Wednesday, April 19, 2006

IPSC: STI TruSight accepted in USPSA Limited Division

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usDave Skinner, President and CEO of STI, Inc. (Georgetown, Texas) announced yesterday that the STI TriSight has completed a production run of 500 guns and, upon application, has been accepted by the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) as legal for competition within the United States in Limited Division.

The pistol ( MSRP $1,984.40) is available in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP calibers.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe salient feature of this new model varient of the venerable STI EDGE is that the front sight is mounted on the barrel, not on the slide, providing (according to STI) a faster slide cycling time with its lighter 4-1/2" slide and a faster sight-pickup.

The pistol weighs in at 36.1 ounces, which makes it lighter, STI claims, than " pistols comparable to it in its class."

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe STI Edge, which is another (and older design) full-dust-cover pistol, weighs 39.0 ounces and is available (MSRP $1,874.00) in not only the same 9mm, .40S&W, .45ACP calibers but also in .38 super. It was also available in 10mm, because I bought the first 10mm STI Edge in 2000, when it was similarly declared "IPSC Legal" by USPSA. I suspect that the greater weight is provided by the longer dust-cover on the Edge, assuming the overall barrel length (including "Expansion Chamber", on the TruSight) is the same.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThe TruSight is controversial in USPSA circles (especially the "Unofficial IPSC List") because the addition to the muzzle is actually an 'expansion chamber', 0.100" larger than the bore. Whether this provides any actual competitive advantage is yet to be seen, because field tests are not yet available.

The controversy is provided free-of-charge by the "expansion chamber", which is the large extrusion on the muzzle-end of the barrel (shown above). Because it is bored out slightly larger than the barrel diameter (and the diameter of the exit port, which is supposedly the same or nearly the same diameter as the barrel), some critics have suggested that it is a "compensator", allowing expansion of exhaust gasses and therefore softening the recoil. The argument is that the "expansion chamber", they claim, provides a distinct and signifigant advantage in that it uses the exhaust gasses to either lessen the perceived recoil, or muzzle-flip; which, or what, is not clear.

Since this is an entirely new innovation, and none of the critics have had the opportunity to actually fire the TruSight, all of the commentary so far available has been limited to supposition and expostulation ... not empirical measurement.

Had either the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) or USPSA bothered to define a 'compensator', there might be some grounds for objection to this design in Limited Class ... which specifically outlaws 'compensators'. Unfortunately for the detractors, the term can only be defined in 'traditional' terms which include the presence of an 'exhaust port'; clearly absent in the current design.

Because the 'expansion chamber' has removed metal from the front of the pistol, the exclusion based upon "added weight" is obviated.

And while the current USPSA rule book forbids "modifications" to the pistol, for various reasons, this is a feature of a production gun (500 guns having been manufactured, and so certified by the manufacturer). This is clearly not a 'modification' but a salient feature of a production gun.

Finally, USPSA has officially approved it, which renders all objections moot.

We don't know whether it SHOULD have been approved (although our evaluation, based purely on the specifications and the published rule book do not contradict the decision of the USPA Board of Directors), and we certainly have not the means or opportunity to objectively determine whether it provides a competitive advantage in Limited Division by virtue of reduced recoil or muzzle-flip. But one thing is clear:

The STI TruSight IS USPSA Legal in Limited Division.

It's a done deal.

If you think you can profit competitively by buying and using an STI TruSight, the door is wide open.

Go for it.

UPDATE: April 20, 2006
Check the comments for extended discussion on the subject of "Competitive Advantage" vs legality of 'the device' in a Limited Division pistol.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip The Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip: Books: Jeff Cooper
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSome time ago, I mentioned that I was on the lookout for a replacement of Jeff Cooper's "Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip".

This was ... and is ... a collection of his writings for Cooper's Corner, which I believe was a regular one- or two-page feature of Guns & Ammo Magazine.

Memory fades with age, but I believe that it was eventually discontinued because The Colonel's Commentary was just too controversial and outspoken to be acceptable in a Politically Correct world. Jeff Cooper had the disconcerting habit of saying what he thought, and after trying to 'fix' the problem with disclaimers, the magazine eventually discontinued the column.

Today, you can still read Cooper's Commentaries on the 'net, but you have to be very patient as it only comes out once a month. That wasn't a particular hardship when it was being published in a monthly magazine, but when you're surfing the net you tend to become ... impatient.

As I say, my copy of The Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip was stolen from my car by some loonies who took the book, but left a thousand rounds of 10mm ammunition in the back. Either they were discriminating readers, or they had no inclination to pack 20 pounds of full ammo-can as they ran from the parking lot. Frankly, I had rather they stole the ammo and left the book. I can always replace the ammo, but the book was priced between $100 and $200 on the internet, almost regardless of the condition. (Current prices on Amazon, see the link at the top, START at $95.)

When I received my May, 2006, Dillon Precision catalog the other day, I was startled to find they had copies available for $29.95!

I'm still in shock, but I'll be buying a copy real-soon-now, you betcha, along with a few other items I need (9mm/38super cartridge boxes, de-capping pins for the XL650 ... I'm down to 3 since I ran into a handful of berdan-primed 9mm Largo brass in my range-gleanings.)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhile I'm at it, I might as well plunk down another $40 and buy The Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip 2 ("covers years 1990 - 2000).

I know I'm going to want it, and maybe I can throw away the set of dusty hard-cover printouts from the website that I've been hanging on to re-read.

I already have "To Ride ...", so I don't need to buy that. I may wait for a while before I get "Another Country". And I'm not interested in "Art of the Rifle". I've pretty much exhausted my interest in hunting and rifle shooting.

I feel like a kid at Christmas. I didn't see this one coming, I never expected another publishing run on this fine American Shooter (not to be confused with the tv show) book. It's to the credit of Dillon Precision that they did whatever they did to get this either republished, or find a forgotten cache of original 1989 copies.

This is about 1200 pages of 6" x 9.2" x 1.5" Americana, and I heartily recommend it. But don't buy it until I get my copy, okay? Because if you buy the book, and it's out of stock when my order gets in, and you live in the Pacific NorthWet, I'll be begging you to lend me the book until you finally wilt.

Note: If you go to the link, you'll find my September 19, 2005, comments. I begged people to give up their copy for the sake of The Geek, but I never got any response.

Those Amazonians are a heartless crew.

UPDATE: I've just placed my order, online, for The Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip and The Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip 2, through Dillon Precision. Feel free to order as many copies as you wish. And if you don't get one because it's already sold out, don't come crying to me. I've got mine!

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Village

The match meant absolutely nothing.

You know what I mean. It's like a football (basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer) game, the results of which would have no effect on the league standing. Except it was an IPSC match, the competitors were all amateurs who were out on an unseasonably sunny Spring day in Oregon, spending their money and their time enjoying a sport that they all loved.

The Hobo Brasser was back for his first Oregon match of the year, having spent the previous three months (or was it four?) Snowbirding in Texas.

The clement weather drew 83 competitors to the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club on an April Saturday, for no better purpose than to meet&greet, foul the air with burnt powder and unsolicited political opinion, punch holes in expensive cardboard, perhaps shake the winter doldrums in a tacit vote for Sunny Summer Days yet to come.

Blue skies and bullets downrange, it don't get no better'n this. Even urbane professionals can't resist the urge to feel the gravel beneath their feet and the sunshine on their shoulders (make them happy in a way John Denver would never have understood!) We all have a little redneck in our souls, and we tend to talk a little country in this one month of the year when we can shoot an IPSC match with no pressure of competition but much to look forward to.

One match a month is a Points Match, when we crank the competitive challenge of the stage designs up a notch or three and pretend that we really care whether we win or lose.

This was not one of those matches.

If anything, it was a celebration of Spring, and we were perhaps all a little giddy with the song of the still-absent Robins ... who hadn't wised up that it was time to put a red-breasted show on for the wife and family who professed to believe that we HAD to shoot this match to get ready for the 2006 Competitive Season.

That's the nice thing about a family. You pretend that participation at The Match is a moment of great portent, and they pretend to believe you. The lawn remains unmowed and ragged as father and son ... The Old Man and The Boy, in the words of Ruark ... make their way to the range for a rite of passage which isn't even the first match of the year; it's merely the first really nice day match of the year.

SWMBO and I were squadded with some of the Usual Suspects. It was a treat to see Harold The Barbarian there, because he has been travelling on business for the past 30,000+ miles and we had missed him.

AJ and KJ weren't there, they've kind of dropped out of the IPSC scene due to 'other priorities' and the unfair influence of a brand new Harley Davidson Motorcycle. [sigh!]

As a result of many factors, we were squadded with a melange of people with whom we don't often shoot. Among these more or less new-to-us were Trey and Drew.

Trey is a thirty-something C-Production shooter. Drew is a mid-teens D-Limited Junior. Both were using glocks, and knew each other from non-IPSC family connections.

As the match developed, Trey and Drew (short for Andrew) started a little friendly competition. Trey offered to give five dollars to Drew if he, Drew, could get more alpha-hits than him, Trey. There was no downside to the 'bet'. It was no more than a gentle challenge to the Junior shooter to make his best effort to beat the more experienced, older shooter in a clearly defined, easily quantifiable friendly competition.

Come on, kid. Give it your best shot. Don't worry about speed; focus on accuracy. All you have to do to win the brass ring.

In the blink of an eye, this was no longer just a Saturday at the Range. It had turned into a Shooting Match.

The Old Man was no longer just another guy on the the gravel, he was An Opponent.

The Boy was no longer just a Boy, he was A Contender determined to Do His Best and show all of the Old Men that he could stand his ground and fight it out for the greater glory of ... something or other.

For six stages the went back and forth. The Boy never quite got ahead, but he never quit. After each stage they followed the Scorekeeper around and borrowed his pen so they could write their Alpha-count on the palm of their hand, soon to be transferred to a ragged scrap of paper. This wasn't an official score, it was a talley of the challenge offered and the challenge met.

Who won? I don't know. The rest of the squad ... Old Men, all ... kept a peripheral view of the competition, unwilling to spoil it for the participants by showing an unseemly interest.

The final accounting, and the pay-out (or lack of pay-out) was a private thing between The Old Man and The Boy. Nobody was willing to spoil the moment by interfering in that intensely personal competition.


Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote a book about "It Takes A Village" (to raise a child), and while I'm no fan of HillBill, I have to admit that somewhere in this obscure tome she may have had a point. Whether she actually made the point is as inconsequential as the actual results of this competition.

We all, all of us Old Men, have a responsibility to teach the next generation what sports and competition and basic human interaction are all about. Some of us see this, and take the time/make the effort to do what has to be done to teach The Boy how to act.

Most of us don't, and that's okay. If you don't see the need, if you don't know how to respond to it, you probably aren't the right person to teach by example. Those few remaining Old Men don't even have to think about it

They just love the children, and by example they make men of boys. In doing so, they show that you don't have to be a Feral Child (as so many young men are today) to become a Man.

The match didn't mean a thing, but it was important because ...

Well, you know.