06/27/15 – Conceal Handgun Licenses (CHL)

Ok, I’m not writing this in June of 2015, it’s more like January of 2016, but I need to get caught up a little.

In June of 2015, I finally did get my CHL, although nowadays it’s called a Licenses to Carry (LTC).  That change came about on 1 Jan 16 with the enactment of the Open Carry Law in Texas!  No more worrying about printing while wearing a T-shirt.

Anyway, I decided it was time, so I let Travis know that I wanted to do this and he called the Wetmore Shooting School who offered to let me take the course free of charge!  Certainly can’t beat that.  I took the class on 27 Jun and waited until the 25th of July when I received my licenses in the mail.  It wasn’t that big of a deal to get this done.

I have detailed my experience over under my Shooting Stuff so you can read that post there if you want.

H&K VP40 – Christmas 2015

H&K VP40 - lft_sideHere’s another Christmas present to myself.  I bought this along with the Ruger LC9s Pro in December of 2015.  Again, I had saved up some money and read a lot about this pistol and the H&K VP9, but decided to go with the .40 cal. S&W mostly because Travis, my Son, strongly recommended I go to that caliber rather than stay with the 9mm.  I’m still debating that decision.

The VP40 is a big pistol.  There’s nothing small about it.  Compared to my Ruger SR9c or my Colt Defender Plus, it is definitely bigger in every direction.  The slide is particularly beefy.  If you were to compare the slide on this .40 cal with the slide of the VP9 9mm, you’d easily see the extra thickness of the VP40.  I think that helps to hold down the recoil.

The VP40 came with three 15-round magazines and night sights which I think makes it the LE (Limited Edition or Law Enforcement) version.  Actually, I’m not sure what the LE stands for, but that’s what they call this version.  It also has three different grip settings.  You can remove the sides and rear of the pistol and replace them with a skinner set or a much larger set.  I initially decided to go with the regular sides, but replaced the medium backplate  with the small backplate.  After shooting it for the first time, I have gone back to the medium grips all the way around.

I did get to shoot this pistol on 14 Jan 16, as I have written elsewhere.  Unfortunately, I was very rushed and didn’t get to shoot it properly, especially for a new pistol.  I had loaded all three 15-round magazines and that’s what I shot through this pistol on this initial occasion.  After forty-five rounds, I really can’t tell much about the pistol.  It seems to shoot H&K VP40 - rt_sidewhere I point it, the recoil is noticeable, but not as harsh as the LC9s Pro.  I don’t think I was controlling the trigger as well as I should have since I didn’t like the grip arrangement I had on the pistol.  I hope to go shoot it again soon and be able to take my time and get used to the trigger.  It does seem easy to shoot and control.  I have no problem ejecting the magazines with the paddle level on this pistol versus an eject button on other pistols.

I haven’t decided if I really need a .40 caliber pistol.  It’s kind of large to be carrying around, but I have a Bravo Concealment OWB holster that fits very well on my hip.  With the pistol in the holster, I can very effectively conceal this weapon under a T-shirt or other over garment.  I don’t think the 9mm version of this pistol would be any easier to conceal or carry so, since I have it, I’ll probably just keep it for a while.  It will be a good piece to take to the range.

Ruger LC9s Pro – Christmas 2015

LC9s Pro - lft_sideI managed to save up some money by selling a few things, including my paracord hobby.  I thought I’d spend this money on a new tablet, but I really wanted a couple of new pistols.  One of these was this Ruger LC9s Pro.  It’s a 9mm small pistol in that it only carries 7 rounds in the single-stack magazine.  I had been carrying my Ruger SR9c in a Safariland 578 Pro Fit holster with a paddle attachment. It sits just a little too far out on my hip, but since 1 Jan of 2015 it doesn’t matter if I print or even show the pistol.  Still, I felt the SR9c was just a little too big to always carry.

So, I bought the Ruger LC9s Pro from Bud’s Gun Shop on 3 Dec 15 for $349.00.  As far as I could tell, this was a pretty good price.  I knew that it wouldn’t be shipped very quickly since it was getting close to Christmas, but it actually did ship in about a week.  I had found an FTL gun shop just 2 miles from our house.  Armed in America is a little shop in Bulverde.  I called and they said sure, they’d do the transfer for their usual $25 per pistol.

I think it was about 20 December when Armed in America called and said my pistols were in. I drove out there and checked  them out, then paid for the transfer.  It took about an hour to get all the paperwork done.

I finally got to shoot this pistol on 14 Jan 16.  I had made an appointment with Bass Pro Shop to get about 30 minutes on their range.  I planned on shooting this pistol, my H&K VP40, and then my SR9c.  It would have worked out if I had got there on time, but I was rushed and only had 20 minutes by the time I got to the range.

LC9s Pro - rt_sideStill, I have two 7-round and one 9-round magazines for the LC9s Pro.  I loaded them up and shot all three magazines.  This pistol shoots hard.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  It really beats my thumb knuckle so much that I had to put on my gloves to fire it comfortably.  I think I can hit what I’m shooting at, but it’s not all that pleasant.  Still, I was rushed and may not have given it a decent chance.  I will be shooting it a lot more and making sure I have plenty of time to do so.

The Ruger LC9s Pro has no safeties.  No thumb safety, no grip safety, no magazine safety, so when it’s loaded with a round in the chamber, it’s ready to fire as soon as the trigger is pulled.  The trigger is not a heavy trigger so you have to keep your finger off of it.  Your finger is the only safety and for that reason a lot of people won’t carry it.

So far, I have been carrying this pistol a  lot.  I got a On Your 6 Designs OWB holster at Armed in America when I transferred the pistol and it is just about perfect.  You cannot tell I’m wearing a pistol with this holster.  I carried it all day on our recent trip to Oklahoma.

I think I’ll be keeping this pistol for a while, but I might consider selling it if I can find something I would really prefer.

Beretta 92S from Italy!

Beretta 92S - rt_sideThis one I got as a very pleasant surprise sometime in August of 2015.  Again, my Son, Travis, told me he had found a great deal on some Berettas.  He is always looking for older weapons, including pistols and rifles.  I think he found this deal on  a website called Classic Firearms.  For whatever reason, he ordered two.  They were about $300 each.

Then, again to my surprise, he told me that one was for me!  I don’t know why he did this, but he did mention that he thought this was one of the pistols I had carried while in the Army.  To some extent, that was true, although this Beretta 92S is an older model, much older and has a different magazine eject button than the more modern 92FS that I carried.  Still, they are about the same weapon in 9mm.

So, as soon as they came in, he gave me my choice of the two.  These were Italian Police turn-ins, used for a few years, but in good to great condition.  The one I got has some holster wear, but it was clean and seemed well maintained.  This is a hammer-fired pistol with a safety/decocker.  It also weights a good deal more than today’s modern polymer body pistols.  This one appears to be all metal.  The barrel is also exposed which is good if you like that kind of style, but it can also lead to rust and dirt getting into the breech and other parts easier.

I took this pistol to the range the first time Travis and I got a chance to shoot.  I was shooting my Colt Defender Plus and my Ruger SR9c at the same time.  This pistol surprised the heck out of me the first time I shot it.  I think I shot the Ruger first and it’s a single action, pin-fired pistol and there’s quite a difference in the trigger pull between both pistols.

Beretta 92S - lft_sideThe first time you pull the trigger on the Beretta, you know you’re pulling on something.  It doesn’t move very easy and gets real stiff the longer you pull back on it.  When it finally fires, the trigger is pretty far back.  Then you just slightly release the trigger and it’s ready to fire again.  And I mean, it’s really ready.  The second and successive shots from this pistol were very rapid due to the very light trigger pull requirement.  I mean it shoots fast.  I was very surprised.  You barley release the trigger and then barely pull back on it again, and it goes off.  I could shoot the entire 15-round magazine in a very short time, which I certainly did.  I think we had two magazines for these pistols and I shot both of them hardly before I knew it!

Because the pistol weighted so much, I really wasn’t a fan of it.  It also has iron sights that are black and barely show above the barrel.  I think the Italian Police just used these to point and shoot without much aiming.  I decided, around December of 2015, to get rid of this pistol since I had a couple of others I wanted to buy.  Travis offered to buy it from me  and wouldn’t just take it back.  So, I sold it to him for $250.  He probably should have just taken it back, but I offered to give it back to him several times and he still refused.  Good guy, my Son!

Licensed to Carry (LTC)

LTCWell, now that I have a pistol, my Colt Defender Plus, courtesy of my Son, Travis, I might as well start carrying it. It does no good just locked away as far as I’m concerned.

So I needed to find the time and a source to get my Concealed Handgun Licenses as it was called in mid-2015. Travis and Patricia already acquired their concealed carry licenses some time ago and they went through the Wetmore Shooting Sports organization. It seemed that I could and should do the same thing. So I went on-line and found a class for 27 June 2015. Travis, through his usual style of making great friends with everybody, arranged for me to get in the class at no-cost! Saved me about $100! Outstanding!

So, here’s my journey to obtaining a Concealed Handgun License (CHL), or now my Licenses to Carry (LTC).

Class Day ArrivesThe Shooting ExamHeading to the ClassroomClassroom InformationTest TimeGraduation!My ImpressionsActually Getting my LTCI Am Licensed
I was pretty nervous going to the class that morning. I had to be at the Bracken Range by 0900. I found the range the day before, so I knew how to get there from my home. I was a little early and there wasn’t anyone else at the entrance gate. We were told to park at the gate and wait for someone from the school to come collect our paper and get us into the range property.

Around 9:30, a lady showed up and collected our papers. By then, there were quite a few cars and trucks lined up at the entrance and down the side of the road. Once all the papers were collected, we were allowed to drive through the gate and then park in the parking lot.

Now this place isn’t all that fancy. The whole place is out in the country and it’s mostly dirt. The parking lot is gravel. I parked next to other people arriving and got all my stuff. I was carrying an EDC bag with my pistol or rather, Patricia’s pistol, which I had borrowed for the shooting part of the exam. Her Ruger SR9c was a very nice shooter that I had shot about two-weeks prior to this day.

So, I walk towards the Range area and I see a guy who is kind of standing at the entrance to one side of the range. He’s directing people into the area where Wetmore Shooting Sports are going to conduct the shooting portion of the exam. There’s this one big guy and two other guys in Wetmore Shooting shirts so I assumed correctly that they were the Range Master and the Range Officers.

The Range Master divides us up into two groups of about ten people. I was in the first group and happened to be paired up with a young lady. Each pair of shooters shares a small table. We’re told to move forward on the range with only our pistol and one magazine. We carry our table between us and set it down at the 3 yard mark. There we are instructed on how to conduct the exam.

We’re told how many rounds to load in our magazine and how many seconds we have to shoot those rounds. In this first portion, we shoot 20 total rounds. I don’t think I could miss anything from this close!

Then we moved back to the 7 yard mark. Again, we fire a total of 20 rounds.

Then we move back to the 15 yard mark and fired a total of 10 rounds. Once done, we’ve fired 50 rounds in total.

The Range Master then tells us to go put our pistols away after one of the Range Officers visually inspects our weapon to make sure it is empty and on safe.

We then proceed back down range to look at our targets. I had most of my rounds inside the 10, 9, and 8 rings with a tendency to be shooting left and down. I don’t think I missed the target at all.

The Range Master came to look at each shooters target starting with the young lady to my right. I don’t think she has shot a pistol very much. Her hits were all over the target and some completely missed, I’m sure. The Range Master told her she definitely needed more range time. He said she needed a score of 175 out of 200 to pass this part of the test. He then began counting each of her shots inside the 10, 9, and 8 ring. He finally told her that she apparently had passed the shooting portion of the test, but barely.

He then came to my target and said I passed without any other comments. That’s OK with me because all I wanted to do was pass.

After all the targets were assessed, we took them down and moved back to the rear of the range under the shade. We were allowed to sit down and watch the second group go through their shooting exam.

Once that was done, the Range Master told us we had about 45 minutes to get from the Bracken Range to his shop which was down 281 and near Nakoma. I knew where it was so I knew we had plenty of time. He told us if we wanted to have a lunch break to take it now on the way to the classroom.

I gathered my stuff and headed out to get something to eat. I didn’t think much of this shooting exam. If someone couldn’t hit the targets we were shooting at from the distances we stood, then they shouldn’t have a gun in their hands, ever! I know most self defense will be at close range, but really, this was in-close shooting.

I got to the Wetmore Shooting Sports building with some difficulty since the building wasn’t marked in any way. It’s just a gray building with a lot of cars parked around it. I knew the address so that was the only way I knew for sure that I had the right building. I got to the very small classroom as probably the last person to arrive, but they hadn’t started yet so that wasn’t a problem.

In this class we learned all about the current Texas laws concerning carrying a firearm. We also learned the consequences of carrying a weapon without a license, the places where you cannot legally carry and what you should do if approached by a law enforcement officer. Most of this stuff was kind of common sense, although some required us to know which laws were applicable and what they really meant. We didn’t have to memorize anything, but were told when something might be testable.

The classroom got pretty warm since it was really small and there were quite a group of us. I think we had about 20 people in the class plus the instructor. Speaking of him, I wouldn’t really trust this guy to know his right from left just looking at him. I think he’s been doing this so much that most of the stuff he knows, but just some of the stories he tried to tell with him as the “star” were definitely not believable and I don’t think really happened. Overall, it was pretty boring material and not very well taught.

At the last, we had a lawyer come in from the Texas Law Shield organization. He was telling us about the legal problems people who carry can get into even though they have done nothing really wrong. His organization is a group of lawyers that stand ready to represent anyone who becomes a member of Texas Law Shield. They provide a lawyer free of charge to members who have a need for one in relation to their license to carry. He said that even pulling your weapon out at a proper time could result in a law suite against you which they will provide your defense. You pay a $11 per month membership and get quite a lot of emergency services. I signed up for it right away.

After that, the Instructor or Range Master gave us a brief cram for the test. We just about went over every question that would be on the exam and we all made sure we knew the correct answers.

Then came the written exam. It lasted about 30 minutes. It wasn’t difficult since every one of the questions had been answered in class just five minutes before. I’m not saying they give you the answers, but it was pretty obvious that no one was going to flunk this test. It’s a multiple choice quiz with one answer so stupid that it can be thrown out automatically. The other possible answers are either clearly wrong or you just didn’t listen. I think there were about 50 questions. After that, the exams were graded and everyone in the room passed. I, personally, didn’t miss a question, although I’m wasn’t so sure about some of my answers.

Ok, so we have now passed the shooting and a written test. Now we get our paperwork. The main item was a certificate signed by the Range Master or the person certified by the State to confirm we had passed all the necessary actions required to be issued a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). Since 1 Jan 2016, that has changed to a Licenses to Carry since the Open Carry Law makes conceal carry a non-issue in Texas.
I think this whole licensing process is ridiculous. Both parts of the test are so simple, anyone could pass without much effort. I doubt anyone really learned anything during the classroom portion. I think we really just paid the certified instructor for a certificate because that’s what is required to get a license. There was nothing that indicated if we really knew how to handle a weapon safely or otherwise. If you were to ask the people in my class any questions about what was covered in the class 10 minutes after it was over, I doubt they could remember anything important. I know I couldn’t. It really was a waste of time.

With my signed certificate in hand, I had to provide a set of fingerprints, and pay $25 to the State of Texas. Fortunately, all this could be done on-line. I made an appointment with the fingerprinting place on Blanco and went and got that done about a week after my class. I then filed my application, paid my fee, and mailed in my certificate. The fingerprints were automatically sent in when they were done. Next, I waited.

It took less than a month to get my license. I took the class on 27 Jun and on 25 Jul, I received the license in the mail. That wasn’t too bad. So now I can legally carry a loaded firearm anywhere I want in the State of Texas. The question is, “Will I?”. So far, I’ve answered that with a, “Yes!”. I didn’t start right away, but gradually started doing it as I got additional pistols and the equipment needed to safely carry them. I am now carrying on a daily basis and will continue to do so. There’s no reason I shouldn’t since I did what I was required to do. It’s my right to do so.

Colt Defender Plus (.45 Cal S&W)

Colt Defender - rt_sideIt wasn’t long after I told my Son, Travis, that his mother had told me that having a weapon in our house wasn’t such a bad idea. He was just as surprised as I was in her change of mind.

Knowing that I didn’t own a pistol of any kind, Travis, told me he had a pistol that he wanted me to have. It turns out it was one that I had seen at his house and I had commented that it felt really good in my hand. He has an arsenal in his home office and this pistol was only one of many, many pistols, rifles and shotguns he must have around in three huge safes.

So that’s how I came to own this Colt Defender Model 1911 with Hogue grips. I think Travis gave this to me around May or June of 2015. At the time, I only knew that this pistol was very nice, although it was small in size with a very large bullet. I’m not completely unfamiliar with weapons, especially .45 caliber pistols. I carried one quite often in my early days in the Army Guard. Most of the time it was a Colt .45 caliber full-sized 1911. Later, I was issued a Beretta 92FS (9mm) which was the Army’s new standard issue pistol. I have fired both weapons at one time or other and qualified with both.

Colt Defender Plus - lft_sideIt was about mid-June of 2015 that Travis, Patricia, and I made a trip to Bass Pro Shop to do some shooting. I, of course, brought my Colt Defender while Travis brought several of his pistols and Patricia brought her Ruger SR9c which she owns. I had two 7-shot magazines for the Defender which isn’t very many, but I still shot about 50 rounds through the pistol before we had to quit. I also shot Patricia’s Ruger SR9c and a couple of Travis’ other pistols.

I found the small Colt to have a pretty solid recoil and make a lot of noise. It’s not hard to shoot, but it does have a kick that you need to be prepared for. I believe I shot the pistol pretty well, but after the 50+ rounds, I decided that it wasn’t my favorite pistol to shoot. It just seems to harsh for my taste.

I’ve taken it out to the range several other times and put a few hundred more rounds through it and I’m still not really liking this pistol. Since receiving this one, I have obtained a few other pistols, so this one kind of sits in the safe. May be I should try and sell this for something else?