Maybe I’ll switch to Gold Dot…

When I started carrying my snub revolver, I spent some time trying to find out the best ammo for it. I performed some of my own research and trials, additional observations, and this was probably my last entry on the topic for some time.

Downrange.tv has an article discussing the Speer Gold Dot. I like Gold Dots. My “social” ammo is Gold Dot 9mm 124 grain +P which has a proven track record. It’s solid stuff.

What caught my eye in the DRTV article was this paragraph:

The issue load for NYPD officers carrying a .38 Special revolver is the Speer 135 grain +P Gold Dot hollow point. This load was developed by Speer at the request of the NYPD to mimic the excellent performance the NYPD has experienced with their 9mm duty load, the 124 grain +P Gold Dot HP.

I didn’t know that the .38 load was 1. made the request of NYPD, 2. that it was developed to mimic the performance of the 9mm 124 grain +P load.

Interesting.

Now note!  There are actually 2 Speer .38 Special +P loads: one has a 125 grain bullet, the other a 135 grain bullet. What we want here is the 135 grain version, which is made for “short barrels” (GDHP-SB).

When I was doing my own trials, I really wanted to go with the Gold Dots. However, data was showing that it didn’t have quite the peformance of a couple other loads, specifically the Remington R38S12 (.38 Special 158 grain +P LSWCHP, the fabled “FBI load”) and the Buffalo Bore 20C/20 (.38 Special standard pressure 158 grain soft lead semi-wadcutter). But you know… I just hate carrying lead bullets because… it’s lead! So I’ve always used either the R38S12 or the Buffalo Bore, but I always hated it because of the exposed lead. I wished the Gold Dot was a better performer.

But you know what’s changing my mind? All the tests and data I looked at was “contrived”. That is, it’s not real-world application. Ballistics gel is useful because it provides a close-enough medium that is consistent so we can have some sort of “apples to apples” comparison of load performance. And while it provides useful data, it doesn’t necessarily correlate to the real world. But if there’s such real-world data as 35,000 NYPD cops carrying that particular load and having real-world success with it well… that says something.

So yeah… maybe I’ll be switching my snub load to Gold Dot.

Improve your snub sights

A great article from Claude Werner about ways to improve the sights on your snub revolver.

The sights on snubs are pretty bad, and Claude’s article offers a wealth of suggestions on how you can improve them.

Two O’Clock

I’ve been looking to improve the carry options for my snub nose revolver.

Pocket holsters are certainly good, but have limits, such as the pocket itself (positioning, drawing, etc.). The Werner Carry system is good, but just wasn’t working for me. However, the Werner system had me carrying at the 2 o’clock position — appendix carry. So why not look further into that. The issue there with the Werner system was that if I made it comfortable to wear it was difficult to draw; if I made it good for draw, it was uncomfortable to wear (and not just a discomfort, but digging into major femoral nerves). So why not try a proper appendix holster?

Appendix carry is gaining popularity, especially amongst trainers like Gabe Suarez and Todd Louis Green. I also recall that with SouthNarc’s ECQC, they find drawing snubs from appendix to work out best. So let’s give it a shot. I like Comp-Tac so much, let’s try out their Two O’Clock holster, made just for this purpose.

Initial impressions

Wow. Looks like a lot of Kydex for such a small gun, but it’s really not much more than the gun itself. Let’s see how it looks inserted:

Not really all that bad. Let’s put it into the pants to see how it rides:

Gosh, that rides really high, or at least, it feels that way. But once you work with it a bit you realize this is good. It’s high enough that you can get a good grip for the draw and also keeps the muzzle from digging into your thigh so you can sit with this. You’ll notice I’m not wearing it at true 2 o’clock position. That’s due in part to the primary gun that I’m wearing at about 3 o’clock, but also the belt-loop on the pants (Tru-Spec 24/7 shorts). But I actually like it a little more up front like that in terms of accessibility. I did some dry fire draw practice and it goes pretty well. I am a little mixed on the sweat shield… there’s some, but I wish a bit more, but if there was more it might interfere with your thumb on the draw.

Holster completely covers the trigger.

I got the J-hook clip because I figured if I had to tuck this in I’d like things to be as unobtrusive as possible, especially given it’s facing front. Seems to work well enough. Yes it’s not as stable as full clips, but between the clip and just pressure from being IWB, it holds well enough.

Bending over? Forget it. 🙂  If you weren’t in the habit of squatting to pick things up, you’ll have to get into that habit.

Sitting isn’t bad.

So, those are my initial impressions. I actually wrote the above when I first got the holster. I’ve had the holster about a week now.

Further Impressions

So now that I’ve used the holster a bit, here’s what I think.

Ouch. 😦

It’s not comfortable for me to wear for more than a few hours. The main problem is the gun and holster end up angling slightly outward at the top (i.e. butt of the gun angles away from my body) which then pushes the muzzle end of the gun/holster into my body… think around the bladder area. It’s not pressing on my bladder and giving me discomfort in that way, but rather that it’s just pushing into that soft area of the body and doing so constantly. After a while it just gets painful… I remove the holster and touch that area of my body and it’s tender, no visible bruising but it feels that way.

So this holster just isn’t working out for me. I cannot say if it’s indicative of AIWB in general or this holster or my body or how my body and this holster combine. For now I’m going to say it’s a matter of me.

I will say I like the access the holster gives. It’s right there, it’s fast. Yes, I was wearing it closer to say a 12:30 position than a 2:00, and that’s an interesting thing to consider. First, I couldn’t wear it at true 2 because of logistics. But at true 2 the gun and holster didn’t wrap into my body as much and thus the butt-end sticks out and makes printing rather obvious as well as bumping into my right arm. Moving it more towards my centerline keeps everything pressed up against my body and printing is reduced tho not eliminated. If the holster was located more towards the center but I canted the holster with the grip slightly towards my right arm, that actually made things even more comfortable for sitting plus made the gun more accessable on the draw, but at the cost of risking more printing due to the gun butt not being totally against the curve of the torso. I’m curious to try out a standard-clip because I know the canting was allowed due to using the J-hook… curious which I’d like better, perhaps the J-hook.

In the car, a thing of beauty. I’d say only cross draw or maybe a shoulder holster would be more accessible.

To be continued…

I think the Comp-Tac 2 o’clock holster is a fine and quality holster, like all of Comp-Tac’s products. At this point I’m going to chalk things up to “it doesn’t work for me“. I contemplated returning the holster, but I don’t want to. I’ll keep it and see how things go. I’m going to continue searching for a holster that could work. I’m really liking what AIWB offers.

One guy suggested to me to use a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster. I actually use that very one for my pocket carry. He said to use that, slip it inside your waistband, the friction would hold it there. I was skeptical but tried it. I don’t like it. Sure it holds it and holds it better than no holster at all, but it shifts around, the holster can come out with the gun on the draw… it’s just not ideal, but an interesting option.

I read some people using a Bianchi 100. I may be able to find one in town and if so I’ll try it. I’m wanting to try something leather and not Kydex, to see about “give” and the pressure on my body.

If you have suggestions of other AIWB holsters, especially leather ones or ones that could alleviate the problems I encountered, please comment!

Coming full circle

My snub revolver (a S&W 442) came with Uncle Mike’s boot grips.

I changed them to Pachmayr Compac grips.

I decided to try out the Werner Carry system. With just the Barami Hip Grips, my carry loads hurt like hell. Then the Tyler T-Grip arrived. Shooting with the T-Grip was much better than without the T-Grip.

And now… I think I may be going back to the Uncle Mike’s.

The Uncle Mike’s provide almost the same form factor as the Werner system. That is, the width/thickness is about the same, the frontstrap “fill” is about the same, and the backstrap remains bare. The only major differences are the Uncle Mike’s are “rubber/textured” and there’s no hooking, whereas the Hip Grip and T-Grip are smooth and the Hip Grip provides a hook (there are some minor differences, noted below).

While I dig the hook for the carry mode, it’s never 100% comfortable. Yes yes, “carry gun should be comforting, not comfortable”, but having a snub muzzle at 2 o’clock digging into your femoral artery all day gets old. Trying to shift and find ways to adjust it isn’t panning out either. My bit of belly flab doesn’t help either… either how it forces the gun to sit or then affects the ability to draw. So I’m conceptually hip to the Werner Carry System, but it’s not working out. I’ll revisit it after I drop a few pounds. 😉

When I have been carrying the snub, it’s been in a pocket holster. The Uncle Mike’s are a hair slimmer in their profile because they lack the grip hook jutting out. Plus the textured grip provides a little more tack. As well, there’s a little “northward extension”… I don’t know how else to describe it, but check out the pictures in this post. That little “ear” at the top of the Uncle Mike’s looks like it’s just enough to shield/cushion the web of my hand, but that remains to be seen. See, just a few days ago I ran 50 rounds of WWB 130 grain .38 Special (not +P) FMJ through the snub with the Werner System on it. After shooting I realized that where the upper-left edge of the backstrap contacts my thumb webbing, the skin had been taken off. When I put the Uncle Mike’s on, that little ear is right where the skin came off, so hopefully it will shield my skin from future wear.

Another thing is after shooting that box of 50, I noticed the Hip Grip and T-Grip were loose. I’ve done my best to tighten them down, but there’s only so much you can do because it’s not a 100% perfect fit. Next time I use them I’ll use some blue Loctite, but even if that keeps them from coming loose, the lack of a perfect fit means there’s still a bit of wobble.

So, will I keep the Uncle Mike’s? I don’t know. It’s just the latest iteration. I’ll try it for a while and see how it goes. Need to see how it carries, need to see how it performs in practice. I do like the Pachmayr Compac grips the best, but they really kill the concealment factor; they’re great to have when you do a lot of shooting, but I ideally should practice like a carry.

We’ll see.

Shooting the snub with the T-Grip

Finally got to shoot my S&W 442 snub revolver with the Tyler T-Grip.

Shooting it is more pleasant than without the T-Grip, that’s for sure. The gun moved less in my hand, so there wasn’t as much slamming into the webbing of my hand as just with the Hip Grips on. But it still hurt more than with the Pachmayr Compac grips. With the Pachmayr’s you feel nothing. With the Hip and T’s you feel something. With just the Hip’s you feel a lot. At least, for me and my hands.

I shot some Remington UMC… I forget exactly what, but I think they’re 130 grain .38 Special (not +P) FMJ’s. Wasn’t too bad, shot 25 rounds and was still doing fine, but I figure 100 rounds would probably be enough. I did shoot 15 rounds of the R38S12 (Remington 158 grain .38 Special +P LSWCHP) and that was enough. The webbing of my hand was sore for a few hours afterwards.

So… the setup isn’t a bad one. If I keep up with this Werner carry system, I’d practice using my own .38 reloads so I don’t beat the heck out of my hand while still getting some decent practice in. But certainly I’d need to shoot some carry loads now and then so I don’t forget what it’s like.

I like the form factor of this system because of the hook and the carry options that provides. I also like how this keeps the overall profile of the gun low and slim while still providing a reasonable grip on the gun. I’m going to look for some way to adjust the back edge of the gun… not the overall backstrap, just up near the top where the webbing of my thumb is, to see about helping the “bite” in that area. Not sure what to do, have to think about it.

Ruger LCR in .357 Magnum

So, Ruger just put out a version of their LCR in .357 Magnum.

I’d be very curious to shoot one.

When I was researching a snub for myself, the original LCR was very attractive to me. The only things I did not like about it were the internal lock and the relative newness of it to the market. I wasn’t sure I wanted to bet my life on such things. But there wasn’t much question of how nice it felt in the hand and how nice the factory trigger was. I haven’t gotten to shoot one (don’t know anyone that owns one), but reports are that it’s actually quite pleasant, all things considered. Supposedly a mixture of the gun’s frame and overall construction, plus the Hogue grip.

So that’s what makes me curious about the .357 version. How pleasant is a .357 LCR going to be to shoot? Could it actually be manageable? And then, could you have .357 oomph in your pocket instead?

Very intriguing.

If Ruger or someone else wants to send me an LCR for test and eval, I’d be happy to do it. 🙂

Finally! My T-Grip arrived (with pictures)

It’s been a little over 2 months since I ordered a Tyler T-Grip for my S&W 442. But finally it arrived. I was starting to think it would never get here! To be fair, they warn you it could take 6-8 weeks. When I called a few times to inquire about status, the impression I received was they don’t keep a lot of inventory but make them as orders come in. But as well, they try to accumulate enough orders before doing a batch. Very understandable. I could be wrong about how they do things as I didn’t ask about their internal processes, but that’s just the impression I received based upon how the folks spoke with me.

As an aside, everyone I spoke to there was very polite and friendly. In fact, the guy that seems to do a lot of the actual fab work I ended up speaking with for quite a while and explained the Werner Carry System to him. He thought that was pretty darn cool. Nice folks.

So anyway, the Werner Carry System is why I obtained the T-Grip. My Hip Grip arrived a little while ago. Now with the T-Grip I can start to put it all together.

All photos taken with my crappy iPhone 3GS camera and what lighting there was in my office. Photos can be clicked to enlarge.

That’s the T-Grip itself. It’s just a piece of powder-coated metal (I think aluminum, not sure). Mine is a flat black to fit a J-frame. See those little copper tabs sticking out of it? Those are what hold the grip to the frame.

All you do is take off your grips (and you must have “standard size” grips, else it won’t fit) and slide the copper tabs over the frame. That’s it. You do NOT bend the tabs. It’s all held in place by the tension of the grips. So you put the grip panels back, screw them together, and the pressure of the grips against the frame provide enough tension/friction to hold the T-Grip in place.

So why get this?

Because it helps fill the hand.

That little dinky J-frame grip just does not fill my hand. Oh sure, I can put on my Pachmayr Compac grips and they are awesome: fill the hand, good grip, and absorbs a lot of the recoil/shock. But the downside is those grips are HUGE and concealment isn’t ideal. But this? The T-grip helps to fill the hand, and since it goes in front of the grip instead of behind, not only does it change how the filling of the hand works, but it also doesn’t add to the profile of the J-frame, which really aids concealment.

Take a look. Here’s the gun without the T-Grip:

It’s a little hard to see with my crappy iPhone camera, but if you look between the base of my middle two fingers and the frontstrap of the grip, you’ll see airspace. Sure some of that goes away when I close my hand around the grip, but without question there’s still airspace and wiggle room in there. Now compare to the same gun with the T-Grip installed:

Look at that same area at the base of my middle fingers against the frontstrap of the gun. See how that space is now filled in? Fantastic! It feels so much better in my hand. One downside is you can see how the T-Grip takes up some space at the top, where it rests upon the top-edge of the middle finger. That then raises the gun up a slight bit and if you compare where the butt of the gun comes to on my pinky, you’ll see there’s less pinky on the grip with the T-Grip installed. I’m not yet sure how much of a problem that is, as I haven’t shot it yet. But my guess is it won’t make a huge difference because even without the T-Grip there’s just not enough room for me to get my pinky on there anyway. YMMV.

Here’s what it looks like all together: S&W 442 with Hip Grips and T-Grip:

In dry fire, it feels a lot better in my hand. I really like it. But the real test is how it shoots. Since I got the grips in I haven’t been able to make it to the range, but I hope to remedy that soon.

When I shot 5 rounds of my carry ammo (Buffalo Bore 20/20C) with just the Hip Grip, it stung like hell. My intention is to try that again, shooting 5 rounds of the carry ammo and see how it goes. Then I’ll try shooting something like the Texas CHL test with the snub (and practice ammo) and see how that goes… if my hand isn’t in pain. My hypothesis is it’s still going to hurt because there’s nothing but a metal backstrap, but it won’t hurt as much as the Hip Grip alone because the T-Grip fills the hand, I’ll have a better grip, and the gun will wiggle and move less on recoil so it won’t just be freely slamming into my hand. Better grip, hopefully will lead to less pain.

I’ll post results when I have them.

BUG transition practice

Do you carry a BUG (Back-Up Gun)?

Do you practice with the BUG? By that I mean all the same skills you practice with your primary piece.

Do you practice drawing the BUG from where you carry it? Do you carry your BUG in an ankle holster? Do you practice drawing from it? Maybe you can’t at the range, but at least you can dry practice it at home. Can you draw from this location? Do you carry in a pocket holster? Can you get the gun in a good grip, out and on target in time? If not, reconsider your BUG carry location, or at least acknowledge to yourself the limits and constraints of the location and work within those bounds. Or perhaps you just may need more practice.

Do you practice transitioning from your main carry gun to your BUG? In the heat of a confrontation, transitioning to the BUG may involve dropping your carry gun on the ground and going for the BUG. If the S is H’ing TF, I don’t care what happens to my main gun (i.e. hits ground and breaks), but in practice I do care. I will practice this sort of transition over the bed, so when I drop I know my main gun is landing safely. This isn’t practicing so much about dropping my gun as it is drawing the BUG, but I also want to allow myself to know “yes it’s OK to just drop the gun… don’t waste time trying to find it a home like in the holster… the ground is a perfectly acceptable home when the fur is flying.”

If you carry a BUG, by definition it’s a second gun. That means the likely way you’ll get to it is because your first gun is no longer operational, thus transitions are something to practice. And don’t forget, practice going the other way too (BUG to primary) because sometimes it may go that way.

It stings!

After yesterday’s AT-2 class I shot my snub revolver with the Hip-Grips on it.

I shot 5 rounds of my carry ammo.

I shot only 5 rounds of my carry ammo because that’s all I could stand to shoot.

Ouch.

It hurt. Bad. 😦

The first shot? It hurt like hell. The second shot? I missed my target (an 18″ x 24″ steel plate at about 12 yards). There’s no excuse for missing that plate…. other than I pulled so bad because I was anticipating the recoil and associated pain so much. 😦

I shot the remaining 3, and missed one of those as well. That’s all I shot. I had more than enough. You know that part of your hand where the index finger phlanges meet the metacarpal bone? That joint? Their “pad” then on the palm? That still hurt when I was getting in bed last night. It’s from how the gun recoiled and how that part of the hand rests against the hook of the Hip Grip.

You know, I like the Hip-Grip concept, but ouch ouch ouch.

Now, this really isn’t totally the fault of the Hip-Grip itself. That is, the Hip-Grip is really just a bare-bones grip around the small frame of the revolver. If you had any other sort of hard, minimal grip like that the effect would be the same. The small grip doesn’t fill my hand, so the snub rocks around during recoil. There’s nothing on the backstrap, so my hand gets to absorb everything. It just plain hurts. The one thing I can say about the Hip-Grip is the hook portion, the way it rests against my palm (as I mentioned above) does seem to cause me a little more pain. But this is me… I’ve got my own hand issues as it is.

I’m still waiting for the T-Grip to come in. I think that will help some because it will fill the grip out and should help it fit better in my hand. But Justin was saying that really won’t help with the recoil back into the web of my hand. I’ll wait and see how it works for me.

Some may say that the pain won’t matter because in a real situation you won’t feel it. Perhaps. I’m concerned about recoil moving the gun around too much because I can’t get a complete grip on the gun, but perhaps the T-Grip will help that. But moreso, I do not want to practice with this setup (I didn’t bother trying out my plinking loads, but I should have). If I don’t want to practice, what good is that? So switch to better grips for practice? No, because I should practice with what I carry.

I will say, I kept thinking what I like about the Hip-Grip is that appendix location. Before I became aware of this carry mode I had thought about getting an appendix holster and using that. Who knows. I may try going back to the Pachmayr grips and an appendix holster instead. We’ll see. If nothing else, the exploring and experimenting is fun. Have to find what works for me.

More with the Hip Grip

Just did my first car ride with the Hip Grip.

Letting the hook go on the jeans, behind the belt, seems to be better. It lets the gun float around a little more so it can assume a more comfortable position. Else at least with this J-frame against my body, you end up with metal pressing into spots on your leg… like into nerves or veins and cutting off flow. Or just sticking into you and being most uncomfortable. Not fun.

Of course, the downsides are, as I said before, the gun sits lower and is harder to draw. Furthermore, the little bits of shifting around are not ideal. I mean, it’s good to have the gun in the same solid known established place so a draw is “without thinking”… you don’t have to go searching for it. How much of this shifting about is an issue? I have yet to determine that… need more time with it.

Still, it’s been rather comfortable. Sure I know it’s there, but it’s not too bad.

One thing for those wondering.

I don’t expect I’ll have issues with the gun discharging. I admit, it’s possible something could snag and work the trigger, but it’s a remote chance. Still I can’t help but think about it. Of course, a lot of guys would be worried about shooting their manhood. That’s not really my concern. I am more concerned with blowing a hole in my femoral artery. That’s what’s really in the line of fire. There’s that mental hurdle to overcome, no doubt.

The testing continues….