Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Range trip

Written By: Bob - Aug• 17•13
I just met you and this is crazy, but here's my number. Call me maybe?

I just met you and this is crazy, but here’s my number. Call me maybe?

I know I’ve been quiet here the past few days, and there is a good reason for that: I’ve picked up a new full-time job that I am not yet at liberty to discuss. A nice side benefit of that new job was a trip to the office on Thursday to meet my boss and co-workers for the first time (every one of them seems very nice), and then we went to a very posh upscale indoor shooting range on Friday as part of a company outing. One of the other new hires that started this week made the comment I was thinking, “can we do this every week?”

They divided us up into experienced shooters and inexperienced shooters, and sent those of us with some trigger time in a separate range. Inside, there were different firearms at each station, and to my delight, most were firearms I’ve never shot before, or were equipped in a configuration I’d not used.

In left-to-right order, they were (to the best I can recall):

  • traditional semi AKM-pattern in wood (Century Arms import, maybe?)
  • Springfield Armory SOCOM II, extended top-rail variant
  • 12-gauge pump with slugs (didn’t catch the model, but looked like a Mossberg)
  • Daniels Defense AR-15 carbine, with a low-power Trijicon scope and Mako handguard and foregrip
  • no-name 1911 in .45 ACP
  • HK USP in .45 ACP
  • Glock 21 in .45 ACP
  • CZ-75-type (didn’t catch manufacturer) in .40 S&W
  • Springfield Armory EMP (compact 1911 in .40 S&W)
  • Beretta 96 (basically, a Beretta 92 in .40 S&W)

Believe it or not, I’d never fired an AKM until yesterday, even though I’ve had some trigger time and have even hunted deer with an SKS. It was obviously designed for someone much smaller that me, but it was accurate enough, had negligible recoil, and I can see why folks would like it.

I skipped firing the SOCOM II. I picked it up and looked through the crude ghost ring sights, and simply didn’t see the point. Put some glass on it like it was designed to shoot, and I bet it would be fun.

I skipped firing the bead-sighted 12-gauge firing slugs. Been there, done that, and wouldn’t get any venison out of it. I was very impressed, however, that one of the ladies fired it, rubbed her shoulder, and went back to fire it again.

The DD AR carbine with the low-power Trijicon? Loved it. All of my shooting experience is as a paper-puncher, plinker, and deer hunter, so I have a very traditional rifleman’s skillset, honed to a pretty fair edge for that kind of shooting by Appleseed (which everyone really must do, in my opinion). One of the instructors/RSOs was a former Marine rifleman who had also been on President Bush’s personal security detail, and he showed me how to square up and run the carbine in a much more tactical way, which is more about speed and agility and logevity than tiny groups. It was an eye opener, and now I really want some good tactical training.

The no-name 1911 shot like a no-name well-used 1911. No surprises.

I now have an inkling of why the HK fanboys love their guns. I really liked the sights on the USP, it fit my hand well, and shot very accurately for me, more than any of the other full-size pistols. Very nice firearm.

This was my first time shooting a Glock 21. I don’t care for the Glock grip angle and tend to shoot low with it, but adjusted my grip and was doing fine by the end of the first magazine. Nothing fancy, but utterly reliable.

The CZ-75/Tangfolio-ish gun shot fine, but some how struck me overall as “meh.” I think I’m spoiled on safe-action and single-action triggers.

My first and for the longest time only handgun was a 1911, and I’ll always have a soft-spot in my heart for the platform, and so when I moved over to the nearly new EMP compact in .40 S&W I got really excited. Then I started shooting it, and got even more excited. I shot that better than any handgun on the line, and indeed, better than my personal pistols. I never shoot anything other than center mass with my XD (because that is what you aim for in a self-defense gun), but with the EMP, I felt confident enough to shoot headshots by the 3rd magazine, and kept them all center-lined (though there was some shooter-induced vertical stringing because I got excited). It and the DD with the Trijicon were the guns that gave me “the grin” you like to see at the range.

The less I say about the Beretta 96, the better. Horrible trigger, grip, and sights. I kept my rounds on the target, but had no confidence in the gun at all. I felt like I was running a dowsing rod.

Once I’d played with all the toys on our side, I wandered over to the range with the less-experienced shooters, where a few hadn’t fired at all by the time I’d made it there. Our office manager had never fired a gun and was shaking she was so nervous, but after a little confidence-building and coaching she did pretty well with an M&P 9. I then gave her an old-school 9mm AR with the carry-handle fixed sights, and she seemed to enjoy shooting that. She gave me a hug afterward, and kept her target to show her boyfriend, so maybe we managed to create a new shooter, which would make my day.

It was a nice trip, and it was a joy to shoot and learn for a change, instead of instructing.

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  1. Edd says:

    Come on. Tell us who your new employer is.

    Congrats! BTW

  2. Veeshir says:

    That’s an awesome day at work.

    As for your comments on the Beretta 96, I had a Storm in .40 S&W and I had the same experience.

    It was reasonably accurate but the sights were a little ‘sloppy’, there were relatively large gaps on either side of the front sight, and the trigger was a little sloppy too.
    It was also aggressively plastic. I have a Sig SP 2340 that’s plastic but it doesn’t give off that aura of “PLASTIC!”

    I just didn’t like it and I wouldn’t suggest it to anybody else.

  3. louielouie says:

    congrats on the hire.

  4. Right_2_Bear says:

    “One of the instructors/RSOs was a former Marine rifleman who had also been on President Bush’s personal security detail, and he showed me how to square up and run the carbine in a much more tactical way, which is more about speed and agility and logevity than tiny groups.”

    Wow what a resource you have there. I like this mindset. And that is one reason why I’ve never done an Appleseed – the training seems too static. I just don’t think paper punching is very practical training beyond a certain point. (not knocking Appleseed, they are great organization – just my 2 cents).

    BTW congrats on the job.

    • Bob says:

      Appleseed is based upon WWI-era long distance marksmanship training. That is why Appleseed instructors trained elements of the 10th Mountain when they deployed to Afghanistan, and why we still have active duty forces (including SF) come to our courses on their own time.

      Neither set of techniques is “better,” they are just designed for different kind of shooting.

      • Right_2_Bear says:

        To be clear I never said one was better than the other. For me, the CQC shoot-and-scoot type of training is more practical for what may be in store for us here in the states.

        Witness the recent videos of the Egyptian street fighting, this is what we will see mostly in a usurp/WROL situation. Although a great and necessary skill in the mountains of Afghanistan, I just don’t see much use for 500 yard sniping stateside. Again all in IMHO.

      • eddd7 says:

        A sniper at a distance is just the thing we were most worried about in Nam. In an Asymmetrical warfare scenario, we ain’t gonna be going toe to toe with troops. Long distance shots – never seeing or knowing who and where, would be the thing to strike fear into those protecting the regime.

    • Wild Deuce says:

      I think you are looking at it all wrong. When you think of Appleseed, you should think of it as anew cook being shown around the kitchen … you are being told where everything is located, what’s in each drawer, what’s in each cabinet, how to turn the stove on, what’s in the fridge, where all the utensils are, how to run the blender, how to operate the food processor, etc. Learning CQB/CQC, Sniping, IDPA, USPSA, Guerrilla warfare, high-speed tacti-cool AR fighting, etc. is the equivalent of being given the recipe to a meal or getting a cooking class. Could you enjoy a lifetime of cooking without the introductory tour around the kitchen? Sure … but wouldn’t it make executing all those recipes a lot easier if you knew where everything was at and how to use it from the beginning?

      Sorry for the crappy analogy … it’s just that I see a lot of people assume that Appleseed is intended to be a final destination. It’s not. It’s a starting point (that’s why it’s called AppleSEED … not Apple Tree) … okay, to be more precise, it is a program intended to replicate by involving current students as instructors in the future. Anyway, some of the fundamentals will not change … no matter the type of shooting. Trigger control will always be the final physical influence that a shooter will have over the round being fired. It doesn’t matter if the target is across the field or across the room.

      There are intangibles to the Appleseed Project that have nothing to do with shooting as well. You really should give it a try.

  5. Cole says:

    Congrats on the new job Bob.

  6. Junk Science Skeptic says:

    Congrats on the new job!

  7. winston smith says:

    Congrats for sure!
    With bennies like that, you’ve either got to kill people or pay the company ime.
    We’re all dying to know of course, so the first second you can say……….

  8. Comrade X says:

    Only if I could have a life like some super hero’s do!!!!

  9. Tom RKBA says:

    I skipped firing the SOCOM II. I picked it up and looked through the crude ghost ring sights, and simply didn’t see the point. Put some glass on it like it was designed to shoot, and I bet it would be fun.

    Those sights are great. I watched a guy put 15 of 20 shots through a head target at 400 yards at the RWVA home rnage in Ramseur, NC. He needed the first five to figure out where the gun was shooting. The sights’ ability to lock in distance is very valuable since it eliminates the need to count clicks. These sights should be on all modern service rifles.

    • Wild Deuce says:

      I agree with Tom. You should have given that SOCOM a chance. Those sights might impress the heck out of you.

      I would be interested in knowing what exactly made you “not see the point.”

      • Bob says:

        Two things led me to put the SOCOM back down.

        1). The front site post was extremely thick-looking, and was solid black, (not helped by infrequent cleaning, I’d wager), and obscured most of the target that was set up at that station and,

        2). huge aperture ghost ring rear sight, which I’ve never shot well.

        I’d be wasting ammunition.

        I’m not hating on the gun, just the sights.

      • Alien says:

        I’ll concur – if you get a chance to shoot a SOCOM, either I or II, take it. First, you’ll get an appreciation for just how good the compensator is. Second, it’s an easy gun to run, especially if you have any Garand time. The ghost ring setup makes it a ~400 yard rifle, BUT…the rear sight swaps out in seconds with your choice of match or National Match peeps, and a variety of front blade widths (including tritium insert blades) are available. That doesn’t mean you should try turning a SOCOM into a NM, but there are options. And, learning how to use a ghost ring is a worthwhile endeavor. I’m not aware of anyone currently making folding stocks for M1As (I have an older one), but a compact .30 caliber rifle that can reliably throw 168 grains into a 6 inch circle at 400 yards is a very useful tool (and, no, I wouldn’t try to get a Rifleman patch with it, but the rifle would do it). FYI, Scout-type scopes are 2.5-2.75X, which helps, but use QD rings to attach them so you can go back to the ghost rings quickly. The GRs are faster.

  10. Tom RKBA says:

    Re: EMP

    Don’t go getting a gun nut for the EMP without knowing what you are in for. My experience with the EMP was bad, but Springfield Armory Customer Service made it right in two trips to the factory. It would not shoot reliably out of the box. The barrel was installed incorrectly and the firing pin nearly hit brass (they never centered it up). The feed ramp had to be recut, polished, extractor tuned and breechface smoothed. It lasted until round 600 before dying. The ejector was merely glued into the frame and started working itself loose. It took me thirty minuted to unload the gun and remove the slide. SACS fixed that and I had them do a trigger job while it was in the shop. I had one forum guy cut one of the mags to make it flush. You lose a round, but it conceals better. The gun was very reliable after that and had no trouble with Tula practice ammo or Speer Gold Dots. Know what you are getting into, have ammo set aside for testing and add black Alumagrips!

  11. Tom RKBA says:

    Correction: SACS changed the barrel link to more center the firing pin strikes. This allowed the gun to work reliably.

  12. RuralGal says:

    Great news on the Employment. Now don’t let you bloggy stuff go by the wayside – you are one of my first stops in the morning. Kudo’s for the newbies as well. With all the bad press their stepping up to participate gives me a smiley!

  13. Tom RKBA says:

    Here is what the EMP looks like with black Alumagrips

  14. Dan says:

    Does the Beretta 92FS share the same problems as the Beretta 96?

  15. garfish says:

    “It was an eye opener, and now I really want some good tactical training.”

    Storm Mountain Training Center isn’t that far from you. I took their Long Range Rifle I&II “resort” classes and then the Sniper I course. The Sniper I course was hard. I was digging honey locust thorns out of my calves and spiders and ticks out of me for two weeks afterwards. I hadn’t taken a vacation for a couple of years before I took the Sniper I course and was kicking myself at the time for taking that time to “join the fucking Army for a week”, but I’m glad I did. You’d be surprised at how quickly you are making 800 yard head shots in wind with a .308.

    I’ve always wanted to take their pistol courses, but haven’t yet made the time.

  16. cmblake6 says:

    Congratulations on the job, Bob. Well done. I really like my AKs and my SKS. I find the cartridge sufficient for wild hogs in the medium range. The huge ones I really want my .308 or 8 mm much more! As for the EMP, the only thing I didn’t like about it was how much it was going to cost me to get one. Be well, stay frosty. And keep writing!

  17. Jason says:

    Congratulations on the new job Bob! That was a great bit of news to read this morning!! Sounds like you found a great place to work as well.

  18. brad says:

    Can you share the name of the upscale range?