In my post about .22LR ammunition on Saturday, I mentioned that I'd picked up a couple of thousand rounds at our local gun show that morning, in part exchange for a revolver. I went back to the gun show yesterday, armed (you should pardon the expression) with my 'gun money', to see what else I could find. (My 'gun money' is separate from our household accounts. It's funds accumulated from selling guns, accessories, ammo, etc., which I plow back into my shooting activities. I can spend some of 'our' money on gun stuff too, of course - both of us have a 'fun fund' allowance when necessary - but I prefer to keep the accounts separate most of the time.)
I was looking in particular for .22LR pistols and revolvers for use in training disabled shooters. I try to keep at least half a dozen on hand at any one time. That's sometimes difficult, because I'm always coming across people who (on a disability income) simply can't afford to buy their own guns. I must have given away somewhere between two and three dozen firearms over the past decade or so. I'm glad to be able to help - it's one way I can 'give back' to my community - but it means I have to replenish my training battery every so often.
I got lucky. An older gentleman was wandering around with a blue Beretta gun box containing a U22 Neos identical to this one:
It looks like something out of a science fiction movie, doesn't it? I'd heard good reports about the Neos from reviewers and other shooters, so I was interested. The slide felt gritty when operated, and the gun clearly hadn't been properly cleaned for a long time; but the seller was asking a reasonable price (about 70% of retail). I walked away with it. After a thorough cleaning last night, with the help of our housemate (who enjoys cleaning guns much more than I do!), it's now very slick and smooth in operation, and I'm looking forward to trying it out at the range this week.
I noticed a few things at once.
- The sights are adequate, but clearly meant for slow fire - the fat front sight almost completely fills the gap in the rear sight, making 'snap' or fast sight alignment very difficult. That's fine for target practice, but not so good for practical pistol training. I think I'll either have to file away some material from the sides of the front sight, or widen the rear sight aperture slightly, to allow faster acquisition of a sight picture.
- The scope rail running along the top of the gun is an excellent feature. I'll try installing a red dot sight to see how it performs.
- The trigger is on the heavy side (I'd estimate 10-12 pounds), but crisp. I think it'll be a good 'training trigger', requiring one to keep one's aim very steady while one takes up the pressure. For that reason I won't attempt to adjust it, but I might detail-strip it and apply a little Slipstream oil or grease (my favorite lubricant for most firearms - that stuff is magic!) to its operating surfaces. That should lighten the weight of pull somewhat.
- The grip at first feels a bit small for large hands like mine, but after a few minutes spent snapping the gun up and into position it begins to feel as natural as breathing. Allied with its loaded weight of just over 36 ounces and its slightly nose-heavy 6" barrel, I think this is going to be a very controllable and easy-to-shoot pistol, with negligible recoil. I daresay it'll do very well for novice shooters. On the other hand, it is a little heavy compared to some of its competitors. Shooters with limited arm and/or upper body strength and/or mobility may find it difficult to use for extended periods.
- It's clearly too large and heavy for easy concealed carry - it's more for range use and in circumstances where concealment is not necessary.
- Disassembly and reassembly is very different from any other pistol I've encountered, with a ratchet screw holding the barrel and sight rail to the frame. However, once one reads the manual it's a very simple procedure to follow, and certainly much easier than some of its competitors. I'm intrigued by the details of the design.
Even at retail prices, the Neos is cost-effective when compared to competitors like the Ruger Mark III, Browning Buck Mark, Smith & Wesson Model 22A or the more concealable Ruger SR22 (my recommended concealed-carry .22LR pistol for those who can't manage heavier recoil) and Walther P22. If its performance at the range lives up to its reputation, I'll be very pleased to add it to my training battery.
That wasn't the only good deal of the day. I've been trying to find a smaller .45 ACP pistol for a disabled shooter who has the upper body strength to handle it. I ran into a man selling a Kahr CW45.
He claimed it was 'new in the box'. However, upon examination it had clearly been fired more than a little - the interior of the slide and barrel were pretty dirty, and the imprint of a cartridge case head was visible in the residue on the breech face. I pointed this out to the seller, who appeared surprised; he claimed to have bought it from a man who told him it was NIB, but since even a cursory examination could disprove that, I think he was trying his luck. It was in a Kahr pistol box, the older plastic variety, but I knew that wasn't the box in which it had originally been sold - Kahr stopped using them some years before this model was launched. However, it did have a second magazine with it, where the CW45 is usually sold with only one magazine.
The seller wanted more for the gun than its normal 'street' retail price. I pointed out the discrepancy, but he wasn't prepared to move much at all; so I walked away. However, I had a feeling that he wouldn't find many other takers at his asking price, so after an hour of wandering around (during which I picked up the Beretta Neos mentioned above), I stopped at his location once more before leaving, and repeated my lower offer. He hesitated, hummed and hawed, but eventually he took it - so I walked out with two guns, in exchange for the two I sold yesterday.
We cleaned the Kahr as well last night, finding it not too badly gummed up. To my surprise, once the crud had been cleaned off them, the sights proved to be aftermarket Trijicon night sights (with tritium inserts for better visibility in darkness). They added $80 to the value of the pistol, but neither the seller nor I had noticed them at the gun show, dulled as they were with gunshot residue. The pistol is also equipped with rubber decal grips, making it softer and easier to hold. I reckon I bought over $500 worth of pistol and accessories for about two-thirds of their combined 'street' value. I'm not complaining . . .
(I think compact .45 ACP pistols like the CW45 aren't suitable for most disabled shooters - or even many 'normally-abled' shooters! - because their recoil is harder to control than that of a lighter, less powerful round. However, they've been given a new lease on life by restrictive magazine capacity laws in New York state, where my disabled shooter friend lives. [Such draconian regulations may spread to other jurisdictions unfriendly to gun-owners - see, for example, recent developments in New Jersey, Colorado, Maryland and Connecticut, all of which may further tighten their restrictions.] I'm very much in favor of higher-capacity pistols in view of the threat from criminal flash mobs and other developments. However, when the law drastically limits magazine capacity I think one's best served by carrying the most effective round possible, so as to make the most of the fewer rounds available. One must simply learn to manage and control the recoil. Under those circumstances, a compact .45 ACP pistol becomes a much more attractive proposition - particularly in a state like New Jersey, where only law enforcement officers may possess or use expanding [i.e. hollow-point] bullets. If one's restricted to solid [i.e. ball] ammunition, all other things being equal, the biggest ball usually wins!)
So, all in all, a very successful gun show for me. I sold two guns, bought two others more suitable to my and others' needs, and gained over 2,000 rounds of .22LR ammunition, all for a net cash expenditure of a mere $20. Not a bad weekend's work, if I do say so myself.