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Pistol Packing Fun-Tom Lounsbury

Tom Lounsbury

Mon, 06 Jan 2014 12:24:46 EST

 


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Pistol Packing Fun
By Tom Lounsbury

I believe the term “pistol” first came about in 16th Century Europe when the wheel lock ignition system for firearms allowed a more efficient manner of carry than what the match lock (simply a smoldering cord attached to the hammer) offered. The first pistols were intended for use in combat while on horseback with their grip designed to allow for convenient firing with one hand while allowing the other hand to control the horse. These were hefty, long barreled affairs that were normally carried in saddle holsters. It didn’t take long for gunsmiths to figure out downsizing the “horse pistols” into far more easily carried firearms (on the person in belts or concealed in pockets) found a ready market not only for military applications but for civilian self defense as well.
Firearms evolution soon created the more efficient flintlock, then the even more efficient (percussion cap) caplock to the modern cartridge firearms that are popular today. Samuel Colt created a revolution in firearm design when he developed the first effective and dependable (caplock) “revolving pistol” pistol in the 1830’s. Before this pistols were either single shot or had multiple barrels and the “revolver” allowed multiple shots per one barrel. Samuel Colt had an advertising slogan that stated his revolver “made all men equal” that certainly boosted his sales especially in the civilian market in regards to self defense.
Smith and Wesson developed the first successful revolver using a (rimfire) self contained cartridge during the 1850’s. This was actually a petite pistol designed for concealed (usually in a pocket) carry and employed the .22 rimfire (which is truthfully America’s oldest cartridge still in very popular production today).
Colt would come out with the legendary .45 single action revolver in 1873 that often gets credit for “winning the West”, at least in the movies. The Colt .45 employed a very dependable center-fire cartridge that packed a punch and it would remain the official U.S. Army sidearm up until the early 20th Century. It certainly was popular with the civilian market as well and even remains to be a popular commodity still today (a prime example is today’s highly popular and fast growing Cowboy Action shooting). One of my favorite hunting revolvers is a Ruger Black Hawk in .45 Colt.
European gun makers started the popular move into semiautomatic pistols during the early 20th century, which quickly caught the U.S. Military’s interest, and led to one of the most popular semiautomatic pistols of all time (including for the civilian market), the Colt Model 1911 in .45 ACP. This pistol is still very popular today and the “1911”, besides Colt, is produced and marketed by several American manufacturers. It is a favorite of mine, and needless to say I was rather distressed when the U.S. Military dropped it in favor of the Beretta 9mm double-action semiautomatic pistol used today (actually a very fine pistol in its own right - I’m simply just a traditionalist) to keep in step with NATO.
Today, thanks to the advent of the semiautomatic pistol, recent terminology seems to have changed (or is trying to). Some shooting experts claim that revolvers are not properly described as being “pistols”, and that only semiautomatics are properly called “pistols”. Being a history buff, I totally disagree, and to me a pistol is a pistol, period, regardless of whether it is a revolver, semiautomatic, single-shot or two-barreled “Derringer”.
U.S. law enforcement agencies began a major move to high capacity semiautomatic pistols during the 1980’s, and of course the civilian market followed suit, and for good reason because the semiautomatics work well as advertised. On the civilian side of things however, revolvers still have a strong following due to their simplicity in use and the fact they are less apt to jam (the truth be known, I prefer a revolver). I can remember a seasoned old lawman I talked to 20 years ago that refused to give up his .357 Magnum revolver in favor of a highly publicized semiautomatic for his department because according to him: “If you can’t resolve a typical gunfight in six shots, you are in a whole world of trouble”. In other words, he put a lot of emphasis (and faith) in hitting the mark with each shot.
A group of avid shooters I met recently at the Marlette Sportsman’s Association places that special emphasis on hitting the mark with their pistols, and have a lot of fun and very friendly competition doing so, with safety above all else being the top priority. I truly liked their pistol range that was surrounded by a tall and very sufficient earth backstop. The targets are placed at basic combat (pistol) ranges, typically from 7 to 15 yards, with the targets being both paper and/or metal. All the pistols I saw being used were stock (non-competition type) semiautomatic pistols of all makes (these were all 9mm’s and what could be typically used for concealed carry - but any caliber is acceptable to this group, including .22 rimfire).
Performing shots around corners (actually plywood barriers) both right and left, using rapid, accurate fire at multiple targets (requiring a reload during the process) is all a part of the routine. A special timer can come into play once they get warmed up and I saw for a fact each and every one of the contestants was a real “shooter”. Actually I felt right at home with these folks despite the fact I didn’t bring a pistol (actually I’m glad I didn’t because I might have been a disappointment - I’ll probably have to brush up on my shooting technique a bit first - being a local writer that gives the impression he knows how to shoot, you see). Personally, I’d like to try this shooting range with my favorite (combat-type) pistol which happens to be a double-action revolver. The main competition with this good natured group is actually you against yourself. I rather like and appreciate that attitude, and the doors are always open here to new shooters.
The Marlette Sportsman’s Association pistol shooting group gets together every Tuesday evening from the month of May until October with the start time at 6 PM and they quit when they get tired. They do thoroughly enjoy pistol shooting and the warm camaraderie associated with it. I certainly plan on returning and will be packing (properly of course) a pistol to be able to join in on all the fun.
For more information contact Rick Tanis at 989-761-7763 and Mark Morningstar at 810-404-3786. They are the official range masters for this very well managed weekly shooting event.


The first thing on the agenda before plenty of shooting fun at the
Marlette Sportsman's Association is loading spare pistol magazines.


click on the picture to enlarge

   










Range master Rick Tanis tackling the pistol target course at the Marlette
Sportsman's Association.


click on the picture to enlarge

   

 

 

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