Guns, Firearms, Projectile Weapon Sports/9mm Jimenez

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Question
Mr. Gun guy,
I just bought a BRAND NEW Jimenez 9mm pistol at a gun and knife show for $150.00. (model JA-9)
My budget is tight and I wanted something to go with my buddies when they target shoot but plan to utilize for home protection.
Now that I have brought a gun into our home my wife seems to be ok with the idea. She even has me enrolled in a class to carry concealed.
I want you to see I am not "trigger happy". I am responsible and care about safety.
That brings me to my question... what is your opinion on thiss particular weapon. I am starting to hear my dads voice say" you get what you pay for" HA-HA. Any info and advice on this particular gun would ease my mind.
Now that I have got the gun I think my wife would be more open to me buying another in the $400.00 range in the next year or so. She wants to learn to shoot now as well.
thanks a bunch.......Chris


Answer
Chris,

Unfortunately, I've some bad news. Jimenez Arms was formed from the wreckage of Bryco Arms, which declared bankruptcy after a court awarded damages to someone injured by one of their defective handguns. The LA Times reported on Feb. 4, 2005, that the California Department of Justice ordered Jimenez Arms (which is based in Costa Mesa) to stop manufacturing the JA-9 pistol on Jan. 13 of this year. (The story can be found at: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/orange/la-me-bryco4feb04,1,5596038.story?coll=...)

With firearms, the old adage "You get what you pay for" is truer than in many other situations. You're not alone, the very first pistol I ever bought was a $50 Jennings/Bryco J-22 that quickly shot itself apart. It's still in pieces in my gun safe waiting for the next gun buy-back program in Detroit.

As for your JA-9, I wouldn't shoot it. The article mentioned "parts coming off" the guns during testing. Considering that 9mm semi-automatic pistols harness the 360 or so foot-pounds of energy the 9mm cartridge generates upon firing to operate the weapon, that's a considerable amount of force being applied to a firearm of suspect workmanship. The last thing you'd want is for the slide to break free of the frame while firing (since when you're aiming, your face is behind the slide and that's where it's heading). At any rate, I'd find the dealer who sold you the pistol and give him a good chewing out as he should have known about the DOJ order to Jimenez Arms in January.

As for what to do with it, I'd feel bad about selling it to someone else, so, I'd wait for a police gun buy-back program or just hang on to it. Believe it or not, a lot of people collect "Saturday Night Specials," inexpensive firearms of dubious quality, particularly the older, original ones made early in the last century. As far as gun collecting goes, getting into collecting Saturday night specials is among the least expensive genres, for obvious reasons.

It's excellent that you're interested in shooting and personal and home protection, and I respect that you're on a tight budget, I am as well. Fortunately, there are a few firms that produce quality guns at a reasonable price.

Bersa, an Argentina-based firm, produces a pistol they call the "Thunder," in .380 ACP and .45 Auto. The .380 version can be had for about $275 new and the .45 goes for about $465. They are solid little guns.

The old Ceska Zbrojovka company in the Czech Republic has been producing their CZ line of pistols for decades and they are of very high quality given their relative price. CZs are distinctive in that their slide fits completely inside the frame, as opposed to attaching to the outside of it; thus giving the pistols a very streamlined look. New CZ 75-series pistols start at about $490, though used ones are common and can be had for quite a fair price.

The EAA Witness is a clone of the CZ 75 and a well-built one at that. They can be had with either steel or polymer frames starting at about $450 in a variety of calibers and finishes.

Taurus has really turned their game around, in terms of firearm quality, over the last decade. Their Beretta-clone PT-99 series are of decent quality and backed by a no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee.

Smith & Wesson arms tend to be a bit on the pricy side, but their Enhanced Sigma Series of pistols are among the least expensive at about $379 to start with. They're based on the Glock design (so much so, Glock sued S&W) and feature a polymer frame and a Glock-like internal striker mechanism. Also like Glocks, they don't have an external manual safety.

As you said your budget is a bit tight, you may want to consider looking at a revolver. There are tons of old police-issued Smith & Wesson model 10s on the market that are still in decent shape that can be had for $250 or so.

I personally prefer revolvers for home/personal defense over a semi-automatic as revolvers are more mechanically reliable and don't jam. Also, if you want to get your wife into shooting, revolvers are the way to go. Many women find the motion of the slide upon firing distracting and many women lack the hand/forearm strength to operate the slide of an automatic pistol. Finally, it's easy to determine if a revolver is loaded, as the cartridge rims can be seen resting on the cylinder.

Well, hopefully I've answered your questions and I'm terribly sorry about your JA-9. If you've any other questions, feel free to ask.

Kyle

Don't shy away from used guns. Firearms are the ultimate durable good. As long as they've been treated reasonably well, they last forever.  

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Kyle Lohmeier

Expertise

I can answer all manner of questions pertaining to the practical aspects of the lawful concealed carrying of handguns (size, caliber, revolver vs. auto, holsters, first dates with non-members of the gun culture, etc.). I am familiar with all popular makes and models of handguns and have fired a wide variety of them myself.

Experience

I've worked in firearms retail for a year-and-a-half, have held a Michigan Concealed Pistols License for six years now and can explain the hassles involved with obtaining or reapplying for one. I have been involved in shooting sports of one sort or another for the last 16 years. I am a member of the National Rifle Association and an NRA-certified instructor in the disciplines of Basic Pistol and Personal Protection. I am a full-time staff writer for a weekly newspaper serving a portion of southeast Michigan which has a total circulation of more than 66,000 copies. My work has also appeared in American Handgunner Magazine. In 2000 I earned a BA in communications from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

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