Monday, July 25, 2011

Product Review – UpLULA™

I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Weeks from Brownells at the NRA Convention in Pittsburgh last spring. I was standing around, listening While Grownups Were Talking (and trying to learn something) when he looked at me and asked me how I loaded my magazines. My first thought was “Is this a trick question? Is this some sort of secret gunnie inside joke? Should the answer be ‘one round at a time’? ACK! What do I say??”

I believe my answer instead was “Um, slowly”.

I guess that was the right answer, because he said he had something to help with that, and to expect a package in a few weeks. Well, a few weeks passed, and what showed up from the Brown Truck of Happiness but a cardboard box with my name on it from Brownells. (And seriously – if the job they did packing that box is indicative of the care their shipping department takes, I’m seriously impressed. The packing tape was even folded with hospital corners.  Serious attention to detail, here.)

I opened the box to find something called an UpLULA™ . The small print said “Universal pistol mag. loader & unloader”. There was one sized for 9mm to .45ACP and the other was a BabyUpLULA for .22LR to .380ACP. Tonight the R. family put them to the test -- a middle-aged n00b mom, a dad with a broken hand, and a five-year-old girl. Hint: Dad had the hardest time as you really need two hands for these, but he managed handily (hardy-har-har) even with one hand in a splint.

You position the UpLULA™ over the feed lips of the magazine with the magazine resting on a table, or something, squeeze the two sides the UpLULA™ together, push down, slide in the round, and release the sides of the UpLULA™ so that the follower pushes it back up. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sweet Daughter loaded my XD mag (9mm double-stack) with 8 of the 16 rounds before she needed help, but those springs are still pretty tight. She then loaded 10 rounds of 8mm PA stage prop ammo into its magazine (it’s the only small caliber gun in the house), needing help only with directions: Squeeze, push down, load round, release.  Shorter Half had no problems other than manipulating the rounds with his gimpy hand.

And the unloading feature? None of the three of us had any problem other than keeping track of where the rounds ended up, because it unloads FAST.

They seem to run somewhere around $25 - $30, and I sure wish I’d had one when I first got my pistol. Just the thought of loading those new magazines and pinching my thumb was enough to keep me from the range. With an UpLULA™ it wouldn’t have been an issue.

The three of us would recommend these if any of the following apply:
  • New magazines with tight springs (far superior to the loader than came with my pistol)
  • You have weak, damaged, arthritic, and/or digit-deficient hands.
  • You like gadgets.
  • You must have everything that is tacti-cool. Hey, it’s black, plastic and steel.
  • You really like your manicure.
  • You have to load lots of magazines in a hurry because the Zombies are headed your way.
  • You’re 5 years old and really want to help defeat the Zombies but you’re not old enough to shoot unsupervised yet.
  • You don’t want a callous on your loading/unloading thumb.
  • You’re a n00b and need graphics to tell you which way the round goes in.
If thought of loading another party pack of ammo into magazine makes you twitch, you may want to spend that money on one of these instead.

*Obligatory FTC Disclaimer. Yes. Brownells sent these to me for free so I’d review them. There’s precious little I’m qualified to review as far and gun stuff goes, and these are one of those items. I like them. If I thought they sucked out loud, I’d say so. But they don’t. Go tell the BATFEIEIO to go buy a bunch.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Holster Review - Dragon Leatherworks

I had been watching other bloggers brag about their holsters from Dragon Leatherworks last year and I was insanely jealous. Then Dennis contacted me to talk about making one for me. I didn’t take him up on it because I couldn’t think of anything other than the shoulder rig that I was currently using that would work with my rather odd proportions and my Springfield XD-9. I’m six feet tall, but am extremely short-waisted. My limbs are ridiculously long. My inseam is half my height. My elbows rest on my hip bones. I only have one carry pistol, so it’s not like I can choose to carry something smaller if I want to carry on a waistband. 

Here. Look at this picture of me and Weer’d. Granted, I’m in high heels, but look where his waistline is. Now look at mine.

I had the opportunity to meet Dennis at the NRA convention in Pittsburgh this past spring, and he had an idea. He’d make a holster for another short-waisted woman and thought it would work for me. A few weeks later, this showed up in my mailbox.

He custom-dyed it to match my belt and shoulder rig. At my request, he kept it very low key. The workmanship was beautiful. The retention was perfect. I could hold the holster upside down without my pistol falling out, yet the draw was smooth.

And I couldn’t find a single place on my belt where I could wear it. 9:00 position? Not a chance in hell. It rubbed on my less-than-subtle hipbone. The 10:30 position was the most comfortable, but the top of the holster leaned out, and the top of it came up past the bottom of my bra.

Dennis had refused payment until I had received it and was happy with the way it worked. I reluctantly sent it back this week. He is now on a mission to find something that will work and is already plotting planning his next design.
I can unreservedly recommend Dragon Leatherworks for both the high quality of workmanship Dennis produces and his oustanding customer service. As he told me "... my job as a holster maker is to deliver what the customer wants."

(Hey, FTC? Did you read where I SENT IT BACK? I received nothing in exchange for my comments. Really. I can show you the receipt from the post office when I returned it.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Well, I wasn’t expecting that.

Sweet Daughter was the C.O.W. at Y-camp today. (That’s Camper of the Week. I was confused at first when I picked her up today and she started exclaiming “I’m the COW! I’m the COW!”) So, to celebrate, we decided to pick up a pizza and go to the park for a pizza picnic and some play time. I decided to OC.

There were some kids running around (with no close adult supervision that I could see) while we ate. When we were done, the other kids seemed to evaporate, and I pushed SD on the swings for a bit. When we migrated over to the slides and climbing stuff, the other kids materialized again. SD was sliding down the fireman’s pole, and I was standing under her slowing her descent when a little urchin of about 4 ½ quite earnestly told me he wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers. I told him that was a good idea, and did he realize I was a stranger? He then told me if he was caught talking to a stranger, he’d be beat with a belt. He then asked if I’d help him down the pole. I politely declined, explaining that I was a stranger, and maybe his momma wouldn’t approve.

Then … the question I wasn’t prepared for. Because while I am not comfortable talking to strange adults, I sure as heck don’t like talking to Other People’s Kids. Especially ones traveling in packs and reenacting The Lord of the Flies. Even if they’re only about 4 ½ years old.

“Is that a gun?”


“A REAL gun?”


“Are you a cop?”


“I can tell you’re not a cop, because you’re not wearing a cop suit.”

“That’s right.”

“So why do you have a gun?”

“To keep her, and the rest of you safe from bad guys.”

I could tell he was thinking that over. And then the 8-year-girl saw the magazines.

“What are those?”


“Magazines?” (I could tell she was only familiar with the kind you buy in the checkout line.)



“Are you a cop?”

(Sigh.) “No.”

“A Marine?”

“No.” (But that was kind of cool. When I was her age, women couldn’t be Marines. At least not with guns.)

“Can I see it?”

“Absolutely not. It doesn’t come out of the holster unless I need to use it.”

“Why do you have it?”

And SW piped up with a grin: “To keep me safe!!”

Amazingly, nobody ran screaming back to an adult. Even me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lost in the translation

Apparently my OC post got linked to. A lot. (Thanks, everybody!) Including a LiveJournal in Russia that at last count has 71 comments or links, or something. I’m not sure how the translation went from my blog to that one, but I ran the Russian post through Google Translate and got the following, which cracked me up.  (I can only wonder what they think of the living history, knitting and shoe posts ...)

Sketches from life ...
July 14th, 16:51

A woman with two children, 4 and 6 years. Bear arms openly (I would not say that it is reasonable, but it is her choice). And then, somehow taking the child from the children's camp she hopped into the store. And there is seller-consultant squinted squinted at her and finally asked:
- You do not cop an hour?
- No.
- FBI?
- No.
- Neshto CIA?
- No.
- Yes, I asked what is there just something you have ... - Tyknuv finger at the two stores on the side.
- They came bundled with it. - Turned the other side.
- E. .. and why are you wearing?
Thrusting his finger in the child of:
- That she was safe.
The second dealer, hmyknuv:
- I'd probably steal your car poosteregsya ...
- Well, it's also part of the purpose of ...
There are already number 1 seller of thought, and gave:
- Probably should go on courses ...

And the comments? Here’s a smattering. It even appears to my untrained eye that Markley's Law might have made an appearance at the end.

2011-07-14 01:02 pm
Hoplofoby, come, fall in piles around with heart attacks - the children and guns, just a dream.

2011-07-14 02:45 pm

I'm more surprised by the reaction of the seller - even in the U.S. is not all obvious utility of weapons.

2011-07-14 02:55 pm

Duc girl? When they are generally interested in the weapons??
And since learned - was filled with ... Common sense, then there.

2011-07-14 05:42 pm
Baba fool! Not because of silly, but because a woman!
Weapons, as well as to wear covert dick and show only when absolutely necessary.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More thoughts on OC

The irony when being an OC "ambassador" is that I don't like talking to strangers. I was talking to SH about the perfect OC ambassador being someone who doesn't look like a cop, or look military, or look like your typical high-speed, low drag, uber tactical mall ninja, and I realized I had to shut up or start OCing myself. I won't wear a branded t-shirt when I carry. And I won't wear a ball cap or even wear my hair in a pony-tail as it gives off a cop-vibe, for some reason. The only tactical black thing I wear is mascara and, if I'm working, high heels. OCing puts me way out of my comfort zone, but not because of the gun for some reason. It’s because when I OC I have to be open and friendly to strangers and that really makes this introvert feel rather awkward.

Monday, July 11, 2011

OC Update

I’ve been OCing a bit more lately. Mostly, if I’m out with my pistol, I’m open carrying unless the venue is so air conditioned I want a jacket. And then I don’t worry about concealment.
I’ve OC’d at CVS a half dozen times, now. That seemed was odd at first, but it’s not a problem now. I’ve OC’d in Kohl’s  and Target a handful of times, and I added Old Navy to the list this weekend. I REALLY wish we had a Trader Joe’s or Whole Paycheck Foods less than an hour away so I could have that experience.
I had left work early one day a week or so ago and was grubbing around at home before picking Sweet Daughter up from camp at the YMCA. I had thrown on my shoulder rig and was heading out the door before I remembered the whole OC Ambassador mindset. I went back and changed out of the oversized shirt with stuff all over the front into a plain red fitted t-shirt. When I got to the pick-up spot, one of the counselors looked at me and said, “Are you a cop?”


Smiling, “No.”
“I was wondering because I saw those.” (Pointing to the two magazines on my right side.)

“They go with this”, I said, turning and showing her the holstered pistol. She looked a little surprised.
“So what do you do?”

II gave her a general idea.
“So why do you carry that?”

(Pointing at SD) “To keep her safe.”
Counselor #2 chimes in with “Yeah. I wouldn’t want to carjack your car.”

I said “That’s pretty much the point.”
I saw the light bulb go off over the head of Counselor #1. And she said she’d like to learn how to shoot. I told her I’d be happy to help point her in the right direction and the next time Michael W. came to visit we could maybe set something up.  

That’s a conversation that never would have happened if I’d been carrying concealed.  We’re winning -- one at a time.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Not like other moms

Sweet Daughter asked me the other day which Disney Princess was my favorite. I’m not thrilled with the idea of “princess” as something to be when one grows up, but I picked Belle, because at least she reads. SD’s favorite? Cinderella.

I said “Cinderella is a perfect example of why you need to finish school and go to college.”

SD: Puzzled look

Me: “If she had a good education she could have a decent paying job, or at least one where she didn’t have to live in the attic and get up before everyone else and be ordered around all day.”

SD: Looking at me like I’ve lost my mind.

Me, continuing: “She’s a grown-up. Why doesn’t she just leave? See? This is why we have guns. So if a bad guy tells us to do something we don’t want to do, we have choices.

SD: Sighs. “Mamma. I think she chose to stay.”

And this is why other moms probably won’t let her come to our house to play.