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Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Gunday: Erin Shoots Cool Things

During my recent sojourn to the Land of Lincoln last month (prior to roadtripping it over to Indianapolis for this year's NRA Annual Meeting), I had the privilege of going shooting with Da Tinman and Snooze Button Ronin. In addition, I got to shoot some rare and unusual firearms I hadn't gotten to see, let alone fire, before then.

I apologize in advance if this post causes feelings of envy and/or covetousness. It's not my intention to go "Neener neener, look what I got to shoot!"... but it does kinda end up sounding like that. Sorry. :/

Also, fair warning:  This post contains pictures of myself. Hateful comments about my appearance will result in you being blacklisted from this blog.

First up -- not chronologically, but in terms of awesome -- was Ronin's Saiga-12 with drum magazine. While I have used shotguns before, this was my first time with a semi-auto shotty, and definitely my first time with a drum magazine.

Ronin had brought along a box or two of clay pigeons, and we set them up on a hillside on Tinman's father's farm.  After we had laid out about 20 of them in a pleasing pattern, I was handed the Saiga and told to go nuts.

The first shot was fine -- after shooting a Mosin-Nagant, I can handle the recoil from most anything -- and the game loads obliterated a handful of pigeons at once. Being a semi-auto, the next shell came nearly immediately after, and another group of clays was reduced to shrapnel. By about the third shot I was laughing maniacally and feeling like the God of Kingdom Come. BLAM BLAM BLAM AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  It was a magnificent feeling, like I was wielding a magical wand of devastation.

Sadly, my reign of terror came to an end, and for the first time I was keenly aware of the reality of the phrase "post-ammo letdown":  I was giddy with exhilaration, shaking from the adrenaline rush, and disappointed that I had run out of boom (I ran out of clays long before I had run out of shells). I wanted more!

Fortunately, more was definitely on the menu today, and the next memorable weapon was Tinman's Tavor 21.  Readers may already know I am favorably disposed towards the Tavor to begin with (it's Israeli and it looks like something straight out of science-fiction) -- so much so, in fact, that a picture of Princess Luna dual-wielding Tavors is on my holster -- and so getting a chance just to hold one, let alone shoot it, was a dream come true.

How did I like it?  I believe that at one point I told Tinman "You'd better take this back or I'm going to walk off with it."

The ergonomics on the Tavor are nothing short of AMAZING.  As a short person with commensurate small hands, I was impressed with how comfortable it felt. All of the weight of the bullpup design is centered between the shoulder and firing hand, meaning that it doesn't have the weighty fore-end that other rifles have. It's a full-sized barrel packed into an SBR-sized package, so maneuvering it is a breeze.

What's more, the controls are configurable to accommodate southpaws -- the firing selector is ambi, the charging handle can be swapped to the other side, and all you need to do to complete the transformation from dexter to sinister is to buy a left-handed extractor for the firing mechanism so that the brass ejects in the other direction.  This is probably the first rifle that my mother could comfortably use!

Oh, and it also comes standard with an accessory rail and folding iron sights built into said rail. This makes my inner geardo squee with delight.

And in addition to all that, it shoots really, REALLY well.  Can you tell that I want one?  I'm going to see if I can get one for T&E purposes.  This shouldn't be a problem, as I cruised by the IWI booth at NRACon to show the Tavor guys this shirt...

I told you I liked Tavors, didn't I?

... and they thought it was hilarious.  I'm telling ya, you don't know what awesome is until an Israeli guy at the IWI booth says, "Can I take a picture of your shirt?  Here, hold this Tavor! I will take a picture of you and share this with all my friends back in Israel!"

I'm bringing the gunpony love international, yo.

And now for the pièce de résistance of this entire trip:

Why yes, I AM shooting a Thompson submachinegun, thanks for noticing.

And yes, it IS fully automatic:

It rises faster than I expected. It is hard to control and has a healthy kick. I'm not sure if I hit anything I was aiming for. I'm aware that I have a terrible stance despite my best efforts to lean into it.

It's still one of the most fun things I've ever shot.  

I definitely understand why "full auto" is often referred to as a "giggle switch" -- although, in my defense, I'd like to maintain that was far more of a wicked chortle -- and I can see why it was such a popular weapon in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

I am a touch disappointed it didn't come with the 100 round drums, but having helped load the 30 round stick mags, I can imagine what a pain a drum must be (which is also one of the reasons I didn't ask Ronin to reload his Saiga drum). And yes, post-ammo letdown on a Tommy gun is a sad, terrible thing

So of course I shot it again.

I don't know how much ammo we shot that day (including some guns I haven't mentioned, like my pistol with the Snake Eyes Dead Ringer sights, or Ronin's bump-fire .22, or the multiple pistols that Tinman pressed into my hand), but I think we gave a definite bump to the local economy from all the bullets and shells we bought.
For scale purposes, that pile is at least a foot wide and easily 1.5 - 2 feet long. 

In conclusion, I'd like to thank the following:
  • Snooze Button Ronin for letting me crash at his place and shooting his Saiga. 
  • Da Tinman for letting us use his farm for shooting, and for letting me drool all over his Tavor. 
  • Tinman's FFL (whose name escapes me at the moment) for bringing the Thompson and enough ammo to feed a platoon, as we all took turns shooting it full-auto. 

A good time was had by all!

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