Mel Tappan, thou art (sort of, grudgingly) vindicated.

So I was getting dressed yesterday, and again this morning which is why this post came to mind, and normally that doesn’t involve any anguish over which handgun to put on.

Taurus Tracker .44 Magnum, my EDC gun since last November, replacing the old nasty 431 I carried for a few years before that. It’s quite accurate, reliable when deliberately fired, and gives me a lot of flexibility in what ordnance to send downrange. From dog to bear, as long as it doesn’t shoot back I’m covered.

On the rare occasions when I have to go to the big town about 50 miles away, I don’t carry the Tracker. That’s mostly for reasons of concealability but also because (in the vanishingly unlikely event of needing to shoot the gun) my target probably will be shooting back. At least he’ll have the capacity to do so, or why am I shooting at him, right?

And that’s when the moldy old 1911 comes out of the dresser drawer.

On any normal day the chances that I’ll want to shoot something are really pretty good. The odds of it being able to shoot back are virtually zero. But lately the days haven’t been quite normal. In recent days a dog pack came marauding into our neighborhood and it got, well, slaughtered. I like dogs, but in wild country they can go feral and then they become a danger and need to be put down. The fault for that lies with their owner(s), not with the shooters, but it’s funny how seldom the owners see it that way.

I don’t know these people at all. They live outside my stomping grounds and I’ve actively avoided meeting them because their reputation is unpleasant – in one case bizarrely so. So far the shooting of the dogs hasn’t raised any controversy that I know of, but if it does there may be some saber rattling. Things could escalate from there. I’m not technically involved but the beginning of WWI comes to mind: I do have treaty obligations with one of the likely combatants.

The point, after that long-winded intro, is that the possibility of looking into the wrong end of a gun today has moved to non-zero. Hence the question, “What shall I wear?”

And as I resolved that question in favor of the 1911, I had a chuckle at myself at the thought of Mel Tappan. I’ve talked about him before.

For several decades now I’ve had two issues with Mel Tappan. First and most important, he was one of my heroes when I was young and he turned out to be a fraud. Yeah, that’s pretty hard to forgive.

The second issue arises from the first: His principle motive was to drive business to Guns & Ammo advertisers, so he pushed a “basic survival battery” that – as I often joked – would have broken the axles of an F-350 and backed up the workload of every premium gun customizer ever featured in Guns & Ammo well into the next century. On the matter of single-purpose versus all-around firearm, Tappan came down hard on the side of single-purpose. In his fantasy world, it was real important to think ahead. God forbid you find yourself in a gunfight while you’re only carrying a hunting rifle, ’cause you’re gonna die.

In practice I come down on the opposite extreme: I’m the guy who shows up for dog hunts with an AK-47, to the amusement of my neighbors. But there definitely is something to be said for tailoring gun choices to the worst thing you anticipate happening today – which is why the Taurus is staying home and the 1911 is coming with me on my rounds, and yeah, okay…
Because more is better.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to Mel Tappan, thou art (sort of, grudgingly) vindicated.

  1. guffaw1952 says:

    I remember Mel, and his fraud.
    Nice to have a toolbox of veritable gun choices from which to choose, however…


  2. MJR says:

    Tappan was not the only fraud who wrote about firearms in the various magazines, the list is a long one. Like you I fell for their “you must have these guns in your battery” lists and threw away a lot of money on acquiring them. I had several of the “must have” handguns (.45ACP 1911, 9MM P226, .357 S&W M19, .22 Buckmark), though I legally couldn’t carry them and to use them to protect myself at home was a ticket to the slammer. There were a couple of “high powered” AR’s (I still don’t understand the love affair with these mouse guns) with high capacity magazines until they became restricted/prohibited (yes I live in Canada). A lot of cash I could use today, gone. Guns sold at below face value because there was no market for things to stop a zombie apocalypse. That’s the thing about these guys, they aren’t so much gun experts as car salesmen.

    Now most of the “must have” guns and all the high capacity mags are gone. The battery has been paired down to a reasonable size of things I can use legally and what I have fits the situation I’m in.

  3. Who...Me? says:

    I have never actually seen a moldy 1911. Do they make a special cleaner for that?

  4. Joel says:

    Alas, no. Once they go moldy nothing can be done. Send them to me for proper disposal in a low-humidity environment.

  5. Kentucky says:

    Beat me to it . . .


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