Frequently Asked Questions

From time to time there is information that we think will be of interest to owners and prospective owners of our pistols. Sometimes it's answers from the "Questions for Seecamp" board at The Seecamp Forum. Other times, it's replies we've made to inquiries sent to us by email. Always, we hope it's insight that you will find useful and informative.

Simply click on any of the tabs below to get the detailed explanation pertaining to that topic. (Click the tab again to close that explanation).

Why aren't there sights on Seecamp pistols?

If shot placement is so important, why no sights?

An exhaustive NYPD report (NYPD SOP 9) revealed that in 70% of recorded police shootings (the majority under poor lighting conditions) officers did not use sights while 10% of the time officers didn’t remember whether sights were used. In the remaining 20% of the cases, officers recollected using some form of visual aid to line up the target ~ which could be the sights themselves or just the barrel.

The NYPD statistics showed no correlation between an officer’s range scores and his ability to hit a suspect at close range. The mean score for NYPD police officers (1990-2000) for all shootings is fifteen hits per 100 shots fired, which is almost the identical hit ratio seen among Miami officers ~ who in the years 1990-2001 fired some 1300 rounds at suspects while recording fewer than 200 hits. Almost unbelievably, some NYPD figures show 62% of shots fired at a distance of less than six feet were complete misses.

The 1988 US Army training manual for pistols and revolvers [FM 23-35], in apparent recognition of the disconnect between sighted shooting at the range and the ability to score hits in short distance combat, wisely calls for point shoot training at distances of less than fifteen feet. The ability to shoot targets at 25 yards using sights sadly seems to provide little or no advantage in close combat. Nor are there recorded instances where an officer required a reload in close combat. When reloads do occur, there is no immediate threat to the officer’s safety and the perpetrator has usually barricaded himself in a defensive posture. A study by Etten and Petee (l995) showed that neither large capacity magazines nor the ability to reload quickly was a factor in shootings.

Speed reloads at short ranges just don’t happen, and practicing paper punching at long ranges using sights appears to prepare one for short range conflict to the same degree it prepares one for using flying insect spray. (Hitting an annoying yellow jacket buzzing a picnic table without spraying the guests or the food might be better practice for combat than long range paper punching. So might a plain old-fashioned water pistol fight.)

In the FWIW department, of 250 NYPD police officers killed in the line of duty in the years 1854-1979 there was only one instance where it could be determined an officer was slain at a distance of over 25 feet ~ by a sniper 125 feet away. Of the 250 fatal encounters, 92% took place under fifteen feet and 96.4% under 25 feet. In the remaining eight instances the distance was unknown.

But how do I qualify at 75 feet without sights?

If you hold the LWS pistol at a 45-degree angle semi-gangsta style there is a groove formed that can be used as a sighting tool. The 25 yard shooting proficiency test for carry qualification required by many issuing authorities is absurd. It's a request to perform a feat that would land you in jail if you ever tried to perform it "in self-defense."It's like passing a driver's test that requires you to slalom between traffic cones at 120 miles an hour. Seventy-five feet shooting proficiency is not too much to ask from a police officer who may be firing at a barricaded target, as the ability to drive at high speeds is not too much to ask from a Trooper pursuing a fleeing vehicle, but it’s ridiculous to ask it of civilians. Shoot an "assailant" at 75 feet. Then try to find a lawyer good enough to keep you out of prison.On the one hand the law demands that you use deadly force only when you are in danger of serious bodily injury or your life is threatened. On the other hand they demand that you have the ability to commit a long-range homicide with a firearm before they give you that right.

Using sights at shorter ranges invites problems

In order to use sights a shooter has to put at least one hand in front of their face. This obstructs the view behind the hand they have placed there. When the focus is on the upper torso of the threatening individual, the lower portion of that person is partially or completely hidden from view by this deliberately chosen visual obstruction. The closer the target, the greater is the degree of visual impairment that may cause the shooter to fail to recognize potentially important information below the sight picture.

Statistics show pistol sights generally go out the window once shooting starts; however, this does not mean sights are not used prior to the commencement of hostilities. We can see on reality TV police programs numerous instances where officers in a Weaver stance point guns at suspects who are in absurdly close proximity to them.

With both hands in front of one’s face, one is less able to recognize whether a possible threat is reaching for a gun or a wallet when the landscape below the target area is blocked from view. One might perceive movement but one cannot see what is being moved. There is no doubt in my mind accidental shootings of unarmed individuals have in many instances been caused by sight shoot training, in which a trained focus on a clear sight picture leaves one necessarily with an incomplete view of the important overall scenario.

The potential hazard of losing perspective of the complete picture of the environment is well illustrated by American Matthew Emmons. He lost what appeared to be a safe Gold medal in the 2004 Olympics by shooting, with great accuracy, holes in his neighbor’s target. Overmuch concentration on the bull’s eye, which can be achieved with sights that exclude distracting but possibly important stimuli, may assist in hitting what one is aiming to hit but it can do so at the great cost of making an improper choice of target.

Suggestions for achieving proficiency

Other than range practice of point shooting at realistic combat distances (under fifteen feet), here’s what you can do to achieve proficiency, making sure you are using an unloaded pistol:

  1. Dry fire the pistol to get acquainted with the trigger pull. Dry firing will not hurt the LWS. Slow deliberate dry firing will help you get acquainted with the pull, but make it a snappy pull once you get the feel because you’ll never use the slow pull to defend yourself. (Please keep in mind ‘unloaded’ guns are probably responsible for most accidental shootings, so never under any circumstances point the pistol at any living thing or something you're not prepared to suffer the consequences of shooting.)
  2. Repeatedly pick up the pistol and point it towards a target without looking at the gun. Holding the gun in that position, bring your eyes down to examine whether the position of the gun lines up with the target. As much as you can, keep your arm straight without allowing it to interfere with your vision. A straight arm makes for more accurate pointing. (The pocket slipper laser aimer is also a good training tool for getting you on target. If a threat arises you should not be thinking of the pistol, which should become an extension of yourself, but on the threat that faces you.)

Most of those who buy pistols for self defense shoot infrequently. At the distance at which handguns are likely to be used for self-defense this doesn’t bother me as much as it perhaps should. Who doesn’t have a shotgun or some other weapon stashed away, seldom or never used, that they wouldn’t hesitate to bring center stage if there was a forced house entry. People who buy pepper spray and Mace don’t normally feel the need to practice a thousand squirts to feel comfortable they can hit an assailant. And, as mentioned, the studies seem to show little practical benefit from long distance range practice. I’d rather go up against a target shooter than an individual who plays occasional paintball.

What kind of materials are used in the manufacture of Seecamp pistols?

As for materials: The cast parts (slide, frame, trigger, hammer, magazine safety and magazine catch) are all made of 415 stainless, which is a special 400 series blend that is also used by other manufacturers like Ruger.All pistols with a serial number higher than 31000 are made of this material.We had previously used 416 for the frame (used to make knives and gun parts) and 17-4PH (used extensively in the aircraft industry) for the slide and small parts.

We have found 415 to be vastly superior to those mentioned for fabricating pistols. Without this material we wouldn’t have been able to build a .32 size .380.

Currently used in the making of our casting is a process called Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP for short).One might think of it as atmospheric forging.The molten material is densified under atmospheric pressure to give it a better grain.

Some folks will tell you slides and frames machined from bar stock have better material characteristics.This is absolutely not true.Bar stock has directional grain, much like a baseball bat.Most of the strength is along one axis.This directional grain makes it possible for karate experts to split boards by applying force along the grain.

Investment or precision castings have omnidirectional strength.You're not likely to see a karate expert splitting plywood.

Folks make slides and frames from bar stock because it facilitates manufacture of some parts and it's usually adequate for its intended use.To get flat surfaces on a casting, excess material has to be provided as slide and frame castings normally take on some distortion in the cooling process.First, the slide and frame have to be straightened, which takes some skill.Then, the excess material is ground to specification to provide a perfectly flat and cosmetically pleasing surface. (We grind about .040 off our frames before they reach the CNC.)

Our frames start out looking like forgings.There are few surfaces that aren't machined or hand worked.

In that vein, there are some manufacturers who receive recognition for the excellent machining of small parts that aren't machined at all but use a process called Metal Injection Molding (MIM). (I'll leave out the company names.The clue to recognizing MIM is from hearing about the frequent breakages a manufacturer has with regard to a particular part.)

MIM produces beautiful parts.The piece starts out larger than it will end up because it's a mix of plastic and metal.The plastic is melted out leaving a metal part that looks terrific but is lacking in some important material properties.(It's akin to sintered metal.)

It has been suggested to us by folks selling the process that we could make some of our small parts like catches and triggers that way, but we refuse to do it.

MIM parts require no work at all.They are delivered perfectly finished and they look great, allowing for complex shapes that would leave one marveling at the intricate and sophisticated machining it took to produce the part ~ if one didn't know the process.

Back to the question: Firing pins and stops are made of 4140.The mainspring cap is case hardened for wear.Stampings are 400 series pieces, stamping stress risers buffed out to make breakage less likely.

Magazines are American made 400 series stainless, made by Killeen Machine ~ the best stamping house and best magazine maker in the country.No one makes a better magazine.

I could go on because I love this subject. But this'll be it for now. (My dad and I used to talk materials and manufacturing processes all the time.)

When can we expect CA/MA compliant LWS 380s, and what takes so long?

Some of our best friends live in Massachusetts including ourselves! We are working to become legal in MA, CA however is another story. With CA laws as they currently are we are not optimistic that we would be able to modify a .380 sufficiently to meet the latest requirements.

The process is not simple or cheap. Five pistols are subjected to drop tests. This is the easy part.

Here comes the scary part. Three of those pistols are fired 600 rounds each. If anyone of those pistols has a failure in the first 20 rounds the entire group is rejected. If any one of those pistols has more than six failures, the entire group is rejected.

The tester will be putting 1800 rounds through pistols that will give his hand a battering after a few hundred rounds.

If he wears a heavy protective glove, the glove can drag on the slide and potentially cause a failure. If the shooter starts to react to the battering his hand is taking, he might change his grip enough to create a failure.

Then there is ammo.

The .32 sailed through on the first submission, as we expect the .380 to do also, but it's a nerve wracking experience. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, and not all have to do with the guns submitted.

Do you offer custom grips for your pistols? Or do you know anyone who does?

A question frequently asked in private emails concerns custom grips. Do we have any? Where can we get some made?

The grips we use are made of nylon reinforced with glass fiber. Good authority has told me this is essentially the same type of composition that goes into making plastic framed guns.

Nylon is just about unbreakable but it is very pliable. One can take a pure nylon comb and twist it every which way without breaking it.

Glass fiber is added to give the grips rigidity.

The result is grips that are very tough and as a result can be made very thin.

When other materials are used, the kind used in custom grip fabrication, the grips have to be made much thicker and then still usually don't have anywhere near the strength of the factory grips.

Wood has grain and is weak along the grain. Having grips made of traditional cosmetically pleasing wood is nice if you don't plan to shoot the LWS pistol. If you do plan to shoot it, about the best you can do without making the gun ultra fat is to choose the grain direction along which you'd prefer the grip to break. The right grip panel is no problem, but the left grip panel helps support the mechanism and that's the panel likely to break.

As for the custom grips made of other materials I've seen, they haven't appealed to me. I broke the left grip panel of one pair of very fat imitation ivory grips here at the shop while putting the grips back on the gun. As is my usual habit, I gave the grip a light tap to seat it tightly against the frame and it split. I'd be facing a labor board hearing if I called any employee what I was calling myself that day.

We've had sample grips made in other colors besides black but none of these appealed to me. The whites got dirty very quickly and looked more like they were spray painted than made of ivory. Ditto on the spray painted look for the other colors.

How frequently do the trigger and recoil springs need to be replaced?

The trigger spring (drawbar spring) should last indefinitely in all caliber models.

The recoil spring only needs replacing in the .380. After a few hundred rounds, spring replacement is recommended. All .380s are test fired with old and battered recoil springs well beyond the recommended change limit.

What comes in the box with a new Seecamp pistol?

  • Instruction manual
  • Warranty Card.
  • An extra recoil spring assembly with the .380.

If a Seecamp is dropped anywhere on the gun and there is a round in the chamber, is there any chance of the gun discharging?

The LWS designs use an inertial firing pin in which the firing pin does not touch the primer when the hammer is fully forward. The firing pin is very light and the rearward pressure of the firing pin spring is substantial relative to the weight of the pin.

I've dropped the pistols on concrete from a height of over ten feet without a discharge.

The "California Edition" was subjected to drop tests required to get the pistols California and Massachusetts legal.

Whether "California" or regular, the system that prevents accidental discharge from drops is the same.

I've never heard of a case where an accidental discharge resulted from one of our guns being dropped.

Is the disassembly/reassembly the same for all three calibers, new and old?

Yes, except that the older Milford .25's have a single recoil spring and a guide rod instead of the dual reverse wound recoil springs. Whereas the new Southwick .25's have no guide rod and the standard double recoil spring.

Will dry-firing my Seecamp do any damage?

The short answer is no. We recommend dry firing as a good way to hone shooting skills.

All Seecamp's have a symmetrically tapered firing pin. There are no sharp cuts that invite crystallization and breakage.

After being shaped on a screw machine the pins are fine ground to remove any stress risers that might have been produced in the turning process. As extra precaution, we lightly buff each pin at strategic sections.

Does keeping a magazine loaded weaken the magazine spring?

More stress is probably placed on a magazine spring by shooting only one full magazine at the range than in keeping the magazine completely loaded for ten or twenty years.

The shock absorbers on a car or truck are not likely to suffer much damage if the vehicle is kept stationary ~ regardless of the load to which the shocks are subjected. Putting the car on a lift when it's parked won't do much to prolong the life of the shock absorbers.

If, however, the vehicle is taken for drives on very bumpy roads, the shocks become stressed and may in time suffer enough damage to warrant their replacement.

Magazine springs, similarly, are insignificantly stressed by keeping the magazine loaded. They are much more stressed when the pistol is fired. Unloading the magazine, rotating magazines, etc., is akin to parking a vehicle on a lift to spare the shock absorbers.

Magazine springs are one length when they are first wound. They take on a set and their extended length becomes shorter when they are compressed manually to their solid height. This second extended height is the same whether the spring is very briefly compressed to solid height or held completely compressed for a year.

Shooting a single magazine through the pistol will shorten the magazine spring beyond the above mentioned second extended height, whereas keeping the spring compressed for a year will not.

Shooting hot or heavy recoil producing ammo puts more stress on a magazine spring than shooting lighter loads. It is the bumpier road.

Why hollow points?

Whether hollow point bullets expand or not, there is still a hollow point shock value advantage.

When shooting hollow point ammunition, air becomes trapped and compressed inside the cup as the bullet speeds through the air. This pressure exerts itself outwardly against the side walls of the cup. If enough of it were present, the cup would expand or explode on the way to the target.

Simultaneously, there is a far more moderate degree of inward pressure on the cup created by the outside bullet taper. The discrepancy in pressure exists because the air on the outside of the cup is allowed to pass while the air on the inside is trapped.

The bigger the cup and the smaller the outside taper, the greater is the force for explosion versus the force for implosion.

Soft bullet material, a thin walled cup, a cup weakened through expansion cuts or an aerodynamically streamlined cup to reduce the implosion force, all encourage bullet expansion or explosion ~ as also does increased bullet speed.

Greater bullet speed means a greater tendency for expansion or explosion. From a practical point of view, there is an upper limit to the benefit of bullet speed. There is a point at which increased bullet speed offers no benefits or even a negative benefit in stopping power ~ for example, a light weight bullet that disintegrates on impact.

Expansion or explosion work against penetration. Bullet penetration is reduced by expansion and even more so by explosion.

When a hollow point bullet hits the target it can do a number of things depending largely on the medium it hits.

Ideally, the hollow point bullet hits soft tissue and the compressed air/tissue inside the cup cause the bullet to expand. Along with this, without or without expansion, comes an increased temporary wound cavity. Trapped air/tissue inside the cup and the aerodynamics of the cup create a larger temporary wound cavity than is created by a streamlined ball bullet. Wadcutters have been shown to be more effective as man stoppers than ball. Their aerodynamics tend to create a bigger temporary wound channel.

Traditional hollow points have only minimal if any expansion on hitting denim clothed ballistic gelatin. This is a good thing because it means if the assailant is wearing heavy clothing, penetration is increased. The downside is reduced or no expansion.

With this increased penetration and non-expansion, however, there is still an increased temporary wound channel. Just because a hollow point bullet fails to expand does not mean it is less effective than a ball bullet.

Air blowers are equipped with safety nozzles because air hoses are dangerous and can kill people. Workers have thought it funny to goose someone with an air hose and have blown co-worker’s intestines apart. The stopping power value of trapped air/tissue in a hollow point should not be underestimated, even when the bullet does not expand.

Expansion, with traditional hollow points, is most on unclothed gelatin. This is good ~ there is penetration with heavy clothing and expansion with light clothing.

I recommend traditional hollow point ammunition ~ Gold Dot, Hydra Shok, Hornady, Silver Tips. I’m wary of "high performance" and home-brewed ammunition that show extraordinary performance under staged conditions.

FWIW: One would think a .50 caliber Barrett would be the ideal combat weapon in any encounter. Not so, according to tests done by the TV show Myth Busters.

If an enemy dives under water, using a muzzle loader from the Civil War is a greater threat to that individual than a .50 caliber Barrett. The .50 caliber rounds hit the water at such speed that the water acts like a solid. The slower moving muzzle loaders penetrate much further in the water.

To sum up, there is no ideal cartridge, there is no ideal caliber and there is no ideal gun. For a close range self-defense pistol, I think we do okay.

The most important thing in any defense pistol is that the pistol go bang when the trigger is pulled each time it is pulled. Ammo choice is secondary.

My advice on ammo: Always go with the ammo that works most reliably over the ammo that impresses in staged tests.