Try Before You Buy

It started out like any other class.  Someone who needed my help had heard of me through the grapevine, and I went over to their apartment to conduct the initial interview.  While there, the potential student proudly announced that they had already purchased a self defense handgun, a Colt Mustang chambered for the .380 ACP cartridge.

colt mustang 380 acp

This wasn’t something that would normally be an issue.  The .380 cartridge is the least powerful cartridge that I recommend for self defense use, but it is still acceptable.  I also try to discourage those new to the shooting sports from buying 1911 style handguns as their first, but don’t make an issue about it if they set their minds on it.

The problem was that the applicant in this case was so overweight that his fingers were too fat to fit into the trigger guard.

sausage fingers

Well, that last statement wasn’t exactly true.  He could stuff his finger in there, but it would compress the trigger and fire the gun before he could aim.  After his finger was in there, the gun was pretty much stuck.  I only managed to get it off his hand by having him point his finger at me while I unscrewed the gun from the digit as if it was a wedding ring that needed to be resized.

finger with ring scar

Why did he spend good money on a gun that was way too small for his fingers?  Why in the world had he purchased the handgun without even trying to pick it up at the gun store?  He had bought the gun without even bothering to try the most rudimentary test because, as he proudly and smugly stated, his brother had recommended it!

Well, who the hell was this brother of which he spoke?  Was he a qualified firearms instructor?

No, no, nothing like that.  He was just some guy who already owned a few handguns.  My potential student was obviously suffering from an advanced case of hero worship, even though he had somehow decided to seek me out instead of simply asking his brother to impart the basics of safe firearm handling.

Yeah, okay, whatever.  He had never even fired the gun, so I told him to take it back and trade it in on the purchase price of something with a trigger guard that could handle a finger of ample girth.  After all, as I patiently explained, there was no way such an undersized handgun was going to to do any good if he was not able to get off even a single aimed shot.

I went on my way, but returned after I received a message from our friend of the massive fingers that the equipment at hand would now work as needed.  I entered the apartment with mild curiosity as to which make and model of handgun he had finally decided upon, only to feel a great deal of frustration when he produced the very same Colt Mustang that had proven to be so unsuitable.

But all was well!  It seems the girthy subject of this story had solved the problem of small trigger guards by using a cutting wheel to remove the offending semicircle of metal!

motor tool cutting wheel

What the hell, asshole!  The Mustang is a 1911 style handgun, carried with the hammer cocked!  You just increased the chances of a negligent discharge every time you would holster the gun!  And now you can’t take the thing back in order to get a different gun!

The smugness returned, as our friend archly replied that he was planning on foregoing a holster in order to carry the gun loose in his pocket.  After all, that is the way his brother did it!

Screw this, I was out of there!  But he said something that made me pause with my hand on the knob.

“I thought you said you were going to help me!” he plaintively cried in a rather shrill and piercing voice.

“I did help you, you jerk!  You just wouldn’t listen!”

And then I was gone, never to return.

So what is the moral of the story?  There are two, actually.

The first is that it is important to find a self defense gun that fits your needs as closely as possible without any major modifications.  If you have to buy a ton of after market parts to get it to work, or drag out the Dremel to scrape something away before you can use it for the intended purpose, then your decision was bad and you should reconsider.

The second lesson to be learned is that whiny man-children who insist on ignoring my advice should do both of us a favor and never bother to seek me out in the first place.


13 thoughts on “Try Before You Buy

  1. I received a message from our friend of the massive fingers that the equipment at hand would now work as needed

    I got to that point in your post and had a feeling that some horror worthy of this blog would be awaiting you upon your return.

    Being unfamiliar with the use of the 1911 carrying it with the hammer cocked sounds rather dodgy to me, but I suppose there’s no other way to do it if one needs to be able to draw and fire rapidly.

  2. > knirirr

    Carrying a 1911 pattern semiauto isn’t “dodgy” in the least when carried loaded and hammer cocked; it is designed to do so safely, assuming there have been no alterations to the pistol. This pistol style has several interlocking safety systems that make it possible: there is a thumb-operated manual safety and – more importantly – a grip safety that must be released by squeezing the grip before the hammer is allowed to drop at all. Compare this with the no-hammer, striker-fired Glock that has only a trigger release safety and is tauted as one of the world’s safest semiautos. “Gun safety”, though, has more to do with the gun owner than the design of the firearm.

    All designs of firearms have their advantages and disadvantages, but it falls to the gun owner (as James has stated) to use the best information they have available and decide on the firearm that best meets their needs, whether the deciding factors involve cost, availability, and in this case – physical ability to properly manipulate the weapon’s controls and features.

    The best safety, however, is contained between the ears of the gun owner. There are four general rules that our host here has quoted any number of times: “All guns are to be regarded and treated as loaded at all times; Never point the muzzle at anything you don’t want destroyed; Keep the finger out of the trigger guard until the gun is pointed at your target; Know your target, have a clean view of it, and know what is beyond it.”

    The subject of THIS post may have trouble wrapping his head around any of what has been covered here, sadly.

    • … there is a thumb-operated manual safety and – more importantly – a grip safety that must be released by squeezing the grip before the hammer is allowed to drop at all…

      That sounds a lot more reasonable than I thought.
      Not one of the guns I own has any safety device of any sort and I’m not used to that sort of thing, so having a gun loaded and cocked at any time other than just before I’m ready to pull the trigger does feel rather uncomfortable.

  3. I remember the passing of one of the founding members of a bullseye club in Canton, Ohio. Everyone want his “house gun” as a remembrance. He took a .45 long colt revolver and cut the front half of the trigger guard off so in dead of night, woken by the sounds of a burglar, fumbling his eyes open he’d be able to find the trigger. I thought he was nuts. At least the revolver had a 8-12 pound trigger pull.

    I also remember when police ofiicers would do the same on their “winter guns” because with gloves on in a -10degree day in Chicago they could get to the trigger. Again, at least they were revolvers.

  4. JT- The Mustang isn’t a true 1911 pattern gun. There is no grip safety on it, just a manual safety and trigger (series 80 style not trigger within a trigger like striker guns) safety.

  5. Lesson Three: Watch what you eat and do some exercise! Being at least moderately fit makes the world much more pleasant.

  6. You’d have thought the fact it was called a trigger-GUARD might have been a clue . . .

    James – At least you tried.

    Knirrir – Thanks for the link. Some of the photos actually show a certain, almost elegant, think-outside-the-box approach to problem solving. But most look like a Darwin award waiting to happen . . .

  7. Man, I have a a few guns that would have probably fit this asshat and gladly have traded him for a little Mustang. Not something I would carry but I like them and have shot a few. Nice gun to add to a collection.

  8. I carry a Mustang Pocketlite as my EDC piece. I carry in condition one in a Don Hume holster designed for the Mustang.
    Fatso messed up a good little gun.

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