I was poor for the rest of the 1990s but then I got divorced and a computer job in early 1999. I had disposable income and lived alone and wanted home defense again. One of my bosses befriended me and I learned eventually that he was a gun enthusiast as well as a System Administrator. He offered to take me to an indoor pistol range and let me test drive a bunch of his guns so I can get some practice and help me decide what to buy for myself. This guy wasn’t my boss the whole time I was with that small computer contracting company, but he remained by friend and advisor on all things firearms from that point forward and plays a major role in my further development. For purposes of clarity he will henceforth be referred to as My Buddy the Gun Enthusiast, or MBtGE for short. At the range he had a target pistol .22 by Ruger, a 10mm Beretta double-action semi-auto with a laser sight, a Smith & Wesson 9mm, and a S&W .44 magnum revolver with a reinforced cylinder so it could fire hot loads. I kept the target from that day. I didn’t like .22 at all. It jammed after every shot, so it was not semi-auto in any sense. At least I could shoot I accurately when it DID get a round in the chamber. The other semi-autos didn’t do well for me either. The triggers were pretty stiff. VERY stiff on the double action Beretta, as you’d expect. I hadn’t put much thought into pistols with double action only or the single-action double-action choice until this time or that anything but revolvers could be either/or. From that point on I’d never consider double action only. But MBtGE’s pistols all had pretty stiff single action triggers too, and my inexperienced shooting ability and unrefined trigger control was not very accurate. The .44 Magnum was another story. Double action was just as inaccurate as the others. But when I cocked the hammer it shot sweetly. I aimed for the head of the silhouette target, and hit it in the ‘nose’, the ‘bridge’ of the nose, both ‘pupils’ and shot off both ‘ear lobes’. It was a very fun gun to shoot. Powerful. I was already biased in favor of revolvers because of the simplicity of the action being easier to use effectively at 3AM when woken by the noise of a break-in, but this accuracy pleased me. The only problem with the .44 was the kick. It was impressive. And because of it, it took a while to line up a second shot, if needed. But I wanted something stronger than the .38 police special. So I bought a Smith & Wesson .357 the next week. Model 686 with a 6 inch barrel, used. I bought a locking hard case for it and a nylon holster. My ear protection was plugs from my Navy days that work great, and my eye protection was borrowed from one of my other hobbies… blacksmithing requires safety glasses more than shooting does.
In researching revolvers, I found something else I hadn’t known. A .357 can fire .38 Special cartridges too. Good. More options on ammo, and I can get something cheaper for practice if I want. And I practiced with it at least… once? A year. Sometimes twice. I need to practice more, naturally, and I have upped the frequency in the last couple years.
I did get it in 1999, and bought extra ammo before new years, what with all those question marks about Y2K. And that’s about the extent of my preparation for that ensuing disaster. A few of my neighbors were bragging about how many canned goods they had stored away. So if disaster struck and anarchy reigned I knew where to go “shopping”. These people were schoolteachers and loyal Democrats. They were known hoplophobes. If the feces hit the air-circulation device the cold hard reality of their folly would hit them square in the face.
I wasn’t gonna SHOOT them, fer Pete’s sake. Maybe barter sentry services for a bit of Spam. But you never know.
I kept the revolver locked in its case unloaded with 2 speed clips with it. I could get the key from its hiding spot and have it ready to fire in about 20 seconds. Certainly 30.
Fairly Unbalanced - The Pauline Kael Award for the week goes to Sophia McClennan at Salon.com for this piece, yet another turgid, smug rendition of "Ha-ha, stupid NASCAR-Ameri...
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