Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Just Right 9mm Carbine

I love pistol caliber carbines so when Bill's Gunshop and Range in Robbinsdale called and asked me to shoot and review the Just Right 9mm carbine I jumped at the opportunity.  Spoiler Alert: I'm really glad I did!

The JR 9 is a straight blowback operated semiautomatic carbine with a 17 inch barrel.  As with most modern sporting arms the JR 9 does not come with either sights or optics.  A Picatinny rail is machined into the top the received leaving it up to the owner to decide what he or she would like to mount on top of the firearm.  The folks at Bills put a nice TruGlo red dot optic on the JR for my evaluation. 

The JR comes with a six position collapsing buttstock and the receiver, trigger housing and magazine well are machined from aerospace grade 6061T-6 aluminum with black hardcoat anodizing.  The carbine weights 6.5 pounds and is 33.5 inches long with the fully extended buttstock.  Best of all JR proudly makes their firearms right here in the U.S.A.

Southpaws will be happy to know that the bolt charging handled can be placed on either side of the receiver.

The JR Carbines are chambered in 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .357 SIG.  Once you buy the base model you can convert it to the other calibers via an adapter kit (sold separately).

The specimen I shot was in 9mm which is exactly what I would have chosen if this were my carbine.  Full metal jacket range rounds in 9mm are more reasonably priced than those in .40, .45 or .357 SIG. For self defense purposes a 9mm out of a 17 inch barrel is nothing to sneeze at.  According to the website "Ballistics by the Inch" ( a 17 inch barrel provides great velocities for the 9mm cartridge, for instance:

  • Cor Bon 115 grain +P jacketed hollow-point produces 1550 feet per second
  • Federal 115 grain standard velocity jacketed hollow-points will generate 1320 feet per second
  • Federal 124 grain Hydra Shok jacketed hollow-points will give you 1250 feet per second
  • Speer 124 grain Gold Dot Hollow-point ammunition provides a very respectable 1400 feet per second
  • Cor Bon 90 grain +P jacketed hollow-point will sizzle down range at 1766 feet per second

The JR 9s are produced to accept either Glock or Smith & Wesson M&P magazines and this one came with one Glock model 17, 17-round magazine.  If the carbine was mine I would get about three of the 33 round magazines or one of the larger capacity drum magazines.  The larger magazines would provide plenty of fun during recreational shooting and would provide some peace of mind if I had to use the carbine in defense of hearth and home.

Overall the JR 9 was very reliable.  This carbine was new, just out of the box, and out of 100 rounds fired I did experience one failure to eject.  In fairness to the JR, this was the last round pushed into the magazine and as I placed it in it felt different.  The case rim was sharp and the case seemed to be thicker than the rest of the ammo.  I was not surprised that this round caused some difficulty.

The bolt does not stay open after the last round is fired.  You must manually retract it and push the bolt handle downward into the "hold open" position.  This is of no moment for the recreational shooter.  If you were in a self-defense shooting scenario the chances that you would need reload would be fairly slim.  Your 17, 33 or 50 round magazine would have probably provided all the firepower you need.  I am not saying that I would not want an extra magazine I am just proffering that if I needed to reload then I am really in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now here's the best part, the JR 9 is really accurate! The above target was shot at 75 feet with five round of Mag Tech 115 grain full metal jacketed ammunition.

The JR 9 provides a carbine that is a ton of fun to shoot, more accurate than you would expect and could save your bacon if your homestead was invaded.  There is nothing about this little carbine that I did not like!  Stop by Bill's and give a look and, as always...tell "em Average Joe sent you!

Glock Days at Arnzen Arms

Sunday, June 14, 2015

VZ Grips A Serious Upgrade For Your Pistol Or Revolver

(VZ Grips come standard on may new firearms such as the Dan Wesson ECO)

If you are unfamiliar with VZ grips you have probably seen them but may not have known what they are.  More and more savvy gun makers are supplying them on their pistols such as with the Dan Wesson ECO pictured above.  They know that the addition of a VZ grip is a mark of quality and showcases the pride that they have taken in the manufacture of their product.  As this review progresses I will show you some of the upgraded VZ grips that I have added to a few of my personal handguns.

The VZ grips are made of a composite material either being Micarta or G-10.
(Above is my CZ 75D PCR sporting VZ Tactical Diamond Black Desert Sand grips)

While to many people (myself included) Micarta seems to be a relatively new material it has actually been around since the 1890's.  Westinghouse developed a process for producing thermoset laminates and bestowed the trade name "Micarta" to the product.

(Kimber Pro Carry HD II wearing Double Diamond grips in Hyena Brown)

Micarta is made by applying heat and pressure to layers of paper and canvas or linen cotton material which have been impregnated with synthetic resin.  The result is a solid industrial laminated plastic that is extremely durable, lightweight and moisture resistant.  Unlike less durable plastics Micarta will not soften if it comes in contact with heat.

(CZ SP-01 Shadow with VZ Frag grips in Hyena Brown)
G 10 is similar to Micarta expect that glass is added to the cloth and resin before the heat and pressure is applied.  It is even more durable than Micarta and besides handgun grips and knife scales it is also used as an insulator in the electronics field as it is nearly impervious to water seepage.

(Kimber Pro Aegis wearing Frag MARSOC G 10 grips)

VZ makes a plethora of grips styles in different colors and textures as well as in standard or thin widths, which currently fit the following handguns:
  • All standard 1911s (Colt, Kimber, Springfield, SIG, Smith & Wesson, etc.)
  • Beretta 92
  • CZ
  • Springfield EMP
  • Browning Hi-Power
  • Smith & Wesson Revolvers (J, K/L, and N frames)
  • SIG
  • Rock Island Double Stack (but not for the TCM 22 frame)
  • Ruger 22/45
(Kimber Pro Carry II wearing the Elite Tactical grip in Black Desert Sand)

As you can see I have generously applied the VZ grips to my pistols but I recently bought a set for my Smith & Wesson Model 65 Ladysmith Revolver.

The set chosen was the Tactical Diamond Round Butt G 10 in Black Cherry.

These grips were a veritable Godsend for me as most revolver grips do not fit my hand and are not conducive to my accuracy or ability to fire follow-up shots with any reasonable speed.  Not so with the VZ grips.  They were just the right length and width and the Tactical Diamond checkering kept the grip secure in my grasp during firing.

I am not a particularly great shot with a revolver but these grips helped me post this 8 round group at 21 feet using Speer 135 grain+P Gold Dot Hollowpoint ammo.  That's more than enough accuracy to get the job done.

If you're looking for a great set of grips give VZ a look at and tell 'em Average Joe sent you.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Heizer PAR I Pocket AR in .223

Ah, the Heizer Pocket AR.  There are so many questions about this little pistol but before we fall prey to trying to answer too many of them let's define the use for this pistol which will eliminate most of the queries.  This pistol is for close quarter combat in a back-up role to a larger and higher capacity primary weapon.  Close-quarter back-up is the standard we will use in our analysis of the Pocket AR.  I feel that the moniker "Pocket AR" is somewhat of a misnomer since a standard AR carbine or rifle come with a magazine capacity of 20 to 30 rounds. The Pocket AR comes with a capacity of 1.  That's round.  However, what it lacks in firepower is made up for in the power of fire (more on that later).

Let's get down to the specifications of the Heizer.  It is chambered for the .223 Remington round.  It weighs 23 ounces has a height of 3 7/8 inches, a length of 6 3/8 inches and a width of 0.7 inches.  Size wise it is very comparable to my SIG P238 .380 ACP pistol.

This entire pistol is made of aerospace stainless steel.  The trigger module moves on ball bearings.  The trigger pull is over 12 pounds (since that is where my trigger pull gauge runs out) but there is only a little take up with a very smooth pull due to the ball bearings on which the trigger rides.  The recoil is substantial and the chamber contains a cartridge extractor but not a cartridge ejector.  This is probably of no matter since fast follow-up shots is not in the Heizer's repertoire.  
The extractor does lift the cartridges far enough out of the chamber that they were easy to remove.
The sights are fixed and hardly there at all.  They don't glow, twinkle, self illuminate, or give you options to change the front sight's colors.  The front sight is black, period.  Similarly there is no accessory rail to mount flashlights or lasers.  Remember this pistol's mission: close quarter combat; a crisp sight picture is not necessary.  Your range is probably from contact distance to the length of a mid-sized sedan.  If your shooting solution requires greater distances and more follow-up rounds you're using the wrong handgun.  

The chamber and barrel of the Pocket AR is 3.25 inches in length and about 2.25 inches of that is the unrifled chamber.  The barrel only contains about 1 inch of rifling to make that bullet spiral.  I was expecting that the bullet would tumble in flight causing it to tear at the target rather than making a nice tight entry hole.
However this was not the case with the first five rounds of American Eagle 55 grain ammo fired at 15 feet.  Evidence of bullet tumbling can be seen in the 21 foot target.
I am not completely sure if bullet tumbling is all that bad of a thing to happen.  Bullet tumbling was a frequent occurrence with the .223/5.56mm rounds used in the Vietnam war.  While the full-metal jacketed rounds did not expand upon contact they tumbled and changed directions when they entered the body.  An enemy combatant hit in the chest might have the bullet exit his body at the hip.  This gave the bullet more opportunity to damage internal organs and put the combatant out of action.  Achieving this effect will depend upon the velocity of the round.  Heizer claims a velocity of 1400 feet per second.  The website Ballistics by the Inch ( puts the velocity of a .223 fired from a three inch barrel closer to 1200 feet per second. I do not know if either of these velocities would cause the tumbling to continue after the bullet enters the body or if the body would cause the bullet to lose velocity so quickly that it would cease to tumble and limit the penetration.  Again, this is a close quarter weapon; the closer the range the higher the velocity and the greater effectiveness of the round. 

I mentioned earlier that what the pistol lacked in firepower it made up for in the power of fire.  This may be an unintended consequence of this pistol but here's what I meant:
Fired at a range from contact distance to perhaps two feet the assailant's clothes will probably catch on fire and the flame, gasses and powder will probably enter the wound channel as well as the assailant's mouth, nose and eyes.  At this range the effect to the aggressor would be devastating.  I would tend to think that if there was also an accomplice or two, they would be running after hearing the ear-splitting report and witnessing the Heizer belch flame, smoke and gas.

All in all the pistol was fun to shoot although I must admit that I was wearing a weight lifter's glove as it had an extra layer of leather across the web of the hand.  That was helpful since the slim pistol concentrates the recoil right back into the web of the hand. The Heizer Pocket AR also did have a very short break-in period.  The first round required two pulls of the trigger to fire the round.  The second round required tour pulls, and the fifth round required two pulls.  After that the pistol functioned flawlessly.    While the accuracy is not worthy of a target pistol, this is not a target pistol.  There is no doubt that this is a well made pistol, the question becomes this: do you want to carry a single shot pistol, capable of only short range accuracy with a cartridge that cannot reach it full potential out of what is essentially only a one inch rifled barrel. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

SIG Sauer Model 320 9mm

Scuttlebutt coming out of the Minneapolis Police Department is that they will be soon be transitioning over to the SIG Sauer P320.  I have been contacted by several MSP PD officers telling me this and asking me what I think about this pistol.  If this transitioning rumor is true it means two things:

1.  The Departmental Armorer and Training Officer(s) like the pistol and
2.  SIG has given them a bid that fits the Chief's budget.

Allow me to cut to the chase; if the rumor is true everything is going to be OK.  The pistol handles well, is user friendly, reliable and accurate.  You can't ask for much more.  Yes, it is rather ugly, but I can't say that many of the polymer, striker fired pistols are works of art.  However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and just like a member of the opposite sex at closing time, once you experience the accuracy of this pistol it starts to look a lot prettier.

So what do you get with the P 320?  You start off with a 3.9 inch stainless steel barrel (a 4.7 inch model is also available as is a 3.6 inch subcompact).  The pistol, as pictured in this review, has an overall length of 7.2 inches and an overall height of 5.5 inches.  The slide is stainless steel and both the slide and the barrel are black nitron finished.  The 320 is chambered in both 9mm and .40 Smith & Wesson with the 9mm chosen for this review.  The magazine holds 17 rounds of 9mm with 14 rounds available in the .40 caliber version.  The grips are fashioned from polymer which helps keep the weight down at 26 ounces.  This is a Double Action striker-fired pistol with a trigger pull of 5.8 pounds as measured on my Lyman digital scale.  The pistol is available with what SIG describes as "contrast sight" or, as in the reviewed pistol, SIGlite night sights.
SIGlite night sights during the day and in the dark.
The night sights are nice and bright.

The P320 has been designed and manufactured for ease of use and for law enforcement that translates into the ability to get officers familiar and proficient with the pistol in less time.  This is accomplished by producing an ergonomic pistol with fewer and flatter controls.  There is no external safety or decocker that the officer must extensively train with in order to build the muscle memory required to make their engagement an automatic physical response by the officer.  In fact the only controls are the slide stop lever
and the disassembly lever.
And speaking of disassembly, unlike many striker-fired pistols, the P 320 does not require the trigger to be pulled as a part of the take-down process.  Not having to pull the trigger lessens the chance of a negligent discharge if the user forgets to eject the cartridge from the chamber before breaking down the pistol.

The trigger guard and the slight beavertail are nicely undercut to give the shooter a higher grip on the pistol.  The trigger guard is spacious enough to accommodate a gloved finger which will be good news for the Minneapolis police officers since glove weather begins in October in ends in April during most years.  The front of the trigger guard is squared off and checkered.  Placing the index finger of the support hand on the trigger guard is still used in Europe so the squared trigger guard is on the pistol even though that style of grip hold has been out of fashion in the U.S. for a couple of decades.  

The pistol also has the standard tactical accessory rail so that you can hang lights, lasers, Japanese paper lanterns, Christmas stockings or anything else that you would like on it.   

Many pundits, including myself, initially looked at the 320 and observed that it was merely the hammer fired model 250 in which the hammer-firing mechanism has been swapped out for a striker-firing mechanism.  We proffered that SIG lost one of the benefits of a striker-fired pistol which is a lower bore axis due to the fact that the slide did not need to sit high enough to accommodate a hammer firing apparatus.  We opined that this would result in greater muzzle flip than had they redesigned the slide and frame to make it proportionate with the size of the striker device.  These were undoubtedly true conclusions to draw however they were completely of no moment when firing the pistol as you will see in the targets.

This first target was fired with 15 rounds of Speer 124 grain Gold Dot Hollow Point ammo at 21 feet.

The remaining targets were shot with 115 grain Magtech FMJ ammo at 30, 35, and 50 feet.  

As expected, the groups spread out as the targets were extended in distance but the pistol produced solid hits on every one of them. The accuracy is more than sufficient for defensive purposes on human-sized threats.

I wrote this review with the police officer in mind since that is where inquiries about the P 320 had originated but all of the great handling and shooting attributes of this pistol can also be utilized by the non-law enforcement shooter as well. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Concealed Carry Training for Parents with Babes-in-Arms

Melody Lauer, a relatively new contributor to the Gun Nation Podcast is an instructor from Iowa. She recently put together a brilliant training session geared for parents who carry both a handgun and a baby. This is a vital training topic for concealed carrying parents who also have babes-in-arms. I hope she brings this training to a wider audience!

Monday, March 02, 2015

**Updated**Gun World, Why Do You Do This?


Gun World has let loose with another special edition on concealed carry which is full of errors once again.  The monthly Gun World magazine is a respectable periodical penned by writers experienced in both written prose and in firearms (I was going to try to make-up a new word, firearmology, but came to my senses).  However, when they put these special editions out I can only assume that they are assembled by unpaid college journalism interns who know nothing about firearms and are hoping to get a job with the New York Times after graduation.

Now, to be fair, this edition is not as chocked full of mistakes as past editions but the ones that snuck by are pretty prominent.

The first major article in the special edition is about a firearms trainer.  The interview is OK, the information is sound although the trainer mostly talks about what kind of training you should get and fully vetting your trainer rather than imparting any tactical training tips.  All in all his points are valid and the article is well written.  However...
Is he carrying an inside the waistband holster outside of the waistband?  He also might want to cinch his belt in one more notch.

Following this article we are shown seven pages of Guns World's suggestions for "SEMICOMPACT REVOLVERS" deemed good enough for concealed carry.

For years I have suffered under the false impression that James Bond carried a Walter PPK Semi-Automatic pistol only to be corrected by Gun World and shown that it is actually a SEMICOMPACT REVOLVER.

And for the fourth year in a row Gun World recommends the Taurus DT40 despite the fact that Taurus never manufactured this pistol.
Taurus introduced this pistol at the 2011 SHOT SHOW but never put it into production.  It soon disappeared from their website and was not included in their 2012 catalogue but in the mind of Gun World this plucky little pistol soldiers onward.   Psst...Gun doesn't exist.

In the revolver category they recommend the Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum.  A bit large for concealed carry but
Even worse, to illustrate the Ruger Redhawks they chose an image of a Taurus revolver.

I could go on further, such as the fact that they list every flavor of the Charter Arms .38 snub-nosed revolver (the pink one, the lavender one, the gold one, the red one, etc.) even though they are all the same bloody revolver just anodized a different color.  But what's the point?

Attention Gun World, for a thousand bucks I will proof read your special editions before they go to print and save you some grief.

To the rest of the world, please don't go out and buy their Concealed Carry edition.  I bought it so that you don't have to.  And with my participle dangling I bid your Adieu.  


On my first pass through the magazine I missed a few things:
The Dual Tone version of the CZ 85 was discontinued in 2008.

The caption states that the "Freedom Arms better than no gun at all".  But if you're determined to have one of these then "no gun at all" might be what you wind up with since Freedom Arms dropped them from their line-up a long time ago.

No doubt that the Colt Defender is a good choice for self defense.  Gun World certainly believes that it is because they list it on page 75 and page 76.

And there's that Freedom Arms mini 22 LR again!

The opening photo in their holster section seemed a little strange as the holster was not identifiable to the maker or manufacturer.

Then I tool a look down in the right hand corner and found that
apparently Gun World did not have an appropriate holster image in their files so they bought one from an online photo source.

Similarly, when I saw this revolver heading their "Full-sized Revolver" section I wondered if it were a Colt Python and realized that no manufacturer markings were on the frame and barrel only to find that
this image had also come from THINKSTOCK.COM.

Really Gun World!  This is amateur hour on your behalf!