Princess Gail meets Gabby Franco!

What a great day this turned out to be! 😀

Following her success on History Channel’s Top Shot for the past two seasons, not to mention other things like competing in the Olympics, Gabby Franco has been traveling all over the country giving shooting lessons. I was planning to surprise Gail with a trip to Miami, for a lesson with Gabby at her home range, when Gabby announced she would be teaching three classes in Warrenton, NC, about a three hour drive from our house. Gail jumped on it and became part of the small group that would comprise this special event.

We arrived at the Front Line Defense Range on a cool, sunny, beautiful morning!


Gabby set the tone for a very productive day.


Gail said she was an outstanding teacher, eager to share what she calls the “essentials” of precision shooting.


She paid attention to every detail.


She demonstrated the Gabby way of doing things, which is world class!


She worked on proper form.


Though I really like Gail’s form already! 😉


She kept very good/safe order on the range.


She provided all manner of personal attention to shooters at various levels.

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And she not only critiqued everyone’s shots, but taught the group how to critique their own shots.


Gail is already a pretty good shooter, but there was visible improvement under Gabby’s expert tutelage.


And it made Gabby visibly happy to see everyone improve.

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The ladies had an awesome day shooting. I had an awesome day listening and taking pictures.


While shooting, Gabby is an intense perfectionist, and she demands “effort” and performance from her students. But she was also very gracious and warm. When Gail first met her, there was a genuine smile and a hug. At the end of the day, you knew you had made a friend. What a special young lady! I was already a fan, and now much more so! It is so great when people exceed your already high expectations!

Thank you, Gabby, for a truly wonderful and memorable day!

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Ruger SR9C vs Springfield XD-S .45

This was a really fun comparison. Today, Princess Gail and I decided to shoot and compare my Ruger SR9C to the latest and greatest small pistol for concealed carry from Springfield Armory, the XD-S .45ACP. You can find comprehensive reviews of these two great handguns elsewhere. This post is to document our own experience.

Pictures and the specs for the SR9C are here and for the XD-S .45 here. You can see that size-wise they are very comparable: (SR9C vs XD-S) weight 23.4 vs 21.5 oz., length 6.85 vs 6.3″, height 4.61 vs 4.4″, width 1.27 vs 1″. They were both designed for the concealed carry market. These are the actual guns we shot:

1. Caliber

The SR9C is a 9mm handgun. The 9mm round is a very acceptable load for self defense. The .45 caliber XD-S shoots a much heftier bullet, resulting in a slightly larger area of tissue destruction and definitely better “stopping power.” In general, handguns chambered for 9mm have less of a recoil “kick” than handguns chambered for .45 caliber. In general, the smaller caliber 9mm is easier to control and shoot accurately than the more powerful .45. In general, handgun magazines can hold a larger number of the smaller 9mm bullet than the larger .45 bullet. The cost of each 9mm round is definitely less than the cost of each .45 round.

2. Magazine Capacity

I will speak only about the smaller magazines that come with these pistols, as they would be the ones used for concealed carry purposes.

The small, double-stack magazine of the SR9C can hold 10 rounds. The small, single-stack magazine of the XD-S only holds 5 rounds.

3. Recoil and Accuracy

The SR9C has been around for two years now, and the SR40C for one year. They have built a reputation for being easy to shoot and remarkably accurate. But a small .45 caliber handgun should give you a nasty kick, right? Well, no! What a surprise to shoot the XD-S .45 and find a very, very manageable recoil! The power of the .45 load was obvious, but the kick felt only slightly more than that of the SR9C. That made for fast and accurate follow-up shots. Princes Gail had no trouble shooting the XD-S .45 well and accurately at the typical 3 to 7 yard self defense distances, and even at longer ones.

After 20-25 rounds, though, Gail’s arms did get tired, and accuracy suffered after that. She much prefers the 9mm SR9C, and prefers even more her Walther PPS. That speaks for the ergonomics of each product. It is important that your gun feel right in your hand, and in this respect everyone is different.

4. Quality

Both of these guns are very well made. You can sense the quality of their construction at every step of the experience. Again, I refer you to the Ruger and Springfield websites for details, and to the many posted reviews if you want more objective opinions, prices, etc.

5. Final Opinion

Both of these guns are terrific! I will be glad to stick to my SR9C because I believe the 9mm bullet has more than enough power to perform its intended self-defense function. I also believe that it is more controllable, and therefore more accurately shot, than the .45 caliber bullet. I think proper shot placement is more important than the difference in size and power of these two bullets. Further, I would have 10 rounds in my SR9C and only 5 in the XD-S.

I also realize that the chances I will ever actually shoot this gun in self defense are very small. I plan to keep myself safe and out of trouble in other ways. So I will probably only shoot my gun at the range. The 9mm is plenty fun, and the cost per round, or per 100 rounds, is considerably cheaper than the .45.

But I will say that shooting the XD-S .45 was lots of fun, too. It was easy to shoot and very accurate at the self defense distances. If you are someone who would prefer the power of the .45 caliber load, or would just feel cool carrying this beautiful little monster, I can recommend the XD-S .45 without reservation!


NRA Convention 2012 St. Louis

Our trip to St. Louis last weekend was to attend the annual convention of the NRA. An estimated 60,000 people were expected at the America’s Center for the four day convention, April 12-15, and it sure seemed to me like they all showed up! Wow! The huge convention center was jam packed with about 500 vendors and shoulder-to-shoulder attendees like ourselves.

It was a great opportunity for us to check out the latest and greatest items up close.

Always the lady, Princess Gail checked out accessories for her pink outfits, like this semi automatic pistol:

Diann was like a kid in a candy store, playing with this cute assault rifle:

Gail had a happy moment here, watching my lips move without having to hear a sound:

I was happy to see that the ongoing war on Zombies was well addressed at the convention. Here are but a few examples:

There were thousands of guns on display.

Princess Gail found her Walther PPS in the Smith and Wesson display area:

Gail liked the NRA race car as well:

Besides the gun displays there were many other activities going on. This is a stage for major national level politics. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich spoke at one of the meetings. Ted Nugent was there doing his usual thing. Trace Adkins played at the Country Jam. There were seminars, workshops, raffles, an air gun range, artists, the NRA Store, and so much more! We attended The Freedom Experience on Saturday night, which included a great performance by Larry the Cable Guy (I have become a big fan) before the main speaker Glenn Beck (way too conservative for me.)

All in all, it was quite an experience! My favorite products were the Baretta PX Storm, Springfield’s XDM and the new little XDS in .45 caliber, and Ruger’s new 10/22 Takedown rifle. I think Kimber had the most beautiful product in their little Solo pistol for concealed carry; perfect except for its $1,200 price tag! I was also impressed by the quality of several guns I had never handled before, including guns from Taurus and Charter Arms. It was a great opportunity to compare and contrast, hands on. I’m really glad we attended! 😀

Finally, to give you a little taste of what it was like inside the America’s Center convention hall, I’ll finish with this YouTube video (not mine).

SIG Sauer P226 full size 9mm pistol

Today I had the chance to shoot the SIG Sauer P226 full-size pistol, in 9mm. The link I provided is to the Wikipedia article which gives some great information. The most interesting part to me is that this gun was one of the two finalists under consideration by the US armed forces in 1984 when they were deciding on a new pistol to replace the M1911. The M1911 had been used by US armed forces for almost 75 years at that point. The best new designs came from the Italian gun manufacturing company Beretta and the Swiss company SIG. The Beretta won out, and most US servicemen are now provisioned with a Beretta M9. But some US forces, including the US Navy Seals, and many military units around the world, use the SIG Sauer P226.

I was way impressed with the gun! I won’t talk about the details of the gun itself as these can be easily found elsewhere. I’ll just talk about how it felt and behaved for me.

From the moment I picked it up, I could sense a beautiful and solid construction, and that it felt very comfortable in my hand. Great balance. Upon pressing the magazine eject button, the metal magazine ejected effortlessly. I loaded 14 rounds of 9mm Parabellum. I was then surprised at how easily the slide pulled back to chamber the first round. I set up my target at 7 yards and popped 5 relatively rapid rounds into the five inch target. I didn’t expect that kind of accuracy, as I’m not that good a shooter. [Not yet anyway ;-)] So after that, I set the target at 10 yards and left it there for the rest of the session. I was shocked that even at that distance, nearly all my shots were within the five inch targets I was aiming for. Two shots out of 50 were just outside the target. I give the entire credit for this accuracy to the gun, as I have shot several others and have not had this kind of success. The only gun I have fired that feels about the same is the Springfield XDM.

SIG Sauer makes many variations of this gun, and they are all pricey. Expect to pay a street price of about $700 to $900. Just another example of the old saying, “You get why you pay for.”

I can so see why the US Navy Seals chose this as their handgun of choice. This is an excellent gun and it was really fun to shoot!