Archive for December 2009
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we begin, a couple of announcements. First, Pyramyd Air is running a special holiday coupon: 5% off PLUS you can use it with free ground shipping to the lower 48 states…and the free shipping offer is now available for orders over$100 (it used to be over $149.95). The coupon code is Save09. Enter the code during checkout. See coupon details here. That plan will be in effect until the end of this year. Next, don’t miss the new Echo Monday specials that change regularly. The specials listed are available for only a short period of time, so you have to jump on anything you want. Echo Mondays are the Mondays that follow Cyber Monday, til Christmas.
Before we begin, I want to tell you guys about another way-cool flashlight. It’s called the JOBY Gorillatorch. It stands on an articulated tripod that has super-strong magnets in each of the three feet, so it will cling to any ferrous surface. It puts out 65 lumens in a bright spotlight, but a dimmer switch lets you dial it way back. It runs on 3 AA batteries. I’m already finding uses for it in the office and with gunsmithing chores.
Micro Desert Eagle is an all-metal, pocket-sized .380 ACP.
Those who read this blog know that I shoot firearms and published a long report on how I turned a Taurus PT1911 .45 ACP pistol from an unreliable jammer into a trustworthy sidearm. In that 8-parter, I not only took you to the range as I worked through the Taurus’s multiple reliability problems, I also compared it to the performance of a Wilson Combat CQB Light Rail 1911 and a vintage Colt National Match. From all that, you might get the impression that I am a 1911 fan, which is true, and that I seldom shoot anything else, which is not true. While I did make some side money in the 1970s gunsmithing 1911s (i.e., accurizing and doing trigger jobs), my first love has always been the Colt SAA. I’ve owned more of them and shot more of them than any other handgun, though I currently don’t own one.
So, whats my interest in this .380 ACP Micro Desert Eagle, a so-called “mouse gun”? Well, after I got my concealed carry license, I soon discovered that there is a big difference between talking about carrying a concealed weapon and actually doing it. The first gun I tried to carry was my 9mm Makarov, a 100 percent reliable pistol that I absolutely love. It’s small, accurate and has very little recoil. But small takes on a new importance when you start carrying a gun. There are varying degrees of small, and sometimes a gun you thought was small just isn’t small enough.
I tried toting the Mak in my pants and also in an ankle holster–nothing worked. For me, a Makarov is just too big and heavy to carry, and I was leaving it at home more than I was packing it. That’s the kiss of death (literally) for concealed carry, because it turns out that actions and not intentions are what works in the world of self-defense. The biggest super-magnum is of little use if it’s at home when you need it.
9mm Makarov is a fine sidearm, but too big to carry concealed comfortably.
So, I went further, which means smaller, and got a Kel Tek 9mm. That’s a super-lightweight 9mm semiauto made from synthetics. Mine had a laser built in, so it was doubly cool. The laser is regulated so the bullet goes to the laser point at 25 feet. It was definitely easy to carry. It had relatively low recoil, because the 9mm Luger cartridge is just a hair larger and a hair more powerful than the mouse gun .380 ACP cartridge. And it was pretty accurate–breadbasket groups at 20 feet, which is all I’m looking for.
Kel Tek 9mm is a small, synthetic pocket pistol. This one has a laser built in.
I say I got the gun, but the truth is, it was Edith’s carry pistol at first. She carried it and shot it at the indoor range. Because of the low recoil, she found it easy to shoot; but, as tiny as it is, it’s a bear to cycle the slide until about 100 rounds had been fired.
There was just one problem. This pistol was super unreliable. It jammed with every magazine. We tried different ammo and nothing worked. Even the hot European ammo jammed. We could have sent the gun in for warranty repairs, but I got fed up with it and traded it away.
Then I carried a vintage Smith & Wesson model 37 Airweight revolver for awhile. It was certainly light enough, and if I loaded the ammo down I could control the recoil, though the little snubbie kicked almost as bad as a full-house .357 Magnum in a medium-frame revolver. And there was one other problem. A defense-caliber revolver isn’t as concealable as a pistol. As light as the Smith 37 is, it’s still fatter than a 1911, and it shows through clothes sometimes. I didn’t spend any time trying to adapt to the 37 because it also held only five rounds. And the muzzle energy of the loaded-down rounds was approximately equal to a .380 ACP fired from a short-barreled pistol.
S&W model 37 Airweight is a light .38 Special revolver. It’s too bulky for carry, and it has only five rounds.
I mentioned the term defense caliber. You don’t get to pick what you want. In Texas, where my concealed carry license is issued, you must carry a handgun in a caliber larger than .25 Automatic. There are plenty of .22 rimfire defense handguns and even .22 Magnum defense handguns on the market, but they’re not legal for concealed carry in Texas. Probably the No. 1 caliber actually carried is .32 ACP, although .380 ACP probably gives it a good run for the money. There are also concealed carry guns that seldom get carried, and for them 9mm is by far the most common caliber. I had tried the only 9mm that is sized small enough to actually carry full-time and found it wanting. And .38 Spl., which is very equivalent, is available only in revolvers.
So, I decided to try the brand-new Micro Desert Eagle from Magnum Research. Don’t be put off by the name. This small pocket pistol is no more the Desert Eagle that you know than a Pontiac GTO relates to a Ferrari GTO. In truth, this is a pocket pistol that’s slightly smaller than a Walther PPK. It’s not much larger than my wallet, and not as thick. It holds six rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber; and since it’s a true double-action-only gun, it’s ready to go into action at a moment’s notice.
Micro Desert Eagle is not much larger than my wallet, and not as thick.
I bought this gun for two main reasons. First, it’s all-metal and, after the experience with the Kel Tek, I was fed up with synthetics. Second, you can keep on pulling the trigger and the hammer will continue to function repeatedly. The Kel Teks–and I believe the new Ruger LCP–work only the first time after the slide has been cycled. If the round fails to fire then for any reason, you must manually work the slide again to reset the trigger. That’s not a big problem, with modern ammo being as reliable as it is, but I just don’t like it.
Ruger’s Light Compact Pistol (LCP) is another modern synthetic DAO pocket pistol in .380 ACP.
The Micro Desert Eagle seemed to be the gun for me. I bought one and proceeded to the range, where the gun malfunctioned with every magazine! I was beyond disappointed at this turn of events. I briefly considered selling this gun and buying a Walther PPK, which I felt sure would be reliable. However, after my recent experiences, perhaps not.
And this relates to airguns, how?
Okay, I’m going to pause for a moment and relate this experience to airguns. In my search for the perfect carry gun I was acting like some airgun buyers who franticly search for that mythical gun that will do everything they expect. That rifle that will turn them into a rifleman. I wasn’t using good sense. I was reacting and bouncing around without taking the time to consider what was happening. Had I done so I might have kept the Kel Tek after having it repaired under warranty.
I can be like that, believe me! A bull in a china shop who knows what he wants as soon as he sees it, only you’ll have to get all these other things out of the way because they’re obstructing my vision. In truth, several of the things obstructing my vision are the very things I’m searching for, if I would just slow down long enough to examine them. I think I’ve made my point.
Back to the report
I decided to slow down and see what the factory could do with my gun. Besides jamming and failing to feed, it was now dropping the magazine with every shot–not a characteristic you’d admire in a defensive weapon!
For once in my life, I did things by the book. I filled out the registration card and sent the pistol to Magnum Research according to their online instructions. I sent it in on Monday. That Friday the gun was back with a letter describing what they had done. They found a burr in the mag release catch that had to be removed. Then they fired 21 rounds of a certain brand of .380 ACP ammo without a failure.
I was doubtful, but a quick trip to the indoor range confirmed these results. The pistol cycled 50 rounds of Winchester .380 ammo flawlessly. I now had a carry gun! In the next report I’ll tell you how it shoots and also why I think it’s the right carry gun for me.