Utrecht, Netherlands — Part 1

Utrecht, Netherlands

I‘m going to try something a bit different over the next four weeks. I’m going to let my photos of Utrecht carry the burden while keep text to a minimum. I’m doing this for the following reasons:

  1. There’s not much needed to describe this charming destination. The sights are centered around the canals, which is near where we stayed, and the photos speak for themselves.
  2. As I write this, I’m pressed to pre-post a bunch of articles before we head to our next adventure, this time in the South Pacific.
  3. Y’all are probably sick of reading my writings anyway. I’m giving you a break!

But don’t fret. I will give you at least some information.

As you may recall, Ursula and I began this journey in late April of last year, starting with a flight to Fort Lauderdale followed by a transatlantic crossing aboard Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas. I began the series on this journey on 1 August 2022 with Transatlantic 2022 — Vision of the Seas to La Palma, Canary Islands. That transatlantic was followed by a back-to-back aboard Vision to uncommon destinations in Spain and France. After that we took a side journey to Germany and a visit to Limburg, which I finished up a couple of weeks ago. Next stop is the destination you see today, Utrecht, Netherlands, to which we arrived on 26 May 2022.

Our stay in Utrecht would last two nights because we had yet another ship to catch in nearby Amsterdam. This would be another in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, this time Jewel of the Seas, on which we would do three back-to-backs to various destinations. That series will begin after this four-week look at Utrecht.

Utrecht, Netherlands

So, if we have a ship to catch in Amsterdam, why are we in Utrecht? Well, Ursula and I wanted to try something different for a change, and Amsterdam is a short train hop away. Besides, we would hit Amsterdam four times — before the first cruise, between cruises one and two, between cruises two and three, and after disembarking for the flight home. But… I’ll tell you right now that given the choice between Utrecht and Amsterdam, I may never again set foot in the latter. I definitely will go to great lengths to avoid flying again out of Schipol. We were so disappointed in this once great city that I interrupted a series I was doing on the Caribbean and posted a special article on that disgusting visit and flight out the very next day upon returning to the U.S. See: Trashy Amsterdam and the Hellhole of Schipol

Utrecht, Netherlands

As charming as Amsterdam once was, Utrecht definitely makes up for what Amsterdam has become:

Utrecht, Netherlands

The buildings in Utrecht sport nice adornments:

Utrecht, Netherlands

The water tower converted into apartments was a nice encounter:

Lauwerhof Water Tower from 1895; now an apartment building

And, yes, Utrecht has that ubiquitous European fixture, the Gothic church. This one is called St. Martin’s Cathedral and Domkerk (Dom Church). Domkerk began life as a Catholic cathedral, but in 1580 the Utrecht city counsel transferred the church to the Calvinists. It’s been in Protestant hands ever since.

St. Martin’s Cathedral/Domkerk

See you Wednesday for the next Utrecht installment.

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End of the Road for the Best Striker-Fired Polymer Pistol Ever Devised

Walther’s superlative, innovative P99 AS and P99c AS

The Walther P99 AS died in 2021. Or was it 2022? Many sources site the former year, but I’ve recently seen one P99 AS with a CC date code, which translates to 2022. Or did the P99 AS die this year? In February, while Ursula and I were on our most recent travels, Walther announced the “Final Edition” of what is, in my view, the best striker-fired polymer-framed pistol ever devised. And that’s a real shame, but not unexpected. Walther has been one of the most innovative manufactures of firearms over the past century. Alas, incompetent marketing has always been Walther’s undoing. The P99 AS was no exception to this propensity to make great weapons, and then fail to follow up on actually selling the darned things. The double-action/single-action semiautomatic? Walther invented that entire genre with its PP in 1929, then let the design gather dust until it was too late to salvage it with the far superior PP Super that came out 43 years later. The dropping block locking system? Walther pioneered that concept in the P38, but when you think of the dropping block today it’s the Beretta 92 that comes to mind. A double-action/single-action striker-fired pistol? Others claim to make such a beast, but the P99 possesses the only true DA/SA system with two different trigger pulls… or is it three?

A Walther P99 AS (Anti-Stress trigger) made in 2017 (BH date code)

The AS (Anti-Stress) trigger developed for the P99 has a double-action mode that rates at 8.8 pounds/4 kilograms and a .55-inch/ 14mm trigger pull length, and a single-action mode measuring exactly half that amount — 4.4 pounds/2 kilograms — and a much shorter .31-inch/8mm trigger pull length. Channeling Ron Popeil, “But wait! There’s more!” There is in fact a third trigger mode, the Anti-Stress mode. That mode mates the single-action’s 4.4-pound trigger with the double-action’s longer .55-inch pull length. The intent of this design was to give police departments and military personnel a margin of safety in stressful situations should they opt to carry the P99 AS with a cocked striker.

Walther P99 AS trigger position for anti-stress or double-action modes
Walther P99 AS trigger in single-action position

A careful pull of the P99 AS will reset the trigger from anti-stress to single-action, although I don’t recommend staging the trigger unless you’re on target and ready to fire. You definitely don’t want to carry a P99 AS in that configuration. That’s just asking for trouble.

When you first chamber a round, the P99 AS defaults to the anti-stress trigger. So, how do you switch that to the even safer double-action? You depress the decock button atop the slide and within reach of your thumb if you’re a righthanded shooter.

P99 AS decocker for placing the trigger into double-action mode

There’s even a nifty indicator on the P99 AS that tells you if the striker is cocked. It’s at the back of the pistol, and it looks like this:

P99 AS indicating a cocked striker (either single-action or anti-stress modes)
P99 AS — if you don’t see red, the striker is decocked and the weapon in double-action

An added benefit to the striker indicator is that as you are pulling the trigger in double-action, the indicator emerges to give you a visual indication that the sear is about to trip.

Walther P99 AS with an aftermarket threaded barrel

But what if you need to place an accurate shot at a distant target? There’s no hammer to thumb back, as you would on a traditional DA/SA pistol or revolver. So how do you transition the P99 AS from double-action to anti-stress without racking the slide and ejecting the round already chambered? It’s actually quite simple. You merely snick back the slide about a quarter of an inch. The striker cocks, the indicator protrudes from the rear, and the trigger remains at the double-action pull length. This is quite simply the most versatile and, in my opinion, the safest striker-fired system ever devised. I mean, other than a manual thumb safety, what’s safer than a stiff, long double-action first pull? Answer: Nothing! Even better is that the P99 came in a smaller 10+1 capacity compact version, predating the SIG P365’s 10-shot double-stack wonder by two full decades. Behold the P99c AS, in which the “c” stands for compact:

Walther P99c AS — my choice for concealed carry for a decade

That marvel weighs 20.8 ounces/590 grams (with an empty magazine). Other measurements are:

  • Lenth: 6.6 inches/168mm
  • Height: 4.3 inches/110mm (with flush-mount magazine)
  • Width: 1.26 inches/32mm
  • Barrel: 3.5 inches/89mm
  • Capacity: 10+1 (9mm)/8+2 (10mm); will accept the full-size 15-round (12-rounds in 10mm) P99 magazine with a sleeve

Compare that to the more recent SIG P365:

  • Weight: 17.8 ounces/504 grams
  • Lenth: 5.8 inches/147mm
  • Height: 4.3 inches/110mm
  • Width: 1.0 inch/25mm
  • Barrel: 3.1 inches/79mm
  • Capacity: 10+1 (9mm); 12 and 15-round magazines available

Twenty-six years may separate these two weapons, but not much else does. I say twenty-six, but that’s based upon when the P99 hit the market in 1997. Development actually began about four years earlier.

SIG P365 SAS over a Walther P99c AS

When the P99 first arrived on the scene there was no “AS” in the name. It only came with the AS trigger, so that would’ve been redundant. But here’s where Walther falls down on marketing. Not content with the marvelous and innovative Anti-Stress trigger, Walther began copying inferior striker-fired offerings from less innovative companies. There was the P99DOA (Double-Action Only) and the P99QA (Quick Action trigger with emulated the partially loaded striker of, shudder, the Glock). But why? The Walther P99 AS trigger was already at the apex of striker-fired weapons, and additional trigger configurations only managed to confuse the market and any potential customers. If some police department wants to buy a cheap Glock with an inferior trigger, one does not dumb down one’s superior product going after that market. You instead shoot (pun intended) for those departments that recognize quality, innovation, and safety, and are willing to pay a bit more for it.

Walther P99c AS dated 2014

And then things got even more confusing. Smith and Wesson entered the picture with the SW99 and SW99c (2000-2004) with frames made by Walther and most of barrels and slides made by Smith and Wesson. Smith and Wesson then proceeded to further add to the confusion by coming out with the SW99O (Double-Action only with no decocker), SW99 QA (Quick Action trigger comparable to the, shudder, Glock), and the SW99L (basically a rebranded SW99 QA minus the decocker). The only thing good to come out of the SW99/Walther collaboration was that a version of the P99 in .45 ACP became available, the SW99 .45:

Smith and Wesson SW99 .45 ACP with 9+1 capacity

At least Walther’s next collaboration led to an actual improvement, but unfortunately that didn’t last long because Magnum Research followed Walther’s lead and botched their marketing as well. Behold a beautiful long-slide variant of the P99 AS with a 4.5-inch/116mm barrel, the elegant and refined MR9 Eagle:

Long-slide version of the MR9 variant; frame by Walther, slide and barrel by Magnum Research
Magnum Research MR9 and its progenitor
Full-size P99 AS vs Magnum Research MR9 long slide

And if that Magnum Research version of the P99 was too big for you, the MR9 also came in the original 4-inch configuration. The MR9 was produced between 2011 and 2015. By the way, if you take a closer look at the MR9 and SW99 you’ll note that the ambidextrous magazine release levers are much shorter than the P99 pistols shown in this article. These are the magazine release levers that adorned the original Generation 1 P99. Also carried over from the Generation 1 is the “ski hump” inside the SW99 trigger guard.

Smith and Wesson SW99 alongside the Magnum Research MR9
SW99 and MR9

But enough about the collaborations. Let’s look at what comes with the typical full-size P99 AS right out of the case. As you can see below, Walther was yet again well ahead of the competition with modular backstraps to adjust the grip, front sights of various heights to adjust the point of aim, and an Allen wrench to install those sights:

Walther P99 AS and included accessories

There is one Walther P99 collaboration with Poland I’ve not yet covered. That would be Fabryka Broni Radom‘s double-action only P99 RAD. Yep. Another addition to the P99 confusion, and another example of why Walther is terrible at marketing.

And then there’s the unlicensed P99 AS clone from Canik of Türkiye (see also: Canik USA, importer Century Arms). It’s a remarkably close copy, right down to the decock button, striker indicator, and the operation of the three trigger modes, but the trigger on the Canik TP9DA is not nearly as refined as that on the P99. When I picked up a TP9DA and tried the trigger several years ago I gave the pistol a hard pass despite the much lower price. After Walther’s Final Edition runs out, however, the Canik may be your last shot (pun intended) at a new pistol with an Anti-Stress trigger. And, yes, Canik also cloned other P99/SW99 configurations as well: the TP9SA (single-action only with decocker) and TP9SF (single-action without the decocker).

Anyway, let’s peruse this P99 AS Family Portrait:

Walther P99 AS Family Portrait, including cousins from S&W and MR

One last look, this time at the Final Edition P99 AS currently being offered by Walther in a hideous OD Green:

The End of the Road for the Best Ever Made

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Avoiding Dangerous Advice from Self-Proclaimed Firearms “Experts” on Facebook (or elsewhere on the web)

Trio of .45s, clockwise from top — FNH FNX-45, Taurus PT24/7 Pro DS, S&W SW99

I only recently returned from a month abroad. During that time, I had an interesting thing happen to me; I was banned from a Facebook group devoted to a specific prestige line of firearms marketed by a higher end manufacturer. It all started when an owner asked about lubricating a specific point on his firearm. A group moderator deleted my response. My offense? Giving advice consistent with the owner’s manual. The offense that resulted in my banishment? Going offline and advising Mr. Moderator, because I didn’t want to publicly embarrass the individual, that he was substituting good advice for bad that was contrary to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Colt SAA Clones — USFA Rodeo (top) and AWA Peacekeeper

Yep. I got banned for advising someone to follow the directions. True story. I told the new gun owner that some areas require grease, and others a high-end oil-based product, preferably a CLP (Clean, Lubricate, Protect). Are you in as much disbelief as I was? Let’s go to the Facebook Messenger Instant Replay for a play-by-play of what transpired.

Various iterations of the Colt 1911A1 and 1991A1 Government Model

Upon notification that my response was pulled, I went offline and sent Mr. Moderator the following message:

It is, of course, your right to remove my post. But to say it promoted bad usage or service is contradicted by [the manufacturer’s] owner’s manual. Under section 7.3 the list for maintaining the [model of weapon] includes CLP and TW-25B.

Mr. Moderator’s response:

Yeah. Recommendations that are clearly sponsored. After TW-25b stopped the sponsorship, it started being “use Lucas”.

That’s how money works.

Be smarter than falling for that.

A pair of Beretta 92FS pistols

Hmmm… I thought to myself, that’s an odd response. The moderator’s disagreement with me related to the use of oils rather than grease. His contention was that oil should never be used, and that the only acceptable lubricant for any firearm in any area is grease. Now, anyone versed in gun safety knows that is terrible advice, especially when given to Joe Novice, without some warnings on one specific application. More on that in a moment. Meanwhile, I responded:

We were discussing oil-based lubes. [Manufacturer] recommends CLP without mentioning a specific brand, so your dig about TW-25B isn’t even relevant to the discussion.

If you want to recommend going against the manufacturer’s recommendation, then so be it. But you might want to address in your treatise why they’re wrong and you’re right before someone else decides to check their owner’s manual and finds that passage. Take that for what it’s worth.

And if you want to ban me from the forum for recommending people follow the manufacturer’s recommendation, then so be. I was merely trying to answer the question posed without letting my personal biases enter into the discussion. I didn’t realize doing so was going to set you off to the point where my post would be pulled as “bad” information even though it clearly is not.

My apologies.

Things started heading south quickly when Mr. Moderator replied:

I’m not going to bother reading all of your reply for one reason; unless you can show me you have more engineering background and long-term materials and lubricant testing than I’ve done, your opinion is, with all due respect, utterly worthless.

Come back to me after you’ve got 25+ years doing what I do. Until then, I’ll keep editing out the bad advice given in the [manufacture] group.

From the top: Uberti El Patrón Competition, Ruger “Old Model” and “New Model” Super Single Sixes

Okay, I thought, it’s time to play the safety card that initially had me concerned. This “engineering expert” was going to destroy Joe Novice’s firearm, and potentially take out Joe as well. I sent the following response:

Except my “advice” isn’t going to potentially destroy some novice’s handgun and possibly injure him when he blindly accepts your advice, puts too much grease down the barrel of his gun, gums up the rifling, and dangerously over-pressures the firearm when firing it.

Good luck with that, and good day to you.

I had hoped that this warning might prompt Mr. Moderator to amend the lengthy diatribe he posted on oil (always bad) vs. grease (always good) after he deleted my answer. No such luck. Instead, Mr. Moderator doubled down on stupid with:

There you go. Stand behind that BS rather than appreciate experience and knowledge. Exactly what’s wrong with overly proud egos these days.

Rare pre-war (1938) Smith and Wesson K-22 “Outdoorsman”

At this point I admittedly got feisty. In my view there certainly was an ego involved, and a massive one at that, but since I had taken this discussion offline to keep from embarrassing Mr. Moderator, that ego wasn’t mine. I decided to shove his rudeness right back down his throat as I shot back with:

I’m not going to bother reading any more of your replies for one reason:

Your ego is so huge that you believe you know more than engineers at Beretta, Colt, FNH, Inland, Magnum Research, SIG Sauer, Smith and Wesson, Uberti, and Walther.

This was Mr. Moderator’s final response, as immediately afterward I was banned from the group and blocked from messaging him:

You don’t get it which I can only believe is a deliberate refusal of even wondering about how these things work. That’s worse than being dumb. That’s choosing to be ignorant.

All the best, Doug.

Inland Manufacturing M1 Carbine

You will notice one consistent theme throughout Mr. Moderator’s messages. In no instance was he able to rise to the challenge and even attempt to explain how his area of expertise overrides the expert firearm engineers in the nine companies I listed… and I could have listed far more without breaking a sweat. You may also note that not once did he address my concern that his advice might cause a novice gun owner to unknowingly exceed the pressure limits of his firearm’s chamber and barrel. I can only assume, as I no longer have access to that group, that Mr. Moderator failed to go back and amend his treatise with an admonition that any grease placed inside the barrel must be applied is a very thin layer and not allowed to clog the rifling.

1943 W+F Bern K31 “Straight-Pull” Army Surplus Rifle

This a direct copy-and-paste from the owner’s manual of the pistol in question:


  1. Soak a patch with CLP and push it through the bore from the chamber end and out past the
  2. Allow the CLP to soak for a while to loosen residue and soften carbon deposits.
  3. Wipe the exterior of the barrel with a cloth soaked in CLP.
  4. Repeat step #1.
  5. Use the bore brush and a cleaning rod to scrub heavy deposits from the bore.
  6. Repeat step #1.
  7. Push dry patches through the bore until they come out clean.
  8. Lightly oil bore and chamber if the pistol is to be stored for a period of time.
  9. Always remove any lubricant from the bore prior to firing the pistol.

And if you don’t see any reference to grease in the barrel, here’s why according to the owner’s manual for the Beretta 92FS:


WARNING: Excess oil and grease obstructing the bore, even
partially, is very dangerous when firing and may cause barrel
rupture and serious injury to the shooter and bystanders. Never
spray or apply oil to the cartridges. Use lubricants properly. You
are responsible for the proper care and maintenance of your

BARREL (Fig. 31)

  • Spray the supplied brush with a good grade gun oil. Insert the
    brush into the barrel from the chamber and scrub the chamber
    and bore thoroughly. If necessary, first clean the bore with a gun
  • Dry the chamber and bore by pushing a cotton patch through
    the chamber and bore with the brush. Change the patch until it
    emerges clean.
Beretta 3032 Tomcats on parade

In other words, don’t use grease in the barrel of a firearm. Well, I mean, you can use it, but you’d darn well better know what you’re doing and get any residual grease out of the rifling grooves. And that is no easy task, so don’t use it! Now, Joe Novice will look at Mr. Moderator’s advice and vaguely recall that he’s been told to lubricate all metal surfaces on any firearm. Listening to Mr. Moderator, Joe dabs thick grease on a patch and rams it down the barrel of his new Beretta 92FS (or whatever his first firearm purchase may be). He then runs another patch through to remove some of that thick grease, but that patch will not pick up the grease riding in the rifling grooves. Joe Novice then takes his new Beretta 92 down to the local gun range, loads it up with 9mm 147-grain +P and, after the first shot and god-awful noise, notices that his prized gun is in pieces and that he’s missing a finger. Or two. Or three. Or a whole hand. That’s if he’s lucky and his head or chest didn’t get hit with flying shrapnel.

When that happens, Mr. “Moderator Expert” is going to have some serious explaining to do.

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