The L66A1 – An Undercover 22LR

(Forgotten Weapons)

The little .22LR is mostly known for being a plinker’s cartridge. It’s a light recoiling, cheap, and fun round. Perfect for training new shooters and providing cheap fun to more experienced shooters. It’s not common for any serious duty role, but it’s been used more than once by military forces. Today we are talking about one of those rare duty roles where the .22LR served. Specifically, the gun served with the Ulster Defence Force during the Troubles in Ireland. That specific gun is the L66A1. 

What’s an L66A1? It’s the official designation given to the .22LR version of the Walther PPk adopted by the British Ministry of Defence. This little gun has an interesting history, and more questions have been asked than answered in regard to its adoption and use. Today we are going to explore what we know, what we’ve heard, and what we can assume. 

The L66A1 and the Ulster Defence Force 

The Ulster Defence Force was an infantry regiment of the British military that existed from 1970 to 19992. It was a controversial unit that recruited men from Northern Ireland to help police the country during the Troubles. The men recruited often lived in the cities and towns they patrolled and secured. This made them easy targets for the IRA. 

In fact, the IRA would identify and target UDR members in their off time. Many were part-time soldiers who had families and daily duties in their communities. The IRA would locate and target the men at work, home, and elsewhere. Kidnappings were common, and a good portion of the casualties of the UDR came from these off-duty attacks. 

This led to the requirement to arm the UDR when off duty. The Ministry of Defense placed an order with Walther for 3,000 Walther PPs in .22LR. These became the L66A1 and were issued to the men of the Ulster Defence Force as off-duty personal defense weapons. While .22LR is plenty lethal, it is an odd choice for a personal defense weapon. 

We do know that at least once, a UDR member fought off several attackers after being shot seven times in the legs. He killed two and wounded two more. Although the new stories aren’t specific with what gun he used, it is listed as his issued carry gun. 

Why the L66A1 

Choosing the Walther PP wasn’t a tough choice to make. Walther handguns were rock-solid designs. They were also the compact carry pistol of the day. They were small, thin, and easy to conceal. Easier than the Hi-Power the troops carried daily. Walther firearms were reliable as well, and the blowback action worked for all its problems. 

The Walther came in both .32 ACP and .380 ACp as well, which do seem to be a better choice for personal defense. They offer a centerfire cartridge that has fewer reliability issues and would likely penetrate better, especially with thick clothing as a factor. 

That leads us to ask, why the .22LR? Sure, it’s light recoiling and easy to handle. I don’t know much about gun culture in North Ireland, but it’s likely a common cartridge. The .22LR can reach deep enough to hit the vitals, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for defensive shooting. 

The best guess I can make is if the gun is stolen or captured. It’s just a .22LR. It seems to pose less of a risk to UDR soldiers if captured by the IRA. The rimfire round is certainly less likely to penetrate the soft fragmentation vests worn during this era. However, it is still an odd choice, and eventually, the Brits recognized that. 

They replaced these guns with 9mm Walther P5s. 

Unofficial Conspiracy Theory 

The Troubles were an interesting time for public perception. Two English-speaking European forces were engaged in a muddy knife fight. They both had public relations campaigns, and it wasn’t uncommon for smears and lies to be told to shift public perception. This leads to conspiracy theories. 

One included that the Brits gave the UDF .22S for assassinations. They were quieter guns, but even so, it doesn’t hold water to me. A .22LR pistol is quite loud. While it might be quieter than a 9mm, a train is louder than a semi, but you can hear both coming at you a ways away. 

The L66A1 was an interesting service pistol for an odd and unusual role. Interarms imported somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 L66A1 handguns into the United States, and they pop up on auctions fairly frequently. If you want one, they are out there and quite distinct in their markings. 

Taurus TX 22 Compact

The Taurus TX 22 is an optics ready handgun.

I have enjoyed excellent results with the full size Taurus TX 22 for several years now. I obtained one of the first. Those in the know, working at gun shops, handling returns, and those working public ranges know the lick on reliability. Quite a few handguns the popular press drools over would never be trusted by this shooter for personal defense. Many shooters have commented that they wish all Taurus handguns were as good as the TX 22. I agree. The Taurus TX 22 is a well designed handgun with good features. The TX 22 is an ergonomic rimfire handgun that has proven reliable useful and affordable.

The newest TX 22 is a compact version. The short slide compact features a 13 round magazine versus the full size pistol’s 16 round magazine. Both the slide and the frame are shortened. The result is a remarkably well balanced handgun. The new pistol features a 3.6 inch barrel. Overall length is a compact 6.7 inches. The TX 22 Compact is an especially well balanced handgun. Balance is a high point of the pistol’s design. The pistol features stylish modern features. Lightening cuts in the slide make for a lighter slide. The aluminum slide features forward cocking serrating. The slide is anodized aluminum while the frame is polymer. At 4.9 inches tall the pistol is a nice size for constant carry. In this straight blowback design the barrel remains stationary while the slide blows off the barrel during firing. The barrel is supplied with a 1×28 TPI thread pitch barrel adapter in addition to the supplied thread protector if you decide to mount a suppressor.

The single action TX 22 pistol features dual safety levers for right or left hand use. I especially like the sights. The three dot system features an adjustable rear sight and a white dot front. The sights may be replaced with Glock sights from TruGlo or other makers. Many inexpensive .22 pistols are supplied with a fiber optic front sight. Some prefer the white dot of the TX 22. The trigger action breaks clean. The pistol is optics ready and features a light rail for easy mounting of a combat light. Two thirteen round magazines are supplied. The grips features a good balance of adhesion and abrasion.

The pistol’s take down is interesting. Most .22 rimfire handguns feature a fixed barrel. The slide is released and pulls off the barrel. The Taurus makes things easier. Pull a take down lever located in the trigger guard and the slide pulls upward. The recoil spring guide and barrel are easily removed from the slide. While field stripped like a centerfire pistol the TX 22 is a blowback operated handgun. The barrel remains stationary. This takedown makes cleaning and maintenance easy enough. The magazines are easily loaded and proved reliable in operation. I lightly lubricated the pistol before firing. The TX 22 Compact is a pleasant handgun to fire and use. There were no failures to feed chamber fire or eject. The pistol has been fired extensively with good results. Most loads fired for accuracy would put five rounds into two inches or less at 15 yard. The TX 22 Compact is a neat and useful pistol. The primary goal is marksmanship training. Keeping pests and reptile from invading the property is a proper chore. Many like to have a quality rimfire on hand when hiking and this is a good choice. As for personal defense- I don’t want to use a rimfire for defense but if this is all I had I would have a reliable accurate handgun easy to use well.

Gavin Newsom Proposes a 28th Amendment… It’s an Assault Weapons Ban

California Governor Gavin Newsom shares his reaction to two mass shootings over the weekend in Texas and Ohio during a press conference, Monday, August 5, 2019, at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. On his left is Mark Ghilarducci, the director of Cal OES and on his right is Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California. Image via Sacramento Bee,

In what I can only assume is a bid for attention and to deflect from California spiraling, Governor Gavin Newsom has tweeted the following moronicism,

It reads in full,

NEW: I’m proposing the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution to help end our nation’s gun violence crisis. The American people are sick of Congress’ inaction. The 28th will enshrine 4 widely supported gun safety freedoms — while leaving the 2nd Amendment intact: 1) Raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21 2) Universal background checks 3) A reasonable waiting period for gun purchases 4) Banning the civilian purchase of assault weapons

Gun Safety Freedoms is a bold choice of words. A regulation is by definition a restriction, not a freedom. It limits what you can do, it does not limit what the government can do to you as the 2nd Amendment does, so his ‘leaves the 2nd Amendment intact’ line is just perfunctory fluff in that he technically didn’t repeal the 2nd to pass the 28th.

The government could barely pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was a thunderous nothing burder to placate the doing something crowd. It has been trumpted by Biden as a resounding success and the greatest gun control victory in recent history while also being said to have done absolutely nothing because they still need to pass and assault weapon ban. I’m sure a constitutional amendment will do it Gavin, good job. This isn’t a distraction or attention grab. Couldn’t be, California is doing so well right now you’d want to emphasize those success right?


California man who pummeled, shot at female deputy found not guilty despite video of attack


The State vs the Amish (Part Deux)

Remember that time the ATF was dirty-dealing an Amish farmer over firearms?

Yeah, well now Democrats in the state of Pennsylvania are seeking to do some related dirty deeds.  Click on the link to check out this blog post by a 2A supporting attorney in PA.

You may recall that many Amish purchase firearms via personal sales and not through an FFL because their religious faith prohibits photographs of their faces – even for a photo ID. You may also recall that an FFL dealer may NOT sell firearms to someone without said photo ID. That leaves only private sales – which are not currently illegal.

Except Democrats (and even some Republicans) in the Pennsylvania State General Assembly are seeking to do just that – make private sales illegal  – via House Bill 714.

Apparently this includes ALL sales outside of an FFL, so this impacts non-Amish Pennsylvanians as well, but the average PA citizen already has photo ID. It’s the Amish who will be the most adversely affected – because not only will the government be infringing upon their Second Amendment rights, it will also be infringing on their First Amendment rights.

If you live in Pennsylvania, you need to contact your state senators NOW in order to keep this unconstitutional disease from spreading from the House to the Senate. 

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke

The 1R1 – Ditch It

If you’ve ever done any amount of training, you’ve likely done the famed 1R1. What’s the 1R1? It’s the shoot one, reload, and shoot one. Plenty of us are used to this drill and have likely done over and over. It’s become a bit of a training foundation, and with that said, I really think we should ditch it, at least with magazine-fed rifles and handguns.

When viewed from the outside in, the 1R1 seems like an efficient low ammo-cost means to practice your reloads. In reality, it sets us up for failure and doesn’t really teach us how to reload in a practical matter. While it appears to be an efficient means of training, it’s setting us up for failure.

Why the 1R1 Sucks

The main problem with the 1R1 drill is that it doesn’t accurately represent what happens when a reload occurs. The 1R1 doesn’t provide a realistic scenario for a reload to occur. You know that as soon as the drill starts, you will be shooting one, reloading one, and shooting one again. You’re creating a specific scenario that had no randomness to it and really no realism to it.

It becomes more of a rehearsal than an actual piece of training. You know that as soon as the beep occurs, you will reload. There is no surprise to it. There is no oh crap moment you need to process prior to a reload mentally.


The 1R1 also tends to focus more on the reload than the two shots fired. What occurs is someone trying to beat the timer and not paying attention to two key components. First, there is a lack of accuracy focus. Where are those two rounds going downrange? It doesn’t often matter as long as you’re reloading fast, right?

Second, what are you doing while you reload? Are you taking cover? Cause in most cases that seems to be a very important step prior to reloading an empty gun. However, that kills that fast time. Sure, in some situations, you won’t have a chance to use a cover or concealment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train to use cover.

Another issue comes down to the fact you are only firing one round. What’s the likelihood you will assume a good firing stance and grip if you only have to fire one round? In real life, you might need to fire several rounds and to keep control of those rounds. You’ll need to assume a good stance and grip.

With that said, only a Sith deals in absolutes, right?

When the 1R1 Works

The 1R1 can be a decent beginner’s step to familiarize yourself with the weapon and its reloading process and manual of arms. A CZ Scorpion reloads a lot differently than an AR-15. You might need to just learn the manual of arms of the firearm.

It also works with guns like lever action rifles and shotguns. They have the tubular magazines where you can always just top the gun off, and it’s good practice to do so. Keeping the weapon loaded is a good habit with either style of weapon.

An Alternative

Obviously, the easiest alternative is to load more rounds and do 3R3s or beyond while also occasionally practicing with cover and movement. That will cure a few of the problems with the 1R1. Another is to have someone else load the magazines so you have no idea how many rounds are loaded. This way, unpredictability is part of the training.

A dry fire solution I like to is to set a timer for 45 seconds up to two minutes and then do my normal dry fire practice. When the timer goes off, I conduct a reload. This way, there is some unpredictability to the whole thing. You can do this with a shot timer as well and set the parameters to random and a time minimum and maximum. That tends to be easier and less disruptive than dealing with a phone alarm.

The 1R1 isn’t all bad, and it won’t get you killed in the streets. However, I don’t believe it gives you the most bang for your buck. If better training options exist, why shouldn’t we use them?

Traveling With Firearms ft. Tim Herron

For many of us who are about this life, getting to a point where we’d end up flying with firearms is probably inevitable. Whether we’re taking business trips, going to a specific class or even going to a serious level match–at some point, if you’re more than a casual gun hobbyist, you’ll probably end up having to fly with a firearm. This is a topic ripe with horror stories, fuddlore, bullshit and everything in between. My friend Tim Herron wrote about the topic, and what he wrote is worth your time.

–PE Fitch 

From Tim Herron,

Flying With Firearms In The Domestic US

The Check-In Process

There always seems to be a lot of speculation, worry and apprehension regarding flying with firearms.

The check in process is actually quite easy. I’d like to share a process that ensures ease of travel with little hassle and fewer worries.

First, depending on the airport you’re departing from, you’ll want to arrive at least a full hour or more prior to your scheduled flight. Larger airports will always have longer lines and more passengers filtering through security, so add more time accordingly. When you arrive at the airport, you’ll go to the ticket counter to check your bags. At the counter, you’ll hand your ID to the agent and let them know you have __ number of bags to check. This is also the time to let them know you need to “declare a firearm.” 

The agent will ask you to put the particular bag containing the firearm(s) on the scale to check them in. They will then hand you a firearms declaration card for you to complete with all of your pertinent information (name/address/date/travel info/etc). You’ll have to sign this card and declare that the firearm(s) are unloaded, clear of any ammunition and in safe condition. 

The agent will ask you to open your bag in order to visually and/or physically inspect your firearm case to ensure it is locked and inaccessible. Sometimes, gate agents might request that you open the container with the firearm itself. This is okay, don’t freak out and DO NOT handle the firearm. Once they inspect it, they’ll have you secure your case and they will insert the completed declaration card inside the suitcase or the firearms container before locking it up again.

The agent will give TSA a quick call or send them the bag directly for inspection. Follow any and all directions for any other bags you need to check and any and all other specific airport or gate procedures. Once the bag and firearm has been inspected by TSA, you may receive an “all clear” or perhaps be directed to your gate after check-in.

Flying With Ammunition 

I personally recommend packing ammo in a suitcase separate from the firearm. Keep in mind that most airlines have an 11-lb weight limit for ammunition, but some do not. Your best bet is to call them ahead of time and see their policies. Rounds are usually best off left in their factory packaging. Sometimes, I travel with cartridges stored in plastic MTM or Berry’s boxes and I’ll add some blue tape around the edges to protect them. While certain airlines might allow you to fly with loaded magazines, most generally don’t and it’s a crap shoot to guess incorrectly and find out the hard way. Honestly, I don’t recommend doing this to avoid wasting your time. Interestingly, there is no federal/TSA weight limit for ammunition. Technically, you also don’t need to declare it. It’s why I recommend traveling with ammo separate from the firearm in a different bag. Keep in mind that ammo does need to be in “checked baggage” but not declared or inspected by the airline. This allows you to circumvent the 11-lb limit and fly with extra rounds.

My Choice Of Cases And Containers

Above is a photo of the hard case I recommend as well as the firearms case I used to secure my handguns. The large case is a Pelican 1615 Air and has 5 latches (2 are TSA approved locks). Inside, I pack my range bag (with all things needed for range work), my belt/holster, trauma kit, marker cones (for range), and a firearms case containing pistols and empty magazines. My firearms specific case is a Pelican V200. I secure the V200 with two NON-TSA approved padlocks with the shortest shackle length I can get away with. This way, no one else has access to that locked case. I fly with a second Pelican 1615 Air that contains all my other travel and teaching essentials like ammo, rain gear, boots/shoes, extra jacket, gloves, notebook, etc. This case does get locked with TSA Approved locking latches for ease of inspection and security. Both of these cases have everything I need for a weekend class or match. Both end up weighing around 46-48 pounds. This is enough to avoid any overweight bag fees. For my own assurance, peace of mind and tracking of my luggage, I use Apple iTags in each case as well too. I highly recommend them.


I prefer hard cases like the 1615 Air due to the immense amount of travel and handling they’re subjected to. These cases are extremely durable and they keep all of my stuff safe. I’ve used soft suitcases and less rugged luggage in the past, but they don’t last the way these hard sided Pelican cases do. The biggest piece of advice and most important recommendation I can give you is…BE NICE! Being an impatient and inconsiderate passenger will make you trouble. You’d be amazed at how just having a pleasant attitude and accommodating demeanor will smoothen your travels. (Trust me, I know ;-) )

–Tim Herron 

Tim Herron is a nationally acclaimed firearms instructor and competitive shooter. He is a USPSA Grand Master in both Single Stack and Limited division,  a Master Class CDP shooter in IDPA, and has experience in defensive shooting, IDPA, Steel Challenge, bullseye and target shooting, Bianchi, and the occasional trick shot. Please visit his website to learn more about what he does and what he teaches.

Point Shooting – A Misunderstood Method

There are a wide variety of tactics and shooting techniques of the past that were completely valid for that period. They worked then, and while some may work now, as tactics, gear, and guns evolve, things change. Every so often, things do get stuck in the greater cultural zeitgeist. One of the things that has stuck around has been point shooting. Point shooting is a bit of a controversial tactic. Some advocate that’s the only defensive shooting you should do. Others seemingly understand its niche concept. 

Today I want to address the folks who have the idea that point shooting is the end-all, be-all of defensive shooting. If I can’t reach those people, I can at least talk to others who might here them and persuade them to think differently. Let’s dig into point shooting. 

The Reputable Origins Of Point Shooting

Point shooting as a tactic wasn’t always a niche tool for the box. During the days of Rex Applegate, William Fairbairn, and Eric Sykes, point shooting became the go-to tactic. The Shanghai Municipal Police were involved in hundreds of shootings, with officers often engaging drug and human smugglers, petty criminals, thieves, and organized crime in sporadic gunfights. 

This is where the idea of point shooting first came to be and to be categorized as a defensive shooting technique. It started when Fairbairn began accompanying patrols, and over nine years, he observed how the men fought and how they shot their weapons. They were not using their sights in these urban gunfights. This led to the concept of point shooting being institutionalized into doctrine. 

This concept is often where the point-shoot cultists point to as proof it works. Without a doubt, the Shanghai beat was a rough one. These men were engaged with a variety of violent personalities and in gunfights seemingly every other day. In a twelve-year period, there were 666 gunfights in one city, with 260 criminals killed alongside 42 police officers. 

The Fairbairn tactics became part of his book, Shooting to Live, and spread to numerous Western military and police forces across the globe. While this is certainly evidence that the point-shooting method can work, it doesn’t tell the whole story. 

The Guns Of Point Shooting 

Gear and guns drive tactics and vice versa. When we talk about point shooting and the Shanghai Municipal Police, we also have to discuss the guns of the era. They used a variety of automatics, including the M1911 and M1903/08 series handguns. Have you ever seen the sights on these guns? 

They are ultra-small. Hell, they are tough to see in bright daylight. Imagine being in a city at any time near sundown or sunrise and in the shadow. The men didn’t use their sights cause it was likely suicide to do so in a gunfight. Pausing and trying to find these ultra-small sights was taking to long in a fight. 

Also, keep in mind this port city was incredibly dense, and everything was shoved together. It was claustrophobic. They were often shooting at incredibly close ranges as well. At this time period using reflexive shooting made a lot of sense. 

Modern sights are massive, easy to see, and easy to engage with. Your basic three-dot sights are a hundred times better than the sights of the old Colts. These days the conversation has changed even more with red dot sights that allow for a target focus shooting style.  

Does It Work? 

Sure, at any range where you are so close to your threat, you can’t extend your arm point shooting works. Close retention or at the arm’s reach is about the limit to point shooting. Modern handgun sights allow you to get at least get the front sight on your threat. Point shooting has a place, and that place is those close-range, point-blank, seemingly no-miss situations. 

Beyond that, use your sights, and use them as designed. 

The LTT Grip Anchor

There is no end to the variety of aftermarket add-ons offered for Glock pistols. Many of them are of questionable value, and come from folks without the necessary perspective to design something useful.

Neither of those things is the case with the Grip Anchor from Langdon Tactical Technologies. Ernest Langdon has had the reputation of being the pistol whisperer for years, sprinkling his magic on Berettas and HKs, and has added Glock to the lineup recently.

When Mitchell Booth joined the team, he helped develop the Grip Anchor. This insert fills the void at the back of the grip while giving the shooter several distinct advantages.

First, it extends the rear of the backstrap to further fill the hand and allow the shooter to exert more leverage at the bottom of the gun.

It also claims to make the gun more concealable “by smoothing the rear corner of the magazine and frame that tends to print or poke”. Personally, that was not my experience. Here’s my Gen 3 Glock 19 in a Dark Star Gear Apollo holster, both with and without the Grip Anchor, worn under a performance fabric henley.

I didn’t really see it print less or more, it just changed the location of the pokey corner that has to be addressed. Mitch is a very svelte guy, and routinely manages to effectively conceal a full sized gun on him without having to wear circus-tent sized clothing, so on this front your mileage may vary.

One thing that it does exceptionally well is keep from pinching the crap out of yourself during the reload. Previously I had put a Magpul magwell on this gun after a training session that left me with a very nice blood blister, and this certainly protects my hand in the same way.

It also does help ramp the magwell of the gun without adding to the overall bulk of the gun. From that standpoint, it certainly helps keep the gun more concealable.

So if you’re running a stock Glock, and are looking for a minimalistic upgrade and the benefits are appealing, it’s definitely worth checking out. 

The sample Grip Anchor was provided by LTT at no cost to me.

The Weird World of Palm Pistols

If you think we get plenty of weird guns now, you should have been around in the late 1800s. Something about the advent of metallic cartridges spurned a ton of innovation, and with innovations comes a dose of weirdness. One of the weirder pistol concepts is the palm pistol which rose to prominence in the 1880s and remained somewhat popular until about 1910.

Palm pistols remain an interesting fad due to their tie to concealed carry. They are purpose-built concealed carry firearms that often attempt to provide a disguised and extremely compact pistol for self-defense. These ultra-small firearms would be easy for the average gentleman to carry. The appeal was simple and easy to see. A palm pistol could be nearly concealed just inside your hand.

Let’s say you were a gentleman about town. You visited the pub, went to see a show at the theatre, and you’re heading home for the evening. You notice a few rougher-looking men follow you as you leave town and begin to feel suspicious. A discreet reach in your pocket transfers your palm pistol to your hand. The weapon’s small barrel is the only thing visible in your hand, and no one is paying attention to you. You refuse to be Bruce Wayne’s dad tonight!

Regardless of what happened next, the palm pistol was present and ready. It could be carried discreetly, even in the hand. They were incredibly small and compact, especially for the era. Remember, in 1880, there was no Vest Pocket pistol. Your option was basically a derringer if you wanted something ultra-small and convenient.

What’s a Palm Pistol Exactly

As the name implies, it fits in your palm. The grip and design of the gun are meant to be almost completely concealed in your palm. The only thing that stood outside of your hand would be the barrel poking between your fingers. This gives palm pistols a rather unusual appearance. They do not look like standard guns in shape or size.

The most famous of these palm pistols is the Protector Palm pistol from 1882. This ultra-small and very unusual-looking firearm is actually a revolver. The round portion in the center holds seven or eight rounds, depending on caliber. Calibers included the .32 Extra short, the .25 ACP, and a .41 caliber, which I assume is a .41 Rimfire. The trigger is in the rear and is fired when the gun is squeezed.

Other Palm Pistols included the Shattuck Unique pistol, which was designed by Oscar Mossberg of Mossberg fame. This was a four-barrel pistol with a rotating firing pin. The same design would later likely inspire the Mossberg Brownie. There is also the Gaulois Palm Pistol, which used the .32 Extra Short, but interestingly used a drive round box magazine.

The most conventional of these guns, and arguably the earliest, was the Little All Right Firearms Company Palm Pistol. This gun premiered in 1876. This was a micro revolver with a squeezer trigger at the top of the gun. This meant that you got a little blast from between the cylinder and barrel, but it fired .22 Short, so there wasn’t much blast.

Ahead of Its Time

These little guns were micro-sized and easy to conceal, as well as repeating firearms. They were somewhat unique and complicated in design as well. They were a bit ahead of their time but somewhat doomed to fail. Palm Pistols were hard to aim and were only useful as belly guns.

They also tended to fire fairly weak cartridges like .32 Extra Short. They were anemic and, as rimfire cartridges, not always reliable. What really killed these guns was the advent of small automatics. The Colt vest Pocket guns, the FN M1910, and Baby Brownings were not only small but more conventional and fired centerfire cartridges.

These days palm pistols are interesting collector’s items. A company called Palm Pistol promised to create both a single-shot pistol and even a palm-fired carbine, and while the website still exists, I’m not sure if they ever got off the ground. These were certainly interesting firearms and were creative examples of what a concealed firearm can be.

Oddball Hi-Power Clones, Copies, and Knock Offs

The Hi-Power has been adopted and produced by over 50 countries. Some are licensed, others are not. Throughout all these production runs and developments, they’ve produced a wide variety of variants. Small things are different, like lanyard loops, sight styles, and safeties. However, there are a few oddball Hi-Powers out there, and we’ve cataloged three of the weirdest variants. 


Our first oddball Hi-Power is also our most normal. The FEG series of Hi-Powers came from Hungary. These pistols are often uglier and rougher than FNs but perfectly functional and capable. The FEG series have been imported for many years and has worked with a variety of importers over the years. 

The oddball of these guns is the FEG FP9. The FEG FP9 isn’t too much different than most Hi-Powers. In fact, the biggest difference is the fact they equipped a big vent rib across the top of the top of the slide. That vent rib holds the sights, but there doesn’t seem much of a reason for the vent rib to exist. 

Why they did this seems to be lost to history. I’ve heard forum rumors but can’t confirm. The FP9 isn’t the first handgun with a vent rib, and Colt did it with the Python too. However, it most certainly looks bizarre. 

Arcus 98DA 

Bulgaria makes great AKs and weird Hi-Power clones. The Arcua 98DA clones the Hi-Power design, but it’s not really a Hi-Power either. One of the most memorable Hi-Power features is the single-action-only design. However, the Arcus 98DA used a more modern DA/SA design that would certainly be divisive among Hi-Power fans. 

Additionally, the grip is long, and the magazine holds 15 rounds instead of 13. Grips and mags are not interchangeable between the Arcus and Hi-Power. In fact, most parts are not interchangeable with standard Hi-Powers. The magazines do drop free, there is no magazine safety, and the hammer doesn’t bite your hand. 

The Arcus 98DA isn’t a bad gun, but it’s not high-speed either. The trigger pull is extremely heavy in the double-action design. The gun itself is heavy, and it’s got that Eastern European charm that screams reliable but far from fancy. These are neat guns, but they seem to have dried up on the import market. It’s sad because this oddball Hi-Power was a neat adaption of the platform. Fit it with a decocker, refine it, and I’m in.

The Argentinian SPAs 

Argentina is a fan of Browning’s designs and began producing their own domestic, licensed copies in the late 1960s or so. These Hi-Powers are reportedly very nice and quite robust. They might not have the same finish as an FN model, but they work. The Argentinians like the design and made a few variants. One of the most interesting never made it beyond the prototype stage. 

Courtesy The Firearm Blog.

The Argentinians produced a model known as the SPA, or Sub Pistola Ametralladora, aka Sub Machine Pistol. Yep, Hi-Power machine pistols. Why? Well, I’m convinced most people just design them for vague military reasons, but in reality, it’s because they want something ridiculous and fun. The SPA series was actually chambered in 7.62x23mm Manlicher because 9mm produced too much recoil. 

The designers also produced 16, 25, and 40-round magazines for the handgun. They also fit this oddball Hi-Power with a 6.25-inch barrel likely to increase control. It’s a neat design, but only prototypes were made, and we have very few photos of these guns. 

Keep Hi-Powers Weird 

I love oddballs, and I love Hi-Powers. Oddball Hi-Powers certainly get my motor running. I’m starting my own oddball collection, and sadly I doubt I’ll get the one SPA ever imported or developed, but I can certainly try. 

PHLster Floodlight OWB

Glock 17 with OWB Floodlight

I am a huge fan of both the original and the newest PHLster FLoodlight Concealment Holsters. As I’ve said in both of those reviews, I generally think that these holsters are well thought-out with clever design. In my particular case, the PHLster Floodlight family solves the biggest challenge I face as a left-handed shooter: the lack of holster selection. All versions of the Floodlight are pistol-agnostic, carry-optics friendly, ambidextrous and universal. (Concealment Floodlights v1 & v2 are both PHLster Enigma friendly too). Floodlight holsters are designed to index on your gun’s WML (Weapon Mounted Light). By owning a Surefire X-300 U or a Streamlight TRL WML and by having any gun with an accessory rail in the dustcover, I can carry that gun–be it concealed in the appendix position, or in the case of the OWB Floodlight, on a belt. 

PHLster Floodlight OWB Overview 

The PHLster Floodlight OWB has been out for a couple of years now and most closely resembles the original Floodlight in layout and style. Both holsters are perfectly symmetrical, ambidextrous and use similar hardware and bushing systems. Both are made from the same Kydex material, but the actual holster shells have different hole patterns and are not cross compatible at all. The holes found on the concealment version are obviously for belt clip or loops, while the OWB version has hole patterns compatible with the most popular OWB belt attachment systems and holster hangers. The OWB Floodlight ships standard with a Tek-Lok hanger already attached. These typically work great in a general purpose role and are compatible with a wide variety of 1.5-inch width belts. The OWB Floodlight also includes three separate and color coded bushing kits to fasten both holster shells together depending on the size and width of the end user’s specific handgun. The provided instructions are very clear and easy to follow along. In the case of the Canik SFx Rival-S pistol that I have been shooting, the medium width bushing kit worked just fine.

My Experiences With the Floodlight OWB

Since weapon mounted lights have been permitted in USPSA since 2021, my OWB Floodlight primarily serves as a competition holster. In my case, I attached it to a competition belt with a hanger that was compatible with the hole patterns on the OWB Floodlight, so I removed the Tek-Lok and set it aside.. (I do recommend using a thread locker when fastening the OWB Floodlight to any hanger or belt system). My retention is minimally set as there is no need for it to be snug at a match. In the context of USPSA matches, ranges are cold and guns are usually kept holstered and unloaded. In essence, competition holsters primarily hold guns in place and out of the way. When it is time to shoot, they ought to provide easy access for a fast draw. 

The Canik SFx Rival-S sits in my OD Green colored PHLster Floodlight OWB Holster

I’ve been using this holster for nearly two months now, and I’ve attended several USPSA matches, one Steel Challenge match and one live fire practice session. Otherwise, I’ve also been using it to practice and dry-fire at home with the IPSC targets set up in my backyard. Besides the Canik Rival-S, I’ve used it with following firearms: Staccato P Duo Aluminum, Glock 34, Glock 17, Beretta 92X Performance and CZ Shadow 2. Regardless of the handgun I shoot, I plan on working with this holster for the foreseeable future. If you’re running an all-out limited or open division racegun, I do not recommend this holster. The oversize controls might clash with the sides of the OWB Floodlight’s holster shell. And also, if you’re spending that kind of money, it’s probably worth to get the corresponding division-appropriate holster.

The Takeaway

The OWB Floodlight is an ambidextrous general purpose range and shooting holster. It works great for USPSA style competition and I can see it working just fine in the majority of shooting courses that do not call for concealment or other specialized equipment. The hole patterns are compatible with the most popular holster hanger and belt attachment options out there too. These include the standard Tek-Lok, the popular Boss holster hangers, and the Safariland style QLS gear. 

All Floodlights index on the body of the pistol mounted weapon light, and the retention concentrates on this smaller area only. Generally speaking none of the Floodlights have the same snug feel as other Kydex or polymer holsters which are engineered to “grab” onto the trigger guard area of a handgun. Nonetheless, retention can be adjusted to an extent. However, don’t expect your OWB Floodlight to work just like a Level 3 retention Safariland 6390 ALS duty holster. The OWB Floodlight lacks any of the additional retention features as found on such Safariland holsters. Its construction also differs, but then again so does the mission of either holster. The Safariland 6390 ALS is a duty-grade full retention full size bucket that a wearer can have and wrestle a suspect to the ground with. The OWB Floodlight is a general purpose belt holster designed for shooting at the range, classes or matches. If you already own a weapon light and shoot pistols with accessor rails, the OWB Floodlight is a great solution for a universal holster.  

“We have always done it this way…”

At a recent IWI AK course

I was reading the media that is alleged to be social, as I am wont to do for this job, and I stumbled upon that phrase written with bile and venom, by none other than Matt Jacques.

Now when Jacques speaks, I pay attention. I’ve never known the man to bloviate on subject matter as serious as those things that will save your life in the street and I didn’t expect him to start with a Facebook post in that same area. And as expected, he didn’t.

He called those words the seven deadliest in law enforcement. I can expand on that experience a little to the Marine Corps, seeing absurd practices remain for no other reason than an NCO or Officer allegedly saw a Navy SEAL or a Raider do it this way this one time. If my observations of the silliness aren’t serious enough for you than I urge you to go over to Wheelchair Tactical on the Insta and look at and chat with Paul Gardner. He was shot and paralyzed in Iraq 20 some years ago and that was in no small part due to the Marines always doing things the way they had.

We use fancy terms like ‘Institutional Inertia’ sometimes, we’re looking to describe the difficulties in changing things in a large and interconnected group of people who are used to a certain process. But the short of it is that humans like pattern repetition and even if there is a better pattern to repeat, we still don’t always like it. That dislike, that mild discomfort can get people killed.

Larger and more uniform orgs, like the military and law enforcement agencies, are the worst offenders of “we have always done it this way” as they are the largest “we” units with consistent (reasonably) procedures. What this leads to is the repetitions of the practice outstripping the understanding of the ‘why’ behind it, so if the ‘why’ changes or a better way to accomplish the ‘why’ comes about the pattern of repetition weighs most heavily in the institutions minds.

My most recent encounter with this professionally was with red dots. Several soldiers were vociferously professing their ‘preference’ for iron sights on their M4A1’s over the 2MOA CompM4 and M4s optics. Now, there is nothing wrong with liking irons. There is a great deal to be said for the continuation of the discipline of using iron sights. I cordially disagree with friends and peers who say iron sights are dead, especially BUIS.

However that doesn’t mean I am advocating that soldier use the sighting system that is 8 times less precise than the dot is and occludes for more of the down range target picture than the dot does.

“We have always done it this way” translates to “I cannot tell you why, I’m simply assuming their is a reason.”

This is the crux, the lethal one in some cases. The assumption that there is a reason in place of the understanding of the reason for something to be done.

We require understanding of the why because if we do not understand we cannot adapt to circumstances that vary too far from the original pattern, we’re tied to the pattern of behavior and not the desired end result. We cannot go outside patterns if we don’t understand why the pattern exists. There are lines of work where pattern work is still a useable skill. Fast Food prep is formulaic, assembly lines are patterns that don’t rely on workers knowing everything but they do absolutely function better if the workers understand the goals of their part. The assembly team putting doors on the car doesn’t need to know the intricacies of how the engine works, but they do need to understand these are car doors going into the frame and how the door is part of the assembly. If they understand what their doors do from a safety and control standpoint, at least on the top most basic level, they will know what the end goal is. Fit the doors so their part of the vehicle assembly is functional and safe.

The same logic holds when it comes to learning the procedures for shooting both efficiently and intelligently. How to shoot well and when to take a shot are and state equations and understanding the end state and how to get to that with the firearm will result in success. Going through the motions of your qualification or your range drills without understanding then end state leads to frustrated and bored participants who, if they end up in that time is life problem, will not be equipped to survive. That leaves blind luck and God’s love of a fool.

Springfield Tactical Response Pistol

The TRP is reliable with a wide range of ammunition.

When the Colt 1911 was introduced it was a high quality handgun with excellent quality of manufacture and reliability. Today a race to the bottom has resulted in a market filled with cheap 1911 handguns. Few are service grade. Many are unreliable roughly finished and of questionable manufacture. The 1911 is a desirable handgun with good features. The trigger offers a straight to the rear compression, affording both good control and accuracy potential. The slide sets low in the hand, resulting in a low bore axis. There is little leverage for the muzzle to rise in recoil. The grip fits most hands well. The fit of the 1911 compared to handguns with an oversized double column magazine is barely comparable, the 1911 fits most hands so well. The 1911’s controls are a marvel of human engineering. The slide lock safety, magazine release and slide lock are all within easy reach of the average to short finger size. The slide lock safety offers cocked and locked, hammer to the rear carry. When the safety is disengaged we have a smooth straight to the rear trigger press. The grip safety must be depressed to allow the trigger to drop the hammer. While the safety features of the type are impressive, there is nothing to impede a brilliantly fast and accurate first shot.

The 1911 is relatively flat, allowing good concealment in a proper holster. A great advantage of the 1911 is the big bore cartridge. The .45 ACP operates at low pressure, resulting in long firearms life. Accuracy potential is high. The .45 ACP often demonstrates a full powder burn. Muzzle signature is muted, with perhaps a few sparks in service loadings. There have been complex formulas contrived to attempt to demonstrate that small bore cartridges have parity with the .45 caliber in wound ballistics. Historical verdicts and common sense prevailed and today professionals realize that such claims are absurd. The .45 is the superior service cartridge for well trained individuals. In my youth the only 1911s available were Colts and poorly made Spanish ironmongery. Today there are a number of makers producing high quality 1911 handguns. The first real competitor to Colt came when Springfield Armory introduced their GI pistol. The 1911 A1 proved to be well made of good material. Just the same, Springfield gradually increased quality and also introduced new models with features demanded by the buying public. Speed safeties, high visibility sights and ambidextrous safety levers were among these improvements. Many shooters are familiar with the Springfield Loaded Model, a pistol that incorporates a combination of features that makes the Loaded Model among the best buys in modern 1911 handguns. There is little to be desired with the Loaded Model. The limiting factor is the skill of the user.

A few years ago Springfield engaged in a rigorous competition. The FBI was choosing a modern, reliable and accurate 1911 type handgun for issue to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) and SWAT trained officers. The end product was the winning Springfield Professional. This handgun finished a grueling 20,000 round test without a single malfunction while maintaining a 1.25 inch average for five shot groups at 25 yards. The Springfield Professional is beyond question the most proven of all modern 1911 handguns. The pistol is offered commercially as the Professional Model. A combination of features including a match grade Nowlin barrel and superb handfit make the Professional a very desirable handgun.

Today, with the hunger for 1911s seemingly insatiable, sales of the Professional are good but limited by production methods and the price of the Professional. A considerable amount of hand fitting goes into the pistol. They simply cannot be built any other way. For those like myself who desire a good 1911 and have a strong  belief in the type, the wait and expense are reasonable. Just the same after waiting thirty six months and spending over two thousand dollars for the Professional handgun, a good solid custom shop handgun such as the Tactical Response Pistol is attractive. The TRP is a top grade 1911 but just a notch or two downscale from the Professional. The TRP is much closer to the Professional than the Loaded Model in fit, feel and performance. You cannot upgrade the Loaded Model to TRP status. The handfitting accomplished in the custom shop simply cannot be done without a great deal of custom work and would be more expensive by far than the factory TRP. Springfield Armory TRP handguns feature Novak sights with tritium inserts. The slide features a lowered, scalloped ejection port and forward cocking serrations. The pistol features a very tight lock up. The beavertail safety is well designed, serving to funnel the hand into the grip and accenting the already low bore axis. The ambidextrous safety strongly resembles the classic Armand Swenson design. The pistol combines considerable flair with practical utility.

Trigger compression is set at a smooth five pounds. The magazine funnel is the classic Smith and Alexander. The magazine funnel is a considerable aid in rapid magazine changes. While we may not be called upon to reload under fire very often, the magazine chute makes for much more positive administrative handling in all conditions. The front strap is checkered in a custom grade 20 LPI. This is raspier than the more common 30 LPI and may demand gloves for long practice sessions. The 1911 man’s attention is arrested by such features. This is a far different handgun than the 1911s I handled as an inquisitive teenager. Today, no other handgun suits me as well as the 1911. My passion are stubborn but sound.

Despite a permanent stamp of enthusiasm for the 1911 I demand much from each new handgun. An appraisal of the TRP shows that the pistol is so tight that some effort is required to rack the slide. Such attention to fit is necessary for the level of repeatable accuracy demanded of the TRP. Good fit also results in less eccentric wear and less slop, the reason a high end pistol such as the TRP has a predicted long life. I began the firing test by lubricating the long bearing surfaces of the pistol. I have fired and carried this pistol often and a refresher was in order for this report. When new each of the TRP pistols in the safe required a modest break in one hundred rounds or so of 230 grain hardball ammunition. A failure to fully go into battery requiring a shove was all that was needed. A friend’s TRP came out of the box running. Todd’s initials are TRP which he never fails to point out, a bonus for him in pride of ownership.  

Initial accuracy work showed the pistol capable of two inch five shot groups or less at 25 yards with 230 grain hardball. The Springfield  TRP is equally at home in fast shooting, accurate shooting off hand or from the barricade position. The TRP sets well in the hand, offering excellent balance. While the forward gripstrap checkering is appropriately raspy at no time was the grip uncomfortable. If I were attending a training class that demanded 1,000 rounds be fired in a compressed time frame I would opt for shooting gloves. The G 10 grips are cut away to allow rapid magazine button manipulation.

The TRP cannot be faulted on attention to detail. As I experienced good results with the point of aim and point of impact relationship, I built up excellent confidence in the possibility of long range hits with the pistol. The TRP pistol embraces theory hammered out on the anvil of experience. This is a handgun that demands the most from the operator and delivers the goods in return.

Accuracy and velocity testing

Chrono testing with Competetion Electronics Chrono 10 feet from muzzle

Accuracy from a solid bench rest firing position at 25 yards, using the MTM Caseguard K Zone firing two five shot groups

  • Black Hills 230 grain FMJ:   840 fp, 2.4 inch group
  • Black Hills 230 grain JHP:   866 fps, 1.9 inch group
  • Fiocchi 200 grain XTP:    970 fp, 1.9 inch group
  • Hornady 185 grain Critical Defense: 990 fps, 2.1 inc group

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