Ballistics by the inch

Reflections upon a reflex sight.

I recently came across a really good sale on a Trijicon RMR reflex sight, and decided to take the plunge and add it to my Glock 21. I had handled and shot some other competition handguns with a reflex set-up, but I hadn’t yet tried one on a more-or-less stock gun intended for routine use, and wasn’t sure how well it would work or how I would like it.

My G21 had been set up to handle the .460 Rowland cartridge, complete with compensator, so it wasn’t exactly stock. You can see it here:

Converted G21 on left, G30S on right.

As I have previously noted, I have now changed over to using the .45 Super cartridge rather than the .460 Rowland because the .45 Super offers most of the benefits of the .460 Rowland without some of the disadvantages. But I have kept the conversion kit in place because it gives me more flexibility in ammo selection and more control of the gun. And since I don’t carry the G21, the extra mass/length of the compensator doesn’t make a difference in day-to-day use. Thinking along those lines, I figured that adding a reflex sight to the G21 wouldn’t cause a problem, and might make it an even better home defense firearm.

So along with the RMR I got an adapter plate which just slides into position where the rear sight of the Glock mounts. Mounting the optic just took a few minutes and no special tools other than a light hammer and brass punch. Here’s the result:

And this morning I had a chance to take it out to the range for testing, to see what I thought of it.

I like it. A lot.

It took a little getting used to, since I have about 50 years of shooting experience which has conditioned me to always look for the front sight on a gun, and place that on the target. The RMR sticks up too much for that to work well, and if you can see the front sight through the RMR you probably won’t see the red dot. Rather, you have to tilt the front of the gun down for the red dot to appear. This actually puts the gun back to the normal position you shoot it in, but you’re just looking above the front sight — parallel to the slide, as it were.

The RMR I got was the one with the 6.5 MOA dot, which I figured would be easier and quicker to get on target even if I wasn’t wearing my glasses, and would give me adequate accuracy at any distance I was likely to use the gun (say 25 yards or less). At 10 yards distance at the range, the dot appeared to be about half-an-inch across, perhaps a bit more. For my purposes this was more than accurate enough to knock down steel plates consistently. As I get more used to the RMR, moving out to 25 yards should give similar results.

Now that I’ve tried it on this gun, I can understand why others have decided to have a mount for the RMR milled into the slide of their gun. That would bring down the location of the dot and make everything more consistent with previous shooting experience. It would also make the gun more compact and more suitable for either duty or concealed carry. I doubt that I will go to the trouble or expense to have this done on the G21, but it is something I would consider for the G30S shown above, particularly if the next generation of reflex sights are even more compact and suitable for a handgun. It’s something to think about, anyway.


Jim Downey


September 27, 2017 Posted by | .45 ACP, .45 Super, .450 SMC, .460 Rowland | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reprise: When is it Time to Take Away the Keys to the Gun Cabinet? — Alzheimer’s and Gun Ownership

Prompted by my friends over at the Liberal Gun Club, this is another in an occasional series of revisiting some of my old articles which had been published elsewhere over the years, perhaps lightly edited or updated with my current thoughts on the topic discussed. This is an article I wrote for, and it originally ran 7/29/2011. Some additional observations at the end.


I’m not an expert on geriatrics. Nor do I have any formal training in psychology, therapy, or law. But I did just publish a book about being a care-provider for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, so I guess that gives me at least a little cred to address a very difficult subject: age-related mental decline and guns.

This is a hard topic to talk about. We all want to respect our elders, to acknowledge that they have more experience, perhaps more wisdom than we do. There’s a good chance that this issue concerns an aging parent, someone who perhaps even taught you how to safely handle a firearm. Or maybe it’s an aunt/uncle. Or even a spouse. Someone you care for. Someone you don’t want to see hurt.

Here’s a passage from the introduction to a chapter in my book discussing this:

Adults, almost by definition, are responsible for their own decisions and choices. And when you’re dealing with someone who you respect – someone you love – who had a long history of being a responsible adult, there is a natural reluctance to take that responsibility away. Even when it is clear that they are no longer capable of responsibility. Or even rational decisions.

There’s a whole range of ways this plays out. There are myriad legal and ethical considerations. Should the Alzheimer’s patient still be in charge of their own finances? Should she still be driving? Is she capable of signing legal documents?

Those are the big ones, but it’s the small ones which are harder. Harder on you, and on the patient. You don’t want to take away anything prematurely. Like decisions about what to wear. Or what to eat. Or what to read. Or even when to go to the bathroom. Each of those steps seems to be a diminishing, a loss of adulthood, even a loss of dignity.

This problem is most commonly seen in the “when do we take the car keys away?” question, which usually comes up well before someone has traveled very far along the road to dementia. And many states have mechanisms in place to address it – by requiring people over a given age to take driving tests, or putting the onus on doctors to report when a patient should no longer be driving. But to the best of my knowledge, there is no mechanism in place in any state that addresses the question of aging as it relates to gun ownership. So this is left up to the friends and families.

As I think it should be, ideally. The problem is that too often those friends and family members are unwilling to have that hard conversation. Going back to the matter of driving, I have known people who would refuse to allow their own children or spouse to ride with an elderly person who was still driving, and yet were still not willing to discuss the matter with said elderly person. Yeah, they were willing to risk the life of the elderly person in question, as well as strangers on the road, when they knew full well that the person should not still be driving. All because they were unwilling to have an uncomfortable conversation and perhaps intervene.

So, when should you have that very difficult discussion?

Preferably, before it becomes an issue. Well before. If it is someone you respect, then it is someone you should be able to talk with about this in a non-confrontational way, well in advance of any problem. Ask them if they have thought about it – the chances are, it has crossed their mind. Put it in terms of “Have you thought about this? How are you going to handle it?” Because that shows that they are the ones still in control, and that you respect their decision. See what they have to say.

What if things are already past that point? Well, then it depends. If they are not very far along the road, then you may still be able to talk with them about the matter (many different kinds of age-related dementia manifest sporadically, with periods when the person is more lucid than others). Try it, see what you think. With luck, you can gain their cooperation in making a decision. If that goes well, then there’s no problem.

If it doesn’t go well? Then you have some very hard choices to make. First, are you in a position where you can act legally (that is, do you have Power of Attorney?) or can work with whoever is legally responsible for the well-being of this person? If so, then you have to decide whether the person is safe with access to firearms or not. If so, chances are you can just make plans for them for the future when/if their mental condition deteriorates.

If they’re not safe having guns around? Then you have to do something about that. “Lose” the keys to the safe/trigger locks. “Clean” the guns and remove the firing pin. Persuade them that the time has come for them to pass their guns on to others who will cherish them. Something. If they are no longer capable of being responsible, then you have to be responsible for them.

And if you are not in a position to act legally? Then talk with the person who is. Tell them your concerns. Offer to help them, particularly if the responsible party is someone who doesn’t understand firearms. They may not know what to do and will welcome your help. It’s heartbreaking to hear of someone turning an heirloom or collector’s piece over to a police “gun buy-back” program, where it’ll just be destroyed.

Lastly, for all of us who are of a certain age – start thinking now what should be done with your firearms in the event that you start to suffer from mental deterioration due to age or illness. Who can you trust to see things objectively, perhaps come to you with some hard questions? Talk to that person, preferably now. Put something in writing, perhaps in your Will. It’ll save everyone a lot of heartache later.


It’s been six years since that piece was published, and there is very little else I would add to it. I’m glad to see that this topic has gained some attention recently, as it deserves it.

Above all, I’d say be sensitive. But also be willing to have that difficult conversation before tragedy strikes.


Jim Downey

PS: the first of each month I make Her Final Year available for free download from Amazon. Please feel free to share that with anyone who may benefit from it.

September 17, 2017 Posted by | Discussion. | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment