PACKIN’ OLD STYLE — 92 Comments

  1. Mas, when I took MAG40 you were packing a wheel gun, so I figured I should get one. Now I frequently carry a sweet Colt Detective Special.

  2. My CCW is usually some variant of 1911. Every deer I’ve take has been with an ’03A3. My first and most beautiful shotgun is a Model 12, although my 60’s era 1100 sure is sweet. Recently picked up a S&W model 27 circa 1986 new in the box. Open sights from sandbags I’m on the paper at 100 yards! I don’t shoot that good even with the Python! Thanks Mas for all the years of fatherly, scholarly, and friendly advice!

  3. Well Mas you know this old fogey loves his 1911s. You just get used to them after so many years. So from one fogey to another, revelle in your fogeyism.

  4. I’ve been packing a ParaOrdinance P13 for something more than 20 years. It’s the only upgrade from a standard 1911 I can bear, and I carried one of those starting in the late 1970s, when I was driving a hack.

    It’s what I’m comfortable with, though on my short and less than svelte frame it’s not always an easy carry.


  5. I have owned some very accurate rifles: Marlins, Remingtons, Rugers, Sakos, one Savage, one Whitworth, and Winchesters. The one I’ve most enjoyed shooting, though, is my 1952 SMLE from Ishapore, in .303 British. I am continually amazed at how a rifle that is so basic you could call it crude, with a 2-stage military trigger, can be so reliably accurate, especially regarding moving targets.

  6. I am a big fan of modern technologgy, so I use full moon clips in a S&W 1917. (Yes, I can carry a 5 1/2″ barrel. )

  7. I find it interesting the Beretta 9X or Sig 22X didn’t come up. Even in the gun magazines, articles on selecting defense weapons, the whole DA/SA era of guns seems to be dropped. But for me, the 1911 is a 2 hand only gun to operate. If I want to larger size defense gun that my small hands can use one handed, and with a torn rotator cuff I’m learning about that issue, I go with the DA/SA guns designed during the 80s military trials.

  8. I shoot pheasants with the Model 12 20 gauge Winchester my dad bought my mom just after the glaciers receded. And any time I pull it out around someone who doesn’t know me, they try to slicker me out of it thinking I don’t know what I have. I tell them, “You don’t have enough money pal.”

    The Good Lord revealed the design of the 1911 Colt to Mr. John Browning and things have been just fine ever since. Walnut and steel beat whatever trendy plastic pistol is currently in favor. Confidence and training will overcome “Spray and Pray” every time.

    And while I’m on that topic, I read an article not long ago that posited that the Glock isn’t the wundergun every “expert” has been asserting after all. Seems a close examination of training videos and dash cam/body cam footage reveals that upwards of 20% of the time LEOs will forget their training and put a finger inside the trigger guard. This is either the first or second step that leads to an AD with their duty Glock. In fact, a few years ago a state trooper here shot an innocent man walking away from him when he did just this.
    The man lost a kidney and part of his bowel, the trooper lost his job.

  9. Still carry a full size STI Spartan 1911 except in the summer. Then it is an XDs 3.3″ .45.

  10. The newest gun in my arsenal….Carried when the hip flares up and the 1911 feels alittle heavy…..Is a Charter Arms Bulldog.

    The N frame’s are now worth too much to be a carry piece, the K frames are still shot daily but the little bulldog just feels good in a leather OWB thumb break and the 44 caliber chunk it throws makes a mess of anything it hits.

    Looking over the gun collection, my firearms taste never made it out of the 70’s….Most of then are original’s but some like the M-1 Carbine are remakes of the good old stuff from the past.

    I tried but I just cant get excited about these new polymer guns….Some thing are just meant to be made in Steel.

  11. Great guns! I shoot my range officer caliber 9mm, in USPSA, Steel Challange, and IDPA. I carry a SA Mil-Spec in 45 acp as my carry gun. Both are like an old pair of comfy shoes. At times I’ll shoot the para LTC in IDPA just to change things up

  12. I have a 1942 8mm Mauser that is for my larger game, such as Moose and Elk. It’s fun to shoot it with the iron sights, and know that I can hit a piece of metal about the size of a sheet of paper at 300 yards, when I can’t even see my target, but I can reference it to it’s surroundings.

  13. 50s Auto-5, solid as a rock, fogey? maybe but its keeps doing what it does as long as I keep loading it

  14. Mas, with two exceptions(a Kahr 9mm and a Bersa .380 for the wife) every handgun I’ve ever owned has been made of steel and wood.
    I despise Glocks and most other plastic handguns simply because they don’t fit my hand and I don’t consider plastic near as durable as steel.
    My normal carry gun regardless of weather is a stainless Colt 1911 Government Model I bought almost 30 years ago. Don’t get to shoot as much as I used to, but it’s still pure pleasure to take to the range.
    Next purchase is going to be a Milt Sparks IWB holster for my Ruger Security Six .357 Magnum. Kinda feeling a hankering for “Six for sure.”

  15. Most “modern” guns are just rehashes of features going back three quarters of a century or more.

    What you’re mostly seeing are the design differences between form tooling and CNC tooling. Look at Colvin & Viall’s “US Rifles and Machine Guns” and you’ll find not only the complete blueprints for the US Model 1903 rifle, but every special cutter, fixture, and tool, plus step-by-step process tables and heat treat specs. Almost every piece of the 1903 started as a forging – the trigger guard, the sling swivels, the extractor… and was machined with custom form cutters.

    Investment casting goes back to prehistory, but after WWII the state of the art advanced a lot. Ruger started casting gun parts with the threaded holes cast right in. Lots of machining simply went away. Tape-controlled and later CNC mills are much less labor-intensive than old tools, use different tooling, and approach the workpiece differently; designs were optimized for production on the new equipment.

    Finally, customer demand has changed. If anyone had seen a market for a 20-shot automatic they could easily have built one; there’s nothing in a Sig or Glock that would have made a designer in 1935 look twice, other than materials that weren’t available to them then. And the aftermarket has stepped up with metal Glock frames anyway…

    If you’ve done any smithing on a 1911 you know that there are parts that are ridiculously complex to machine, requiring special tooling that generally has to be custom made. That’s a design fault now… but when Browning designed it, ALL tooling was custom made. It wasn’t all that unusual for large shops to make their own end mills and drill bits as well as all the custom form cutters they used. The 1911 wasn’t any more difficult to make than anything else… then.

    I’m fully cognizant of the “faults” of the 1911 – and it’s aggressively right-handed, and I’m not. But I can point it like my finger, and whatever I point it at gets a .451 caliber hole in it. That doesn’t happen with any other pistol I try. Technical merit is well and good, but the end result is putting a hole where I want, not ticking feature checkboxes.

  16. Hell, even my polymer is “old spool”, my 1rst gen Glock 17 I bought when the banners were screaming “invisible to metal detectors!!” But I still carry that 1917 Smith&Wesson…

  17. Well…being a new shooter of just over 2 years starting out later in life…I’ll confess to having started in the Tupperware section of the gun store with my G17 and for my EDC, M&P Shield. Hurray for Gail! But I too have a SS Kimber 1911 in .45 that I really, really like and I would sure like to shoot it more than I do.

  18. For the first time in months, I went to work without my 1911 and felt naked. A GP100 on my hip and a PPS on the ankle still left me wanting. It’s a love affair that shall never end…

  19. When I read about the sheer number of firearms you folks have collected, I’m in awe. I began my shooting in 1967, courtesy of Uncle Sam – was fortunate enough to become “familiar” with everything from a .45 semi-auto through the M-1, M-16, LAW, M-60 M-79, .50 cal. machine gun, mostly the “4-deuce” mortar – I even got a chance to fire the 106mm recoilless rifle. It was just three years ago, however, that I rediscovered how much I loved firearms and began to shoot again. I have but two pistols and can’t see how I could ever acquire a large number of guns, being restricted by limited funds – not desire! My EDC is a Glock G 30 S, which I have mildly modified with Meprolight night sights, Talon grips, and a very common trigger guard mod – undercutting the rear “corner.” I am planning on installing a Ghost connector and spring. My “other” gun – a S&W SD40VE – was purchased when my XDS (my very first gun) was recalled. I then sold the XDS, in order to buy the larger capacity Glock. As you can see, I have committed a gun lovers no-no, selling one gun to buy another. Well, I’m thinking of doing it again, as I am nearly certain I will be buying the Sig Sauer P320, as soon as it’s available in .45. I have handled all grip sizes and want the “Compact” size. It would appear I will have to sell one, probably the S&W, to make that happen. Thanks for sharing, everyone – keep the news coming.

  20. In ’14, I decided to test the handguns in my safe using a format devised from comments by John Farnam. All shots fired at an 8″ Action Targets Evil Roy steel:
    A. 10 yards/ 3 shots moving left/then moving right. Repeat 2x.
    B. 15 yards/ best 3 of 5 shot group measured center to center. Less than three shots on steel = three shot miss penalty.
    C. 25 yards/ best 3 of 5 shot group measured center to center. Less than three shots on steel = three shot miss penalty.
    Each miss = 5 second penalty. Overall score is as in golf with lowest total coming out on top.

    My selection of carry guns went from state of the art Glocks to 1911s to snub .38s to USFA single action Rodeos. Who came out on top?

    A 5″, pencil barreled S&W Model 10, ca. 1962 (by a comfortable margin).

  21. I have Glocks for concealed carry. I have 1911s and wheel guns for fun. Nothing intrigues me more than window shopping S&W revolvers on auction sites. I also love SxS shotguns, lever guns, and single-action revolvers. One of these days I may even carry a double-action revolver and leave the Glock at home.

    There are days I sometimes wished that firearm technology had stopped in 1980 so we would all be forced to carry 1911s and revolvers. That way we wouldn’t be seduced into carrying striker fired high capacity polymer pistols because of their technological/capacity edge. I love the reliability of Glocks, but they have no soul.

  22. Shot a three gun match in Nebraska earlier this year and went old school. I used a Winchester 1907 in 351WSL, a S&W M&P (pre model 10) 38 special and an Ithaca DS police special. The guns were a total of 229 years old. I finished around the middle of the pack.

  23. I’ve been considering myself a young dinosaur since I turned about 40 (10 years ago) and noticed a change in my perspective. I now mistrust anything new, miss the ‘good old days’ and dislike the way things are headed in general. Been lied to too many times and bought too much hype already. The more people consider my tastes outdated, the more I claim this as a badge of honor (since yesterday was better, right?) and the more backwards steps I take.

    Of course there’s a dose of rosy glasses and revisionism in this (I’m no fool), but when it comes to guns I see a lot of revisionism and short-sightedness in the young generations too. In particular, there seems to be a perception that new guns work (like the “perfection” they sell) while old guns are useless and archaic. I think it’s just neomania at play and I’m glad to see you embrace your age and bring a 1911 to a class, Mas. I recently dusted off my copy of In The Gravest Extreme, by the way, and enjoyed your take on ol’ slabsides in this even more than back in the day.

    So… old school? Affirmative! I shoot either 1911s (in .45, please) or revolvers (currently a no-lock 642). I only drive domestic RWD vehicles, currently a modern reissue of a 1970 muscle car on which I mounted BFG Radial T/As and slotted mag wheels, I listen to old(ish) country and I buy more and more DVDs of classics from 30-50 years ago. I’m becoming so entrenched in this that I just bought two Colts, in blue (stainless is more practical), that I put medallion grips on. Soon I’ll be loading them with ball (maybe not)! lol

  24. Mas,

    I don’t know if 59 makes me an old fogey but it was only recently that I’ve been bitten by the 1911 bug – to the tune of three of them. I really like the platform. Slim, easy to shoot, accurate (as accurate as these eyes will allow) and just down right sexy. I’m an XD guy from my first pistol, but once bitten it’s hard to look the other way. Like the old vampire movies, sooner or later you’ll turn. 😎

  25. I have tried going plastic, owning a Shield, but keep reverting to the anacronism, th Airweight Model 38. It’s a bit pocket-worn, and may have had more rounds through it than it was intended for (by a factor of 10!) but it puts holes where I want them without really thinking about it. I’ll take that.

  26. Mas-

    Agree 100% the 1911 is still a great shooter and one of my favorites, especially the range officer. I got mine as a gift from my dad at 16 (I’m 20 now) and It’s a joy to shoot. Only modifications I’ve made are pachmayr grips and a fiber optic front with fixed all black rear. Extremely accurate and I look forward to carrying it soon.

  27. Hmmm, well, I guess I am getting close to geezerhood. MY favorite handgun is a S&W Mod 65 and 66. Backed up on occaision with a Star model BM. Shotgun has two barrels and a hinge. Rifle is pretty modern with a synthetic stock. Rest of it is all steel, made by the Russians in 1944.

  28. Mas,

    I have several of the polymer wonder-pistols, but more often than not, I carry a 1911 (albeit modernized) while those new-fangled pistols hide in the safe. In fact, I am old-school enough that I “channeled” Bill Jordan and shot a S&W 681 through your MAG-40 class a couple of months ago!

    For that matter, when the weather cools off and I can wear enough clothing to cover it, I’ll often tote a S & W 325PD (practice is with the 625JM because of the recoil) so I get the best of both worlds; revolver reliability with .45 ACP ballistics!

    As long as the tool works; i.e. consistently and reliably puts the lead where it is needed, there is no such thing as “obsolete” in my book. 😉

  29. I really like the Springfield Armory RO in .45 acp. I did however, put a fiber optic front sight on the pistol.

  30. Wouldn’t think of being abroad without my 1965 .45 Commander.
    If I ever shot another portable gun better, I’d consider it, but it hasn’t happened yet.
    Except maybe the 1951 .38 Super Commander in the next slot. A little faster maybe and two more bullets in there, but they aren’t very big.
    Even now that they “make a .46”, I’ll stick with what works.

  31. Reading all these comments got me thinking. I spent my working life analyzing software and hardware. You Mas have spent a similar lifetime teaching shooters. You might not have answers for these questions but I will toss them out…

    Have you tracked the sidearms your students bring with them?
    what are the top 10 handguns brought to class (wheel and semi)?
    What are the top 3 or 4 hw failures in your classes?
    how frequent (%) are hw failures in your classes?

  32. When I took the MAG-40 Class, I was using a brand new FNX-40 handgun. Taking the class with a new, unproven firearm was not very smart but I wanted to see how the gun performed.

    On the good side, the FNX is super reliable. I had no malfunctions with it during the class. In fact, it has never jammed on me (ever!). However, it was sighted in using the European notion of “point of aim = point of impact”. I have used a 6 o’clock hold for decades so the gun was hitting low in my hands. I am a lefty so it was also pulling to the right. I tried to compensate during the class but, in the heat of shooting, it is hard and my scores were poor.

    On the last day, when we were to be graded, I said to heck with this! I switched to my good old 1911. One of the instructors (not Mas but an assistant), when he saw me shooting the 1911, observed “that is the gun you should have been shooting all week!”. My scores immediately improved and I passed the shooting part with no problem.

    I have since drifted the rear sight on the FNX to correct the tendency to hit to the right (in my hands) and I swapped the front sight for a lower one. I can now shoot the FNX fairly accurately with a 6 o’clock hold. However, I can still outshoot the FNX with my 1911!

  33. If it ain’t broke…….. It will still put 8 nearly half inch holes in things as fast as any other semi-auto.

  34. I do have my ARs, but the 1911 R1 rides in the vehicle with me and my old Lee-Enfield .303 gets the nod for deer season at least half the time. They’re both great shooters and hard hitters.

  35. I was going to tell you how I like to get out my old Colt Commander once in a while, along with a few other old guns, then I realized that most of my guns are “old” now. Even some of my Glocks & Sigs are almost 30 years old already & several of my guns are twice that old. Since it would take too long to discuss the old-style gun stuff that I cleave to here, I think I’ll just try to figure out which things in my life really did happen recently & which ones that seem recent actually happened 10-20 years ago.

  36. Long Island Mike, when I started out teaching cops it was almost all revolvers with a sprinkling of autoloaders. Today, the only revolvers cops seem to take to class are small frame snub-nose backup guns. Every year I get several civilian classes where there isn’t a revolver in sight…but it’s surprising how often the only revolver in a civilian class is in the hands of the person who turns out to be top shot!

    Striker-fired pistols are most common, Glock still the leader but sometimes more S&W M&Ps or XDs. There are still usually a few traditional double action SIGs in class, along with some Berettas. There is usually at least a sprinkling of 1911s on the line.

    Hardware failures tend to revolve around bad handloads and cheap magazines.

  37. I own a fair assortment of pistols. My “old friend” is a S&W Model 39 9mm that I’ve owned for years. It feels right in my hand. When I pick it up it’s a part of me.

  38. My EDC is a J frame Smith and has been for a long time. Occasionally I pack my Model 19 snub or my Kimber commander size 1911.

    As for the plastic/striker type pistols…never had much use for one.

  39. The 1911. Yes and No. I love the design and overall portability of it, but not the weight or length and occasional reliability issues – no matter what manufacturer, and unfortunately, do not have the insider contacts, at least when i first started shooting 30 years ago, to try various manufacturers’ 1911’s to find the right one, but still i have owned around 7- over the years. Finally after throwing away, i mean spending a few hundred dollars on each one to make reliable, i have carried the 1911 concealed for about 4-6 hours max when i did carry and then, well for me not that comfortable. I guess i have a love hate relationship with the damn thing. Unlike some of the readers on this blog, i cannot afford to keep buying a new 1911 every few years until i find the “right one’ that is a combination of total reliability and semi comfort. I have thrown much money away on the purchase and maintenance of 1911’s. i also have a Sig, a Beretta and a Glock,…..and all were totally reliable right out of the box and very comfortable to carry. Having said that, i still enjoy the 1911 in what i consider, “limited applications”.

  40. I’m not a big 1911 guy, especially for concealed carry. Even with a good belt and holster, I find them too heavy. I am, however, all about sticking with what works. My carry gun is a tried and true 2″, 5-shot, .38 sp…OK it’s a LCR, but you know what I mean. They are just great guns. My other carry, woods, everything gun is an old worn Smith model10. I don’t know why you rarely hear people give this gun any love, but, again, they’re great. I am consistently shocked by how accurately I can shoot that smooth old 4″. Other favorites include a S&W 649, Ruger 7-1/2″ SBH and 6″ GP100.
    The 649 is an old .38 sp and wears the factory round-butt wood grips. I’ve heard those grips bad-mouthed to no end, but I really like them, and I have big hands.

  41. Stainless Colt Combat Commander (bought new in 1993) with a lot of refining: Novak trit night sights, trigger job (that makes people who try it drool), skeletonized trigger and hammer, enlarged ejection port, tuned extractor… all the stuff that comes standard today, all these years later.

    Like the fellow above says, it’s heavy, but at 6’1″ and 188 lbs, I can manage. 🙂