Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weigh-in 9/28/11

Had a crappy couple of days.  Didn't feel good and therefore I didn't follow my nutrition or workout regimen.

Gained 5 lbs.

Now feel much worse.

Back on the wagon as of today with more ground to make up.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bass Pro Shops!

Ok, before we get to the good stuff, I gotta bitch for a second.  The area of East Peoria that now holds Bass Pro Shops has the most confusing roads ever.  Add to that the fact that Bass Pro hasn't been added to Google Maps and "Bass Pro Road" doesn't exist on any map and I circled the place twice before actually finding my way to the right road.

The place is huuuuuuge.


There's a giant 27,000 gallon fish tank holding all the native IL river species.  I just stood and watched the fishies for awhile, blocking the view of the children behind me.  

Here's a moose.

When I had enough of the fish I went straight for the footwear department and asked if they had any boots in size 15...

One pair. 

They don't fit.

Oh well, guess I'm not getting boots.  This opens up a majority of the money I had available to spend.  


I head over to the fly fishing section and start bumming around.  

I had thought of maybe picking up one of their $20 Bugger rods if I had enough money left over after boots but with boots out of the picture, I didn't really know where to start.

I was approached by a John who pointed me in the direction of a complete White River setup.  While we were talking about it, another employee named Dustin came over and gave some input too.  We were discussing the best weight rod to go with and I brought up that the trout at the Hooked on Fishing pond (remember?) were probably the biggest thing I'd be catching.  

Dustin goes "I knew I recognized you from from somewhere.  You were the guy in the corner catching all the fish!"


So I settled on a 6wt Dogwood Canyon setup and we drifted to the counter and I think I asked about looped leader connector thingys.  Dustin pulled out a tackle box and showed me how to use a nail knot tool to make quick nail knots, how to make a perfection loop out of mono so I'd always have my own looped leader connector thingys, and a couple other things my mind was too slow to absorb.   (When I asked about looped leader connector thingys at Gander Mountain awhile back, the guy handed me 8wt fly line.)

I learned more in the 15 minutes at the counter than I could learn in 3 hours surfing online and looking at knot illustrations.  

Anyone interested in learning how to get started in fly fishing in central IL should head over to Bass Pro and talk to Dustin.  He'll get you hooked up with a decent set up and teach you the knots.   Then get ahold of me and we'll go catch some fish.

(By the way, when I told Dustin I had a blog called Intro to the Outdoors to ask his permission to do a little write up of what he helped me out with, his response was "I know.  I've read it."  My brain exploded.)

So, after learning a bunch, I walked out of the store -$110 and +one complete 9ft 6wt setup and a nail knot tool.  

A little over a week ago, the same anonymous person who tipped me off to the gun sales at Bass Pro also left a comment that just said "NorthTrail Park pond in Peoria...Go Fish".  With a new rod all set up to fish sitting in the back of my Explorer and my fly box in the center console, I Googled "North Trail park"  and off I went. When i got there I tied on a brown Woolly Bugger and walked to the water's edge.

Both of the fly rods I had before were older.  Like 15ish years old.  You could strip out line, false cast until it was all out and then fling the fly in the general direction when it was all out but it wouldn't shoot line.  The Dogwood Canyon setup shoots line. 

My first full cast with it was two false casts and "shhhwwwt!"  The 10-15 yards of line I had stripped out shot out and the fly tumbled over and landed in the pond.  That felt good.  I did that a couple more times and then got down to business of trying to catch something.  

I headed up on top of a pier and cast down the bank about 6-7 feet out from shore and after a few strips, I got a hit!  I had to play him to the side of the pier, swing him onto shore, lower my rod down and run around the edge of the pier to go get a picture:

First fish on the 6wt!
He was missing an eye, pirate style.  (Probably why he was fooled by my erratic stripping of the line.

I got him back in the water and I tried a few more casts down the shore to no avail.  I moved along, trying to find open space to get some casting going.  Eventually I cast out and had my fly sitting on the bottom for a moment when a fish came to the surface nearby.  I jerked the rod up to cast to that spot and nearly pulled this fish out of the water:

Had no idea he had picked up the fly.
I kept moving along until I got to a good spot with at least 30 yards clear of foliage.  I stripped out a bunch of the line and started to let her loose.  I don't know exacts but I'd say I was getting to the point of shooting out 35-40 yard of line before getting to the point that I felt I was putting my face in danger of being hooked.  Felt good.

I stayed in that area and casted until my back and shoulder started to get sore, then walked the rest of the way around the pond, flicking a few casts here and there.  

I'm very happy with my purchase so far.  I'll keep you updated on the Dogwood Canyon setup's progress.  If you live in central IL or are visiting, take a minute to check out the fly fishing section and chew the fat with Dustin and the other employees.  The way he explained it to me, the more people we get in there, the more cool fly fishing stuff he can order.  

Who wants to go fishing?  I wanna wear this thing out.  

EDIT:  Clif from Lunker Hunt went to the Grand Opening ceremony Wednesday night.  Seems like he came away with a similar opinion of the fly shop and its employees.  Check out his coverage here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Couple Changes

First, if you didn't notice, Owl Jones made me an awesome new banner.  (Feel free to go to his site and tell him how much it rules.)  Expect a little bit of a theme redesign to go along with it when I get the spare time to do so. 

Secondly, I changed the comment system so it takes you to a different page to comment.  When I'm in between calls or on break at work and want to respond to a comment, I can't comment with my Google profile when the comment section is embedded so I have to do that goofy name/url option.  When it is a totally different page, I can comment with my Google profile.  And I know you guys want to see my picture shining back at you, right?  Let me know if it's too bothersome.  The conversation I get with you guys is worth having to type in my name/url every time I comment if it's necessary.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quest for the Holy Handgun: Taurus pt917c

I love it when people comment on my blog.  Especially when a person leaves anonymous fishing/deer hunting tips for my area, and then comes back a few days later to leave me a comment that says "Sunday's Journal Star newspaper,Bass Pro ad.. Taurus 917,9mm-19rd= 349.00"  (Thanks again Anonymous, I appreciate the heads up and tips.)

So, I checked out the flier online.  Indeed, Bass Pro is selling Taurus pt917s at a $130 discount as part of their grand opening sale.  The only problem was I'd never heard of a Taurus 917.  Thus began a flurry of Googling, learning, and decision making.  To have all this new Taurus knowledge in my head and not compile it into a QHH post would be a crime.  So let's learn a bit about the Taurus pt917c.

Beretta manufactures a gun the military has named the m92.  It has been the standard sidearm of our armed forces for 25 odd years.  If the name doesn't ring a bell, a picture will, I guarantee you've seen it.

"Ohhhhh, that one."

Anyway, back in the late 70's/early 80's, Beretta won a contract to sell a buttload of m92s to Brazil.  However, Brazil had a law that said guns had to be manufactured in Brazil to be sold in Brazil. (Kind of like how guns sold in the US have to have a certain amount of parts manufactured here in the States.)  So, Beretta builds this massive factory with the sole intent of mass producing m92s.  They make a bunch of them, sell them, and make a bunch of cash.  Then the contract is over.  They decide to sell the factory (along with all of the specialized m92 equipment) to Taurus.

Taurus of course starts pumping out m92 clones.  At first exact copies, then eventually making modifications such as moving the safety from the slide to the frame, adding an accessory rail, and increasing the magazine capacity from 15 to 17 to stay competitive with Glock. 

Minute differences

Eventually, they decided that the front of the gun could stand to lose about an inch from the barrel and slide. (The way the barrel stuck out of the front of the slide was goofy anyway IMO.)  The result of this cutdown was the pt917c:

See the difference?  This one has the 19 round mag in it and an aftermarket fiber optic front sight.

Let's take a look at some of my criteria and see how it matches up.  I'm going to leave out caliber since it's a 9mm and I think we've rehashed that I think that's a satisfactory caliber.

Reliability:  Being an almost exact copy of the sidearm our military uses should mean ultimate reliability, right?  You'd think so.  And in fact, Beretta is lauded for making a very quality product.  Search the internet for Taurus quality control and you'll get a mixed bag.  However, some of it seems to be guys that are upset they spent a couple hundred dollars more for a Beretta.  It's hard to find actual documented evidence of serious reliability issues.  The pt917 has a open top to the slide, which avoids alot of failure to eject malfunctions you can get in alot of other firearms.  Add to that the fact that Taurus has an unconditional lifetime warranty that follows the gun, not the owner (as in, I could buy used and still be completely covered under warranty) and Reliability comes out to be a PRO.

Capacity:  The pt917 ships with one 17 round and one 19 round magazine.  Whoa.  Highest factory capacity yet.  The 19 round magazine looks a little goofy, sticking out a bit, but no worse than a Glock magazine with a +2 extension.  (And they come standard at 19 rounds, so that means you don't have to tinker around, taking off the baseplate from your magazine and installing the extension yourself.)  When it comes to Capacity, the pt917 has to be a huge PRO.

Carryability: Believe it or not, the "c" in pt917c stands for compact.  Maybe it should be for "compact-er", because cutting that inch off the end of the gun doesn't make it compact by any means, only brings it down to the size of other full size pistols.  Combine that with a heavy weight (over 30oz.) and Carryability has to be a CON.

  • Looks:  I said above, I think cutting off the extra inch from the front of the gun was an improvement.  I think the original Beretta was designed that way so military operators could use a threaded barrel and use a silencer.  It looks like something the military would use in this chopped down configuration.  I like the safety switches and hammer.  The only downside is the 19 round mag looks crazy. (Which is remedied easily enough, just use the 17 rounder.
  • Customizability:  Meh.  The usual accessory rail allows lasers/lights/etc., and you get can get custom grips.  Other than that there's not alot of options.
  • History/Track Record:  The 617 has none.  However, the m92 (the gun that the gun that this gun is based upon is based upon, remember?) has been serving our military for over 25 years.  Does that translate to having any effect on the 617?  For me it does, but it's not that much.
  • Safety: Take the safety features of the 1911 and the SIG 2022 and put them together and there you go.  It has a safety lever AND decocker.  So you can walk around with one in the pipe and feel very secure in your guns ability to not go off.
  • Ambidextriociousness:  
The only real con detracting from the 917 in my eyes is its carryability.  Since I'm a big dude and it probably wouldn't be a hindrance for me, it's not a big deal to me.  Honestly, if I had the $350 I'd be buying this gun tomorrow night.  I have some spare cash but not enough and the sale is only lasting till the 9th.  After the price goes back up though, it's right on par with a Glock.  If I had to choose between the two at their standard rates, I'd probably go with a Glock just because of superior reliability and huge aftermarket... um... market.  

What do you think?  Would you pick up the 917 over something else?  Ever shot one before?

Coming soon on QHH: PPK, a Ruger handgun, and some kind of revolver.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Need a new name for my weight loss posts.

It was suggested to me by Paul to change up the name of my weight loss posts.

I suppose referring to myself as the Unhealthy Outdoorsman when I'm trying to get healthy, it might be detrimental to what I'm trying to acheive.  Makes sense to me.

So, any suggestions?  Fitsherman?  Buff Bushman?  Or just "Weight Loss Update mm/dd/yyyy"?

Also, weighed in today after doing some upper body lifting and some walking.  Down three pounds since last Wednesday!  Down 26 pounds overall.  On pace for over 100 in my first year. Bangarang.

Remember that cash I saved by signing up at Charter Fitness (cost me $10 to sign up)?  Well Bass Pro Shops is opening in East Peoria Wednesday night and there's a gun show I'm going to on Sunday.  Consider any cash spent.    I'll be on the lookout for:

  • Hiking boots so I can take Clif up on his offer to hike way back into Snakeden Hollow for some good fishing before the season is up.  These are number one priority because I really don't want to turn an ankle or fall and break my femur a mile into the woods.  Is one better off looking for a high topped hunting style boots or the athletic looking low top hikers?  Never bought boots before.  Hell, the last time I had boots I was like 8.
  • A new fly rod.  The one my uncle gave me has served me well but I need an upgrade.  Since so many speak highly of it at such a low price, I'll be looking for an Eagle Claw Featherlight.  If not, Bass Pro has their White River Fly Shop Bugger fly rods on sale for $20 in either 5wt or 8wt.  (This could be a slippery slope.  If I get a fly rod for $20, I'll want a new reel that actually has a drag.  If I get a new reel, I'll want new line/leader/flybox/flies.  I might just be better off looking at their Dogwood Canyon complete setup for $90.  Anybody have experience with White River setups?  I'll have to read some reviews)
  • Stuff to shoot trap.  Actually I have almost everything I need already.  Would like to get a shell bag and stock up on some target shells.  Don't know whether to look for this at Bass Pro or wait till the gun show.
  • A new stock for my Ruger 10/22.  I marred the factory one up something fierce when I was taking the barrel band off.  If I could find an awesome M4 type stock on the cheap  I would be elated.  
  • Spare ammo.  I'd like to stockpile some stuff.  I have like 200 rounds of .22 (sounds like alot but thats only 8 magazines, roughly half an hour of fun. I'd like to have a couple thousand lying around.), roughly 30 shells of #4 shot my grandpa reloaded 10+ years ago, and about 10 slugs.  Need to get some 00 buckshot and like I said earlier, a bunch of target loads. 
That's about it.  I've got some of that cash I had previously thought I'd be using on a fitness membership and a couple gift cards my awesome in-laws got me for my birthday so I'll probably be walking away with a few new outdoorsy items when sunday evening rolls around.

Anybody have experience with White River fly rods/setups?  Also, any recommendations on boots (that would possibly come in a size 16)?  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quest for the Holy Handgun: Sig Pro 2022

The history of SIG Sauer as a firearms company can be traced back to the 18th century.  It's a history that involves several different iterations of companies, all different kinds of firearms, and a good bit of Nazism thrown in for good measure.

Most of that doesn't really pertain to what we're going to talk about today so we'll skip over it.  The important part is that SIG Sauer has been making fine handguns for 25 years.  Guns such as the P226 have found a home in many militaries over the  years, and (according to SIG) one third of the United Stated police force uses SIG firearms.

With such a quality product comes the cost of producing such a quality product (MSRP of $993.00 for their popular P226) .  Around the turn of the century, competition from relatively inexpensive firearms such as Glock (MSRP $599.00 for the G17) lead to the development of the SIG Pro line of firearms, and eventually, the SIG Pro 2022.

SIG on the cheap!
While the slide and rails are very similar to a regular SIG firearm and metal, the frame of the gun is made of polymer like a Glock.  This helps keep costs down and puts a SIG firearm within the reach of budget-cut law enforcement agencies and prospective buyers like myself who just can't bring themselves to buy a $1000 pistol.

Let's take a look at some criteria and see how it measures up.

Reliability:  SIG Sauer has a very good track record when it comes to reliability.  There are some out there who hate on the SP 2022 because it is a polymer pistol and therefore not a "real" SIG.  That seems ridiculous to me as the benchmark for reliability is the Glock, THE polymer pistol.  The 2022 was reported to have 460,000 rounds put through it during development and testing by users who eventually adopted the pistol for service.  With all that in mind, for me, reliability is a PRO.

Price:  As I mentioned above, part of the reason for developing the 2022 is to lower cost.  The 2022 can be had for roughly $400 new in box.  This includes the gun, a separate backstrap to fit different sized hands, and a magazine.  This puts it a bit below the Glock but any buyer should know that some of SIG's accessories are pretty pricey ($46 for a spare magazine, yikes) so it evens the price out a bit.  Still, in comparison to the other SIG pistols and some other pricier options, price works out to a PRO.

Capacity:  I get a little confused here.  When I read that the 2022 in 9mm had a magazine capacity of 15 rounds, I assumed it was because it was smaller and more concealable than the Glock 17 (17 rounds).  However, when you check out the stats (7.4in x 1.4in x 5.7in for SIG vs. 7.3in x 1.2in x 5.4in for Glock) the SIG is bigger in every way.  What the hell?  What's the point?  If Glock could do it with a smaller pistol, why doesn't SIG have a capacity of 17 as well?  Doesn't seem like a good business decision.  If anyone knows why they did this, please let me know.  Theoretically, 15 should be more than enough to get the job done but 15 loses to 17.  Capacity in terms of a full size 9mm pistol is a CON.

Caliber:  We've gone over the caliber debate regarding 9mm in previous QHH entries.  It's a proven self-defense round, leaves the most room for extra rounds in a magazine, and is the lowest caliber accepted for USPSA competitions.  The 9mm is a PRO.

Carryability:  As mentioned in the capacity section, the 2022 is one of the biggest guns we've looked at so far.  It's also pretty heavy at 29oz.  Compared to the other options out there, Carryability is a CON.


  • Looks:  The 2022 falls somewhere between the Glock and the 1911 in looks for me personally.  It's got that bulky blocky look reminiscent of a Glock but the controls and hammer (absent on a Glock) give it that classic look. 
I personally like it.  There's something about a hammer on a pistol that speaks to me and screams out "PISTOL!".  Also, the accessory rail under the front of the gun adds a bit of a tacti-cool feel to the gun.
  • Customizability:  Speaking of tacti-coolness.  That accessory rail allows for any flashlight/laser that attaches to a picatinny rail to be tacked on to the bottom of the 2022.  The gun ships with an alternate backstrap to fit different hands and you have the option to add on night sights for a little bit more.  Beyond that, SIG doesn't have nearly the aftermarket support that Glock or the 1911 platform has.
  •  History/Track Record:  The law enforcement agencies of France ordered over a quarter of a million (the largest order of service firearms since WWII) 2022s in 2003.  Rock Island Armory put in an order for several thousand 2022s and picked up for use by the DEA.  Not as widely used as a Glock but it seems many thousand professionals trust their lives to the 2022 every day.
  • Safety/Simplicity:  Like the Glock, there is no safety lever or button to keep the trigger from being pulled.  Instead, when the hammer is lowered, the weight of the trigger pull more than doubles from 4.4lbs to 10lbs of pressure.  There is a decocker button that safely lowers the hammer without striking the pin and setting off a round in the chamber.  This allows the user to carry the gun around in a more-safe fashion.  If a gun is carried, it should be carried in a holster that completely covers the trigger guard.  If this is done and you're using your brain and keeping your finger off the trigger, all other safeties are redundant.  At least this is the sentiment prevalent in the firearms community.  I personally think I'd have to carry without a round in the chamber for awhile while I built confidence in my ability to not shoot my ass off.  There's also something to be said about having a safety if there is any chance a kid could get their hands on the gun, however remote and unlikely the chances are.
See that button below the slide release lever just above the grip?  That's the decocker.  
I actually had the guy at Gander Mountain pull this gun out of the showcase and let me handle it.  When I asked about the safety, he reached over and hit the decocker button and the hammer flew down.  I flinched like a little girl, expecting some non-existant round to go off.  It would take some getting used to.

So there we have it: 3 PROs and 2 CONs.  The pros and cons don't really tell the story of my opinion in this case though.   

I have a confession to make.  I came into this series with a clear ranking of pistols in my mind.  It played out like this:
  1. 1911
  2. SIG 2022
  3. Glock
My main reason for starting out this hole series of posts was to justify my purchase of a 1911.  After comparing just the four pistols I've done so far, my bias for both the 1911 and .45ACP cartridge has completely dissolved and if I were to make my decision today, my ranking would work out like this:
  1. Glock - Even if I still thought .45ACP was the be all end all, why get a pistol with an 8 round capacity instead of one with a 13 round capacity.  Even better since 9mm is enough IMO and gives you 17 rounds.  Add to that the reliability of a Glock and it has definitely taken the lead.
  2. CZ-82  - Cost alone keeps this above the other two.  Getting a gun and practicing with it by shooting 1500 rounds for the same price as just buying another gun makes you a better shot and better prepared.  
  3. 1911 - I had an infatuation with the 1911.  I still kind of have a gun-crush on it.  It is the gun that helped win both World Wars and served our military for 100 years.  It's a classic design.  That's the issue, its too classic in my eyes.  I still want one someday but I don't think it's the right first gun for me.
  4. SIG 2022 - Like a Glock but... not better.  Bigger, heavier, lower capacity, less customization options, more expensive accessories, and doesn't have the legendary ruggedness that the Glock does.  There isn't much in my mind to recommend it that isn't available elsewhere for the same price.  I think alot of SIG's reputation is made on their pistols that cost twice as much.
I think the more we go along, the more I drink the Glock kool-aid. (As I'm sure you can tell since I'm comparing everything to it as we go along.)  Honestly never thought I'd say that but it's won me over more and more as we check out more and more guns.  I'm still not done though.  We'll look at a few more and see if anything can knock Glock from the top of the mountain.  A Ruger pistol was suggested awhile back so I'll pick out one of those next and we'll see how it matches up.  After that, I might do a revolver, just for poops and giggles...  

Any other guns you would suggest or would want to learn more about?  Also, any thoughts on the SIG?  Is there something I'm missing that catapults it above the rest?  Let me know!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Unhealthy Outdoorsman 9/14

If you missed it the other day, I had an epic struggle over whether to spend some extra cash I had on things I want (decent boots, a bunch of crap for deer hunting, save up for a new gun) or a gym membership.

Luckily, I found a place that let me join for $10 up front and $20 per month.  It seems pretty legit except there are currently no trainers on staff so I'm kind of on my own.  I got the membership last night, walked a mile then.  Today I went and walked briskly for 15 minutes and then went over to lift.

Well, I tried to lift.  I attempted to do squats but couldn't do them with any weight so I just did bodyweight squats.  I felt kind of dumb just doing bodyweight squats in front of the mirror but I have alot of body weight to be squatting I guess.  I'm the equivalent of a 185lb man carrying roughly 275 lbs.  My legs are already a little tender.

Then hit up the bench press, which is one of the few lifts I have experience with, albeit from a long time ago.  I started with an empty bar, then added 50 lbs (total of 95lbs) to start myself off slow.  I wasn't to failure at the end of the third set (which is good because I don't have a spotter) but I was feeling it pretty good.

After I wiped everything down, I went and weighed in...


I've walked about 3 miles , did that little weight-lifting workout and was pretty on-top of my meals for the past week and it paid off.  

I have a buddy at work who is really big into working out, I think I might ask him to come workout sometime soon (Charter lets you bring a guest each and every time you workout, which is also cool since my wife will want to come walk on the treadmill now and then) and see if I can get some pointers from him as far as lifting goes.  I'm also reading a book called Starting Strength which is teaching me alot about the proper postures and what NOT to do when lifting.  I'll post a mini-review on it when I finish it.

There are a couple other outdoors bloggers who mentioned putting together a "fat fisherman club" so be on the lookout for it if things come together.

Anybody else start up a new workout routine lately?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Unhealthy Outdoorsman: Priorities

No weigh-in yet this week.  Been pretty good on my meals and did a 1.75 mile walk yesterday so I'm expecting a pound or two loss.  Guess we'll see.

I've been thinking alot about holding myself responsible lately and I wanted to type out some thoughts on it.

When Paul first convinced me to post about my weight loss on here, we got on the subject of gym memberships.  I had said I can't afford one (I really couldn't at the time, such is the life of someone who gets paid on commission.) and Paul said something that stuck with me.  It was to the effect that I needed to get uncomfortable and go without things I might WANT to get something I NEED.

Fast forward a couple months and 19 lost pounds.  I find myself feeling guilty that my awesome wife bought me a membership to a Sportsmen's Club for my birthday.  Sure, I'm stoked to (soon) have access to 6 shooting ranges, 2 archery ranges, a stocked lake, and weekly trap/bullseye/USPSA/etc events.  (Did I mention how awesome my wife is?)  But, with the money we spent on that annual membership, I could have gotten most of an annual membership to a gym and adding in regular exercise to my new lifestyle. 

Now, a couple weeks later, I have some spare cash from my birthday and sales have been better at work.  I have a choice.  To get myself out deer hunting (and have a chance) I need camo, boots (like seriously.  I have my KSOs and old running shoes.  That's it.), and scent masking product.  (That's at a minimum)  If I buy bottom of the barrel clearance, we're looking at AT LEAST $125.  Seriously.  (Have you looked into 5XLT camo and size 16 boots?  Madness.  They know you have no alternative so it's either buy junk or pay out the wazoo.)

So I can pay all that money, blunder into the woods a few times and hopefully (but probably not, according to every hunter I've talked to) get a deer my first year out. 


I could get a membership to a gym, speed up my weight loss, get into smaller clothes that cost less, (hopefully) lose a hundred pounds by next season so I'm not huffing and puffing and scaring all the deer off (and maybe actually find a treestand to hold me), get  toned up a bit as a gift back to my wife, and not die of a heart attack at 30.

So I'll be getting a gym membership before any more hunting supplies or a new gun (God, that hurts much more than the hunting, I've been jonesing for my first handgun).  Hope nobody minds the lack of hunting content on here for another year. 

Should be weighing in tomorrow or wednesday, hopefully I'll be below the 460 mark.  I'll keep you guys updated.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Quest for the Holy Handgun: CZ-82

On this entry of QHH, we're kicking it Surplus-style.  We'll be taking a look at the CZ-82.

Looks pretty beat up huh?  We'll get to that in a minute.
To cover some of the history of the CZ-82, we have to cover some of the history of the 9x18mm cartridge it shoots.

After World War II, Russia was looking for a new service cartridge.  They decided to develop a new cartridge rather than go with the highly popular .45ACP or 9mm Parabellum (commonly known as just 9mm today).  Their thinking was that when soldiers get gunned down in the inevitable war with those capitalist pigs,  their ammo would be incompatible and therefore useless to said swine when they looted the bodies of the proletariat.  So the 9x18mm round was born.

9x18 millimeters of full metal jacketed communist oppression.
The Russians developed a gun just to shoot this new cartridge named the Makarov.  Thus, the cartridge became known as the 9mm Makarov.

So fast forward 30 odd years to the 1980s.  Czechoslovakia is still using the WWII-era Tokarev pistol and cartridge.  The USSR leaned on them to modernize and adopt the 9x18mm Makarov cartridge.  Rather than just go with it and take up the existing gun, the Czechs made a better version of the Makarov pistol.  They added a double stack magazine to increase ammo capacity, changed the barrel design to add reliability and accuracy, and made all the pistol controls ambidextrous, so southpaw soldiers could shoot with confidence.  The result was the CZ-82

Fast forward another 30 odd years to today.  Surplus CZ-82s are shipped to the United States in the thousands.  The guns are readily available and very inexpensive.  But is the CZ-82 the perfect starter handgun?  Let's see how it matches up.

Reliability: Every review, report, and video I've seen praises the reliability of these guns.  CZ is known for making very high quality firearms.  The CZ-82 is a very simple design, very few moving parts so there isn't alot to fail and go wrong.  Any failure I've read about is attributed to cheap ammunition.  There are no guys dropping this gun out of a plane or burying it for years just to see if it will still work but it is a fairly modern military firearm, designed to go to war.  I can't say it's as reliable as a Glock but we'll still give reliability a PRO.

Price:  By far the least expensive gun we'll look it.  The market is proliferated with slightly-used CZ-82s that came over from Europe in crates.  You can get said guns for $210. (and with a brand new USA-made barrel for $30 more.)  Combine this with the fact that 9mm Makarov ammo is close to the least expensive on the market and you have a very thrifty option.  For the cost of a used Glock, you can get a CZ-82 and 1000 rounds to practice.  The $600 price tag of an entry-level 1911 gets you a CZ-82 with a new barrel, a DIY refinish (I promise we'll get to that finish in a minute) AND 1500 rounds!  Price, more than any other gun we'll look at, is a PRO.

Capacity: Blah.  Here's where things fall off a bit for our Czechoslovakian friend.  The CZ-82 ships with one 12 round magazine.  Meh.  The pistol is smaller than the Glock so even though it uses a double stack magazine, capacity suffers a bit.  Also, only shipping with one magazine is kind of a bummer. Then again, with all the cash you save, you'll have plenty of money for spare mags.  Getting a spare magazine or two helps things out, as 25 or 37 rounds of 9x18mm would get the job done I imagine.  Still, in the shadow of Glock's 17 round magazine, capacity is a CON.

Caliber:  From the numbers I've looked at, it looks like the 9x18mm Makarov round (230ish ft/lbs) is below the 9mm Parabellum that the Glock shoots (over 400 ft/lbs, depending on the cartridge) in terms of energy delivered to target but slightly above the .380ACP round that many consider the bare minimum for self-defense (200 ft/lbs).  .380ACP has blown up in popularity over the past couple years and if so many people are carrying it and trusting their lives to it, something stronger should be ok. 9x18mm Makarov also beats out the .38 special (also averages right around 200 ft/lbs), trusted by cops all over the country for years and still used by many for self defense.  Penetration might be an issue but if I bought a CZ-82 and 1500 rounds and fired those rounds becoming proficient with said gun, I'd probably be better equipped to defend myself than getting a Glock and firing 500 rounds or a 1911 and 0 rounds.  However, price of gun/round and capacity aside, the 9x18mm round leaves alot to be desired when compared to 9mm or .45ACP.  CON.

Carryability:  The smallest gun we've looked at so far.  If you search for reviews on the CZ-82, alot of the reviewers laud the ability of the gun to make a good CCW piece.  It is a half inch shorter than the Glock 17, an inch and a half shorter than a full-size 1911, and fairly slim due to it's small magazine.  If the average person has no problem carrying this gun concealed, I shouldn't have an issue.  Also, unlike the Glock, this gun has an external safety, so it would give me less heebie-jeebies to have it loaded with one in the chamber.  Carryability is a PRO.


  • Looks:  I love the way this gun looks and I know exactly why.  It looks like James Bond's gun.
PPK.  Walther PPK.
CZ-82.  See the similarity?
I'm a Bond nut.  I have every movie up until Daniel Craig.  (Yes, even the George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton ones.)  I guess I could just get a PPK but I'd be spending twice as much and lowering my magazine capacity.  The coolness of having the exact gun isn't worth that much to me.  But it is a cool similarity right?
  • Finish: Told you we'd get around to it.  This kind of goes along with looks.  A majority of the guns imported into the US were carried heavily and show heavy signs of wear on the finish.  Also, the importer for alot of them had to stamp some markings into the slide and the cheap commie paint just flakes off.  For a $200 gun what do you expect?  This was a turn off to me initially until I found out that there is a process called dura-coating that you can do yourself for about $50 and make your gun look like this:  
or this:
Both pictures borrowed from this forum post.
Or any of a hundred other colors.  Really anything you can think of.  So like I said, for about $300, you can get a gun with a brand new barrel, in orange or red or "barney purple" (yea, it's really an option) and plenty of money for practice ammo.

  • Customizability: You can refinish it and change the color and you can get replacement internal parts to adjust functionality but there aren't under-gun lights/lasers/etc (obviously) and while you can find replacement grips and such, there isn't near the market out there like there is for Glock or the 1911.
  • History/Track Record: Although it was the official sidearm for the military, it was for the Czechoslovakian military.  Not exactly a top world power.  Also not used by any police departments/etc.  The 9x18mm round has plenty of history but it doesn't quite match up to the likes of 9mm or .45ACP. 
  • Surplus: The fact that this gun was produced to defend a people is a plus.  Also, this gun is C&R eligible.  What that means is that anyone with a Curio&Relic Collector Federal Firearms License can have this gun shipped directly their door.  For $30 and a couple months of waiting, you don't have to deal with doing everything thru a gunshop and paying the transfer fee.  Another little plus.
  • Ambidextriocity: I'm a lefty.  Well, I write left lefthanded and do everything else right handed.  I recently figured out that I'm left-eye dominant.  I haven't done alot of pistol shooting so I don't know how this is going to affect me.  I know alot of guys just shoot right handed but shift the gun so it's over on the left side.  But if I can be a better marksman by shooting left handed, it would be nice to have a gun with southpaw-friendly controls. 
  • Competition:  The Sportsmen's club my awesome wife just got me a membership too runs monthly practical shooting competitions thru USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association).  USPSA only allows competitors to use rounds of 9mm Parabellum or greater power.  Since I'd love to try practical shooting, not being able to use this gun is a big drawback for me. 
 So Misc kind of works out to a wash. 

We have 3 PROs, 2 CONs and a pretty much neutral Misc category.  I think the CZ-82 warrants a serious look, especially from those who have a limited income.  You get a military firearm in a caliber within the range most people would consider adequate for self-defense for a price lower than anything else we've looked at.  That said, I'll probably only be looking at the CZ-82 if it becomes evident that I wouldn't be able to afford something with a higher capacity and in a different caliber.  Five more rounds in a caliber that packs more of a punch is much more appealing to me.  Who knows though, it might be a good choice to start me out for the next couple years while I save for something more substantial.

What about you?  Would you be comfortable defending your life with the 9x18mm round?  Have you ever shot a CZ-82 or seen one shot?  Any thoughts?  

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Unhealthy Outdoorsman 9/6

As I mentioned last week, my birthday was on the 1st.  My beautiful wife took me out to a local steakhouse for dinner.  I had a steak and potatoes and it was delicious.  Felt guilty about it the whole time.

Then on Sunday my in-laws threw me a party and brought/cooked my favorite food.  I limited myself to one plate of food and one (albeit big) slice of cheesecake, and filled myself up on pineapple and grapes in between.  Everybody left the leftovers at my house.  Over the past two days I've had a couple slices of cheesecake, a couple slices of non-cheese cake, and various dishes for my meals.

I went and weighed in today and...

Lost 1 pound!

How the hell did that happen?  Idk, I was honestly expecting a gain.  I've walked about 4 miles since friday so I'm guessing thats it.  (We went to the zoo, went geocaching (see Kim's post here for an explanation, it's pretty fun) for the first time, and I went fishing briefly along the IL river today (and that's all that will be said about that fishing attempt, which is already more than it deserves).  I didn't follow my points for the past few days, just ate when I was supposed to eat and snacked on fruit/amonds in between.  Amazing what a little exercise will do.

I wonder what a lot of exercise will do....

Friday, September 2, 2011

Quest for the Holy Handgun: Glock 17

Continuing my search for the ideal first handgun, we'll be moving on to one of the most popular guns in the world: the Glock 17.

Perfection?  I guess we'll see.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about with this whole Quest dealio, you should go read this post to check out the details and what criteria I'll be focusing on.  Then, go check out the first entry into the series on the m1911 platform, found here.  Go on, I'll wait...  All caught up?  Ok, let's learn a bit about the Glock.

In 1980, the Austrian military decided to hold a competition to find a new service pistol. (They had been using Walther p38s since the end of WWII.)  Up to that point, Glock was a company that produced quality  military knives, entrenching tools, etc.; but had never produced a firearm.  Gaston Glock put together a team of legit gunmakers to hopefully bring home the lucrative contract.  

The military had 17 criteria that the prospective pistols would be judged upon.  They ranged from pretty standard (must be able to be broken down without tools in the field, must be secure from accidental discharge from 6 feet, blah blah blah) to pretty hardcore (Must not have more than 20 malfunctions within the first 10,000 rounds; must shoot 15,000 rounds, fire a special over-loaded cartridge that would produce twice the pressure of a standard round and continue to function).  

Glock made a pistol to meet all of the criteria and named it the Model 17 as it was the company's 17th patent.  The Glock 17 proceeded to whip some established-gun-maker ass in the military trials, beating out such established names as H&K, Sig Sauer (also coming soon on QHH), and Beretta among others.  

The Glock 17 was truly revolutionary in that the lower half of the pistol is plastic.  A very strong plastic polymer.  This brought all kinds of jests from those who had carried metal 1911s and revolvers all their lives, earning the names Tactical Tupperware and Plastic Fantastic.  Despite the world's skepticism, the Glock's polymer has proven itself over the past 30 years and become an oft-copied design.

The Glock was shortly adopted by the Swedish and Norwegian militaries and was invited to the trials to replace the 1911 as the American service pistol.  However, the Department of Defense demanded a change in how the gun was manufactured in an unrealistic amount of time.  If given the correct amount of time to make the changes, there is a good chance Glock would have beaten out Beretta again and our soldiers would have been carrying Glock 17s for the past 25 years. (Tangent: There've been rumblings that the DoD is looking to replace that same Beretta and Glock could have a good shot at it if they actually hold a new set of trials)

Since then Glock has produced 22 different models of pistol in all different sizes and calibers.  They've gone through four generations (1: OG Glock 2: Changed the grip so it's more grippy and some regulatory changes 3: Added an accessory rail under the gun for lights/laser/etc and added ridges for thumb/fingers 4: Allowed for adjustable grip for smaller/larger hands, changed the recoil spring so recoil was slightly softer, adjusted the front sight, which was previously known to fly off randomly while firing.) and are one of the most widely used service pistols among police and world militaries.

(As before, history paraphrased from Wikipedia.)

Alright, lets get down to business.

Reliability: Legendary.  Absolutely phenomenal.  As we saw, the tests that the Glock passed just to get it's initial contract were pretty thorough.  Since then, people have taken it upon themselves to prove the polymer pistol is more durable than any other handgun on the market.  I came across this article while researching.  The owner has a Glock and decided to put it to the test.  All in all he:

  • Buried it in sand, potting soil and baby powder. (Separately, then all together.)
  • Covered it in salt water (was a little rusty after that)
  • Shot it (!!!) with a .22 caliber gun 10 times
  • Ran it over
  • Dragged it behind his truck (with a primed bullet-less case in the chamber, no misfire)
  • Dropped it off his roof
  • Dropped it out of an airplane (same as above, primed case, no misfire)
  • Shot 15,000 rounds without cleaning.
The pistol survived it all and still thrives.  The guy uses it as a daily carry/competition gun.  This is why Glocks are the standard of reliability that others are held up to and why reliability on the 1911 was a CON.  With that kind of record, reliability has to be a HUGE PRO.

Price: A brand new Glock 17 can regularly be had at about $500.  Used for around $400.  (And I can almost guarantee the previous owner didn't shoot 15,000 rounds thru it so there's no real reason you'd HAVE to buy new.)  Out of the box, you've got a pistol that'll handle whatever you can throw at it without any modifications.  (Well, as long as you get a Generation 4.  Like I said earlier, the older generations had pretty shabby sights that were prone to fly off while firing.  If you pick up a Gen 3 or earlier, alot of places I've read have recommended the purchase of aftermarket sights ASAP.  The Gen 4 guns have the front sight screwed into place.)  
So a used Glock costs about $200 less than an entry-level 1911 (one that isn't barebones basic anyway).  Also, the Glock 17 shoots 9mm, which costs 30% less per round than the 1911's .45ACP.   30% less per round = 30% more practice rounds = Mark being a better shot.  While it's not the least expensive pistol we'll look at, price is a definite PRO.

Capacity: Remember how most 1911's ship with one or two 7 or 8 round magazines?  A new Glock 17 ships with two 17 round magazines.  Yeah, 17.  This is attributed to two things.  For one, the 9mm round is thinner than the .45ACP.  Also, the Glock uses a more modern double-stack magazine that... double-stacks the rounds.

If you can't tell which is which I don't know what to tell you.

This makes the grip of the pistol much bigger (one of the common complaints about the Glock) but obviously gives a major advantage.  Even in .45ACP versions, the Glock comes with 13 round magazines, far outpacing it's single stack competitors.

Thats not all. You can get a different floorplate for the magazine that sticks out just a little below the magazine and adds two rounds to the capacity. That's 19 rounds of 9mm. If you carry with one round in the chamber and an extra magazine you're looking at 39 rounds on your person. 

But wait, there's more: Glock made an automatic version of the Glock 17 (originally named the Glock 18) and produces 33 round magazines for it. The magazines are fully compatible with the Glock 17. While these aren't practical for most applications, it would be nice to have one loaded in the glovebox in case things go horribly wrong really fast. Also, you can carry (where legal) with the regular 17 round magazines all day and switch to the 33 round magazine at night. Snap on a flashlight/laser combo and you have a great “bump in the night” gun.

I've really gone on too long with capacity. Needless to say, it's a resounding PRO.

(EDIT: Sorry bout the different font here.  My internet kept dropping while I was writing this post and I had to write some of it in Word and paste it over.  Apparently I suck at matching fonts.)

Caliber: It's been proven time and time again that the 9mm is enough to get the job done. A lot of bad stigma the caliber gets is because our military only uses full metal jacket or “ball” ammunition because of a ridiculous treaty that our congress never actually ratified. Ball ammo doesn't expand and gets major penetration, flying through tissue with a channel only as big as the original bullet, thus bigger is always better. When you use hollow point ammo, the high speed of the round flattens it out, making it larger and transferring more energy to the target.

But let's say you think that's bullshit. Or you say “well if a 9mm hollow point is good, a .40/.45 hollow point has gotta be better right?” Well that's your decision to make. But if you don't want to go with a 9mm, Glock's got you covered. They have basically the same gun in every popular self defense caliber (.380,9mm,.40s&w,.45ACP) and some not very popular ones (10mm,.357SIG,.45GAP) for basically the same price.  (Try searching for police trade in .40s, readily available for about $350)  I would personally prefer the higher capacity but capacity being equal, 9mm just doesn't stack up to .40/.45/10mm/etc.  Caliber has to be a con for the Glock 17 specifically.  A small con to me personally but still a CON.

Carryability: Some find the Glock 17 to be a bit bulky.  That's why the Glock 19 ( slightly smaller profile, 2 less rounds) and "Baby" Glock 26 (Subcompact with 10 round mag) were developed.  The full size slide and bulky grip of the G17 make it hard for alot of people to carry it concealed.  With my stature, I don't feel it'd be an issue but the fact that it is probably the largest pistol I'll look at make carryability a CON.

Gen 2 Glock.  Blech.

  • Looks: Fugly.  Like someone took a block of plastic, implanted a trigger, and dropped a block of metal on top.  IMO, the design has gotten sleeker/better since Gen 3 but it's still high function/low fashion.  
  • History/Track Record: One of the most popular service pistols for militaries and police departments worldwide.  That's all that needs to be said.
  • Safe-Action Trigger.
  • Simplicity: This is both a pro and con for me.  Glocks don't screw around.  There are no safety switches/buttons.  The trigger has a little nub that pokes out of the trigger.  To fire the gun the nub has to be pulled back flush with the trigger.  That means that any time you pull the trigger, the gun fires.  You have to be on your game with a Glock.  There's no safeguard to protect your life if you screw up.  This shouldn't be a problem because you should always be cognizant of the 4 rules when handling a gun but it's still intimidating to me.  On the other hand, if my life is threatened and I need to actually use the pistol, there are no buttons/switches to hang me up and possibly cost me my life.  The simplicity is a wash to me.
  • Customizability: The amount of aftermarket parts available for the Glock is second only to the 1911.  You can build one from the ground up with just aftermarkets.  Sights, customer trigger jobs, grip covers, barrels, lights, lasers, you name it.  You can even buy kits to turn your Glock into a Carbine in 6 seconds.  Speaking of carbines, because the Glock 17 is so popular, you can get many carbines that accept the Glock mags.  Also, there are uppers in 9mm that take the same magazines (basically the top of a rifle, just take off the rifle caliber one and put in the one that accepts the Glock mags.)
So we got a mini-con in looks, mini-pros in customizability and track record and simplicity is a wash for me. Misc. ends up being a small PRO.

So when we add it up we have 4 PROs to 2 CONs.  And the two cons are in categories that aren't of a big concern to me personally.  I gotta admit, I started this process not giving two thoughts to the Glock system but it has alot to recommend it.  There's something about buying a pistol that you know is probably going to last a lifetime.  I mentioned the fact that Glock produces basically the same gun in different calibers earlier, that really appeals to me.  It's cool to know that if I were to outgrow the 9mm cartridge and want a .40s&w, .45ACP, or something really bizarre/awesome like a 10mm (.40s&w's pissed off big brother) that the system would be exactly the same.  Also, that double-stack magazine is awesome.  

I can definitely say that I "get it" now as far as the Glock goes.  I'd even say that the research I've done on it has put it in front of the 1911 in my eyes.  I mean, comparing a Glock 21 to a 1911:  Both shoot .45ACP.  One's magazine holds 8, the other 's holds 13.  If both guns are reliable, both more accurate than I'm going to be, etc, that capacity difference is enough to choose a Glock, right?  Theoretically anyway.  We'll have to see how everything holds up to the next couple guns under the QHH microscope.

Feel free to leave your thoughts on the Glock and how you see it.  I realize that most of my readership is used to fishing content here and may not be into guns or familiar with them. If that's you and you have questions or need me to explain anything, just let me know.  I definitely don't have all the answers but I have plenty of opinion and am happy to track down some facts for you.