Category Archives: edc

So We Should Talk About the PSA Dagger

This comes as a response to a reader’s question. 

One of the guns I carried and used the most from about 1999 to 2015 ish was my trusty (but never rusty) Gen 3 Glock 19. In short, I ran something like 30K rounds through that bad boy in a series of 3-, 5-, and 7-day classes during that period as a student and used it as a demo and “loaner” gun while as an instructor.

Mah beat-to-heck G19 Gen 3. All I’ve done to keep it running is swap out the recoil spring every 5K rounds whether I needed to or not and I recently changed out the firing pin spring, plunger spring, and trigger spring because I got paranoid. 

Today, Glock still makes the Gen 3/G19– largely because it is on California’s roster of handguns approved to sell to the public– with the 12-month average price as of this week running $558.11 new and $493.09 used. Heck, I recently just picked up a Mariner variant of the same gun just to say I had one.

So why all this talk about Glocks when the title of this post is about something called the PSA Dagger? Because this, if you haven’t heard, is the Dagger:

Call it a Glock 19 clone, call it a “Glock killer” just call it (says PSA, anyway)

In short, Palmetto State Armory in the past several years has beaten just about every black rifle maker in the AR-15 space with some guns that are just an absolute bargain. I can vouch for this as I have two extremely reliable builds I put together a few years ago using PSA’s 5.56 NATO “Freedom Upper” that included a lead-lapped, 1:7″ twist, 416R stainless steel barrel which yielded exceptional accuracy.

One of what I call my “6-pound basic $500 ARs,” with PSA uppers and guts. Again, these are often loaned out for classes and have never left the user with a bad experience.

With that same sort of logic, to hamstring their competitors by delivering well-produced guns and components at a lower cost, PSA last year tackled the consumer pistol market with the $299 Dagger that does everything a Gen 3 G19 will do for you at a much more attractive price point.

A striker-fired polymer-framed 9mm that has the same general specs (not to mention internal compatibility) of 3rd Gen G19s, the Dagger has several upgrades over the Glock. For instance, it uses a SAAMI Spec 1:10 twist stainless steel barrel that has been DLC coated as well as a stainless-steel slide that has been black nitrided. Go ahead a do a search to find out what Glock makes their barrels and slides from (hint: not stainless). Further, the Dagger has front slide serrations (something Glock only added on the Gen 5 guns), a better grip texture (IMHO), and a flat-faced trigger that breaks at 5.5-pounds.

By the way, PSA offers the Dagger as slides for those with an extra frame or kit on the shelf, and in versions with threaded barrel and CHF barrel options.

On the downside, the Dagger doesn’t have the same Glock name recognition and are a bit harder to find (you basically have to sign up over at PSA to get email blasts to see when they are available) but you get a decent modern double-stack 9mm that is domestically made and eminently supportable for a lot less.

And that’s my two cents on the Dagger.

Of My Time with the GX4

Taurus announced the new micro-compact semi-auto pistol, the GX4, in May, billed as an 11+1 shot 9mm that was roughly the size of a traditional .380 pocket gun that had half the capacity. The specs of the polymer-framed striker-fired handgun– 5.8-inches long with the small backstrap installed, about an inch wide, and 4.4-inches high with the flush-fit magazine inserted– put it in the same boat as the Ruger MAX-9, Sig Sauer P365, Smith & Wesson Shield Plus, and Springfield Armory Hellcat line.
I’ve been kicking around the new Taurus GX4 over the past couple of months, having run some 500 rounds through it, and have some things to say about it.

The 11+1 shot Taurus GX4 is definitely compact. Micro compact, you could say.

Kimber’s First Polymer Handgun

Kimber, at least for the past 25 years, has been seen as a steel-framed M1911 maker, and for good reason– until just a few years ago that was all they made. Then, in 2016, they jumped into wheel guns as well as their very compact Micro 9 series of aluminum-framed pocket autos.

Now, they have delivered their first polymer-framed, striker-fired gun, the R7 Mako.

I know, I know, yawn, right? These have been around since the early 1980s when Glock blazed that trail.

But the R7 is just 6.2-inches long overall, 4.3-inches high, and 1-inch wide. By comparison, this is a near match for the recently introduced Taurus GX4, Ruger MAX, Sig P365, S&W Shield Plus, and Springfield Armory Hellcat.

Unlike some of these micro-compact contemporaries, however, the Mako is optics-ready and has fully ambidextrous controls with a full wrap-around stippled texturing along with TruGlo Tritium Pro u-notch sights. Plus, its top half is stainless rather than some low-key carbon steel, with a matte FNC finish.

Looking forward to shooting this one…

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Did Civil War Soldiers Carry Tourniquets?

Today, all the hip gun guys who carry TQs as part of their everyday medical (author included) often think that this generation practically invented its use.

So, so wrong.

French surgeon Jean-Louis Petit‘s innovative screw tourniquet dates to 1718 and its use by trained physicians was widespread by the 1800s, seeing lots of use on all sides during the Napoleonic wars.

Some reports are that, during the Civil War, more than 50,000 field (strap) tourniquets and at least 13,000 Petit screw tourniquets were used by the U.S. Army Medical Department.

“This item is a petit tourniquet that was used by surgeons during the Civil War.” Surgical Instruments M1999-2145. U.S. Sanitary Commission Collection. Record Group ANRC. Records of the American National Red Cross. Via NARA https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5753444

Simpler Prussian service strap-and-buckle tourniquets, as detailed by the esteemed Dr. Samuel D. Gross, consultant for the U.S. Surgeon General during the conflict and author of an 1862 handbook on military medicine, tourniquets, were extensively used in the military service, with “every orderly sergeant being required to carry one in his pocket.”

From Gross, via the National Museum of Civil War Medicine:

“It is not necessary that the common soldier should carry a Petit’s tourniquet, but every one may put into his pocket a stick of wood, six inches long, and a handkerchief or piece of roller, with a thick compress, and be advised how, where, and when they are to be used.

By casting the handkerchief round the limb, and placing the compress over its main artery, he can, by means of the stick, produce such an amount of compression as to put at once an effectual stop to the hemorrhage.

This simple contrivance, which has been instrumental in saving thousands of lives, constitutes what is called the field tourniquet.

A fife, drum-stick, knife, or ramrod may be used, if no special piece of wood is at hand.”

Ruger May Have Just Changed Pocket Carry Forever

For better or worse, I have practiced pocket carry off and on for almost 30 years. Sure, while in uniform I had a duty holster and a BUG on my ankle because my pockets were tough to get into due to my duty belt, and today I most often carry IWB concealed at about the 3 o’clock position, but I have always thought that pocket carry has its place at times and have defended the practice.

Speaking of this, one of my all-time faves for pocket carry was the S&W Centennial series (Model 642, specifically) but the Ruger LCP got my attention when it came out in 2008. I mean come on, a 9.4-ounce 6+1 .380 that disappeared in your pocket, who wouldn’t like it?

I liked the original LCP so much for pocket carry that I bought one of the early ones in 2009, had it Cerekoted FDE before it was a factory option, and installed Mag-guts spring kits to gain a 7+1 capacity in a flush-fitting mag.

Then came the LCP II a few years ago that changed the profile to make it easier to handle, and added an ounce to the frame and slide, but didn’t change the footprint.

However, the introduction of the current crop of “Micro 9” pistols, double-stack subcompacts– like the Sig P365 or Springfield Hellcat– that carried over 10 rounds in a flush-fitting mag, has swept the carry market.

To that, Ruger has replied with a Micro 380, the new LCP MAX, which is the same rough size as the LCP II, but carries 10+1 rounds in a flush fit or 12+1 rounds in an extended mag, and still fits in a pocket holster.

Nice.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Python Shorty

While most of Colt’s world-famous Python .357 Magnum models were service-sized and longer, some more abbreviated variants were made.

First introduced to Colt’s 1955 catalog for a price of $125 and pitched as “a finer gun than you actually need” to “a limited number of gun connoisseurs,” the big double-action revolvers were most common with barrel lengths in 6-inch and later 4-inch formats. There were even some big 8-inchers that came along eventually.

Downsizing, Colt produced a few short runs of these vaunted revolvers with a 3-inch barrel known to collectors as “Combat Pythons,” and, off and on between 1955 and 1994, the 2.5-inch model, which still sported full-sized grips.

And they are beautiful.

More in my column at Guns.com.

MRDs on Carry Pistols and Considering Gunfight Distances

Chris Baker over at Lucky Gunner has been doing some good work in recent years on firearms myths and realities and, in response to a well-done 12-minute video regarding “Do You Need A Red Dot Sight On Your Carry Pistol?” — to which my one-liner after 25 years of carrying handguns at both a professional and amateur status is “not for me, but if it works for you after extensive training with it, have at it,”– he tackled the “it will get you kilt on the streets” argument against MRDs and of training to engage at distances beyond 7 yards/21 feet with a carry handgun in a personal defense encounter.

As a follow-up, he delves into the available data behind self-defense shootings in so much as the old “three shots, three yards, three seconds” standard, which proved interesting, especially when it comes to the records maintained by Tom Givens of his former students and their experiences in bad places.

The ‘Throwback’ Yaqui Slide is Actually Still Relevant

By the 1970s, the “Yaqui Slide,” essentially the Bikini of the holster world, was often seen in both IPSC circles and in use as a practical carry holster, well-liked by such practitioners of the modern shooting method as Col. Jeff Cooper of Gunsite fame, who reportedly brought the concept back from San Salvador where it had been created by one Edwardo Chanin.

Since the early 1990s, Galco has carried the modern Yaqui Slide in its catalog, and it is still popular today. Part of it is cultural, as on-screen iconic characters such as Tom Selleck’s Jesse Stone – who carried an SW1911SC Gunsite Model – and Tom Cruise’s Vincent in Michael Mann’s Collateral used such gun leather.

Then again, the other part is that it still works.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Have $400 and Want a Micro 9 with Change Leftover?

Taurus is looking to take on the big boys with its new micro pistol, which is designed to deliver maximum concealment without sacrificing capacity or ergonomics – the GX4.

Getting the specs out of the way, the 11+1 shot 9mm is the size of popular .380 “pocket guns,” using a 3.06-inch barrel to tape out to a maximum 6.05-inch overall length. The gun is slender, at just over an inch wide, and it is 4.4 inches high at its tallest. The unloaded weight is 18.6 ounces. Fully loaded with 12 rounds of 147-grain JHPs, I found my test gun to hit the scales at 23.9 ounces.

Compared to other recently introduced micro 9s, such as the Ruger MAX-9, Sig Sauer P365, Smith & Wesson Shield Plus, and Springfield Armory Hellcat, the GX4 is a dead ringer as far as size goes. Plus, its flush-fit mags hold one extra round over the Sig or S&W’s comparable magazine while being on par with the Springer and one less than the Ruger.

However, where the GX4 cleans house is the price: $392. That’s the MSRP, meaning that “actual” prices at your local gun store will probably hover closer to “Three Fiddy.” 

More in my column at Guns.com.

My New Carry Gun is an FN

There, I said it.

If you have been following me for the past few years, my primary for a long (long) time staple EDC was a 3rd Gen Glock G19 or a newer G19X with a well-used S&W Model 642 J-frame or FN 503 as a BUG. This, I switched up in 2019 after testing the S&W M & M&P M2.0 Compact, which was the same size/capacity as the G19 but felt so much better and more accurate to boot. The Smith chewed through 2,000 rounds with no issues and, as I was able to buy it cheap, was my go-to, especially when flying around the country.

Now, after three months of kicking the tires, I am putting the M&P back into the safe in favor of an FN 509 Compact.

Just slightly smaller than the G19 (or M&P Compact) it offers a 12-round chopped mag in the chopped down grip and a 15 if you want to go more full-sized. Not a huge difference, but still noticeable, and if you are good with running the 12 rounder, the FN 509 Compact is even more concealable. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)

After going northward of 1K rounds without a hiccup, I bought the gun from FN rather than sending it back and will be carrying it for keeps moving forward.

My reasons why? Check out my column at Guns.com.

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