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Thursday, March 31, 2016

S&W Bodyguard 380 - Slim, small, rugged and reliable.

While I love my H&K VP9 it is impossible to carry it concealed. Having a LTC concealed carry permit I decided I needed to find something smaller and more portable. After doing some research I settled on the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380. I visited my favorite firearms dealer (Four Seasons) to get my hands on it and a few of the other options before my final decision. The reviews, feel and versatility of this gun were great but the quality build sold me. Before I share my thoughts on it I want to remind those reading of the importance of firearm safety.

I strongly recommend that anyone that may handle a firearm take the appropriate course in firearms safety for their area/state. Firearms are not toys and their ownership, use, & possession should be taken seriously. Below are just a few of the most important things to remember when using a firearm.

1. Always Keep The Muzzle Pointed In A Safe Direction
2. Firearms Should Be Unloaded When Not Actually In Use
3. Don't Rely On Your Gun's "Safety"
4. Be Sure Of Your Target And What's Beyond It
5. Use Correct Ammunition
6. If Your Gun Fails To Fire When The Trigger Is Pulled, Handle With Care!
7. Always Wear Eye And Ear Protection When Shooting
8. Be Sure The Barrel Is Clear Of Obstructions Before Shooting
9. Don't Alter Or Modify Your Gun, And Have Guns Serviced Regularly
10. Learn The Mechanical And Handling Characteristics Of The Firearm You Are Using

With that safety reminder out of the way lets talk about my first impressions of the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380. Bought with the purpose of being a conceal carry weapon its small size fits perfectly in my pocket and or IWB with out any indication of its presence.  It has an overall length of 5.25" and a barrel length of 2.75".   It's width is really what impressed me at only .842" or slightly less then the circumference of a nickel.

The Bodyguard 380 weighs in at feather light 11.85 ounces unloaded. This is about 2/3 lbs. making you forget it is even in your pocket or IWB holster. Loaded 6+1 the weight increases by 1.52 ounces bringing the max total loaded weight to 13.37ounces. That is only .84lbs. or about the same as can of Coca-cola.

The Bodyguard 380 is chambered for a .380 ACP ammo and comes standard with two 6 round magazines. Being a 6+1 round firearm means you can have 1 cartridge in the chamber and 6 more in the magazine. The two magazines are different; one with a finger groove and another with a flat butt. Having a round in the chamber always makes me nervous but the firearm come standard with a thumb safety for transport and carrying but I never trust a safety. (It locks both trigger and slide). Instead get a case that covers the trigger for carry. I also appreciate the witness hole which allows you the ability to verify the presence of a cartridge in the chamber.


The frame is high strength polymer and the matte black corrosion resistant coated stainless steel barrel and slide are well made. Both the front and rear sights are drift adjustable for windage and dove tailed into the slide. They can also be replaced should you feel the need for something like a tritium xs night sight.

Laser or no laser? The bodyguard 380 can be bought with either a green, red or no laser. I opted to choose no laser since the range of he gun is for close proximity and in a life or death circumstance I don't want to waste time with a laser. I've also read that there had been some quality issues with the lasers.

The Bodyguard 380 is a double action only (DAO) pistol versus a traditional DA/SA pistol. This requires that the trigger pull to both cock and trip the hammer/striker for each and every shot. This means that the hammer will always rest in the down position until the trigger is pulled again. It also means there is no way to cock the gun before shooting. The purpose of a DAO pistol is to avoid the change in trigger pull between the first and subsequent shots. It does have a fairly heavy trigger pull at 6.5lbs but being a pocket gun you don't want the trigger too light. (You can get a trigger kit if you want to lighten the pull)

This firearm also has second strike capabilities meaning you can pull the trigger a second time to strike the primer again. This is less important today with the improved and more reliable ammo but if faced with a situation where racking the slide isn't an option its a nice to have.  Although I do want to comment that using the second strike capabilities on a misfire should only be done in dire circumstances. Instead I recommend a TRB (Tap, Rack, Bang).

Yesterday I took it to the range for the first time and used CCI Blazer Ammunition. I selected .380 Auto 95GR FMJ. This is perfect practice ammo since its about $.36/round. or $18 for a box of 50. I appreciate that the slide locks back on the last round of the magazine like bigger firearms. I let a friend of mine try it out as well and he had a little trouble with his larger hands. As the slide kicked back it clipped his hand a little.

This isn't a range gun. This is a personal protection professional duty pocket carry pistol with a limited range and should be treated as such. It has a very solid and quality feel that you would expect from Smith and Wesson. It's slim, small, rugged and reliable. I appreciated the feel of the grip combined with the finger grove magazine better then the flat butt magazine. It's important to keep in mind if anyone knew they would be in a gun fight they might choose something different. It certainly isn't a tack driving, knock down power pistol but for the comfort of concealability that a pocket firearm like this allows its a no brainer. After all the #1 requirement for a gun fight is having a gun.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Plant Nite @ Nu Café

Having done a couple Paint Nite's I thought we would try something a little different. Plant Nite is run by the same company as Paint Night and is a similar class style event where instead of painting a picture you build a unique terrarium of your own using supplied materials. Its a unique idea that we thought would be a fun evening activity.

We signed up for an event at our favorite coffee shop in town called Nu Café. They often have their Paint Nite classes on Monday's but this week the place morphed into a coffee shop garden with about 30 or so participants.  The three of us found a nice quiet table to make our home for the evening.

During check-in I asked if I could swap out the terrarium they provided with the pill shaped one that I had found ad really liked. The instructor told me I could make both if I liked and that she really liked the shape of the one I had found and wanted to know where so she could get some for a future class. Sadly I got it as a one off at Home Goods and it didn't give any indication of where it had come from.

As class began our instructor introduced herself at April Salter and her assistant for the night would be Jamie. She had us recite some simple instructions to have fun, not judge ourselves or the others around us and to drink and be merry.

On the table in large buckets was gravel and soil which would become the foundation for our garden. Each of us started by scooping 3-4 solo cups full of gravel into the base of our empty terrariums. She explained that we want to have the gravel sloped higher in the back and shallow near the opening.

Next we added soil evenly across the surface of the gravel creating about 1" of soil leaving a glass lip to catch anything from falling out. Once the soil and gravel was properly sloped and distributed April and Jamie came around with platters of small plants and advised us all to take 1 cluster of 3 plants. The two clusters I selected had donkey tail, jade tree, grey stonecrop, and mini aloe vera.

Once we were happy with out plans she instructed us to dig small holes about 1" in diameter and roughly that deep for each of the succulents we need to pot. Then we removed each succulent from its brown pot and shook off the majority of the soil it came with exposing the roots. We then carefully planted each succulent giving them sufficient space to grow in time.

It took me a little longer to get the donkey tail planted since the roots were very fine and the plant relatively tall. they just kind of flopped down which I didn't like.  Once everything was planted April and Jamie came around with tubs of colored rocks to cover the soil with and help keep the newly planted succulents in place. I went with a standard white rock so the green of the plants to add the color. I then placed some of the colored moss around the taller plants to keep them stable and upright.

They also came around with big golden nuggets which I placed inside the terrarium near the opening to add a buffer to prevent any soil from falling out. As class wrapped up we took a few pictures with our finished products and April and she handed out care cards to help us keep our new succulents alive. It was a fun experience and perhaps something I'll do again. Unlike the Paint Nite classes where the finished product would never get hung up in my house the terrariums are proudly placed in my window.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Pasta Night at Tri County Vocational High School

Having had so much fun taking the Chocolate Truffle class as a substitute for Audrey I signed up for the pasta class. We managed between all of us signing up to be about half of the students enrolled.  When the day came I was eager to make ravioli since its one of my favorite Italian dishes.

When we arrived at the Tri County Vocational High School kitchen called Gerry's Place I immediately recognized the instructor as one of my favorite Chef's at Sur La Table. Betsy Proom and her uber helpful side kick Lynn greeted me with smiles and a hug. I knew we would have fun with them as our instructors.
 
After a quick introduction and an apology to the other students for our enthusiasm of seeing each other again the class began. Betsy started off describing, demoing and instructing us how to make pasta dough using flour and eggs. She explained the importance of using a scale to measure the flour since it wasn't volume but weight that was important. The perfect portions for 4 people are 4 large egg's for every 12 oz flour and 1 tbsp of oil and 1tbsp of kosher salt

What you want to do it create a bowl using the flour to contain the eggs. Then slowly combine the egg and flour until completely combined. Then this new pasta dough must rest. Wrap it in plastic wrap and wait roughly 30 - 60 minutes before using. She also explained at this point that the dough could be frozen and used again later.

Once fully rested you want to press firmly on it with the palm of your hand to flatten it out. Then you can begin feeding it into a pasta machine on the widest setting. After the first pass fold it into threes and feed it back through the rollers at their widest setting again. Repeat a third time. Then lower the setting by one and feed the dough through. With each pass you lower the setting until the pasta is translucent. Solid but you can start to see your fingers through it.

With sheets now created you can use this to make ravioli or run it through the pasta machine to create spaghetti, fettuccini, or other flat pastas'. If you want to make ravioli you would lay the sheet out flat and put a quarter size dollop of filling ever 1.5" along one side of the pasta sheet. Then using water draw boxes around those dollops then fold over the sheet. As you do this remove as much of the air as possible before sealing the ravioli's then use a cutter to cut them out individually. Then dust with flour until ready to cook.

We made a Wild Mushroom Ravioli. To make the filling finely chop up 1lb of wild mushrooms. Mince 1/4 cup of onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Then in a large skillet heat 2tbs of olive oil and butter over medium heat. Once melted add the chopped mushrooms and onions with 1 1/2 teaspoons of Herb de Provence and cook for about 6 minutes until soft and caramelized.

Remove from heat and put mushroom mixture into a large bowl. While hot add 1 oz goat cheese, 2/3 cup of ricotta and 1/4 cup parmesan and mix until combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

The sauce is just as easy. Using 4tbs of butter, 2 tbsp of flour, 1/3 cup white wine, 1/3 cup of chicken stock and 2 tbsp. of cream. In a skillet heat butter and olive oil over medium/high heat. Once slightly brown add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Making a rue. Then add wine, stock and cream and whisk until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

We also made two more dishes; Three Cheese Cappelletti with a Parsley-Walnut Pesto and a a Spinach Fettuccine with Creamy Artichokes and Chicken Sausage.