August 16, 2018

Raccoon Hunting With a Cannon

Posted on May 6, 2016 by in Sittin' At The Gun Shop

 

 

Known to action moviegoers as the “most powerful handgun in the world” that would take your head right off your shoulders, the Smith and Wesson .44 caliber magnum revolver is indeed a powerful handgun. I’ve only owned one in my career, but when I carried it I felt as though I was the mightiest warrior walking the face of the planet, afraid of neither man nor beast.

The time was the late 1970’s and I was nineteen years old. I was armed with this hand cannon and I had the authority to use it. That my friends is a scary thought, even to me. Now days you must be twenty one, undergo a battery of both mental and physical evaluations and successfully complete an approved police academy of at least 1600 classroom hours. Back when I started you were sworn in, handed a badge and a gun and told to go get the bad guys. Barney Fife was on TV and I had that role model and 80 hours of reserve officer training to work with.

Sometime in the next twelve months I had to complete a basic 240 hour police academy with a passing grade of 70% to get my peace officer license from the great State of Texas. Anyway back to the Model #29. This particular gun came from a very highly respected and wise old Sergeant named Lindsey Carlton of the League City Police department. He was in my opinion a top notch cop and a good friend to me. This was back in the time of the “wonder nine” pistols. These were high capacity auto loading pistols that were becoming very popular in law enforcement circles and I had already bought myself one. It was a 9mm blued version and I think it had a 15 round magazine. As usual I didn’t really think through my purchase and soon found that the back strap of the weapon that has the most contact with your sweaty palm had started to show signs of rust.

Sgt. Carlton was a big fellow and he had an affinity for large bore revolvers, however he also wanted my S & W model #59, so we worked out a trade. For some reason during our phone conversation about the deal he mistakenly believed that my model #59 was the hard chromed version. I am absolutely sure I didn’t lie to the man, because I respected him way too much for that and that wasn’t something that I could have hidden anyway. Well I trekked over to his house, (a palatial mansion for the day on a cops salary I thought), and we went about the dickering process. I un-wrapped the model #59 from the original brown waxed paper that protected it from rust, in the blue and silver trimmed Smith and Wesson box that had accompanied it from the factory of its birth. A normally jovial type person, I was surprised when I saw Lindsey’s face take on a sour look. He said, “I thought you told me that this was a Nickel plated model?” I stammered and stuttered and vehemently denied that I’d said it was nickel plated during our phone conservation, because I honestly think I told him what it was.

We dickered back and forth like an experienced horse trader and a wanna be cowboy there for a while as Lindsey scrutinized the Model #59 and I went over the Model #29. It had a short barrel of about 4″ and was quite heavy. What first caught my attention was the finish on the hand cannon. It wasn’t new by any stretch of the imagination and had been refinished. Now days it would be called a matte chrome finish or Colt fans would call it a Colt Guard finish. The #29 had the standard factory wooden stocks and a white outline rear sight and the blaze ramp style front sight that I’d already decided I liked in my short law enforcement tenure. Well it took a full glass of sweet tea, one blued Smith and Wesson Model #59 still in the original box and 75.00 hard earned extra job dollars (that my new Boss wasn’t aware I had squirreled away), but I had my model #29 and was on my way.

I went home and showed the new prize to the quite pregnant Boss and she wasn’t all that impressed. I don’t really think she had ever seen a “Dirty Harry” movie at that time, so she had no idea of the cool factor I had just achieved. Well when you get a new gun, you have to buy ammo for it so we loaded up in the family car, a 3/4 ton Chevy single cab pick-up truck that I had owned when we married. The Boss was multi-talented and could drive the manual transmission hay hauler with no problems, but as unborn #1 child grew that all changed, but that’s another story. Off to Marburger’s Sporting Goods we went, where I “badged” the clerk and he didn’t check my age. I bought a fifty round box of 240 grain Remington .44 magnum hollow point cannon ammo. Ok, now what’s any self respecting new gun owner with a box of fresh ammo first priority? To go shoot the damn thing and see how it works.

Back then we were newly married and the Boss was game for most anything, so we drove back to one of the most remote areas in Seabrook on Port road. There was nothing out there but pasture, so I wasn’t afraid of damaging anything. We drove out and parked along side of the road and with the Boss waiting in the truck acting as the lookout, I test fired the .44 by shooting into a bar ditch. I warned the Boss to hold her ears because I assumed it would be loud and I wasn’t disappointed. I touched off a round and a blue and yellow flame bellowed out of that weapon for what the Boss assured me was about 18″. Remember I hadn’t had any formal training on handguns at this point, so I didn’t know about sound deadening ear plugs or ear muffs that you’re supposed to wear when you shoot. I was raised in the country, you just went shooting. For the next round I kind of used my shoulder to protect one ear and stuck my left index finger in the other ear and I made the mistake of shooting the mighty Model #29 with one hand.

I was not too long out of high school where my favorite class was recess. During recess all I was required to do was lift weights and get ready for the next football season, so I got away with firing the nard kicking short barrel hand cannon once. I assure you, I never fired it one handed again though. It was for sure a two fisted handgun, especially with magnum loads. Well now that I was armed with what I called “Thor’s Hammer”, I feared no man or critter. Feeling that I had the power of the mighty Greek God “Thor” and the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ at my beck and call, I was good to go. So being the “I gotta have the latest and best kinda of cop” that I am, I set about acquiring all of the latest accruements for my new handgun. Back then we all wore either plain black leather or basketweave designed Sam Browns (gun belt), so this called for a trip to Houston to the F-15 police supply on Washington Avenue.

I bought a high rise lined thumb break plain black leather holster and a loop type ammo holder. (That’s a device that held 12 rounds of ammo on your gun belt and allowed you quick access for reloading.) I was now loaded for bear. I carried this gun for many months until the time came that I had to use it. Don’t panic I didn’t kill anybody; I was forced to shoot a raccoon. By forced, I mean that I had gotten a direct order to shoot this raccoon from the Chief of Police. I was aware of the penetrating power of the .44 magnum round. We were in an urban setting, but a citizen called the Chief and said that he had a problem with raccoons in his attic. So being the night officer I was sent over to shoot this raccoon.

Here’s what happened.

The homeowner and I were standing in the yard on the side of his house in an overgrown field. He pointed up to his attic and said “that’s where they will come out when I use a mop handle to make noise and drive them out”. I explained that I would not shoot towards his house, but if he would scare the raccoons out of the attic I’d take the shot if I got the chance. Well sure enough a big ole boar raccoon came out of the attic and jumped across onto a tree limb out near where I was standing. The homeowner returned and I asked him to hold my flashlight on the raccoon so I could shoot it. Well this wasn’t such a good idea because I realized without the flashlight, I couldn’t see the sights on the big Smith and Wesson. By this time I had watched enough T. J. Hooker episodes on television that I managed to hold the flashlight in my left hand and the revolver in my right, using the opposing force hold to brace my gun. I thumbed cocked the big cannon into the single action mode and took careful aim.

Ka-Boom.

Flames and smoke belched out of the muzzle and I could see that I had hit the big old raccoon in the stomach area because that portion of his body was no longer there. I had heard old men tell me that there was no critter as tough as a old boar raccoon, but I couldn’t believe what I saw next. The ole raccoon simply climbed down out of the tree, sneered at us, calmly walked over and climbed over a six foot chain link fence, then disappeared into the woods. People have asked me why I didn’t shoot again, but remember we were in an urban district and shooting horizontally would almost guarantee hitting someone’s house, so I chose to be careful despite what the Chief had told me. By the way that was the last raccoon call I made there, so apparently the ole boy was mortally wounded.

I kept my pet hand cannon till I moved to a larger department that mandated revolvers no larger than a .357 magnum, but I sure missed “Thor’s Hammer”. It was my first Model 29 and due to my retirement and advanced arthritis, it’s probably my last. Till next time grip it with both hands, aim true, and join the NRA to protect your gun rights. If you like this column you can email me at juniorsboy@santafegoodnews.com because the Boss likes it when I get fan mail.
Juniors Boy

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Her Duty Gun

Posted on February 13, 2013 by in Sittin' At The Gun Shop

Her Duty Gun

Smith and Wesson 6906

 I was off and the kids were at grandma’s for a few days and I finally had a day to myself because the Boss was at work.  She had firearms qualifications that day and  I knew about it because she had me detail strip her Colt Commander and clean it till it looked like new.  The range officer for her department was a hard-ass who did pistol inspections like a like a Nazi SS officer.  He had gotten on to her the previous year for having a miniscule amount of burnt gunpowder under the forcing cone of her Smith & Wesson model 686 revolver.  She brought it home to me to clean and explained that she needed her gun to be re-cleaned because the range officer wouldn’t let her shoot her qualification course till her revolver passed his inspection. So this day she called me in a frantic tone and said that her gun wasn’t working right, and she couldn’t qualify with it.  I asked her what was wrong with it and she couldn’t tell me exactly, just that she couldn’t qualify with it.  I told her that I would be right there.

 

6906Pic#4

Bobbed hammer, ambidextrous safeties.

I went to the range that her department was using and started looking at her gun.  She set me up a target and I fired a magazine through it at the seven (7) yard line and fired a small group.  Then she tells me that the problem was really at farther distances.  I had her move the target back to the 25 yard line and that’s when I had to actually look through the sights and found the problem.  The front sight was bent quite a bit to the left.  It was just enough that it changed the point of aim, but not enough to be easily noticeable by just looking at it.  She explained that she had dropped it several months ago on a set of concrete steps, but she didn’t think anything about it. Now that I told you about this so I can explain how the purchase of the Smith and Wesson 6906 happened.

She said she wanted a new pistol that was lighter and fired a 9mm bullet.  We went to Shooters Corner in Texas City and there happened to be a stainless steel 9mm in the display case.  She picked it up and commented on how light it was.  The 6906 has an alloy frame and a stainless steel slide.  It has a double action/single action trigger, meaning that the first round is fired like a double action revolver and the follow up shots are fired like her Colt Commander.  A deal was struck and the damaged Colt was traded for the new Smith and Wesson 6906. Now the Boss was happy, but that meant that we had to buy her a new duty holster to fit the new pistol and we decided on a Safariland SS-III high security holster.  She was always worried that in a tussle a suspect might gain access to her weapon.  We bought this holster and a new double magazine holder.  I changed everything out and off to the gun range we went so she could shoot it.  The new holster has three locks on it and she had to practice with it for several days before she could draw her pistol in a period of time that I didn’t have to measure with a sun dial.  I think she made about three hundred practice draws before the new holster got broke in and she could get her pistol out fast enough that I felt comfortable enough for her to go out on the streets with it on her hip.

6906Pic#7

Rounded, white dot, fixed rear sight.

 

The Boss really liked the 6906 because it was light and the 9mm recoil was nothing compared to the .45 she had been shooting.  She commented that we should have started off with this pistol instead of the Colt Commander.  Anyway she was a great shot with the pistol and found it easy to transition from the first double action trigger pull to the single action follow up shots. With a fully loaded magazine she had twelve rounds plus one up the spout giving her thirteen 9mm +P rounds from the holster and two magazines loaded with twelve rounds each for a total ammo count 37 rounds.  She went off to shoot her annual qualification course and she shot in the high nineties on a hundred point scoring system. The Boss carried the Smith and Wesson 6906 for the rest of her law enforcement career without any problems.  When she transferred to the warrant division of another agency and wore plain clothes, the small light weight 6906 worked well for her there too.

 

After she decided to leave law enforcement the 6906 came to me and I had a use for it.  Because it was lightweight and stainless steel, I carried it for a backup gun when I was in uniform.  My bullet resistant (NOT Bullet proof) vest had a pocket in the front, and the 6906 fit perfectly in this pocket.  Mind you we were not allowed to carry back up guns at that time, so I had to hide it from my supervisors.  The flat profile never poked through the pocket, and my supervisors never knew about it till …… I was attacked by a suspect that ran up behind me while I was out on a disturbance call, and walloped me on the head with a four foot long barstool leg.  He was at a dead run when he did this, so all I could describe was a very fast youthful black male which is not much of a description.  My fellow officers had him identified and arrested by the next day, and he plea bargained for 27 years in prison.

6906Pic#1

Flat sighting plane, and fixed white dot front sight.

 

After I was hit on the head, naturally I was bleeding like a stuck pig (No Pun Intended), I left the disturbance and drove myself to the emergency room.  My Captain came to check on me just about the time I was taking my uniform shirt and vest off.  This is when it I got caught.  The Captain moved my vest and the 6906 fell out of its pocket and clattered onto a steel cabinet top.  The Captain got angry and told me that I should have warned him that there was a gun in the vest.  The pistol was on safety and nothing happened, he was just scared because he didn’t expect to find a gun unsecured.  Anyway nothing else was said about it and I was happy because I could have been written up for a rules and regulation violation and gotten a suspension.  It ended well I guess, except that walloping I got manifested itself into a disabling injury that caused me to retire early from the profession that I so dearly enjoyed doing.

 

The S&W Model 6906 is a semi-automatic pistol, chambered for the 9mm cartridge. It is a model in Smith and Wesson’s well-regarded 59-series, envisioned as pistols that could be easily concealed, but possessed sufficient firepower to serve as service weapons as well. It has a traditional double-action weapon with a 3.5-inch barrel, equipped with a slide-mounted safety/decocker. The magazine capacity is 12 rounds, however it is also able to accept the 59 series magazines holding 15 rounds. It has a stippled, squared off trigger guard and a smooth combat trigger.  The fixed rear sight has a white outline and rounded edges and it is quite easy to pick up the white dot front sight.  The one piece grip is removable by punching out one pin that runs through the frame.  The 6906 was introduced when Smith and Wesson introduced its “third-generation” series of semiautomatics.  It has an alloy frame with a stainless steel finish.  The slide is stainless steel. It was the same pistol as the Model 6946, which was similar to the 6906 but operated in double action only mode. Although the 69-series of pistol is no longer produced, the polymer-framed Smith & Wesson M&P compact possesses similar dimensions, and the same barrel length and magazine capacity (in 9mm).

 

6906Pic#2

Smooth combat trigger and stippled front trigger guard

In its retirement from active duty this Smith and Wesson 6906 9mm that served the Boss and I so well has been delegated to be her nightstand gun to deal with things that go bump in the night.  Each year she fires all of the loaded magazine rounds and they are replenished with fresh ammo.  Technically I guess it’s still on duty doing what it’s supposed to do.  Thanks Smith and Wesson for making a quality pistol that has protected the Boss and I for so many years. I hope you enjoyed this article and always remember to practice your shooting skills often, get a legal carry permit and above all – always be legal in thought and deed.  Till next time be safe out there and remember to support the NRA to protect your gun rights.

 

Juniors Boy

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