Monday, January 20, 2020

Deep Green

Monday, January 13, 2020

The far reaches of an empire

Monday, January 06, 2020

2020 Vision

Clearly this blog has been fallow for a few years.  As with so many other blogs out there, life got in the way and priorities changed. 

I have, however, continued to amass photos from my work and travel.  I always intended to post these, but most of them were stashed away until I could do a decent write-up to go with them. I think the time has come to do something with this space so rather than waiting until I have time to actually write about all of this, I've gathered up several photos and I'm scheduling one to come up every week.  So far I have enough edited and ready to last a year.  I still have plenty more in my files waiting for a bit of touchup, so I can probably keep going like this for some time.  I might even get the inclination to throw in a few other posts along the way.

There's no particular order.  At most there will a brief comment on each photo.  I won't even promise that they will all be good or interesting.  They will just be things that I thought worthy of photographing for future use. 

I hope you all (3 of you?) enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry (?) Christmas

Is there any place more festive than Dulles International Airport during the holidays?

Like maybe a dental lab or a mortuary?

Oh well, Merry Christmas wherever you are!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Elsewhere on the internet

I ran across this.  9 hp Economy engine

I had a particularly close run-in with an engine like this as a kid, so much so that the imprint of one of the head bolts is still visible on my forehead (1/2” NC if you are wondering.)

Now you might think the price is a little bit high, but if you read the ad you’ll find the engine has “great compassion”

I think it’s a small price to pay for an engine that really cares!!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The results are in!

I'm back from my business trip and I've tallied up the scores, but first, a bit of levity.

Now, if you'll finish lacing up your bulletproof shoes, we'll continue.

Here are the June results broken down by class

Class Shooter Firearm Caliber Score
1 Billl Ruger Mk1 22LR 60
1 DavidN Ruger 22/45 22LR 50
1 Susan Ruger Mk3 22LR 40
1 Merle M Ruger Mk2 22LR 30
1 Pattie Ann Ruger 22/45 22LR 30
1 Steve R Ruger Std 22LR 30
1 Fred M Ruger Mk2 22LR 20
1 Dan A Hi standard 22LR 15
1 Steve R Ruger mk2 22LR 10
2 Merle M TC Contender 22LR 30
3 E Johnson Marlin 39a 22LR 45
3 Steve R Remington 12a 22LR 25
4 Pattie Ann Ruger 10/22 0.22 85
4 Susan MR 1722 0.22 85
4 DavidN Ruger 10/22 0.22 75
4 E Johnson Ruger 10/22 0.22 75
4 Billl Marlin 795 .22A 70
5 Billl Glock22 40 S&W 65
5 Billl Rossi971 0.357 40
5 Fred M Colt 1911 Commander 45ACP 40
5 Steve R Ruger Blackhawk 45ACP 35
5 E Johnson Springfield 1911 45ACP 35
5 Billl CZ82 9x18 20
5 Merle M S&W M625 45ACP 20
5 Fred M S&W M625 45ACP 10
5 Fred M Berreta  92FS 9mm 10
6 Merle M TC Contender 9mm 30
7 Steve R M1 carbine 30 carbine 30
8 Steve R Ruger AR556 0.223 10

I think I can safely say that magnification is a good idea if you want to break 50 on this target, though I'm very impressed with Bill's scores using iron sights, and I definitely need a ghost ring like he has on his Mk I!

Patty Ann and Susan take top honors with rifles this time around, both of them scoring a rare bulls-eye on the top center target.  I'll admit the top three targets were a  bit of a gimmick but they did force a little decision making.  It looks like most people picked up on the leaping hares being a difficult target and opted to take a likely 5 points and possible 15 rather than lose a shot on the smallest, odd shaped targets.

What really surprised me is that we didn't have more class 3 targets (RF Rifle iron sights)  It was difficult to pick up on the smaller targets with the iron sights but I had a good time with my little lever action and Steve turned in a respectable score shooting a 'barn fresh' 12a.

For those who are into crunching numbers (hey, I am an engineer after all) here is the ranking without class separation.  Class 4 obviously dominated but after that it's very nicely mixed.

Class Shooter Firearm Caliber Score
4 Pattie Ann Ruger 10/22 0.22 85
4 Susan MR 1722 0.22 85
4 DavidN Ruger 10/22 0.22 75
4 E Johnson Ruger 10/22 0.22 75
4 Billl Marlin 795 .22A 70
5 Billl Glock22 40 S&W 65
1 Billl Ruger Mk1 0.22 60
1 DavidN Ruger 22/45 0.22 50
3 E Johnson Marlin 39a 0.22 45
5 Billl Rossi971 0.357 40
5 Fred M Colt 1911 Commander 45ACP 40
1 Susan Ruger Mk3 0.22 40
5 Steve R Ruger Blackhawk 45 acp 35
5 E Johnson Springfield 1911 45ACP 35
2 Merle M TC Contender 0.22 30
1 Merle M Ruger Mk2 0.22 30
1 Pattie Ann Ruger 22/45 0.22 30
1 Steve R Ruger Std 0.22 30
6 Merle Morrison TC Contender 9mm 30
7 Steve R M1 carbine 30 carbine 30
3 Steve R Remington 12a 0.22 25
5 Billl CZ82 9x18 20
1 Fred Morrison Ruger Mk2 0.22 20
5 Merle Morrison S&W M625 45ACP 20
1 Dan A Hi standard 0.22 15
5 Fred Morrison S&W M625 45ACP 10
5 Fred Morrison Berreta  92FS 9mm 10
8 Steve R Ruger AR556 0.223 10
1 Steve R Ruger mk2 0.22 10

Hope everyone had a good time!

Now go over to Billl's and try his target.  I here it's easy as, well, shooting fish in a barrel.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

June E-Postal

With the warmer weather comes the annual migration of a species common to much of North America.  They start off following the cherry and apple blossoms up the milder coastal climates then as the storm season subsides they move into the Midwest to partake in the sweetcorn and watermelon, eventually moving south with the fall festivals before the cold weather.  I speak of course of the common American Carny. 
Back before the lawyers and legislators made it a liability nightmare carnivals would commonly feature shooting galleries with actual .22 rifles.  Anyone young or old could walk up, pay their money and be handed a little pump action 22 loaded and ready to go.  I’m sure some of these were rather shady affairs with plenty of bent front sights and glued down tin cans, but some of them were absolute mechanical marvels.  Animated targets, gongs, and falling silhouettes were common features and if you had enough nickels you could destroy an entire fleet of steel ducks and an army of jumping hares. 

Since you can’t really go to one of these galleries anymore, I’m bringing one to you.

This month’s edition of Mr. Completely’s e-postal match.

Here are the rules.

Print the PDF at 100% scaling (you may lose the edges depending on the margins on your printer.  That’s OK)

Tape it to a cardboard backer and place it at 10 yards (or 25 feet)

You have 10 shots. 
  Animal targets count for 10 points but may only be counted once.  (Just imagine them falling with a satisfying ‘ting-GOOOONNG’ sound.) The three bull’s-eye targets are worth a maximum of 20 points with 15 points for the center dot and 5 for the surrounding circle.  Each shot can only be counted once so it’ll take two shots to get the full 20 points out of one of these.

The target should be shot standing unsupported.  There is no time limit.

The classes break down as follows
1 Rimfire pistol with iron sights.
2 Rimfire pistol with magnified sights.
3 Rimfire rifle with iron sights. (This is how this target is meant to be shot so if you submit a picture of your slide action 22 with your target you get 10 bonus points!)
4 Rimfire rifle with magnified sights.
5 Centerfire pistol with iron sights.
6 Centerfire pistol with magnified sights.
7 Centerfire rifle with iron sights.
8 Centerfire rifle with magnified sights.
If you care to shoot the target with anything else, let me know.  I’m sure we can accommodate. 

Send a picture of the target to my email (posted on the upper right side of the page) by the end of the month.

Have some fun with this one folks, after all, It’s a carnival!

Monday, June 01, 2015

Shooter, are you ready?


The June e-postal target is done.  I just need a write up to go with it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dear Budget Airlines,

When you try to put that last standby passenger on the plane...'s probably best that he not be 6' 450lbs.

Just found this picture from a while back.  Pretty sure neither of us were happy campers, even after extra peanuts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April 15, Buy a Gun day

For some reason this sneaks up on me every year.  Not that I'm short on firearms around the house but missing an excuse to buy one just isn't right.

Unfortunately, this month's discretionary fund has to go to plumbing, and after paying for this.

All that's left over is about enough for this.

I wonder if Fernco make's choke adapters?  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy Anniversary

With this ring...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rendezvous Recap

I think I've finally sorted out some of the template issues that were giving me trouble on blogger, so while everything is still functional here is a quick recap from this year's GBR. We didn't have quite as many attendees as last year but it was still a great bunch and between registration and raffle fees we managed to raise $4000 for HAVA! Here's a look at some of the raffle goodies.

  This was thanks to our sponsors who I have blatantly copied from Kevin's Post.

  • Ken Jorgensen of Ruger - for the Mk III Hunter
  • MKS Supply for their nine years of support and the .45 Carbine they donated this year, plus shirts and hats.
  • Osage County Guns and Kevin Creighton for the Sig 1911-22 they donated.  This was their first year.
  • Lori Yunker of Burris Optics for the AR-F³ sight they donated.
  • Allen Forkner of Swanson Russell and Redfield for the Battlezone 6-18x44mm scope they donated.
  • Eric Harvey of Dillon Precision for providing one of their "Ammo-shift" bags.
  • Larry Weeks of Brownell's for providing once again one of their top-of-the-line range bags and five tactical flashlights.  Brownell's, too, has been a sponsor from year one.
  • Crimson Trace for a pair of laser sights for Glock pistols.
  • Cabela's for the donation of a rod-n-reel, shirts and hats.
  • Tom Tayor of Mossberg for the donation of T-shirts, tactical pens and a very nice Schrade lockback knife.
  • Bear Bullets for the donation of a tub-o'-.22 ammo. (A Remington Bucket O' Bullets - 1400 rounds worth!)
  • WGM Tactical Precision for the donation of a stripped AR lower (which I guess qualifies as the FIFTH firearm given away), and a lifetime membership to Front Sight
  • Front Sight itself for a certificate good for a four-day training course, or two two-day classes.
  • Special Interest Arms for the donation of scope mounts for a No. 1 Mk III and a No. 4 Enfield

  • I also want to thank the folks at U.S. Firearms Academy for graciously acting as our shipping receiver, the fine folks at the Washoe County Regional Shooting Facility for the reserved range space on Friday and the Western Nevada Pistol League for use of their shooting bays and steel on Saturday, and finally the folks at MiScenarios for the interactive digital range time on Sunday. That was worth hanging around for, and the better part of a dozen of us showed up to try it.Once again, thanks to the National Shooting Sports Foundation for their sponsorship (they bought our pizza Saturday night).

    As for the raffle itself.  Liz and family cleaned up this year taking home the Ruger, the Sig, and the Winchester.  And in an unprecedented event, Kevin took home a gun too becoming the owner of a Hi Point Carbine.  

    There's plenty more to share from this year, including some rapid firing and quiet goodness from Special Interest Arms and Silent carbine.

    I'll load up more pictures later this week, but for now I'll leave you with this.

    Monday, September 01, 2014

    If you aren't headed to Reno

    You are missing out! 

      Go here to see all the goodness at this year's Rendezvous.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Book of Barkley

    If you've found your way to this blog, you've probably seen this already, but in case you haven't...

    The Book of Barkley is out and available in both digital and physical forms.

    Back in February Partner in Grime and I lost a dear friend.  I had not expected him to become a part of my life but I'm grateful for the time that I had with him, however short.  Partner took the loss quite hard, but this book provided her with an outlet and I'm very glad to see it go to press so that others can see it too.

    It's far more eloquent writing than you'll ever see here, so go take a look!

    Wednesday, July 02, 2014

    The results are in!

    I have to admit I really had fun with this one, and from the looks of it I would say some shooters really had a good time as well.

    We had a nice range of scores but it did prove to be difficult to break 70 (which was at least partly by design) and we had a couple of people go for extra points with unusual firearms.

    Class 1:
    Name Firearm Score
    Billl Ruger Mk I 73
    T McAllister Ruger Mk II 73
    Kim Ruger Single 10 65
    Pat B S&W 617 63
    Bill K Ruger 22/45 62
    RB Ruger 22/45 60
    Merle Ruger Single 6  57
    Mac Remington Target Master 48
    Chester Marlin 39 century 49
    GROG S&W 22a 39

    We had a tie for first on this one and some pretty high scores.  It did become pretty apparent though that using a .22 was a pretty risky proposition unless you were always aiming dead center.   Several rounds slipped between the teeth!

    Class 2:
    Merle Enfield No 2 67
    Mike B S&W M&P 63
    Pat B Detective Spl  61
    Bill K Glock 17 61
    Chester XDM 36

    Merle takes first in this class.  His target was a actually a 42 but he gets a hefty bonus for shooting with his break top Enfield No 2 and sending in a pic.  

    Also kudos to Bill K who shot the target with his every day carry Glock 17.  It's always good to see someone shooting targets with a regular carry piece.

    Class 3:
    Mr B Ruger 10-22 70
    RB Ruger 10-22 67
    Mr. B Browning Buckmark 65
    True Blue Sam Ruger Mk III 55
    Marty F 56
    Billl Marlin ? 54
    Paula Savage 64 54
    Pattie Ann Ruger Mk III 53
    Merle TC Contender 47
    Mrs TBS Ruger Mk III 37
    Mr. B takes top  honors in this class.  Again, plenty of .22s slipped through the teeth here!

    Class 4:

    Billl Hi Point 77
    Merle TC Contender 44

    Only two entries in this class but Bill comes in with the top scoring target (sans bonus points) and he does it with a HiPoint 4095 carbine.  Bill, Slap some gears on it and you would have won the whole darn shooting match.

    However that title goes to Nancy  from Excels at Nothing who shot a target an open class target with a reproduction Brown Bess.

    I think she scored about a 70 on the target itself but it's hard to tell because after firing a .765" ball at it 10 times there's not much target left!  Anyhow using a smoothbore musket earns her a substantial number of points and puts her at top dog in this month's match.

    I hope everyone enjoyed shooting this month's e-postal.  Now go over to Bill's Idle Mind and check out July's match and the devilish target he's come up with.

    Tuesday, July 01, 2014


    Scores will be available tomorrow.  Meanwhile, enjoy this blatantly stolen graphic.

    Lifted from:

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

    Get your targets in!

    Don't forget to shoot your e-postal targets this weekend and send them in by June 30.

    There have been several entries already and a couple of people have gone for extra points using unusual firearms.  I might actually have to get out my Xanthinum series Hypersonic Vetterli conversion.  

    You know it's getting serious when someone is willing to dip into their cache of rimfire .41 Xanthinum rounds!

    Friday, May 23, 2014

    June E-Postal

    Greetings folks!  
    If you’ve been shooting any e-postals this year you can probably guess I’ve not taken much time to go to the range.  Consequently I was at a bit of a loss for what use as a target.  I’ve experimented with several ideas and finally said “Just put some gears on it and call it Steampunk.”  

    Well, that’s what this is, but it’s not quite as straightforward as just shooting at the gears.  The points (also marked on the target) stack up like this.  You get 10 points for hitting a key, 9 points for hitting a shaft, 7 points for hitting a tooth, and 3 points for hitting anywhere else on the gear.  
    You get 10 shots at 10 yards (standing unsupported) which you can aim anywhere you please.  However, if any of you are thinking about skipping that troublesome partial gear on the left, I’ll throw in an extra 10 bonus points on any target where you score points on ALL FOUR GEARS.  Each shot scores only once so this gives a (highly unlikely) perfect score of 110 points.  
    Target size: 8.5x11”
    Range:  10 yards (or as close as possible at your range)
    Number of shots: 10
    Position: Standing unsupported
    Time limit: None
    Scoring: Each shot counts once as the highest zone touched.  10 bonus points for scoring on all 4 gears.
    1 – Iron sight rimfire
    2 – Iron sight centerfire
    3 – Optical sight rimfire
    4 – Optical sight centerfire
    5 – Open class:  Anything else.  If is unusual then shoot a target and send it in.  Send a picture too…if you and your gun look “steampunk enough” you will get extra points out of it!
    Email scans or photos of your targets to my email address (right side near the top) by the end of June.

    Monday, February 24, 2014

    Some things I cannot express with words.

    But someone in my life can.

    Sunday, September 15, 2013

    What a Trip!

    This year’s Rendezvous was incredible!  We had over two dozen attendees, some old friends, some new faces, lots of shooting, and plenty to do.  Plus we sold out all 300 of this year’s raffle tickets benefiting Soldier’s Angels Valour IT project.  If you weren't there.  You really missed out!

    The trip started off at O’Hare as usual.  In my checked luggage I had 4 firearms shoehorned into a fairly small case.  This year’s kit included my Ruger 22/45 (MkIII) for steel shooting, a Ruger Super Blackhawk playing the body double for the Blackhawk True Blue Sam donated to the raffle this year, a Walther PP in .32 acp (because I could shoot it without burning up harder to find calibers) and the Stevens “Little Scout 14-1/2” I donated to the raffle.  Luckily the Stevens is a takedown so it fit crosswise into the suitcase (lockable hard sided camera case) 

    With all of the shooting irons packed, I was still able to fit in ammo to feed them all including some precious mini-mags and game-shok 22 for the little Ruger.  That didn't leave a whole lot of .22LR at home, but I figured I’d rather use it up on this trip than resort to throwing pebbles at steel plates.

    So with everything locked up securely I handed off my bag to the TSA and spent the next several hours listening to various airport security warnings  and sitting in flying Aluminum tubes.  That gave me plenty of time to ponder topics like “If it’s such a special announcement, why is it pre-recorded and playing on a 15 minute loop?”  Or, “Where do the bag handlers learn how to drop bags from 6” and make them hit with the same force as a 6’ drop?”

    I dragged into the Silver Legacy at nearly 2AM so I checked in and hit the sack right away.  Luckily the time difference didn't let me sleep  more than a few hours before I was ready to get up again.  A quick meet & greet with the other early arrivals, a run through the buffet line and we were off to Cabela's.
    The folks here have been quite good to us in years past and this year was no exception.  This year they received and held practically all of our door and raffle prize swag for us, which they had waiting for us as we walked in.  Then they proceeded to give us coupons and offer us tours through the gun library.  While everyone was drooling over the ‘if I won the lottery’ cases I did a little ammo scouting.
    Me:  “Hey Kevin, didn’t you say you hadn’t seen any 22LR in the wild for 6 months now?”
    Kevin: “Mini Mags!!!  WHERE?!”

    We all managed to score a 100rd case of mini-mags for pretty much the same price I would have expected before the shortage.  From what I could tell, they were putting out a fixed amount each day and not replenishing until the next.  The system seems to work pretty well.   They had more out a couple mornings later when I made a quick detour before going to the range.
    Their gun counter was pretty well stocked too.  The last time I was in a Cabela's the shelves were almost devoid of firearms with the possible exception of a couple used shotguns, a Taurus Judge and a purple gripped LCP (really Ruger…why?) This time I didn't see any empty slots in the display cabinets.
    After a little perusing the shelves we all ponied up for the ammo and loaded up once more for a trip to the Roop County Range at Fernley

    Now last year we came out here on a Sunday and were treated to a little exposition shooting by the Roop County Cowboy Shooters. 

    That picture was actually taken after the last of their matches, but they were nice enough to stick around for us.  This year we arrived while their matches were in full swing expecting to watch some shooting, chat with a few cowboys and cowgirls then go home. 

    We watched a few people shoot then something wonderful happened.  People started putting down guns and ammo at the loading table and saying “What would you like to shoot?” 
    Apparently we looked a bit hesitant because folks started coming over and saying things like “Around here, if someone offers you free ammo, you say yes!” 
    Fair enough!  We all started taking turns at the firing line whenever there was an opening between the paying shooters. 

    We even had a chance to shoot some beautiful rolling blocks at a 4oo yard target!

    Now for those who aren’t familiar with Cowboy Action Shooting, I’ll backtrack just a bit.

    CAS is a sport supported by the Single Action Shooting Society and is one of biggest (if not the biggest) shooting sports out there.  Basically it’s speed shooting for pre 1900 type firearms meets wild west cosplay.  Most CAS clubs set up western themed range facilities where competitors can shoot stages through bank windows, over saloon doors,  from gallows platforms, out of stage coaches, or even from faux horses.  Competitors are also expected to dress in period attire and adopt cowboy handles to further enhance the experience

    Getting started does require a fair bit of equipment.  Your basic kit includes two six shooters, a lever action rifle, a shotgun, some serviceable gunleathers, a costume, a cart to haul around all of your loot, a toolkit for emergency repairs, a cleaning kit, and usually some reloading equipment to reduce the cost of all of the ammo you burn through.  The initial cost may be a bit of an obstacle, but CA shooters are notoriously easy going usually willing to lend a hand (or even a gun) to a new shooter. 

    There are usually side matches as well, some SASS sanctioned and some club specific.  These typically use firearms other than those used in normal competition.  Some matches are designed for percussion/muzzle loading firearms, some for derringers and pocket pistols, others are for long distance rifles.  There’s a place for pretty much any pre-1900 (or in some cases early 1900s) firearm you like.
    And if you just want to do some shooting for the sake of shooting, you can use a break in the competition to shoot stages wither pretty much any firearm you like.

    Now that’s a funny lookin’ shootin’ iron fer a  cowboy.

    The Roop County Cowboy Shooters club has some really great people in it.  Once we used up a little of their ammo they invited us down to their pavilion to rest up and chat a bit. 
    “Care for some water?”  “Here, have some cookies.”  “Help yourself to an air rifle.”  Yes, they had an air rifle range set up next to the lunch area so people could unwind from shooting by doing a little target practice.  Nice eh?  Hopefully next year we can get together again!

    After that it was back to the hotel for a quick nap before we metup with the crew for supper.  More on that next time.

    Wednesday, September 04, 2013

    How cool are your weekend plans?

    If they aren't at least this cool, you should go to Reno!

    Win a RUGER   Blackhawk with a hand-made holster.

    Win an antique Stevens Little Scout

    Raise money for a good cause!

    Sunday, August 25, 2013

    Cheap guns, the good the bad, and the ugly.

    A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon-so long as there is no answer to it- gives claws to the weak 
          -George Orwell

    Have you ever used a Hi-Point?  I’ve handled a few of them, and if it weren’t for a few Cook County busybodies I’d probably own one of their carbines.  Now I’m quick to say that their reputation as ugly ducklings is well deserved.  Their pistols in particular have an odd sort of top heavy look to them and aesthetics that are vaguely reminiscent of B movie scifi props.  But before you get the opinion that I don’t like them, let me make it clear that I’m actually a fan.  Not because of their looks or their performance, but because of their cost.  

    As shooters, it’s easy for many of us to dismiss inexpensive guns as junk or Saturday night specials, but if you look at the firearms owned by ordinary citizens over the years, the importance of ‘cheap’ guns is hard to dismiss.  

    Take the wild west for example.  The images we conjure up are full of iconic cowboys with six-shooters, lever actions, and coach guns; but for all the cowboys and horses in the west you also had merchants, book-keepers, tradesmen, and other townsfolk who weren’t likely to need a big six shooter on their hip, but still wanted something that they could use for self defense.  Many of these folks got a bulldog.

    No, no...not even close.  we’re still talking about guns.

    The “British Bulldog” was a basic double action revolver who’s design can be traced back to Webley.  These had a reputation as being good, reliable handguns.  But most of the “British Bulldogs” in circulation weren’t made by Webley, but rather by small shops throughout Europe, and particularly in Belgium.  A few gunsmiths with mostly hand tools, could turn simple forgings into functional firearms, have them proof stamped, and then send them off to foreign markets by the dozen.  

    Most Belgian copies were not particularly long lived.  ‘Soft’ parts would wear quickly, giving way to timing and lockup problems, but as long as they were seldom used and kept clean, they were likely to work when called upon. They were usually small enough to fit into almost any pocket discreetly, and though they weren’t likely to be accurate at ranges much beyond arms reach, the stout looking big bore barrels gave plenty of incentive to leave the wielder alone.

    The evolution of cheap guns paralleled their more expensive counterparts.  While Smith and Wesson turned out high quality top break revolvers, their neighbors at Harrington and Richardson turned out budget minded copies.  Many of these designs were nearly identical to their better known counterparts.  Their differences were most likely to be in fit & finish, metallurgy, and heat treatment.  

    Like the (Belgian) British bulldogs, they were not likely to hold up well if shot regularly, but they still served a purpose. 

    Someone of average means could save up a few dollars and order one of these from the Sears catalog, and have a functional sidearm for much less than the cost of a higher quality brand.  

    This little example (if you choose to believe the story) spent most of its life under a cash register in a Chicago hardware store, just in case of ‘trouble.’  I don’t know if was ever called upon to protect its owner, but aside from a little cosmetic wear, it’s lovely, and quite functional.  I certainly wouldn’t choose it as a primary self defense tool, but I would be confident in its functionality as such.  

    So, “EJ” you say, “These seem like short lived but functional tools.  Has the whole ‘Saturday Night Special’ thing been overblown?”

    Not exactly.  Proponents of gun control often apply the SNS label a bit too liberally for my taste, but there are certain firearms that do constitute a safety hazard, and not just to people in front of the muzzle.  

    Meet the Valor SM-11.  It belongs to a class of firearm which has only two design requirements: 1.  Be a firearm. 2. Be cheap.

    I see these occasionally come up for sale, and they are usually in one of two conditions.  They’re either parts guns, or mint in box with a nearly full box of vintage ammo.  The way I see it, some people bought the gun, shot a magazine or two to see how it worked, then put it in a drawer for the rest of its life.  Anyone who continued to shoot one of these likely broke it a box or two of ammo down the line.  

    The owner of this example lost the front of the slide downrange using ordinary factory ammo.  “What’s that?” you say…”Is that, pot metal?”  

    No, it’s probably Zamak, which is just a fancy way to say high strength pot metal. 

    Apparently in order to avoid the cost of forging or machining the frame and slide, they were die cast instead.  It’s a much faster, cheaper process, but Zamak is a lousy material due to its brittleness and corrosion problems.  The cost cutting didn’t stop there.  Compare the internal workings of the SM-11 to the much higher quality Colt 1908 parts.  

    The moving parts in the Colt were milled, heat treated and usually ground to a good finish.   Now you may not need to have such a clean finish on every part of a more budget oriented gun, but remember, these are the bits that keep the gun from going 'bang' when it's not supposed to...they should at least be fairly rugged.

    In the Valor, there are several parts made from stamped sheet metal and a few made from plastic (including the safety)  A quick check with a file makes it clear that the steel bits, maybe aside from the barrel, were not heat treated.
    The design itself is not actually that bad.  It’s a rip off of the Walther Patent Model 9, which is a perfectly decent little pistol.  The Valor is easy to assemble, somewhat ergonomically sound, and (aside from the undersized safety lever) functional.  It’s the choice of materials that makes it a nightmare.  Between the brittle slide and the plastic safety block, I don’t think I would ever want to fire one of these, much less carry it.

    Now contrast the SM-11 to the ‘cheap gun’ of today.  The Hi-Point is still an ugly duckling, but it’s quite rugged. Iraq Veteran tried to destroy one of these and pretty much had to turn it into a pipe bomb to do it.  

    The pistols may not have a spotless reputation but from what I've both seen and heard they run great so long as you use hot ammo and don't limp wrist. And if you think the stock factory trigger isn't quite your speed, it's actually not too complicated to polish up the sliding surfaces to make them pull smoothly.  (Note: Use caution, just because you saw it on YouTube doesn't make it a good idea!!)  If you're still not confident, shoot one to prove it to yourself and practice clearing stovepipes just in case (you should be doing that anyway!)

    No, Hi-Point doesn't do fancy, they aren't pretty, and they won't get oohs and aahs at the range, but they won't cost you a fortune, They're made right here in the USA, and they won't fall apart when you use them

    When I look at it in that light, I’m actually quite glad that there are affordable guns like the Hi-Point.  
    They make it affordable to have ‘claws!’