November 01, 2006

Armed and Rational

A few years ago (gosh, nearly a decade, I find!) I decided that, because my work required me to visit some dangerous places, I needed a carry permit.
That, in Jawjuh, is readily obtained. In fact, it seemed from the reaction I got from my buddy the Probate Judge, that I was something of an odd duck for wanting to actually obtain a permit for a practice that "evahbody" observed anyway (if without official sanction).
At the time, my shooting skills were only fair, so I a good bit of time at a range run by my friend, Edwin Bradley. I was using a .357 magnum revolver that was beautiful, but awesomely unreliable (it evidently had a weak mainspring).
So I was faced with a choice - repair or replace? Fortunately, the choice was made for me. Bradley, when he was four decades younger, had been armorer for the 24th Infantry Division (which was based at Fort Stewart in Georgia). He had also been a "trick-shot" artist, splitting playing cards, hitting two candles with one bullet (split on an axe head), mirror shooting and so forth.
Anyway, Eddie found me on his range one day, struggling with that wheelgun, and as a gift (and because I published his weight-lifting successes in my paper), he offered to build me a "real gun" ... a 1911. I got the parts mail order (top-o-the-line stuff) and Eddie built me a custom .45 that is amazing for accuracy, touch and (to me) beauty. Judge for yourself.
For a while, I tried various carry options with that wonderful piece. But 1911s are not just heavy, they are huge. Concealed carry became something of a joke.
Eventually, I went looking for something more concealable. I tried a .38 Derringer, but that was a joke - single action, clunky, unreliable, and inaccurate - I would have had more success shouting. I put that one in the cabinet and forgot about it.
Then I went with a .22LR made by Beretta (more because I was attracted to the Beretta name than the gun), but I found that not only was the light cartridge completely worthless in "stopping power" (although totally lethal), it did not have the power to reliably work the action. I sold that one pretty quick.
After much reading, I decided to try out a Walther PPK, because the "kriminale" was both concealable and had modest stopping power. But I quickly found that these are extremely expensive weapons. Worth every penny, I am sure, but on a self-employed journalist's income, also completely out of my reach.
But then, while roaming the tables at the local gun show, I found what looked like a PPK, with a pricetag of under $200 bucks. It was a Makarov. I picked it up, worked the action (schweet!), checked the barrel, checked the chamber ... all good.
So I talked to the vendor - a heavyset good ole boy with a cigar in the corner of his mouth and suspenders - and asked him about the gun. He told me that it was a "Russky" copy of a Walther, made on Walther equipment looted after "Dubya-dubya Deuce". Chambered in 9 millimeter (Makarov), it was, he assured me, every bit as reliable as the German original model, even if it had been built by "goddamcommies".
We chatted a bit, and my boy Ben (who was observing that day, and was pretty happy because I had just bought him a knife at another booth) charmed the socks off the vendor. Eventually, we got the price down to $100 Ameribucks, cash. Swiftly, and before either of us could change our minds, I bought the gun, bought some ammo (at another table), and drove back home, now, at last, in possession of a carrygun.
The next day, I went out to Eddie's range to try out my new piece. It was accurate, smooth, and seemed to knock the tar out of Eddie's steel knockdown targets. It was a tad barky, being so lightweight, but dang, it was an effective little gun and earned my fond regard (not that I wouldn't send it to the bottom of a river were the need to arise). I must have fired off 300 rounds of milspec ammo (all Soviet army green cases) before Eddie came out to see me.
He watched me for a bit. Watched my draw-and-shoot drill. Checked my targets. Nodded. Left. Never said a word.
Then it struck me ...
The next day, I was back on the range with my custom-made Edwin Bradley special 1911 .45, shooting away at targets, enjoying the feel of that fine gun. After a while, Eddie came out, stood watching for a bit. He checked my targets. Then he offered some advice on my stance. We got to talking about history, and his experiences in the Navy during the war (he was on the USS Atlanta AA cruiser in the Pacific). We talked for an hour before I left to cover a government meeting in Pembroke.
As I pulled out of Eddie's farm, I patted the beautiful 1911 .45 in its holster on the passenger seat, and made sure that the Makarov was secure in its holster ... on my belt.
Compassion for one's gunsmith is more than just polite ... it's neighborly.

1 comment:

muninn said...

I got my first letter from "This Recruit" at Parris Island. I will write him back today. I think I will tell him it would be a good idea to go out of his way to make acquaintance with the post armorer.Always good to have friends in low places. I will try to post his letter today, time permitting.