I took a trip down to the gun range last Saturday. A friend of mine was pissed he wasn’t able to get expert status at his last drill for the national guard. While he owns a few shotguns, practicing with rifles and pistols are totally different. I load up my two Mosin Nagant rifles, .45 carbine, ,45 pistol, and .22 long rifle into the trunk.
For a Sunday morning the range wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be. On a bright sunny day it is common for all four lanes to be taken. I pull up to the only 100 yard lane and start unloading. First we shoot to the Mosin Nagants (Mosin for short).
I bought my first Mosin a few years ago for a hundred bucks and have loved it ever since. I added a scope to the iron sight and left everything else original. I have wanted to upgrade the stock and modify it but the funds to do so are still out of reach. The weight of the rifle would be a burden over long periods of time. The idea of a synthetic stock and detachable magazines have always appealed to me since I think of this as a SHTF rifle.
My buddy and I put over forty rounds through the two rifles. We placed a 25 yard target at the end of the lane and took turns firing rounds at it. The size of the target is slightly smaller than a human torso.
The second Mosin I own I bought last year from a coworker. The guy had put some money into it with the desire to have a authentic Russian scope mount but deciding to put a high powered scope on it. He switched out the straight handle blot and put in a real bend handled bolt he ordered from online. The rifle looks huge and intimidating, the weapon of a giant. I only shot the rifle at the range once before.
I tell Ben to make sure the butt stock is firm against his shoulder before shooting. A few minutes alter I wouldn’t take my own advice. The rifle was shooting low and to the left.
I sat at the bench for my turn and adjusted my position trying to get comfortable. I finally had a good position and aimed for the target. I squeeze the trigger and feel the punch to my forehead.
“Are you ok?’ Ben ask as I sit up and touch my eye brow. I look at my fingers, blood.
“Are you kidding me?” I was mad at myself. I was now the guy who knew better and didn’t take my own advice. I was “that” guy at the gun range.
I let Ben take over and fire a few more rounds while I blotted and took care of the cut to make sure it didn’t run into my eye. Ben’s shots were consistent and he was hitting the target. The scope wasn’t dead on but it would put somebody down at that distance and that was why I bought it. The shots became more concentrated as the time went on.
I was itching to take my .45 out and get some practice with that. I started with the .45 carbine and put up a target at forty yards away. Past experiences had told me that over thirty yards the carbine grew inaccurate. Since then I took the red dot scope off and switched to the iron sight. I was getting a nice grouping even at forty yards. I was happy with the results and switched to the pistol.
Somebody had left a bag of sand in the lane and I put a zombie target on it at twenty yards out. The first round was between the eyes and I continued. The hi point .45 always felt good in my hands and I didn’t have a problem putting rounds where I wanted them. The kick is minimal and the sight is exactly how I like it with three dots you line up. Plastic bottles were left behind and plinking became the next game. I brought a hundred rounds of .45 and we quickly ran through them.
At one point Ben took the pistol and walked towards the targets while shooting at them. The fear the worms must have felt I couldn’t imagine. The bottles were happy to find themselves safe when the slide pulled back and the magazine was empty. Shooting a pistol is a different animal all together from the rifle and shotgun. I knew the mistake that Ben was making since I experienced the same thing my first time shooting a pistol. The simple phrase “squeeze, don’t pull” worked wonders for me. Shooting a pistol has been pimple ever since. We didn’t have the ammo for Ben to get the hang of it. The pistol was a bonus for him since it was the expert rank he wanted for the rifle.
We finished off the day with the .22 semi auto rifle and got some practice in for squirrel season that would be here soon enough. The metal target I own spins around when hit accompanied with a “pah-ting” sound. Needless to say we were both dead on with the .22 but I still had problems with the tube fed Marlin getting jammed and not ejecting the spent shell. I have yet to find if it is the mechanics of the rifle or the type of ammo used.
At the lane next to us an older gentleman was practicing with a pistol on an old lawn chair. After an hour of shooting the pistol the large Kaboom that caught our attention told us he had switched guns.
In his hands was a Kal-tec KSG shotgun. I had seen one of these in John Wick and the compact firepower was amazing. The shotgun features two magazines that can hold 14 2 ¾ inch rounds or 12 three inch rounds.
Ben immediately wants to shoot it.
We walk over and ask what it was and the guy offers the shotgun to Ben with two rounds in it. Ben puts two into the chair and was acting like a child on Christmas. Then the guy puts a three inch round in for me to try. I put the buttstock firmly against my shoulder and aim at the chair. The kick from the Kal-tec left a bruise on my shoulder I still have today. I sat up and hollered “oh…..Fuck!”
Ben and the guy laughed along with the two people at the lane next to us. Needless to say I will not be buying three inch rounds for my shotgun anytime soon.
The firepower and compact size of the Kal-tec make me think of it as a great home defense weapon. The price of $900 also told me only a few people could afford it.
I left the range on Sunday feeling confident with the guns I own. The two .45s have switched to my primary home defense weapons in the last year. The ergonomics and easy use of these two weapons has given me a confidence the shotgun did not. Plus the back up piece of the pistol and the interchangeable magazines makes home defense less complicated in a high stress situation.
I’m still upset about the Marlin .22 but there isn’t much I can do about that besides write to the company and complain. I’ll have to run a test one day and see if the type of ammo is effecting the rifle or if it was poorly designed.
The odds are it will be another year before I’m at the range again. Hopefully the world doesn’t go to shit before then.
Matthew Gilman can be contacted on his author Facebook page and found on Twitter.