Most recently, he tweaked me because I mentioned that the STI Tru-Bore I'm using (a "race gun") required extraordinary efforts to clean the accumulated and hard-packed residue from the compensator.
In this case, I think he's appalled that a "Practical" Pistol would ever be compensated.
Well, he has a point. IPSC/USPSA competition has moved beyond the point of necessarily requiring that equipment be "Practical", and it didn't happen overnight.
HISTORY OF IPSC 101:
(You can skip this if you're not interested. I would.)
When I started Practical Pistol competition 25 years ago, the standard pistol was a 1911 in .45 ACP ; maybe with a 10-round magazine but much more commonly a 7-round magazine.
About this time (1983) a few bold soles such as Brian Enos and Rob Latham discovered the .38 Super cartridge, and pistols made to accommodate its amazing abilities.. The advantage was that you could put a couple of extra rounds in the (still single-stack) magazine and load 'em hot enough to "make major power". This refers to the ratio between the bullet weight and the velocity, based on the standard .45acp 230 grain bullet traveling at 800 fps.
This was problematic, because you had to load a .38 super with a 125 or 130 grain bullet pretty hot to meet that level of performance. That lead to a lot of over-charged guns blowing up, hence the idiom "Thirty-Eight SuperFace". I've discussed this before, but it serves to illustrate the development of the competition handgun in what we call the Experimental Phase of Practical Pistol Competition.
There is an advantage to being able to shoot more rounds before you have to reload. But that was a problem, so stronger guns (and better chamber designs) helped. Also, more attention was paid to the burn-rate of gun powder.
Then the double-stack magazine, generally (to this point) found in Browning and S&W handguns, made it 'profitable' to shoot the slower, weaker 9mm cartridge ... but hits outside of the center of the target scored less points with the weaker cartridge.
Which lead to the development of double-stack guns in .38 Super, which could be legally loaded to 'Major Power' levels. (Until very recently, 9x19 cartridges could NOT be scored as Major Power, even if the chronograph proved that it was possible to achieve that goal. This rule was added specifically to discourage painful experimentation with hot loads in the 9x19 cartridge.)
About then the more innovative and adventurous competitors began experimenting in earnest with n0n-iron sights, and the Red Dot electronic sight was all the rage.
And right in the middle of this, someone figured out that the muzzle-flip of this hot .38 Super was very hard to control and the answer was to develop a compensator which would use the excess gases to vent to the top and sides, thus stabilizing the pistol (taming it, like a wild bronco) so fast double-taps can be delivered accurately by people who don't have very strong wrists and iron control.
Somewhere along this path, IPSC decided that a .45acp with a seven-round magazine shouldn't have to compete with a double-stack/compensated/scoped .38 super. Around 1997he sport was divided into two divisions. (Revolvers were originally required to compete directly with semi-automatic pistols.)
The 1990 rule book mentions 'stock auto' and 'revolver' class (yes, "class" -- not "division"), but this distinction was only applicable to club-match competition. That same rule book also includes this passage on page 9: "THIS IS A SPORT, NOT PARAMILITARY TRAINING."
But the next rule book, published in 1992, defines "Limited Class" in terms of production levels and modifications and equipment not to be used: Electrical/Optical sights, Porting, Compensators, etc.)
The 1995 rule book defines "Limited Class" and "Open Class" using about the same terms, and this is the first usage of "Open Class" as a designation.
By the 2000 rule book (the "Toilet Paper" rule book (because it didn't have a stiff-cardboard cover), which inanely jumped from 7th version to 14th version) was referring to Divisions rather than Classes, and Open Division was truly a no-holds-barred Experimental hardware real-time ballistic laboratory where firearms design (especially included 'fully supported', or 'fully ramped' barrels) and ammunition design (including cartridge cases with more metal near the base of the cartridge, to contain the higher pressures), plus new shooting techniques (eg: the Weaver stance vs the Isosceles stance) all met to see just how fast a human can shoot a powerful cartridge accurately.
The results proved that this is very fast indeed!
It was also the reason why IPSC president, and originator of IPSC competition Col. Jeff Cooper abdicated his office and left IPSC, on the grounds that "Practical Pistol Competition" was no longer "Practical".
Why do you need a compensator?
So much for background.
Let's get back to Rivrdog picking on The Geek.
His comments were pithy and to the point.
The compensator is no part of a battle weapon.
Simple is better; couldn't I (relearn how to do without) the compensator?
Maybe I should load lighter loads so I don't need the compensator.
He suggests that I "(c)onsider un-compensating the race gun".
And his penultimate comment deserves to be quoted in full:
I know you'll consider me out of order because I don't compete, and just shoot enough pistol (probably 1,000-2,000 rounds per year) to stay combat-ready, but don't you shoot competition for the same reason, plus maybe also for bragging rights?No, I don't consider Rivrdog (George) out of order, mostly because he does not compete in either International IPSC or American USPSA kind of Practical Pistol matches. Just look at the name: Practical Pistol. That may conjure up the vision of a world of camouflage-clothed Rambo wanna-be's and beer-drinking tailgate-sitters. It's an unfortunate fact in our world of first impressions that, if there is no reason to read for understanding, one might be justified in assuming that Practicality is Our Most Important Product -- Our Only Product (which I think is much like Ronald Reagan use to say of General Electric appliances when they were sponsors of his Death Valley Days television show, only substituting "Practicality" for "Progress".)
In fact, there is not much that is very 'practical' about shooting a Race Gun. These are highly bred and temperamental thoroughbred stallions which might some day, if you are not very careful, turn on you and transform you from a mild-mannered Honest Citizen to a maniacally cackling Crazed Killer.
Oh, wait. That's the Gun Control crowd's mantra. But you get the idea; a Race Gun is just to exotic to have any real ... uh ... practical purpose.
But in fact the Race Gun does have a purpose: it eliminates as many mechanical and equipment-related factors from the shooting equation as possible, and allows the shooter to explore the depths of his own skills. This eliminates many limitations from the exercise. For example, as I aged my body changed and my eyes changed so that I could no longer see iron sights clearly. But with the electronic dot sight, I can still see the sights and the target.
And when I was shooting the 10mm Edge, I had to spend too much time and attention on controlling muzzle-flip to shoot as well as I was able. In effect, I had to muscle the muzzle (sorry) back into place for a quick and accurate folllow-up shot. The compensator reduces this effect ... it doesn't eliminate it. And I don't have sore wrists at the end of a match.
So if my only goal was to prepare myself for the SHTF ("Stuff Hits The Fan") Day, then yes the Race Gun would obviate the practical training which would be necessary.
But I'm not preparing for Armageddon. I'm spending a day at the range with my friends, having a good time competing with and against them, and not trying to prove that I can smoke the targets under adverse conditions.
I've done that, it was fun while it lasted, but I've moved on to accept USPSA competition as a fun way to spend the day.
So no, George, I don't think I'll deliberately emasculate my Race Gun by removing the compensator.
In the first place, it's an integral part of the barrel and I don't want to spend three hundred bucks de-engineering a fine sporting handgun only to prove a point that isn't important to me.
In the second place, I like the control that the compensator gives me, especially when I'm trying to go really fast on a hoser stage, and the compensator holds that muzzle down so I get .18 second controlled splits for a two-Alpha score. Well, sometimes.
And in the third place, George, I know you're trying to Bulltwaddle me.
On August 20, 2005, we met in Portland Oregon at the "A Place To Shoot" indoor range and veritably took the range over with a group of other PNW gun-bloggers who wanted to meet, greet and shoot with each other.
It took some doing, but I finally managed to talk you into shooting both the STI 10mm Edge Limited Gun, and the STI Tru-Bore Race Gun.
You loved it.
Don't tell me you didn't.
I have pictures!
And if that's not enough, here's the photo of you after shooting the Geekish Race Gun at a silhouette target, where you not only pumped the first 20+ rounds of a Big Stick (Hi-Capicity/25 round) magazine into a fist-sized hole in the A-zone, but you playfully dumped the rest of the stick into the B-zone just to prove you could do a major-league Mozambique.
Here's the picture:
Nobody does 'smug' like Rivrdog. And justifiably so ... you did a nice job at 45 feet.
In case your memory has faded, here's a video of the 10mm vs the .38 Super Race Gun, both of which you used so well that it was all you could to keep from cracking a smile.
You ol' dog you. You know you loved it.