Monday, January 5, 2009

like daughter, like mother

For a while now, I've been easing my mom into the gun culture. She had shot a gun long ago so it wasn't as if she was afraid of guns, but I think she was slightly hesitant about the idea of guns having a part in my life. But after a few trips to the range, plenty of discussions about shooting and the Second Amendment, an introduction to the gunblogs and her taking part in a basic shooting class at the range my mom has accepted my new found life and has even begun considering a gun for herself.

We took her to Gander Mountain this past weekend to windowshop a bit. It, um...did not go so well. (Read what happened over at Mike-istan. What Mike neglects to mention is that he was so peeved at the twerp behind the counter that he got all red in the face, which surprised me quite a bit. I felt nervous because I was sure that at any moment he was going to unload the verbal arsenal on the poor guy, but as usual Mike was the model of restraint.) But we walked out with some ammunition and plans for a range date..

The next day we walked into a crowded range with a bunch of guns and ammo with the intention of shooting two very special pistols that a coworker had loaned my mom. He had originally promised her the use of his smallest pistol, a .25 caliber Baby Browning...

...but he also included an extra pistol for us to try...

...a .32 ACP Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless. It was such a amazing surprise when I unzipped the case and took my first peek. "Ooooh. Oh, wow," I said.

"What is it?" my mom asked.

"It's an antique - and it's gorgeous. Wow. Are you sure we're allowed to shoot it?"

"That's what he said. He gave it to us to shoot."

Well, okay, I thought. Who am I to say no? Besides, I've never been one to put form over function. A gun is a tool and I would use it. Just very, very carefully.

I shouldn't have worried, though. The 1903 shot like a dream. We figure it's about 90 years old and the sights are almost nonexistent but still, on a light-colored target, I was able to get very small groupings. There were no malfunctions, it had a nice crisp trigger and it felt wonderful in my hand. It was really an honor to shoot it; I felt like a kid in a junior high string quartet who had been given a Stradivarius.

And my mom, who is a great shot anyway, did very well with it too.

The Browning was next and while it is small and really quite adorable, its just plain annoying to shoot. My mom tried it, Mike kept having to clear jams and then I shot 2 rounds out of it, almost immediately declaring, "Meh." While the design is good, in my opinion the novelty of such a small gun isn't worth the trouble. I moved on to shooting my friend's H&K P2000. (everyone loans me guns, what can I say?) and discovered I shoot it really well one-handed.

And just because I had the utmost faith in her, I had my mom shoot the Colt Officers ACP. After a tiny little grip problem in the beginning, she was shooting that .45 like a champ. She emptied the magazine and got most of her shots on target. I'm very proud.

It was a great way to spend an afternoon...after all, I got to take my favorite chick in the world to the range.


Jay G said...

What a great story!!!

That tears it. As soon as the snow clears, I'm bringing Mom G. to the range and having her break evil orange clays with the Remington Nylon 66 (her "favorite" gun from decades ago when she used to shoot, kinda like Mom Fallacy...)

Kudos to you and your mom, Breda. You are two very cool gunchicks!

Anonymous said...

A Colt 1903 was my very first handgun, inherited from my Grandpa. It was made in 1918, and I just shot it for the first time 6 months ago. Great little gun- now I want more.

The Baby Browning looks an awful lot like a Colt 1908 Vest Pocket. Any idea if they're the same gun, being made by two different companies?

Earl said...

Wonderful story, I read Mike's take on the store clerk yesterday - he made an impression (bad) on Mike. But like the Old Pistols you and your Mom were shooting everything New and Young doesn't immediately hit the spot, strange that our legacy to our grandchildren may be in the Grand Old Constitution and the Old pistols and rifles that kept it here. But since I am still shooting my grandfather's take down, that is very cool.

Robert Langham said...

IMHO, you can't write too much about your expanding experience of shooting firearms new to you. The more your shoot, and the more kinds of guns you shoot changes the firearms experience in important ways. Adds resonance, doesn't it? And people LEARN from you.
I'm with you- little guns, even classics, are just last-ditch emergency tools. Real guns are full sized. It's easier (and more fun) to shoot a 1911 than a vest pocket .32.
Thanks for this post. "Breda shoots the 1911, Breda shoots a Luger, Breda shoots a HK SOCOM, Breda Glocks Out, Breda goes Browning Hipower" ought to be a series.

Robert Langham said...

That's a gorgeous little .25 Browning. I wouldn't give up on it too soon. They usually haven't been shot much, because they don't tend to function. They were competing in the marketplace with tiny revolvers. I'd pour on the oil and try ball ammo, five to a mag. It's not a serious gun...I mean, if you shot someone with a .25, and they found out about it, they would be REALLY pissed off!
That said you don't get to shoot vintage pistols very often. Don't give up too soon.
Basically a contact weapon. Shoot a hole in them and try to set them on fire.
Cute. Fun. Precious.

Frank W. James said...

Breda, your summation is exactly the reason why I can't for the life of me figure out why someone doesn't start making the 1903 once again. I mean our manufacturing technology is light years ahead of nine decades ago but every gun marketing guy I've talked to says it can't be done. If we can make single action revolvers up the ying/yang, lever action rifles, near '98 Mauser copies and 1911 pistols exactly like they did years ago, why can't they bring this wonderful pistol back?

Your reaction is the same as mine. I love those pistols they are simply 'kewl'.

Thanks for the post.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

I'm with Frank. I would buy a 1903 replica if one was made.

Good for your Mom, Breda.


NotClauswitz said...

You have a real sweetheart Mom!
I need a 1903 now more than ever.

kate said...

Awwww I am so jealous. I really love your mother's "America" sweater too. Fitting.

phlegmfatale said...

Your mom is made of ass-kickery.
Then again, I knew she was because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. ;)

Anonymous said...

could you pass this on.. thanks

University of Iowa Law school hosts attorney who led Supreme Court fight against gun ban

Alan Gura, the attorney whose argument persuaded the Supreme Court last year to strike down one of the country’s most stringent firearms bans, will discuss his litigation in the case when he visits the University of Iowa College of Law Monday, Jan. 12.

For more information on this event, contact Tim Hilton at or call 417-718-3487. For special accommoda-tions to attend this discussion, call 319-335-9034.

Christina RN LMT said...

You are both made of WIN!

Anonymous said...

I have a tiny little 1954 Beretta model 418 .25 that's similar to the browning and it, too, is no real fun to shoot. The short barrel makes getting on paper, let alone grouping, a real trial at any reasonable distances. Plus, it has those little gun mechanical problems, too.

Sorry you had a lamentable experience at the gun counter, kudos to Mike for staying cool and on a final note, I'm jealous; my dear, sweet little mom won't go at all! :(

Old NFO said...

Glad you got a day at the range with your Mom :-)

James R. Rummel said...

Good post.


Ed Harris said...

My favorite article on the Colt Pocket Model appeared in the August, 1931 issue of The American Rifleman on pgs. 14-15. It was entitled “Almost, the Best Small Pistol.” My synopsis follows:

A .32 ACP is not the obvious choice of defense gun against either two-legged or 4-legged predators. However, there are times when “any gun is better than no gun.” I have a carry permit, so do so most of the time, but some social occasions require that I do so discreetly, lest I “scare the natives.” In that case a .32 automatic drops nicely into a pocket.

Years ago when I was a weapons tech for a 3-letter organization in DC my boss asked me to prep an M-Series Colt Pocket Model .32 ACP for a customer being sent out of the country clandestinely on our behalf.

When I asked why the recipient was packing a .32 and not something more effective, I was politely informed that it was really none of my business, but that “when in Rome, you do as the Roman’s do.” It was explained that if the customer took a .45 or .357 it would be apparent that he was “not a local.” While an FN, CZ or Beretta may have been better, we didn’t have one. Walthers were said to be “hand biters,” and not an option, ending the conversation.

Brushing up on the chacteristics of Colt I reviewed the writings of Col. Rex Applegate and others. I also stumbled upon Wagar’s article, a real treasure trove of practical information on the Colt Pocket Model.

Colt Pocket models without the magazine safety can be fired without having the magazine. The Colt will actually function semi-automatically and feed with hardball when held upside down if you keep pouring loose rounds from the supporting hand nose first down the magazine well into the grip as you blaze away with the gun hand. The cartridge guides in the frame do the real work, while gravity lets individual rounds find their way into the chamber in turn with the assistance of gravity alone! NO other auto pistol will do that!

Wagar said of the Colt, “it has proved so useful for much of the outdoor shooting in our part of the country that … I frequently leave my heavier pistols and revolvers at home… This is not a deep wilderness side arm…, but as a light pistol to accompany the big rifle it has many advantages… one is never hampered by its weight and bulk and it need not be left behind because the way is hard and steep or the trail long… The Colt Automatic… is the biggest pistol that fits comfortably into ones pockets… and its owner isn’t often asked by some romance filled tourist if you are a real live cowboy, so the hills are full of these pistols.”

“Practical accuracy is not of the spectacular kind… I can obtain quite good accuracy holding the pistol in both hands and resting them upon my knees I can hit a 50-cent piece practically with every shot at 20 yards… is almost ideal for strictly small game shooting, we have shot many cottontails, grouse, squirrels… over 200 pieces of game in all and have found it unexcelled. It is just enough larger than a .22 Long Rifle to make it a more certain killer, yet destroys little more flesh and makes little more noise in the woods…”
“In closing, permit me to summarize: This is not a target arm, nor is it powerful enough for defense purposes against great beasts or armed men of great virility; but considering its short length, light weight, light report and recoil, and cheapness of ammunition, one will have difficulty in finding a more accurate, more reliable and more powerful pistol just to take along.”

When my customer returned from his trip I asked him if the Colt worked OK. He casually remarked that it was "suitably effective to repel nearly exhausted hypothermic combat swimmers boating our boat at night, while being armed with knives..."

Never bring a knife to a gunfight. So don't pass up any chance at a Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless for those occasions when any gun is better than none.

Farm.Dad said...

Glad your mom enjoyed the shooting . I happen to like the " pocket colts" other than the sights ( i belive in sights and the old colts , no matter the auto have bumps instead of sights ) . You have to realise tho that my ccw is also a " plinker " and i may shoot out to 100 yards with a pocket pistol , more with a real pistol and as such sights are kinda my thing lol .

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, that's so awesome! Makes me wanna go shooting with my dad. :) Sorry the windowshopping expedition didn't go so well though.

I just got my first handgun (a S&W 9mm) for Christmas and I plan on learning how to use it. Being the kind of girl I am, I think everyone was a bit surprised at even the notion of me having a gun. It's too bad other people aren't as open-minded & cool as your mom. I don't think I could ever convince my mom to go with us to a shooting range, much less my sister. ^_^

Rock on!

Anonymous said...

Check out the colt model 1908 - IIRC it is the same basic design as the '03, but is chambered for .380acp. Your bersa needs a companion in a common caliber.

staghounds said...

The "Baby" Browning isn't the John Browning design, which was made by FN and Colt th the same era as the .32.

The Baby is a later, smaller pistol meant to compete with the Walther and Mauser vest pockets.

Tam said...

"The Baby Browning looks an awful lot like a Colt 1908 Vest Pocket. Any idea if they're the same gun, being made by two different companies?"

What Staghounds said.

The Colt 1908 Vest Pocket is the same gun as the FN 1905 Vest Pocket.

The Browning "Baby" was developed in the 1930s as a smaller, lighter, cheaper-to-manufacture derivative of the JMB-designed original (which is maybe the most widely copied design in history, BTW.)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, from a functional standpoint it's not a patch on its progenitor.

Anonymous said...

Sounds and looks a lot like the Remington M51 - also an antique.