Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fat Tuesday

And, yeah, part of me wishes I was down there celebrating whatever. In truth, my Sweetie and I have reservations at a faux-Cajun place it ain't love, but it ain't bad; besides, the beer is good in Boulder tonight. I could use a big ole plate full of the barbecued shrimp from Pascal's Manale in uptown N'awlins, not far from Ann Rice's big digs, but I'll be happy with what I got, and I refuse to wear a mask anyway.

In the meanwhile, if I was in N'awling, I definitely be sporting my new flamed 1911 holster from David Brown. It is just TOO COOL FOR SKOOL, and I think you'll be seeing it on the Single Stack Classic episode of SG, along with the slick new SIG GSR Revolution two-tone blaster.

I swear, the flames alone will take a couple of seconds off each run, because, as we all know, cars WITH racing stripes are faster than cars WITHOUT racing stripes!

I only hope I can get the mag pouches in time...my reloads could use some work!

Pussy...Pussy Galore REDUX

From the Online Sun:

Bond Craig's ow ow seven

JINXED James Bond star Daniel Craig has been hit by a nasty bout of prickly heat.

He suffered sunburn while topping up his tan before filming in the Bahamas.

New 007 Craig wanted a healthy glow for the movie, but ended up James Burned — and now can’t stop itching.

A source on the Casino Royale set said: “It’s driving him mad. He constantly wants to scratch. It’s worst when he does a costume change. He is in agony.
Dah Dah...Dah Dah Dah Dah...Dah Dah...Dah Dah Dah Dah...DAH...DAH...DAH...DAH DAH!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday Gun Porn!!!

You thought I forgot, didn't you?

Take a look at my two absolute favorite .44 Special snubbies...one very retro; the other pretty high tech. The pretty blue gun is a Cimarron Arms Thunderer, a gun that didn'te really exist in the Old West, but as the ad says, should have!

Essentially, it's a Single Action Army top in .44 Special mated to a grip reminescent of the original Colt Thunderer double-action, the big fat .41 version of the ill-fated Colt Lightning, or, as Colt cleverly called it, “New Double Action Self-Cocking Central Fire Six Shot Revolver.” John Wesley Hardin was a big fan of both the Lightning and the Thunderer; legend says William Bonney was also a devotee of the clunky Colts. Lightnings, with their Rube Goldberg double-action broke with amazing regularity. My grandfather, Morgan Bickers, pulled his Lightning when his Memphis drugstore was getting robbed. It jammed, and he threw the gun at the would-be robber, hitting him on the forehead, knocking a chip out of said forehead and the hard rubber grips of the Colt. Years later, my grandfather would tell me the best piece of advice I ever received regarding guns:
"Son, don't own no damned old gun that won't go bang when you pull the friggin' trigger!"
Them's words to live by, even today!

I wanted what amounted to a cowboy snubbie for those times I'm in cowboy drag with Tequila, and Mike Harvey at Cimarron had the perfect ticket. The 3 1/2 inch barrel still sports an ejector rod, unlike the more typical "Sheriff's Model" short-barreled S.A.A. like this EMF copy. I like the idea of an ejector rod, since my fingernails are already bitten short.

This little beast does bark, but it'll do a single hole group at 7 yards with WW Cowboy loads. Bob Mernickle is making me a crossdraw holster for concealed cowboy carry!

For those less formal occasions, my NUMBAH ONE FAVORITE SNUBBY OF ALL TIME, the titanium-framed S&W 296 44 Special. Yes, it look mutated! But it doesn't weight anything (and, yes, it kicks FIERCELY, but much less so than an ultralight .357 snub), carries easily in a BIG pocket and is fitted (as are all my carry guns) with Crimson Trace laser grips. This is my trail gun; it's been schlepped all over the west, usually in a pocket or in a Survival Sheath System chest holster that conceals under a fleece vest and holds the gun just below by breastbone for a right-hand draw.

These little monsters have been discontinued for a while, and there's a whole subculture of S&W fans stalking the remaining examples. Still, it's the ne plus ultra of big bore snubbies!

Coming up, I've got a new Charter Arms Bulldog .44 Special on order. We all have Bulldog stories. I have on occasion been less than kind to some older examples, but I'm pretty excited about the new ones from MKS Supply. I'll have a full report when it trickles in. I've also ordered one of the superb Bond Derringers in .44 Special. These are Really Cool Guns (and 'way big for derringers), and I couldn't resist adding one to the .44 Special collection. Tequila has won a world championship shooting one of the Bonds, and they're like tanks. The best thing about 'em is they're NOT TACTICAL! Also, Greg Bond is a great guy. Again, a report when it arrives...

New James Bond = Pussy Galore!

He hates guns.

He doesn't think civilians should be allowed to own handguns.

He can't drive a stick shift.

He wears a life preserver when he's in a boat.

He's a friggin' blonde!!!

Daniel Craig is not James Bond; he's Pussy Galore!

Go here and register your thoughts!

The Best Shooter of Our Generation

Don't worry...we'll get to the Monday Gun Porn later this AM...

Since I addressed the issue of reputation last week, I got an email that said, essentially, okay smartass, you dis'sed people without naming them...say something nice about somebody...

No problemo. Let me introduce you to the best, and the greatest, shooter of our generation — Olympian Kim Rhode. She has two gold medals and a bronze medal in the now-eliminated Women's Trap (to be replaced with Dog Frisbee and Ballroom Dancing in Cheesy Costumes). Rather than bitch and moan like I would do, Kim recently announced that she'd make a run on Women's Skeet for the next Summer Games.

Despite the fact that Kim has quite literally reached the highest point a shooter can aim for, her focus is on giving back. Now there's a novel idea! She works with young shooters and new hunters, hosts a television show designed to get people to step outside and do something, speakes to groups about shooting, etc., all while maintaining a shooting training schedule that might charitably be described as "brutal."

Oh, and she's actually a real person as opposed to a "professional shooter." She's a full-time student in pre-veterinary medicine, works at animal clinics, surfs (very well), restores classic cars — she has a Shelby Cobra she turned ev ery single nut and bolt on — hunts and just finished (almost) rehabbing her very first house. She's the only person I know who has a schedule that makes mine look like a SCREAMING JOKE!

Yet she has never once turned down a chance to promote the shooting sports. I've run into her at the range and had her volunteer to cut short her practice to teach the people I was with to shoot the shotgun. Of course, a lot of the "professional shooters" I know would make the same offer, followed by the phrase, "We take all credit cards..." Not Kim.

I saw her just before she went to Athens and gained her second gold medal...her shoulder was so battered she couldn't raise her right arm over her head. She made it a joke rather than an excuse. In fact, in the more than a decade I've known Kim, I've NEVER heard her make an excuse for anything. It has NEVER been the gun, or the weather, the competition, the ammo, the clays that were too hard, too fast, too small, slightly off-color. The most I've ever heard her say was, "I didn't do my job."

She doesn't batter you to death with what she's won...yes, there are lots of other championships...but she understands that she only shoots one real match, against people from around the world who spend years specifically training to beat her. I've also been with her when she handed "the medals" to some of the top sports figures in America and seen them humbled by the profound understanding of the work, the commitment, the talent and, yes, the pain behind those three junks of metal.

Kimmie never has and never would tell people she's a champion. She doesn't have to.

And you know, I've never once heard her talk about having a reputation to protect...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Presented Without Comment...mostly

Severed Male Body Part Brought To Local Store...
A man walked in and asked a female clerk if she could use the store microwave to warm up something he had wrapped in a paper towel.

Concerned about an unusual odor from the oven, the clerk opened the microwave to check on the item and out tumbled what appeared to be a severed human penis, wrapped up in the paper towel.
I could make a comment about convenience store hot dogs, but I won't...


*Critical Fish Update

Well, for starters, Nemo, Pooh Ye and Beta are thoroughly traumatized, since I disassembled their habitat and replaced the fake plants with real plants in my ongoing War on Nitrate, the sad ultimate product of goldfish dookey. The little bastards crap like a barnful of racehorses, and it's all my $1000 German sewage treatment plant can do to keep up with 'em.

Hopefully, I haven't killed them all in an attempt to improve their quality of life, or introduced some mutant alien fungus, like the scrapings off Paris Hilton's toenails, into the tank. I now have to spend the rest of the day cleaning the bathroom, which looks suspiciously like a drunken Yeti was attempting to pot plants in the bathtub. I've also got to cart a couple of thousand rounds of Black Hill's .44 Russian down to the basement where the ammo lives, part of my International Revolver Championship gamesman ploy. If this doesn't work, I'm going to have to do the only thing I can when left with cases of obscure ammo — buy a new gun that shoots it, then, like the great Zen master Pee Wee Herman, exclaim loudly that, "I meant to do that!"

What is a "Reputation?"

Yesterday's Sick Day was pretty successful...I feel as if I've fought off the worst of the Andromeda Strain to emerge reborn into the day in which I will change my aquarium's water!

But before I get my hands dirty, I'd like to reflect for a moment on the closing Winter Games, Neil Young, shooting and shooters and that most ephemeral of wisps, a "reputation."

It's no secret that the Winter Games pretty much stiffed this year...the spin is that Massive Televised Events have ultimately fallen prey to the New Media, "push" versus "pull." Anything that was vaguely interesting, we saw on the internet when we had a few minutes to check it out, then tuned in to watch Jack Bauer's weekly torturefest or see who got stuck on Exile Island.

I think the larger issue is that the athletes of the Winter Olympics didn't particularly resonate with us...certainly not with me. It was pretty much all X-Games all-the-time, with the requisite attitute, occasional hostility, iPods, partying, and assorted sludge. Now, this doesn't make these athletes bad athletes...it just makes them boring athletes, which is why the X-Games have lost their luster in recent years.

My co-producer and friend Robin Berg, who was a commentator for ESPN at the X-Games in the years when I was doing the first extreme sports magazine, OVER THE EDGE, puts it this way: If you don't care about the people, you can't care about the game. Sorry, but Bode Miller needs a spanking, not my admiration. And somebody should just bitch-slap that speed skater, because nobody gets to the top on their own. In the athlete interviews, I was surprised at how often I heard the word "reputation," as in, "my reputation," mentioned.

OTOH, I read an interview this morning with the inestimable Neil Young on the occasion of his movie with director Jonathan Demme, Heart of Gold. Like many people in my benighted generation, Neil Young wrote great big words across our thinking. As for myself, I tripped over a Neil Young lyric that had an utter and profound effect on my life. I'd just started college and was a wreck, trying to come to grips with a disasterous few years and a shattered family. A friend of mine played me The Loner, from Young's first solo album:
He’s a perfect stranger,
Like a cross of himself and a fox.
He’s a feeling arranger
And a changer of the ways he talks...
More than anything else, I wanted away from myself, distance...I wanted to be someone else, the guy in the song. On the way back to my dorm room — without even a burning bush to herald it! — it struck me that, hell, I could be the guy in the song. So with much trepedation and fear, I reinvented myself for the first time. Gets easier the more you do it, BTW...

I found this great analysis piece on the movie from Louis Black in the Austin Chronicle, where Black notes:
Young is so driven and so drives his art that he would rather fail ignominiously or magnificently than play it safe.

The careers of artists who keep pushing the envelope, who refuse to rest creatively, can take any number of arcs. One of the most common is where it's as though the creator has simply run out of ideas and passions so they substitute generic changes or revisit old material with either too much affection or way too much aggression. Given the current poverty of ambition and imagination in American popular culture criticism, odds are overwhelming that during a particularly extended experimental period the talent will be written off if not turned on and attacked for attempting the very kinds of ongoing experimental work other artists are criticized for not undertaking.

Another arc is the artist who keeps evolving, changing art forms and focus, and keeps succeeding, going out of critical favor only rarely – a focused, rising, well-received, and innovative career.

Problematic is the career of a talent determined to push past all previous boundaries. This is especially true if the artist is microfocused with brilliant, enabling, and accommodating management. In these circumstances sometimes the best way to determine too far is failure.

It's not doing what has worked. It's not even doing what one knows will work. Instead it's taking a couple of steps beyond what is safe by any stretch of the imagination.
Now at the risk of getting whiplash from rapidly changing subjects, let's talk about thast word, reputation.

"You don't understand, Michael," a friend told me recently. "I have a reputation to uphold, and I have a responsibility to that reputation."

He was talking about how today's top shooting athletes have to be very careful about the things they do and do not do, because reputations are notoriously easy to damage. He was also one of several shooters from multiple disciplines who has talked to me in the last few months about his or her "reputation." Apparently, like a bad head cold, reputations are going around these days.

It all came together for me this morning, when I heard some skier talk about "his reputation." What the skier — and my shooter friends — meant was not reputation in the classic sense of the word, but his "ability to perform based on historical precedents."
"My repuation is that I can do a double-triple whoopsee-doodle front-side backflip fakie on demand, althought I didn't today because the stars were misaligned, my mother was sick, the Olympics are bogus and my teammates' farting kept me awake..."
In other words, my reputation is that I always win, and my "responsibility to my reputation" is that I can never lose, because then I wouldn't always win. Got that?

Except, as comedy legend George Carlin has noted, the game is rigged. In the end, everyone always loses, and before you have the final Big Loss That Puts You In The Ground, you suffer degraded performance specs. Those fast-twitch muscles that you've hung your "reputation" on start slowing down; the visual acuity that has guaranteed your place on the .01 percentile starts getting fuzzier; those skillsets, tricks, movements, style that have given you your reputation while you're running 100% stumble and falter at 90%.

So, if your "reputation" is that you always win, you are going to be left holding a trick-bag of excuses as to why you didn't win. But you take steps to fix that — "the Olympics are bogus" scenario, as in..."I always win in the competitions that matter." Eventually, you find yourself playing tiddlywink death matches with eight-year-olds, because in an interesting flip-a-roonie, the only matches that "matter" are the ones you can win.

And your reputation then is...what? Sad, even pathetic comes to mind. "If I cannot win, I am not a complete person. People will discover that I'm a fraud, and I will be diminished in the only eyes that truly matter to me, the eyes of the crowd."

Flash back to Neil Young, whose "reputation" as a musical genius and master is already assured. Consider Black's words:
It's not doing what has worked. It's not even doing what one knows will work. Instead it's taking a couple of steps beyond what is safe by any stretch of the imagination.
I often find myself drawn back to akido master George Leonard's small book Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment. Mastery, the master's journey, is in many ways the flip side of "winning." Neil Young is great not only because he has hit songs, but because he keeps going forward on a path of his own. In the sports world, Muhammad Ali is great not only because he won in the ring, but because when he found himself facing the greater mountain of a debilitating disease and a life outside the ring, he stayed true to his path.

If we choose to walk a path of mastery, I daresay our "reputations" will take care of themselves. Or as the far more articulate George Leonard puts it:
"When you're climbing a mountain, in other words, be aware that the peak is ahead, but don't keep looking at it. Keep your eyes on the path. And when you reach the top of the mountain, as the Zen saying goes, keep on climbing."
Okay, I'll FINALLY leave you with this story from Mastery, then go change the water in my aquarium...when Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo, was close to death, he gathered his students around him and told them he wanted to be buried in his white belt — the emblem of a rank beginner.
"At the moment of death, the ultimate transformation, we are all white belts. And if death makes beginners of us, so does life — again and again. In the master's secret mirror, even at the moment of highest renown and accomplishment, there is an image of the newest student in the class, eager for knowledge, willing to play the fool.

And for all who walk the path of mastery, however far that journey had progressed, Kano's request becomes a lingering question, an ever-new challenge:

Are you willing to wear your white belt?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I'm Taking a Sick Day...

...to see if I can get over whatever it is I have, which may be either a post-SHOT-SG Challenge head cold or Ebola.

And while I'm sleeping, this...KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES, MR. AND MRS. AMERICA!!!

They can visit me on their way in...

More aspirin, please!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

And as Long as I'm on a Roll...

Those of you who missed Ann Coulter's brilliant column last week on the Cartoon Wars owe it to yourselves to read all the way through it. You can find it here:
...But three cartoons made political points.

One showed Muhammad turning away suicide bombers from the gates of heaven, saying "Stop, stop – we ran out of virgins!" – which I believe was a commentary on Muslims' predilection for violence. Another was a cartoon of Muhammad with horns, which I believe was a commentary on Muslims' predilection for violence. The third showed Muhammad with a turban in the shape of a bomb, which I believe was an expression of post-industrial ennui in a secular – oops, no, wait: It was more of a commentary on Muslims' predilection for violence.

In order to express their displeasure with the idea that Muslims are violent, thousands of Muslims around the world engaged in rioting, arson, mob savagery, flag-burning, murder and mayhem, among other peaceful acts of nonviolence.
Yes, it's nasty in a way only Ann Coulter can be nasty, but the hard question remains — have we reached a point where it is institutionally prohibited from criticizing a religion if that religion happens to be Islam? I don't see Democrats laying off the Religious Right (which, in my opinion, roundly deserve all the criticism that has been directed toward them). There's a plethora of (well deserved) Catholic priest jokes floating around the Internet and the Real World. The essence of free speech is that people will be offended, but so what? Nobody ever died of "being offended."

And before you say anything, I have actually read the Holy Qur'an. Heck of a religion for warriors!

The Case FOR Bird Flu...

...this from Drudge, just in case you thought I was getting too serious:
Surprise: Chickens Can Grow Teeth

Chicken will grow teeth when pigs can fly.

Well, better start searching the skies for flying pork—scientists have discovered a mutant chicken with a full set of crocodile-like chompers.

The mutant chick, called Talpid, also had severe limb defects and died before hatching. It was discovered 50 years ago, but no one had ever examined its mouth until now.

The researchers recently created more Talpids by tweaking the genes of normal chickens to grow teeth.

"What we discovered were teeth similar to those of crocodiles—not surprising as birds are the closest living relatives of the reptile," said Mark Ferguson of the University of Manchester.
Well, that scares the hell out of me! Flocks of crocodile-teethed mutant chickens rampaging through the streets, burning KFCs, smashing supermarket windows, demanding that newspaper stop printing cartoons that deplict chickens...whoops! Sorry! That last comment was about a different flock of rampaging chickens!

Step Back! He's Talkin' Politics!

It's been a while since I talked politics, largely because talking about politics often makes me feel as if I'm gargling with toilet bowel water.

It's no secret that I am a Republican by default — my issue is guns — and that, for the most part, I find the Republican Party platform an appalling collection of brainless mush. OTOH, the collection of moonbat feces that passes for the Democratic Party platform would cause a maggot to gag.

So, it's with great interest I see the controversy surrounding the publication of Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, gun-loving organic gardeners, evangelical free-range farmers, hip homeschooling mamas, right-wing nature lovers, ... America (or at least the Republican Party).

Now THERE is a title! Here's the brief description from Publishers Weekly:
What do you call people who vote for Bush but shop at Whole Foods? Crunchy cons. And according to Dreher, an editor at the Dallas Morning News, they're forming a thriving counterculture within the contemporary conservative movement. United by a "cultural sensibility, not an ideology," crunchy conservatives, he says, have some habits and beliefs often identified with cultural liberals, like shopping at agriculture co-ops and rejecting suburban sprawl. Yet crunchy cons stand apart from both the Republican "Party of Greed" and the Democratic "Party of Lust," he says, by focusing on living according to conservative values, what the author calls "sacramental" living.
To be honest, I haven't read the book, although it's on order from Amazon, but I am fascinated by the concept. "Liberal" and "conservative" are by and large pretty worthless terms in describing the current state of the body politic.

I am reminded of an incident that happened to me a couple of SHOT Shows ago. We had just engineered our media coup on firearms and were getting a lot of mainstream press. I was approached by a guy at the Show and offered a job to overhaul the media image of a "fair use" group. I said I'd never heard of it (which was, of couse, the problemo). The person explained that his group sought fair use of the recreational lands for motorized recreation, especially snowmobiles, jetskis, etc. My response was that he had the wrong puppy...I was, in fact, a tree-hugging environmentalist and that if it was up to me, I'd open a limited season on snowmobiles to at least take the big bucks out of the herd.

But, he said, you're pro-gun, pro-hunting, pro-shooting, pro-self-defense!

I am, I said. What does that have to do with what you're talking about?

Upon reflection, it was more of the whole "package deal" that we've been forced to accept. In order to gain the support of generally conservative legislators who don't have a particularly strong feeling about guns, the Second Amendment, the Right to Carry, hunting access, etc., we've been saddled with a huge sack of "conservative agenda" crap.

I suspect that the issue I'll have with Crunchy Cons is the author's religious-centric viewpoint. I'm not a huge fan of religion, nor does it particularly figure in my life. But I don't believe that one needs an overwhelming external value system to live lightly on the planet.

But it's great to see some discussion out there!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Miculek WINS...World Continues to Spin...Home Again!

Yes indeedy, Jerry Miculek — the legendary revolver shooter and S&W pro — eeked out a win in what he called, "the hardest easy match I ever shot!"

On the last stage of the SHOOTING GALLERY/Big Dawg Invitational, which featured 7 targets at ranges of from 58 yards to 98 yards and required the shooters to use a 3-inch Ruger Alaskan revolver in .454 Casull, Jerry, who had been leading since stage three, was barely able to stave off a challenge from a surprisingly strong Roger Sherman of the U.S. Air Force and Team SIG and a hard-charging Dave Sevigny from Glock.

The best performance on that stage, however, came from Capital policeman Phil Strader, who shrugged off the strategy of "run fast and throw shot" and chose to stand and shoot. Firing off-hand double action, he hit 4 of the 7 long-distance targets. "That wasn't so bad," shaking his shooting hand. Miculek, who hit 2 of the long-distance targets, edged Strader out of the stage win.

I'm too tired to really wrap this up, and I want to save something for the television shows...which are going to be amazing! This is going to be the shooting sports the way you've always wanted to see the shooting sports portrayed. Think X-Games with guns.

I've got a lot of people to thank...our primary sponsors:


• Match Director Dave Arnold
• "Gun Wrangler" Bill Laughridge of Cylinder & Slide Shop
• Gunsite Director of Operations Ed Head
• Color commentator Il Ling New
• On-the-spot Analyst Richard "Tequila" Young
• Ace Production Assistant Lisa Farrell
• Statistician Kerby Smith

and, of course, the athletes...

• Jerry Miculek
• Roger Sherman
• Dave Sevigny
• Phil Strader
• Max Michel
• Randi Rogers
• Julie Goloski

Friday, February 17, 2006

SG Update

Okay, kiddies...here's what we're shooting tomorrow:

STAGE 1: El Prez
GUN: Sig 226 9mm (Homeland Security guns)
TARGETS: SRT Sniper targets (1/4 size silhouettes)
Run 1: Standard EL PREZ
Run 2: Double diatance EL PREZ
Run 3: 180 degree EL PREZ

STAGE 2: Steel Challenge Outer Limits
GUN: Ruger GP101 .357 Revolver
TARGETS: 35-yard Pepper Poppers/remainder 8-inch plates.
Four runs; all runs count

STAGE 3: West Wash
GUN: SIG 226 9mm; FOUND Gun, S&W revolver, for remainder of course
150-yard ravine with more than 2 dozen targets

STAGE 4: Urban Scramble
GUN: Para-Ordnance 1911 .45 ACP; FOUND Gun, Ruger semiauto, for remainder of course
TARGETS: Action Target custom steel targets; paper targets
Advanced handgun training course with two twists...

STAGE 5: Fun House Dark Shoot
GUN: Glock 17 9mm
FLASHLIGHT: Hand-held SureFire
TARGETS: Paper targets; threat intersperced with no-threat

GUN: Ruger Alaskan .454 Casull
TARGETS: Steel, 60-80 yards
Originally designed as a carbine/scout rifle course

Scoring is TIME; all penalties are 5 seconds added to time. Any steel left standing or paper target not engaged with two shots is a 5-second penalty.

Shooting starts Saturday at 8AM...

Rock on!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

SG Challenge

After a quick 24 hours at home, I'm at GUNSITE for the SHOOTING GALLERY Challenge. Actually, the competitors will be coming in on Friday, then shooting Saturday and Sunday AM. I'm thinking of keeping it relatively quiet, since we are filming this for teevee (a 3-part SG Special Presentation in July).

Gotta run over to Ruger and pick up some guns!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Images from SHOT are all hi-rez. Click on 'em for the bigger versions!

SIG 556 Rifle!

This is my pick for the hit of the Show!

You had to fight your way through the crowds at the SIG booth to even handle the things, and I heard very good responses from some of my LEO friends who were at the Show shopping. There has been a large pent-up demand for a Swiss semiauto/civilian legal rifle, largely because of the almost legendary reputations of the 550 and 552 series true "assault" — i.e., select fire — rifles.

I've shot the 550/552 SIG rifles, and they are absolutely awesome — comfortable (even in the full-auto snubby guise), much more accurate than me and designed with the ergonomics the Swiss are famous for.

The 556 semi has a two position gas piston operating rod system mated with a 1-in-9 twist barrel and a two-stage trigger that felt excellent in the versions they had at the booth. The little beast acepts standard AR magazines. Aside from all the attachment points, there's also a quick change-barrel feature.

MSRP is looking like $1299, which puts it right smack in the middle of the premium AR fun-and-games (the new S&W AR, for example, is in the $1700 vicinity).


I'll have a chance to wring this guy out the next time I'm at SIG, which is first week of May!

"My" Gun Finds a New Home!

Ron Cook gets to take "my" TACTICAL SOLUTIONS/SHOOTING GALLERY Giveaway Gun home from SHOT.

He was a very happy puppy, as he's a dedicated .22 shooter and an accumulator of 10/.22S.

I made him promise to give it a good home, feed it regularly, etc.

And while we're on the subject of Tactical Solutions, they have an AMAZING new line of suppressors. As with everything they do, the suppressors are, dare I say, elegant, without the usual Mil-Spec macho-ness that has hindered the adoption of silencing technology into law enforcement and civilian markets. They have a screw-on .22 suppressor, but what really struck me was the Browning Buck Mark pistol and a really flashy Ruger 10/.22 with integral suppressors. Here's their Buck Mark page with non-suppressed guns...the pages on the suppressors aren't up yet. You could not tell that the little Buck Mark was suppressed, which is exactly what you want in a suppressor! Very smart...

Monday, February 13, 2006


Finally, and dead friggin' tired to boot!

But first:

1) Heard from two pretty credible sources that the Colt deal is OFF the table, specifically on the General Dynamics side.

2) The winner of the AMAZING Tactical Solutions/SHOOTING GALLERY Giveaway 10/.22 was Ron Cook from Warne Scope Mounts. I thought he was going to weep...full post with pixs later. More than 5000 entries!

3) Taurus "Gun of the Year" presentation for the Gaucho went great.

4) Yes, dear heavens, there were another million 1911s and two million AR-15s. BTW, with Rock River adopting the .458 SOCOM round, there's at least a Big Dog in the big boomer AR market, which has been drifting aimlessly for a couple of years. Remind me to write more about this later.

5) Instead of posting Sunday AM like I planned from the Press Room, I spent the last day of the SHOT taking the guys from the Paralyzed Veterans Association around the floor of the Show introducing them to people who could help. More about that later, too.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Hanging on by the proverbial thread. Big story is SIG's new AR-styled rifle, which I've been sitting on for a month. Will post pixs ASAP. Also like Taurus' Gaucho revolving rifle and M-92 lever action .22. The day was a haze of filming and meetings. Sorry...eing a bad blogger!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cartoons & Sanity

SOOOOOOOOOOO, while buildings are burning across Europe because of cartoon representations of Mohammed, I thought I'd point the cursor to an earlier cartoon fatwa that went largely unnoticed, even though it represented the slander of one of the greatest American editorial cartoonist, Doug Marlette.

But first, a little ancient history. When I was in college at Florida State in Tallahassee, Doug Marlette was one of my best friends. It was the Sixties, and we were both bat-shit crazy. We met when I started as a reporter at the Florida Flambeau — the only job I could find, BTW — for the lordly sum of $50 a month. Marlette had just started drawing editorial cartoons, and our adventures were legion. Stupid, but legion.

When Marlette tacked into the Real World, he occasionally dragged me along. He once convinced me to move to Charlotte, NC, when he started work for the Charlotte Observer. On one memorable Saturday morning, I was hauled out of a deep sleep by someone pounding on the door of my duplex. Groggily, I opened the door, and there was Marlette, disheaveled as ever, standing on my porch. He stepped to the side to reveal a brand-spanking new baby blue Porsche, the child of his first cartoon syndication deal.

"The Sixties," he announced portentiously, pointing at the Porsche, "are officially over!"

He bought a Porsche; I bought a Model 29 .44 Magnum...go figure.

"Ah, the stories we could tell," as the song goes, "if it all blows up and goes to hell..."

I could tell you about scamming my first big magazine article about country music, loading up my beater Toyota with junk food, lots of caffinated stuff, Marlette and brilliant Southern writer Frye Gaillard, all of us with a grand total of $7 and a canceled credit card for our first expedition to Nashville...but that's not this story.

Doug tended more liberal as I tended more conservative, and we had some epic arguments. But our friendship remained strong. In 2002, Dough drew this cartoon...What Would Mohammed Drive? Suddenly, my friend Doug got his own fatwa issued against him. read the whole story here. You'll notice that the story's in World Net Daily. That's because the MSM pretended that Doug was the little boy who farted at the funeral. With the exception of columnist Kathleen Parker, Doug disappeared from the radar.

"I didn't believe it at first," Doug told me. "My liberal friends turned their backs on me. It was the conservatives, people I'd ripped in my cartoons, who stood by me."

Doug's first novel, The Bridge, in a weird way got caught in the fatwa. Mostly, I want you to read his brilliant piece in the Columbia Journalism Review from 2003, "I Was a Tool of Satan":
The censors no longer come to us in jackboots with torches and baying dogs in the middle of the night. They arrive now in broad daylight with marketing surveys and focus-group findings. They come as teams, not armies, trained in effectiveness, certified in sensitivity, and wielding degrees from the Columbia journalism school. They're known not for their bravery but for their efficiency. They show gallantry only when they genuflect to apologize.


The cyberprotest by CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] showed a sophisticated understanding of what motivates newsroom managers these days - bottom-line concerns, a wish for the machinery to run smoothly, and the human-resources mandate not to offend. Many of my e-mail detractors appeared to be well-educated, recent émigrés. Even if their English sometimes faltered, they were fluent in the language of victimhood. Presumably, victimization was one of their motives for leaving their native countries, yet the subtext of many of their letters was that this country should be more like the ones they emigrated from. They had the American know-how without the know-why. In the name of tolerance, in the name of their peaceful God, they threatened violence against someone they accused of falsely accusing them of violence.
Freedom of speech is a precious and fragile thing. Doug certainly didn't want the death threats, etc., but he never shrank from the fight. He's still kicking ass and taking names...you can check him out here. He'll probably piss you off. He pisses everybody off, eventually. Still my friend, though.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Willie Nelson's Lament, as it applies to the Cowgirl

"Just when you think it's all over
It's only begun..."
Willie Nelson
The Red-Headed Stranger

So all of a sudden, just when you think it's finished, bada bing, the confetti's back in the air. A coffee table with two chairs is now a round table for five. At least two at the table bode VERY well for we shooters!

Monday Gun Porn...SHOOTING GALLERY Giveaway Rocket!!!

The stock just came back from the airbrusher, so I thought I'd let you see the metal and stockwork as part of MONDAY GUN-PORN!

This is TOO cool!

Tom Hines at Tactical Solutions is a genius!

If you're at SHOT, come by the OUTDOOR CHANNEL Booth (#9513) or the TACTICAL SOLUTIONS Booth (#4799), drop off a card, and on Sunday we'll pick who gets this baby!!!!

Here's the release that will be handed out at SHOT:


The Outdoor Channel’s hit show Shooting Gallery, and Tactical Solutions, have teamed up to offer a chance to win a custom-built, tricked-out .22 cal. rimfire rifle at the 2006 SHOT Show.

This Tactical Solutions rifle utilizes the Ruger 10/22 receiver as its base platform. Fitting a Tactical Solutions 16.5” chrome-moly sleeved, aluminum barrel with a black to yellow anodized finish and Tactical Soultions compensator is a good indication this is not your off-the-shelf plinker. Tricking out the rest of the receiver, one will note the custom integrated rail that will be fitted with TRU/TAC quick detach rings and a Leupold 2-7x28 Rimfire scope. Topping off the list of machined goodies will be a custom bolt handle and magazine release. And to ease tension on the trigger finger, a straight trigger will be fitted.

Not to give all the glory to the metal, Bell&Carlson has donated their Odyssey stock. It features a fully adjustable cheek piece and length of pull. The front to rear downward tapered forend allows for minute elevation adjustment by simply sliding the rifle. The vented forend has a rail for attachments and fits both right and left-handed shooters. Of course, the high gloss black/yellow flame job on the stock is accompanied with the distinctive Shooting Gallery and Tactical Solutions logos.

SHOT Show attendees will have the opportunity to win this custom-made rifle by visiting The Outdoor Channel booth #9513 or the Tactical Solutions booth #4799.

For more information on the Outdoor Channel, log on to www.theoutdoorchannel.com.

For more information on the Tactical Solutions product line visit www.tacticalsol.com or call Tom Hines at 866-333-9901.

SHOT Show Warning...

...most of this week will be getting ready for SHOT. I leave Wednesday AM, and from the time I arrive in Vegas every second is spoken for. We've got three television shows to film, the presentation to Taurus for SG Gun of the Year, some planning work with Crimson Trace, and, of course, giving away the absolutely amazing TACTICAL SOUTIONS/RUGER Shooting Gallery Giveaway Gun! The stock just came back from the airbrusher, and I'll post the pix as soon as I head up to my office.

I had originally planned to live-blog as much as I could, but it just doesn't seem rational at this point. I'm going to try [DO OR DO NOT, LUKE! THERE IS NO TRY!]...I'm ourfitting my assistant, ascerbic revolver world champion Lisa Farrell, with a digital camera and we'll collect what we can.

Legends Celebrity Sporting Clays Shoot

First, I gotta give a big ole THANK YOU to Wayne LaPierre and NRA Sports for reallying pulling together the Legends Celebrith Sporting Clays event in Vegas Saturday. They did a spectacular job in what amounts to herding cats.

I'm hosting The Outdoor Channel special presentation of the event, along with my pal Olympic medalist Kim Rhode. The event features John Elway, Dan Marino, baseball legend Roger Clemens, members of the "Miracle on Ice" US Olympic hockey team, actors Joe Mantegna, Brad Johnson, Richard — Shaft — Roundtree, etc. This was by far and away the most fun I've ever had at a celebrity shoot. I really enjoy talking to Joe Mantegna...we met (at the old Charlton Heston Celebrity Shoot, natch) right after he did that Rat Pack movie playing Dena Martin. He told me that he had based his Dino character on the book Dino, by my old pal and running buddy Nick Tosches, so we ended up with a lot of common ground. I got to sing a FABULOUS rendition of the opening of the Shaft theme to Richard Roundtree, trade barbs with Elway, who was a wonderfully nice guy, do a really nice interview with Roger Clemens, etc.

Kim did a lot of shotgun instructing, as well as play "toss the football" with Dan Marino. She also did some really nice interviews with the Miracle hockey guys...scarly, being around that many people with those gold medals!

We were worried about the event, because it was crammed into too little time, and the Desert Lakes Country Club sporting clays course, while beautiful, is spread all over the planet. But NRA Sports stepped in and everything ran like a clock.

BTW, Kimmy has decided to make another run at the Olympics, this time in skeet — her sport, women's double trap, was eliminated so the Powers-That-Be at the Olympics could add dog frisbie and aerobic gardening. Of her first 100 clays in the new sport, she broke 99. Of course, she only broke 98 of the next 100! Of course, the current Olympic world record is held by Russian Svetlana Demina in the 1999 Games in Japan...99/100. Good luck, Kim! You'll be seeing more of her on SHOOTING GALLERY.

Yeah yeah yeah...I'll get to the gossip later!

Friday, February 03, 2006

HIGH NOON — A Fairy Tale

"Look at that big hand move along
Nearing High Noon!"

— Tex Ritter

I know you've been waiting all day for this one, but I GOT NOTHING! In fact, my little cherubs and seraphim are so upset that they didn't come through for me, that they've asked me to tell them a bedtime story.

So I thought and I thought, and then I remembered HIGH NOON IN HARTFORD CITY. Now, this is only a fairy tale, and it's not true even one little bit. I don't want you reading into it anything...

Once upon a time
there was a beautiful cowgirl who lived in Hartford City, but she was very very sad. ALl her friends had deserted her, gone to places where the Evil UA-Trolls didn't live and prices for renting the old campsite were so much cheaper! All she had left was her beautiful silver pony, whom she named...Trigger!

Well, one day she woke up and realized that she was on the verge of being tied to a railroad track and plumb run'd over! So she said, what can I do? What can I do? And Trigger, every the faithful friend, whispered in her ear...send out the word to our old friends and ask them for help, the horse said. But be sure to set a deadline, so we won't be tied to the railroad tracks.

Oh, she replied, a deadline! What sort of deadline???

And Trigger thought and thought, and finally he said, "I've got it! HIGH NOON! Friday! Just before the Big Campfire Singalong!"

"High noon it is," she said.

So the word of the cowgirl's plight went out far and wide, and was met with a great rolling silence. The deadline drew closer and closer, and no words. Just when she was on the verge of despair, word came that TWO COWBOYS were riding to her rescue!!!

"Only two," she thought. "I'm not THAT old and ugly!!!"

One cowboy, one of her oldest friends, rode from the East, his magnificent lever action rifle in his scabbard. He was wounded, though, and had recently lost his brother. But he rallied himself and rode to rescue the cowgirl, because it had to be done.

The second cowboy rode from the West. He was a paladin of sorts, a known chaser of lost causes; his emblem was that of St. John the Divine, and upon his snow-white breast he bore the magic numbers 1...9...1...1...

Oh, tell us more! Tell us more! say the cherubs and seraphim, but I've got to go eat a really expensive dinner in Vegas!!! Besides, not a word of this is true...really...really really...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Colt Sold! Industry Roiling Before SHOT...

Hartford's Rampant Colt is going to a new home — actually new homes — ending years of speculation on when the sad little horse was going to just keel over and die.

Brother Jim Shepherd at The Outdoor Wire is reporting this AM that the defense side of the bifurcated company, which had been making noises abut going public, has been sold to General Dynamics, and that an announcement of the sale of the commercial side is moments away...and, according to Shepherd, a shocker.

Again according to Shepherd, 11 firearms companys have been circling around the crippled pony, No doubt the sale of the defense side of the business was accelerated by the recent military contract for M4 carbines, which surprised the industry.

A couple of quick thoughts before I start working the phones...

• Colt represents a staggering treasure chest of intellectual property. It's one heck of a list: 1911 Government Model, AR-15, Python, Detective Special, Single Action Army. Each of these honest-to-goodness legendary firearms were the Gold Standard in their respective niches.

• My little cherubs and seraphim tell me Colt has a new plastic pistol in the back room, ready to throw into the new military trials. Maybe; maybe not. But if that particular piece of gossip is true, it certainly boosts Colt's bargaining position.

• No doubt potential suitors are watching S&W's numbers on their revived revolver line. A relaunch of the Python, the Dick Special and probably the .44 Magnum Anaconda from the Colt line makes you an instant player. Or, suppose you're S&W...

• What would the Rampant Colt logo mean for a manufacturer of SAA clones? Or to a manufacturer of 1911 clones? One never knows, does one?

Lotsa variables here...more as info becomes available...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

How Katie Couric Came to Gargle Turds...

Interesting chain of events leading up to the Today Show piece on women with guns. A few months ago, NSSF sent out a press release obout the gorwing numbers of women sport shooters and hunters.

Predictably, the American MSM ignored the release, concentrating on Senator Edward Kennedy's mindless drooling and blathering and moonbat Cindy Sheehan's fashion accessories. The story did, however, get picked up by The Economist in England, who ran a story in their January 5 edition.

That got noticed by Today Show editors, because everybody knows all the smart, intelligent, liberal people live in Europe. The Economist, however, tends to appeal to people with IQs higher than Reese Whitherspoon's bra size and has historically run some thoughtful stories (heck, they did one on me once, characterizing yours truly as, "the quintessential American risk-taker"). Apparently, Katie was doing an interview with herself when the piece came in, and it ended up on the air.

Good job, NSSF!

Breaking News About SIG

I'm occasionally amazed at the things that find their way to my in-box! Click on the letter to get it full-sized, but, in short, Boston has chosen the SIG Revolution 1911 .45s for their Entry & Apprehension Team.

SHOT Show Thoughts

It's getting closer and closer, like the world's largest anaconda slithering toward my helpless hog self!

I mean the SHOT Show, of course.

I thought I'd jot down a few notes before I settled into spending he rest of the day rewriting TRAIL SAFE.

I'm interested to see how the industry is adapting/pretending to adapt to the new retail model that has become painfully obvious over recent months — guns as fashion. Realistically, the vast gun-buying market is not working the way it used to, which was on a "need/use" model" — I need a gun to use for CCW/hunting/competition/whatever; I will evaluate all models in this niche and choose the one that suits me best. That model works best when there's a wide disparity in quality between items in the same niche.

Despite what you read in the gunrags, probably 97% of the firearms manufactured today are within tiny percentage points of other when it comes to reliability, accuracy, ergonomics, etc. It always strikes me as humorus when a gunwriter discovers that an out-of-the-box "X" works, looks pretty good, and is accurate at 25 yards with specific loads. This is a little like discovering that any 2006 automobile starts, looks pretty good, and gets okay gas mileage for its size.

The caveat is the same caveat that has been in place since cavemen starting swapping hides for sharp rocks — you get what you pay for. A $1000 weapon is better than a $500 weapon — but mostly in the area of cosmetics...that $500 gun will still work reliably, shoot accurately, do what you need a gun to do. Differentiating factors are more a question of fashion than function or utility.

Now we come to it, the little secret that Kimber figured out before everyone else. In a fashion-driven market, people buy goods because of style, appearance, recommendations from trusted others, association with formal or informal affinity groups, a whole plethora of reasons that we gun buyers might initially scoff at. But there's nothing wrong with a fashion-driven market...markets are always evolving through different paradigms, and it's not unusual for several models to coexist along with the dominent model, some going up; some going down.

It actually only matters if you don't know what kind of market you're in — sort of the manufacturing equivalent of taking your snowboard and woolies on a Carribbean vacation. A quick negative example...say you are one of the most recognized names in firearms around the world and a legendary riflemaker...say you invest a huge amount of resource in developing an entirely different line of rifle cartridges and the guns to shoot them, aimed at the hunting market...like maybe the cartridges are shorter or stubbier or something. And maybe they are indeed better mousetraps. However, you present them with HUGE fanfair to the market, and the only roar you can hear is some guy in the back snoring. You have just made the classic mistake of presenting the perfect new product for a "need/use" market to the fashionistas!

The fashionistas don't need no stinkin' better mousetraps! They want Manolo guns, slingback blasters! In the case of the rifle market, Manolo = Tactical Rifles (or, if you really want to be seriously politically incorrect, "sniper" rifles). Interestingly enough, the fashionista tactical rifle market (as opposed to the for-real market for police special teams or military snipers) is very retro in terms of caliber — .308, .300 Win Mag, you want to get wild and crazy and a long way away, .338 Lapua or .300 UltraMag. You invented a new rifle cartridge for hunting? Wow...great...call me when the glaciers move south...

Here's a positive example — Nighthawk Custom 1911s. I haven't handled the guns, but my friends whom I trust tell me they're superb (and at a $2000+ price point, one might expect that). The founders are all master 'smiths from Bill Wilson's shop, so you know they've handled the occasional top-end 1911.

However, with the above market information in mind, read this review of Nighthawks from the Defense Review. The Nighthawk guys totally have their licks down...they know what they're selling, and they know who their selling it to! In the 1911 market, Manolo = Top End 1911s With Flash. There's a reason these guns have military names, proprietary parts and megaflashy finishes, folks. It's worth noting they're flying off the shelves, when distributors can lay their hands on 'em.

Market shift happens.

We'll see, we'll see, come next week.