Wednesday, December 30, 2009

H&R (Harrington & Richardson) Model 950 22lr Revolver

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

As is the case for gift giving days most folks know that a firearm will always be appreciated by me. So this Christmas my inlaws presented me with this gorgeous 22lr revolver.

It is an H&R Model 950 nickel plated 9 shot double/single action 22lr revolver styled after the classic Colt single actions. I've been wanting a 22lr revolver to compliment our Wather P22 and this fits perfectly. It's a fun plinker that will also be used to practice trigger control. I just love how it looks too.

Here's a little background if you've never heard of H&R. They were in business from 1871 to 1986 (over 100 years!) and made a wide variety of pistols & long guns. They made some cool looking top break revolvers as well. Though some connect them to SNS (Saturday Night Special) guns their firearms were always well made and out of steel instead of pot metal alloys.

My example is a bit rarer being nickel plated instead of blued or case hardened as most others are. One neat thing is that this gun was made the year I was born 1976 so it's the same age as I am. The previous own obviously took very good care of it's finish because it's common to see bad examples of nickel plated guns. They can look like the gun has leprosy. What got me into looking at H&R revolvers is my father-in-law's own H&R Model 676 which has the option to fire 22lr or 22wmr depending on which cylinder you put in it. They also can be found fairly inexpensive which is always a plus. I've got a sweet spot for revolvers, but the ones in my "arsenal" don't lend themselves to just plain plinking. This one just screams PLINK ME!

It looks nice, but how does it handle & shoot? I know that I've criticized the oversized "shovel" target grips that are narrow at the top and get widdde at the bottom in the past, but for some reason the balance & weight of this SA styled revolver works perfectly with this kind of grip. It points naturally and just wants to stay there. The trigger takes some getting used to. In double action it's pretty heavy, but manageable. In single action it's quite nice, light & crisp. Because of it's weight (about 31oz) and the light recoil of the caliber I found that it's very easy to walk the bullets where you want them to go in double action. The front sight blade leaves a lot to be desired. Since it's nickel & rounded it never looks the same as it catches light differently everytime. It's thickness is well regulated with the rear sight unlike our P22 that has such a wide rear notch that precision is very difficult. It's no Ruger MKII, but I could hit an inch sized orange sticker target at 7 yards without trouble. I will admit that I'm no marksman and I'm still getting accustomed to the pistol. No doubt, others can do much much better. Point shooting is easily accomplished without focusing too much on the sights that it's still a lot of fun to plink with.

Loading is done by putting the hammer in half cock so the cylinder can be rotated and then opening the loading gate to access the chambers. To eject the spent shells; put it in half cock, open the loading gate and use the ejector rod to individually pop the shells out. As this is my first real experience with this method of loading & unloading I was surprised with how easy it is. It's not nearly as slow as I would have originally thought. For a gun that won't be used defensively and that may be used to show new shooters the ropes it suits me fine.

I will admit that my first time out with it I did have mechanical problems after the first several cylinders of shooting. What was happening was the trigger was sticking back when fired double action and had to be wiggled to return forward. Also sometimes the hammer wouldn't catch on the single action sear when manually cocked. I traced the problems to accumulated gunk built up on the inside that needed to be cleaned out. After a good cleaning and blowing out all the gunk it's worked perfectly since. Even with the above mentioned problems from earlier it never failed to fire and always hit hard enough to ignite the primers.

Here are a couple parting shots.

She sure is a beauty!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Stone Grip! ...No Not Really

I picked up another old grip someone didn't need for my Dan Wesson Model 14. I love my walnut grip I had reshaped for it, but I wanted something I didn't have to worry about messing up and I wanted to try something different.

At first glance the old grip looked similar to my other grip before reshaping and refinishing. The only difference that I could tell at first was that it looked to be painted and not varnished like the other grip. I started sanding it down past the painted finished and low and behold it's not walnut under that paint, but some kind of plastic. These grips must have been formed using a mold that was filled with plastic reinforced with wood. *edit - I was informed that this material was marketed by Dan Wesson by the name of Powerwood, it's both light & tough. These plastic grips actually worked out great for what I had in mind for it since now I really didn't have to worry about messing up a nice piece of wood. One strange thing with this plastic is that it is fairly porous, so you can see that in a couple spots on the pictures. I used my walnut grips as a kind of template and carved these into a similar shape. This time I decided to make them even smaller. One thing I don't care for about the walnut grips is that they are fairly slick. I had considered trying to stipple them, but I was afraid to mess up. This time around I wanted a more textured grip so I didn't worry about sanding them smooth. Compared to the walnut this plastic is a lot easier to carve so things went pretty fast. I carved it down past where the screw become recessed so I simply countersunk the hole and painted a screw black that would fit it flush.

On a previous project I used a textured paint on a Tyler T-grip to give it more traction with my fingers so I thought this would be a good chance to try it on full grips. I didn't think the color I had (Aged Iron) would look good with the worn bluing on my DW so I picked out a dark brown (Autumn Brown) to use. Before applying it I sealed the plastic with a black lacquer to help it stick a bit better. In the end, I ended up with a nice texture that won't slide around in my hand and should hold up well.

Here are pictures.

My hands are large enough to utilize the pinky rest while my wife prefers to grip it like in the lower picture where her pinky sits above it.

All in all, very happy with how this project worked out. If they hold up fine at the range, I'll probably keep these grips on the gun most of the time.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Appendix IWB Kydex Holster for a S&W 908

After proving my newest acquisition, the Smith & Wesson 908, was reliable and accurate enough and then carrying it a couple weeks concealed & tucked I decided it needed it's own holster. Since it fits very well in the Crossbreed SuperTuck that I use tucked at the 4 o'clock position I don't need that kind of holster. For winter carry, when I can wear sweaters or fleeces I like to carry at the appendix location. It enables a quick draw and because it's directly in front of me I have more control over exposure. I've also found that it isn't nearly as uncomfortable as most people would think.

I've made similar holsters before, but at times had problems with clip breakage. So this time I decided to go with the slightly thicker kydex I had (.080 gauge vs. .060 gauge). It adds minimal thickness, but also adds much more strength to the J-clips. The design is a single piece folded scabbard integrating the J-clips secured using one bolt/nut. The .080 gauge kydex is too thick for me to use the rivets I have, but I actually like the idea of being able to take it completely apart in case it ever needs to be totally cleaned. Here are pictures.
It fits tightly, but draws quickly and smoothly. This holster holds the gun much like a traditional leather holster does where it feels like it grips the gun all over. Most kydex holsters rely on clicking points (typically the trigger guard) which cause the gun to click or snap in and out of the holster. It all comes down to personal preference, but I'm happy with it's retention. I put together a short video showing this holster & gun concealed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

S&W's Budget 3913: The 908!

I had the opportunity to pick up a 908 for a steal of a price so I jumped on it. I previously owned the second gen S&W 469, but had traded it off. My father in law got the 457, the 45acp version of this "Value Series", last spring for a great deal at a gun show (yeah, I know how often does that happen?).

Anyways, for $220 that included a total of 3 mags not to mention a less than desirable nylon holster, I picked up my first 3rd gen S&W auto. I'm a little thrilled that it's covered under S&W's lifetime warranty (from what I understand all 3G's are). It's a very slim gun! Slimmer than my Sig P239 and lighter as well. It's not quite as thin as my Kahr, but not many guns are. I still need to give it a good cleaning as it's barrel looks like it may have been a little neglected. It's definitely not a looker, but as a working gun it sure looks the part. Not as nicely finished as the 3913 and containing a few *gasp* plastic parts, the 908's still has a good feel. This week I'm planning on taking it to the range to give it a little workout and see how well it operates. If all goes well, it will then move into the rotation.

Pictures...of course...

My view is, if you can find a pistol in a fighting caliber from a name brand maker for under $250 that works then it's a good value. Any blemishes to the finish are marks of character.

***Range Report!!!***

Ok, just got back from my lunchtime range after running the 908 through the paces. I put a little over 100 rounds through it with a few hp's to check feeding. I came away liking it very much. I brought my Sig along to compare triggers and sights. I'm a big fan of the "dot the i" as with three dot sights I tend to miss the middle dot when quickly acquiring the target. The 908 lines up very instinctively so I didn't have too much of a problem with it when doing double taps. Accuracy was similar to my Sig. I'm no master marksman so both of these weapons are more accurate than I am. I can easily do head shots at 10 yards so take that for what it's worth.

The trigger is pretty smooth and very different than my previous 469 primarily in DA. Mostly because the 469 employed a half cock notch which you could feel as you pulled through DA. Compared to the Sig trigger it feels a tad lighter and just a hair less smooth, though it is a shorter pull than the Sig.

I wanted to go ahead and give it it's first carry day. I've been carrying a Sig P239 in a Crossbreed SuperTuck and since they are both very similar in size I figured why not try it out. The CBST's kydex is molded specifically for a P239, but since the backside is all leather the gun never "snaps" in like kydex-only holsters. I was a little worried that it might slide or wiggle around, but after trying it out...success!

Here are some shots.

It's always nice when an existing holster works well for different guns.

Overall, I'm very satisfied and think I got much more than my money's worth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Painting Tyler T-grips for a better grip

When I first picked up a T-grip for our Charter Arms Undercover .38 special it was out of necessity since I had put Barami Hip Grips on it so I could use it as a "Stuff & Go" gun. I couldn't get a solid or consistent grip using just the Hip Grips so on went the T-grip. The one I got for it was originally designed for a S&W N-frame which has a slightly longer grip so I had to trim up the bottom a bit to get it to line up with the bottom. I had then sprayed the T-grip with PlastiDip spray to cover the trim job & give it more grip. I've found over the past year that PlastiDip does not wear well. It has a tendency to rub off and then the whole thing will start to peel. While walking the aisles at Home Depot I spotted some Rustoleum texture paint (used for painting outdoor patio furniture) that looked to be a good replacement to the peeling PlastiDip.
I decided to go ahead and prime the T-grip using a gray automobile primer first before applying the textured paint. All it took were two quick coats of primer followed by two coats of the textured paint. The combination of the two gave it a nice dark gray which contrasts well with the stainless finish and glossy black of the Hip Grips.

The textured paint gives the grip a sufficently rough surface without making it overly abrasive.

I'm very happy with how it turned out and after a couple months of use I'll report back on how well it holds up.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ghetto Grips; Not Pretty, but Comfortable

Having mentioned these grips in my previous post I thought I a least owed you a couple pictures of my experimental "Ghetto Grips" for my Dan Wesson .357mag. Well, here you go.
I took the factory rubber finger groove grips from my Charter Arms Undercover .38spl and mated them to the grip of the Dan Wesson using Kneadatite Epoxy Modeling Putty (Green Stuff) as the filler. I modeled the backstrap similar to how Trausch grips are for the Ruger SP101.They have held up and feel really good in the hand. I was always bothered with how cheesy they looked though so that is why they were replaced with the very pretty custom shaped wood grips.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Getting a Grip! Reshaping Revolver Grips

I don't profess to be a revolver guy. I like them for all the obvious reasons; reliable, powerful, simple to use and reload, and yes - cowboys used them. The very first handgun I ever touched was a very beautiful and manly stainless steel S&W Model 19 Combat Magnum. That began a very healthy respect for revolvers, but for some reason they've never really "fit" the same way many semi-autos sat in my hand. Most of the reason for this problem is that it seems that many revolvers sport very unergonomic grips. Traditionally they come with oversized "target" grips that are skinnier at the top (where your fingers are longest) and WIDE at the bottom (where your little pinky finger is). For me, not only are these kind of grips hard to get a hold of they are also very hard to conceal. Last year I bought a Dan Wesson Model 14 that I wrote about before. It came with large rubber Pachmayr Presentation grips that did a good job of reducing recoil, but still weren't the easiest to hold on to not to mention they'd seen years of hard use and showed it. Granted the gun itself shows a lot of the same use, but even old men need new shoes from time to time. I first tried an experiment with a spare set of rubber finger groove grips from my wife's Charter Arms .38 special. I liked the shape of those grips and wondered if I could get them to fit. Dan Wesson revolvers use a different method to attach grips than most other revolvers such as S&W, Taurus & Charter Arms. Instead of separate grip panels the grip is a single piece that slides on and is secured with a single screw from the bottom. To try to attach the two separate grip panels from the CA revolver I trimmed off a bit of the side grips and used a two part epoxy putty to fill in the gap. For the bottom screw I affixed a metal washer inside. Because I could get creative with the putty I added a bit to the top of the back and a bit between the trigger guard and the grip to better fit my hand. The experiment worked in giving me a better functional grip, but it looked pretty ghetto. The putty is green and the grip is black and though the putty could be sanded flush and then maybe painted all one color, I gave up on trying to make it pretty because lets face it rubber grips just aren't supposed to be pretty.

On to my next grip project. I wanted pretty grips that also felt good when held. I had picked up one of those oversized target grips I mentioned earlier (like the wood ones pictured above) and thought I might be able to reshape them into a more hand-friendly shape. I don't really have much woodworking experience outside of whittling sticks as a boy scout in my youth, but I was up to the challenge. I've seen a lot of custom grips out there with finger grooves and though I'm not totally against them, I do see the arguement that they may not fit everyone. I wanted to make grips that my wife would be able to comfortably use as well as me so I nixed designs with full finger grooves. Instead I came up with a design similar to these Pachmayr compact grips that add a pinky groove, but in a pretty walnut.Here's the final product after hours of sanding & shaping with a bunch of Dremel sanding drums, a lot of hand sanding and a bit of Tung Oil (great stuff).

Now I'm not into OC (open carry), but I would be happy to OC with these pretty grips showing. They are compact enough to where I might work on an IWB holster and try carrying this .357 mag concealed. I'm really happy with how they turned out and I won't have any problem reshaping my grips in the future. I hope my experience inspires some of you to do the same to renew your old revolvers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Spare Mag & Knife Back Pocket Carrier

I'm probably like a lot of you and take advantage of whatever pockets I've got on my pants. A number of years ago I stopped carrying my wallet in my back pocket. My problem was the same one that George Costanza had in Seinfield. My wallet always got about two inches thick which is not conducive to sitting on so to avoid the sore butt I switched to front pocket carry or cargo pocket carry if my pants had one. From then on I've been happily sitting on empty back pockets...until now.

Since it's the summer I've been shying away from my typical two gun carry (Sig P239 IWB & Kahr PM9 in the pocket) and just wearing one (typically the PM9) along with a spare mag. A while back I had made a horizonal mag carrier that was tuckable and while it works it's not the easiest to put on so I've found myself dropping the spare in a pocket. We all know that's not the best way to do it. If I dropped it in my back pocket it would fall any which way and wasn't comfortable to sit on. In any other pocket I never knew which way it would be when I yanked it out. So I need a solution.

For my birthday this year I got treated to a new EDC knife - a SOG FlashII (thank you nutnfancy for his review on the blade). While it has a wonderfully low carry pocket clip I prefer to keep it as out of the way as possible. I've had the unfortunate car scratch from a similar clip. So my solution for my mag can also be a solution for my knife.

Here it is.
You'll notice I used a single rivet on the mag side. The reason for this is that there is no retention on the mag except for the little bit of friction of the kydex so I wanted to keep that tight. The knife has all kinds of little protrusions so it needs a bit of looseness so that it'll draw cleanly. I kept the clip on the knife so that I have the option to use it if I ever need to. You can see I angled them slightly away from each other so that there won't be any interference. You may also notice that it's been a while since I've molded kydex and I scorched a little bit on the mag side. That heat gun gets HOT! The whole thing measures 4 1/4 inches wide, under 5 inches high and less than 3/4 inch in thickness. I wear it in my weak side back pocket with the flat side out so it just looks like a wallet. The knife and mag stay where they are until I reach in and pull them. I can even "reholster" them without having to take the carrier out of my pocket. Sitting down I can tell it's there, but since it's pretty thin as long as I'm on some kind of cushion I'm comfortable.

All in all a success.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Modification to the AIWB for the Sig P239

I knew that my original design had a weak spot in the rear clip and the other day the inevitable happened and part of it snapped off while putting it on. At first I just cut off the rear clip and tried wearing it with the single j-clip. While it didn't fall through my pants it would rotate and hang by the grip making drawing difficult. Two clips are a must! I had a couple spare kydex clips left over from other holsters that I own and decided to re-form them into a usable substitute that would be attached to the ring rivet via a screw.

Here are the two different clips I came up with. One's a j-clip and the other is a velcro clip that attaches to the loop velcro sewn into my belt.
By making the rear clip pretty flat with no curve to it the holster now tucks the grip in towards my body nicely making it very concealable. It's comfortable to wear and is quick to access. This will be my go to holster when wearing untucked. I have the option to wear it with the velcro rear clip or the rear j-clip, but since really the only belt I ever use already has velcro sewn in I'll probably just leave the velcro clip attached.

The belt is made my Crossbreed ( and I totally recommend it. If carrying a gun everyday is something you want to do then a study gun belt is a must. My CB belt is dual thickness with loop velcro sewn in. It is a thick belt, but very supportive. The buckle can be switched out if you want to use something a bit fancier than silver or brass.

Here's a video I made demonstrating this holster.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Grip Clip Holster for a Kahr PM9

Ok, I was in a rush with that last holster attempt and didn't fully commit to the process. I tried to wear it for an hour yesterday and it was pretty terrible. So I went ahead and started a holster from scratch.

Here's what I came up with. It's a scabbard design held together using one larger rivet and using two grip clips as attachment points onto the waistband. It's molded so that the gun is locked in if tried to draw straight up. To draw smoothly the gun must be pulled out to an angle instead of straight up. Here it is.

Just for fun I wore it for over 3 hours to dinner along with my S&W 469 both up front at centerline carry. I was surprised it was pretty comfortable even though I'm not used to carrying at the 11:00-11:30 position.

I know it looks funny, but it worked with a sweater over it. During most of the year I don't usually go about without a belt on so I don't intend on using this holster all that often. It is the best option I have for my Kahr when belt-less so I'm glad I have it in my holster stable.

Here's a picture with it worn without a belt as it's intended.

Here's a short video showing the holster in action:

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Clipping option - The Grip Clip!

I came across an ingenious idea last month while reading one of the many gun forums I'm a member of (in this case it was One of the members (muddy, gotta give him credit!) came up with the idea to use plastic suspender clips (called Grip Clips) from a pair of suspenders he had on one of his kydex holsters since he rarely uses a belt. It allows him to use the holster in whatever pants/shorts he's wearing regardless if he wears a belt. Here's a link to his post - Kydex Creations using the Grip Clip.

Now, I typically always wear a belt especially in the winter months and during the work week. There are occasions during the summer or weekend where I can see the option of going beltless preferable. In the past, I've used my Stuff & Go methods when beltless. The holster I've used for the Kahr PM9 left a lot to be desired. It didn't quite cover enough of the trigger guard and worst of all the way it clipped to the waistband could cause the holster to be pulled out along with the gun on the draw. Using something like a Grip Clip seemed like the perfect solution. It would be easy on & off, yet when clipped would be secure and not slide off.

Normally, I would make this as a scabbard instead of a pancake (I've found scabbard designs to be cleaner and a little less bulky), but going through my misc. box of holsters & stuff I came across an early attempt at a pancake kydex holster for the PM9. I hadn't used it in a while since I pretty much always pocket carry the PM9. I decided to use this old shell instead of cutting up fresh kydex. In the process of reforming the kydex you'll notice there are a number of blemishes. They in no way affect how the holster actually works. I formed the kydex so the gun will not pull straight out. It is effectively locked in when a straight upwards draw is tried. To draw so that the gun pulls out smoothly it must be pulled back and up at the same time. It snicks out very smoothly when drawn correctly and it's a natural motion for my strong side hand.
I went simple and just used one clip. This is because it will be carried at the appendix location and a little bit of rotational movement helps with comfort. Also one clip is all I need to keep it from sliding down the pants or yanking out on the draw. I've angled the clip so that the gun has a little backwards cant where the grip limits how much it can rotate backwards.

To protect the gun from inadvertantly hitting the nut & screw on the inside of the holster I covered them with a little piece of electrical tape.
I plan on testing this one out after work and this weekend while wearing shorts or sweatpants. If I get a chance I'll make a video demonstrating:
- How well it conceals with a t-shirt
- How easy it is to put on and take off
- How secure the clip is
- How to draw from it correctly

In the future, I plan on designing a two clip version for more stability. Oh, and if you're interested in adapting these clips to a holster you have, they are available seperately from Seattle Fabrics. It's where I found mine.