Concealed Carry Works

A 36-year-old man was shot and killed Tuesday night while he was attempting to rob an elderly couple outside a Northwest Dallas grocery store, police say. The man, identified by police as 36-year-old Mike Angel Carmillio, approached a man and a woman as they walked out of a grocery store and snatched a gold necklace from the woman’s neck, police said. The incident occurred around 7:15 p.m. at the Aldi in the 3000 block of Forest Lane near Webb Chapel Road.

The man knocked the woman to the ground and tried to rob her. The woman’s husband, 71-year-old Ronnie Lummus, pulled out a handgun and fired several shots at the man as he was attempting to flee in his car. The man got in his car but died before fleeing, police said.

Detectives interviewed Lummus, his wife and witnesses. Lummus has a valid concealed handgun license. He told officers that he was afraid the man would harm him or his wife during the robbery, police said.

Lummus has not been charged with a crime. The case will be referred to a grand jury.

Why Handguns Jam

by Sandy Keathley

To start with, revolvers don’t jam, barring a rare defect in the shell casing size, so let’s move on to semi-automatic pistols. While the semi (or autoloader) is a very reliable device, it is complicated, and depends on several actions working together in harmony. When that harmony is disturbed, the action is subject to several types of intermittent malfunctions, described variously as Failure-to-Eject (FTE), Failure-to-Feed (FTF), stovepipe (see FTE), or just “jam”. These might happen once in 100 rounds, once in 50 rounds, or once or more in every magazine. Failure-to-Eject (which may or may not be a mechanical problem) is often confused with Failure-to-Extract (which usually is). If malfunctions occur more often than once in 10 rounds, suspect something mechanical.

Possible mechanical problems

The extractor hook could be bent or damaged. In that case, you will have major feeding problems. This will require the services of a gunsmith.

It is possible for the forward lips of the magazine to be bent, causing each round to be pointed too low to properly engage the feed ramp. Just look in the ejector port after inserting a loaded magazine. The top round should be pointed slightly upward. You can usually fix that with needle-nose pliers, but a good quality handgun should not have that problem.

If the slide return spring has been replaced with the wrong strength, or has weakened over time, that can throw off the balance of the action. Unless you had previously replaced that spring, there would be no way for you to know if that is a problem, so see a gunsmith.

Barring such mechanical problems, the usual culprits are usually proper fit of the components (cheaper guns), or maintenance (any guns). To understand that, you need to understand what happens
in the cycling process:

  1. The cartridge “explodes” (burns), producing a somewhat predictable force to the rear (not all loads are the same; hotter loads produce more force, but not as much as the next higher caliber). 
  2. The force drives the slide to the rear, impeded only by friction in the rails (grooves), and by a gradually-increasing forward force from the return spring. During this time, the extractor pulls the empty casing from the chamber, ejects it, and clears the magazine, allowing the next round to pop up into place. If the casing sticks a little in the chamber, that also exerts forward force against the slide movement.
  3. The slide continues to the rear until its dissipating force is balanced by the sum of friction in the rails, friction from extracting the casing, and the forward force of the return spring, or it hits the frame (not normal).
  4. As the return spring reasserts itself, the slide is pushed forward again, picks up another round, pushes it to the feed ramp, and up into the chamber. The slide continues “into battery”, sealing the chamber for the next “explosion”.

That is how it should work. That calibration is easily thrown out of balance by increased friction in several places:

  • Extracting the empty casing. 
  • The slide rails
  • Pushing the round up the feed ramp.

Performing proper maintenance can mitigate many of these issues:

  • Some cartridges are coated with lacquer, which, when heated, can leave behind a sticky residue. Using an over-sized brass bore brush chucked into a variable speed drill, polish the chamber with J-B Non-embedding bore cleaner (blue label). Clean the chamber thoroughly with patches and mineral spirits, then with patches and solvent. A shotgun mop attachment is useful.
  • Always clean the rails/grooves with solvent, and lubricate with gun oil (not WD-40).
  • Clean the feed ramp with solvent. If the ramp is not slick, consider polishing it. A small buffing wheel on a Dremel tool is perfect for that. Use a buffing compound made for steel, like White Rouge.

The modern semi-automatic is a complex and sophisticated piece of machinery, but given enough time, it will start to fail intermittently, with results that can be either annoying or fatal. Take care of it, and it will give reliable service for years.

Handgun Practice Routines

Practicing marksmanship is like exercising; you know you should, but you’re always just so busy. However, it’s more fun than exercising! Regardless, getting into a routine makes it easier to accomplish something.

Start by finding a range that is reasonably on your way home from work, and buy a membership. Yes, I know it costs a few hundred dollars. What’s your life worth? I guarantee, when you realize you can go to the range for free, you won’t hesitate to go. Gyms sell memberships knowing that a certain percentage of members will stop going after a few weeks. That way, they can oversell the club, and make money. Like a gym, if a range member goes frequently, the cost per trip is much less than ala carte. My range loses money on me. Don’t tell them!

Try going to the range every Friday after work, just for 20 minutes. When you’re not paying for each session, it doesn’t matter how long you’re there. That alone will improve your shooting remarkably, as that represents 45-48 sessions a year instead of once every 3 months like some people. If you have more than one gun, alternate them, or take two. You do have more than one, don’t you?

Don’t forget dry-firing. If that can be part of a Seal Team’s routine, it can be part of yours. Most center-fire guns will not be harmed by dry-firing, but I always use snapcaps, just in case. Do two minutes of dry-firing before you start shooting, and maintain your stance and arm-extension throughout. This is a good way to improve your ability to focus your mental efforts on the muzzle, and keep it from moving. You can also do that at home. I have targets up at various places around the house, so I can practice varying distances. Guests find that odd, but what do I care? (Maybe that’s why nobody visits!).

Once you start shooting for real, think about the fundamentals. Foot position. Stance. Are you bending slightly at the waist? Leaning forward? Good arm extension? Those all contribute to focus, both physical and mental, and help you be serious about marksmanship.

Defensive shooting is typically thought of as two-handed, but once in a while, try shooting one-handed, both strong hand and support hand. This is harder than it looks, because most people find it difficult to move one finger (index) without affecting the rest of the hand, which causes the muzzle to move. Musicians learn this early on, as playing an instrument requires learning how to move one finger out of 4-9 without affecting the others, but most people never have to do this. It takes a little practice. Again, dry-fire practice on this is more economical, until you have a grip on it (so to speak).  Is it possible you could be in a shooting incident, and be wounded in the arm of the strong hand? Yes.

Panic drill. If you can arrange to do this where you can draw from a holster, fine, but be careful. Most people who injured themselves with a gun do so while drawing from a holster, or re-holstering. Never use both hands to draw from a holster. Most commercial gun ranges don’t allow holsters, so in that case, just lay the gun on the bench, muzzle pointed downrange, in the condition in which you would carry it. That could be, no round in the chamber, safety on, decocked, or cocked and locked. Have a man-sized target in front of you, about 5 yards out. On a Go command, see how fast you can put two shots on the target. The goal is 3 seconds. Ten seconds and you’re dead. This also takes practice.

After all, if you’re going to spend money on a gun, you may as well be good at using it, just in case.

Milsurp: The Cosmoline Problem

by Sandy Keathley

Many military surplus rifles from before 1960, especially WWII bolt-action rifles (Mosin-Nagant, Mauser and others) were re-arsenaled in the 1970s and put away for future wars or emergencies. As a rust preventative, they were often disassembled, the parts covered in a heavy grease called Cosmoline, then reassembled and stored for decades. After the mid-1990s, with the knowledge that those rifles were now effectively obsolete, the respective governments started selling them off to exporters who sold them to American companies for resale to collectors.

Even today, years later, these are still showing up, and new collectors are sometimes unclear on how best to clean them up to put them in shooting condition. When the stocks were either varnished or laminated, the grease is easy to remove, but if not, it soaked into the wood and made the wood tacky. While cleaning up such a rifle is tedious, it is not difficult, and treasure is sometimes found underneath!

This description of the process is based around the typical Mosin-Nagant 91/30, but should be applicable to any milsurp rifle that has been packed in grease. Start by separating the action from the stock.

Disassemble the action, removing the bolt and trigger. Disassemble both the bolt and the trigger group completely. Make notes if necessary, so you can reassemble them properly, but there are many videos online for reference. Wipe off all excess grease from the metal parts with paper towels, put them in a pan, cover them with mineral spirits, and allow to sit overnight. After the parts have soaked sufficiently, remove them, wash with soap and water, rinse, dry, then use compressed air to dry more.

At this point, many collectors will use a buffing wheel to carefully deburr any sharp edges, especially on the bolt parts, but that is optional. I also cut 4 loops off of the firing pin spring, and grind the end flat, to make cocking easier. Ammo in the 1940s required a stronger strike than modern ammo, so this won’t affect anything.

If there is any appreciable time between the final rinse and reassembly of the bolt, give the parts a light coating of Rem oil, as these parts will rust quickly. If not, reassemble the bolt. Some people coat all parts with gun oil, but I have had good results with high-temperature Silicone wheel bearing grease. A little trigger oil or grease at the trigger-to-sear interface is also a good idea. Put those parts aside.

Put the receiver end of the barrel into a bucket of mineral spirits and allow to stand for awhile, then pour some down the barrel. Dry as much as possible, then dry with compressed air. Do not wash the barrel. Put the barrel in a padded vise so you can get to the chamber. This is the part many people miss: any cosmoline left in the chamber will, under firing conditions, turn into a hard, sticky residue that will cartridge insertion and extraction very difficult, or impossible. Use an oversized brass bore brush chucked into an electric drill to polish the chamber, using J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaner (blue label). A shotgun mop is useful for cleaning out the residue. Follow this with J-B Bore Bright (red label), and the mop again. Now clean the bore and chamber as usual, with solvent and patches.

If the stock is in good shape, reassemble the rifle. If the action is supposed to be shimmed in the stock, make sure those are in place, so you can torque down the action properly.

If, however, the stock is bare wood (Chinese Mosins frequently are), and grease is soaked in, you have more work to do. Using a paintbrush, paint the wood in small sections with mineral spirits, wait just a few minutes, then wipe clean with shop rags or paper towels. You should see grease coming to the surface. Repeat as many times as necessary. If it is summer, and hot outside, lay the stock in the sun, or in a black trashbag, and sweat out the grease. Wipe down, then repeat. This is very tedious, but the wood will never look good or feel good otherwise.

Once you are satisfied with the condition of the wood, you can do one of these to protect it:

  • Paint the wood with Howard’s Feed-n-Wax. Let dry, repeat twice.This will be invisible.
  • Use Boiled Linseed Oil to create a new but period finish.
  • Use Tung Oil or other finish products to create a nice but non-period finish (only if you are not a collector. Among collectors, this is called “bubba’ing“).

Now reassemble the rifle.