Getting a license is fairly straight-forward in my country. The exams are also easy nowadays, so long as you read up on the process, do some dry or live fire practice, and aren’t completely blind, nor an idiot. The police officers taking care of the matters are amongst the friendliest.
To me, gun ownership is about ego, being attracted to their looks, satisfaction of my curiosity, protection from animals, and the very last place is occupied by SHTF scenarios. Self defence against other humans is almost guaranteed to put you under arrest or worse, and the streets are generally safe around here.
This article mostly goes through a bunch of stuff that I wish someone had told me before.
My first pistol, chosen for my familiarity with the CZ 75 B that is used at firarms pass exams, for its looks, and out of some sense of national pride. Initially I had a great deal of trouble pushing out the locking pin when field stripping it, though I’ve eventually figured out how to do it rather effortlessly using a pencil, or a lighter. Lesson learnt: brand new guns can be very difficult to disassemble. I also have issues with the strong recoil spring.
Out of curiosity, as well as to make use of the VAT exemption that lasted until July 2021, I bought a Chinese TLR-8 knock-off for the P-01. My review went as follows:
The laser is ridiculously hard to adjust, X and Y are somehow linked. I stopped being able to put it high while not having it aim all the way to the left but somehow managed to have it kind of accurate at a few metres distance. Not particularly water-tight. Fits P-01 sort of nicely when you remove the adapter, even though that’s a compact pistol.
I can’t imagine any real world situation where this would be useful to a civilian, except to scare off burglars. It sucks for concealed carry because it’s large, you need to manually turn it on, you lose the nice space for your index finger in front of the trigger guard, and finally the laser sits way too low, hence it’s inaccurate by design, and mostly a curiosity.
I’ve had some success with an UpLULA knock-off (it has since disappeared from AliExpress). While it is a bit tricky to use—partly due to being a loose fit—and it will damage the curved plastic bottom of CZ 75 P-01 double-stack magazines if you try to use it for the first round (I’ve managed to sandpaper the groove away), your thumb will thank you. I’ve also tried several 3D-printed designs I could find on the Internet, mostly resembling the Glock speed loader, and all of them have failed me completely.
The ETS loader seems like it might employ the right kind of mechanism, it’s just a bit too large.
I might want to try designing my own model, though this is guaranteed to cost me a huge amount of time. And hand loading isn’t that bad, anyway.
Originally I wanted the 14" barrel version, but what I found on the local market eventually instead was a 16.5" version. Which, as I’ve learnt, is extremely unwieldy at that length. But it looks cool!
My rifle is chambered in .223 Remington (it might actually match 5.56 NATO specifications as well—not that it matters). This has the nice property that there’s very little kickback, unlike with 7.62 rifles. It’s the weight that eventually gets tiring.
When I bought the rifle, I was offered a 4M sling to go with it. Only later did I figure out how utterly shitty it is. First, the metal spring hooks: they’re hard to put on or off, and they’ll happily leave marks on their mounts (I tried to fix this with heat shrink tubes, but they add a rather thick layer and don’t hold well anyway). Following that, look at all the buckles and other random shit in there. It’s so fucking long and rigid that it’s all but impossible to go quickly from carrying the rifle to aiming, as you need to get that fucking thing out of your face.
So I went shopping for something that doesn’t suck. The various circular holes turned out to be so-called QD sockets (the frontmost one is different, though). A cheap MS4 knock-off, which has also disappeared from AliExpress, was the solution.
Somewhat annoyingly, the clasp to convert it to a 1-point sling is fairly light grey, making it stand out, but that’s just a nitpick. The more important issue was that the front QD socket is just a hole, and the metal QD swivel would, as with the clasps before, scrape a circle around it. I’ve managed to fix this by making an appropriately sized ring out of a random piece of plastic packaging (most likely PET, which can theoretically be 3D printed in a thin layer), and pushing it over the pin.
Later I instead installed a proper QD mount in one of the M-LOK slots in front of that bare hole. Note that the nearby panels are there to hold the barrel in place, and aren’t intended to be used for mounting.
For the other side, I’ve tried to use polyurethane varnish, though that inconveniently glued the little balls to their housing, and it isn’t all that resilient anyway.
I’ve been talked into getting one, so I 3D-printed two, in ‘galaxy black’ PLA průšament, 0.6 mm nozzle at 0.15 mm layer height:
The vertical one exactly fits on the short piece of picatinny rail, and is held together with an M5×30 screw. The ideal screw length is about 31 mm—more than that and it becomes a scratch hazard.
I hope they won’t melt themselves into the gun, but I don’t remember ever getting it too hot to touch. PLA prints accurately, which makes the result nice to look at.
Here, it’s relatively easy to find a good one. My favourite model just had issues with printing the curved ram part in PETG, as thin floating layers like to warp upwards, so I just reused a blocky one from another model that couldn’t load rounds properly. The 1.1 version is better, as the locking tab has shown itself difficult to clean up after printing, and completely unnecessary.
I’ve seen an interesting failure mode here: several rounds loading up vertically on each other in a double-stacked magazine. Imagine emptying a full magazine, reloading it back, and having leftover pieces.
The rifle can be assembled wrong in at least two ways that will cause a problem: if you forget to reinsert the pin into the bolt carrier, the assembly may refuse to come out; and the buffer spring can be inserted in the wrong orientation, requiring something like a flat-head screwdriver to get it out.
The manual doesn’t mention that you’ll want to push the hammer down before reattaching the lower receiver, because it otherwise stands in the way.
Blindly trusting the manufacturer’s cleaning set to come with appropriate patches turned out to be a big mistake. The included rags must actually be cut to about 3×3 cm if you want to use them as cleaning patches, because if you otherwise try to pull them through the barrel by force, you’ll irreversibly dismantle the pressure-fit cable:
Second, thinking that the fancy-looking Breakthrough Clean Techologies' Vision Series Rifle Cleaning Kit for .223 (what a mouthful) would necessarily be any better was also dumb:
The rods are just painted stainless steel, so you’ll fuck up your rifling.
The set only has a nylon brush rather than a brass one, so you can’t clean up your barrel all that well. If one is to trust even serious shooters, this might not be a real problem, but it remains a disappointment.
The amount of included solvent and patches is laughable.
At least both of these sets seem to use the 8/32" UNC thread, so they can complement each other to some extent.
In the end, I bought the .22/30" version of Bore Stix, and if I manage to scratch it, I’ll try Tipton DeLuxe—I’m a bit apprehensive of breaking carbon fibre rods, and it doesn’t come in a particularly suitable length.
I can’t comment on effectivity, but CZUB's own solvent smells kind-of nice, while Ballistol is absolutely pungent, despite claiming food safety. I keep my pistol mildly oiled, and ideally, I wouldn’t want it to smell at all. Perhaps I could use teflon oil in that particular case—some research is due.
At first I bought a pair of 3M Combat Arms earplugs, however they are fairly uncomfortable, and tend to wiggle out of my ears when I dare to talk, hence they haven’t proven themselves useful at all. It might have something to do with the size and shape of the plug itself, like I have experienced with my Samsung in-ear headphones, where switching to a larger size fixed everything. But these come in exactly the size you choose, and if they happen to not fit, you’re just shit out of luck. Then there’s the general downside of all earplugs: they’re racist. While Asians are likely to have dry earwax, I need to clean plugs as well as my ears, both before and after wearing.
The extra features are meh: the attenuation switch is fiddly, and the lanyard transfers rubbing noise straight into your ears.
And so I’ve rejected the idea of earplugs for shooting, and got myself the most basic of 3M Peltor earmuffs—these are fine to use with power tools as well.