Archive for April, 2017

This Is Not Safe For Work

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

I was browsing Youtube a few days ago and came across a group of very short videos, most of which featured rather crude humor.  (NSFW!)

The people in the videos were obviously veterans of the US armed forces, and there is usually some sort of firearm involved.

So what were they trying to get us, the general public, to buy?  Firearms training courses?  Perhaps gun gear and accessories?

No, none of that.  Instead they were selling coffee!

Of course, coffee and the US armed forces have a long history.

US Navy ships are dry, which means no alcohol is allowed on board except for extremely limited quantities that are kept for medicinal purposes.  Coffee, however, is rather prevalent.  Members of the Royal Navy which have to spend some time aboard US Navy warships routinely complain of painful caffeine withdrawal after they resume their duties in their own fleet.

The Black Rifle Coffee Company claims that they are veteran owned, pro 2nd Amendment, and Conservative in their politics.  And they want to sell you coffee.

One of their stated aims is to hire 10K veterans.  That seems rather ambitious to me.  But, hey, maybe there is a lot of more money in the coffee biz than I realize.  After all, look at Starbucks!

Is That A C.O.P. In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

After my short outline on tiny guns, I thought I’d bloviate about a really neat little self defense gun that was briefly marketed in the 1980’s.  It was a 4 barrel derringer chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge that went by the name C.O.P.

The gun was loaded by tilting the barrels up.

Four shots of .357 Magnum, an extremely potent handgun cartridge and my personal favorite.  It could certainly get the job done if need be.

The gun was intended to be carried by off-duty police officers while they went about their daily routine.  It was constructed of stainless steel, and was of rather high quality.  I had a chance to put twenty rounds through one a few decades ago, and found it to be very serviceable.  I wasn’t putting each bullet through the same hole at ten yards, but every round was kind enough to strike within walking distance of the X ring.

There were two main complaints.  One was that the trigger pull was heavy and long, and the the other was that the gun was rather heavy for the size.

The design never was popular, and the remaining examples fetch premium prices as collector pieces.  It certainly is a distinctive handgun, and it keeps showing up in movies and TV shows as some sort of futuristic firearm.

While searching the Internet for pictures of a C.O.P., I came across a post at No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money from February 2015. It seems that a company named Signal 9 Defense was looking to manufacture and sell their own version of the C.O.P.

This one would be chambered for a variety of calibers, and you could buy extra barrel assemblies so you could change the caliber of your gun.  The .357 Magnum is not one of the choices available, alas.  It has some polymer parts, particularly the grip, so it would be significantly lighter than a C.O.P.

The post at No Lawyers may be more than 2 years old as of this writing, but it appears that Signal 9 never did get their product to market.  Not that I am in the market for such a gun, but it seems like a nice idea that some people may find suits their needs.

Big Punch, Small Package

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

At various times over the decades, a student would show me a tiny handgun that they would want to use for self defense.  Usually they would be small autoloaders chambers for the .25 ACP cartridge, but sometimes a gun chambered for a round more suitable for self defense would crop up.  I am speaking, of course, of a derringer.

The original concept is simple enough.  Make a handgun as small as possible, but chamber it for a potent full sized defensive caliber.  The perfect point-and-shoot instrument, shorn of any distractions, they are not intended to be used for any prolonged gunplay.  If the attacker is within arm’s reach, then derringers come in to their own.

The person who had this flash of brilliance was Henry Deringer, an American gunsmith based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Come about 1825 or so, he started to offer handguns with extremely short barrels and minuscule furniture, but which would fire a ball of hefty and deadly caliber.  These guns originally used a flintlock ignition system.

By all accounts, sales were through the roof in a very short period of time.  Everyone, it seemed, who was interested in armed self defense was also interested in ultra-concealable guns that packed a good solid punch.  Henry couldn’t keep up with the demand, and other gunsmiths very quickly started to copy his basic idea.  Outraged that others were profiting on what was to be his only real contribution to firearm technology, Mr. Deringer took several to court.  He always lost his suit, but the copycat gunsmiths started to market their creations as derringers, with an extra R in the name just so Henry would reconsider any lawsuits and leave them alone. Henry only had his one shop, and everyone else flooded the market with their knock-offs, so the bastardized name stuck and the family name of the true inventor was forgotten.  Every time I type “deringer” the spell checker on my computer has a hissy.

The reason why Henry never won any of his lawsuits was because he really didn’t come up with anything truly innovative, he just figured out how to arrange things in a new an novel way.  Flintlock guns had been in use for at least two centuries before Mr. Deringer, he just attached it to a really short barrel and a really small handle.  He might have been able to make a legal argument that the makers of derringers were ripping him off if he had filed a patent or two when he started to market his deringers, but he never did.  Apparently he did very well for himself making and selling his own teensy guns, but there was an awful lot of money he missed out on by not filing a few documents down at the patent office.

Derringers continued to be made and marketed over the past two centuries, with new firearm technology being incorporated as it became available.  Flintlock derringers were supplanted by cap-and-ball versions.

When cartridge technology came about, well, why the heck not?

So are derringers serious self defense tools?  Did I voice my approval to the students who said they wanted to use derringers as their main defensive arm?  No, can’t say that I did.  In fact, I actively discouraged them.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Nothing wrong with derringers as a last ditch, emergency self defense gun.  The problem is that I deliberately chose people with no background in the shooting sports as my students.  Desperate people who had a pressing need to develop safe and effective gun handling skills, but who had no idea as to where to start.  I would give them as much training as I could, and insisted that they fire at least 500 rounds of various calibers before I was satisfied, but there is no substitute for experience.  It seemed to me that such small guns were just a bit too easy to get turned the wrong way unless someone had a few years of going to the range under their belt.

Did I make the right decision? I think so, but I can certainly see where someone would have a different opinion.

I thought I’d post this small essay about the smallest of defensive handguns when I came across this page from the FBI website.  The author discusses the methods used to authenticate the derringer recovered from the Presidential box at Ford’s Theater the night that President Lincoln was shot in the head by John Wilkes Boothe.

If you read the FBI file, note how the author keeps spelling Deringer capitalized and with one R.  Obviously someone who wants to give credit where credit is due.