Tuesday, January 31, 2006

There is NOTHING More Dangerous than a Man with Time on his Hands!

To wit, the above picture of a steam-powered radio controlled centipede. Visit this website, then marvel at the fact you couldn't even get the decals straight on the plastic model of the B-52 you built in high school!

In other earth-shattering news, have you ever wanted to be able to track Jack Bauer's movments on every episode of 24? Well hell, suppose you woke up in the middle of the night after a very bad dream that revolved around Courtney Love, a steam-powered radio controlled centipede and two gallons of Ben and Jerry's "Chubby Hubby" ice cream, wouldn't something like a map tracking Jack Bauer's movements on every episode of 24 help clear your head?

Say no more! head straight to this site to keep up with the Illustrious Jack via Wayfaring maps!

Finally this bit of staking...I mean, breaking news from Minnesota, courtesy of UPI:
PRINCETON, Minn. -- Self-described vampire and Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Jonathan "The Impaler" Sharkey has been arrested on Indiana charges of stalking and escape.
Yeah, might as well read the whole story. I didn't even know that vampires could run for office, although it makes perfect sense into today's political climate. I might even support him, given his platform:
Among his proposals was one that would use impalement to execute murderers, rapists and terrorists.

"As governor," Sharkey said, "terrorists and criminals will live in fear of me, while the people of this state will be able to live fear free."
You know, I'm really up to my ass in alligators. I would actually consider hiring an assistant if I wasn't afraid of violating some federal toxic workplace law. I look at my desk and I want to weep. Weep, I tell you! Instead, I took a moment to buy a new holster for the 1917 snubbie from Rob Leahy at Simply Rugged Holsters up in the frozen tundra of Alaska. I got a Sourdough Pancake in oxblood — simple and very highly recommended on some of the brighter gun lists. You can read a little about it here on Jeff Quinn's GunBlast, which is always entertaining, BTW.

Before I go back to answering the phone, I thought I'd leave you wqith a touching poem from Rosie O'Donnell's blog:
a snunk
the size of zoe
trotting behind r mutts
about to enter r new domain

my wife
slammed the front door
on pepe la pue
Art! Art, I tell you! The woman is pure genius! I'm invigorated...aren't you?

Meanwhile, Back in the Jack Bauer 24-verse...

I have to say that last night's 24 should stand as a classic in the series — out illustrious hero, Jack Bauer, threatens to cut out the eyeballs of a Presidential Chief of Staff unless he coughs up the location of a batch of nerve gas. "You've read my file," Jack says. "You know I'll do it."

Thank heavens he didn't threaten to flush a copy the Koran down a toilet! Then things would have really gotten nasty...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Monday Gun Porn!

Oh, just for the heck of it...here's the reason it's so hard for me to get totally enthused about this week's newest, bestest, real goodest 1911...

The top gun is the Wilson Super Grade Bill built for me when I wrote his first book, The Combat .45 Auto, for him back in the day. The gun was originally comp'ed and has had more than 100,000 rounds through it. The slide finish was pretty much worn off from the holster; the slide had been stained when I cut my finger at a big match and didn't get the gun cleaned off until that night; the slide-to-frame fit could best be described as "rattling loose." The gun was fitted with a pair of "customized" plastic Rogers grips that I'd built up with epoxy and finished off with sandpaper. I felt guilty, so the gun with off to Ross Carter, who'd worked with Wilson back in the day, for a complete overhaul. A new Wilson .45 barrel was fitted, the frame & slide were reintroduced to one another; a Smight & Alexander mag well — not available whent he gun was originally built — was blended into the slide and EVERYTHING was refinished back to original standards.

The middle gun I've written about before — a full-house custom .45 Kimber Team Match from the Cylinder & Slide Shop. It's built on the Kimber Olympic Commemorative 1911 that I had some design input on, and you can read all about it here.

The third 1911 is a Tactical/Carry gun from Richard Heinie. It's built on an old Springfield Armory build-it-yourself 1911A1 kit that the company used to make in the 1980s. It is the most reliable .45 I've ever seen...it simply shoots and shoots and shoots no matter what you feed it with. It's equipped with Heinie sights (duh!) and all the usual bells and whistles. And, yes, there's holster wear on the gun...all my guns are shooters, not safe queens. I believe that Dick Heinie's guns may be the best custom 1911s ever made; that's not an original comment, BTW. I first heard it from an international gunrunner character on Miami Vice back in the mid-80s. When handed one of Dick's guns, the character said, "This is a Richard Heinie original, the finest handgun in the world." If y0u want one, put your name on the list now, then kill time for a decade or so. I did!

Dogs & Cats

From the Home Front, here's a picture of Alf the Wonder Beagle and new addition Pokke-san [I am informed that we're to use the Japanese spelling of his name, as opposed to the Emeril's Cookbook spelling] attempting to reach detente.


This morning, a happy, chirpy, unequivocally positive TODAY SHOW story on ...women shooting and hunting!

Without the usually obligatory hand-wringing from the dolts at Brady.

I think I'm having heart palpitations!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Chuck Norris Facts

Yes, popular culture can morph faster than organic goat cheese in a University of Colorado fraternity guy's malfunctioning refrigerator.

To wit, the Cult of Chuck Norris, and his Testament, the Chuck Norris Facts. Here's one:
Chuck Norris drives an ice cream truck covered in human skulls
The Chuckster once pounded my face into a karate mat in Hawaii, but it worked out okay because it turned out I could ride a horse better than him. Of course, that's another story...
Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

Somewhere, It's Always 1968

Here's a wonderful article from economics author Arnold Kling on conventional wisdom in 1968:

In 1968, liberals thought that that Communism could work reasonably well for some countries. The Soviet Union was thought to be ahead of us in engineering. Many liberal intellectuals considered Communism a viable option for achieving development in the Third World. A reader of Noam Chomsky's article in the August 13, 1970 New York Review of Books would have thought that North Vietnam's regime, while not perfect, was closer to the ideal than any other existing government. Anti-Communism, on the other hand, was seen by the Conventional Wisdom as only a pretext for misbegotten wars and hysterical blacklists of Hollywood screenwriters.
This is a fascinating article and definitely worth your time! Read the whole thing here. And thanks to InstaPundit for the link!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Make My Day...And For Heaven's Sake, Take A BAATH!

I think I need more rest; otherwise, how could I cope with this:
Gun firm debuts scent at ex-Versace home

Smith & Wesson — as in "Bang! Bang! You're dead!" — is launching a men's fragrance named after itself, and SoFla is its early marketing, ahem, target.

Wait, it gets weirder.

The delicate nectar is scheduled to be unveiled Saturday night at a fancy party at Casa Casuarina in Miami Beach.

Beg your pardon?

Smith & Wesson Cologne is set to be introduced at the former Versace mansion. Casa Casuarina, owned by Boca multimillionaire Peter Loftin, once was known as the Versace mansion. It was on its steps that Italian couturier Gianni Versace was shot dead in 1997 by a man on a killing spree, Andrew Cunanan. He later committed suicide in a houseboat surrounded by cops.
WELL, this puts a whole new odour on the SHOT Show, doesn't it? My now clean and sweet-smelling cherubs and seraphim tell me that SIGARMS is looking at "tactical bubble-bath," that when coupled with their complete aromatherapy line guarantees even the most aggressive operator won't accumulate any bad after-action reports, if you get our drift...

Glock is testing a line R. Lee Ermey Signature roll-on deodorant in an OD-green dispenser designed to look like a WWII Zippo Lighter. Sneaky little Austrian angels tell me the deodorant is NOT mixed with antiperspirant, because, "REAL men sweat!" In a clever marketing ploy, the deodorant will be mixed with beach sand, so you'll always have that, "First grunt hittin' the beach" feeling.

Look for Cimarron Firearms to introduce their cowboy line of HORSE SWEAT NO SWEAT SMELL SWEET combination cologne, no-cal sweetener and linament for man and beast. We understand the Texas armmakers are "within hours" of signing an endorsement agreement with actor Ian McShane, who plays "Al Swearengen" on the hit HBO series DEADWOOD. The tentative advertising slogan for the new men's fragrance is, "F&%$ you, you f^%$ c)(&%$#*%...if you don't use this s%&^, you'll f#$^*& smell like c%&%^$#*&^ s&^%$#!" We smell an ADDY AWARD!!!

For a whiff of Old Europe, be sure to pick up a bottle of Beretta's Age-Old Essence, which actually incorporates walnut dust and boiled lindseed oil from their stockmaking facility, which began in 1526, mixed with residues from polymer frames.

You know, I could keep going and going with this...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Missing Tuesday

Sorry! Yesterday around 8 AM my phone begin ringing. It stopped ringing last night just before The Shield started. More correctly, I stopped answering it; it didn't stop ringing. I am now officially so far behnd the curve it's sneaking up on me from behind.

Still, the situation is not all that unusual this close to the SHOT Show. The weekend before SHOT Robin and I are filming an NFL celebrity sporting clays event in Vegas. Then it's SHOT Shot TV and episodes of SHOOTING GALLERY and COWBOYS from the floor of SHOT. Two days later, we start the three episodes of the SHOOTING GALLERY Challenge at GUNSITE.

The trick is to KEEP ALL THE BALLS IN THE AIR! Drop one or two, and the white tiger grabs you by the head and drags you offstage. Accordingly, yesterday I changed the water in my aquarium. I recently put Nemo, Pooh Ye and Beta on diets, and I can't say they're particularly thrilled. I'm also dealing with the latest member of the zoo — Poke-san, who happens to be A CAT. Yes, put in my nomination for Hypocrite of the Year — after all my cat-dis'sing over the years, I end of with one of my own free will. My Sweetie mentioned several months ago that she was suffering from kitty separation anxiety...she's always had a cat, except for the last year since her old cat, Comanche, died. SIGH.

So I decided to do what I do...research. Specifically, I wondered whether I could find a breed of cat that:
1) would likely get along in a house full of parrots
2) act like a dog
After a few evenings on the internet, I culled the list down to three breeds — Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats and tailless Manxes. Then I got serious. The clincher was when my partner Robin told me he had a friend with a Manx who actually flushed birds and let its owner shoot over him. Now THAT is a cat!

Of course, I then discovered that Manxes were surprisingly hard to find. There are phone books full of Maine Coon breeders, but about half-a-dozen Manx breeders. Eventually, we discovered Antelope Manx Cattery, in lovely Antelope, KS. They had a black-and-white Manx kitten available. SOOOOOOOOO...

My Sweetie named him Poke (poke-ee, as in pokey) after her favorite sushi dish, Tuna Taro Poke. Damned if he doesn't act like a dog, too. Alf the Wonder Dog is ambivalent, although she does enjoy a good cat chase. The parrots treat Poke the way they treat everything that isn't a parrot — as a potential toy. As they did with Alf when she was a puppy, the macaws clearly realize that Poke is a baby, and they cut him some slack, i.e., they've kept the big beaks holstered. Ripley, being king of the world, has been playihng with the kitten. We introduced him to the kitty by speaking in parrot-ese. "Ripley...Poke Comanche meow-meow." Which translates into connecting the new cat to the old cat, "meow-meow" being parrot shorthand for "cat." The next day, Ripley looked at me and said, "Poke meow-meow?" Yep, I said, he's a cat.

By the way, there's a lot to be said for tailless cats, such as he'll never get his tail rocked on, stepped on or bitten off by big big green or red birds. Sgill, with those great bit Manx rabbit haunches, Poke-san looks like a bit like a jacked-up Plymouth Road Runner muscle car.

I'll attach a photo when I get up to my office; right now I'm afraid to go up to my office.


Monday, January 23, 2006

A User's Guide to Dealing with Gunsmiths

I notice on a bunch of the gun-specific forums that there are ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS "I got hosed by my gunsmiths" threads. In some of those cases, I actually the know the gunsmiths named pretty well, and I know that they'll walk across broken Pepsi bottle to keep from getting that kind of crappy press.

I do lots of custom gun stuff, much to the amusement of many of my friends ("God lord, Bane, if you want a .44 Special, just buy one for heaven's sake! It isn't necessary to gather up pieces like Easter eggs and then pour money on them!"). After semi-careful analysis, I realize that most of the bitching on the forums about gunsmiths is a classic "failure to communicate" situation, so I thought I'd whip together an IDIOT'S GUIDE TO DEALING WITH GUNSMITHS, me being the idiot, of course. Since I've already made all these mistakes, you don't have to!

1) First and foremost, know what you want. A really good gunsmith can probably fabricate you a 4-inch deck gun for a destroyer that also fires .45 Colts and .410 shotgun shells. You will, however, be unhappy when the bill comes. Most of the disagreements I see are of the "I asked for X and damned if he didn't give me Y" sort. This is because "Slick up my smoke-pole" is subject to interpretation in gunsmithing as in life. Think of tuning as a continuum, from a simple trigger job to a wholesale reengineering of the gun. Your basic trigger job is going to cost you in the $100 vicinity, depending on the hardware. A "master tune" of the same gun will run in the $500-600 range, for which you will get essentially a blueprinting of the gun. If you need or want to replace parts, that's going to be extra. If you supply the replacement parts, it's going to cost you twice as much, because your gunsmth is going to have to grind the part that you purchased because of the great magazine article to fit, and, in general, zinc is hard to grind.

This is why god invented email!!! Everything is then in writing, so you don't do a Michael...gunsmith says, "It'll be expensive." Michael says, "No problemo." Michael has to sell sperm in order to survive the year, but he is theonly one on his block with a .50 caliber single shot pistol.

2) Do not send your gun to a gunsmith for work if you think you may have to shoot your brother-in-law next week. Gunsmithing takes time. Lots of time. Lots and lots and lots of time. Geologic era time. My record is 14 years. That YEARS, not months. I had actually forgotten that I'd left the gun with him. He said, "Remember that gun you won at that match in the mid-1980s? Well, I'm ready to start working on it." I said, "What gun?" "You know...you won it in a match and I said give it to me since you'll just screw it up." "I won a gun?" Etc. It is, however, an excellent gun, a 1911 if you must know. Ironically, I had to forego the checkering, since under the 14-years-later price list, I couldn't afford it.

3) Learn to speak GUNSMITHESE. When your gunsmith says, "That'd be nice," that translates into at least $100. "A different mainspring housing would be nice..." KA-ching! "Being able to shoot live ammunition would be nice... " KA-ching! there are other key phrases, such as, "It would look better [fill in the bank];" "I think you'd be happier with [fill in blank];" or the ever-popular "You know, Jack Bauer on 24 uses one of these..."

4) Understand the difference between a Real-World gun and a "project" gun. People like me and my pal Mike Daly are mentally unstable — we think spending perfectly good money on overhauling obscure guns is fun. It is not fun, unless you think collecting the stamps of the British Empire is fun, in which case there's nothing I can do for you. Gunsmiths like Hamilton Bowen, Dave Clements and Doug Turnbull thrive on project guns, which typically involve the exchange of a credit card number and/or a firstborn male child. Do NOT speak to these gunsmiths unless you understand "auction etiquette" — you scratch your nose at the wrong time and you've bought a vintage Maserati, a small Paul Klee and a house in Tuscany.

For example, I understand that should I say to such a gunsmith that I want a "really accurate" .44 Special single action, they are NOT going to give me reloading information. Instead, I know I'm in for line-boring a new cylinder, maybe a new barrel, recutting the forcing cone, Taylor-throating, recrowning the barrel and probably at least a goat sacrificed over the cylinder-barrel gap. You gotta watch out for stuff like that.

5) Memorize these words — What the hell are you talking about?

Red Dot Funnies...

...okay, it is Monday, which ostensibly means I've got to go to work. I was swilling coffee with soymilk, which I just learned on morning television doesn't do a single thing for my heart. I didn't think it did, but now I feel some gut-level disappointment that it doesn't. Damn!

The Sweetie and I, along with Alf the Wonder Beagle, did a long snowshoe yesterday. It was about 20 degrees and crystal high-altitude clear. Just when we started the trail, we came upon a guy harnessing a sled team. Alf the Wonder Beagle suddenly perked up...finally, she was going to fulfill her destiny as a Free Range Beagle! She would lead the team carrying the serum to plague-ridden Nome, have her own statue in Central Park in NYC and appear with Dr. Phil on Oprah! Tail wagging, she approached the team, who stared down at her like she was a bug. "Woof!" said one of the big sled dogs. Alf reconsidered for a moment, then decided to become an astronaut.

There was also one of those segments on the morning shows where a professional burglar breaks into a home to show the homeowners — who have agreed to be at dinner while the old homestead is being burgled — how easy it is to break into their home. Just once, I'd like to see one of the homeowners sneak back into the house and hide out in the bedroom with a Crimson Trace-equipped Sim-gun. Just when the pro buglar is starting his schtick about how easy locks are defeated, we viewers would see a little red dot on his chest, followed by two SPLATS.

That'd probably do more to reduce home burglaries than all the "plant plants with big thorns around your windows" advice in the world!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

St. John the Divine

This from Wadcutter, a Colorado homie speculating on the relationship between religion and gun choice. It's pretty funny...true, too. I added Wadcutter to the gunblog roll...

Pieces of New Custom .44 Special!

This is my S&W Model 686 .357 revolver that's going to miraculously turn into a .44 Special Mountain Gun, courtesy of the good offices of Hamilton Bowen.

The genesis of this gun goes back to the discussions we had on the first iteration of the S&W Thunder Ranch Special .44 Special. I talked a lot about my favorite existing revolvers in the "fighting gun" context, but it got me to thinking about what would be an ideal fighting/trail gun. I looked a long time at the .44 Magnum Mountain Gun, whichis built on the N-Frame (like the M21 .44 Special), the one of the numerous varients of the M29 .44 Magnum 3-inch (here's the only current cataloged version), the now-discontinued M696 L-Frame .44 Special 3-inch, the now-even-more-discontinued M396 "Mountain Lite" .44 Special 4-inch, the even-more-and-more discontinued Scandium-framed 296 .44 Special 2-inch and the Scandium-framed M329PD, all of which are good choices. Each, however, has a few problems. The steel N-Frames are heavy (and the specialty guns dreadfully expensive); the Scandium .44 Magnum gun, which I will have one of these days, is a BEAR to shoot. I speak from painful experience here, folks! The super lightweight .44 Specials aren't as bad, but I have profound worries about the longevity of Scandium-framed guns if you shoot the heck out of them (which you should do).

All the discontinued .44 Specials have gotten increasingly rare and expensive, and since there aren't any more of them, I doubt the prices are going to plummet anytime soon.

I wanted a relatively lightweight .44 Special with adjustable sights that balanced well...like the .44 Magnum Mountain Gun. So, I foraged a 696 .44 Special cylinder and extractor from Brownells, a five-shot hand and .357 4-inch barrel from the discontinued L-Frame .357 Mountain Gun, and a 686 from the back of my gunsafe. Hamilton will rebore the .357 barrel to .44 Special, put all the parts together and tune up the gun. Then he'll matte-finish the stainless, fit a lanyard ring and a set of Hogue "Lamo-Camo" el-coolo grips and send it on home. You'll see it on SHOOTING GALLERY and in HANDGUNS Magazine later this year.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Stephen Hunter's Eulogy for the Winchester Model 94


Thank you, Steve...
Out With A Bang
The Loss of the Classic Winchester Is Loaded With Symbolism
By Stephen Hunter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 20, 2006; Page C01

A famous ad that most boy baby boomers will recall from Boys' Life, the old scouting magazine of the '50s, showed a happy lad, carrot-topped and freckly like any number of Peck's Bad Boys, his teeth haphazardly arrayed within his wide, gleeful mouth under eyes wide as pie platters as he exclaimed on Christmas morn, "Gee, Dad . . . A Winchester!"

All gone, all gone, all gone. The gun as family totem, the implied trust between generations, the implicit idea that marksmanship followed by hunting were a way of life to be pursued through the decades, the sense of tradition, respect, self-discipline and bright confidence that Winchester and the American kinship group would march forward to a happy tomorrow -- gone if not with the wind, then with the tide of inner-city and nutcase killings that have led America's once-proud and heavily bourgeois gun culture into the wilderness of marginalization.


How light it is, how quick to the shoulder, how pointable! It begs to come to the eye. It swiftly finds what's called the natural point of aim, the perfect equipoise between its own grace and its shooter's talent. There, it wants to be fired. It's knobless and trim yet hardly streamlined. It hails proudly from the pre-streamlined world. No ergonomic study went into its design, only the sound trial and error of Yankee genius that finally found the ideal form.

It's weirdly squarish, yet like other classic guns, it boasts an orchestration of lines of unusual harmony, which somehow seem to soothe the eye. The Colt Peacemaker revolver, the Tommy gun and the Luger have the same effect; all are instantly known and knowable. They have a design charisma that transcends their actual usage in the real world...
This is one of the greatest pieces I have ever read about guns. THIS is what "gunwriting" should — and can — be!

Lies, Damn Lies and Press Releases

My good friend, ace gunwriter Frank James, made this comment on an earlier post of mine, and I thought it was important enough to bring it forward and discuss it:
As you well know I am in lock-step agreement with your analysis, but how could NSSF reconcile this fact of reality with the press release put out this past week that stated "hunting" generated more revenue this past year than ever before in history. Do they think that all the rifle/shotgun companies are going to branch into camo shorts, tree-stands and deer pee to upgrade their bottom lines?
All The Best,
Frank W. James
Very good points, Frank. There are two issues that no one in the industry every likes to address. The first is that we're really good at what my mentor in the consulting busines, Dave Garwood, used to refer to as, "Breathing our own air."

We believe our own press releases. Of course "hunting" generated more revenue than ever before in history. It just takes a little creativity...why, silly us, in the old days we used to think of hunting as...hunting. That is, what happened when we got up early in the morning and went into the game fields with a gun. Now we more truly understand that we're talking about a "hunting lifestyle."

That way, we can add in revenues from "hunting apparel" and "hunting lifestyle accoutremonts," because that's part of our lifestyle. And knives...knives are hot sellers, and most knives are used in hunting, right? Throw that money into the pot! Specialized vehicles, they're used in hunting. Ammo...hunters use ammo...in fact, according to our "statistics," hunters use 95% of the ammo purchased in the United States (apparently you and I use the rest of it). Did you know that 100% of the .22 ammo purchased is used in "hunting?" Or "getting ready for hunting."

Let's keep adding, it's so fun!

Bow-hunting is booming! Maybe the fastest growing segment of the hunting industry, with lots of more "traditional" hunters buying all those new bows. Bow-hunting is the future of hunting What was that, Frank? You don't hear anything going "BANG!"? What's your point? Don't you realize you can live the "hunting lifestyle" without ever owning a gun, buying a single round of ammunition or, for that matter, ever taking an animal? I have friends who are walking, talking versions of the Cabela's catalog and eat only tofu (which, I'm told, can be effectively and humanely taken with a .177 air rifle if you used the appropriate scent blockers and vegetarian. cammie).

And here's the other dirty little secret no one likes to talk about — when you build an industry on accessory sales, the guns become...secondary. Keep in mind that you can have hunting, and a booming hunting market, without gun rights. You can still hunt grouse in England, but if you use your $20,000 shotgun to save your butt from home invaders, yo're going to go to jail. Those grouse are sure tasty, though! There's plenty of hunting in Europe, if you've got the bucks. And if you've got the bucks, I'll bet you're a good consumer of all those accessories.

If the hunting market is vibrant and growing, why are long gun sales in the toilet? It's probably yours and my fault, Frank. I knew we should have bought another half-dozen rifles apiece last year. And remember, ARs — the best-selling rifle in America by a pretty substantial margin — don't count!

The industry is using our money — money from shooters — to build and promote a market in accessories that we don't necessarily need or use and that in the long run do nothing to support guns, gun rights, the Second Amendment, CCW, etc. There is no excise tax on accessories, my friends. We are paying the friggin' freight. The people who are doing this are perfectly aware that the money desperately needs to go building, supporting and promoting the shooting sports, building and protecting ranges, getting more kids to the range and supporting junior programs, fighting media stereotypes about shooters, promoting ourselves as part of the culture war we're engaged in.

Ain't happenin'...

Wonder why that is...

The End of the Game

I'll have happy gun porn a little bit later today, but I think there are some important — and harsh — things that need to be said about the Winchester situation.

With the closing of the New Haven Winchester plant, I think what we are seeing is the End of the Game, the crumbling of the shooting = hunting = shooting paradigm that has driven the firearms industry since the end of World War II.

I know of two other major "name" rifle/shotgun manufacturers who are quite literally on the verge of bankruptcy, in worse shape than Winchester. A series of off-the-record phone calls yesterday confirmed that long gun manufacturers across the board are reeling from a bad year.

What can I say that I haven't said before?

There is not enough money on Wall Street, much less the firearms industry, to generate the new hunter numbers necessary to sustain the current model. The reasons are simple and straightforward: • Recruitment is not the same as retention. In a market with seemingly endless options for leisure time activities, percentage of people still doing the activity after 12-18 months shrinks drastically unless a system is in place to essentially "up the ante," constantly provide new stimuli to reinvigorate the participant. That's much more complex and expensive to accomplish in hunting than, say, in the shooting sports, where competition provides its own ramped up stimuli.
• The megatrends of urbanization/suburbanization, liability and increasing competition for the outdoor "resource" are not going to go away and are unlikely to subside anytime in the forseable future.
• The hunting markets is built primarily on accessory sales...hunters don't need to buy a new gun every year despite what you may read in the magazines. Nor do they buy a large amount of ammo and/or reloading components. If the gun manufacturers are going to survive, they have to be able to sell guns to someone.

The future of shooting is competition, training and self-defense. THAT is where the market is; THAT is where the new shooters are going to come from; THAT is our future.

The domino collapse of several "name" gun manufacturers in a row would be a disaster for us and the Second Amendment and a huge victory for the antigunners. And it would be a victory they didn't even have to work for. It would be a victory that we give the Brady Bunches of the world, all wrapped up in nice packaging with a pretty red bow.

We desperately need to WAKE UP!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Proof Positive That Michael Doesn't Know Everything

Sad, but true! I left the following message for Dwight Van Brunt, the Majordomo of Kimber:
Dwight...you never call...you never write...you build plastic pistols without even a postcard! Are you seeing someone else?
Heck, I thought I was being cool by not mentioning the other American firearms company with a plastic pistol in the back room, just waiting for the SHOT Show! Next thing I know, here's Son of S&W M&P, getting ready to Glock ya 'til you drop! Nothing on the Kimber website...just ad placement in magazines. Then, a litle cherub flies up to the window and says, "Hey, make 'em show you the hardware!" Yeah yeah...

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN DENTAL WORK GOES BAD — S&W starts building AR-15s. Winchester folds. Kimber Glocks out. Damn...I'm thinking Apocalypse Now Rather Than Later! Maybe I should have asked for more pain pills!

SOOOO what does this tell me? First, I don't know as much as I like to think I know, which is mostly everything. Second, the proposed military handgun contract is like having a Black Hole in orbit around the earth — it's sucking everything toward it. We'll be lucky to get through these Trials with anyone making anything except mil-spec plastic and 1911s.

As Tarzan would say, "Umgahwah!"

I Love You Guys!

But not in a Brokeback Mountain sort of way!

These are comments on SHOOTING GALLERY from The Outdoor Channel's website. Seriously, I am the luckiest SOB in the world to have this job and you all as viewers! Thanks...and keep those cards and letters coming, as they say...
To the President of the Outdoor Channel;

Sir, I'd just like to let you know that I really enjoy TOC's programming. I just found the channel a couple months back and now it's the most TiVo'd channel in our house.

In particular, I love Shooting Gallery. The host is informative and witty, and seems really personally interested in his subject matter. It's a great show. I watch most of the firearms-related programming I can find, and Shooting Gallery is by far the most entertaining and informative.

And the host kind of reminds me of Captain Kangaroo. Captain Kangaroo with guns. Bet that rabbit would've thought twice about dumping those ping-pong balls on the ol' Captain if he'd had a 1911 strapped to his belt. But I digress.

That's MY kinda TV. Keep up the good work.


Shooting Gallery is a great show, thanks for putting it on the air.

It would even be better if it increased to one hour episodes.


I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your program, Shooting Gallery. I would enjoy it at least twice as much if it ran an hour instead of a half hour, though. I make a point to purchase from the advertisers that buy time during the show, and also let them know I appreciate their support of the shooting sports, especially the non-hunting sports. Michael Bane brings a ton of credibility, contacts, and knowledge to the show. He also is enough of a "regular Joe" that folks like me can identify with him.

Thank you again.


I would like to request that The Shooting Gallery be expanded to a full hour. I pay an extra fee to receive The Outdoor Channel through my dish provider. While it is not the only show I watch on your channel, it is the primary reason I am willing to pay the extra fee. The expanded format would solidify my desire to keep your channel.

In conclusion, I appreciate The Outdoor Channel's willingness to air The Shooting Gallery and hope you will seriously consider expanding it to an hour.


Your blog always brightens my day. Thanks for the work you are doing for the shooting community. I don't know how you get all these projects done in your day?

Shooting Gallery is the only show dedicated to us "gun nuts" that keeps focus. I saw your name in the credits for American Rifleman. Can't you get them to be more stimulating. I am sure Mark must be a great guy, but where is the joy?

The only thing that really steams my clams is that all the shooting media seem to whore themselves to the manufacturers. When a gun misses its mission to provide value for investment. I want a little honesty. Case in point...

I bought a scandium .357 snubbie that was reviewed on one of the tele shows. They had video which showed the recoil to be in my range of acceptability. When I dropped the hammer on that beast the trigger guard split the front of my trigger finger open. The factory grips are terrible. Fortunately Herret delivered me Jordan trooper grips that tamed the beast. Could you visit them on a segment? They really know their stuff. If you could inspire them to make grips for my T/C Encore .444 Marlin

I would be eternally grateful.
Again, thanks to you all! Captain Kangaroo lives!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

More Cowboy Bad News...

...and it's not about Brokeback Mountain.

My little cherubs and seraphim tell me that the Winchester 94 isn't the only cowboy gun getting ready to vanish. The cherubs orbiting around Marlin tell me that the Cowboy Competition .38 Special rifle, which was designed specifically for cowboy action shooting competition with input from COWBOYS host Richard "Tequlia" Young, will be taking the Long Sleep. Lack of sales.

This follows Ruger's dropping of the .32 H&R Vaqueros, which were always launched straight at new cowboy shooters, last year. BTW, my Sweetie, Indiana Jackson, shoots a pair of the little Rugers, and they are wonderful guns!

Now, you might say that the disappearances are nothing more than the huge diversity of replica cowboy guns now available, and, yes, there's something to that. However, some of my other seraphim are telling me that the clonemakers aren't exactly dancing in the street, either.

Here's what I — Wolf Bane, SASS 13557 — think...feel free to ignore it. Shooting is the engine that drives cowboy action shooting and the whole cowboy revivalism "culture." However, the cowboys got greedy. They started thinking how much larger a market they could attract if they focused on dress-up rather than shooting competitions. They also noticed that the dress-up contingent was older, and far more affluent, than those pesky shooters. So in too many venues, the "shooting" became secondary to the "culture."

Here's a flash, pardners...it ain't working!

Dress up is inherently limited. The only thing that allowed cowboy dress up to work was the GUNS (there I go again...it's the guns, stupid!). The dress up side of the community is generating exactly NO new participants. None. Nada. Zip. The Powers-That-Be in cowboy need to stop agonizing over friggin' boot styles, wake up and smell the gun oil! There's still time, but the clock is running...

BTW, I started cowboy action shooting because, duh, I love the heck out of the guns. Lever guns, single action revolvers, double-barrel and pump shotguns...love 'em to death! Glad to have an excuse to use 'em and buy more of them. I don't mind dressing in cowboy drag — I live in the West; I can wear cowboy stuff every day and fit in. But get rid of the guns, and all of a sudden you're back to Brokeback Mountain, lettin' this thang git a'hold of us!

It goes bang, or it goes away!

Winchester Purchase Situation

In a word, gone.

The Collapse of Winchester

When icons fall, they fall hard and fast. This from yesterday's Newsday & AP:
End of an era as Winchester rifle plant prepares to close

January 17, 2006, 4:52 PM EST

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- U.S. Repeating Arms Co. Inc. said Tuesday it will close its Winchester firearm factory, threatening the future of a rifle that was once called "The Gun that Won the West."

"It's part of who we are as a nation just like it's part of who we are as a city," Mayor John DeStefano said.

The announcement touched off a lobbying effort by city officials and union leaders who hoped to find a buyer for the plant before it closes March 31. If no buyer comes forward, it could spell the end for nearly all commercially produced Winchesters, said Everett Corey, a representative of the International Association of Machinists District 26.

"Winchester would be pretty much defunct," he said. "They're not going to produce them, other than a couple custom-type models."

The company has been plagued by slumping firearm sales. More than 19,000 people worked there during World War II, but the plant employs fewer than 200 now. All will lose their jobs when the plant closes.

The Winchester model 1873 lever action rifle was popular among American frontiersmen at the end of the 19th century for its reliability. John Wayne made the Winchester rifle a signature of his movies and Chuck Connors posed menacingly with his Winchester on the poster for the television series "The Rifleman."
Jim Shepherd at the Outdoor Wire is reporting this AM that Winchester 94s and Model 70s are flying off the shelves of gunstores as gunnies try to lay their hands on two of the most famous firearms ever made:
While Winchester will continue to their offer firearms, manufactured in Europe and Japan, the company says there are no plans to move manufacturing of the 94, 70 or 1300 anywhere else.

Discontinued in 1963 and re-introduced in 1964, the Model 94, modeled after the Model 1894, is widely regarded as the rifle that symbolized the classic American firearms of the old west. It still remains as one of the most famous deer-hunting rifles in American history.

The Model 1300 pump shotgun was first introduced in 1978 and has gone through a variety of offerings.

The future of the U.S. Repeating Arms facility in New Haven, Connecticut is unclear. Built in 1994, it is widely regarded as being among the most modern firearms manufacturing facilities in the world.
Let's talk macro and micro here. In the micro sense, as soon as this posts, I'm going to be on the phone trying to lay my hands on a Trail's End .44 Magnum color case-hardened receiver M94. I love Model 94s...like so many other kids in the South, my first "deer rifle" was my father's Model 94 30-30. The rifle I keep in my bedroom is a Winchester Model 94 short-barreled Trapper in .44 Magnum. I have a first year .44 Magnum Model 94 from 1970...not the greatest version, but the first .44 Maggie.

In a macro sense, the Model 94 is the most successful rifle ever made...a direct descendent of "The Gun That Won The West"...the greatest deer hunting rifle ever...a flawless choice for a truck gun, a fast-handling rifle for self-defense or backpacking...a vible choice for cowboy action shooting...read Doc O'Meara's concise history here.

So what the hell happened?

You're probably not surprised that I have some thoughts on the matter. I'm not going to do a blow-by-blow here, but just hit some high (or low, as it were) points:
• It takes a computer to figure out which are the "good years" for Model 94s. The quality has varied wildly over the years. My 1970 version, for instance, appears to have been made by people who previously manufactured automotive parts. The current 94s are for the most part excellent...and beautiful. But consumers don't like having to have to consult a decoder ring before buying a gun.

• The consumer is always, always, always right, no matter what! For years, 94s were made with a particularly ugly crossbolt safety that broke the classic lines of the gun. Not only that, but the safety was amazingly poorly designed...lay the gun on its side, and the safety was often pushed on, much to the surprise of many startled cowboy shooters and the delight of thousands of white-tailed deer. Winchester was adamant that this unnecessary "safety feature" was the only way the company could survive in the current legal environment. Consumers by the drove bought Winchester copies without the "feature." One morning Winchester woke up and discovered that they could just as easily have a tang-mounted safety like pretty much every shotgun — including Winchesters! — on earth without spoiling the rifle's lines.
• "Assume" makes an "ass" of "u" and "me!" Yeah, it's a stupid little homily, but it ought to be carved in marble over the door of every manufacturing company. In Winchester's case, the birth and initial surge of cowboy action shooting must have seemed like a godsend...thousands of people linging up to buy authentic cowboy guns. And the two most authentic cowboy guns in the entire friggin' universe were Colt and Winchester. But purists didn't like the crossbolt safety, and the long lever throw of the Model 94 was soon surplanted by shorter throw REPLICA Winchester Model 92 and REPLICA Winchester 1873s. A shorter throw, pistol-cartridge-only Model 94 would hardly have been a big issue for a modern manufacturing facility like the one in New Haven, but it never happened. To the best of my knowledge, it was never even considered. Ironically, the replica Winchesters sell for roughly double the cost of an authentic Model 94...and the market never flinched at the higher prices.

• Don't let your competition define the playing field! After a century of gunrags talking about how this new rifle or that new rifle is the "bestest handling brush rifle since the Model 94," the original is still the best. "Vintage hunting" — hunting with vintage guns — has made people like Doug Turnbull of Turnbull Restorations or Mike Harvey at Cimarron or Val Forget at Navy Arms a bunch of money. Who might you have thought would be leading this trend? Not a chance...

In truth, Winchester has seen the light on the Model 94 in the last couple of years, but it may be a case of too little too late. The New Haven plant and the ability to make guns under the Winchester galloping horse logo in the United States might be extremely attractive to any of the clone-makers. A partnership between, say, Uberti and Cimarron Arms would make sense, especially with Uberti's membership in the flush Beretta family. Or U.S.F.A. might see a chance to move into leverguns and pre-'64 bolt guns. Actually, if anyone were to call me and ask — and no one has or likely will!!! — I'd suggest that the New Haven plant, with appropriate union concessions, would make an excellent addition to the Kimber stable, moving the product line to high-end specialty guns like a continuation of the current Model 94s, a Classic Pre-64 bolt gun like the Classic Model 70 Super Grade and a top end pump shotgun like an upgraded 1300 Upland Special Field.
I hope someone picks up the ball!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

SHOOTING GALLERY Giveaway Gun Takes Shape!

I know...I know...I shouldn't even be showing you guys this yet, but I'm so excited about how it's coming together. This is the beginnings of the Tactical Solutions Ruger 10-.22 we'll be giving away at SHOT. The stock is going out for airbrushing today...I'm thinking oil-slick double black with yellow-gold flames to highlight the anodizing on the metal parts. And, of course, the "classic" SHOOTING GALLERY logo! BTW, Leupold will be donating one of their world-class scopes to top this baby...I'm suggesting their top-end target/competition scope.

Go straight to the Sportsman Team Challenge! Do not pass go, but collect the first prize money!

The only thing better would be a poster of Kit shooting it!

Weekly Check on Bias...

...is now up at Alphecca...

Check it out...it's kind of depressing if you live in New York.

SQUAWK! You're Busted!

This from MSNBC this morning:
LONDON - Chris Taylor, a 30-year-old British computer programmer, grew suspicious of his live-in girlfriend when his pet parrot began to imitate her saying, “I love you, Gary.”

Ziggy, an 8-year-old African gray parrot, would also make kissing noises whenever the name Gary was mentioned on TV and would mimic Collins saying, “Hiya, Gary,” every time she answered her mobile phone.
Outed by a gray! My favorite gray parrot story was sent to me by should-have-been-a-Supreme-if-Bush-had-any-sense Judge Alex Kozinski and told the tale of a gray parrot who spoke the name of his owner's murderer, along with the words, "Please don't kill me!" The legal problem was that a gray parrot could not be introduced in court as a "witness," since it couldn't be sworn in or properly cross-examined or as "evidence," since the actual evidence was not the parrot, but what the parrot said. Eventually, the case against the murderer was proven without the parrot's testimony.

I'm not sure, but I think that my gray, Ripley, could be sworn in on cashew nuts. He likes lots of different kinds of food, but he believes in cashew nuts. The sad part of the MSNBC story is that the guy got rid of his parrot because he couldn't stand to hear the bird, Ziggy, speak in his now ex-girlfriend's voice:
She [the girlfriend] added: “I’m surprised to hear he’s got rid of that bloody bird; he spent more time talking to it than he did to me. I couldn’t stand Ziggy, and it looks now the feeling was mutual.”
That sucks. Hey, Ziggy delivered the mail! He deserves a sack of cashews, not exile. Having been around Ripley for more than a decade, I wouldn't rule out the idea that Ziggy knew exactly what he was doing...getting rid of someone he didn't like so he could spend more time with his buddy. I hope he ends up in a home that appreciates him!

Monday, January 16, 2006

And While We Snooze, the Termites Go About Their Business...

This from today's Washington Post editorial:
There's an obvious thread here that members of Congress choose not to see: The all-too-free flow of handguns, a warped way of life that cows presidents and members of Congress who ought to recognize that the availability of handguns is murderous. The problem is that Americans own 65 million handguns and the only effective safety measure would be a ban on these made-for-murder weapons. As writer Jenny Price noted in a Dec. 25 op-ed in The Post, only 160 of the 12,000 guns used to kill people every year are employed in legitimate self-defense; guns in the home are used seven times more often for homicide than for self-defense.

Lawmakers know all this and know as well that handguns -- however exalted they seem to be in America -- should not be in general circulation. Political long shot that it may be, a national ban on the general manufacture, sale and ownership of handguns ought be enacted.

MGP (*More Gun Porn)

What can I say? The lovely Rally Vincent from the legendary manga Gunsmith Cats performing a near-perfect tactical reload. Kenichi Sonada, the author of 'Cats, has the largest collection of Airsoft guns in Japan.

A Quick Monday Dose of Gun Porn

I was doing some online research on the Autry Museum of the West firearms collection for an upcoming episode of COWBOYS when I came across this picture, which I figured you'd all like to see.

It's a Colt New Service .38 Special that once belonged to Border Patrolman, gunfighter, gunwriter and general all-around reprobate Colonel Charles Askins. The big frame .38 has been given the Fitz treatment — note the cutaway trigger guard for faster access to the trigger. The barrel's been shortened and fitted with a vent ramp and adjustable sights. Grips are ivory with a scrimshaw steerhead; the other side features Askins' initials and the date "1936."

The story goes that Askins switched the Border Patrol to the wildly oversized (and darn near indestructable) .38 New Services because he just hated fiddling around with half-moon clips in .45 1917 Colts, which became the New Service in its commercial guise. Of course, when the .357 came on the scene in the mid-1930s, Askins quickly became a huge proponent.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Self-Defense, Segregation and MLK

Here's a fascinating story from Different River on the armed Deacons for Defense and Justice, who guarded Martin Luther King in many of his public appearances:

When I discuss the Second Amendment with people, I often have to point out the right to keep and bear arms has nothing to do with duck hunting, and was not even originally enacted for purposes of self-defense against crime. It was enacted because of the belief that an armed populace is a protection against a despotic government; just as the popular militias rose up against the British colonial government in the 1770s, an armed population serves as a protection, and a deterent against despotism nowadays as well.

The inevitable response is that the old purpose is simply not realistic today. How could out government become oppressive when we have a democracy? How could armed citizens resist, when the government has tanks, fighter planes, and nuclear bombs? The Deacons give us the answer: A democratic government can become oppressive against a subset of its citizens if the majority support it, and “the government” might not be the federal government with tanks and nuclear bombs, but a local government with a police force that is on the side of the majority and has no qualms about oppressing that subset.

As you may or may not know, I grew up in Memphis and was getting ready to graduate from high school when Dr. King was assasinated. My friends and I broke the curfew, sneaked into the "triage zone," and watched burning buildings and military response against snipers. I think it was one of those turning points in my life, a sense that the world was not nearly as fixed, nor as stable, nor as black-and-white as I'd learned in high school. Of course, there were no blacks in my high school, and one, coun'em, Jewish person. We had no proms or dances, because Afro-Americans might attend. There were no public swimming pools, because...you guessed it! One of my relatives used to tell the knee-slapping story of when, as a little kid, I accidentally went in the "Colored" door at the What-A-Burger. Yep...a real knee-slapper...

Growing up in Memphis back then left me with an utter revulsion for any and all kinds of discrimination, regardless of how "respectable" it might be. I AM A MAN read the protest posters before Dr. King was killed. Not exactly a revolutionary statement.

BTW, a little bit of trivia you'll only find on The Michael Bane Blog!

One of the great myths of the King assasination was that immediately after the shooting, there was a broadcast on police radio bands that sent city cops all over town. That myth has been totally debunked, along with all the other myths suggesting a conspiracy.

Well, as it happens, my parents were chronic police band monitors back then, and I was an active amateur radio operator and "short-wave listener," a collector of "QSL cards," written verification of listening to obscure, distant radio stations. In effect, I was a professional listener. So my parents were listening to the police radio when Dr. King was shot. They immediately called me into the room, where I heard a series of dispatches sending cops all over the city like somekind of Keystone chase scene.

"That's not a police broadcast," I said. It was obviously not the cops — the signal strength was much stronger and sounded different than police dispatch; the tone and nature of the voice behind the microphone was totally different that the usual dispassionate police dispatcher; the signal was cutting in and out, which police dispatches never did, etc.

Of course, that never happened. I've read that it never happened. No tape recordings, nobody remember nothing. And if it's written down, it must be true, right?

Did Ray pull the trigger? I think so. Did he act alone? Yeah, sure.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Memoirs of a Sort of Geisha

You know, in the wake of the controversy over A Million Little Pieces and the other "memoirs" which contain the "essential truths" of a person's life while not actually honing to those pesky fact thingies, I'm thinking of writing my own memoirs. I figure I'll start out with a variation of that classic line from Steve Martin's The Jerk:
"I was born a poor black man..."
Then I'll chronicle how I studied to become the rarest of the rare, the only Kabuki player in rural Mississippi. Oh, the trials! Oh, the humanity! Then, after I'm hired as Sheriff in a one-truck town in eastern Oklahoma and I have my first confrontation with Buford Pusser, who's there for a high school football game...

QUICK! Call Oprah! My future is waiting!

Strangely enough, in the Real World, I met Buford Pusser just before he 1) wrapped his Corvette around a tree or 2) got whacked by the Tennessee Mafia, your choice. I was a baby reporter for a newspaper in rural Tennessee, and my specialty was interviewing people who had been abducted by aliens...now that I think about it, my real life might have been as fundamentally weird as my fantasy life. That's creepy, isn't it?

QUICK! Call Oprah! My future is waiting!

While I'm waiting to here from Oprah, here's a nice column from Mike Thomas at the Orlando Sentinel:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is targeting fishermen in a magazine aimed at our kids. The cover features a fiendish caricature of a man gutting a trout like Jason impaling a teenager in Friday the 13th.

It says: "Your Daddy KILLS Animals!"

Yes, he does. But considering all this gear, not nearly as many as he should.
Get your own copy here. I tried to filch the cover for you, but PETA distrustful mornons that they are, make it hard.

Laugh though you might, at least PETA understands a fundamental truth — that distributing a bazillion copies of an idiotic comix probably has a greater long-term effect that introducing a handful of kids to hunting birds on game farms. It's a battle of numbers. folks!

Don't forget the Carnival of Cordite for Friday the 13th! There's some suggestion that we start a "Best Gun Blog" Awards, since the big blog awards, including the ones for conservative blogs, ignore us like we had a combination of bird flu and BO. You all know that, though, because I've written extensively about how we're the conservatives' crazy uncle locked in the bathroom closet until they need our votes to pull one of their chimps' nuggets out of the election fire. Go to Countertop-Chronicles to read about the idea, then VOTE FOR ME! What category??? I like to think I'm in my own little category...that's one of those "essential truths!"

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Brad & Angelina's Baby!

No, I didn't have anything to do with it...she didn't even call, the heartless slut! Maybe she'll auction off that little vial of Billy Bob's blood (sounds like cola for redneck vampires, doesn't it?) on eBay. Be a nice gift for my Sweetie; beats one of those boring diamonds. Well, any girl obsessed with knives can't be all bad, although if I were the Brad-ster, I might sleep with one eye open and keep checking under the bed for an icepick.

Meanwhile, I spent the day reviewing SHOOTING GALLERY and COWBOY video...I am sooooooooo pleased! The editing just rocks, and the information is equally solid. I really like the opening segment of the SG Zen of the .22 episode, featuring guns from Tactical Solutions and SIGARMS, which is scheduled to air the week of February 6. I think I may have finally succeeded in offending nearly everyone.

We're also putting together some really cool COWBOYS episodes, including one where we bring SG regular Walt Rauch and legendary NYPD Stake-Out Squad member Jim Cirillo — who has been called a modern day Wyatt Earp — to Tombstone to give a serious hard-core critique of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

On the news front, here's a nice story from ESPN Outdoors from my friend James Swan, who once got an acting job on Star Trek Next Gen because he had the same size feet (small) as Patrick Stewart:
The hunting and shooting sports community does heroic work, but it tends to focus on fighting a seemingly endless stream of defensive battles.

The time is long overdue to take some pro-active steps to educate the general public about the truth surrounding people who own guns, enjoy shooting them safely and hunt.


The media is a powerful force of shaping community attitudes, and its anti-gun bias is well-documented. Outdoor channels tend to reach the choir. The battle for public opinion about guns will be won in the general media.

Preachy documentaries tend to reach "the saved." Despite the box office success of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," his candidate did not win.

People want to be entertained. Consider what the film "A River Runs Through It" did for the explosive growth of flyfishing.
You might also want to read James' excellent book, In Defense of Hunting.

I'm hoping I hit a couple of days of decent weather at home to put some rounds downrange, specifically through the Hamilton Bowen .38-40 S&W and the Cylinder & Slide 1911. I'm going to spend a little time chained to the Big Blue Machine and produce some cakewalk .38-40s. I've got a bunch of Black Hills Cowboy .38-40 and some of the hot WW .38-40 JHPs, which skate between .40 S&W and .41 Magnums (you already know that .38-40s aren't .38 caliber, right? .401 bullets), but I'd like some little puffers. I also want to start putting in some competition practice, because I'm committed to shooting — as well as filming — the Single Stack Classic and the International Revolver Championships, and I'd like to not be a complete cretin.

As I've mentioned before, Randy Lee's building me a 629 .44 revolver for the IRC; I'd like to beta-test one of the new SIG GSR Revolution 1911s — this one, except without a rail — at the Single Stack. It depends on whether they can get me one in time for Bruce Gray to dink it before the match. I loved the ones I shot up at SIG a couple of months ago...really slick 1911s, and I would have happily given money for the two-toned one I did the most shooting with (not for sale, unfortunately)! But if past is any precedent, I will need the grip safety lightened up, and I'm picky about competition triggers. If I absolutely postively can't get the SIG, I'll shoot the C&S gun, which is the one built on the Kimber Olympic gun. Still, I seriously doubt Rob Leatham has anything to worry about!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

New Season for LOST, So I Feel Fine!

Spent the day at the range with Jerry Miculek doing a little piece for SHOT SHOW TV on Accuracy Grips. They're pretty interesting for a couple of reasons...they force the trigger finger into the proper position, and they direct the trigger finger away from the trigger when not actually firing.

I'm still a big fan of the Alumagrip aluminum grips for my 1911s, because I like the checkering. Although I am kinda bummed they stopped making them in trashy colors. I did a little endorsement for them at last year's SHOT SHOW, and another this year. BTW, I'm getting rich off the endorsement deal — 1 (count 'em) pair of grips! I even bought my own set of GUNSITE Alumagrips last time I was in Paulden. Maybe I need Jerry McGuire to represent me...SHOW ME THE MONEY! Don't give it to me...it's bad for me...but taunt me with it!

Still, Jerry M. speaks pretty highly of the Accuracy Grip system, and heaven knows he's forgotten more about trigger pull than I'll ever know. I'm going to put a set on my 9mm Kimber 1911 that I use to train people and see how they work. I'll let you know.

HOUSEKEEPING...First, thanks for all the kind words on the new season!!! I have dinner with Robin and crew tonight, and I'm going to convey all your great responses. Alledgedly, boxed sets of SG seasons should be available very very soon at Wal-Marts and on The Outdoor Channel site. BTW, if you should find yourself sitting around with nothing to do, why not drop a line to the Powers-That-Be at TOC and tell them SHOOTING GALLERY has made you a better person, enhanced your relationships with members of the opposite sex and been responsible for virtually all of your financial successes, including those at Texas Hold-Em. Oh, and if SG doesn't go to an hour, you're going to hold your breath until you turn blue. Seriously. I'd appreciate it!

Couple of exciting things got nailed down today...an instructional episode with Jerry on a brand-spanking new product from S&W and a first-time television look at Barrett's new boomer, the .416 Barrett, a shortened and necked down .50 BMG, which lobs a 400-grain bullet at 3250 fps. Perfect for small game and garbage trucks!

Been talking to Taurus about the 1911 project they revealed last year, and they've got big plans for SHOT. We'll be on top of that (and, yes, it's looking like we will be doing two SGs from the floor of SHOT, as long as much shirt holds out!

Got to go scrape off the range dirt! More later...

One more BTW...can you believe that Apple introduced a revolutionary new Power Laptop with 4X the speed, much more power and a $200 less price tag less than a week after I bought a new, now obsolete PowerBook??? I guess my karma is still stained. Hell, is it any wonder I buy old Rugers?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Must Read "Bias in the Media"...

...column from Jeff over at Alphecca! he does an excellent job of rounding up the present "national calls for gun control," or, as we like to call it, Brady's current initiative. Also check out his dis'sing the goods for MTV's incrediably "I'm a Gunowner." Check the Bitch Girls for more on MTV's predictable smear.

BTW, I'm looking forward to meeting and shooting with Jeff up at the SIGARMS Academy in early May. Jeff does a great job with an important subject.

While Sam Alito wasn't my first choice for the Supremes, I'm glad that he knows his way around a shotgun:
"He's a great marksman — he can do double clays," she [Alito's wife] says, meaning he can hit two clay pigeon targets thrown simultaneously into the air before either hits the ground.
That's a good thing. Maybe we can get him out to the range in Fairfax and crank up some 1911s! Or maybe hook him and Justice Scalia up with Kim Rhode for a little training...now that would be a "Supreme" SHOOTING GALLERY!

If you haven't seen any of this season's SHOOTING GALLERY and COWBOYS, I urge you to mortgage your house, buy a huge 60-inch plasma TV, sign up with Direct TV, get TIVO, then record the whole seasons. The reviews have been just spectacular — I think we've broken through to a whole new level. The shows are fast, funny and I believe the most credible information on firearms available on television.

My partner Robin Berg has hammered together an exception editing staff who are both excellent editors and understand guns and shooting. Our video teams are second to none — each crew now with years of experience filming shooting events as well as years of experience in the business. [One of our videographers was CNN's man in Bosnia; the other has 14 Director of Photography credits in slasher movies! Our sound guy did U2's videos...]. We're using state-of-the-art high definition video equipment — Panasonic movie cameras — and movie-quality field lighting. Yes, it's expensive as all get-out, but Robin and I felt it was time to take our shows to another level.

And subject matter...kiddies, we're here to rock and roll!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Monday Musings After Too Much Coffee

First, here is the final shooter line-up for the SHOOTING GALLERY CHALLENGE at GUNSITE the weekend after SHOT:

• Doug Koenig — Professional shooter for S&W
• Max Michel — U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit
• Jerry Miculek — Professional shooter for S&W
• Randi "Holy Terror" Rogers — Professional shooter for Cimarron Arms
• Dave Sevigny — Professional shooter for Glock
• Roger Sherman — U.S. Air Force Athlete of the Year
• Phil Strader — U.S. Capital Police Department

Personally, I love the final line-up for lots of reasons. There's a repeat match-up between Great Outdoor Games winners Doug Koenig and Jerry Miculek, two of the best shooters who've ever lived; there's the gut-level rivalry between Army and Air Force in the form of two of their greatest shooters ever; there's Glock's Dave Sevigny with a chance to finally shed his "heir apparent" status and nail down his position as the best handgun shooter in the world; there's up-and-comer Phil Strader, a law enforcement officer with a more than 40 hour-a-week job, who has clawed his way to the top levels of shooting with sheer determination and talent; then there's the wild card, "Holy Terror," maybe the best woman shooter ever, who is absolutely convinced she can be the spoiler.

Can you spell "D-R-A-M-A?"

I"m also watching the developing gun control initiative being driven by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Here's John Lott's take on it:
Mayor Bloomberg wants to take New York City's gun control regulations nationwide. At his swearing in ceremony earlier this month, Mr. Bloomberg announced his top priority for the next four years: a nationwide fight across America for more gun control, from Washington, D.C., to individual statehouses.
Everyone wants to prevent criminals from getting guns. But the experience in other countries, even island nations that have gone so far as banning guns and where boarders are easy to monitor, should give Mr. Bloomberg and his supporters some pause. The regulations seem to have only kept law-abiding citizens from getting guns.
I don't see this getting any traction outside of the Northeast, where it is being fueled by the current Canadian anti-gun natterings. But any anti-gun push bears watching.

Finally, I was challenged at dinner last night by my Sweetie to explain my visceral loathing of Ang Lee's new movie, Brokeback Mountain. I certainly loved Crouching Tiger; Hidden Dragon and liked The Ice Storm (The Hulk was, well, The Hulk). But a love story between two married gay cowboys in the 1960s tripped some sort of switch in my — and many other guy's — head.

"You're not a homophobe," she said. "So why the response?"

I'm not a homophobe — although I know that sounds like the BS line from the bad old days of segregation, "some of my best friends are Negros," than I would care for it to. I am libertarian to the core, period. I brought the Pink Pistols into the NSSF Media Education Program over the objections of industry powerhouses who predicted (and in some cases guaranteed) dire personal and professional consequences to me. Regular blog readers already know what I think about gay marriage.

So what's my beef?

I've given it some thought — as I always do when challenged by my Sweetie — and I think my reaction is a "last straw function" caused by Hollywood's unceasing assault on mainstream American culture. Even that wouldn't bother me if we had a choice in what to watch, if maybe I could have a regular selection of movies that didn't want to rub my nose in something stinky.

I profoundly distrust my government, but I don't believe it's behind every conspiracy in the world. I don't believe it has the competence to run a decent conspiracy! Hell, our legislators can't even figure out how to take bribes without ending up in the pokey! Those stealthy spymasters at the CIA missed the collapse of the Soviet empire, not to mention 9-11.

I have an equally healthy distrust of big industries, but also a near-religious belief in the power of a free market. Priase the Lord — I believe in supply and demand! Want oil prices to go down? Sell your friggin' Hummer.

I don't think violence is necessarily good or bad, but is sometimes appropriate. I applaud the Israelis for whacking the masterminds of the Olympic massacre of innocents, and I urge the U.S. government to continue killing the swine who see innocents as fair game. I don't want to see them brought to trial; I don't care to hear their side of the story; I don't need a Cliff's Note text on their religion...I want to see them dead in an umarked grave.

I don't think we're on the brink of a religious dictatorship, or a dictatorship of any kind. That's why we have the guns, folks.

"Last straw..." man, what can we do to really shake up the straights? I know, let's do gay cowboys! Want a piece of advice there, Mr. Lee...and may I call you Ang? Try doing a movie where, say, a woman — heck, it can even be a gay woman — defends her life with a gun against an attacker bent on rape and murder, then is caught up in a system determined to make her the bad guy, ruled over by a ruthless, relentless and utter amoral ambitious prosecuting attorney (you can pick up some pointers at Michael Douglas' next Hillary in 2008 fundraiser). In an amazing twist, the hapless victim emerges victorious, and the last scene is her taking an all-women class at GUNSITE to get even better.

That, Ang, would take some real cohones, as opposed to ben-wah balls that Hollywood calls courage...