Thursday, November 15, 2018

Howdah .410/.45LC Double Barrel Pistol

I have wanted this pistol since I saw it introduced a couple of years ago.  The pistol is manufactured by Pedersoli of Italy and, at the time, nobody could give me any information on who was importing them.  Then, by chance last year I spied them in the Taylor's & Company catalogue right before a trade show in January. On the day of the show I hustled to the Taylor's booth and found a treasure trove of beautiful single action revolvers and lever action rifles and carbines.  Smooth trigger pulls and buttery-soft actions abounded.  However, no Howdah pistols.  "Very difficult to come by" the Taylor's representative told me. Then, a few weeks ago I was ordering a couple of Taylor's rifles for a customer and asked the rep. if he had any of the .410/.45LC pistols in stock.  I was shocked when he told me that they had recently received a shipment from Italy.  I couldn't wait to finally get my hands on one, but more on that later.

The Howdah pistol is a recreation of the Ithaca Auto Burglar shortened shotgun produced from 1922 to 1933.  Ithaca produced the Auto Burglar in 20 gauge with a small variety of grip styles.  The most identifiable being the saw-handled grip with the spur that keeps your hand from riding up over the safety during recoil.  I have seen a couple of people shooting the Mossberg "Shockwave" 12 gauge who needed bandaids after the safety tore into the web of their hand.

Ithaca also produced a belt holster for the pistol however, I would imagine this was more of a case for storage and transportation rather than an actual mode of belt-carry.

This would have certainly been a handy homestead firearm if something went "bump" in the night.  Also, in the 1920's, traveling by automobile could be a lonely and sometimes sketchy pursuit.  Interstate highways were a long way off and what are now considered "the back roads" were the only roads at the time. You could also drive hundreds of miles without seeing a police officer, Sheriff's  deputy or highway patrolman.  A short, double-barreled 20 gauge shotgun could be a welcome companion and a confidence builder in your uncertain travels.

During it's 11 year run Ithaca produced about 4,000 models.  Production was halted in 1934 with the enactment of the Firearms Act of 1934 that required a $200 Federal tax stamp be applied for and purchased if one wanted to own a shortened shotgun.

That brings us up to current where some brilliant person at Pedersoli realized that the Auto Burglar could be reproduced as a fully legal pistol if the barrels were rifled. This has been the case for many years with Bond Arms Derringers and the Taurus Judge both in .45 LC and .410.  And the Pedersoli Howdah is a wonderful pistol to behold.

Deep blue steel, case hardened frame and checkered walnut stocks.  Just as God had intended.  No polymer, no synthetic, no MIM, no Cerakote.
Absolutely beautiful.  The sights are a raised gold bead with a folding rear leaf and provide a good sight picture at at its intended ranges, which are fairly short.  I was fairly amazed with the trigger pull.  The Howdah is not an inexpensive pistol and the fit, finish and trigger pull show that quality does have a price...and it's worth it.
This is not a bird gun.  The Howdah is purposely designed as a back to the wall, closed quarter defensive tool.  And I think it works.

The safety automatically engages every time the action is closed.  I like this feature but some people that have shot it have a difficult time remembering that the safety is always "on".

The Howdah is a short-range pistol.  25 yard shots with a .410 shell have not been attempted.

For the purposes of today's shooting I used Federal Premium Person Defense 000 Buckshot with 4 pellets in a 2.5 inch shell.

So here's what I like about the Howdah.  You pull the trigger and 4 holes instantly appear!  The above target was shot at a scant 5 years.

Moving out the 7 yards the shell's wad hit a perfect bullseye but my four 000 pellets went high.

Out at 10 yards my center point of aim put my pellets into the small bullseye at the upper right hand corner.  In the rest of the target I am lowering my point of aim to bring the pellets down with the bottom four hitting low right with the brass bead centered just below the 5 ring.

There is one thing that I am doing that may be pushing my shots high.  For some reason my mind has not wrapped itself around that fact that the recoil is much less than I am expecting.  In other words I flinch horrendously.  And...I'm kind of OK with that...means I need to practice more.

While I do consider the Howdah to be a close quarter firearm, I did run a man-sized target downrange and fire two 000 shells out at 25 yards.  Seven of the eight buckshot pellets struck the torso with three of them landing in the 9 ring.  Not too bad.

Many people poo-poo the 410 for defense and I would tend to disagree...depending upon the barrel length and the load.  The 10.25 inches of barrel gives more performance than the snub-nosed variety of revolvers that have become popular.  There are "00" and "000" defensive loads in 2.5 and 3 inch shells that contain 4 to 5 pellets of each sized buckshot respectively.  At close quarters this would definitely be an attitude adjuster.  I have not shot .45 LC rounds and I may not. While they would certainly be potent coming out of a 10.25 inch barrel, there are other tools available that hold more ammunition and may be more accurate.   I'm sure that curiosity will eventually get the better of me but I plan to keep it true to it's Ithaca Auto Burglar history.

Is this the best firearm for defensive purposes?  Hardly.  Is it the best handgun for defensive use?  No.  But few other firearms as a classy and as fun to shoot as this one.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Glock 19X

I have great respect for Glocks but it is difficult for me to get excited about them.  I have been of the opinion that everyone should own a Glock 19 due to their ruggedness, reliability and ease of parts replacement.  However, now I will Include the 19X to my list of components for a standard battery.  If you are unaware, the 19X (or 19X Crossover as Glock sometimes refers to it) the the slide and barrel of a Glock 19 mated to a Glock 17 frame.  Let's take a quick look at the specifications.

Glock 19X Crossover Generation 5 Specifications
7.44 inches
Barrel Length
4.02 inches
Line of Sight
5.94 inches
1.0 inches
5.47 inches
24.83 ounces
Glock Night Sights
Coyote Colored nPVD
One 17 round and two 19 round magazines
Our Price

I must confess that, when these came out, I thought that Glock's manufacturing group  must have read the work order incorrectly and reversed the concept of the pistol.  I thought it made much more sense to put the longer barrel and slide of the model 17 on the more compact grip frame of the model 19 thereby producing a compact grip for easier concealment along with the longer line of sight and inherent increase in accuracy with the longer barrel.  Apparently though, input from tactical operators (Geez, I hate that phrase)  professed a desire for increased capacity and shorter barrel when maneuvering in tighter spaces.  Thus, the 19X Crossover was born.

Although the 19X is a Gen 5 model there are two differences between the 19X and the Gen 5s that Glock is making for the FBI.  There is no orange colored magazine follower and no flared magazine well.  Although I kind of like the slightly flared magazine well, neither of these omissions are deal breakers for me.

In addition to the specifications in the table above, the 19X includes the standard Gen 5 "Marksman" barrel with enhanced polygonal rifling and a reverse crown to increase accuracy.  Also, a slide stop is present on both the left and right side of the frame making this an ambidextrous handgun.

The finish on the 19X's slide is nPVD.  Standby while I attempt to explain what this is (I'm sure Doc Wesson will correct me if I get this wrong).  PVD stands for Physical Vapor Deposition. Basically this process vaporizes specific materials, such as titanium, chromium or zirconium.  The vaporized materials are then deposited into nitrogen gas to form a thin, but extremely durable, nitride coating.  The PVD coating increases wear resistance, reduces friction and improves the appearance.  I will say this, the slide has a metallic glint to it that definitely gives it a more lively look then the dull finish of most Cerakoted firearms.

One great addition to the 19X is that Glock does not equip it with their usual plastic, disposable sights.  These come with Glock's own night sights with are made from steel.  They are definitely easier to work with than Glock's normal and nominal sighting set-up.  

This Glock also comes with a lanyard loop as requested by most militaries of the world, several foreign police departments and should be a standard feature for dancing FBI agents (it you don't know what that refers to, Google is your friend).

Show How It Shoots!

For some reason all Glocks tend to shoot low and to the left for me.
I was fairly exasperated when the 19X rewarded me with this 10 shot group at 15 feet.  7 rounds low and to the left on the 3 inch bullseye and 3 rounds flying into the outer stratosphere. 

I was a little surprised when I rolled the target down to 21 feet and shot a much better 10 round group.  How could I possible shoot a better group at a further distance?  Maybe the pistol was sighted-in further out than 15 feet...that would make sense.

So then I pushed the target out to 30 feet and still shot a better group than what I shot at half the distance!  Perhaps I am getting more familiar with the pistol.

Here's the 60 foot target with 30 rounds.  These would all be very good torso hits.

So...just to satisfy my curiosity I rolled it back to 15 feet.
Yeah, I think after the first 10 rounds fired on target #1, the Glock 19X and I became better friends.

All in all, I think this is the best pistol Glock has produced in quite a while.  Better sights, great color and better than average metal coating, and a good trigger.  All this and one 17 round magazine and two 19 rounders! This could cause me to upgrade from my Gen 3 pistol.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ruger PC Carbine in 9mm

At the beginning of 2018 manufacturers introduced many new models and created quite a stir of excitement within the shooting community.  One such introduction was the Ruger PC carbine in 9mm.  Pistol caliber carbines have a lot to offer in defense of hearth and home.  Please allow me to rattle off the advantages of the PC9:

1. Low cost of ammunition.  It runs the 9mm which has the lowest price of any centerfire ammunition.

2. Easier to shoot than a handgun.  Carbines (which are just shorter rifles) are easier to steady being anchored into your shoulder and supported by both hands.

3. They have less recoil than a standard rifle caliber.

4. Being shortened rifles, they are easier to maneuver and weigh less.  The Ruger PC measures 34.37 inches in total length and weighs 6.8 pounds.

5. They offer a higher magazine capacity than most rifles.

6. They use the same magazines as your pistol; in this case your Glock or your Ruger American.

7. Their longer barrels provide increased performance over a handgun.

And lastly, the Ruger PC does not look like the AR or AK platform that strikes fear into the hearts of so many in the anti-gun crowd.  

Let's take a closer look at the bullet performance of the carbine versus the handgun. The Federal 124 grain Hydra-Shok hollow point bullet moves at 1,061 feet per second out of a 4 inch barreled handgun and provides 300 foot pounds of energy (which is the amount of energy required to move 300 pounds one foot).  Out of the 16 inches Ruger PC barrel the same round travels at 1,243 feet per second and delivers 420 foot pounds of energy. 1,243 feet per second will certainly provide enough velocity to allow the hollow point bullet to expand and release all of it's energy into the mass of the attacker.

The Ruger PC barrel is also fluted to help reduce weight and threaded in the event that you want to add a suppressor.

One of the interesting features of the PC is that it has an adjustable length of pull going from 12.62 inches to 14.12 inches.  This is accomplished by three half inches spacers that can be placed between the soft rubber butt pad and the stock.  This helps adjust the length of the stock, and thus the length of pull, to the individual shooter.

The PC has an adjustable ghost ring aperture rear sight that sits just forward of the receiver.

The front sight is protected by two blades sprouting up on each side of the sight post.

Amazingly to me, my old eyes were able to pick up a sharp sight picture using this arrangement.  I could, however, use some sort of a contrasting color on the front sight when shooting a black target.

The stock is a black colored, glass filled nylon synthetic composite that is rugged and features a nice stippling on all of the parts with which your hands will come in contact.

The font of the fore stock also features an accessory rail for any light or laser attachments you may which to apply.  Swivel sling mounts are also featured on the fore and butt stock.

The top of the receiver also features a rail so that you can add the optic of your choice.  While the sights worked fine for me I tend to think that the addition of a red dot might help me dial in my groups a little bit tighter.

In the above image you will also note the knurled ring just forward of the receiver and the slight space between the receiver stock and the fore end.  This carbine breaks down into two pieces in the same manner as the Ruger 10/22 rimfire rifles and carbines.  This makes storage and portability even easier.  As of this writing Ruger is not providing a nylon backpack for the PC carbine but I can't help but think that it is only a matter of time before they are available.

The bolt knob and magazine release are also switchable making the PC an ambidextrous platform.

The Ruger PC is extremely shootable.  It is great fun and the ability for it to accept Glock magazines is certainly a plus.  I give kudos to Ruger for realizing that Glock magazines are plentiful in the marketplace and that shooters would desire to use them.

Let's see how it shot!
Starting out at a scant 7 yards the PC rewarded me with a nice 4 round group once I got the beginning flyer out of my system.

 At 10 yards I still shot the carbine very well.

At 15 yards my group began to open up but, let's remember that this is a 3 inch bullseye target.

At 25 yards my shooting began to get inconsistent.  I attribute the shots in the red to be just as much luck as they are skill.  This is where and optic on top of the carbine would pay great dividends.  

Overall I like this carbine a lot.  Now, to be frank, a pistol caliber carbine will never take the place of a rifle caliber weapon in it's ability to take game or defend against attackers.  However, it offers a great advantage over a handgun in the same chambering.

Currently I have one PC carbine in our rental portion of the shop.  I am sure that more will be released soon but right now they a little hard to come by.

Here's one last look at the nicely engineered lines of the new Ruger PC carbine.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

SIG Sauer P365

Probably the most frequently asked question in the club since January has been "Do you have the SIG P365 yet?"  Well, finally I can answer that we do.  It is currently sitting in the rental case so people can shoot it and decide if they want to buy one from the next shipment that comes in.

Concealed permit holders couldn't wait to get their hands on this pistol due to it's reported size and it's 10 round magazine which gave the P365 the highest capacity of any of the current micro 9mm offerings.

This is one of the second run of pistols.  The first run of pistols quickly gained a bad reputation for being unreliable.  I can happily report that this is not the case with the second run of P365s.  I have fired a customer's pistol last week and this one today.  Neither of them had any problems with feeding, extraction or ejection.  

You can tell it is the second run of pistols because it sports SIG's proprietary X-Ray night sights.
The green front illuminating sight is a welcome addition over the plain white dots sights on the first run of 365s; it offers superior visibility in both normal and low light shooting scenarios.  

A couple of other notable features you can see in the first image is the nicely undercut trigger guard and the accessory rail.  I'm sure there are itty-bitty flashlights that fill fit under the tiny frame. This is a nice segue into the fact that this pistol is very small.  Small, but surprisingly useable.

Here the SIG is pictured with SIG's original Micro 9 millimeter pistol, the P938.  The sizes are very comparable with the P365 being just slightly shorter in length.

In the above image the P365 sits in-between the P938 and the Glock Model G43.  Again the SIG 365 is shorter in length and surprisingly just slightly slimmer with it's double stack 10 round magazine.

Here's how the specifications of the three pistols stack up:

SIG P365
Glock Model 43
SIG P938
Barrel Length
3.1 inches
3.39 inches
3 inches
Overall Length
5.8 inches
6.26 inches
5.9 inches
Overall Height
4.3 inches
4.25 inches
3.9 inches
Overall Width
1 inch
1.02 inches
1.1 inches
17.8 ounces
17.95 ounces
16 ounces

The differences in size are minuscule to say the least.  The big difference is the magazine capacity.  How in the world did SIG make the thinnest micro 9mm with a double stack 10 round magazine?

The small size of the pistol did not pose any shooting problems for me.  The length of the grip is about as short as I would ever want on a pistol and the front of the slight magazine extension allowed me to get about half my pinkie finger on it.  Supposedly there will eventually be a 12 round magazine which may be a better fit for my hand.  The slight increase in thickness in the double stack P365 frame with its stippling that runs all the way down the front and back straps made it easier for me to hold onto than when I shoot a Glock 43.  

Recoil is a very subjective matter but the recoil I encountered was much less than I expected.  

SIG also did a nice job scaling down from the P320 model (seen on the left).  Looking at earlier photos of the of the P365 I thought the pistol looked pretty top heavy as there were no other objects in the images with which you could compare the size of the new SIG.  When I actually handled the pistol that concern faded away pretty quickly.

I shot the P365 at 5, 7 and 10 yards with no problem.  This is not a long range target pistol; this is a close quarter tool to save your bacon when it's in the fire.
The ammunition used in my two outings with the new SIG was Sellier & Beloit 115 grain FMJ ammo and Federal RTP with the same weight and bullet configuration.

This three inch target was shot with 15 rounds at 5 yards using our member's pistol.

The 6 inch target above was shot with 30 rounds at 7 yards with our new rental pistol.

I used the member's pistol on this target, shot at 30 feet with 25 rounds of ammo.

SIG Sauer looks to have hit a home run with the P365.  I have always felt that their P938 was the gold standard of 9mm pocket pistols but a lot of people just didn't want to carry a cocked and locked hammer fired pistol and a there is a whole generation of shooters who have never fired anything other than striker-fired handguns.  SIG now has a micro pistol for everyone!