I was disappointed recently by a fellow instructor who discouraged a former student of theirs from pursuing a firearm which has not yet been released. It was obvious the student was drawn to the firearm which IMO is one of the first steps in deciding if you want the firearm or not. Sure if you are going to conceal the firearm you need to think about many, many other topics, but to discourage someone from considering a firearm you have not held, touched, read range reports on, and fully investigated is the equivalent of poor parenting. As an instructor you should assist the student to the best possible firearm for their budget and needs. Had this particular firearm been out on the market with substandard reviews then my opinion of the situation would be much different, but because the only tangible reports were tactile from Shot Show 2017 and the gun is not on the market, to tell a student to overlook it is bad form. I’ve actually had my eye on this particular firearm and believe it may turn out to be a winner. I’ve been wrong many times in the past, but this one looks to me to be on the right track to be a great firearm for IWB carry. Anyway, if you are an instructor and have a favorite manufacturer do not allow that bias to carry over into the decision making process for a student. Just because I am a Ruger fanboy does not mean I would tell someone to avoid an S&W, Bersa, or Taurus, I would fully research the firearm they are considering and would probably head to a large firearm store to put my hands on it and decide for myself before offering an opinion. There is no way I would tell a student anything about a firearm which is not yet on the market other than to read the articles out now and I will be glad to assist them with an evaluation once the firearm has been released.
Recently it became clear the links to many of our photos are broken. It is a cumbersome process to go back through all the posts over the past three years to fix the issues. In some cases it may not be possible, but many of the photos are mine and I just need to revise each post. If you find a broken photo link, feel free to post a comment and I will get to it. I’ve gotten about half way through both 2014 and 2012 and will continue to work on it with the goal to have the photo links restored where possible in the next two months.
If you feel so inclined, please like our Facebook page. The button is at the bottom right of the cover photo which is the same photo as on the blog.
I noticed a post today on Shooting Illustrated about the right gun for a woman. I covered this back in September 2012 and pointed out any firearm purchase is a personal decision. I think the SI article solidifies you should not guess what someone else will like and use, and the decision can only be made by the individual. My wife loves here Bersa Thunder, however I’m not sure she is quite as enamored with her Walther PPK. I know she would swipe my Ruger SR9C in an instant and the jury is still out on whether or not she will eventually lover her S&W LadySmith. I’m hopeful she will, it is a beautiful gun, but it came from the factory with the action a little gritty and not polished and smooth. Maybe after a good cleaning it will be smooth and silky, I sure hope so, the price of admission was steep.
Bottom line, show the person a myriad of firearms and let them make the decision. Not every woman likes a pink gun!
Lately the trend seems to be when trying to sell something to price it at an absurd price and then let people make offers until an appropriate selling price is established. I guess on occasion some rube will take the bait and not ask for the discount. Now I am talking about private sales, but one particular classified really struck me wrong today. The person had a box of pistol cartridges, presumably 50, for $65. Now to me that says $1.30 per round. These were SJHP (semi-jacketed hollow point) and were defensive rounds with a heavy bullet weight for the caliber. It is somewhat rare to see them for sale, you can purchase the bullets for reloading. However when they are for sale they typically are only $40-45 a box or 90 cents per round. Now I don’t fault the guy from trying to make a buck, but you cannot expect to sell something for more than it goes for in the store unless it is rare or antique or has a particular provenance.
Anyway, my suggestion if you are selling something in a gun board classified would be to decide upon a selling price you would accept and to set your price slightly higher. But $20 on a box of bullets is ridiculous. I would think $25-50 per $300 of item value might be appropriate so long as the selling price did not exceed the new retail price. Let’s say I had a blued Bersa Thunder 380 which I had fired a box of cartridges through and then decided to sell. The gun retails for $275-300 and since it has been shot it will be less since most firearms do not increase in value. I’d probably set the price at $275 figuring to end up at $235-250. Actually I’d probably do $265 figuring most people see $275 as almost $300 and $265 as nearly $250.
So when you get ready to sell something, do a quick google search and price it fairly if you expect it to sell!
Recently on a forum someone asked about a brand of firearm and one of the responses came from an instructor who seems to get good reviews from students, but whom I have never personally met nor interacted with. Initially his response was you could throw the brand at someone and later he indicated the brand was junk because it could not shoot 500 rounds in a single practice session. Then later he indicated he “could remember” three which failed during classes over the past three years dues to recoil springs or magazines. I do not want to say the latter never happened, the gun in question has a recoil spring which must be positioned in a particular orientation and off-brand magazines in certain models are reported to have problems. Also if the magazine is not inserted fully the gun typically will not fire.
So let’s back it up and assume we get the recoil spring oriented correctly, now how many failures? Let’s take it back another step and use only factory magazines, now how many failures? What I believe happened is the instructor passed judgement on a brand he knows little to nothing about other than it is a firearm which will put bullets downrange. It’s fine to say he has seen three firearms malfunction during extended training sessions in the past three years, but to call it junk when you haven’t determined the root cause of the issue is just bad form. I doubt the person making the sweeping comments will ever see this blog, but that buzzing sound in the background would be the indicator of an incorrect response.
Anyway, the brand in question was Bersa and we have one, a .380ACP and it performs flawlessly with one exception. Ours does not like the Hornady Critical Defense ammo and it seems to catch on the feed ramp. Other than that it seems to take any round nose ammo and chew it up and spit it out with ease. We have no experienced any issues other than on a few early trips to the range and those were due to inexperience with that firearm by the shooter. Now can I make a sweeping statement that all Bersa firearms are awesome, no, I cannot. That would be just as ignorant as calling them junk. If all you have is a singular experience, then that is all you are qualified to comment about. Sweeping generalizations not based in fact do none of us any good.
Since my experience is singular, let’s take a gander at a 1500 round torture test of a Bersa Thunder Pro 9mm High Capacity with two shooters and water is poured on the gun around the 1000th round.
And for more experience, one of my favorite reviewers on YouTube, hickok45 with a Bersa Thunder 380 CC.
Below is a qualification target from someone who had not shot their Bersa Thunder 380 in at least 3 months. They practiced with 15 rounds and then shot the 30 round target below for CHP qualification.
After we purchased the Bersa my wife asked another fellow instructor, whom I do know and respect, his thoughts on the brand and he indicated he had no experience with the brand. Now that is an excellent and well thought out response!
I try not to purchase firearms which don’t handle most any ammo you can throw at them, but on occasion you will get one which is finicky about what you feed it. One .380 ACP we have will not handle the Hornady Critical Defense rounds while another seems to dislike the aluminum cased Blazer, but handles S&B without any issue. So what do you do about it?
The best thing if you find you have a firearm which is malfunctioning is to try another brand of ammunition. If that does not alleviate the malfunction then it is probably a problem with the firearm rather than the ammunition. I’ve found most Ruger firearms will eat whatever you want to feed them, but firearms a little off the beaten path tend to be more finicky. The Hornady CD catches on the Bersa feed ramp, so it is a no go in that pistol. In the Walther PPK the Blazer does not feed well while S&B works like a champ. Where this hurts is when you are trying to take advantage of a great price since you may be taking a chance your finicky firearm will not operate properly with the bulk ammunition. My solution? Purchase multiple firearms in the same caliber. 😉
At any rate, if you find you are consistently having feed or ejection issues in a semi-automatic pistol with a particular ammunition, try another brand to determine if the problem can be eliminated just by switching ammunition.
As I have been adding certifications and reading in preparation for classes something dawned on me about the fairer sex, you’ll never quite figure out what they like. I’ve got my wife pegged so far, she likes Walther and 1911 style firearms, prefers stainless or nickel to blued, likes engraving on firearms, and does not like the pink guns and pink grips. I believe we have only found one single pink firearm she appreciated, and honestly I cannot remember what the gun she saw was, but I remember her saying something to the effect of “I like that gun, but not for me.”
I hope one day to be able to offer a variety of classes to women, but what I have determined is you cannot simply show a pink gun or a gun with a pink grip and say that is the gun she should have. Women like a wide variety of firearms, some prefer military style, some like revolvers, some like the polymer wonders. So what pistol should a woman get, well first the one she likes the looks of and second the one which fits her hand. My wife can barely hold my Ruger GP100 with the 6″ barrel due to the weight, but has no problem with the S&W Model 36 J Frame or a Walther or Bersa. She can shoot the GP100, it just would not be comfortable past a shot or two. She had no problems with my H&R 9-shot 22, but did not like the western style and blued frame.
I’ve realized picking out a pistol is like picking out a beer. You have to determine what a person likes as a baseline before you can suggest something similar but different to try. The issue with guns is the price of admission can make it prohibitive to try too many. My wife never met a Kimber she didn’t like the looks of, but every time I tell her the price she quickly decides it’s not something she is interested in purchasing.
So if you are a woman trying to decide on a pistol, first go to a gun show or a store and look through the case and then put a few in your hand to see how they feel. If they aren’t comfortable then you may want to look at other models. Also, just because they are pink or cute does not mean they are a great firearm. Read some reviews of the model you are eyeing and ask others for their opinion. In retrospect, no trouble at al
So let’s say you have to determine the value of a firearm you want to purchase. If it is a new gun, that is pretty simple. Go to at least five websites and check the price. One of those sites should be Bud’s Gun Shop since they tend to have a low price. Now add in any FFL fees and shipping and you should have a pretty good idea of what would be a good deal on the gun. I know when I went looking for a Bersa it turned out I had to purchase out-of-state in order to find the model I wanted. When I purchased a Ruger SR9C it turned out to be less to buy in-state and pay the tax then to purchase online and pay FFL fees and shipping. It can also be worthwhile to look at GunBroker to see what is being charged there, but keep in mind the prices on new firearms tend to be high on GB when you add in shipping and FFL fees.
On a used firearm it is not so quick and easy. First you have to decide the condition from photos or descriptions and then work to price. I find the best place to start is GunBroker knowing the price will be slightly inflated on most items. I also check the Gun Auction website, but their search is not as user-friendly. Often a simple google search for the firearm can yield results which can prove beneficial. Keep in mind a brand new in-the-box (BNIB) older firearm will bring a much higher price than one which has holster wear and does not come with a box. I got a used S&W on GunBroker and paid almost exactly what it was worth when you include shipping and FFL fees. So if I decided to sell it tomorrow I would at least be even. At times you may run into a rare firearm which is commanding a price more than what it should. Since the Colt Python is no longer produced the prices are sky-high and will not fall back to realistic levels. There are published guides with firearm prices in them and if you are purchasing more than a few per year it would be worth the money to purchase a guide. There are also some online guides and Firearms Price Guide is an excellent free reference.
While at the range yesterday with my wife I took her Bersa and ran a magazine through it to ensure the sights were on target. The Bersa has a fixed front sight and the rear sight adjustment is only side-to-side and what we had thought was happening is the pistol was shooting high. My first shot was off target due to inexperience with the Walther PPK clone. The magazine held 7 and the remaining 6 were dead nuts on so the sights were not an issue.
That made me think she may have been having some issues with the sight picture. As it turned out that is correct. Her shooting glasses were set for distance vision and so she was not able to focus correctly. In our last range visit she had shot on target very well, but was shooting with contact lenses, one eye set for closeup and the other set for distance and she was using the closeup eye for the sights.
If you are firing a pistol you should focus on the front sight. This will leave the rear sight slightly out of focus and the target slightly out of focus. Many people focus on the target and that is not the correct way to aim with iron sights. The sights may have dots and if so they should line up, if they are more traditional you would have the same reveal on either side of the front sight. The top of the front sight should align with the top of the rear sight and once you have your focus and alignment then you can place your finger inside the trigger guard and squeeze the trigger.
I found this great graphic on the web of the sight picture with the exception I would suggest you aim at just below the bullseye at the 6 o’clock position.
So the moral of the story is to ensure you always focus on the front sight and once you take aim at the bullseye at the 6 o’clock position (just below the bullseye), consistently aim in that same location to determine if the sights are on target or if they need adjustment. If you wear glasses it may not be as straightforward as if you do not. The best advice I could provide would be to find what allows you to focus on the front sight and leaves the target and rear sights slightly out of focus while using your dominant eye.
As far as my wife, I think we will go back to using her contact lenses until we speak with her optometrist/optician to find the best solution to allow her to have proper sight alignment and picture with her dominant eye.