Friday, February 29, 2008

Any Day You Get a New Gun...

Picked up my T&E little Ruger .380 LCP today...I've only got a hundred or so rounds of .380 lying around, but I've got some Cor-Bon on the way. I'm gonna suck it up and order some of the Buffalo Bore .380 thumpers as well. Big on self-abuse and all. I need to get a couple of hundred rounds through it before I start carrying it.

I was actually going to the range tomorrow and put some rounds through that Para Carry 9, but instead it's at least half a day in the studio...then it's supposed to snow. We'll see...I really want to run some rounds through the Para...I've shot several of them, and they've been sweet, and I'm sort of half-way shopping for a new carry gun.

Looks like the FNH SCAR rifles are headed for the battlefield. This from CNN (strangely enough):
MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Florida (CNN) -- No piece of equipment is more crucial to a soldier in the field than his rifle. And America's most elite troops are about to get a new series of rifles designed for their unique and dangerous missions.

CNN was given an exclusive look at two new rifles for an elite group of U.S. troops.

"The difference is, I'm gonna have a weapon that's gonna fit the situation," an Army Ranger staff sergeant said.

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is about to start training its SEALs, Green Berets and other Special Operations troops in the use of Mark 16 and Mark 17 rifles.

Within a year, the new rifles should be in action against terrorists and insurgents in Iraq, Afghanistan and hot spots the public may never hear about.

The usually secretive SOCOM gave CNN an exclusive chance to see and even fire the new weapon recently at its headquarters near Tampa, Florida.

The contractors working with SOCOM to develop the weapon say it is more versatile and more accurate, jams less and lasts longer than the current rifle used by many Special Operations troops, the M-4.

The Mark 16 (Mk16) fires a 5.56 mm round, the same size used for decades in M-16s and M-4s. The Mk17 fires a larger 7.62 mm round that is used in some U.S. military machine guns, but it's not the same round as in the AK-47, the world's most widely used assault rifle.

Both of the new rifles are designed to kill regardless of the situation.
Yeah well, one supposes that's what battle rifles are designed to do. The SCAR Heavy is the best 7.62/.308 out there, best one I've ever fired, at least. Every time I get ready to plop down the money for an FN/FAL, I think, "Wait...wait..."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Quickie Before Bedtime

Presented without necessary comment...

Skynet Watch

"Listen. And understand. That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead..."
— Kyle Reese
Terminator, 1994

This from Drudge yesterday:
Automated killer robots 'threat to humanity': expert

Increasingly autonomous, gun-totting robots developed for warfare could easily fall into the hands of terrorists and may one day unleash a robot arms race, a top expert on artificial intelligence told AFP.

"They pose a threat to humanity," said University of Sheffield professor Noel Sharkey ahead of a keynote address Wednesday before Britain's Royal United Services Institute.

Intelligent machines deployed on battlefields around the world -- from mobile grenade launchers to rocket-firing drones -- can already identify and lock onto targets without human help.

There are more than 4,000 US military robots on the ground in Iraq, as well as unmanned aircraft that have clocked hundreds of thousands of flight hours.

The first three armed combat robots fitted with large-caliber machine guns deployed to Iraq last summer, manufactured by US arms maker Foster-Miller, proved so successful that 80 more are on order, said Sharkey.

But up to now, a human hand has always been required to push the button or pull the trigger.

It we are not careful, he said, that could change.
As it happens, I was in Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand on August 29, 1997, the day (according to the Terminator movie timeline) the military Skynet system became self-aware and launched its nuclear war of annihilation against humanity. During dinner with a bunch of crazed Aussies, I made a toast to John Connor, leader of the Resistance. American movies being the only true worldwide mythology, the Aussies hooted and hollared...then one said, "This'd be the place to ride out the war, wouldn't it?"

I've been really impressed with Fox's TERMINATOR — The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the television extension of the movie franchise. The sublime Lena Headley is practically channeling Linda Hamilton, right down to the mechanical pull-ups, and Summer Glau — River, from the much-lamented Firefly series — is hands down the spookiest chick on television.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Okay...By Popular Demand...

The Zombie Targets Video!

Video report of the Ruger LCP

Here's the first video report of the Ruger LCP:

The Ruger LCP .380
A DRTV Exclusive: Michael Bane shows you the new LCP in action.

More in this week's podcast:

Link'n Day!

Yesterday I was locked in the studio all day long, then had to go get the emission test on my Honda all know how that song goes, right? Boulder County, environmentally conscious place that it claims to be, as more SUVs-per-square-foot than a Hummer dealership. The inspection palace, OTOH, has five lanes for two-wheel-drive cars, which are always mostly empty, and one lane for 4/all-wheel drives, guaranteeing a nice long wait no matter when you show up. Mostly I just let the engine idle and spew hydrocarbons into the air, doing my part to head off the coming Ice Age.

USA Today ran their summary article on D.C. v. Heller, and all in all it's pretty good. They note, correctly, the effect of the BUSH SELL-OUT of gun owners:
The Bush administration's shifting stance on gun control has added political drama to the case.

Ashcroft's position seven years ago made him a hero to the 4 million-member NRA, which put him on the cover of its monthly magazine and called him a "breath of fresh air to freedom-loving gun owners."

The next year, in 2002, Justice Department lawyers said that any government regulation of gun rights should be subject to the highest level of judicial scrutiny, which would make it harder to enact gun laws.

Now, the Bush administration is siding with Heller in a"friend of the court" brief — but with a large caveat. Justice Departmentlawyers have backed off their earlier position and now say gun regulation should be subjected to a lesser level of scrutiny that would allow far more regulation than the 2002 stance.

The reason is explained in the first line of the administration's court brief: "Congress has enacted numerous laws regulating firearms." Current laws ban private ownership of machine guns and limit possession of firearms that can go undetected by metal detectors or X-ray machines. Laws also regulate the manufacture, sale and importation of firearms.

Vice President Cheney, a hunting enthusiast, broke with the administration and signed a brief with a majority of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urging a high threshold for gun regulation.

Levinson believes the Justice Department's stance could appeal to most of the high court as well as the public. "I think laws that pass with genuine public support are likely to be upheld," he says.

Kairys, who has helped cities sue gunmakers for the costs of firearms violence, says gun-control laws could be hurt by any court finding of an individual right. If the court does that, he says, "It's going to be very hard to get any (gun control) legislation passed."
My friend Jim Shepherd did his own summary — as usual, excellent — in this morning's edition of The Shooting Wire:
In just over two weeks, we’ll find out if the Second Amendment is a basic tenet of this nation, or a dead letter leftover from simpler times. At this point, I’m not putting money the idea of the Second Amendment being as important as any of the others. That’s because the Supreme Court keeps giving what appears to be an inordinate amount of credence to the amicus brief filed by the Solicitor General of the United States.

In that brief, Solicitor General Paul Clement says that while the Second Amendment states a valid and individual right, it is equally appropriate to put commonsense regulation into place. Those “commonsense regulations” incidentally, would include background checks, bans on “certain types of weapons” (presumably only those he believed to be too-large, too-small, too-loud, too-quiet, too-powerful, and of course, those available to average citizens), and other ideas that seem sensible to someone who holds the core belief that the average American is too-stupid to be trusted.

The fact that President Bush didn’t demand the S-G’s resignation, denounce him publicly while ordering the Justice Department to file another brief and then apologize to the gun owners of America only proves the only thing on his mind these days is (as is the case with lame duck presidents) his legacy. That legacy thing has been the downfall of many pretty good presidents. Unfortunately, it may mean the downfall of the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, but that’s still a crap shoot with eight men and one woman rolling the dice for the rest of us.
I think George Bush's legacy will be worthy of the man he's proven himself to be...a steaming pile of cow crap in a Texas field.

Of course you already know that Montana has thrown down the gauntlet...this from the Washington Times:
Montana officials are warning that if the Supreme Court rules in the D.C. gun ban case that the right to keep and bear arms protects only state-run militias like the National Guard, then the federal government will have breached Montana's statehood contract.

Nobody is raising flags for the Republic of Montana, but nobody is kidding, either. So far, 39 elected Montana officials have signed a resolution declaring that a court ruling of the Second Amendment is a right of states and not of individuals would violate Montana's compact.

"The U.S. would do well to keep its contractual promise to the states that the Second Amendment secures an individual right now as it did upon execution of the statehood contract," Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson said in a Feb. 15 letter to The Washington Times.
I figure at the very least Wyoming will follow suite, so at least when the Civil War starts, I won't have to move far and I'm already used to the winters!

I do like this hand-wringing commentary, originally from the New York, Times, I believe. This link is from Seattle:
"I shot a banded duck," said Hillary Clinton.

Who says we have heard everything there conceivably could be to say from the presidential candidates?

There is something about an election year that makes politicians start bragging about how many furry or feathered critters they've killed. Otherwise, God forbid, voters might think they were interested in doing something about gun control.

So far, the most memorable gun comments during this campaign have been:

"I'm pretty sure there will be duck hunting in heaven, and I can't wait." -- Mike Huckabee

"I've been a hunter pretty much all my life." -- Mitt Romney

"I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints if you will." -- Mitt Romney, amending the record once it was pointed out that he had never had a hunting license.

"Maybe he can get out his small varmint gun and drive those Guatemalans off his yard." -- John McCain

"My father taught me to shoot 100 years ago." -- Hillary Clinton

This last, which we believe to be a slight exaggeration, came last week in Wisconsin. At another stop, when someone asked about gun control, Clinton told a story about how she went duck-hunting when she lived in Arkansas, and how the rest of her group, all male, made her shoot first in an effort to embarrass her.

Thence followed a happy ending for everybody except the duck.
Finally, in a desperate attempt to pretend that the Republicans care about us, the Department of the Interior is revising rules on carrying guns in national parks. This from the NRA:
The current regulations on possession of firearms in national parks--which generally prohibit possession, carry or transportation of loaded or uncased firearms--were proposed in 1982 and finalized in 1983. Similar restrictions apply in national wildlife refuges. It is now time to amend those regulations to reflect the changed legal situation with respect to state laws on carrying firearms.

The effect of these now-outdated regulations on people who carry firearms for self-protection was far from the forefront at the time these regulations were adopted. As of the end of 1982, only six states routinely allowed average citizens to carry handguns for self-defense. Now, 48 states have a process for issuance of licenses or permits to carry firearms, and 40 of those states provide the opportunity for average citizens to legally carry firearms for self-defense.
Finally finally, this great piece from John Stossel on Real Clear Politics:
It's all too predictable. A day after a gunman killed six people and wounded 18 others at Northern Illinois University, The New York Times criticized the U.S. Interior Department for preparing to rethink its ban on guns in national parks.

The editorial board wants "the 51 senators who like the thought of guns in the parks -- and everywhere else, it seems -- to realize that the innocence of Americans is better protected by carefully controlling guns than it is by arming everyone to the teeth."

As usual, the Times editors seem unaware of how silly their argument is. To them, the choice is between "carefully controlling guns" and "arming everyone to the teeth." But no one favors "arming everyone to the teeth" (whatever that means). Instead, gun advocates favor freedom, choice and self-responsibility. If someone wishes to be prepared to defend himself, he should be free to do so. No one has the right to deprive others of the means of effective self-defense, like a handgun.

As for the first option, "carefully controlling guns," how many shootings at schools or malls will it take before we understand that people who intend to kill are not deterred by gun laws? Last I checked, murder is against the law everywhere. No one intent on murder will be stopped by the prospect of committing a lesser crime like illegal possession of a firearm. The intellectuals and politicians who make pious declarations about controlling guns should explain how their gunless utopia is to be realized.

While they search for -- excuse me -- their magic bullet, innocent people are dying defenseless.
Oh yeah, check out the ZOMBIE TARGETS (above), and thanks to the inimitable Don Worsham for the link!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Coming Soon, Courtesy of Your Federal Government

This "Ordering a Pizza in 2010" from no less than the ACLU is all over the Internet, but it's definitely worth listening to....

Ramifications from the BUSH SELL-OUT Continue... stack up against us. The latest is that the Supreme Court has disallowed additional time for our side of the argument while allowing weasel Solicitor General Paul Clement an additional 15 minutes. This from Legal Times:
In a brief order on today's order list the Supreme Court dashed the hopes of gun rights advocates who hoped to have two lawyers and additional time arguing their cause before the Supreme Court when it hears arguments in the historic case D.C. v. Heller March 18.

Without explanation, the Court denied the motion of Texas Solicitor General R. Ted Cruz for argument time on the side of Alan Gura of Gura & Possessky, who has argued the pro-Second Amendment position from the start of the case.

But the Court did agree to give Solicitor General Paul Clement 15 minutes to argue, in addition to the 30 minutes for each side in the case.

The Court's action can be read as a small but not insignificant victory for supporters of D.C.'s handgun control ordinance at issue in the case.
This comes on the heels of Democratic candidate Barack Obama's parroting of the Solicitor General's brief in his attempts to hide his "turn 'em all in, Mr. and Mrs. America" real beliefs:
The senator, a former constitutional law instructor, said some scholars argue the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees gun ownerships only to militias, but he believes it grants individual gun rights.

"I think there is an individual right to bear arms, but it's subject to commonsense regulation" like background checks, he said during a news conference.
In short, the consequences of the BUSH SELL-OUT are looming ominously large...

Monday AM Back in the Saddle

Back at home, with a mea culpa...when I was driving home from the airport yesterday. Walt Rauch admonished me about trying to use logic on guys are right; I was wrong, so my new policy is that if you don't like the blog, don't read it! Don't watch SHOOTING GALLERY or COWBOYS; stay off DRTV and, in general, go away. The rest of you, let's press on regardless!

RE: Crimson Trace, I have used LaserGrips since there were laser grips. I like them for what they are, not what they aren't, and that is an additional special purpose sighting system. In that sense, they're exactly like night sights or a weapon-mounted white light...they don't replace your standard sighting system, but only come into play in special situations. Night sights allow you to get a sight picture in low-light situations; white light allows you to see into dark places and lasers allow you sight on your target when you can't use your traditional sights.

IMO there are two separate situations where lasers come into their own:
1) In close quarters' situations...some of the best close quarters trainers in the country — some you've seen on SHOOTING GALLERY — insist on LaserGrips on their guns for violent arms-reach attacks. The reason is that we monkeys are hard-wired to look at the threat. Yes, we train to look at the front sight, but the basic primate programming forces us to look at the threat, especially in a sudden violent encounter. It is therefore useful to have a handy aiming dot on the threat that says where the bullet is going to go. Think of the laser as an aid to body-indexed shooting in a tight situation. Jim Cirillo, who at the time of his death last year was acknoweldged as the one of the greatest "gunfighters" ever, was an evangelist for LaserGrips.

2) For "broken" shooting that I means situations where because of injury, awkward position, or environmental issues you cannot get a traditional sight picture. Your shoulders, arms or hands are injured in such a way that you can no longer index the gun at eye/shoulder level; you have lost your footing, taken a fall or are crammed behind an insufficient piece of cover; your glasses/contact lenses have been knocked off or lost; your eyes are injured or blurry from flying glass, particles or smoke; the air is full of blown sheet rock, plaster, insulation or smoke, making it harder to find the target. This also applies if you're in a worst-case situation of taking heavy fire, maybe from a rifle, and you want to be able to return fire while present a minimum of your frighteningly vulnerable ass to the shooter/s...I've done this in simulation with a laser, and it works.
To a lesser extent, I believe in the deterent effect of that red dot...bad person see red dot on chest; bad person decides to discontinue attack. There are numerous documented LEO and civilian cases of this deterent effect, so it does happen in the Real World. Before anyone starts shouting and jumping up and down, let me say this: NEVER, EVER, EVER ASSUME A DETERENT WILL WORK! It's a bluebird, a benny, a pleasant surprise, because, remember, we don't want to shoot people...we just want them to discontinue what they are doing.

Remember the hype at the beginning of the billion lumen white light revolution? Just shine the light at the bad person and he or she will spontaniously combust? Or the new super bright strobe lights? Again, bluebirds...strobes are disorienting, but I have done live fire simulations in the "party room" at Valhalla, with huge strobes running continually and streamers swiging from the roof...disorienting, but not so much that I couldn't make my shots! NEVER TRUST DETERENTS TO DETER!

Here's what I teach....and after the last couple of days, let me make this clear...I don't care a bit whether you believe/teach/use the same techniques as I do. If you don't like it, don't do it....okay? If you have a different/better technique, I'd love to hear about it. Training should always be evolving!

If shots have not been fired and you have a laser on the gun, flicker it briefly on and off; I want to assailant to be aware that I have a gun and that he/she is the target. MOVE after you flick the laser on and off! If you have opportunity, flicker the laser — easy with LaserGrips —at the assailant's eyes. Once the shooting starts, the laser stays on. The bad guy already knows where you are. Yes, this technique has the potential for damaging the eyes of an assailant, but it will damage them a lot less than a bullet. I want to give the assailant the opportunity to break off the attack — I'm willing to give up surprise to do it! — and LaserGrips provide me with a low risk way of doing exactly that.

I chose LaserGrips in the first place more than 10 years ago because the grip is a non-mission critical part of the can shoot with the grips off the gun. I don't like replacing operational parts of the gun with multiuse parts, because as I've said, stuff breaks. Conversely, I also like the new rail-mount green laser from Laser Max. I just started working with it, but it is a neat, lightweight non-mission critical package, and you can mount a white light underneath it.

My bedside Sig 226 has LaserGrips, night sights and a SureFire X200 white light on it — belts and suspenders — but my first and best recourse is always going to be the standard sights (and the Vang Comp 870 in the closet!). All the J-Frames in the house have LaserGrips, and I believe them to be a necessary addition to small frame revolvers. I would prefer LaserGrips on my subcompact carry 9mms, but I'm unwilling to go to a Glock or M&P to get them. That's just me. The first subcompact 9 that CT fits and that I like will probably get my carry vote.

Is it okay now if I go back to pondering how little cleavage there was in the Academy Awards last night?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Once Again, Clearing the Air

Gosh, I've said this before, but in light of the comments on the previous post, I suppose it's time to say this again...I have OPINIONS...yours may be different from mine...your results may vary...objects in the rear view mirror may be closer than they appear...

My opinions are based on hundreds of thousands of rounds through quite literally thousands of guns since I was 6 years old. Every year I try (and have been successful for the last 5-6 years) to attend at least 1 and preferably 2 classes at a name gun school, because in all honesty, the list of what I don't know is longer than the list of what I do know. I hold credentials from four of the acknowledged best shooting/training schools in the world, GUNSITE, MID-SOUTH INSTITUTE, LFI and ROGERS SHOOTING SCHOOL, and have attended probably a dozen others, plus special classes and instruction not available to the public. I graduated from the very first "test class" for range officers before the creation for the National Range Officer Institute, then helped shape that first cirriculum.

Through SHOOTING GALLERY, I have been blessed with (as Walt Rauch once said) a "post-graduate degree in gun." Because I have a background with a manufacturing consultancy, I have been able to spend time with firearms design and manufacturing engineers and go through how guns are created and built at a level most people would find as boring as fingernails across a chalk board. I've been to most of the U.S. manufacturing facilities and some in Europe, and every one is fascinating. My direct input is, I'm proud to say, in use in several guns on today's market.

Each of us in the field have different personal standards when evaluating a gun. Mas and I have been friends for more years than either of us care to count, but there are guns Mas swears by that I simply won't own...not that they're bad guns, but I have shot them and I don't like's that simple. But should I get on my blog or on other Forums and rail about how I hate such and such? I don't believe so, because there's absolutely nothing wrong with the guns involved, except that for whatever reason they don't work for me.

It's like the disucssion Dave Spaulding and I had about sights on the Ruger SR9 and sights in general...coming from a law enforcement background, Dave feels very strongly about fixed sights — they can't be knocked out of adjustment (well, it's harder to knock them out of adjustment) and a patrolman with a screwdriver can't cause unlimited havoc. I, coming from a competition background, in general want adjustable sights, because it allows me to vary loads as much as I want. Okay...which of us is right? Both of us, of course...

A second point...most of us have ties to specific gun companies. Usually, those ties involve people we've worked with over the years or decades. In some cases, those people work for sponsors of the magazines we work for or the shows we do; in some cases, the opposite is true. In my own case, Ruger, Sig Sauer and Para USA have been big sponsors of my show, and I have spoken well of their guns and featured them on the show. Alternately, Glock, S&W and Kimber have never put a penny into my shows, and I have featured their guns on the show anyway. I am to the best of my knowledge the only show to feature guns not from is an ethical issue for me, and my sponsors understand and are in agreement with my stance. Do I give my sponsors better play? Are you crazy? Absolutely!

On the Ruger SR9, when I shot the factory prototypes back in September, I (along with Dick Metcalf, Patrick Sweeney and Jim Wilson) told Ruger the mag catches were unacceptable, and Ruger assured us they would be redesigned — which they were. We also noted the stiff magazines, which is a function of the narrow width of the receiver. I said then, and I still say, I'll take a hard magazine to load over at fatt-butted receiveer (of course, with apologies to Queen) any day of the week. Also, the magazines do loosen up...we were using most original mags at GUNSITE...Spaulding loaded every single magazine the whole week with his fingers, and he didn't spontaniously combust.

I would like a bigger thumb safety, but it's not an issue with me for two reasons:
It's a redundant safety...that is, the gun can be run just like a Glock, not using the thumb safety at all. For holster carry, I would not engage the thumb safety; for bag or off-body carry, I would as an added layer of safety in something that's going to be bounced around. IMO — and note that I said opinion — the "trigger safety" on a Glock is more of a marketing device than an added level of safety. That said, I have never had a problem carrying either my Glock 19 or M&P 9mm in holsters. I have also written that the absence of a secondary mechanical safety disqualified those guns from a bag-style carry (the XD, with it's grip saftey, is not included).
I have no trouble at all sweeping the safety off; it's size and placement on the slide do make it more difficult to put back on. But — and I can't say this enough — that is a training issue as opposed to a design issue. A percentage of 1911 shooters who choose not to use a high thumb grip have issues with bumping the 1911-placed safety back on, which is a far more serious issue than a stiff return on a redundant safety. If a slightly larger thumb safety becomes available from the aftermarket for the SR9, I will probably get one.
On the SR9 trigger, if you want that zero take-up, glass-rod breaking trigger, I refer you to multi-thousand dollar 1911s from Bill Wilson, Wayne Novak or Bill Laughridge...stay away from striker-fired guns! The Glock trigger can be more-or-less civilized through aftermarket parts because it's been around the longest. However, as Dave Sevigny has catagorically proved, an out-of-the-box Glock trigger is no detriment to high-quality shooting. In fact, the same can be said for all of the striker-fired guns' triggers...while they are nowhere near that glass-rod-breaking standard, they aren't a detriment to marksmanship, either. Ask Dave Spaulding — a far better shot than me — who won the GUNSITE class shoot-off against a host of finely tuned 1911s. Hey, I got no complaints after a week and 1200 rounds!

BTW, for those of you who want a better trigger on the SR9, the guys at GHOST, Inc., who create some of the finest Glock triggers on the planet, will be starting in on the SR9 trigger system next this space for announcements!

Finally, all new products have problems. One recent striker-fired pistol had a return rate of more than 30%. 1911s have been around since the friggin' dinosaurs, and new 1911s have bugs (look at the Sig GSR experience). There's a quote, I believe from Samuel Johnson, something to the effect that if we were to address every eventuality before we began, we'd never begin. New products, and especially new guns, get tested extensively...then they send them out to people like me who break them in new and imaginative ways the engineers never thought of.

The companies address our issue, put out a new product and then you guys get a chance to break them in new and imaginative ways nobody thought of. Ideally, a new product is 100%. Realistically, no product made by humans, be it new or ancient, is 100%. Machines break. All machines break. Here's how I look at firearms failures:
1) 80-90% of all firearms failures are OPERATOR-INDUCED. Sorry...that's the gospel truth. In a semiauto pistol, you are part of the operating system, and that operating system expects yout to operae in a specific manner. Every so often, you run across someone who can't shoot a specific type of semiauto because of biomechanical issues...I know a very proficient woman hunter who jams every Glock that's put into her hands, including mine, which I know to be fiercely reliable. It's not the Glock's fault...the blame lies in the wet part of the system!
2) Ammo is a bigger issue than most shooters realize or accept. Anyone who shoots ammo he or she got from a gun show needs to also obtain a plastic explosion shield to place between their faces and the gun. In the other 10-20% failures in revolvers, the ammo is usually at fault.
3) In the remaining 10-20% of firearms failures in semiautos, magazines are usually the culprit.
4) Sometimes, even the best designer can't beat the laws of physics. In the case of "walking pins," polymer frame guns are notorious for loosening up pins, because frame flex is built into the system. All frames flex, but polymer frames flex more than steel or any of the aluminum alloys. Flex puts more stress on pins. The result is thsat sometimes pins back out. The solution? Pay attention to your gun! If you don't believe me, go buy a classic Colt Gold Cup, an all-steel gun which will invariably launch it's adjustable sight, which is held in by a pin. Whatever pin your replace the factory pin with, sooner or later it'll break that pin, too.
4) One data point is not a trend. Think about what a firearm is...a device for containing and channeling explosions. All explosions, including the ones that happen in cartridges, are chaos systems, that is, a sigularity...every explosion is different, and the combined stresses on the gun for each shot fired are slightly different. The result is that a certain set of stresses will cause "X" to fail. If you replace "X" with a duplicate part, it may never fail again because that exac t set of stresses won't be repeated. Multiple data points are a trend...for instance, I once had a short slide 1911 that broke firing pins...three in a row. That's what one might call a "clue," some set of parts in the gun was enough out of spec to stress the firing pin to failure.
Finally finally finally, when any of us go into a factory and talk to the designers and engineers, we are under a very strict nondisclosure document...that is, we cannot tell you what was discussed under penalty of law. This isn't unique to firearms...every factory I visited as a consultant required me to sign a nondisclose before letting me in the door. It makes perfect sense...a lot of the processes and manufacturing solutions we see are proprietary, often developed at a cost of hundreds or thousands or even millions of dollars. Except in the most general terms, I can't tell you what I've discussed while inside the doors of a gun factory.

Anyhow, I hope this gives you a better view of how I work.

Again, your results may differ...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Simulating Day!

Today was indoor and outdoor simulator day at GUNSITE — the Fun House and the Donga — as, as always, they were Big Fun. I felt pretty good about both of them...the snow held off and, aside from wading through goopy mud in the Donga, it was a blast.

The SR9s ran like tops for all of us. Dave solved his trigger pin back-out with a drop of Lock-Tite...yeah, that was a biggie! Let me be clear here...I have had exactly zero problems with my SR9. No failures to do anything, period. I pull the trigger; it goes bang. I've gone through this course and these drills with two other guns, a 1911 .45 and an S&W M&P, so I have a pretty good baseline on how the Ruger is running...and that is superbly.

Yeah, I read other forums...that's why Marshal and I started our own. Let's all take off our aluminum foil hats, quit scanning the skies for alien abductors and acknowledge that gun companies are in the business of making money. The gun market is fiercely competitive. The way a gun company makes money is by making good guns that people want to purchase. I'm friends with the top executives of most of the major gun companies in America, and a few in Europe, and not a single one of them has invited me to participate in any conspiracies or to a witches' coven, not even when I was at the CZ factory in the...pause for effect...Carpathian Mountains...(pause for werewolf howls).

Okay...rant mode off!

BTW, we're running with Comp-Tac Kydex holsters, and they're pretty impressive in their own right. I heard about the holsters before, mostly from law enforcement types, but this is my first hands-on with the holsters (which were arranged by Dave Spaulding). We using the belt holsters, while Dave is using a locking paddle version.

In between the day shooting and the night shooting, Dave, Wily and I took a quick side trip to the Ruger factory in Prescott to ferret out shooting versions of the little LCP .380. We were able to put a bunch of rounds through the little guns — we're the first people from outside the factory to do that. I'll have an EXCLUSIVE video report up on DRTV next Wednesday.

How'd the guns shoot? Wait until Wednesday, but suffice to say that all three of us asked that Ruger send us the invoice when they ship the T&E guns, since we'd be buying them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Snow Angels

Well, it is snowing to beat the band here at GUNSITE...that oughta make tomorrow's outdoor simulators a real laugh riot. I've settled in to actually shooting the gun, hammering away at the drills. The orange nail polish on the front sight helps big bunches for...sigh...old eyes.

We did have a malfunction today on Dave Spaulding's SR9...the pin that holds in the trigger backed out. Tomorrow we're going to slip away for a few hours, visit the Ruger factory down in Prescott and discuss the issue with the doesn't have anything to do with the snow...really...not a bit...

Had a really great meeting late this afternoon between the guys at GUNSITE, Ruger execs and me and Dave, talking about the feasibility of a new tactical rifle. I love the roughed-out idea, which I can't really tell you about yet...of course, you'll see it first on DOWN RANGE, if it materializes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Passing of Giants

I have two sad sad pieces of news for you today, the passing of two legends, Grits Gresham and Ray Chapman.

Grits, maybe the best-known and most celebrated outdoor writer and television personality, died today at the age of 85. Here is a portion of his obituary from NSSF:
Gresham served as field host and producer for "The American Sportsman" television series on the ABC network, host of "Shooting Sports America" on ESPN, was shooting editor of Sports Afield magazine for 26 years, and was published in such wide-ranging magazines as Sports Illustrated and Gentleman's Quarterly. He authored eight books, but may be best known for his role in the series of commercials for Miller Lite beer. Gresham was the fisherman among the athletes who made "Tastes Great, Less Filling" marketing buzzwords for more than a decade.

Grits traveled the world for his work, and he particularly enjoyed his many trips to various African countries as well as fishing and hunting in South America. . He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII.

A tireless worker for conservation, he was one of the first public voices bringing attention to the loss of wetlands along the Louisiana coastline, an area where he did much of his graduate work while at LSU.

Gresham's books include "The Complete Book of Bass Fishing," "Fishes and Fishing In Louisiana," "Fishing and Boating in Louisiana," "The Sportsman and his Family Outdoors," The Complete Wildfowler," "Grits on Guns," and "Weatherby: The Man, The Gun, The Legend."

One of Gresham's proudest moments as an outdoor journalist came during an interview with President Ronald Regan. The President shared with Grits a story no one in the national media had heard, that when he was a broadcaster in Des Moines, Iowa, Regan had used a Colt pistol to save a nurse from a mugging on the street. After the story broke, the nurse came forward and confirmed the tale, although she did not know until then that the young man who had saved her with a gun so many years before had turned out to be the famous actor and United States President.
Grits was, of course, the father of my dear friend Tom Gresham; I onced asked Tom how cool was it to be Grits Gresham's kid. "You can't imagine!" he said.

My friend Ray Chapman, one of the fathers of modern pistolcraft, died on 2 February in Austin. Ray was, of course, the founder of teh Chapman Academy in Columbia, MO, which, along with Jeff Cooper's API in Arizona, helped define the use of the handgun. Here's a bit of his obituary:
A Patron member of the National Rifle Association, Mr. Chapman served as a Marine during WWII seeing action in the Pacific theater island campaigns and again during the early stages of the Korean Conflict. After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, he worked as a fireman in Oregon while completing his education. Upon receiving a degree in Civil Engineering, Ray moved to California and began a career with State of California Highway Department, and also worked part time as a police officer. It was while he was in California that he became acquainted with the Southwest Pistol League, and began to hone the shooting skills that would culminate in his winning the First World Combat Pistol Championship in 1975 in Zurich.

With the help and urging of his friends, he opened the world-renowned Chapman Academy of Practical Shooting in Columbia Missouri. This training facility became the home of the Bianchi Cup - the most prestigious pistol competition in the world - and is still in operation today. Mr. Chapman retired from the Academy in 1995 and moved to Dripping Springs, just west of Austin. Here he enjoyed visiting with his friends, working in the motion picture industry, and relaxing at his home. All who know him will miss his loyal friendship, his honest, bluff way of expression, his sense of humor and his bright smiling blue eyes. He was a true gentleman, and the best friend a person could hope for.
Ray was scary for a newbie...arms crossed and scowling while I asked my stupid questions about grip and stance. But he spent a lot of time with me, patiently taking me through the modern technique, so very long ago now. Thanks, Ray.

We must never forget that all of us stand on the shoulders of giants, and their passings leave holes in the world that are never filled.

Go with God, my friends...

Friday, February 15, 2008

One I Missed at SHOT!

Last year Microtech Small Arms Research, a division of Microtech Knives, introduced their Steyr AUG A1 clone, the STG-556 rifle (obviously in 5.56, like the original Steyr. This year, MSAR upped the anti with what they call a "Modular Carbine System MSC-o8," which is sort of an AUG clone in 9mm that takes Glock high capacity magazines. Cool, huh? Here's from the press release:
It is a 27-inch, short and compact Bull-Pup type, semi-automatic carbine that accepts high capacity magazine of the popular Glock pistol series, of which there are several million in use worldwide by security forces and sport shooters alike.

Due to the carbine’s modular design, it can be changed from one caliber into another quickly, by changing the bolt head, barrel, and if necessary, the magazine well adaptor sleeve. Its high strength alloy receiver is standard, supplied with either a 9” Picatinny rail, or with an integrated detachable 1.5x optic. The 16.5” long, quick detachable, chrome lined barrel, along with its choice of popular pistol calibers, makes it suitable for accurate and casual target shooting, hunting, or personal defense, well beyond the ranges of a pistol, in the same caliber. The receiver accepts a side-mounted Picatinny rail that allows the mounting of illumination or other sighting devices.
Neat-o. Not the first implementation of this idea...remember Olympic Arms offers an AR-15 lower receiver (and complete gun) that takes the 9mm Glock 33-rounders, but the AUG platform is just super, and Glockinistas should like this one! I'll post a pix when I can get one.

Great Guns from Dave Lauck!

This morning my good friend Dave Lauck from D&L Sports in Wyoming sent me this spectacular picture of some of his best work. The short story — Dave builds some of the hands-down best custom guns in America. His name might not be as familiar as some of the better-known gun mechanics because his customer base of LEO and military special forces keeps him very busy.

Visit the site and take a look at some of his other work...then clutch your credit card, sweating...

Steve Schreiner for NRA Board of Directors!

I wanted to strongly endorse my friend Steve Schreiner in his run for the NRA Board of Directors.

Steve is a Vietnam vet, awarded a Silver Star, and currently the head of the Firearms Coalition of Colorado. He has worked tirelessly with me in the fight against U.S. Forest Service closures of public land to recreational shooting, has shown up at every one of the endless public meetings and in front of the Colorado legislature, and has been a strong voice for gun owners in Colorado.

I would love to see him on the NRA Board of Directors. If you're a voting member of the NRA — and you certainly should be! — I urge you to give him your support.

The Sheep Look Up

Imagine this're glued to your chair as the slobbering flesh-eating zombie makes its inexorable way toward you. You can't're don't even get to scream as death takes you...

And so we have it again at Northern Illinois University, less than an hour from the Gun-Free Paradise of Chicago — the Man in Black, the Terminator, the Devil Himself come to collect souls. And what can you do? This from ugh Hewett:
“I heard this girl scream, ’Run, he’s reloading the gun!”’
Reloading the gun...all the time in the world...because no one in the lecture hall is armed...universities, those great halls of learning, don't allow adults to be armed.

Last night Glenn Reynolds from InstaPundit and Eugene Volokh from the Volokh Conspiracy were on Hugh Hewett last night. Here's part of the transcript:
HH: Whenever the subject turns to guns in America, and the chaos that can cause, I talk with a couple of law professors who you’ve heard here often, Eugene Volokh from the University of California at Los Angeles Law School, and Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, from the University of Tennessee Law School. Let me start with you, Glenn, your reaction to today’s shooting, and to the proposition, which my callers are urging on me, that college students ought to be carrying concealed weapons.

GR: I certainly think so. I actually have quite a few students who have permits to carry concealed weapons. One of them, in fact, was on the Springfield Armory National Pistol Team. And if they were armed in my classroom, I would feel enormously safe. And in fact, actually, after the Virginia Tech shooting, last year, one of those students came up to me and she asked if we could have class off-campus, because she’s not allowed to carry on campus.

HH: Now how widespread do you consider the ability to respond well with a weapon to be, Glenn Reynolds, among your students?

GR: I suppose it’s pretty significant. I mean, I haven’t surveyed them, but my advanced Constitutional law seminar covers the right to bear arms, and I take the class to the shooting range for that, and they seem to acquit themselves pretty well. I really don’t know how many have permits, because it’s only when they, you know, identify themselves to me that I know, but that’s a surprisingly large number.

HH: Eugene Volokh, what’s your reaction to the idea of college and law students carrying concealed weapons on campuses?

EV: You know, in principle, I think it’s probably a good idea, especially if you focus on 21 year olds and up. I also think it’s a good idea to have faculty do it. Even if you don’t trust college and law students, it’s a pretty fair bet that the faculty, for all we laugh at the university professors, but are generally a relatively sober bunch. At the same time, it’s important to realize that horrific as these events are, they represent maybe one in five thousand, one to two to five thousand murders in the country. So it’s like one, less than one tenth of one percent of all homicides. You have probably a ten thousand times greater chance of being killed in an auto accident than you do in a university or school shooting. The fact is that these are very rare things, and I’m not sure that it makes sense to make policy, even policy that I generally think is pretty good policy, based on such extraordinarily rare events.
There's an insight I first mentioned in my book, TRAIL SAFE"Prey attracts predators." That is the way of life whether we're on the veldt in Africa or on an Illinois college campus. Driven by the false promises of antigun movement, we create gun-free zones, then announce them proudly to the world that at least in this one place, are the sheep are conveniently corralled and docile. Then we are shocked — shocked! — when the inevitable predator shows up to take advantage of that flock.

This is the year you're going to arm yourself, to take the responsibility for your and yours into your own hands. This is the year that you're going to leave the flock behind. The legacy of gun control is always the death of innocents! Protect yourself!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'm Just a Romantic at Heart!

Go here.

Choose the teddy bear.


What To Do with Your "Free" Government Bucks

I've been over at Julia Auctions paging through the Bruce E. Stern collection, including the beautiful Luger carbine above, all up for auction.


If I'd only had the money to buy that Microsoft stock back in the day! Spend a few minutes there, then ask yourself which is more important, a new kidney for uninsured Aunt Jane or a 1918 vintage German Maxim MG08. In your heart, you know the right answer...

I'm still pondering a vintage-style 1911 for the SASS Wild Bunch match the weekend before End of Trail in June. If nothing in that sentence makes a wit of sense, here's the Cliff Notes version. The Single Action Shooting Society (SASS), who sanction cowboy action shooting matches, has decided to add a Wild Bunch match to their annual world championships, End of Trail.

A Wild Bunch match is a cowboy shooting matched based on Sam Peckinpah's utterly brilliant noire western The Wild Bunch. If you haven't seen it, go directly to Amazon and buy the DVD. The movie, starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson and a classic supporting cast, is set in 1913 in South Texas,during the transitional period between the Old West and a modern, harsher world.

Guns used by the Wild Bunch reflect that transitional post-Spanish American War and "adventurism" on the Mexican border time frame — lever action rifles, bolt action rifles like German Mausers and 1903 Springfields, Winchester 1897 pump shotguns in the "Trench Gun" configuration and not only Single Action Army revolvers, but the then new 1911 semiauto as well. John Taffin did a pretty cool article on the tiem period here.

SASS standardized the guns you can use for an official Wild Bunch match — lever action rifles in .40 or larger caliber (38-40, 44-40, .44 Special, .45 Colt); a 12-guage shotgun, including '97s in Trench Gun drag and a 1911 .45. I've got an IAC Trench Gun '97 replica and a couple of lever guns in .44 Magnum/.44 Special, a Marlin 1894 Cowboy I've used in competition and a Legacy/Puma 1892 Winchester clone carbine.

As I've mentioned before, the SASS rules on 1911s are pretty broad, allowing adjustable sights and a lot of the standard trick options. However, I'm really jonesing for a vintage 1911 to use in the match...seems like a good choice for the spirit of the game. Plus, you gotta accept a certain level of obsession in your life, right?

In my 10 minutes alone at the SHOT Show Tuesday, I whipped around and tried to look at some of the vintage 1911s. Here are my choices:

COLT WW1 Replica — They had one at the booth, and it was nice nice nice. It also has that Rampant Colt on the slide, which I know the William Holden character "Pike" would certainly approve. Around a grand, MSRP.

Springfield Armory "G.I."— A modern copy of essentially a 1911A1 from WW2. Roughly $500 MSRP.

Auto-Ordnance 1911PKZ — Again, a pretty good copy of the WW2 1911A1, including plastic grips. This looks the most like my father's Remington Rand 1911A1. $627 MSRP.

Rock Island Armory Standard — Not really a copy, but not far from the original 1911A1, either. I've got one of their Tactical versions, and it's a better 1911 than the sub-$400 price would suggest. The low, low price of $329 MSRP.

U.S. Fire-Arms Automatic 1911 Military Model (pictured on the pix for the high rez version)— So my friend Doug Donelly, who owns USFA, opens up the glass case — much like the one the jewelers keep the Rolexes in — and pulls out his 1911 Military is, indeed, a letter-perfect replica of a WW1 1911. It is also $1895 MSRP.

There are a couple of other options...I could overhaul my father's Remington Rand — he was a chronic shade-tree gunsmith who, sadly, discovered the Dremel Tool — which has some appeal. The gun's in excellent shape...I managed to talk him out of cutting on it too much back when I was in high school. I scrounged some original plastic grips for the gun and could probably tak Bill Laughridge at C&S into doing a gentle internal rebuild. Yes, I know it has collectors' value, but I am not a collector. I tend to shoot 'em.

Wilson Combat offered to build me a WW1 replica using their upcoming new 100% forged gun...God alone know what that would cost me, although it would be one-of-a-kind heirloom and I could do stories on it in the gun rags as well as my electronic stuff. Of course, for that matter I could go back to the Julia Auctions and bid on that near-mint 1915 Navy Contract 1911, then go shoot that like I had good sense!

What's the consensus of the blog?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Midweek Notes...and Congrats to Uno!

First, congrats to Uno, now the numbah one dog in America! Of course, the victory was a bittersweet one for Alf the Wonder Beagle. As her many fans know, Alf was destined for show greatness...both parents champions; all four grandparents champions; pick of the litter in a multiyear breeding plan to create the perfect 13-inch tricolor beagle. In a stunning and unexpected development, Alf grew to a massive 13 1/4 inches, ending her show career before it began and resulting in her being packed off in shame to the Provinces.

Of course, Alf confounded the nay-sayers by becoming an official Free Range Beagle, ranging the rugged Rocky Mountains in search of elk, bison...biscuits. I actually once outlined a children's book titled Alf and the Free Range Beagles, but I decided that, really, if I ever did a children's book, I would probably be struck by lightning thrown by a vengeful god.

Anyhow, back to the mundane...I have formally asked the John McCain campaign for an interview with the presumptive Presidential candidate on the topic lf guns and gun control. I have a friend in the campaign who will make sure my written request is actually read by someone high up in the campaign. I will, of course, keep everyone informed.

The George Bush Sell-Out — Impeach the Lying Bastard! — on D.C. v. Heller has infuriated not just me, but the gun culture at large...I'm trying to retain a clear head, such as my head is ever clear, on the overall election. For all my blusterings, I morally can't stay home on election day...expecially when my independent friends are telling me that, "maybe Obama would be a good thing for the country." Terrifying!

The Ruger LCP .380 has become the most successful new gun launch in recent memory — and maybe ever. The numbers are staggering — you've seen some on the DOWN RANGE Forums, and they're good numbers, with advance sales continuing at an unprecedented rate. I like this a lot, and not just because I and DOWN RANGE were involved.

My goal for 2008 is to try and get as many people to sign up for their CCWs as possible...if you can get a carry permit in yor state, GET ONE! And carry every day...every time you step out of the house. The little Ruger pocket pistol is idea for first-time CCW holders...a little secret that we all know and never talk about is that carrying a gun on a regular basis is harder than one might think. After the "new" wears off the experience, that full-sized 1911 in a Milt Sparks Summer Special weighs about the same as a concrete block. So — and I've been here myself — you get ready to walk out the door to the 7-11, a.k.a. the Stop and Rob, and you say, "Naw, I don't really want to go back upstairs, fish out the gun and holster, change belts...whoops, change pants to one that works with the gunbelt..." blah blah blah for a quart of milk.

That's why I keep a light-weight J-frame in a pocket holster by the front door. The new Ruger LCP will perfectly fill that role. So congrats to Ruger, too!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Something With a Connection to Shooting!

And presented without comment, although I really really like it! Good taste is timeless, isn't it.

I'm trying to keep up with the amicus briefs for Heller — here's the link from Volokh. Of course the one you've heard about the Congressional amicus brief FOR Heller, signed by Vice President Cheney. Here's the NRA take:
Led by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), bi-partisan majorities of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives - in fact, the largest number of co-signers of a congressional amicus brief in American history - filed a strong brief in support of the individual rights view. 55 members of the Senate and 250 members of the House co-signed this brief along with the Vice President of the United States. This landmark brief argues that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual, fundamental right to Keep and Bear Arms; that any infringement on this right should be subject to the highest level of constitutional scrutiny; that D.C.'s categorical ban on handguns and self-defense in the home is unreasonable and unconstitutional under any level of review; and therefore, that the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's opinion in this case should be upheld.
At least not every Republican has sold us out!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Alf the Wonder Beagle SWOONS!

Alf the Wonder Beagle is beside herself, penning mash note after mash note to Uno (above, on his treadmill in his posh NYC hotel room), who may sweep to victory at Westminster. Here's the poop, from MSNBC:
NEW YORK - Uno barked at his handler, bayed at the crowd, tried to grab his leash and took a flying leap at a piece of pork loin. Oh, and he gnawed away at a newly printed sign.

Now that’s one great beagle.

His white-tipped tail in perpetual motion, Uno turned the green carpet of Madison Square Garden into his own personal backyard Monday. He also took his first winning steps at the Westminster Kennel Club show, easily earning best of breed at America’s No. 1 dog event.

Frozen Pipes

Yeech. Today was the day I was going to get baxck in the harness and start blogging seriously. Instead, I'm out in the freakin' tundra dealing with frozen water pipes. We're chipping through the permafrons — thank GOD AND AL GORE for Global Warming — to find where the town failed to sink the pipes deep enough...yes, we left the faucets running...didn't make a bit of difference!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Great Day in PA!

Signed more than 200 autographs at the Eastern Sports Show today...THANK YOU ALL so much, and thanks especially to the guys who brought me cough drops! Saved me it did, in Yoda-speak.

Exhausted, and voice gone again...6 AM flight, all day in the studio recording voice-overs tomorrow in Colorado, don't think, keep moving...but I wanted to say thank you.

BTW, Ruger is reporting unprecedented advance sales of the LCP .380...shows what you can dow ith the right product and the power of the Internet!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Little Bitty Pretty 9mm

Okay, it was a reach for the song title headline, but before I go get on the airplane to Harrisburg for the Eastern Sports Show, I wanted to show you a little product that really caught my eye — the Taurus "Slim." A single-action manual safety (yes, in the normal place) single-stack little bitty 9mm; slide length is 6-inchs, weight comes in at a light 19 ounces. Capacity is 8 + 1.

In my hands, the gun felt slick slick slick. It is, true to it's moniker, skinny, which is what one wants in a carry pistola. I class this one as a "must-try" word on delivery date or pricing yet.

Boy, Kel-Tec took a beating this Show as the Big Boys move onto their turf — Ruger with the .380 LCP and Taurus with the Slim...ought to make for an interesting year!

Taurus also had all-steel copies of the Long Tall Judge — my stupid name — on display. The .45 Colt/.410 revolver that has taken the market by storm. I'm told the original Judge, chambered for 2 1/2-inch .410 shotshells (go to DOWN RANGE to see the videos of me shooting the gun) so called because so many jurists carry one in court beneath their robes, is one of Taurus' best-selling guns ever. The Long Tall Judge is chambered for 3-inch .410s, which allows it to shoot the superb Winchester .410 5-pellet buckshot rounds.

They had a proto of the LTJ last SHOT, but the production models shoudl be moving into the pipeline. Watch for a DOWN RANGE review ASAP. Looks like the World's Best Car Gun got even better!

Come see me in PA...bring drugs...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Period & Exclmation Point on the Concept of the "Fighting Revolver"

Since I'd can't do a podcast for a day or so — well, I could, but you couldn't hear it — I wanted to start writing my SHOT impressions.

First up, I finally got to spend some time Tuesday with Joe Bergeron at S&W. Specifically, I to talk about the whole Night Guard series of revolvers that Scott Moore talked about early on in the Show Show blog. For the last couple of years we've batted around the "fighting revolver" concept...that concept is, of course, a revolver for concealed carry/Real World use as opposed to our currently more familiar semiautos.

Like a bunch of people — most notably the esteemed Clint Smith, who has twisted S&W's arm to get a number of modernized big bore revolvers to the market — I've sort of been obsessed with the concept. In the two years since I first wrote that fighting revolvers blogpost, I've fiddled with a 4-inch AirLite S&W 329 in .44 Magnum, a 4-inch S&W M-21 .44 Special, a custom-built 3-inch 629 .44 Magnum, a custom-built 4-inch .44 Special L-Frame "Mountain Gun," a custom 2.5-inch 1917 .45 ACP, AirLite S&W 296 and 396 .44 Specials, a Taurus .44 Special and most recently a Charter Arms Bulldog. Would it suprise you to hear me say that none of them are exactly what I wanted?

Would it surprise you even more for me to say that apparently S&W channeld my angst and produced a whole line of what I wold have to say are the perfect "fighting revolvers?" Okay, I haven't shot these guns, and the proof is in the pudding, but damn, they look just about perfect!

The Night Guard series includes six guns — the K-framed 315 in .38 Special, the L-framed 386 in .357 Magnum and the 396 in, bless us all, .44 Special, and the N-frame 327 in .357 Magnum, the 325 in .45 ACP and the 329 in .44 Magnum. All will carry the additional "NG" designation on their model numbers. All the guns in the series, which will be available in March, feature 2.5 inch barrels, scandium frames with stainless steel cylinders, XS Dot tritium front sights and the superb Cylinder & Slide "Extreme Duty" fixed rear sights. The guns in the series are bead-blast black, with a PVD coating on the stanless cylinder.

Essentially, each gun comes equipped exactly as I would have spec'ed it (okay, we can quibble about three inch or 2.5 inch barrels, but it's not a breaking point). All the guns weigh in a similar ballpark, with (I think my stats are correct here) the 5-shot L-frame .44 Special at the light end of 24.2 ounces and it's six-shot brother, the 329, at the heavy end at 29 ounces. This is extremely light for a big bore revolver — my 3-inch 629 is about 10 ounces heavier than the 329NG — so yes, with a heavy load they'll thump you...however, the whole line comes equipped with special Pachmayr compact rubber to take some of the sting out.

The coolest thing to me is that ALL of the big bore cartridges are there for your choice...okay, not the .41 Magnum, so Frank James is right now sitting at home and weeping, but he can console himself with the fact that Taurus has reintroduced their light-weight Tracker in .41 Magnum, and he can also begin stocking up on S&W 610s in 10mm, now that they're back on the schedule.

One of the most important points is the stainless steel, versus titanium alloy, in the cylinders. Yes, there's a weight penalty over the AirLite 396 AirLite Ti .44 Special clocked in at just 18 ounces...but boys and girls, the AirLites are a bitch to shoot. Plus, the. 44 Special are specifically marked for 200-grain or lighter bullets for fear of the heavy, super-fast recoil impulse causeing the bullet to jump the cripm and move forwward in the casing, locking the gun up. The Night Guard is .44 Special carries no 200-grain warning. The slightly heavier NG guns should be a little easier on the shooter. Plus — and this is pure speculation — the slightly heavier weight should elimate the possiblility of a "perfect storm" failure of the lock mechanism, which I am convinced is caused by the speed and amplitude of the recoil pulse through and ultra-light gun.

I asked Joe to go ahead and send me the .44 Special 396 Night Guard as soon as it's available, not as a T&E but as a purchase. I would not be surprised if I ended up with the .38 Special and .45 ACP version as well. Prices, BTW, will be in the $1000 MSRP range, with street prices a couple of hundred bucks lower.

The Night Guards may prove to be the ultimate fighting revolvers!

Wednesday PODCAST Apology!!!!

I am so sorry I don't have a post-SHOT podcast for today.

I am under DOCTOR'S ORDERS, backed by the threat of dire consequences, not to strain my now-shattered voice...four days (actually five, counting the pre-SHOT shooting events) of camera work, hosting events, a stunning number of meetings — maybe 3X the number I've ever had before — constant exposure to Vegas' casino soup of cigarette smoke, over-filtered air and the stench of desperation...not to mention at night at a Ted Nugent concert... have left me virtually voiceless, as well as with the usual post-SHOT head cold.

The ringer is that tomorrow I leave for the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, PA, we're I'll be signing...and talking...all day Friday at the OUTDOOR CHANNEL booth. Please, PLEASE, drop by and see me! Bring cough drops and hot lemon tea, too...

A little political gossip from the cherubs and for McCain to go after Romney on...guns...

Friday, February 01, 2008

SHOT Quickies...

...will move this to the SHOT BLOG tomorrow...

• Bushmaster licenses Masada technology from rifle due Q3 2008.

• Penn Gilette rocks!