Gary's Gun Notes #74

2008 and 2009 are going to go down in firearms history as an extremely unusual time in our lives. We elect the most anti gun and anti American president in history and the firearm buying frenzy is more than double what it was under Clinton. Just about every gun company that has a CNC machine and a lathe is turning out various versions of the AR-15. Small pocket guns are more sought after now than ever in the past. People who are not gun people are buying guns and learning how to use them. 

I didn't make it to the SHOT SHOW this year as there are still some warrants out for me in Florida, but I have received a tremendous amount of info from friends who were there. It was, from what I was told, one of the most unusual SHOT SHOWs ever. The booths with the standard guns and equipment were almost deserted while the tactical, reloading and CCW gun booths were swamped. Specialty ammo booths were having a field day also. The people that put on the SHOT SHOW are really choosing their words carefully in describing the success of the show this year. It wasn't a bad show, just extremely unusual.

Right now there is a firearm buying frenzy going on here in the states, and it's not just the assault rifles that was the norm during Clinton's presidency. With home invasions up well over 100% in many sections of the country more and more people are searching for that special home defense weapon. And it is not just an AR-15 anymore. 

Gun shops have to buy our guns from distributors in most cases and over this past few months many guns that are normally readily available are nowhere to be found. Mossberg shotguns, normally found in abundance in just about every shop are now allocated. In other words if we call a distributor and tell them we want to order 6 Mossberg shotguns, they tell us they can let us have one or maybe 2. Some of the Mossberg line is almost impossible to find, like the model 590 military shotgun. Those are about as common as a pretty 21 year old virgin in Tijuana. 

Home defense shotguns aren't the only guns on the short list. It seems just about every handgun company is building a new palm size semi auto, most in 380. Kel-Tec, Ruger, recently Magnum Research and several others are backlogged on delivery for weeks and sometimes months. The 380 ammunition for these little guns is gone from the dealers shelves. The ammunition companies normally plan their product inventory a year or more ahead and the mass acceptance of the little 380s was unseen a year ago. Now the ammunition is almost impossible to find. Colleen normally carries a Walther PPK/S in her purse but a regular customer needed some ammo for the Ruger LCP 380 he bought at our shop and Colleen didn't have any on the shelf, so she gave him the ammo out of her Walther, figuring she could replace it in a day or so. Who would have guessed that every distributor we have was out and had none coming in anytime soon. 

Double aught buckshot is another type of ammunition that is extremely hard to find. With the home invasion scare spreading the average homeowner often feels more comfortable with a short barreled shotgun than he does with a handgun, and they are buying buckshot like it's going out of style. 

Recently someone asked on our forum what gun to keep at home for home defense. I told him to keep a 9mm handy as there was little chance of someone kicking in his door at 3AM. After telling him that I got a report in concerning the crime level in the states and in many states and regions home invasions are up over 100% over this time last year and in some areas along our southern border they are up almost 150% over last year. Now when someone asks what to keep for home defense, I will have to change my answer. Now I would tell someone to keep a good short barreled shotgun handy and a good handgun in the largest caliber that you can handle well. If anything over a 9mm causes you to flinch and shoot holes in the floor, then stay with a 9mm. If you are a small statured person and your friends call you a candy ass, then stay with the 9mm, but back it up with the shotgun. 

If you are thinking of a shotgun but are not really sure which end is up, here is a little quickie course in shotguns. A 20 gauge will do if you absolutely can't handle the 12 gauge, but your choice in home defense ammo will be less. A 12 gauge would be the best bet but contrary to the old popular belief 00 buckshot or 0 buckshot are not always the best. In the 2 3/4" 12 gauge 00 buckshot there are normally only 9 pellets in the shell. And at close range buckshot doesn't spread much at all. At 5 feet the 00 buckshot will be in a 3 inch circle. At 10 feet it is only in a 6 inch circle, so your chances of missing the bad guy in a dark room are pretty good. Here is where the buckshot stands...

  • 000 buckshot is 36 caliber 
  • 00 buckshot is 33 caliber
  • 0 buckshot is 32 caliber
  • #1 buck is 30 caliber
  • #2 buck is 27 caliber
  • #3 buck is 25 caliber
  • #4 buck is 24 caliber. 

Even in the largest of the buckshot shotshells, the 3 1/2" 10 gauge magnum with 00 buckshot you only have 18 pellets per shell. In the much more popular 12 gauge 3" magnum and in the 00 buckshot load, you only have 15 pellets to the shell. For those with the 20 gauge 3" magnum the best bet is #2 buck which gives you 18 pellets per shell. Not much, especially when they don't spread much at home defense ranges. Most law enforcement agencies like the #4 buckshot. With the pellets being the smaller 24 caliber rather than the large 33 caliber of the 00 buck, you get considerably more pellets per shell. 

There is another side to this coin that I actually prefer. Regular shot. Now buckshot and regular shot are different. Are you still with me? #4 buckshot, as I said is 24 caliber, BUT #4 shot is 13 caliber, a whole lot of difference. #4 shot is normally a duck or goose load but is great for home defense. Here's why.

The average shot weight in a shotshell is 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 ounce of shot. #4 shot has 135 pellets per ounce, so a 1 1/4 ounce load will have 169 pellets per shell. Now we are getting into decent home defense. With 169 pellets per shell and as these pellets are much smaller and lighter than 00 buck, they tend to spread easier by the air and by the choke of the gun. So instead of all the pellets in a 00 buck load staying in 6 inches at 10 feet, the #4 shot will disperse to about 16 inches at that range, especially with a cylinder choke shotgun, which most defense shotguns are. Plus if the bad guy is a skinny little runt like Scott Boggs, you might miss him completely. The 00 buck will go thru a drywall wall easily, maybe hitting a family member in the next room. The #4 shot might also go thru but will not have the force left to do as much damage as the 00 buck. If you have children and worry about the shot hitting them, you could even go with #7 1/2 or #8 shot size. These are much smaller. The #7 1/2 shot is not even quite 10 caliber, very small bird shot. #8 is even smaller. Each of these in a 1 1/4 ounce load puts out right at 500 pellets per shell. You have a lot less chance of missing the bad guy and even if you do, the shot isn't going to go thru 3 or 4 walls and hurt someone next door. So there you go. Now you know all you need to know about shot size for a defense shotgun. And by the way, often when I suggest a short barreled shotgun for home defense, I get the old "I want the long barrel for more power". That's pure bull pucky. Even the magnum shotshells will burn all the powder in a maximum of 20 inches. The only thing you gain with a long barrel is your barrel is 12 inches closer to the target. 

OK, back to the new guns and gear coming this year. Charter Arms has some kinky people in their ad department. They have several new small CCW type revolvers out this year, going under the name Goldfinger, Pink Lady, Lavender Lady and they have what they call America's 1st left hand revolver, called the Southpaw. The pink lady and lavender lady refer to the color of the revolver. 

And while we are on the subject of pink, Leupold has a new binocular out for the ladies (I hope it is for the ladies) that is a pink camo. How sweet. 

Ruger has a lot of new gear this year, especially in their Hawkeye line up. They have a new batch of left hand rifles in the Hawkeye, They have some new compact rifles with 16 1/2" barrels, they have a Tactical Hawkeye with a 20" barrel, and a Predator with the heavy barrel. All these in various calibers. Ruger's 77/44, which is the rotary magazine 44 magnum bolt action is going tactical this year with a black nylon stock and stainless metal and an 18" barrel.

Several new calibers coming out in the #1 rifle, including 338 RCM (Ruger Compact Magnum), 460 S&W. 475 Linebaugh, 375 Ruger and 416 Ruger. I wonder at the choice of the 460 and 475 Linebaugh in a single shot rifle, but it's not for me to question. Last year they premiered a new 4" Redhawk in 45 long colt, this year the same gun is in 44 mag. The New Vaquero is coming out as a New Vaquero/Bisley with the Bisley gripframe, hammer & trigger. It will be offered in both the 357 and 45 LC and in 5 1/2". 

Remember the cheapie little Ravens, Jennings and Davis Derringers? They were all owned by one family in California. Lawsuits put them out of business and they lay dormant for several years. Then a company called Cobra Firearms bought out the tooling, tightened up all the tolerances and brought steel back into the line up. They are still in the low end of the price range but much better guns. They now have a new snubbie revolver out called The Shadow. It is a 2 inch hidden hammer model in 38 special and for those that simply can't shell out $400 for a revolver, this could be a life saver, literally.

Speaking of small revolvers. For many years the Colt Detective Special was the favorite of many in the law enforcement field. One of the reasons was that it was a 6 shot, while the S&W little model 36 was a 5 shot. Well, a new 6 shot snubbie is back on the market, from Taurus. That's 20% more firepower if you want to get down to specifics. It is the new model 856. This should be an excellent seller for Taurus. Their old model 85 was the best selling 5 shot snubbie 38 special for well over 15 years and this one should take the model 85's place in short order.

Reloading is the next big phase we will go thru. People are finally realizing that with the extreme high cost of ammunition, it's time they learned to reload. We are having a mini rush on reloading gear and the big rush is still to come, but it will get here. I have 10 times more people ask questions about reloading now than last year. If you aren't a reloader yet, better get your gear while you can. If you are a bit unsure of what to get, check last month's Gun Notes. We went over reloading in depth in that issue.

Speaking of reloading, Winchester has a new powder out called AutoComp. It is a new ball powder especially meant for the semi auto pistols. I haven't had a chance to try any of it yet but I will. And just when you thought you had heard it all, black powder isn't all black anymore. We have to be politically correct here and add some white powder. IMR has a new blackpowder pellet that is white. It is called White Hots. 

And on that we will call it a day. Lots more to tell you about but we will save that for next time. Think reloading!



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