News with Richard Bleil
Have you ever been certain that you were finished, only to discover that you are not? I was sure I was done buying guns. After all, I have my .22 (a revolver with a distinctive old western vibe), my 9 mm (a great semi-automatic gun should I decide to carry for self-defense, which I do not), my .45 (the semi-automatic I purchased for home protection as well as target shooting) and my .50 magnum (a revolver I bought as a joke because it’s just too ridiculous to actually use for defense).
Every once in a while, I take my guns to my club to exercise them and keep in practice, something that obviously I haven’t done often enough since I was holding my semi-automatic incorrectly and it “bit” me (that is to say, the slide, when I fired it, pinched the knuckle of my thumb). Of course, once shot, it takes the lion’s share on an hour to clean and lubricate them, so you really can’t shoot them without being willing to put in the time. I have two handguns that are very capable for self-defense, and two just for play. Still, I do enjoy “window shopping” and seeing what other handguns are available.
Today, I struck up a conversation with one of the staff members at my gun club as I was doing such window shopping. I mentioned to her that if I did carry a concealed handgun (I do have a permit to do so but the reason is that in my state it makes it so much easier to actually purchase handguns), I would want it to be a pink handgun. If I had to use it, I’d want the last thought going through that person’s mind to be, “oh my God, I was killed with a pink handgun.” She pointed out the other reason for a pink handgun, one that I’ve thought of but don’t usually verbalize (because it’s not funny), namely that the surprise factor on seeing a pink handgun could also slow down the person from whom I am defending myself, a kind of shocked disbelief.
As it turns out, they had a pink handgun. A brand of handgun I’ve not heard of before, and we pulled it out for me to take a peek. It was a very inexpensive gun, and I was thinking about it. But, in the case, near where this gun was, there was a sleek, steel, beautifully crafted gun. Then I noticed the manufacturer was Walther.
The handgun was a Walther PPK/S. If you don’t recall, in the James Bond movies, his preferred sidearm was the Walther PPK, something that I always felt like was a little too well publicized. So, seriously, how can I not be interested in the James Bond gun? It had some features that I like, but not all of them. For a conceal carry handgun, it actually is very well-designed with a slender body to give a small “imprint” under clothes. (No, I still won’t carry it routinely because it’s just not my style.) It has a visible hammer, something I do not like because I always fear that if the hammer gets hit, for example by dropping it, there is the chance of an accidental discharge. I compensate for this by not keeping a round chambered, so for me it’s a minor issue. What I do like is that it has a separate lever safety. Glock, for example, has a “trigger” safety, meaning the safety is built into the trigger. I don’t consider this to be a safety, because an accidental pull of the trigger will likely pull the safety as well, so I don’t consider this design to be a safety at all. In the Walther PPK/S (yes, an actual Walther manufacture as today I discovered other gun makers also have versions of the PPK), the safety has to be disconnected before it will fire. I like this.
Interestingly, in one of the James Bond movies, the agency tried to convince 007 to give up on his PPK in favor of another model handgun (which, obviously, he refused). The reason they gave was the high incidence of gun jams with the PPK, so I was curious to see if there was any truth to this.
The gun club gave me (after I paid for it) a brand-new PPK/S, so I didn’t expect any problems this time around. In fact, it jammed on me three times. The first time was my own fault, as I don’t believe I pulled the slide back completely, and ended up with a “double load”, meaning the loading mechanism tried to push a second bullet into the barrel when one was already in there. So, after clearing the jam, I was careful to pull the slide back completely to load it correctly. I fired all of the rounds (only seven bullets) in the clip, and anybody who is familiar with semi-automatics knows that this means the slide locks in the back position. I ejected the clip, loaded a new one, and unlocked it which should have loaded a round automatically, but, once again, it jammed on a double load.
So, important lesson (for me, anyway), to always pull the slide all the way back to load a round, even if it is in the locked position. The third jam was caused by a fired round where the shell did not eject correctly. I’ve had this happen with handguns in the past, often, for me, because I sometimes “limp wrist” the handgun, meaning I don’t grip it tightly enough. The gun has recoil when fired, and if you’re not holding onto the gun tightly enough, the recoil will be roughly the same speed as the ejecting cartridge, and the cartridge gets caught between the chamber and the slide.
Of course, it was a brand-new gun, so it might have had manufacturing oils on it, but it had not been properly lubricated with gun oil. Today, of course, I cleaned and oiled the gun (as I do with all of my handguns after they have been fired). It will be interesting to see if it jams now that I know to pull the slide completely and have lubricated the mechanisms. One interesting note of the Walther PPK/S, and I have no idea how they engineered this, but every time I hold it the James Bond theme song plays.