100 years ago, a child of John Moses Browning was formally adopted by the US Army. Given the centennial celebration, I figured it was time I filled a hole in my collection.
I bought my first 1911 — an STI Spartan.
It was an early birthday present for myself. And yes, you may be surprised to discover that it’s my first 1911, and my first gun in .45 ACP. Honestly, while I respect the 1911 design and find there to be many wonderful things about it (like the trigger setup), well… I’m a child of a more modern time and like my plastic guns just fine. The fact the 1911 design is still going strong today is a testimony to its design that you just can’t duplicate, but there’s no question that like all implements and technology, things evolve, things grow, designs improve. So I’ve really never had an interest to get a 1911 as a “working gun” but I have wanted one because it’s worth having at least 1 in the collection. Plus, as a firearms instructor it’s useful to have one for demonstration, for student use, and so on. So, not a bad thing to have purchased.
Why an STI Spartan? Because STI makes top-notch guns. Yes, the Spartan isn’t 100% in-house STI (I believe the frame is made in the Philippines), but everything else is done by STI and they stand behind it. STI is just up the road from me too, so it’s nice to support the locals. As well, for a first 1911 well… there’s a gazillion options out there and I won’t know just what I really want until I have something to play with. So, get something good but inexpensive and go from there. Thus, the Spartan.
In picking it up, blog reader, KRT student, and friend, Tim went with me. We picked up the gun then headed over to the new Best of the West Shooting Range. First time for both of us to go there. It was expensive ($32 for both of us, but we got a huge action bay to ourselves). But it’s a really big facility and I can see they’re trying to make a good setup. I wish good things for them because it has a lot of potential to be a good facility. We went in, paid, and set up on our bay. Fun side note… someone a few bays down from us was blowing through a few thousand rounds in a fully-automatic something. The constant sound of full-auto gunfire was awesome.
My goal wasn’t necessary to do any sort of real training or practice, just blow a couple hundred rounds through the gun to see how it functions and start to break it in. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation and windage, so we took a few moments to get it dialed in. We tried just blazing away to see how that felt. We tried some precision stuff, one-handed, ran the F.A.S.T. drill, and just had some fun with it. Tim usually shoots a Glock and I shoot an XD, so shooting the 1911 was… different. Tim has a Kimber but he doesn’t shoot it that much, but it was nice to have another 1911 for comparison.
Here’s my impressions:
- Handling the recoil is fine, but it sure makes accurate shooting a lot slower than shooting my 9. Tim and I both were having an interesting time… like on the F.A.S.T. drill with the 4 shots to the circle, we’d nail the first shot, drop the second, nail the third, drop the fourth. Not 100% sure why, but we were both doing it. Maybe a “good enough” sight picture needs to be “gooder” because there was a lot of front sight bouncing around just due to more recoil and well, I’m not sure just how much grip tension I need to properly manage the recoil so it comes right back to the same spot from before the shot.
- There’s no front-strap checkering on the Spartan. Not a deal breaker, but shooting Tim’s Kimber with front strap checkering felt nicer.
- I want a magwell. Not a big IPSC Open gun magwell, but just a little something more because there just isn’t much of one on the Spartan and trying to reload at speed is very easy to flub up.
- I’m not sure about an ambi thumb safety. I guess I need to spend more time getting used to a thumb safety in the first place.
- The Spartan frame is a little… rough. I was noticing after about 150 rounds that the webbing of my thumb was hurting. I thought maybe just the big beavertail, all that recoil force, and it was just pounding my hand in a way I wasn’t used to. But upon further inspection, the back edges of the grip and frame up around in that area are just not as smoothed and rounded as they could be. It’s not sharp, just not really smooth flowing. We compared it to Tim’s Kimber and that was much less of an angle, flowed better into the hand. So, after enough time, there’s some bite and after 200 rounds I had enough.
- The factory sights are good. The front sight post is a little thick and I’d like either for it to be thinner or the rear sight’s notch to be wider. There is some air-space in the notch when properly lined up, but not as much as I’d like. Still not bad for what they are. I do like that you get fiber front and flat black “target” rear.
- Field striping was a pain. The barrel bushing was in there TIGHT and it took some work to get it in and out. In fact, we noticed that the gun felt a little tighter overall than the Kimber.
- The trigger is the typical short-travel 1911 trigger, but it broke kinda heavy. I recall doing some group shooting and working a slow smooth trigger press and thinking “GEEZ, break already!!” I’m not sure if it’s just heavy in general or just needs to be broken in. I will try a pull weight gauge if I can get my hands on one because I am curious what the pull weight is.
- 10 round Chip McCormick power mags are nice.
- Monarch ammo at Academy is about the cheapest .45 ACP ammo I can find anywhere, even online (when you factor in shipping). Yes, collected all the brass from today so I can eventually reload .45.
All in all, I like the gun. I can already see things I’d want to change and look for in my second 1911.
I’m still not 100% sure if I’ll do anything more with this gun, like would I want to trick it out just enough to do “single stack” USPSA shooting? We’ll see. For now, if I can just get to the range more often to shoot, I’ll be happy.
BTW Tim, you are a much better shot than you give yourself credit for.
On Sunday afternoon, Family attended a birthday party for a child that’s friends with Youngest. During the party, the males went off to Blazer Tag and the women-folk stayed at the house and did their thing. Apparently that included playing Scrabble.
The men returned from a hearty battle, and I see Wife’s Scrabble tray is full of useless letters. There’s the rulebook, and in the rulebook it lists a bunch of 2 letter words.
How in the world is “AA” a word??????
Sure, “am”, “is”, “do”, “it”, “in”, and the like… sure, those are fine. But there were a whole bunch of 2-letter words that I couldn’t believe existed.
A joke started that I should blog about it and see if people knew. But honestly, why blog about it when you could just Google and find the answer. And so, that’s what I did.
So there you go, El. Google to the rescue, and I blogged about it.
Oldest just passed a milestone — he bagged his first hog; in fact, he bagged his first anything. And it’s a doozy.
I’ve been trying, struggling to have a weekend hunt with my long-time friend Charles, of Tactical Gun Review. Something always comes up, usually on my part, and we can’t get together. Charles has a deer lease in the South Central Texas area, but what makes it a great lease is not just the property but that he has year-round access to it. Outside of deer season you can go fishing, dove hunting, turkey hunting, and yes… hog hunting. A few months back we set this weekend on our calendars as a “must do” and it happened. It wasn’t going to be just us tho, we brought our older sons with us as well, who have known each other for just as many years as Charles and I have known each other.
The goal for the weekend? Have fun. If we could bag a hog? even better. And while I would have loved to have bagged a hog myself, what I really wanted was for Oldest to bag one. He’s been out in the field with me before, sometimes a bust, sometimes we got something, but it was always me that did the work, he was just a spectator. This time, he was going to do the work.
Friday after work I packed my car with food, some clothing and essentials, a few rifles, and away we went. On the rifle front, I originally wanted him to use the 6.8 SPC. The whole reason I bought the 6.8 was for kids to use it because it doesn’t recoil that hard, shorter and thus easier to manage, plus some time ago I bought a powerful red LED flashlight to mount on the rifle precisely for hog hunting. But I changed my mind. Instead, I had him shoot the Savage bolt-action in .308 Win. My reasoning? It was a simpler manual of arms to operate (no gun, light, etc.), and that .308 would provide a much wider margin of error. Being as this would be his first time, he’d get excited, heart pounding, might rush things… never know. I figured the .308 would work out better for him. Prior to the hunt I had him work the rifle dry at home: get a feel for the trigger, learn how to work the bolt. He learned how to work the gun, but he had never live fired it. In fact, he’s never shot something as big as a .308; he’s had aversions to shooting rifles larger than a .22 LR because he doesn’t like the noise, but acknowledges that if he wants to bag something he has to. So, this was into the fire feet first.
We arrived Friday evening but with more than enough daylight to get us into the blind and wait. We parked our cars, pulled out the rifles, climbed into “The Beast” (an old Toyota 4×4 Charles keeps at the property for getting around) and headed for a stock tank on one side of the property where hogs had been seen. Unfortunately the pop-up blind blew into the tank, so we just plopped down on stools under a tree and obscured by tall grass. We waited. Night fell, but with that “super-moon” out you could see a lot going on, it was so bright.
We never saw any hogs. Some deer, an owl, lots of other critters. But alas, no hogs. We piled back into The Beast and checked out some other tanks, parking The Beast well away from the area and stalking up on it. It was obvious there was activity, just not when we were around. Ah well. We eventually headed back to the cabin for dinner and hanging out around the campfire drinking beer (boys – root beer, dad’s Dogfish Head brown ale) until the wee hours.
After a few hours of sleep we headed back out. Charles put Oldest and I at one of the stock tanks we visited Friday night, while he and his son headed to another area. The sun came up. A turkey was calling and showing and we watched him for a while. Then across the stock tank, probably 100 yards or so away, 2 does. No, 3 does… 4… 5… 6. It was nice to watch all those does grazing, but darn that the season is well-over. After maybe 15 minutes or so we noticed the does spooked and took off. Seconds later we see why.
We were atop a high bank on one side of the tank. The opposite bank was probably 60 yards away, then up that bank 35 yards or so starts a tree line. Deep within those trees we saw all these little black masses running across the way. Yes yes yes! Hogs! But they were way back in the trees running in a manner that took them directly away from us with no chance of a shot. Oh man!
“Son, get your gun! get your gun! get it up! get ready!”
I of course went for my gun too, but I put it down. This was for him. Yes I’d love to get one myself, but this was for him. I was going to be the eyes, the coach.
Come on piggy… come on… please don’t run off…. yes!
We see the pigs turn and one by one start to run into the area. It’s a stock tank. Water. Plus there was a corn feeder at the far end. Food. A perfect ambush spot: at food and water. A swarm of piglets runs out. I don’t know… 30, 40, 50 of them? A lot. They all headed right for the feeder. Adults follow out of the trees but head down to the water.
One goes to drink but is head-on facing us. “No son, can’t” Come on… turn… turn…
More big hogs come down to drink.
“SONSONSONSON! There! That one!”
A big one. Drinking. Perfectly broadside. And… holding still. You see, hogs almost never stop, they are almost always in motion so windows of opportunity for a shot can be hard to come by. But drinking? He stopped, he was still. Perfect opportunity.
“You got him?”
“OK, let it rip!”
And the rifle roared.
He got him.
The hog ran for maybe 25 yards, did a circle and dropped.
High fives all around.
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Oldest so excited. He was wired. Electrified!
I thought he was maybe 150 lbs? But I’m terrible at such estimates. We snapped copious amounts of pictures. We sent text messages to Wife (and kiddos back home), to Oldest’s grandfather and uncle (Wife’s family, life-long hunters). Much happiness.
While waiting for Charles to come get us, another hog came through the trees! I snapped up my rifle and knelt down, got a bead on him and was prepared to take the shot, but a clear shot never presented itself. Either the hog wasn’t positioned well or there were trees/brush in the way. Eventually the hog got close enough, noticed us, and took off running. A second hog would have been nice, but no matter.
Heaving this big boy into the truck was a chore, even with a winch. But we got him back to the cabin, hoisted him up and weighed him.
Just over 250 lbs..
We gutted him (I got more practice at cleaning an animal) and while looking at the organs I saw the heart. The bullet had fully penetrated the heart. Right through the shoulder — and the massively thick “shield” (and his was a formidable one), right through the heart, and complete passthrough. Based upon how the entry and exit wounds looked, it looks like that Barnes Bullet functioned as advertised. This is why I love Barnes Bullets. For the record, it was a Federal Premium P308H Vital Shok (165 grain Barnes TSX). I figure he was shot at about 60 yards, so he got hit with that 165 grain bullet going about 2500 fps and probably hit with 2300 ft/lbs or so of energy, with that Barnes Bullet expanding and dumping almost all of that energy inside the body.
The Rest of the weekend
After we dressed the hog, we put him in a walk-in cooler because we were tired and not in the mood to clean him fully. Went fishing, and Oldest caught a nice bass. Best I did was get some nibbles and got one on but he jumped and threw the hook. Charles landed a nice one, and his son did too. But fishing didn’t last long as it was getting hot and we were all tired and hungry. Back to the cabin, eat, nap.
Upon rising, Charles and I went back to the task of cleaning the hog. That was a chore. Son, next time you need to shoot a small hog. I’ve never shot a hog this size or dealt with one this size this close up. It was constantly amazing to me how thick his shield was. The entire side of this hog was just armor, thick, and very heavy. You need a solid and strong bullet, all hail the mighty Barnes. We spoke with the ranch manager and he contacted a local guy to see what we could do with the head. We’re going to see about having a European mount done. We don’t need to make a trophy out of everything, but this is not just his first but yes it is a big one. Might as well have something more than just memories.
We went back out that evening but we didn’t see anything. Charles and his son did have an opportunity, but the hog ran off and they were unable to connect on the running shot (it’s not easy). Oh and Charles’ son had a bummer earlier. While we were cleaning the hog, Charles’ son was still out in the field. Hogs came by, he stalked up, knelt and took aim and… click. The round didn’t go off. Bad primer? hard primer? who knows, but no bang. He was quick enough to work the bolt and chamber a new round, but alas by then the hogs were off. Bummer that he didn’t get the shot off, but he did everything right from staying in the field to stalking to remedying the malfunction. I say that’s well-worthy of praise!
Had to get home early on Sunday so we left before sunrise, leaving Charles and his son sleeping in the cabin. Bummer we had to go so soon, but we were both tired and drained and ready for a shower. Charles has the bigger cooler and will drop the meat off on his way home. I’ll take it to the butcher in a few days and we’ll have lots of sausage in the freezer.
I’m so happy.
Oh sure, if I bagged one that’d be nice… but this was so much better. It’s great to see my Son so excited, so ready, so happy. But also, so disciplined. He took instruction from me so well, from studying anatomy charts, to listening to me talking about visualizing success, imagining the hog there, calming yourself, finding the target (“Aim small, miss small, right Dad?”), don’t take too long but also don’t rush it, smooth trigger press. He did everything right, and it paid off.
What all did he take from this? I don’t know. He doesn’t really know either, other than the immediate payoff of the joy of the accomplishment along with lots of meat. As his uncle congratulated him, “You put dinner, lunch, and breakfast on the table!”. I’m thinking more about the long-term. Will there be something in his life that will be able to be traced back to this weekend, to that moment? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Meantime, I have guns to clean. It’s all sandy out there and there’s grit and sand in everything. You work the bolt on that rifle and it just grinds and makes me cringe. I can’t expand/collapse the stock on my 6.8 without it sounding like sandpaper. I think that was the only bummer of the weekend was all the sand and dust everywhere.
I must give big thanx to Charles. His support and generosity made this all possible. Thank you, my friend. Y’all go visit and support his site, Tactical Gun Review.
Son, you did good. I’m proud of you.
Yesterday was crazy, in a good way.
Remember Sneeze, the rescued duck? He’s now living at Crazy K Farm. Ever since Sneeze’s relocation, the kids have wanted to go back and visit. Heck, Wife and I have wanted to go back and visit as well, since we didn’t get a chance to see the farm in the daylight (and it’s our not-so-secret dream to move to the country, so this is just more fuel for that fire). Not to mention, we’re getting to know Tobi and her crew of her daughter and “Long-Suffering Husband”, and they pretty cool people.
So yesterday we packed everyone (Sasha too) into the car and headed down to the farm to spend some time. When we arrived we got a tour of the property, with the highlight being the finding of Sneeze. Both Sneeze and Squirt look great, better than when they were living here. But that stands to reason, because they’re in an environment of care. Sure, we did our best to care for them, but there’s only so much we’re able to do… the overall environment around here isn’t as friendly and welcoming as being on a dedicated farm. In fact, we were floored at the Muscovy’s we saw at the farm. More varieties, like chocolate ones… some of whom even looked golden. They were simply beautiful birds. But there’s more than Muscovy’s at the farm: a few varieties of goats, geese, other ducks, lots of chickens, guineas, 4 horses and 2 donkeys, and a bunch of livestock guardian dogs. Oh, those dogs were awesome.
The Daughter’s played together, the boys (especially Oldest) enjoyed all the animals. In fact, Oldest was truly in heaven; I know if we lived closer he’d be happy to come to the farm every day to help out. The adults enjoyed some good wine, good conversation, Long-Suffering Husband (Tobi’s nickname for him, per Facebook) grilled some food, we ate, we enjoyed. Of course, the farm must continue to function so there had to be feeding of animals, cleaning of cages, and other chores while we were there. Unfortunately we did have a heartbreaking moment when Tobi discovered one of her best chickens had been killed (we assume by a hawk). There was grief, but also resolve on how to prevent that from happening again (once one of the dogs heals up from his surgery, he’s going to be re-trained to guard that segment of the farm).
BTW… feeding time is LOUD. Geese. They are either on or… well, on; there is no off, and they are loud. Get a large group of them together, and it’s deafening.
Unfortunately our day had to be cut short since we had to get back to Austin. But what a wonderful time. Making new friends is always a good thing.
You may know Jay from his blog, Firearms and More in Texas!
He doesn’t live all that far from me, and so this morning we got together to have some fun! His family owns property in the country and so, we went shooting there.
Of course, goal #1 was to have fun — and we accomplished that. But we weren’t just going to aimlessly shoot. There was purpose!
- Shoot my shotgun to see how various slugs and buckshot behaved.
- Shoot my AR to see how the Aimpoint CompM4s worked out.
- Shoot some handguns and other guns, just because we could.
We actually started out by having breakfast at a local restaurant. Migas. Mmmmm. Then off to the property. Unpack, a little hauling and walking, and away we went.
We started with the shotgun shooting. Again, the intent here was to try out a bunch of shotgun slugs and buckshot, for home-defense purposes. See how they perform and behave. There was a lot of data collected here, so this is going to become a posting unto itself at a later time. You’ll just have to wait and see, but those of you that truly know how to run a defensive shotgun will probably not be surprised by the results (hint: it runs counter to “conventional wisdom”). Updated: the data is up!
We switched to shooting handguns for a bit. I shot his Glock 23 (a compact in .40 S&W). First time I’ve fired one and well… again, it’s everything as to why I don’t like Glocks. I don’t like the crappy sights, I don’t like the heavy gritty trigger, and the gun just feels like a turd in the hand. Yes it’s a good tool. It’s a solid tool. It works, it’s reliable. I was having a lot of fun shooting it at the swinging steel, even tho it was a compact in .40 and thus a little ornery to control (just use a solid grip!). There’s really nothing wrong with a Glock, I just want something that’s a little more than basic useful. I mean sure… you can marry an ugly woman, it works, it gets the job done, but why? (says the man married to a very pretty woman).
Also got to shoot his Beretta 92. That’s a brick. I did like the Hogue grip panels. I hated the DA/SA trigger, but I have to say this gun’s trigger was very smooth and certainly serviceable. It was just a lot of trigger.
After that, we realized time was getting short. Pulled out the rifles. Jay had a Winchester Model 94 lever-action in .30-30. Never shot one of those before but gosh if that wasn’t awesome. One of these days I am going to get myself a lever-action.
Ya burned through a few magazines on the AR. He seemed to like it. Kept commenting about how little recoil there was and how much it felt like a toy. Given all the heavy shooting we did earlier in the day, certainly this was nothing to our sore shoulders. I really like that red dot, but the write-up on that will have to wait for another time as well.
Really, just had a good morning. Good time with Jay, got some good data, weather was awesome. Really, can’t ask for much more in life.
Updated: Jay sent me a picture.
A friend pointed me to this article by Eugene Wallingford titled “I Just Need A Programmer“.
The Slashdot entry sums it up best:
“As head of the CS Department at the University of Northern Iowa, Eugene Wallingford often receives e-mail and phone calls from eager entrepreneurs with The Next Great Idea. They want to change the world, and they want Prof. Wallingford to help them. They just need a programmer. ‘Many idea people,’ observes Wallingford, ‘tend to think most or all of the value [of a product] inheres to having the idea. Programmers are a commodity, pulled off the shelf to clean up the details. It’s just a small matter of programming, right?’ Wrong. ‘Writing the program is the ingredient the idea people are missing,’ he adds. ‘They are doing the right thing to seek it out. I wonder what it would be like if more people could implement their own ideas.’”
The interesting thing was, before reading this article my friend and I were talking about teaching kids how to program. He’s been studying this nifty 2D graphics library and given how well-written it was, maybe he’d be able to use it to teach his son how to program. Maybe, but the problem I saw there was there was still too much other stuff to deal with, like the language issues, because the first time you try to figure out pointers in C/C++/Objective-C well… it’s mind-bending.
The thing that hit me was the last sentence of the Slashdot summary:
I wonder what it would be like if more people could implement their own ideas.
And as I was thinking about teaching our kids I realized what we need to give them are the tools that enable them to realize their ideas.
One cool thing about programming computers is computers are such general purpose tools, that with a little work you can get them to do almost anything you want. Such is a great thing about learning to program. But kids tend to not see that, they just see they want to play a game. So if they want to write a game, give them those tools.
Daughter is very artsy, so we ensure she has a constant supply of art and craft materials. For example, yesterday morning, inspired by the movie “Tangled”, she took some paper plates and painted some really neat stuff on them. We have to keep brushes, paint, pencils, paper, and all sorts of art supplies around at all times for the kids. I’ve even bought software for them to help them be creative. In fact, I think our Christmas card this year is going to be one designed and assembled on the computer by Daughter.
Or if the idea your child has is to create music, ensure they have instruments or other tools to create their music… even software like GarageBand.
The point is, in whatever realm the kids are having their ideas, don’t let them just dream about their ideas coming true; give them the means to make their dreams come true. And that includes a lot of encouragement and support.
Finally got to go dove hunting.
I’ve known G for many years through Scouts and church. He’s an avid hunter and has been working on me for some time to go dove hunting with him. Finally it was able to happen.
He hunts at this property just outside of the city limits, which turns out to be close to my house. I met the property owner tonight and turns out he too goes to the same church. Neat. He owns a few acres and the doves love to fly through there. So we can sit back, relax, and when the doves fly overhead, off we go.
Unfortunately, the doves were very slow tonight, and when they did fly they were flying very high. Still, I went through about 40 shells, and managed to bag my first dove. For sure I got one, I believe I got a second. In total we were able to take home 7 doves, and probably shot 9-10 (2-3 were unable to be recovered, tho we tried). G’s a fantastic shot.
Despite it being slow, it’s not always about bagging something. Sometimes it’s just great to get outside, hang out with friends — make new friends. If we can shoot a little, have a beer, and bag something, all the better.
The cool thing? They let me take home all of the doves. We field dressed them all and G taught me how to do it. Dang, that’s easy and takes very little time. Was also neat to see what the doves had been eating. Most had been eating seed: millet and sunflower. One had corn, another certainly had been eating something in the field. All of the meat is in the fridge, and I know what I’ll be having for lunch tomorrow.
Fantastic time. Looking forward to doing it again!
I know. I’ve been quiet. Was out of town, and now with some time off work for Christmas I’m trying to be a responsible lad and get my chores and other “work” done first so I can spend the bulk of my time off with the Wife & Kids. Blogging must wait.
I’m also looking forward to working on that .223 hunting load, so gotta have my work done before I can play. Speaking of which, my buddy foo.c has been working on his “Hornady TAP Zombie Load” and you can see his progress so far.
Reading Caleb’s post reminded me of something from a couple weeks ago.
A friend of mine was home alone. She heard some noises upstairs, it freaked her out a bit so she fetched the gun and kept it on the table next to her as she worked. Eventually she was freaked out enough that she opted to leave the house. Later she was given advice that she should have cleared the house because she knows how to do that.
IMHO, that wasn’t the best advice. Maybe she does know how to do it, but that doesn’t mean it was the right thing to do. I also don’t think that leaving was the right thing either.
Best thing? Hunker down. Call the police.
The main question to ask yourself is: “is this worth dying for?”
To go clearing the house could be inviting trouble. You don’t know what’s there and it could be a bigger problem than you’re able to handle, especially if you’re alone.
To leave the house could be a problem too, as you don’t know what’s going on. Maybe someone did break into the house and now there’s dude #1 in the house and dude #2 outside keeping watch while dude #3 is set with the getaway car. You don’t know what’s going on so again you could be walking into trouble.
But what if it’s nothing? Wouldn’t that be a waste of time for the police? Perhaps, but what if it’s something?
Are there cases that you should leave your position? Yes. For instance, a loved one is elsewhere in the house and the trouble appears to be in their general vicinity. In the end it just depends upon the situation and asking yourself “Is it worth dying for?”.