Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Life as a Shooter: I Insist On Both Kinds of Cool

When it comes to handguns, I am atypical from a lot of my fellow Americans. Having had the opportunity to handle and fire a large number of models, and deciding what to spend my own money on, I found that a lot of the popular choices just don't do it for me. I settled on two, one being very much an improvement upon the other, that I wanted most in my collection.

The Browning Hi Power is the first, and older, of the two designs. I had a sense that single-stack magazine designs weren't a good fit for me, and then I saw one of these with a duo-tone finish at a local gun show. I lamented that I did not have the $700 at the time to take it home, even if it was in that ridiculous .40 Smith & Wesson chambering.

It felt perfect in my hands and pointed so naturally that I knew it would be only a matter of time before I could trade it for one chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum. (That, by the way, is also known as "9mm Luger" and "9mm NATO"; I specific "9x19" because there are three other "9mm" cartridges and they are NOT all the same.) Subsequent handling of other Hi Powers confirms that this was not a fluke; I would, in time, buy a Hi Power knock off to scratch this itch until I could get a real Hi Power (preferably a Practical). Handles perfectly, shoots perfectly, and beautiful to boot; I can't go wrong with a Hi Power.

But I can do better, for cheaper, and that's where the CZ-75B comes in. Most of CZ's handguns are fantastic, and only until recent years did they get into the polymer frames that many other manufacturers use now. The 75 is a service pistol, but it has variants that are compact (the P-01 is one I have my eye on) and bigger variants (like the superb SP-01), and even now you can get a CZ-75B at or just below $500 if you're vigilant (and the Omega version is all I want in a 75B). The black polycoat will take beatings and hold, and chambered in the nigh-ubquitous 9x19mm cartridge it will be useful damn near everywhere in the world. This, and not the Glock, should be the world-standard for handgun design and rollout.

Alas, I don't have one (yet), but I do have a CZ-82 (in many ways the predecessor to the CZ-75 P-01, chambered for 9x18mm Makarov) and that too (as is true of the CZ-83, chambered for .380 Automatic Colt Pistol/9x17mm Browning (aka Short, aka Kurz)) points and shoots so very well for me. I love it, and won't part with it; I'll sell my Hi Power knock-off (an Arcus 98DAC) first. CZ makes some of the best firearms in the world, for prices that are cheap considering their quality, and--as with the CZ 527 Carbine I mentioned previously--I am astounded that they aren't more widely praised in the U.S. shooting community.

I can go without having any Glocks, Smith & Wesson M&Ps, any 1911s, Springfiend XDs, etc.; while respectable, and good for institutional users, if I'm going to spend my own money then I demand both effectiveness and aesthetics (the first and second kinds of cool, respectively), and I get that with Hi Powers and CZs (both of which are ALSO widely used by institutions, so there is no excuse).

I'm going to carry, use, maintain, and otherwise be close with my firearms as I would my cars and my computers- I damn well better be fully satisfied in all respects, because I'll be with them all the time, and I need no niggling flaws to undermine my relations with my gear. If my Norse ancestors went the extra mile to get a spear, axe, or sword that had the full package then I can bother to spend the time to ensure that my firearms are no less worthy.

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