Tag Archives: pistol

Bear Spray

by Woodsbum

So many times I hear people talk about carrying bear spray versus a firearm when in a high predator area. Now, I agree with a lot of the research that bear spray is quite effective with regard to bears. It may or may not be the defensive weapon of choice. I do wonder how effective it is across the board with all predators and whether it should be a substitute for a gun or additional carry item.

Here are a few resources:

Shoot or Spray?
Living with Grizzlies
Using Bear Spray to Deter Mountain Lions
The Bear Necessities
WDFW Bear Spray Overview
MT FWP Effective Use of Bear Spray
Attacks by Cougar and Bear in US and Canada

Here are a couple observations that I gleamed from these resources:

  1. You are more likely to be killed by a bear, but attacked by a cougar.
  2. Attacks number higher overall (fatal and nonfatal) due to cougars.
  3. Bear spray works well on bears, but “MAY” help deter cougars.
  4. There is a huge push for bear spray for protection and guns have fallen out of favor.

In the articles, I can see how their scenarios play out better for use of bear spray. All the stories of attacks they use are close range charges where quick reaction and wide area of affect are the deciding factors in the encounter. There really was no mention of stalking or bears investigating your campsite. In those situations I have just fired a warning shot and the bear takes off. The same thing has worked for me with regard to cougars. Cats tend to stalk you and attack you from behind. They are ambush predators. The nice thing about cougars is that you can, a lot of times, smell them before you see them. There is definitely a musky, “death” smell for lack of better adjective when a cougar is around. This can help you out if you are being stalked.

No matter whether it be a bear or cougar that is messing with you, the statistics don’t cover a few things that the selected stories preach to support the author’s point of view. Each of the selected stories will lead you to believe that there is no time to think or react and you will be ambushed without warning. The reality is a bit different. Reality is that paying attention to detail, being extremely careful, and making sure to NOT be prey can give you some warning. It isn’t sure fire, but it is a start. This is a better approach than assuming you will be a victim. All about the situational awareness.

Now that I have ignored the anecdotal bedtime stories that support either spray or guns it is time to apply some common sense:

  • Bear spray works really well on bears.
  • Bear spray “may” help deter cougars.
  • Bears are VERY hard to kill.
  • Cougars are much easier to kill.
  • Bear spray holsters and quick draw options are available.
  • Pistol holsters are available in numerous quick draw options.
  • Guns can be used to signal in times of distress in a louder manner than a whistle. Bear spray can’t signal anything with the “pssssfffttt” sound it makes.
  • Guns can be used to feed myself in times of need. Bear spray just seasons the still alive menu item.
  • Guns are effective against 2 legged threats even when they are on drugs. Bear spray “may” deter a 2 legged threat.
  • Just the open carry of a gun “may” deter 2 legged threats. Bear spray is less likely. Studies on violent crime in cities supports this statement. If you wonder it’s veracity park a Maserati GranTurismo convertible full of gold on the street in South Chicago and see what wards off attacks best, guns or bear spray. I will stop by the hospital/morgue to check the bear spray results.

My personal opinion is that you should evaluate your situation and environment, then take the tools that will protect you in the best manner. No matter whether you choose bear spray, silly string or a S&W 500 each one has its uses and place. What I hope any reads took from this is that it doesn’t matter what you take. Just have great situational awareness, carry something to protect yourself, and don’t be negative because someone else chose something different.

Personally, I take a .44 mag or .357 in a cross draw configuration for quick access and a can of bear spray on a 550 cord “holster” in heavy bear areas. The extra weight I carry may just save my hind quarters……

Lastly, there was an incident in Alaska on Tuesday. It appears that someone stopped a charging bear with a pistol. The bear charged the guy from 20 yards away and was shot 5 times to stop it, then a final shot to finish it off. This is one of many pieces of anecdotal evidence that shows that firearms in the hands of someone trained will work to stop a charging bear. Ultimately, use what you want and are comfortable with as long as you are trained in its use.

Good luck and stay safe!!!

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N.A.A. Wasp – My Noisy Cricket

by Woodsbum

For many years, I have carried some form of compact semiautomatic pistol. Originally, it was a Glock 30 (not very compact, but small enough to carry and pack a punch). After I found that the Glock was too big for my liking, I moved over to an old Smith and Wesson SW9. Eventually the firing pin spring wore out and the factory replaced it with a M&P Shield. Now, I still carry this quite often. There is a problem with the size of this pistol, however. It is nice and compact compared to most pistols, but it still tries to pull my pants down when I wear workout clothes and still tugs a bit in a cargo pocket. I was to the point where I was actually getting annoyed.

Then I found the North American Arms mini revolvers. I call it my Noisy Cricket after the MIB movie pistol:

NAA Wasp

NAA Wasp

This little guy comes with two cylinders so that I can shoot either .22LR or .22WMR ammunition with it. The cylinder comes out by pulling the pin under the barrel. This is also how you reload it. The design does not allow for reloads while the cylinder is still in the frame.

For a better frame of reference in regard to size, here is my Wasp pictured next to a 30-30, a 45-70 and a .44 mag cartridge.

NAA Wasp next to 30-30, 45-70 and 44 mag

NAA Wasp next to 30-30, 45-70 and 44 mag

As you can see, it really is not much bigger than having a set of truck keys and work keys in the same pocket. The design also makes is safe to carry the cylinder completely loaded. There is a notch between the rounds that the hammer fits nicely into. This locks the cylinder and prevents accidental discharge of the pistol while bouncing around your pocket. I have always been an advocate for carrying any firearm with an empty chamber, so this feature really struck me as well thought out. I do carry revolvers with all chambers filled, but put the hammer down between cartridges in a similar manner. This design locks the cylinder and disallows the pistol from accidentally rotating to an unspent round. Very nice job, guys!

Now for how it shoots…..  I am not as spot on with a camera, so I never remember to take pictures of my targets after I shoot them. This may also be due to the fact that I usually don’t use paper targets when plinking. Either way I am stuck just telling you how it performs, so if you want to see actual “proof” you will have to find one to play with.

With the .22 WMR rounds, it was dead on accurate. Where the pistol was pointed was exactly where the round hit. The sights are similar to how you aim a shotgun for there is no rear sight. You basically put the bead on your target and let ‘er rip! Using Mini-Mag .22 LR also resulted in the same accuracy. I was shooting Dr. Pepper and RC cans at 25 yards with this little guy…..  Then came the standard velocity rounds. Oh, boy. I would have been better just throwing the rounds at the cans. It didn’t shoot a grouping, but more of a pattern. It was a pattern of a drunk, blind person wearing mittens. It was HORRIBLE. I used Remingtons, Winchester, CCI and Federal standard velocities in several different grain weights. Nothing worked to pull the accuracy back into a grouping but the CCI Mini-Mags. I did not try Stingers. Mainly because I didn’t have any.

The NAA pistol is really a great pocket pistol. With the right ammunition it is very accurate and .22 WMR is truly no joke round. There are also many accessories for this little guy to include flip handles with clips and belt buckle mounts. Considering the price and fact that this little guy gives you the ability to carry even when working out, swimming, or wearing anything that will disallow normal concealed carry without printing, NAA has got a real winner. I consider this one of my best firearm purchases and am now recommending that all my friends get one.

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Dillon Precision RL 550B

by Woodsbum

In recent months, I picked up a second job as a bouncer so that I could get some extra toys. One of the top items on my list was a Dillon Precision progressive reloader. Both my brother and my father have one that they use constantly. This last winter, I even took some time of work so I could get in on the action. I spent a couple days using my brother’s system and ended up walking out with about 200 .44 mag, 800 9 mm, 600 .45 ACP, 400 .223, 100 30-06, and about 40 .300 Wby. This was all over 2 days and lots of beer drinking. This made me realize something. This system is really worth the money and any serious shooter should look into them.

This is what the whole system looks like all put together.

Dillon Precision RL 550B

Dillon Precision RL 550B

The one pictured above has all their bells and whistles on it, but let me go over a few things that are REALLY needed to help you with regard to speed and ease of reloading. I took the liberty of circling the accessories that you need to get and will list, explain, and prioritize the importance of these accessories afterward.

Needed Items Dillon RL 550B

Needed Items Dillon RL 550B

Here is the list:

Strong Mount: The Strong Mount raises your Dillon reloader high enough to allow all the parts to fit above the level of table it is bolted to. It also increases the size of the base of your reloader so that it doesn’t put massive amounts of stress on the base bolts and strip them out of the table. It also, and almost most importantly, allows for the press to articulate freely during the whole cycle. In another words, you don’t hit anything on the table or your chair while you pull the level. This simple mount really should be standard with the reloader for it is difficult to operate without it, comparatively.

Bullet Tray: The Bullet Tray holds your bullets for easier access during the reloading cycle. They sit in the tray right next to the station that presses the bullet and crimps the case. It is also angled just enough so that the bullets roll down and forward so you don’t end up chasing them around the tray. For those of you who have used single stage reloading systems it is best described as the solution to the eventual paper cut from the box due to digging around looking for another bullet to press.

Roller Handle: The Roller Handle allows for more uniform and comfortable pulls of the lever during the reloading cycle. Most single stage reloading people only pull the lever a max of 100 times an hour. Because of the speed through the use of the Dillon, you can pull the lever as many as 500 times per hour if you are really cooking through the cases. This means that comfort can become a fairly important item. The knob on the end of the lever that comes with the system by default just gets to be uncomfortable and clunky after about 250-300 rounds in about 40 minutes of work. That was all I could take on my dad’s system when I used it before I loaded all my components up and went to my brother’s. I actually started getting hot spots on my palm from the knob in that little time of using it. There are probably people that can suck it up or just don’t get bothered by the small little orb digging into your palm……  For me the Roller Handle is a must.

Empty Cartridge Bin/Bracket Assembly: The Empty Cartridge Bin/Bracket Assembly provides quick and easy access to your empty cases. It sits next to and a bit down from the handle so as to not interfere with its operation, but is conveniently located next to the first stage of the reloader. My dad only has the Strong Mount and no other accessories for his Dillon. He has to grab cases from one of those holders that are very common for single stage systems. After having used both setups, this accessory will speed up your reloading by at least 10-15%. It has to do with the cases being a few inches closer to where you put them into the case holder. Less movements and less head movement to look for the next case really does increase your speed over time.

Some accessories that are offered that you really don’t need, but are quite nice.

  • Low Powder Sensor – it sounds an alarm when your powder gets low in the measure.
  • Additional Primer Tubes – You can load up several of these tubes so you don’t have to quit reloading to refill in the middle of a run.
  • Quick Change Assembly – These Quick Change kits provide you with all the parts needed to just set your dies and powder measure for each caliber that you reload, then swap the whole system out when you go to a different caliber. No more resetting your dies, adjusting your powder, etc. It is only a couple pins and it is ready for the next run.
  • Casefeeder – I have not seen one of these working yet, but I REALLY would love to get one up and working on my system. It would really speed things up that much more.

At this point I am having a hard time deciding if I am going to buy all these additional accessories before I get my shotgun shell reloader. Depending on how I decide to proceed, I might get the casefeeder in the near future. If I do, I will update everyone as to how well it works.

Being someone who loves to buy things, but has a weird mental block when it comes to time saving purchases I have realized that progressive reloaders like the Dillon RL 550B is far more. It doesn’t just allow you to reload quicker, but allows you to actually save money enough to justify using what you just reloaded. There is no need to put off multitudes of other projects just to get enough rounds ready for hunting. I can crank out hundreds of rounds per hour.

The last part of the whole equation is about saving money. Many times I would reload a few rounds, but supplement my weekend outings with a few hundred factory loads. This actually ended up being more costly in the long run. Components are so much cheaper than loaded rounds if you buy things in bulk. Purchasing only enough materials to do a few hundred rounds really never cut overall costs that much. Now that I can really crank out the rounds, it will get much cheaper in actual monetary costs. Couple that with time savings and I think we really have a winner here. Let’s face it, getting the opportunity to spend one hour drinking beer, smoking my pipe, and reloading enough rounds to take the wife out shooting makes this an affordable past time again.

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