch into a thumb safety, too. It’s very fast, and highly likely to confuse any unauthorized person who gains control of your handgun.
Rick is also famous for his action jobs on Smith & Wesson and Ruger double action revolvers, and his slick-up of traditional double action S&W semiautomatic pistols. Finally, he is an approved – and very experienced – installer of the Joe Cominolli thumb safety for Glocks. Allowing the right thumb (or for southpaws, the left index finger) to activate the device, it operates with the same movement as a cocked and locked 1911: up for “safe,” down for “fire.”Rick also reduces and reshapes the grip on Glocks; he did so on my first .45 caliber Glock 30, and made it shoot way better for me.
Rick and Tarnhelm Supply are known for reasonable prices and fast delivery times. I have many Tarnhelm custom guns and am happy with every one of them. Information is available at www.tarnhelm.com.
So here I am, teaching a class of mostly high-tech polymer pistol shooters. Glocks, S&W M&Ps, Springfield XD series, and the very popular and very cool new Heckler & Koch VP9. And what’s on my hip but that old WWI relic, the 1911 pistol?
Well, hell, I’m a relic myself. I try to change guns every training tour to stay current with everything out there. But the still-popular 1911, even though it happens to be the only one on the firing line this week, is like the proverbial handshake of an old friend. Been using one since I was 12 years old, and frankly, still shoot the old .45 as well as I do anything else.
My significant other, smugly flaunting polymer pistolry on her hip, considers it a symptom of fogeyism. I suppose the diagnosis is confirmed. Still, there’s something to be said for the old, proven hardware. It isn’t fair to teach with one of the fancy custom ones – it gives the student the false impression that you need a Ferrari to drive skillfully, when a Chevy can still get you where you’re going perfectly well. So this week’s .45 is an out-of-the-box Springfield Armory Range Officer, which I think is as nice a 1911 as you can buy new for under a grand today.
How about y’all? Is there any corner in the world of the gun where you cleave to the old-style stuff instead of the latest and greatest?
I was tied up all weekend with a murder case report, but couldn’t let Independence Day pass without a little fireworks. My brief time-out of trigger-pulling on the backyard range was with 10mm and .45 caliber 1911 pistols. While safe-diving for the ones I wanted, I spotted a little fancy-stocked, silvery stainless ParaOrdnance Companion .45 from Para’s LDA (Light Double Action) series. Realizing I didn’t remember the last time I’d shot an LDA, I threw it into the gun box for the short walk to the range.
And with the first five rounds of Remington 185 grain .45 hollow point I fired from it, two-hand standing at fifteen yards, I got an exactly one-inch group.
The Companion was a concealed carry design, with 3.5” barrel. Guns that size aren’t supposed to shoot that well, particularly in the 1911 platform. The light double action (about 6.5 pounds pull weight in this specimen) distributes over a long stroke, making it less likely the shooter will anticipate the shot. I was conscious of not having run an LDA in, oh, a decade or so, and was taking care with the trigger pull.
I found myself doing the same a week before, teaching a MAG-40 class for Thunderbird Tactical in Wichita with a Heckler and Koch P30SK subcompact 9mm that I’m testing for Guns Magazine. It gave me a 300/300 score on the pace-setter qualification demonstration, and I was happy with its performance. It has the LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) trigger, which like the LDA is a long, light double action stroke for every shot.
Many years ago, when the great Mike Plaxco was world speed shooting champion and The Man to Beat on the pro shooting tour, I took his advanced class. Therein, he commented that if you’ve hit a plateau in your shooting skills, you might want to try something new – different technique or even different gun – because it will make you focus more on what you’re doing.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Michael proven right. Now that that damn 30-some page report is done, I’m gonna spend some more time on this end playing with that neat little LDA. It’s a useful concept. I’m told ParaOrdnance has recently been bought by Remington; I hope they keep the LDA option.
While I’m doing that, you’re invited to chime in on any shooting experiences you may have had in a similar vein.
The 2015 National Rifle Association Annual Meeting is done. According to The Shooting Wire, attendance – which had been estimated at 70,000 in the newspapers – was actually somewhat in excess of 78,000.
Nashville, generally seen as a blue island in a red state, proved to be extremely welcoming to the NRA influx. A great many of us in attendance were carrying guns, some openly, which is legal there. Any untoward incidents would have been trumpeted to the skies by the national media. Apparently, none took place, proving once again the truth in the Heinlein quote popularized by Jeff Cooper: “An armed society is a polite society.”
Some interesting guns were seen. The long-awaited Glock 43 slim-line 7-shot 9mm was introduced to the public. I previewed this gun in these pages last month, and now have my own which is well into testing phase. My time with it on the 25 yard bench was brief, but it gave me five shots in 2.10” at that distance with Federal 9BP 115 grain hollow points, and I know I pulled one of those shots a little bit. You have to make sure the magazine is seated all the way, kinda like with an AR15, but I’m not finding any other quirks with it yet.
In rifles, I’m intrigued with Nosler’s new high performance 7mm round, the .28 Nosler. A 160 grain AccuBond bullet at 3300 feet per second has a lot of potential.
In working shotguns, Mossberg’s hugely popular Model 500 is now available in a left-handed version. With ambidextrous top-tang safety, the Mossberg has always had appeal for southpaws, but one that ejects spent shells off to the left instead of distractingly across the shooter’s field of vision has definite appeal to those who shoot from the left shoulder.
Next year, the NRAAM will be held about the same time in Louisville, Kentucky.
Hope to see you there.
With Mr. Colion Noir, the face of the new generation of gun owners.
The new left-handed Mossberg 500 slide action shotgun.
Speaking on self-defense pitfalls at the National Firearms Law Seminar at NRAAM.
Forgive the sound effects. That’s just me, bound for some time by a legal non-disclosure agreement scheduled to time out at 12:01 AM on March 20, 2015. Another publishing entity disregarded the NDA and released it early, so Glock took the time leash off the rest of us.
For many years now, the Glock has been the best-selling pistol in the United States, and the gun Glock fans have most demanded is a slimmed-down version of the 9mm with a single-stack magazine, the better for discreet and comfortable concealment. Official announcement is now, official revealing to the gun owning public to handle will be at the NRA annual meeting and show in Nashville, TN next month.
Hear about it from the people who make it, here, at the ProArms Podcast (Scroll to the bottom for audio.)
Neat little gun. More in common with the little Glock 42 .380 that garnered enormous sales after its introduction in January 2014 than with the “baby Glock” G26 of 1996. Shot straight and reliably during the time I had with it, though I hope to put my already-ordered test samples through more strenuous paces.