Sunday, April 28, 2013

Product Review: Valeo Adjustable Grip Strengthener

The Valeo Adjustable Grip Strengthener

You might recall that I took a Practical Pistol class back in September. One of the fundamentals taught in the class was grip. I had a little bit of trouble with this so I made a small investment in a Valeo Adjustable Grip Strengthener from Hibbett Sports. I must say, it has helped. The best part about it is that it’s adjustable, so I can adapt it to suit me.

After the class, I knew I needed to work on my grip strength. Shooting the M&P45, recoil management was crucial, and the best way to improve that was grip. I had seen an article by another blogger for a grip trainer that had four individual “buttons” so each finger could get its own work out. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the blog I saw this on when I wanted to buy it. I tried to use my Google-fu to find it, but never did. So, I hit the sporting goods stores that we have here in town, which is all of Sears, Dick’s, and Hibbetts.


Sears and Dick’s had the old fashioned kind with the spring loop that all of us older folks are familiar with. I really had my mind set on the one with the buttons though, so I headed off to Hibbetts with my fingers crossed. They also had the old fashioned kind, but they also had this one from Valeo. I was thoroughly surprised by the price tag, too. I was expecting to pay up towards $30, but it was only $15. I figured if it was a $15 mistake, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings as bad as a $30 mistake.

The Valeo wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I liked the fact that it was adjustable. According to the package, it’s adjustable from 25 to 90 pounds of resistance. I probably started out around 35 pounds. It’s difficult to judge what exactly it’s set at, but you can get a rough idea with the little scale on the side. It would be really nice if it was more precise in the setting so you can change it and go back to an older setting, but no such luck. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the fact that it is adjustable. I like knowing that as my grip strength increases, this does not have to just get easier and do me no good.
The resistance scale - Not the most intuitive
Another good feature about the Valeo is the grips have ridges to get a secure grip. If your hands get a little sweaty during a workout, they will probably still slip on these grips, but it won’t be much. If you have a dry grip, it may take a trial squeeze or two to get the grip you want. I’m in this category, and I have trouble adjusting my grip with this under tension.

If you actually know me, you know I’m no strength trainer or body builder, so I just kind of developed my own workout regimen. Every other day, I do 3 sets of 10 reps and hold it for 3 seconds on each rep. Sometimes I mix it up by doing a slow 3 second squeeze, holding for 5 seconds, and then easing off over 3 seconds. Other times I squeeze it completely, hold for 10 seconds, and then release it. I do these until it feels “easy”. That’s usually about 2 weeks if I stay at it and don’t get lazy. Then I increase the adjustment knob ¼ turn and start all over again. I do this for both hands. I wonder if I should be working up to holding the grip for 30 seconds to simulate shooting a stage at a USPSA match. 

In the 5 months I've been using the Valeo, I can tell the difference in my grip and recoil management. Am I "there" yet? No, I don't think so, but I may never be totally satisfied with my grip. That's just the way I am, I think. 

Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars. If the scale was more precise, I'd give it the 5th star.

If there are any weight training shooters out there with any experience, I’d be happy to hear it.

Be safe.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Risk of Carrying an Untested Firearm – Life’s Easy Lesson #2


I prefer to learn my lessons of life by other people’s mistakes. Based on what other people have told me, I already knew not to trust my life to a firearm that is new to me without testing it. In my “narrow-mindedness,” I assumed this was just generally accepted knowledge by anyone that owned and carried a gun. Well, I’m a little less narrow-minded now.

For a couple of months now, one of my coworkers has wanted to go out to the gun club that I’m a member of to shoot. He is new to the area and didn’t know where to go to shoot so I told him I’d take him out to the club. He told me back then that he had bought his wife a new carry gun and wanted to try it out.  Now that it stays light out longer, and the weather is warming up, we finally got the opportunity yesterday evening after work.
He bought her a Taurus PT22 with pink grips. According to him, she picked it out. Being the good husband that he is, he got her all the pink accessories too, the pink holster, pink safety glasses, and pink ear muffs.

After hanging our targets, he loaded up the one magazine he brought along with him. I didn’t see how he loaded his first round, whether by inserting it into the chamber manually via the tip up barrel or by working the slide to feed a round from the magazine. He got one shot off, and the gun jammed. We both fiddled with it for a couple of minutes. It finally cycled manually, and he got one more shot off before jamming again.

Being Quality Engineers, it had just become an official science project, and we were determined to figure out the root cause. We looked at the ammo. It was .22LR, and the barrel of the gun was marked for that caliber, the bullets were fully seated and not oversized in length, so that’s probably not the problem, but we weren’t ruling it out yet. Closer examination of the magazine we could see a small rub on the back showing bare metal, and looking at the front it looked like the opening under the bullet was slightly bent to one side. So we are chalking this up to the magazine for now. We’ll test the other magazine and any new ones he has in the future. All this time, he’s getting madder and more flabbergasted.

Now for the scary part, I asked him the rhetorical question, “You bought this for your wife to carry for personal protection?” This is when he tells me what I had expected based on his expressions. She’s been carrying it for over a month. I’m sure we are all glad she never had to use it, but he learned the valuable lesson I had trusted from others. If at all possible, always test any firearm you expect to use to protect your life or the lives of others. Know that it is reliable with the equipment and ammunition you intend to carry it with.

Now, how do you do that? I had read that you should run three full magazines of your carry ammo without any failures before you can trust the ammunition/magazine combination for personal protection. Is this the standard method of testing a carry combination? I don’t know, but it seemed like a sound process to me. When I bought my M&P45, I intended to carry it with 230 grain jacketed hollow point ammunition. So I bought 100 rounds (obviously back before the Panic of ’12) each of several different brands. I ran all the rounds through three different magazines without any failures. Those magazines are numbered 1, 2, and 3 with an electric etcher and are the ones I carry with that gun. I've since added more magazines to my collection, and each one was tested with my brand of carry ammo. So I know I can trust all of my magazines with Remington 230gr Golden Sabers, and the first three can be trusted with that and other brands as well. 

If any you know of another method for testing firearm reliability, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

Be safe.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

EAM: Republican Senator Pat Toomey Poised to Support Universal Background Checks

Pat Toomey (R-PA) being sworn in to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America

I'm hopping mad, and I'm not from Pennsylvania. Read this article by David Codrea in examiner.com. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Now get on the phone, Facebook, Twitter, send an email, fax, or letter. Just do something to help stop Toomey from turning his A- rating into an F- and becoming known as "Turncoat Toomey". His contact information is in the article.  

You Pennsylvanians should be sure to remind him that HE works for YOU, and this UBC is an ineffective farce. If he wants to continue to be your Senator, he needs to stop playing with his brain and put it back in his head. He needs to support something that will protect our children and not worry about doing something just to get re-elected. 

He swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and then turns his back on his oath, the Constitution, me and my family, and most of all, the people he is supposed to be representing. Mad yet? 

Be firm but be polite. We don't want to look like a liberal.

Be safe.

*EAM = Emergency Action Message

Monday, April 1, 2013

UPDATED: Fallout of New Anti-Gun Legislation


With all of the new anti-gun legislation being either passed or proposed across America, there is an increasing amount of good conscience coming to the forefront by businesses in the gun industry. Companies are considering moving operations to other states, while others are ceasing sales to law enforcement agencies in states where sales are being banned to citizens. There are negatives to this legislation as well, besides infringing on our second amendment rights.

Companies like Magpul Industries and Hi Viz Shooting Solutions are pulling out of Colorado because of recent anti-gun bills signed into law. Colt Firearms may consider leaving Connecticut after 175 years, because proposed anti-gun bills leave them feeling “unwanted.” AR15.com is leaving Farmington, NY for the Dallas, TX area due to recent legislation.

These and other companies feel strongly enough about their morals and their customers, that they are willing to spend the money to move to a freer state. This is not a cheap or easy task. Managing the logistics of moving a company with minimal production interruption is no easy or inexpensive task. When my company moved from Michigan to Georgia twenty-two years ago, it cost the company over $1M to make the move, and we didn’t have half the machines that somebody like Magpul would have.

Other companies like LaRue Tactical, Olympic Arms, and MidwayUSA have stopped selling products to law enforcement agencies in states where those same items are illegal for citizens to possess. Here is a website that was tracking a list. Some of the big names that haven’t stopped selling to agencies in the restrictive states are Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, Glock, and Armalite.

So are these smaller companies going to “hurt” state LE agencies? Probably not, they’ll just find somebody else that will sell to them. Just like companies moving to other states probably won’t have a major impact on states’ revenues. Where it does hurt the most are the displaced employees, and for them I pray a speedy recovery.

Even event organizers are pulling out of anti-gun states. I just saw in The Shooting Wire that the Rocky Mountain Western States Regional IDPA Championship that was to be held this coming July in Montrose, CO has been cancelled due to the passing of anti-gun legislation. Maybe they’ll reschedule the match for Utah or Arizona since they are more gun-friendly states. In February, an Appleseed event scheduled to be held in Saugus, CA was cancelled due to “certain California laws in conjunction with a potential strong anti-gun bias of local prosecutors could create problems for the program and those who attend it.” Cancelled for fear of people being wrongfully prosecuted.

So please show your support for these companies that are standing up for our rights, and be sure to contact your elected officials to voice your opinion about where this country is going. Every voice counts, and every vote counts. Never give up.

Be safe.

UPDATE: Thursday, April 4, 2013 - The Maryland Senate gave final approval to Gov. Martin O'Malley's sweeping gun control bill Thursday night, sending the legislation to the governor for his promised signature. Beretta announced last month that it would pull out of Maryland if the bill passed. If Beretta holds to their word, this will reduce MD tax coffers and affect 400 jobs.