Thursday, August 22, 2019


 Down at the Tacti-Cool Gun Shop

I used to, and often still do, enjoy visiting every little hole-in-the-wall gun shop I come across in my travels. It was a lot more fun in the days before the gigantic nation-wide sporting good chain stores moved in. You know the behemoth “everything outdoors” mega-stores I’m talking about. The kind my wife and I went into in Butte years ago to buy a new .22 Long Rifle gopher shooter, asking the teen-aged kid behind the gun counter to see a Ruger 10/22, the single most numerous and common rifle in the United States. A confused deer-in-the-headlights look came across his pimpled face and he just started grabbing random long guns off the rack and shoving them at us with the query, “Is this it?”
“Nope,” I’d reply. “That’s a Winchester Model Seventy in Four-fifty-eight Win Mag.”
With each failure, he would simply repeat the process a bit faster, over and over. It kind of reminded me of the movie UHF and the brief scene in the park where a blind man is trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube.
If the kid would have slowed down for a moment I could have just told him something like, “Third one from the left.” Instead he continued to thrust random guns at me.
“Is this it?”
“Nope, that’s a Remington Eight seventy twelve-gauge pump.”
“Is this it?”
“Is this it?”
          Thus, I really miss places like the Bullet Hole, my favorite little gun shop in Bozeman for many, many years, a sort of mom-and-pop with an FFL kind of place where what the curmudgeon owner lacked in politeness he made up for in decades of firearms knowledge. Alas, that place has been gone for well over a decade and I haven’t found a real replacement yet.
          So, the other day when I was in town and noticed a fairly new but small gun store tucked back in a sort of out-of-the-way area, I wheeled the truck right in there to check it out. It was a nice enough little gun shop but really only some of the older guns on consignment sale piqued my interest. Most of the new merchandise and weapons were obviously geared towards the tacti-cool market. You know, the guy who will buy literally anything the salesman even remotely hints at because the salesman introduces himself as a former SEAL, or the guy who will find an extra inch of Picatinny rail somewhere on his AR-15 when he discovers a new tactical accessory not already included amongst the 27 other accessories already mounted on the rifle, or the guy who instantly purchases a bayonet for his Glock “Foh-Tey” because, by God, he might actually need a pistol bayonet to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.
          Nevertheless, I went on in and the 20-something kid behind the counter was polite, well-informed, and had pretty good knowledge about the consignment guns especially. My mistake was asking about the .460 Rowland, which I had been looking into of late. He didn’t know anything about them, he realistically confessed, but the store owner sure did and here he comes now.
          I never did learn much about the guy himself, but at least he had Army veteran plates on his truck when he pulled in. For all I know, though, he could have been a clerk-typist or chaplain’s assistant. By unfortunately using the words “handgun” and “bear” in the same sentence, I apparently inadvertently keyed some kind of trigger words and a Pavlovian response sent him into a very passionate and seemingly endless rant about the most awesome bear medicine under the sun.
          Any spark of interest I had almost immediately evaporated when I found out, to my astonishment, that the latest, greatest uber-grizzly whacker turned out to be the Glock 10-mm Auto pistol fed a steady diet of the end-all and be-all of bear loads in the form of a solid copper 115-grain bullet with lots of little ridges all over it. This little pill was so devastating, he claimed, that merely informing a grizzly bear you were locked and loaded with one was sufficient, in 73% of the cases studied, to cause the bear to simply die of fright on the spot. The single determining factor which made this little copper bullet more deadly than a .500 S&W Magnum was velocity, which was repeated so many times that it will likely be stuck in my head for eternity.
The conversation went something like this:
ME: “It’s still a little bitty ol’ one hundred and fifteen grain bullet which, in the Nine millimeter Parabellum, has hardly proved to be a very effective man-stopper let alone bear-stopper.”
HIM: “But that one hundred and fifteen grain bullet has a paltry muzzle velocity of only twelve hundred feet per second. This one has a muzzle velocity of seventeen hundred fps.”
ME: “It’s still a very small bullet which are notorious when used against large and dangerous game for being easily deflected from their true course when trying to penetrate tough hide, muscle mass, and major bones.”
HIM: “But it has radial flutes and acts like a miniature buzz-saw wherever it goes, cutting veins and arteries, and it has a muzzle velocity of seventeen hundred fps.”
ME: “A grizzly bear can keep right on going for a good fifteen or twenty seconds even after being shot through the heart with a thirty-ought six. Little buzz saw cuts through surface muscle and tissue that never penetrate to the vitals aren’t going to slow him down much. You’ve got a few seconds to stop a charge; you can’t wait half an hour for the thing to finally start getting weak from blood loss.”
HIM: “But I have a high capacity magazine and can get off a bunch of rounds quickly and reload fast, and each one of those rounds has a muzzle velocity of seventeen hundred feet per second.”
ME: “Muzzle velocity and even foot-pounds of energy don’t tell the whole story. Since the formula squares the velocity, lighter, faster bullets get higher ‘scores’ of energy, but it doesn’t take into account bullet diameter, shape, or construction, amongst many other factors. Are you telling me you would rather face down a Kodiak bear with a twenty-two two-fifty shooting a fifty grain varmint bullet at thirty eight hundred feet per second than an old forty five-seventy lobbing a four hundred grain flatnose just because the former technically has maybe a dozen more foot-pounds of energy?”  
HIM (facial tic beginning): “I wouldn’t use either! I would use a ten millimeter one hundred fifteen grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of seventeen hundred feet per second!”
ME: “Velocity isn’t everything.”
HIM: “Blasphemer! Heretic! Unholy one! Of course velocity is everything, and mine has seventeen hundred feet per second of it. Your forty-four Mag load is only getting twelve hundred fps and even the four-fifty-four Casull only gets fourteen hundred! Seventeen hundred is higher, and thus obviously superior.”
ME: “Uh, I can’t help but point out the forty four Mag’s actual bullet is a three hundred and five grain flat-nose and the Casull’s throwing a four hundred grain bullet. A big hardcast chunk of lead that size is gonna penetrate a whole lot deeper and do so with a whole lot less deflection from its course. We’re not talking about poking cavities in ballistic gelatin; we’re talking about penetrating heavy hair, a thick hide tough as leather, inches of fat, large ropes of muscle mass, and extremely heavy bone structure.”
HIM: “But your precious big, heavy bullets can’t go seventeen hundred fps, so they’re worthless!”
ME: “Old timers like Elmer Keith and John ‘Pondoro’ Taylor killed literally thousands of head of big game between them; they, and many others, were of the opinion that it takes a big, heavy bullet to take down big heavy animals. Elmer and John even agreed that trying to kill large, tough, dangerous game animals with very smallest caliber bullets fired at extremely fast speeds was a form of mental illness.”
HIM: “Ha! Old School! They may have killed every major game animal on two continents, but they never saw the YouTube video I did of a guy killing a two hundred pound black bear with my magic bean. Besides, back in their day, they didn’t know any better because they did not yet have a hundred and fifteen grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of seventeen hundred feet per second!”
ME: “Two…dollars! Want…my…two…dollars!”
HIM: “Seventeen…hunh? What?”
ME: “Never mind. Eighties movie reference.”
HIM (voice now a high-pitched shriek and emitting spittle in all directions): “Eighties bad! Seventeen hundred fps good!”
ME: “Good God, man. I like the Glock platform and the ten millimeter is a damn fine defensive cartridge. But if I had walked in here with a pocket full of money and the specific intent to buy a Glock Twenty in ten mil, your kind of salesmanship would have driven me out of here without it.”
HIM (frothing at the mouth): Seventeen hundred! One fifteen! Copper! Youtube! Radial flutes!”
ME (Now trying desperately to get back out the door): “Goddamn it, quit humping my leg! Down boy, down!”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh awesome!! You had me rolling there! Or rather here..

BTW, I joined the realm of revolvers recently. :D

-Mark C.