Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Fitz-y Favor for Walt...

...Since the photo thingie seems to be working as billed, I thought I would respond to a email from Walt Rauch for pixs of my 1917 S&W Fitz Special. I didn't exactly set up the lights for this — more of a "throw and floor and photo" — but I promise I'll get better.

Also, FWIW, we're looking at another complete overhaul of the SHOOTING GALLERY site, turning it into an online gun magazine. My idea is to incorporate my blog instead of regular columns. Hopefully, I'll be able to entice a couple of more ace gun people to contribute with integral blogs.

All I need is a clone!

Spam Crap!

Sorry about all the happy horse-crap spam in the Comments!

I've turned on the WORD VERIFICATION function for commenting, which means that when you comment, you have to type copy a word from the screen into a box to prove you're not one of those damn spam engines!

Okay, here a picture of the girls, Bishop (the red one looking at me upside down, which is macaw flirting,) and the hopelessly neurotic Cleo, wondering if I was going to give her a cookie. Actually, I'm testing the new image upload feature of Blogger. If you're looking at this and there's nothing there, red, blue or otherwise, it didn't work!

New Orleans...

...this from Drudge, just posted:
Police officers were asking residents to give up any guns they had before they boarded buses and trucks because police desperately needed the firepower.
Not that we need to be reminded, but good lord, the veneer or civilization is thin!

Valhalla, Detonics & Walt Rauch

Just as a little teaser, I reconnected yesterday with Jerry Ahern, president of the new Detonics, novelist, holster-maker and general all around gun guy. Jerry's also written extensively on concealed carry (I referenced his book, CCW: Carrying Concealed Weapons, in my Trail Safe book).

Right after I talked to Jerry, I talked to Walt Rauch, who had a great idea for a SHOOTING GALLERY — me, Walt and Jerry go to the Valhalla training facility and work with Valhalla chief instructor and rising star Rob Pincus on advanced concealed carry scenarios, utilizing all of Valhalla's computerized trickery.

Rob says, "Cool," so I'll see if we can't get a date set up for later this year and make the episode the closer for SG Season 5. I'll bet we can make this a show you'll want to record and keep!

Katrina RELIEF

Like everyone else, I am heartsick about the devastation in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

First, give money. Glenn Reynolds at INSTAPUNDIT has a list of relief organizations, headed up of course by the American Red Cross (the website,, is pretty much swamped right now).

I'm getting a lot of e-mail traffic about the looting in New Orleans. There is a difference between taking food and water for one's family and what is happening in New Orleans. As Jonah Goldberg at the National Review notes, looters need to be dealt with "off the camera." With a bullet.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

S&W .44 Update

Got an e-mail back from Paul Pluff, Marketing Direcvtor at S&W, who says they'll have M-21 .44 Specials in a week or so.

I've sent him an FFL & a credit card number!!!

SIGs, De-Blinged S&Ws and the Return of Detonics!

...since I got that nice SIG 226, I'm thinking of sending my 225 to the SIG Custom Shop for an action job and general overhaul. It's not bad, but I got it used and it does have some miles on it. I'd also like the action smoothed up just a is a primary carry gun, and I don't like to dink them around too much. I also like the idea of having a factory shop do the work on a primary carry gun, although it's not a point of religion with me (like it is with some people).

And, yes, if it was a competition gun, I'd send it to the illustrious Bruce Gray (, who is the best unknown gun mechanic in the country. As I've said before, Bruce could probably carve a gun out of a bar of soap and have it work.

I'm off the road for a couple of weeks, getting ready for our annual fall HELLISH ROAD TRIP built around the Steel Challenge in California. We'll be filming six SHOOTING GALLERYS in something like 9 days, which will leave me and the crew reduced to rubble. Really neat stuff, .22s, featuring a suppressed SIG Mosquito and the whole line of multicolored ultra-accurate .22 Rugers from Tactical Solutions...everything you ever wanted to know about AK-47s with Paul Gomez, who probably has dreams about AKs...a day with Beretta factory shooter David Olhasso...our special one-hour coverage of the Steel Challenge, including The Outdoor Channel/SIGARMS 72 Second Challenge, where we'll give $20,000 to any person who can break 72 seconds overall time (and if more than one speedster does it, fast time wins the bucks!)...also the police 5.11 Challenge finals up in Montana. Then I'll probably pass out!

Hopefully, I've located a cool ancient S&W revolver to be overhauled for the SG episode with Hamilton Bowen. It's a beat-to-crap Outdoorsman, probably 1930s vintage, with a sufficient number of replaced parts to render it worthless as a collector. My plan, if the gun matches its pictures (it should be arriving any day now) is to have it more-or-less converted to a replica .44 Special 2nd Model Hand Ejector, which is, I believe, one of the most beautiful revovlers ever made. A lot depends on what the base gun looks like when it gets here (and how my checkbook is holding out! Hamilton Bowen can pretty much work miracles with revolvers, but really really big miracles tend to be costly!). I'll keep you posted.

Speaking of S&W .44 Especiales Hand Ejectors, there are rumors all over the S&W Forum that the company is now shipping de-Thunder Ranched M-21 4-inch fixed site N-frame .44 Specials. As you may recall, S&W did a run of "Thunder Ranch Specials," 4-inch .44s with WAY TOO MUCH Thunder Ranch bling-bling gold stamping. While all the gold didn't effect the way the gun shot, it did make the owner a candidate for "WIN A DREAM DATE WITH P. DIDDY!" reality show. Beautiful gun when you excise the bling and about $200 bucks off the MSRP. No word on the price of the de-Ranched versions, but I dropped an e-mail to the Powers-That-Be at S&W placing one on order.

If the M-21 is really back in play, I may ask Hamilton to convert the old S&W to .38/40, a cartridge I really like a lot. The very first big bore revolver I ever purchased was a pristine 7 1/2-inch barrel Colt New Service in .38/40. I shot the hell out of it, including some loads that would knock the fillings out of your teeth. Under the influence of El Jefe Cooper, I eventually traded it for some 1911 something or other. NOTE TO WHOMEVER I TRADED THE .38/40 TO: Thank you for taking care of my gun! I'd like it back now, if you don't mind...

Finally, thanks to Mr. Walt Rauch in HANDGUNS, I note that Detonics is back on the scene. Detonics was one of the first manufacturers of itsy-bitsy .45s...the twist was that the Detonics guns actually worked! I had one of the little Combat Masters in the early 1980s, coutesy of a friend of mine who worked at a pawn shop. I carried it constantly and actually shot IPSC matches with the thing. It was a dead-on reliable rocket, and I loved the heck out of it. As it happens, a man showed up at my door with THREE (count 'em) S&W revolvers, including a spanking brand new unfired M-24 .44 Special 3-inch, a M-19 .357 2 1/2-inch and a nice L-frame .357 6-inch which he offered as an even-steven swap for the Detonics. Well, I was younger then...

So the Combat Master is back, which is a Good Thing! They're still expensive, but, hey, now all trick 1911s are expensive!

I also note that Brother Jerry Ahern is at the helm as President. Jerry is the author of roughly a billion books, most notably the Survivalist series, which was far, far better than any men's adventure series had any right to be (perhaps not surprisingly, the protagonist of the series, John Thomas Rourke, carry dual Detonics in a neat double shoulder rig, if I remember correctly). Jerry also designed some excellent holsters (I still use one of his pocket holsters from the Back When), and he and I once shared an agent in LA.

I thinking Mr. Ahern may be an upcoming SHOOTING GALLERY episode!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Yet More "Rules of Gunfighting"

You're all familiar with the basic rules of gunfighting, the first of which is, of course, "Have a gun." I cribbed these from last week's Carnival of Cordite (where I was graciously mentioned, thank you, Gullyborg!):
US Marine Corp Rules for Gunfighting

1. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
2. Decide to be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH.
3. Have a plan.
4. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won't work.
5. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
6. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun whose caliber does not start with a "4."
7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.
8. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend. (Lateral & diagonal preferred.)
9. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.
10. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
12. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or tactics. They will only remember who lived.
13. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating your intention to shoot
Navy SEAL Rules for Gunfighting

1. Look very cool in sunglasses.
2. Kill every living thing within view.
3. Adjust Speedo.
4. Check hair in mirror.
I especially like Marine #5 — "Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet." Reminds me of when I was first starting out in this stuff. I was, like, 29 years old and had just started "combat shooting." I go out for burger and fries with a bunch of guys I shot a SWAT commander; one a Vietnam Special Forces vet and two visiting Brit SAS guys. We're sitting there eating the MacWhatever burgers and one of the SAS guys turns to the SWAT commander and says, "What do you think?" The SWAT commander quietly starts pointing out people, "Him first...head shot...head shot...double tap...double tap..." One of the SAS guys says, "Sorry, mate...the girl behind the counter...can't see her hands, so she's a head shot, too." The other SAS guy pats me on the shoulder. "Don't worry," he says. "You'll get used to it. Eventually, it won't even feel weird."

Interesting AM News...

...while we're waiting to see whether New Orleans is washed away, here's a collection of interesting Monday morning reading. The first is an editorial from the Edmonton, Canada, SUN, responding to the whimpering nits in Toronto:
When we first read the headline in last Thursday's Sun - "Feds taking aim at gun violence" - we thought that there must have been some mistake.

Gun violence? What gun violence? We have a very expensive national gun registry that was put into place to ensure that every firearm in Canada can be tracked. We have cumbersome regulations in place that make it more difficult for Canadians to buy guns. We have armies of bureaucrats shuffling paper to and fro to make sure that everything related to guns in this country is all very above-board and law-abiding.

So there can't possibly be any gun violence in Canada!
There you have it! Read the whole thing, then ponder whether we should invade eastern Canada and attempt to establish a democracy there.

Our second great read is a voice of reason from our own "Toronto Red Zone," San Francisco, home of some of the best food and dimmest political minds in America. As you remember, the City by the Bay's government leaders — Spot, Fido, Rover...whoops...those are dogs, who are a lot smarter than San Fran political leaders! — want a referendum on banning handguns in the next election. What a good idea! It's worked so sell everywhere else!

Read this morning's editorial from the San Fran Chronicle on the "nanny state, then this old editorial I referenced earlier this year, but I liked it so much I decided to relink it...from SF Gate:
According to the proposed ban, gun owners will be given 90 days to relinquish their handguns at any police department or sheriff's department station. Do the supervisors really imagine that gun owners will just start pouring into local law-enforcement offices and surrendering their handguns? And if they don't comply, how will the law be enforced exactly? Will the City send patrols out to roam the streets, collecting guns from an unwilling populace? (Past National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston's famous quote, "From my cold, dead hands," comes to mind). Does the famously liberal leadership of San Francisco really want to place itself in the position of breaking down doors and forcibly disarming law-abiding citizens?
Maybe after we invade eastern Canada, we can send Special Forces groups into San Fran...

Finally, an aside...I have many many friends in and around the New Orleans and south Mississippi and Alabama area...people I've shot with, fans of the show, good friends in law enforcement. My thoughts, as are the thoughts of all Americans, are with them today as they face, "that high black water...the Devil's daughter" of Hurricane Katrina. I know my friends, and I know they — law enforcement and civilian alike — will not hesitate to put themselves in harm's way to help other people. Be careful out there. Let's make sure we'll all being sharing chicory coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde again very soon!

That high black water, she's the Devil's daughter
She's hard and she's cold and she's mean
Nobody’s taught her that it takes a lot of water to wash away New Orleans

— Leon Everette

Sunday, August 28, 2005

And Here It Is...

This just came down from D.C., probably on a marble tablet and thanks to Daniel at The Gun Zone!). Keep in mind it's "presolicitation:"
The USSOCOM intends to issue a solicitation to obtain commercially available non-developmental item (NDI) Joint Combat Pistol (JCP) system, Caliber .45 (ACP). The Program will use full and open competition to fulfill the JCP requirement. The JCP will be delivered in accordance with specification entitled "Performance Specification Joint Combat Pistol" to be provided with issuance of the solicitation.

Two configurations of the pistol will be required. One configuration will have no external safety and the other configuration will have an external safety. The Combat Pistol System consists of: a Caliber .45 pistol and its ancillary equipment including: Magazines (standard and high-capacity); Suppressor Attachment Kit for operation of the pistol with and without sound suppressor; Holster; Magazine Holder (standard and high-capacity); Cleaning Kit; and Operator's Manual.

The contract type will be an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) issuing Firm-Fixed Price (FFP) delivery orders. The contract period of performance shall be Five (5)years with an option to extend for an additional Five (5) years. The Minimum Quantity is 24 each Engineering Test Units (ETU's), 12 each with external manual safety and 12 each without external manual safety. The estimated Maximum quantities are: 45,000 no external safety JCP configuration and 600,000 JCP with the external safety configuration; 649,000 Holsters; 96,050 Standard Capacity Magazines; 192,099 High Capacity Magazines; 667,000 Magazine Holders; 132,037 Suppressor attachment kits; Provisioning Item Order, Technical Data Package and associated Data. Transportation shall be F.O.B. Destination.

The solicitation will require, free of charge to the government, delivery of 24 each product samples along with a concise written proposal all due on the closing date stated in the solicitation. The 24-each product sample from the successful offeror may be accepted as the Minimum Quantity. Any subsequent delivery orders for JCP's will order between 50 each and 200,000 each with a maximum monthly delivery rate of 5,000 each. Any subsequent orders for the ancillary items will require delivery to commence within 60 days after receipt of order.

The product samples and written proposal will be evaluated on a best value basis and the Government will reserve the right to award to other than the lowest priced offeror and other than the highest technically rated offeror. Product samples from unsuccessful offerors will be returned to the offerors upon request and at the offeror's expense. The Government cannot guarantee the condition of the product samples after testing.

All responsible sources may submit a proposal, which shall be considered by the agency. The Government intend to issue a draft solicitation. Notifications, Solicitation, and other communication will be posted via FEDBIZOPS.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Michael Being Pissy...

After my posting on Tom Threepersons-style holsters the other day, it jogged my memory that I had been meaning to order a couple of El Paso Saddlery holsters for my Rugers. I called yesterday afternoon to order three holsters; two hours later I received a box from a different holster manufacturers guess it!

So I emailed El Paso to see if I could change my hours-old order from three holsters to one holster.

El Paso tells me "no can do." They charged my credit card within seconds, even though they can't even quote a specific delivery date ("six to 10 weeks") on the holsters! bad...should have asked more questions. Whine whine...I can always use more holsters, I guess. They offered me store credit, but I can't say I'm thrilled at doing anymore business with 'em on general principle. Maybe I'm just pissy today.

I stand by the Tom Threepersons as one of the finest field holsters ever made. If you'd still like to obtain one, here are some alternative sources:

San Pedro Saddlery makes a beautiful Tom Threepersons rig, in addition to some spectacular cowboy leather. Look under their "Custom" listing.

Kirkpatrick Leather makes a really nice update of the Threepersons holster in their "Sixgunner." I use Kirkpatrick Leather for cowboy shooting, and it's hard to beat. Mike Kirpatrick will probably make you anything you want, for that matter, and it will be perfect!

• There's always the Bianchi 1L "Lawman" single action holster, which was, I believe John Bianchi's first commercial success way back when. If you don't want it from Bianchi, you can get a similar Threepersons/Bianchi-designed rig from Western Gun Holsters.

• The Ted Blocker Model 19 field holster is a fine choice for SA carry, and you can see its Threepersons roots. I also love their Wild Bunch 1911 holsters! (Bell Charter Oaks does at Threepersons design for the 1911 as well, call the G-Man).

Black Hills' Old Timer also shows its heritage! I've never used anything from Black Hills, but I have friends I trust who swear by their products.

• Finally, Dennis Yoder makes a beautiful western field holster, The Ter, which will probably be my next SA holster!

Ketchup Friday...

...get it? Ketchup...catch-up? Never mind. Stupid idea.

Okay, from today's Things I Didn't Know I Needed That Came In The Mail Anyway file, yesterday I got a "car holster" from a company called Grassburr Leather Works. In short, it's a custom-made leather holster fitted inside a zippered carry pouch, which is fitted on the outside with a brass mouting bracket to attach someplace in your car. Oh hell, go look at the pictures and it will make perfectly good sense!

Screw the dohicky mouting thingie into the console so it's convenient to your right hand; bolt the holster/zipper case to the dohickie; insert gun. Pretty cool, if you ask me. It's going on the Boxcar, my Honda Element, ASAP. You can get a top mount or a side mount, depending on your vehicle. The holster they sent me is for a J-frame S&W, but I'm thinking I must have one for the SIG 226, especially since I still have a partial case remaining of that now-unavailable Israeli black-tipped carbine 9mm, which will penetrate a car windshield or door better than any ammo I ever tested (short of a 12 gauge Brenneke slug!).

Obviously, the mount also works in closets, under your desk, etc. The company makes a natty mounting system for ATVs, too, and some pretty nice looking holsters (I'm going to order one for my many single actions, which always appreciate the occasional new home). Don't even get me started on their custom boots!

Once again, I'm quoting from a gun magazine, this time HANDGUNS. I used to write for HANDGUNS in the Back-When, before we all started competing in the mysterious world of television; editor Jerry Lee is a good friend (and straight-up guy). He's peopled the magazine with honest-to-goodness authorities you'd recognize from SHOOTING GALLERY (Walt Rauch, Dave Spaulding) and other really good guys (in this issue, single action genuine I-Really-Know-A-Lot-About-This Brian Pearce, blog regular and convivial bon vivant Patrick Sweeney, Mr. Pass Me The Cigar Rick Hacker, Farmer Frank James and and my counterpart from G&A TV, Garry James). Not a single one of HANDGUNS writer staff has either:
1) Called the magazine's readers miserable butt-sucking pond-scum vermin for not buying an endorsed product.
2) Claimed to be the reincarnation of Doc Holliday, Audie Murphy or the entire Princess Gate SAS cast of the movie The Final Option.
3) Viciously and spuriously criticized dead people, who don't seem to be in a position to "answer the charges."
Anyhow, Dave Spaulding has some fascinating quotes from Blackwater's Tactical Weekly newsletter ( — their website is swamped this AM so I can't link), which reprinted a piece from the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin on the myth of "one shots stops." Here's the link for the original article:

In many of the classic, albeit simplistic, cowboy movies from the early days of the American film industry, the stereotypical “good guys” wore white hats, whereas the “bad guys” donned black ones. After meeting in the middle of a dirt street in some small town, two shots would ring out. The bad guy’s bullet always missed, but the one from the hero in the white hat inevitably found its mark and freed the town of the criminal threat. With one shot from the good guy’s gun, the bad guy immediately dropped to the ground and became completely incapacitated.

In today’s films and television programs, Hollywood has varied not only the clothing of the actors but also their standards and demeanor, both the good guys and the bad guys. It now has become difficult to distinguish the protagonist from the antagonist. Unfortunately, however, this increased realism has not always carried over to the portrayal of gun battles. Many current shooting scenes continue to display unrealistic reactions and underlying expectations regarding ballistic effects. For example, one shot from a handgun often lifts the wounded person 2 feet off the ground and causes immediate incapacitation.

Even knowing that these are movies and television programs, some in the law enforcement community still expect one-shot drops in real-life shootings. In fact, few actual instances end this way.
I saw this last night on television, when, in a moment of weakness, I watched the Kim Basinger vehicle Cellular. A bad guy is shot with what looked like a Glock 17 9mm, and he is lifted up offf the ground and hurled into a wall, where ne promptly expires. Darn, I though, I need some of that ammo!

The short story is that what the authors of the study found was that neither the gun nor the ammo used was a factor in any of the gunfights they studied. Rather, the outcome was the result of the officer's training and attitude.

I bring this up because a commenter pointed out that the 9mm has recently undergone a refurbishing in the gun press. A few years back, the 9mm was regarded as suitable only for tiny back-up guns or rabbit hunting — only the .45 (or a .357 +P+ with depleted uranium) would "guarantee" the nuclear slam-bang one-shot stop. Now many people are coming out of the closet and admitting that they carry 9mm for self-defense without fear of ridicule!

It's about SHOT PLACEMENT! It's always been about shot placement! This from the report's conclusions on firearms training:
Combat courses should necessitate officers shooting until they incapacitate the threat (target) or the threat ceases. This can help prevent, rather than encourage, psychological reinforcement and presumption that the threat will desist after firing a given number of rounds.

If lethal force is warranted and appropriate under the circumstances, the officer must shoot until the threat ceases. [my emphasis!] Use of cardboard or paper targets, although economical, inherently forces personnel to perceive bullet impacts on a single plane of reference with out dimension—much different from a human simulation with dimension and placement of organs/skeletal structure of a body.

An occasional mix of training on a three-dimensional target, such as clothed mannequins, preformed targets, and other devices limited only by imagination, may better demonstrate and encourage personnel to exercise critical-thinking skills for delivering optimal shot placement and effective ness. An example is a shooting scenario requiring accurate shot placement on a three-dimensional target at an adverse angle substantially different from the usual 90-degree target placement in many training scenarios due to range design, safety, and economy of training resource time.
Thanks for pointing out this report, Dave! Everyone who carries a gun needs to read it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Some Reading Matter for the Next Trip...

Got a set of uncorrrected proofs from my pal Stephen Hunter's on new NON-FICTION book, AMERICAN GUNFIGHT: The Plot to Kill Harry Truman —and the Shoot-Out That Stopped It, co-written with John Bainbridge Jr.

I fully expect it to be brilliant, because I can't imagine Stephen doing anything less. He was telling me about this project last time we were together, which was, perhaps not surprisingly, at a funky bar in Virginia, within spitting distance of D.C. He said he needed a break from the oh-so-successful Bob the Nailer and family series.

"Aren't we writers a pathetic bunch?" Stephen told me. "I'm a successful novelist, and I want to write non-fiction. You're a successful non-fiction writer, and you want to write novels. Never happy!"

He's looking forward to doing a SHOOTING GALLERY, just for the heck of it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Short Bulletin from the IPSC World Shoot... Equador. This from revolver ace, gunsmith and regular blog commentator Patrick Sweeney:

I'm on the laptop, in Guayaquil, without my address book.

We're having a blast, and if anyone questions the wisdom of a long sight radius, one trip through a match like this would convince them. I think I've had two stages so far that weren't trick stages. Today, for our last (and big) stage, we finally had a chance to shoot targets where we didn't have to slide shots past a no-shoot or three. And of the 16 targets on the course, only 6 were what a US shooter would consider at "normal" distances. the rest? From 20 to 35 yards out.

Add in the smaller A zone, and you need all you can get to hack it here.
Hang in there, Patrick! And make sure Lisa Farrell kicks butt!

Holsters and the Like...

I ordered up a Blade-Tech belt holster for the SIG 226, which is pretty much standard operating procedure for me. The B-T vertical belt holster is what I thiknk of as a baseline'll conceal under a vest; it's a great range holster; it'll eventually scrape the finish off the gun, but that's life. BTW, I actually pay MSRP for B-T stuff, so I must like it!

I ordered an ITB from Hoffners for the S&W Fitz. Holsters for Fitz-style guns are tough, because so much of the weight of the gun is in the cylinder. That causes the weight to be distributed high on the holster, which pulls it away from the body

I'll also order some leather from Lou Alessi and Rusty Sherrick for both the SIG and the S&W Fitz, but that's a longer-term proposition.

I'm thinking of doing a "choosing a holster" episode of SHOOTING GALLERY. I realized while I was ordering holsters that it's actually a complicated function that I've been doing so long it's second nature. I know what works for me...I've learned that by spending literally thousands of dollars on HOLSTERS THAT SUCKED!!!

I tend to be conservative. I believe Lou Alessi makes the best leather concealment holsters on earth, especially for 1911s — the Heinie/Alessi DOJ is the standard by which all others are judged. I have NEVER gotten a bad product from Tim Wegner at Blade-Tech, and the first holsters I got from B-T so many years ago are still in service. I'm a recent convert to Rusty Sherrick, but I believe he makes the best revolver holsters I've ever seen. If I had the bucks, I'd have Rusty build me a holster for every revolver I own, which is a lot! I believe Galco makes the best shoulder holster systems out there (I might include the old Bianchi X-15 for large-frame longer-barreled revolvers).

There are, of course, the classics (most of which came from the fertile mind of the late holster genius Bruce Nelson:

• The Tom Threeperson's design, as executed by San Pedro Saddlery (and others) is one of the best belt holster designs for field carry ever made.

• The Askins Avenger, as made by everyone on earth. the first ones were made by Bruce Nelson with Charlie Askins' input.

• The Milt Sparks Summer is what it is, a fine IWB.

• The Gordon Davis Taylor-Omega vertical belt holster. The best leather 1911 range/concealment holster I own, and good luck on finding one! Mine dates back to, like, 1982 or so. It was my basic "combat shooting" holster for years. About as close as you can come these days is the Gunsite Training Holster from Galco.

I'm sure some other gunnies who read this blog have their own favorites!

Would you like to see a show on holster design and selection???

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Gun Tests Tuesday!

So I raced back into town yesterday and...went to the range! There were several guns I needed to put some rounds through, and it's taken me awhile to get a new private range dialed in since the scumbags in the Forest Service shut down shooting in the Front Range.

First up was the Taurus THUNDERBOLT. Essentially, the Thunderbolt, made in Brazil, is externally a copy of the ill-fated Colt Lightning rifle (here's Kim du Toit's short take on 'em), a pump-action rifle in pistol cartridges aimed at the Cowboy Action Shooting market. The gun was announced a year or so ago, but it has taken a bit of time to get it to the arket. In fact, the blue-steel .45 Colt Gaucho I have is the ONLY one presently in the country and was overnighted to me by Taurus head honcho Bob Morrison.

The Lightning was originally made in the mid-1880s to compete with those pesky lever-action Winchesters, which were in the process of Winning the West. There were two main problems with the original Lightning — it featured a Rube Goldberg pump linkage that was virtually guaranteed to fail under use, and, more importantly, it seriously pissed off Winchester. The (possibly apochraphal) story's told in Hartford CT of how Winchester execs showed up at Colt's doorstep with three really nice single-action revolvers that Winchester was "considering" producing. The Colt Lightning quickly vanished.

Flash forward to CAS, where speed is everything. On paper, a pump rifle could indeed run with the short-stroked Winchester 1873s, with the added benefit of the shooter only having to contend with two, rather than three, types of firearms (pump shotgun and pum rifle rather than lever rifle and pump shotgun). There have been a couple of Lightning revivals, most notably the beautiful U.S. Firearms version, but they all suffered from being copies of a flawed original.

Enter Taurus, primarily a handgun manufacturer who just started dabbling in long guns. Taurus' first long gun, interestingly enough, was a copy of the venerable Winchester M62 "gallery gun" .22 LR pump. The 62 was one of the first guns I ever shot (along with several generations of kids), and I spent a fortune in quarters on various carnival midways winning teddy bears with gallery guns. The opening sequence of SHOOTING GALLERY, by the way, features a Taurus gallery gun...

With a single action revolver in the works, Taurus already had the SASS market in their sights. Rather than enter the already crowded lever action sweepstakes, Taurus took an innovative path. First, remember that SASS is primarily interested in how guns look as opposed to how guns work. To wit, the Ruger New Vaquero is a modern design made with modern tooling to current standards, but it looks like an old Colt. And, realistically, all modern guns must be made to modern safety standards if you plan to keep your company longer than the length of the first lawsuit!

So Taurus created a gun that is a letter-perfect duplicate of the Lightning, but, internally is a beefed up M62, probably the most tested and perfected pump gun in existance. My test gun is, as I said, a blue .45 Colt with a 26-inch barrel and a 14-round capacity. Finish and fit is uniformally excellent — the blue is a deep blue/black, much like the original Colt blue on the Lightning. The hardwood stock (looks like walnut to me) and forend are excellent, with good pressed checkering on the stubby little forend. The wood-to-metal fit on the stock is EXCELLENT, and the curved metal buttplate is a really nice touch. The gun features Taurus' signature locking system on the back of the hammer, but it's unobtrusive. Sights are a Marble-styled buckhorn and a neat dovetailed-in half-moon front with a "bump" on an excellent sight picture. I'd like a gold bead, but I'm pissy about stuff like that.

The Thunderbolt has a side loading gate just like a lever gun — pull the pump all the way back. It opens the top-ejecting action and let's you feed the rounds in. The feed angle for the fat .45 Colts seemed a little steeper than on a lever gun, but in about 20-30 rounds you get the hang of it. I had to remind myself that I've been feeding rounds into a Winchester since I was, like 6 years-old...anything else seems abnormal!

Trigger is about 5 pounds (no, I didn't measure it). Let's put it like's crisp, clean and light enough that I wouldn't bother sending this off to Steve Young! One thing I like about the Thunderbolt is, in keeping with its period flavor, the absence of external controls — work the pump; pull the trigger. What else do you need?

I took this sucker to the range with a bunch of Winchester Cowboy .45 Colt ammo. I don't shoot a lot of .45 Colt, but my experience with Winchester's Cowboy .44s has been that it's about as accurate as you can get...a boatload more accurate than my sloppy practice handloads!

First...THIS THING IS FAST FAST FAST! The pump stroke is about 2 inches, as opposed to four inches on my Remington 870 for example. You seem to barely have to move your arm to run the gun. My pal Mark Stringfellow, an IPSC A-level shooter, were loading 10 rounds in the tube, when WHIPPING through them.

The Thunderbolt will SLAM-FIRE, that is, hold the trigger down and work the pump, and it'll fire every time. This has some interesting implications for CAS shooting, especially on some of the larger, close-up rifle targets. I believe a master shooter could make this thing run like a Thompson on close-up steel — I'll find out this weekend, when I hand it over to Tequila, host of COWBOYS and 5-time World Champion, to wring out. Yes, of course we'll be filming it!

I shot it for accuracy at 12 yards, putting 10 shots into one ragged hole. Then we backed up to 20 yards and had no trouble holding similar-sized groups. The gun is a shooter! Part of that is because of its fit and the risk of sounding stoopid, the gun wants to stay snugged on your shoulder, and the short pump stroke allows you maintain your cheek weld easily. The little bump on the front sight does an admirable job of collecting light, which makes the front sight really stand out. That surprised me.

Mark and I ran a bunch of multi-target drills. We finally stoppped because we ran out of ammo. I had to pry the little Taurus out of Mark's hands.

Okay, here's the bottom line...this is the first gun in the country. It was superbly accurate right out of the box. We had ZERO malfunctions. It was disgustingly fun to shoot. It does not need to go to a gunsmith to be dinked. It's MSRP is less than $500. You do the math.

Taurus is getting scary.

I have a .357 version on order and plan to use it in competition.

If they decide to make this sucker in .44 Magnum carbine, you'll see deer hunters sitting up and barking like seals.

In other quickie gun test...I took out that Fitz Special I picked up a while back. Offhand, I'd say it's a 1917 S&W Canadian contract gun in .45 ACP that was professionally cut down into a Fitz. The barrel is 2.5 inches with a really slick ramped front sight; it has been re-rolled marked S&W DA .45 centered on the shorter barrel. The hammer's been bobbed and the action is shortened and slicked. The action is bank-vault tight (why I bought the gun in the first place). The butt has also been rounded and fitted with a really nice set of custom grips. The whole thing is finished in a flat black phosphated finish.

Using S&W full moon clips, I ran a couple of boxes of Winchester white box 230-grain ball through the gun. The grips did an excellent job of taking the edge off the ball. I shot forst for function, then into a variety of IDPA drills. The thing ran like a top, and the front sight was perfectly regulated for the ball (another sign that this gun was professionally redone).

Loved it!

Ordered an IWB holster for the Fitz from Hoffners today and I'll give it a try at an IDPA match.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I got a SIG 226 9mm from my ACE EL PREEMO SPONSORS SIGARMS for use on the show.

I haven't had a 226 in about a decade — I lost my last one in "the settlement" with my ex, who was, unfortunately, a gun person so I couldn't convince her that the SIGs were el-junko. She took everything that could be turned for a quick buck.

Because I haven't had a 226 recently, I had forgotten JUST HOW DAMN GOOD THESE GUNS ARE! Wipe off the grease, back up 20 yards, and boringly crank off A-zone hits as fast as you can pull the trigger. I also did IDPA drills slick as goose grease.

Give me bagful of 20-round magazines, and I'd go to war with this SIG tomorrow!!!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Among the Gifted Riflemen... Wyoming last weekend, for the International Tactical Rifle Championships. As always, a super, television-friendly match. If you think you can shoot a rifle, this is the place for you!

I'm also interested in Dave Lauck's redesigned AR "extreme duty" magazines...of course, so are many elements of the U.S. military.

ITRC is a good time to talk to some of the guys just back from Iraq on what's really going on. One interesting tidbit is that our shooters can tell which country the insurgents come from by their tactics...

We did a great segment with John Paul of JP Enterprises and Bennie Cooley, one of the greatest three-gun/rifle shooters ever and an excellent trainer in his own right. John tells me his J-Sight, a small red dot sight that sits on top if a scope or optical sight like the military ACOG, has become to hot ticket in Iraq, with the Marines all over it. Watch for a SHOOTING GALLERY episode with Bennie!

In other gun stuff, ace revolvermeister Randy Lee is trying to get S&W to produce a limited run of competition-only 6.5-inch 625 .45 ACP revolvers with titanium cylinders and other enhancements. I'm on board for one if he can pull the strings (and I'll call to see if I can help it along), but you can keep up with the project over at Brian Enos' forum.

Randy is one of the best of the new generation of gunsmiths. I met him through the lovely and ascerbic Lisa Farrell, occasional Dillon gun girl and multi-time world champion revolver shooter (good luck on getting back from Equador, Lisa!). He specializes in S&W revolvers, and you'd have to shoot one of his guns to believe the job he can do on the triggers. He's got two of my guns int he works, including the Ugliest Gun in the World, my vintage 1917/1950 Traget .45 ACP competition gun. Better get him started on your stuff before the rest of the world discovers him...reach Randy at Apex Tactical and tell him I sent you!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Jeff Cooper & Fruit

One so seldom reads Jeff Cooper's comments in a cooking column, especially in the Washington Post. But here it is, yet another sign of the Apocalypse, courtesy of Brother Dean Speir at The Gun Zone:
Coming Unglued

By Robert L. Wolke

I have often wondered about the safety of the glue used to attach those little labels on fruit. It annoys me because some fruit (e.g., plums) can be damaged by peeling off the label. While I wash the fruit after I peel the labels, how safe is the stuff they use to hold the labels on?

Jeff Cooper, whom you will instantly recognize as "the father of modern combat pistol shooting," ({tilde}johnny/jeff/aboutjff.html ) has written, "Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands." In spite of my never having fired a pistol in combat, I tend to agree with Father Jeff.

On the other hand, Horace (65-8 B.C.), another great philosopher, although perhaps lesser known in certain circles than Cooper, wrote, "Who can hope to be safe? Who sufficiently cautious? Guard himself as he may, every moment's an ambush."

Gun Porn Saturday

Well, maybe I'm a little late to the dance on this one, but I have to say that the combination of Kit from and photographer Oleg Volk translates into world-class gun porn. Go to Gallery; Narcissim; Oleg Volk September 2004. Image 7 is my favorite.

Note to gun companies...c'mon!

Maybe we can swing a SHOOTING GALLERY poster!

Friday, August 19, 2005

This Also Applies to Liberals...

From New Jersey, this breaking news bulletin:
In Jefferson, snake bites the hand that tries to save it

Stephen Sodones spotted it along the edge of Route 23 in Jefferson, a snake just starting its precarious slide to the other side of the highway.

So the 62-year-old animal lover picked it up, hoping to carry it to safety. But in doing so, Sodones quickly learned one of nature's more important facts: Snakes bite.

What bit Sodones three times on the arm Monday night was a copperhead, which can grow to 4 feet and have fangs like hypodermic needles. No one is quite sure how big this one was.
So remember, kiddies, if you extend the hand of friendship to poisonous snakes or liberals (which is an oxymoron when it follows poisonous snakes), expect to get bit!

"America Lite" Whines Again...

And speaking of punk-ass bangers (with mashed), we've been following the story of America Lite's...sorry, that's Canada's continued whining about American gun laws. John Lott sums it up in today's NRO:
If you have a problem, it's often easier to blame someone else rather than deal with it. And with Canada's murder rate rising 12 percent last year and a recent rash of murders by gangs in Toronto and other cities, it's understandable that Canadian politicians want a scapegoat. That at least was the strategy Canada's premiers took when they met last Thursday with the new U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, and spent much of their time blaming their crime problems on guns smuggled in from the United States.
The dweebs in Toronto have been floating an idea to ban people keeping guns in their home, lest miscreants sneak in and steal them. They wring their hands that it's all our fault, because, like, we have guns. Here's what Mr. Lott has to say about that:
With Canada's reported violent-crime rate of 963 per 100,000 in 2003, a rate about twice the U.S.'s (which is 475), Canada's politicians are understandably nervous.
Canada needs to grow up. Most of its citizens are pretty good folk (especially in the western provinces, who are on the verge of revolt over the nation's idiotic gun registry plan), but the government is made up of a bunch of pathetic simpering weasels who can't understand that they're nothing but a second-string hockey team with crappy beer, too many languages and about a billion officious twits issuing rules based on the daily state of their irritable bowel syndrome. If eastern Canada keeps up its whining, I say bitch-slap the mayor of Toronto, annex the eastern provinces and give 'em to the Kurds, cleverly solving two problems at once. Put your burka on, Mr. Mayor!

Snitch Fashion Pointers

Today we ponder the social implication of the Stop Snitch'n t-shirt craze. In case you live in the Real World, that is, the semi-mythical place where 13-year-old girls don't dress like worn out street meat, all Chevies aren't 2 inches off the ground and they don't sell ultraviolent photonovellas at the local bodega, here's the news you can use:

No matter where you live, soomewhere in your local mall you can get fashionable hip-hop t-shirts that real Stop Snitch'n. Your kids will tell you it's a hip-hop thing, and that's where it probably started. It's hard to keep up with who hates whom in Rap World these trying to get all the names right on a current map of Eastern Europe. So, yes, somebody hates somebody else for dropping a dime on them...probably for "impersonating someone with talent," a felony in hip-hop.

Of course, the real message of the Stop Snitch'n t-shirts is to...stop snitching. I think this shirt from eBay says it all: Snitch Killer.

Here's the skinny from Philly:

It's one of Philadelphia's hottest - and most controversial - fashion statements: T-shirts and hats that say, "Stop Snitch'n."
Those who wear and sell the shirts say it's a style, a fad, the in-look - like Jay-Z's oversize striped, button-down shirts were a few months back.
But these shirts are far more sinister, with some picturing guns, crosshairs and messages that advise, "Don't Talk 2 Police."

The implicit threat is particularly disturbing given that witness intimidation has been repeatedly cited by police and prosecutors as a major problem in the city.
And from San Diego, Baltimore, Denver, etc.

So what does it all mean? Heck, I don't know. However, I would personally like to see a t-shirt that read something to the effect of: "Kill All Punk-Ass 'Bangers." A simple succinct message that I think 99.95% of the United States could get on board with. Maybe we can get 50 Cent to write and record the theme rap...then again, maybe not.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Here's a Heartwarming Story...

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
An 84-year-old woman whose San Francisco apartment was overrun by gang members has filed a $900,000 claim against the city, charging that officials failed to protect and care for her.

Police said in May that Gutierrez had been living for several months in her apartment at 2265 Mission St. as a virtual prisoner of six alleged members of the SureƱo gang. Gutierrez was unharmed, but her apartment was filled with drugs and crack pipes, there was gang graffiti on the walls, and a gun was found in the bathroom, police said.
Luckily, San Francisco has been very successful in its war on guns, disarming its citizens and turning the streets over to heavily armed drug gangs. Good job! Maybenow it's time to focus on that known urban menace, airsoft guns!

Signs That There Is NO INTELLIGENT LIFE Across the Pond...

As crime and terrorism fears soar, our pluckly Brit brethern continue the fight! From the Guardian:
Relatives of people killed or injured by acts of gun crime clashed with sporting enthusiasts yesterday over the government's plans to restrict the manufacture and sale of imitation and replica firearms.
Members of the Gun Control Network (GCN), many of whom have personal experience of tragedies caused by the use of illegal weapons, hit out at an international campaign being run by devotees of paintball and the similar but more militaristic airsoft shooting events. Militaristic airsoft shooting events?
Oh my! It's enough to make my scone go soft! Come to think of it, maybe the British Bobbies should get airsoft guns...

Signs That There's Intelligent Life Left on Earth...

This from MSNBC:
RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina lawmakers have approved a measure that would require courts to give battered spouses something extra when they seek a restraining order — information on how to apply for a concealed weapon.
ABOUT TIME! The usual ninnies are wringing their much better for unprotected women and children to live in fear — or die — from some scumbag husband than have them get a...gun! I mean, guns are bad! Guns could lead to women not living in fear, and heaven knows where that could lead!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Yeah, I know COMBAT HANDGUNS is the magazine you've got to sneak out of the grocery store stuck inside a Weekly World News special edition on Nostradamus' predictions about Brad Pitt's liklihood of contracting something fatal from Angelina Jolie in Africa.

Still, I just picked up the November 2005 issue, and it actually has two MUST-READ stories in it, which is roughly 500% more than in the last edition of AMERICAN HANDGUMMER (I'm excepting John Taffin's column, which is always worth reading regardless of where it's published).

Get CH and immediately read:

1) Ralph Mroz' STREET SMARTS column.

2) Walt Rauch's GUNFIGHTING, GUNS, GEAR column.

This is what happens when intelligent, thoughtful, experienced people write columns about self-defense and guns!

Good stuff! Stop what you're doing and go buy a copy now. Be sure to get that special edition WWN on Brad and Angelina, too...if any of those African bugs get loose in America, it's game over, dude!

Let's Go To The Butt-Cam, Katie...

Well, there are days and there are days! And what could be better than a day partially spent having a nice young doctor examine your colon on video? I was supposed to be too sedated to watch, but drugs don't work all that well on me — I'm the guy in the operating room who counted backwards from 100 to zero...twice. It was pretty fascinating, easily better than any episode of Friends. There was one lone polyp, which I thought looked a little like a forlorn Jennifer Anniston sans Brad "Slut-Boy" Pitt...maybe the drugs worked better than I thought...

The tracking video shots of North Colon were especially powerful...I could use the video operator on SHOOTING GALLERY, for sure! He'd have to take a pay cut, though. The weird part of it was when the doctor said, "We're done here," I had this overwhelming urge to say, "Thanks, doctor, and thanks to all of you for joining us. We'll see you next week on Michael's Colon!"

The short story is that I'm healthy as a horse, except for the various and sundry abuse I've inflicted upon myself. Watch for the sequel...Knee Cam!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Journalism, Where Art Thou Sting?

There's a fascinating piece on the continued unravelling of the Mainstream Media (MSM) over at Jay Rosen's PressThink blog:
And in fact, they wanted the innocence (we do just the facts journalism) and the power (we do make a difference journalism) but this could never be. We in the J-schools failed to catch that. The people on a mission never got around to justifying their mission in the language of democratic politics. They talked about it as a neutral public service instead, but speaking truth to power isn’t neutral, and making a difference isn’t just a service to others. We in the J-schools didn’t do well with that, either.
I remember the first time I tried to write a magazine article. I was, like, in the 10th grade and I had a charter subscription to Car & Driver, the flashiest car magazine in the world. there was a huge national crackdown on speeders and other traffic miscreants — one of the first big pushes, I believe. I wrote a commentary that, ultimately, rigid enforcement of "minor" traffic laws would have a profound effect on people's relationship with the police. C&D's editor rightly rejected the story — I couldn't write for crap — but said they pretty much agreed with the thesis.

Of course, time bore out this thesis. Officer Friendly was replaced by some mindless functionary with a ticket book and mirror shades, and police are still trying to figure out how to get back to the 1960s — note trend to "outsourcing" minor traffic violations a la cameras at intersections, camera trucks, etc., followed by a ticket by mail, as if traffic tickets were actually forces of nature as opposed revenue generating devices put in place by your friendly local government.

The inverse relationship between strict enforcement of nickel-and-dime laws versus respect for police and policing is an example of "broken windows" thinking, small things that can make a huge difference (I refer you to Malcolm Gladwell's TIPPING POINT book for a full explanation of the theory). I think of this as "driver analysis" — what is the original push, or driver, that make starts a person on another path of thinking?

Coming back around to the original point, I think the demonstrable media "war on guns" has done far more damage to the media than it has on guns. — a point I plan to make in BULLET POINTS, should it find a publisher. Here's my thinking — for the last 40 years, MSM has constantly hammered on how gun control is A HUGE AND GROWING NATIONAL TREND. Except that it wasn't and it isn't. I can make a lucid argument that there is not and never has been a "gun control movement" in the United States. Are there people who believe strongly in gun control? Yes, of course. There are also people — probably many more people — who believe in alien abductions, but that doesn't make alien abductions a major national trend.

As the MSM began to allow their support of gun control to trickle down from the editorial to the news pages, they created a situation where the consumers of their product knew "the emperor hads no clothes." The more MSM insisted that American were clamoring for gun control, the less credibility they had. MSM began flunking the reality check. As MSM moved to second and third generation reporters who came into newsrooms with institutionalized antigun atmospheres, those reporters were allowed factual "latitude" with guns that would get them fired if applied to any other area.

Take our pal Mr. Whipple's story long do you think he'd have his job if he reported that the county was replacing their vehicles because the current county vehicles only had three wheels and were prone to exploding while sitting at stop signs? Even if he quoted local experts on the three wheels and exploding cars, journalistic ethics and procedures would demand — if he wanted to continue his career in journalism — that he make an effort to find out if 1) county cars really only had three wheels, and, 2) they really blew up at stop signs. Yet he was allowed to write that Glocks are "safer" than SIGS, which is demonstrably wrong, and that the .357 was the most powerful police cartridge iever, which it demonstrably isn't. That's not even counting misquoting Dirty Harry!

That's not the onlyl nail in the MSM coffin, but IMO it's one of the biggest!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Funny Gun Story...

...insofar as EVERY SINGLE WORD IN THE STORY is INCORRECT, WRONG-HEADED or JUST PLAIN STUPID! Check this story out, courtesy of the irrepressible Dean Speir at The Gun Zone:
New Glock .357 makes cops' day


Elizabeth City police officers were at the city firing range this week getting acquainted with the department's new standard-issue firearm, the Glock .357.

The department is upgrading from Sig Sauer handguns to the new Glock because the latter weapon reportedly is safer for users. It also packs a bigger punch while increasing accuracy.

Sgt. Mike Boone and Lt. Steve Terrill were at the firing range preparing officers to qualifications on the weapons this week.

Although much smaller, the .357 is marketed by Glock as the equal to the Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum, made famous by Clint Eastwood in the movie "Dirty Harry." The .357 Magnum was at one time the largest caliber police weapon available.
They're having a contest over at The Gun Zone to see how many mistakes you can find in the article. No doubt Mr. Whipple will soo n be back in the supermarket squeezing toilet paper!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

1911 World Redux

Just a litle note to whet the appetite of 1911 guys (and guyettes) out there...tonight I saw was has to be the finest collection of 1911s in private hands in the country, including two of the guns used in the original military trials where the 1911 was selected.

An amazing collection, including a couple of commerical models I've read about but never seen "in person."

Don't'll see 'em all next season!

My job sucks...

Friday, August 12, 2005


Actor Christopher Walken is running for President in 2008. If you don't vote for him, he'll beat the hell out of you, shoot you and leave your body in a New Jersey landfill.

Maybe he can get John Malkovich as his VP.

I say let Dennis Hopper run the campaign.

Good Morning Starshine!

I love Friday, if for no other reason that, news-wise, Friday is sort of the trap at the bottom of the drain where all the sludge, rust and old hairballs collect. Here are the stories we're following at Planet Nederland World News Command:

A priest resigns after videos show him checking into a swanky motel with a married woman. Well, am I the only one who sees this as an incredible positive for the Catholic Church? After all, Ms. Adultress is down with that "age of consent" thing, and a girl to boot!

Another hottie high school teacher heads to the slammer for bopping a 13-year-old boy. In today's twist, she can't profit from the affair or give interviews, causing a dozen HBO executives to race to their cardiologists with chest pains.

The Shuttle is still in one piece several days after landing! Confounding critics' predictions the Shuttle would either be parted out and sold on e-Bay or crushed into a 12 X 12-foot cube at a Mob junkyard in Jersey and shown as "conceptual art" at a swank gallery in Soho.

No new shark attacks this week! Authorities in coastal communities in Florida and North Carolina have reportedly launched an aggressive "chumming" campaign, including passing out slabs of bacon and double-stick tape to young swimmers.

Remember, you read it here first!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Saving My Money for a Life...

I guess on some sad lever I'm still carrying the torch for Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MS3K), the only television show, other than the sainted Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that caused me to tear up at the finale.

Well, that's not completely true...I cried when I finally saw the series finale of Seinfeld, but only because they entire cast and crew were NOT tortured and dismembered, with the remains eventually UPS'ed to Whackytobacciestan to be made into designer handbags and sold to fans of Sex in the City.

Maybe that's why I spend my time paging through movie posters of the wretched films skewered by Mike Nelson, Crow, Tom Servo and Gypsy...

As Crow T. Robot was fond of saying...bite me!

Thank Heavens I Can't Afford These!

Some beautiful S&Ws!

Taking a Break in the Culture Wars

There is nothing more emblematic of the current American culture than those commercials on "overactive bladder syndrome," where adult women reveal that they occasionally dribble before they can get to the bathroom. As REM once noted:
"It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine..."
Well, I do feel fine, even as I readily acknowledge that our culture is basically acting like a Grand Slam breakfast sliding off a table in an earthquake. Every morning I watch the overactive bladder commercial, and my initial thought is, what do those actresses put on their resume? "Expert portrayal of urine dribbler..." Inquiring minds want to know.

I've also found myself hypnotized by Anna Nalick's hypnotic song Breathe (2 a.m.):

There's a light at each end of this tunnel, you shout
'Cause you're just as far in as you'll ever be out
These mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again
If you only try turning around.

I can't get the thing out of my mind. It's as bad as...well...the afore-quoted REM's Losing My Religion, some sort of hypnocryptic mental meth inadvertantly burned into the ole organic RAM. "Download me," Ms. Nalick whispers in my ear. ""

I did, however, finish my book proposal for BULLET POINTS: POSTCARDS FROM THE HEART OF THE GUN CULTURE. My agent at Wm. Morris had me go through seven iterations of the proposal, which runs to, like, 25 pages. It started circulating in NYC I need to breathe, just breathe, for the next 4 months or so while various and sundry editors masticate it. Assuming it sells, somewhere along the line I have to write the thing, which should actually be fun. I haven't written a book-length manuscript since my ill-fated work with a professional speaker a couple of years ago. I was willing to ghost his book for a few bucks; what we wanted me to do was actually refine his thinking...what do I mean when I say this? I'm perfectly willing to do that as well, but it costs, say, 5X what a straight-forward ghost job might cost. I wrote him a book; I don't even know whether he published it or not. I do know he still owes me money, but there you are...

So breathe. Just breathe...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

We All Go To The Vet...'s fun and games was taking Bishop, our humongous greenwing macaw, to the vet to get her wings clipped and microchipped. All in all, she took it in good grace — as good a grace as an irritated macaw ever gets. Normally, I let her stay fully flighted until she gets too irritating for words...for example, there's not a pen to be found downstairs. That's because she flies around the house, spies them and snatches them all up. Then she reduces them to tiny plastic chips and ink stains on the carpet. It's her hobby, which makes more sense to me than electric trains. And don't send me any hostile email about crippling the poor animal...she can still fly just fine, just not as far and as fast. Also, it's harder for her to carry stuff, so there's a chance for whatever remaining writing implements we can dig up.

Just like visiting Busch Gardens on mescaline!

Meanwhile, back in Gun World, I got my long-anticipated package from revolver god Hamilton Bowen, which included my ancient 3-screw Ruger Blackhawk now converted from .357 to .44 Special and refinished and my "knockaround Blackhawk" in .30 Carbine.

Words escape me!

The .44 Special is everything a single action revolver might aspire to be, and it is indeed beautiful. The frame, gate and hammer were color case-hardened by Doug Turnbull, the cylincder redone with a black powder chamfer (which looks cool) and the rest of the gun was redone in a deep blue/black (the previous finish appeared to have been created by Zip-Strip and salt water). Obviously, it's now a .44 Special...the most perfect revolver cartridge in the world, by the way...with all the appropriate remarkings. The aluminum grip frame was replaced with a perfectly fitted steel grip frame; the sights were replaced with sights of Bowen's own design; the action was tuned to perfection. It was also fitted with a new base pin of Bowen's design to stop the endless Ruger base pin creep, which seizes up the gun.

And yes, kiddies, I wrote a big check for this one! Worth every penny, too.

My knockaround gun doesn't look so knockaround anymore. The barrel has been recrowned, which it badly needed; cylinder and headspace issues have been dealt with and the gun has been given his "standard issue" tune-up. It's a really nice Blackhawk now!

Does this mean I need to get another beater to abuse?

As I've said before, I think the .30 Carbine cartridge has gotten a bum rap. In the now 4/34 inch Blackhawk, it's LOUD LOUD LOUD, but a sweetheart...with .357 ballistics. It can be loaded down to approximate a .32/20 ballistics and still retain pin-point accuracy. Plus, it'll be a perfect match for that Auto-Ordnance M1 Carbine that is definitely in my future, especially after spending the day at the Auto-Ordnance manufacturing facility. I know quality manufacturing when I see it!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Reloading Strategies...

I sort of look on reloading ammo as a necessary evil, something you have to do to keep on shooting.

Yes, we're lucky enough to have the shows sponsored by Winchester, who deliver crates of ammo as part of the sponsorship, but that ammo is earmarked for the shows, public appearances and competitions. Itwouldn't be fair to burn it all up in practice. So, it's back to the presses.

My whole strategy on reloading is to make it as easy as possible, with as few barriers to pulling that damn lever as possible. Luckily, I've been accumulated reloading equipment for DECADES...if I remember correctly, I reloaded my first case, a .357, with my father's help when I was 8 years-old. Since I'm now 28 years-old...LOL...okay, I'm 55, so I've been reloading, like, a thousand years.

I will readily admit that Brother Mike Dillon changed my life. When I started competition shooting seriously, I had an RCBS Junior single stage press. If I was a busy little beaver, I could do 100 rounds an hour. A hunded rounds wouldn't even get me through a match, much less practice. I spent a lot of time in the Reloading Cave, needless to say.

My first Dillon 450 was a revalation. Nearly broke me to buy the thing, but it drastically reduced my time in the Cave. The 450 was a progressive press, but not nearly as sophisticated as today's 550 press. To offset some of those shortcomings, we came up with all sorts of Rube Goldberg fixes to, for example, get an automatic powder drop instead of having to push a big button, which, in my case, too often led to one case with NO powder and one case with a DOUBLE CHARGE.

As I spent more and more time writing about guns, I added a second 450 so I could leave my "main" 450 set up for .45 ACP with #68 H&G semiwadcutters — the presses didn't yet have interchangeable tool heads, so changing calibers was still a major pain in the butt. The RCBS Junior was the "prototyping" press for when I had to crank up specialty loads.

Of course, the Stainted Dillon knew all this stuff as well as we did, so the new 550s solved all the problems. He also offred us upgrades from 450-550 status at reasonable prices. I was in hog heaven! The 650 came about 8 years ago when I had more bucks and was shooting a billion rounds a year of .40 S&W in USPSA Limited. reloading bench now has three Big Blue Machines, the two converted 450/550s — one set up for small primers, the other for large primers — and the 650, set up for whatever competition round I'm shooting (right now, .357 Cowboy loads with 158-gr flat point Laser-Cast bullets and TiteGroup; I exclusively use Laser-Cast lead bullets, because they're good, consistant and available in all flavors; plus the guy who does my FFL transfers is a Laser-Cast dealer). I have a C-H "H" press I use for small-lot precision load development, and I'm currently planning to add an inexpensive Lee Turret press for those calibers I occasionally load but don't want to sink a fortune into...38 S&W, .30 Carbine, .455 Webley, .45/70.

The little Lee turret doesn't take up much space and costs about the same as a full-blown caliber conversion and dies for the 550s. For obscure calibers, I get the inexpensive Lee dies. I've had a couple of the Lee turrets in the past, and they've always delivered the goods.

Other-die-wise, I use the Dillon die-sets, with a couple of change-outs. On my primary competition cartridges, I use a Redding competition seating die and a Lee Factory Crimp die. On .40 S&W and 9mm, I use a special undersize sizing die from George at EGW. I has been a lifesaver on occasion.

Hope this answers some of the e-mail questions!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Moron Alert!

Sorry I missed this last week! It's an editorial by Greg Palast from the Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel, where there is apparently no IQ test for contributing editorial content:
There are 200 million guns in civilian hands in the United States. That works out at 200 per lawyer. Wade through the foaming websites of the anti-Semites, weekend militiamen and Republicans, and it becomes clear that many among America's well-armed citizenry have performed the same calculation. Because if there is any hope of the ceasefire that they fear, it will come out of the barrel of a lawsuit.
Mr. Palast, a Brit, fancies himself a thoughtful commentator on current affairs, and he won a 2005 Democratic Media Award! Here's what his site says about his most recently book:
Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” a book Michael Moore has called “courageous reporting.”
Quel surprise!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Great Leap Forward!

Have been seriously on the road, but I have a few tidbits you can ONLY READ ON THE MICHAEL BANE BLOG! First, with the military trials for a new handgun looming, I made the decision to dedicate an episode of SHOOTING GALLERY to EACH of the Big Players...we started out with venerable Smith & Wesson today, and, boy, have I got the goods!

I've also gotten special dispensation from the Powers-That-Be to publish this quickie report, so I'm not breaking any confidences or embargoes!

Today I shot the new S&W M&P (Military & Police) .40 S&W semiauto, and I am profoundly impressed! The gun has been announced, but it's not yet in true production and to the best of my knowledge, this is the first published report of shooting what (in .45 ACP) will no doubt be S&W's entry into to the military sweepstakes.

I don't have the formal specs, but the gun is a full-sized semiauto (compact models will be available) available in .40 and 9mm (15 rounds in .40; 17 rounds in 9mm). It's a polymer-framed gun, striker-fired, with the now familiar trigger and firing pin safeties. The frame itself features a stainless steel subframe (for lack of a better word) for rigidity and durability — it sort of reminds me of athe current aluminum bedding systems in tactical rifles these days. Novak sights (natch); really neat fully ambi slide released placed far enough forward that your thumb isn't going to catch it and either dropt he slide on a empty round or figured out a thumb-y way to accidently lock the slide back when you'd rather be shooting. Magazine release can be swapped from right to left in seconds using only a ball-point pen.

Fire control system is one of the slickest I've ever used. It's a long DA first stroke, but it is SUPER smooth and light. The trigger has a VERY short reset, which allows you to pretty quickly work the trigger as fast as any SA around. The S&W system, when combined with the gun's STONE COLD DEAD NUTS ERGONOMIC GRIP and low bore axis, allows the .40 to be run as quickly as my two primary 9mms. I've never been a huge fan of the .40 (although for cops, it's de riguer), but the M&P could change my mind. I could not detect more recoil with the .40 than what I would expect with a 9mm of the same size. I was able to easily double tap (okay, controled pairs!), and dumped a couple of magazines flat out without the slightest bit of trouble.

Let me repeat that:

This gun is so well designed that recoil becomes a secondary issue.

Why aren't all guns this well designed?

The grip angle also makes the M&P point exceptionally well. Nationally recognized law enforcement trainer Dave Spaulding, who had a lot of input into this gun and who we decided to bring to S&W for this episode, did a lot of demo work showing that it's a pointer. If you've got hand issues, the M&P has a replaceable backstrap, a la the Walther P-99. The gun will come with three different sizes for Papa Bear, Momma Bear and the little Baby Bears. Even I could figure out how to replace the backstrap, since it has to do with removing a really neat tab on the bottom of the gun that does double duty as a guide for inserting the magazine. BTW, between that guide and intelligent shaping of the magazine well and the metal magazines, BLISTERING FAST reloads are the norm.

The only thing that gave me pause was the disassembly procedure, which involves using the tool (or a pin, or handcuff key, or...and this is unauthorized...probably your little finger) attached to the above neat tab to trip the sear WITHOUT PULLING THE TRIGGER. Then a well-designed disassembly lever is thrown, the slide stripped off and there you have it. I don't like requiring the additional tool for disassembly (and don't you DARE mention 1911s to me!). HOWEVER, this was a MAJOR requirement from law enforcement, who are tired of patching holes in their walls and ceilings. The huge plus is that with the gun locked back to easily trip the sear (and I have to confess it was an extremely simple and extremely easy procedure), the shooter can easily see that a magazine is not inserted and that the chamber is empty. I heartily admit that is a GOOD THING.

If the S&W M&P is an example of the kind of ground-breaking innovation the military trials can help create, I'd say we're in for a whole new generation of world-class pistols.

MY CONCLUSION? I'd buy one of these guns at MSRP!