Sunday, September 27, 2020

Guns: S&W Model 15 review - The Riot Revolver

Guns and ammunition are getting awfully hard to come by these days, but you might be able to find a used revolver like this S&W Model 15-7 on a store shelf. I picked mine up from a local gun store clearance table years ago for $250, including a leather duty holster, two HKS speedloaders, and a speedloader belt pouch. I thought it was a screaming deal back then, and recent events have only reinforced that belief.

It might seem silly to pack only six rounds of .38 in this era of mob violence, but this Smith still has a few advantages over a modern semiautomatic. The manual of arms is easy, so even your friend-who-went-shooting-with-you-a-couple-times can use it, should you need to loan it out. .38 Special is common enough to be sold in Walmart, but just uncommon enough that there might be a box or two left when all the 9mm is gone. Finally, while there are some people who get the willies from seeing any gun, using an old beater revolver to defend yourself is a lot less likely to get you on national news, as we saw in St. Louis and Kenosha.

The disadvantages of using an old double-action revolver for self-defense? Well, even at +P pressure, .38 Special ranks near the bottom of acceptable defensive rounds, and the gun only holds six of them. Another problem is the heavy trigger - though it's great from a safety standpoint, it increases the risk you will yank or jerk the sights off target. Finally, there's no way to attach a light, so if you ever have to defend yourself, you'll be lining up a black rear sight with a black front sight on what will likely be some dingy street at night.

I thought the S&W Model 15 acquitted itself well at the range - while the outside is scratched to hell from spending too much time in some prison guard's holster, the internals were well-cared for, which showed in the groups. 

At 15 yards, with the right ammo, the S&W 15-7 is plenty accurate:

Don't get me wrong. I'm no Luddite, and I fully appreciate the effectiveness of the ARs and GLOCKs of the world. There's a reason cops don't use revolvers anymore. But when those cops aren't around and your street is getting firebombed, an old dog like the S&W 15-7 can still bite.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Tech: Borderlands 3 review

I never got into the previous Borderlands titles, but due to pandemic cabin fever, my friend and I have been playing a lot of Borderlands 3 and its DLC. It seems time for a review since we completed the latest DLC, "Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck," a week ago:

If you've never played a Borderlands game, it's a co-op looter shooter that plays a lot like a first-person Diablo. Instead of swords and shields, you're using guns and grenades, but you're still picking up color-coded loot - a lot of color-coded loot.

While the basic gunplay mechanics are the same for all characters, there are four different character classes each with unique skills and abilities. We much preferred the robotic "beastmaster" FL4K and the "operative" Zane for the wacky ways they can manipulate the battlefield: FL4k has a teleporting pet minion to wreak havoc on enemy back lines, and Zane sets up nigh-impenetrable force fields and deadly decoys.

In such a long game (40 hours per playthrough, including the DLC), there's going to be a lot of variation in the quality of the content. The base game and two of the DLCs, Moxxi's Heist of The Handsome Jackpot and Bounty of Blood were decent fun, while the Guns, Love, and Tentacles DLC was a surprisingly poignant Lovecraftian look at the fears that come before a wedding. The only dog of the bunch was Psycho Krieg, which we found to be uninteresting both in terms of gameplay mechanics and story.


85/100 (base game)
85/100 (DLC 1 - Moxxi's Heist of The Handsome Jackpot)
90/100 (DLC 2 - Guns, Love, and Tentacles)
85/100 (DLC 3 - Bounty of Blood)
80/100 (DLC 4 - Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Miscellany: 2015 Lexus ES350 review - The Granny Car

Mom's going to be a grandma soon, so it's fitting that her current vehicle is a Lexus ES350, a midsize sedan that's commonly associated with...well...grannies:

The ES350's sedate reputation is largely based on its driving dynamics, which are focused on luxury rather than sport. It starts with the engine - the car has the same 3.5L V6 found in Camrys and Avalons since 2006. Paired with a 6-speed auto, the engine is reliable, smooth, and runs on non-premium gas, but it isn't particularly powerful. The available 268 horsepower is peppy enough for most purposes, but I sometimes had trouble merging into traffic or passing trucks on the highway.

The ES350's handling is also so-so. I'd never expect a big front engine, front wheel-drive sedan to carve like my 328i, but the ES350's cornering borders on boaty and floaty, with pronounced understeer. The car also takes much longer to stop than I'm used to; once it picks up speed, you have to brake early if you want to avoid jerking to a halt. On the plus side, the ride is comfy, controlled, and perfect for cruising.

The Lexus interior is well-built and practical, for the most part. I didn't like the wood portions of the steering wheel, which get hot to the touch in Florida summers, but the leather on everything else works great. Even a midlevel trim ES350 like my Mom's had heated and ventilated seats, blindspot detection, parking assist, and a backup camera - all of which you have to pay big bucks for in 2015-era sedans from the Germans.

Overall practicality is good, as there's plenty of leg and shoulder room for even the rear passengers, and the car is festooned with cupholders and storage areas for everyone. The back seat does not fold down, but the large trunk makes it mostly a nonissue. While this is not a vehicle I'd buy, my family and I drove to Atlanta and back during quarantine with it, and we weren't at each other's throats despite spending 20 hours in the car. Perhaps Grandma really does know best.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Miscellany: COVID-19 EDC


Disposable face mask - Even if you don't think the masks do anything, obscuring your identity couldn't be a bad thing in these strange times.

Comptac Single Magazine Pouch Belt Clip with spare 10-round G26 magazine - Still the best spare mag pouch I've ever used.

CASIO G-Shock GA-1000-8A watch

ShivWorks Clinch Pick

GLOCK 26 in PHLster Skeleton appendix holster, loaded with Federal 124 gr. HST ammo

Slimfold wallet

POM pepper spray

Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA

iPhone 5s