Monday, February 29, 2016

The Presidential Election in Simple, Easy to Understand Terms

From Laura Ingraham:

The Suicide of the GOP Establishment 
Despite the Trump juggernaut, they refuse to rethink Bushism in their support for Rubio 
Here is something to think about as we approach Super Tuesday. 
If Marco Rubio becomes president, we can expect: 
1.) That he will work with Democrats and the GOP leadership in Congress to pass something that looks like the Gang of Eight amnesty bill. 
2.) That he will urge Congress to pass any trade agreements that Obama has signed. 
3.) That he will send significant numbers of U.S. troops to the Middle East. 
4.) That his foreign policy will be developed by many of the same people who advised George W. Bush. 
5.) That his economic policy will reflect the views of those who were in power when the United States was hit by the economic crisis of 2008. 
Now, I don’t think any of these points are truly controversial. Somewhere, there may be na├»ve people who actually believe that Rubio will put border enforcement first. But all sophisticated analysts of politics — including the folks at National Review — certainly expect that a President Rubio will support the same type of amnesty that was supported by Sen. Rubio. And on the other issues, Rubio has not even pretended that he will break with the Obama/Bush trade policy, the Bush foreign policy, or the Bush economic policy. 
For almost eight years, it has been increasingly clear that many, many Republicans — probably a majority of the party — do not agree with any of the five principles outlined above. Time and time again, grassroots and movement conservatives have expressed their opposition to all five of the key planks in Rubio’s platform. These Republicans do not support the Gang of Eight bill. They do not support Obama’s trade deals. They do not want to spend huge amounts of blood and treasure again in the Middle East. And they most certainly do not want the economy to look like it did in the fall of 2008. 
These voters have tried, through every means available, to make their opposition felt. They are the reason that Eric Cantor is no longer in the House. They are the reason that the Gang of Eight bill didn't pass. They are the reason that John Boehner is no longer speaker. And they are the reason that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have dominated the polls for months.

Read the whole thing…twice...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Michael Talks Politics (I'm Sorry)

So, in the Dim Times Before, 2008, before the election, I happened to be in D.C. at a bar with a group of whom we might now refer to as "establishment Republicans," and they were haranguing me. Sure, they said, John McCain might not be the guy you'd have picked, because you're a gun guy, the classic one issue voter. But, told me over some pretty good beer and world class beer nuts, the people chose him, and we need you and people like you to help rally the gun vote around a guy we all knew would sell us out in a heartbeat. "But the people have spoken," was the operative phrase, and because I am and American patriot, I actually believe in that antiquated stuff. I'd been part of the Fred Thompson's "let's go tilt at a windmill" campaign…but the people spoke.

Fast forward 4 years, before the 2012 election, and I'm on the phone with one of those establishment types. Sure, he says, Romney's a putz, but he's an electable putz. Remember, he won the primaries, he's the man, the people have spoken. Again.

This morning I see that Mitch McConnell says if Donald Trump is nominated — that is, the people that were so important in previous years speak and say "Trump" — no one in the Republican Party will work for him or, should he be elected, with him. Rumors are rife that should Trump be nominated the Republican Party autocrats may run their own independent candidate.

If they do, it's time to barbecue the damned elephant. I hate these sons of bitches.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Chuck Stapel, R.I.P.

I note the passing of legendary knifemaker and my good friend Chuck Stapel after a long illness. Chuck was the "knifemaker for Hollywood;" you saw his blades in "Quigley Down Under," "Django Unchained,"and dozens of television shows and commercials.

The thing I loved about Chuck was at some point in his spectacular career, he made the decision that he would only make the kind of knifes he wanted to make, as opposed to the ones he could sell by the truckload. It was an honorable decision, a man's decision.

Over the years Chuck and I talked about building a very special knife for me. There were lots of sketches exchanged, but nothing clicked. Then one day over dinner we came up with a novel idea, based on a cut-down dagger I saw in a European museum. I would write a "history" of a family heirloom knife, and Chuck would build that knife. No secret my people were Scots, Highlanders, and they got a free ride to the New World as indentured slaves. So I sketched out an outline about a Scottish dirk, banned, but smuggled to the New World. Over the decades, as the McBane, soon to be Bane, clan moved west with the Cherokee, the long dirk, almost a short sword, was shortened and the blade reconfigured to a more useful shape for a frontiersman — with the clan makings carefully preserved. A rough guard was added at one point, hilt changed with pieces of ivory, walnut, stones picked up along the way and rebuilt repeatedly over the years….etc. We'd commission a deerhide sheath beaded and fringed in the Cherokee style.

Chuck and I had a great time playing with this…it was exactly the sort of thing Chuck loved, kind of like the movies, a history that wasn't really reality.

Of course that knife never got built. I bought a Cold Steel Scottish Dirk, which we agreed would be a great base for the project, but you know how it goes. Chuck and I talked about it last year when I was out in Hollywood for GUN STORIES. He was busy with a bunch of exotic knives for a television series, I was up to my neck in GUN STORIES. We'd definitely get to the dirk next year.

Valhalla always has use for a master bladesmith. I'm sure if I listen very closely tonight, I can hear the steady rhythm of a hammer on steel.

Go with God, brother.

Weekend Notes

Nice piece on Hollywood hypocrisy and guns from The Federalist:
Now for the interactive portion of this article. Go back and look at those three comments, but apply a simple alteration. Replace “The NRA” with one word: Hollywood. Not only do all of the phrases become more accurate, but you are greeted with recall imagery.

Does Hollywood create a culture of violence? Its entire product defines culture, and we all have instant recollection of a movie or TV show with heavy firearm visuals.Hollywood romanticizes a pro-gun agenda? The studios sure have not curtailed titles with plotlines wrapped around heroic firearm use. Does Hollywood profit from glorifying guns? Not only is this an obvious “Yes,” there is no shortage of guns on the very posters used to sell their films.
We've been very lucky with the people we work with in Hollywood, and there is a solid pro-gun minority. In fact, my producing partner Tim Cremin was in Hollywood all last week working on the pilot for HOLLYWOOD GUNS…he sent me a video of shooting a car window underwater with a .454. Timmy has all the fun!

Had a busy, busy day yesterday, including meetings with local law enforcement on logistics for the "mass casualty event," which is coming together wonderfully. In fact, our lead terrorist will be played by a Hollywood character actor who has specialized in — you guessed it — terrorists. Hopefully, next week I'll be meeting with a former SEAL and current trainer who's company specializes in mass shooter/terrorist sims for major companies…I want an expert on board to "de-bug" Michael Janich's and my scenario; everyone who has seen it describes it as "a nightmare." We've got the explosive experts experts lined up for the off-site big bang, blank-firing ARs secured, armorer hired,, blanks ordered. Ramping up a major production on a short timeline is an ulcer-inducing event! It does, in fact, beat hanging drywall. LOL!

Not a great day for the leg. I'm avoiding painkillers during the day, and after a busy day the leg is a steady aching "toothache" of a pain. In a little more than a week I'll find out if Surgery #2 worked, or if we have Surgery #3 to look forward to. The pain sorta scrambled my equilibrium,which is a pain in the butt. Luckily, I have my KA-BAR cane, which works equally well as a cane or a bludgeon.

As a side note, today is the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Harbour Island Athletic Club in Tampa, FL swim (and triathlon) team, of which I was a founding member. My old friends and teammates will be celebrating tonight in Tampa. I'll lift a glass for the Old Days.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

More AR Pistol Stuff...

I got this comment on my last post, and my answer was too long to fit in the Comments, so I decided just to post it:
"Correct me if I am wrong - but it is not just the buttstock on a pistol length barrel that is illegal. Just putting on a buffer tube that can accept a buttstock will get you the same punishment."
DISCLAIMER...everything that follows is my understanding of the byzantine rules and regulations. I could be wrong. This stuff is based on my discussions with Class III dealers and attorneys to handle NFA issues. You MUST do your own research. I have provided ATF links where I can. Remember, the rules on building NFA weapons are the La Brea Tarpits of the gun world. Do not take chances!

I have heard that myself and seen huge discussions on NFA/AR forums. The answer SEEMS to be that a carbine buffer is fine for an AR pistol build with a giant caveat…from the NFA rules:
" NFA firearm is made if aggregated parts are in close proximity such that they: (a) serve no useful purpose other than to make an NFA firearm (e.g., a receiver, an attachable shoulder stock, and a short barrel); or (b) convert a - 3 - complete weapon into an NFA firearm (e.g., a pistol and attachable shoulder stock, or a long-barreled rifle and attachable short barrel)."
For an example, in my own case, I did NOT purchases a short-barreled AR upper until I had an AR pistol lower. Based on the T/C Supreme Court precedent (, if the components you have in your possession CAN be assembled in a legal (eg, non-NFA) configuration, possession of those parts at the same time is not illegal.

In my case, I had only AR carbines. Had I purchased a short-barreled upper — say, I got a great deal I couldn't pass up — I would now have a part, the short barreled upper, that with my existing guns could not be configured in any way other than an NFA firearm, e.g. an SBR. Remember, an AR built as a rifle is always a rifle. Period. I couldn't, for example, take a carbine, remove the carbine upper and replace the buffer tube with one that would not even accept a stock, put my short-barreled upper on it and call it a "pistol." It is not. It is an SBR, because a lower originally built as a rifle is always a rifle, and shortening the barrel to less than 16 inches places it in the controlled category. To do so legally would require me to conform to all rules on building an NFA item. Because I had no way to build a legal configuration, my understanding is that possession of a short-barreled upper in that case was defacto possession of an NFA weapon.

I could solve that problem a couple of ways: 1) buy a complete AR pistol; since the lower is already a pistol, I can put my other or any upper on it that I want, or, 2) buy a stripped lower that has never been built into a rifle; in that case I would now have the parts necessary to build a legal weapon and therefore no longer in defacto possession of an NFA firearm. I got a great deal on an AR pistol, thus resolving the conflict.

Where this can really bite you in the butt is say you don't own an AR at all, but you decide (quite reasonably) that you should build an AR pistol, because that will give you the greatest versatility. A pistol can be turned into a rifle, then back into a pistol. Here's the 2011 ATF letter, same as referenced from above:
Held further, a firearm, as defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(a)(3) and (a)(4), is not made when parts in a kit that were originally designed to be configured as both a pistol and a rifle are assembled or re-assembled in a configuration not regulated under the NFA (e.g., as a pistol, or a rifle with a barrel of 16 inches or more in length).

Held further, a firearm, as defined by 26 U.S.C. 5845(a)(3) and (a)(4), is not made when a pistol is attached to a part or parts designed to convert the pistol into a rifle with a barrel of 16 inches or more in length, and the parts are later unassembled in a configuration not regulated under the NFA (e.g., as a pistol). 
So you buy a stripped lower to be built as a pistol and a short barreled upper. You make the decision to use a standard carbine buffer tube, because you plan to go back and forth between pistol and carbine. You build your pistol. So far, so good.

Now you want to add components to allow you to rebuild the pistol into a carbine configuration. A friend says, "Hey, I've got an extra carbine stock I can sell you for kibbles and bits!" You jump at it.


Think about it. So far you have a complete AR pistol AND a carbine stock. There is only ONE WAY those 2 parts can be assembled, and that is as an SBR, an NFA weapon that you can't build without the paperwork and the tax stamp. Even if you have no intention of putting the stock on the pistol, because there is no way the parts can be assembled into a non-NFA weapon,  you are still in possession of an NFA weapon, a federal felony. 

Instead, you next purchase should be the carbine upper, because there is no law against building a long-barreled pistol. You can put the carbine upper on your pistol lower, no problemo. Once you have the upper, only THEN can you acquire the stock, because you now have enough parts that can be assembled into a legal, non-NFA configuration. And when you decide to reassemble your pistol into a carbine, it must be done in a specific order…the long barreled upper MUST go on first before you add the stock. If you put the stock on first, you have created an SBR (even if it's only for a minute).

I will grant you this makes no sense whatsoever (and if you're doing a build like the pistol one I described above, once again a disclaimer, I suggest you do your own research, up to and including seeking legal advice…I am not a lawyer, nor do I offer legal advice. I do, however, live with a lawyer, and she says always seek legal advice if you have a serious question on the legality of a build).

There's other stuff I didn't even touch on, such as an AR that does not have a stock but is longer than 26 inches, which is apparently neither a pistol or a rifle, but rather a "firearm" and outside the purview of the NFA. Since it is neither a rifle nor a pistol, apparently barrel length isn't an issue, only overall length. So ostensibly you could have a stockless AR (is not a pistol), with a 14-inch barrel (is not an SBR) and a vertical foregrip (is not an AOW), as long as the overall "firearm" length exceeds 26-inches. Here is a copy of the 2011 NFA letter to Franklin Armory that much of this thinking is built on. From my own standpoint, I wouldn't touch this with a 10-foot pole without an expert NFA lawyer sitting on my shoulder.

Heres a handy list of BATFE definitions of different types of firearms.

Remember, the ATF doesn't write these rules/opinions on marble tablets for the ages. They change, and often change very quickly. The whole pistol arm brace issue is a great example of that. First, ATF issued Sig an opinion letter that the arm brace was legal no matter how it was used, since, in the past "use" didn't change the fundamental definition of the firearm. Think of it this way, if I used a knife to lift green peas into my mouth, the knife has not become a fork, even though I used it for an activity usually relegated to forks. Contrary from the zillions of TRANSFORMER movies, machines tend to stay what they are (Sorry, Optimus Prime!).

After apparently tens of thousands of people who should know better flooded the ATF with questions of whether the brace was legal if it was shouldered, ATF changed its mind. There's a great history of the whole imbroglio on Grand View Outdoors:
Finally, as the nation’s top firearms manufacturers readied themselves for the largest gun show in the world — many of them set to debut brace-equipped pistols — the bottom dropped out. 
Just days before the opening of the 2015 SHOT Show, the ATF released an “open letter” to the firearms industry and shooters reversing its March 2014 opinion on the misuse of the Sig Brace, saying shouldering the device constituted a “redesign” of a pistol into an SBR. 
“The pistol stabilizing brace was neither ‘designed’ nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, and therefore use as a shoulder stock constitutes a ‘redesign’ of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item,” the ATF wrote in its January 16 letter. “Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked.”
Read the whole's an absolutely fascinating story. And as I noted in my previous post, the buffer tube itself makes for a perfectly serviceable "brace," if you will. I do want to add yet another caveat. In political language, this is a "restatement." In my previous post I said:
I can shoulder or cheek the pistol on the buffer tube for a longer shot, which is why my buffer tubes have soft foam on them... It has been my experience that shouldering or placing the buffer against your cheek to site the gun works just fine.
Given the controversy over the "braces," I would caution against shouldering the gun using the buffer tube. Although the ATF has said nothing about utilizing the buffer tube (or receiver extension, if you prefer), which is a necessary part of the gun, as a stock, I would say the situation is still up in the air and err on the side of caution. There are a number of other buffer tube add-ons designed to make it easier to "cheek" the pistol, that is, you have a cheek weld, but not with any part of the gun resting on the shoulder. The most popular is Thordsen Custom. Those items have been ruled legal when installed to be used as intended, Here's a piece of an article from the Prince Law Firm, who specializes in NFA issues, that sums it up:
So what’s going on? Well, it seems that ATF didn’t appreciate people purchasing various stabilization products/cheek weld enhancements for the purpose of avoiding the payment of the NFA tax (which could constitute tax evasion). This is why the intent aspect, as stated in the definition, is important. If an individual purchases one of these products intending to use it in the manner for which it was made and then misuses it, as ATF previously held in the Bradley letter, he/she has done nothing illegal. There is no law dictating the end use of a product. However, if an individual purchases one of these products to install on their pistol and intends to use it as a faux stock, he/she has very clearly created an illegal SBR.
Obviously, nobody purchases a buffer tube with the intent of using it as a shoulder stock, because the buffer tube is an integral part of the gun. You purchase a buffer tube with the intent of completing the gun. The specific reference in the Bradley letter referred to is this:
“[The] FTB has previously determined that the firing of a weapon from a particular position, such as placing the receiver extension of an AR-15-type pistol on the user’s shoulder, does not change the classification of a weapon..."
Confused yet? I apologize for mentioned the idea of shouldering the buffer tube, which appears to be completely legal and not even an item of contention, but I thought I should bring it up. So get a cheek weld or use the Rob Pincus sling method, especially if you're at the range the same time BATFE is requalifying their agents!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Additional Thoughts on the AR Pistol

Obviously, in my last SHOOTING GALLERY episode where I talked about an AR platform pistol in the context of a firearm someone might carry in a vehicle, I generated more confusion than answers. One of the problems of doing a show like SG is that we appeal to a very broad cross-section of shooters, and sometimes we take too many shortcuts in explaining things assuming they viewers have te background knowledge. That's especially a problem with you're filming what is going to be a short segment.

First, here's an epic infographic that's been floating round the last few days. Click on it for a bigger image.

An AR-15 platform pistol is a pistol, no different than a Glock 19 or an S&W J-Frame revolver. The buffer tube at the back of the gun is necessary for its operation. Here's another infographic that's been around for a while, but is useful nonetheless:

What I was talking about in the last episode of SHOOTING GALLERY is the difference between an AR-15 pistol and an AR-15 based Short Barreled Rifle (SBR), which is controlled under the National Firearms Act. Here's a great picture from the EmptorMaven blog (which you should be reading) illustrating the difference:

Notice the only difference between the pistol, which can be purchased over the counter just like the proverbial Glock, and the SBR, which requires you to fill out federal forms, include (usually) a mugshot and a fingerprint card, get a sign-off from your chief law enforcement officer in your area (that will change in July, BTW),  pay a $200 tax and wait until you receive your tax stamp, which will take months before you can take possession of the SBR, is the stock.

On long car trips I like to travel with an AR pistol, which offers a lot of firepower in a small package. It's maneuverable in a vehicle; I've shot them out to 100 yards and they feature 30-round magazines. I especially like the .300 Blackout, because it is a cartridge specifically designed for the shorter barrel. My set-up will run with either 125-gr supersonic or the 220-gr subsonic rounds designed for a suppressor.

I could make my pistol an SBR by filling out the paperwork (and doing some measurements), pay the appropriate $200 tax, then when my tax stamp arrived — and ONLY after it arrives! — I could put a stock on the pistol. However, because now I have an SBR, which is a controlled weapon, I am subject to all the rules that apply to such a firearm. For example, if I want to take the gun across a state line, say driving from Colorado to Wyoming, I need to notify the ATF in advance of that move (I believe it's a Form 5320.20). In some cases there are states that prohibit SBRs, but not AR pistols.

My contention is the pistol will do about 95% of all the things an SBR will do without the paperwork or the $200 tax. I can shoulder or cheek the pistol on the buffer tube for a longer shot, which is why my buffer tubes have soft foam on them. There are the various "braces," such as the Sig Stabilizing brace or the Shockwave brace, that attach to the buffer tube to make the gun easier to shoot one-handed. Only a complete lunatic would try to explain the ATF rules on braces (see the first infographic). It has been my experience that shouldering or placing the buffer against your cheek to site the gun works just fine.

If I decide to put an angled foregrip like the Magpul on my pistol (see infographic #2), no problemo. If I decide to put a bipod on my pistol, once again, I'm within the law. In fact, I have a Ruger Charger pistol with a bipod sitting on my desk, perfectly legal like. I can even use the bipod as a gripping point, just like a vertical foregrip. However, if I add a vertical forgery to my pistol, I have created another NFA regulated firearm called "Any Other Weapon," which is illegal to own unless — you guessed it! — you have filled out the paperwork, paid the $200 tax and gotten the stamp. If you bought the gun configured as an AOW, you would all of the above, except that the tax would be $5 instead of $200...from the ATF:

 NOTE: there is often confusion concerning the tax on “any other weapons.” The majority of NFA weapons are subject to a making tax of $200 and a transfer tax of $200. Many individuals have the mistaken belief that the rate of tax for making an “any other weapon” is $5 because the transfer tax on “any other weapons” is $5. As discussed in Section 4.1.1, the making tax on all types of NFA firearms is $200. 
Okay...does that make more sense why I like AR pistols???????

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Good Read!

From Rob Morse at SlowFacts, "So, He Has a Gun:"

The man across the restaurant has a gun. 
I look up. Yeah, there it is carried on his hip. I nod and go pack to checking my mail while we wait for our food to arrive. I know some people with strange phobias and they are afraid of firearms. The few people with phobias are unusual; not the 110 million gun owners in the US. It is time for the rest of us to get over the novelty and drama of firearms ownership. 
The guy has a gun. 
So what?

Survived the Week!

Man, this week was a grinder! But a very successful grinder…we got a lot done. I think the episode of SHOOTING GALLERY on the Ruger Precision Rifle is going to be fascinating to you guys. It was neat to have 4 RPRs on the line, each one set up differently. My .308 is pretty much out of the box…I got the rifle just before my accident, so didn't have a chance to do anything with it. I fitted it with a Lucid L5 6-24X, because I wanted to put together sort of the ultimate in inexpensive long-range precision. MSRP on the RPR is $1399, with prices hanging close to that number because of demand. I would anticipate a street price of roughy a grand as the pipeline fills up.The Lucid is $449 MSRP.

I was extremely impressed with the Lucid. It's a simple MOA "measuring tape" with hashmarks 2 MOA apart:

The Lucid reticle is included in the STRELOK ballistic app, available for iPhones and Androids. Basic information on the STRELOK app here and here. Because the L5 reticle is available in the app, program in your ammo (mine was Hornady 168-gr A-Max Match) and the app quickly gives you your hold-offs, and since it's a second focal plane scope, the hold-offs are accurate regardless of the magnification. Clicks are 1/8 MOA.

This sort of goes against my urge to change everything to MILS, but darn, it was easy to use!

I opted for the Lucid as the less expensive choice of scopes because I was so pleased with the performance of the HD7 red dot sight I got a couple of years back. I ran into Jason Wilson, the founder of Lucid, at SHOT when I was looking for "mid-range" red dot optics. We'd gotten a lot of requests at DRTV and from SG viewers for some options between the sub-$100 red dots (and I have a number I use very successfully on .22s) and the high-dollar milspec optics like the Trijicon and the Aimpoint, which range from $500 to almost a grand. The M7 fell smack in the middle of that range, at $229 (current Gen III version is $249). I mounted it on my Tavor, zeroed it and found I really liked it. BTW, The Bang Switch blog did a comprehensive test on lower costs red dots here.

Jason came down for the filming, and he brought one of Lucid's new products, their SC9 compact spotting scope:

It's a 9-27X that weighs in at only 21 ounces with an MSRP just $1 under $500. My credit card actually started vibrating in my pocket. Jason, who lives in Wyoming and is an avid hunter, designed the small, light spotting scope for his own antelope hunts.

[Couple of standard caveats here…Ruger is a long-term sponsor, as is Hornady. Lucid is not a sponsor, nor is Leupold, Burris or Nightforce, the 3 other scopes on the line, although at various times both Leupold and Burris have been sponsors]

The big surprise to me was the fierce accuracy of Mark Passamaneck's .243. Of course the huge advantage of the .243 is its availability and inexpensiveness. The .243, essentially a necked-down .308 dating from the mid-1950s, is right on up there with the 30-30 as the scourge of white-tail deer everywhere. It shot right alongside John Carter's 6.5 Creedmoor.

Of course Frank Galli's custom RPR was just extraordinary. Here's the work-up on Sniper's Hide. I think Frank summed up the RPR pretty well — "It's a laser beam, right out of the box."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Is It Saturday Already?

Seriously swamped with work, which I seem to be doing at about 3/4 speed. I meant to blog…honest.

We're filming for both SHOOTING GALLERY and THE BEST DEFENSE, plus a day of scouting locations for the "Mass Casualty Event." BTW, if you live in the Denver/Front Range area, we'll have a notice up in a couple of weeks on how you too can be slaughtered by blood-thirsty terrorist. Tentative primary filming days are March 24-26.

If you're like your daily dose of outrage, consider that FaceBook, apparently under pressure from the White House, is arbitrarily shutting down firearms' oriented pages. This, however, is A-OK:

So it's okay to call for the death of people on FaceBook, as long as it's the right kind of people.

Always nice to be the right kind of person, I say! 

My friend Dave Spaulding, one of the truly great law enforcement and civilian trainers, penned a bit of a controversial article that is worth your time to read. Here's the link to the article and to my FaceBook comments on the article. 

I think the concept of training, regardless of what you might be training for, is and should be evolving. I am reminded of my friend Michael Menduno, who ran the tech diving magazine aquaCorp back in the day. I believe I'm correct in saying that Michael came up with the idea to not only report on dive accidents (and dive "accidents" in caves or on deep wrecks tend to be fatal), but to dissect what happened with the intent of discovering what, if any, part of the diver's training failed.

I saw the same thing when we studied accidents on big mountains…it wasn't enough to say someone died climbing a mountain, but what series of events lead to the death. And once the series of events was established, was there a flaw in or a different technique in training that would have averted the disaster?

I note that my friend Michael is getting back into diving, and I thought one of his comments in a recent interview particularly applies:
What are the most important attributes of a tec diver for this type of diving? 
I think attitude is really important: self-discipline, staying cool under pressure, being flexible, curious, always trying to learn from your mistakes, having good teamwork skills, humility (leave the macho at the car), a sense of wonder and a strong sense of self-preservation.
Seems like good advice for a student of self-defense as well. Every trainer has a different philosophy, a different style of training. different strengths and weaknesses…a world of differences. We couple that with the fact that each student is a singularity…he or she learns at a different pace and in a different way, has different goals and expectations, brings different skills to the table.

As I noted in my FaceBook comments, there is a flood of new instructors from a number of different sources, and they are competing for the students' dollars. One of the truisms of competition is differentiation…how is the service or product I offer different from the service or product my competitors offer? And there's the rub.

Compared to training people in self-defense, training for cave diving — which is indeed grueling, dangerous, at times terrifying and expensive — is a snap. There are quite simply fewer variables to deal with. And cave diving, like most risk sports, has what amounts to a self-selecting process…if you read, say, David Poyer's DOWN TO A SUNLESS SEA, are smitten with the idea of diving in deep scary places. If you go down to your local dive shop and say, hey, I'd like to sign up for cave diving lessons. No, I'm not a diver…never even been snorkeling…can't swim…but here's my check. Here's a hint…they won't take the check. You have to work your way up to a point of competence where you are able to appreciate the higher level training that will hopefully keep you alive.

That self-selecting set doesn't exist in self-defense raining. Students run the gamut of serious students of self-defense to newbies who's whole range of experience is Tour of Duty. And Dave Spaulding is 100% right…there's everything from instruction in bullseye to storming ships at sea or retaking Fallujah.

Of course, I don't have any solutions for you. I can tell you what my first cave diving instructor told me before I made my first cave dive, my first real trip into the dark: "Just keep hammering the basics over and over and over until when you go to sleep at night you dream about them, until your hands can do the things that need to be done without using your head at all, until you can do what you need to do when you're so sick with fear that the animal in your head is shaking the bars and screaming and you know — you know! — you're going to die in that cold dark space.When you can do that, then you know you're a cave diver."

Monday, February 08, 2016

A Funky Monday Morning!

Beautiful sunny day, which makes the solar panels happy, which makes us happy because it's cold!

I'm kinda excited because I have an appointment with the doctors this afternoon to see where I stand, or limp, as the case may be. I'm ready to start moving forward. The big plus is I'm farther along planning SHOOTING GALLERY for 2017 that I usually am in April. Gonna be a great season. My focus on THE BEST DEFENSE right now is our 1-hour special on a "mass casualty" event in the Denver area, which we'll start filming in late March.

I believe this is one of the most important television shows we've ever done.  I've spent a lot of time with first responders, counterterrorist experts and people who study terrorism events, and my primary question has been what can the people caught in those events do to help themselves and their families. Certainly there are no guarantees, but if we can just give people a mental "index card" to have in place incase the worst happens, it will be worth it.

Normally, I would have several projects going right now, but as I mentioned Marshal Halloway and I are working on an Internet/OUTDOOR CHANNEL App based series that we hope to roll out March/April. I don't want to get deep into a project that we can't film. I have some new audio/video equipment on order, and hopefully Marshal and I will be rolling cameras in March.

There's a good article over on GUN NUTS MEDIA on setting and training attainable goals. Goal-setting is an interesting and more complicated than one might think — something I covered last week on the podcast. It's an issue that is heavily on my mind these days because I now understand that I have a pretty hard road in front of me. I have sketched out some macro-goals and some steps that I need to do once I get medical clearance. After a long talk with Mark Passamaneck last week, I realized that my path begins with pistol competition…focusing on a single gun while I in essence  get my feet back underneath me. I think going straight back into 3-Gun, with it's awkward shooting positions and ups-and-down might be putting more stress on the healing knee than I should.

I am also hoping I can do a couple of basic classes, which will give me a "beta test" on basic drills. If not that (time, time, time), I have reached out to a few trainers I really respect and asked them for some private (paid) instruction.

Ironically, the triathlon/swim group that I used to race for is having a reunion, which I can't make because I'm still off-the-old-airplane for a few more weeks. Still, it tripped old memories of how to train, how to set goals. I very successfully went through the first rehab; the doctors were impressed with the strength I'd built up. The rehab had nothing to do with the failure of the tendons to stitch back to the bone.

Thank you for all your thoughts and advice…it has been invaluable...

Sunday, February 07, 2016


In honor of the Super Bowl, which I'm not going to watch BTW, I opened a bottle of Talisker, 10 years fresh from the Isle of Skye.

The world is a happier place.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Hillary's Valentine Gift

Failed to take a nappy today, and as a result am a run-down wind-up toy. I've got at least another week of working catching up with everything from SHOT…lotta letters; lotta deals in the work. I'm pretty much terrified of March…I could use a couple of clones.

I noticed that .458 SOCOM brass popped up at Starline...I picked up a box of 250 so I can spend a happy summer tinkering around. Now I need a bunch of Reloader 7. Bullets, I got. I want a heavy bullet load for hogs on the May hunt that'll still give me a decent group, maybe those Barnes' 400-grainers. I'm be totting the Redhawk .44 Magnum with Garrett dino-thumpers as back-up.

I'm hoping I can convince Billy Wilson to let me come down to the ranch in Texas and shake all the remaining bugs out of the rifle (which is a Wilson Combat, after all). I've almost finished the Wilson Combat book, btw…I gotta bug Joyce out of about 1000 words on IDPA. I'd like to have the little carbine and ammo 100% when I take it into the mountains later in the summer. If you recall, it was a bit of a problem child until I learned to tune the magazines.

Right now it's got my go-to Leupold 1.5-4x illuminated on it, but I'm probably going to go with an Aimpoint T1 fitted with a ratchet-on mount for the 3x or 6x magnifier. Keep the weight down and give me some options on sighting.

I note that North American Arms who make funky little .22 revolvers, is doing little top-break version. I saw and handled a prototype a couple of years ago and thought it was just adorable, but they only did a limited run of a few guns, then decided it was too expensive to produce.

Apparently, according to TTAG, it'll be back mid-year. I will jump, jump I tell you, to get my hands on one!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

When In Doubt, Buy an AR

After last week's imbroglio, FIELD AND STREAM's David Petzal went out and bought an AR. I commend him on his choice, a Sig Sauer 716 DMR. It's one heck of a rifle. I've shot several, and it is an act of will to keep Ye Old Visa in my wallet. At SHOT this year my friend Allen Forkner had a 716 set-up, and at the hundred yard line it was nothing but Big Fun. The 716 is a great 7.62 AR, but at 12.6 pounds without a magazine, a tiny bit beefy (although Sig's had it on a diet for a couple of years).

I think if I was Mr. Super Hunter, I might go for something a bit lighter that I could carry in the woods without a team.. My own Ruger SR762 clocks in at 8.6 pounds w/out magazine.Not svelte, but I've carted it around a lot and it is stone cold good for 1000 yards. The new DD5V1 is lighter than that, and it is a Daniel Defense, so it's going to deliver (and one may be delivered to to my house).

I think Dave might have been better served by one of Billy Wilson's tactical lightweights in .458 SOCOM. That was my goal whenI began to build my .458 SOCOM (think 45-70 Dave…that might help you visualize) off a Wilson upper. Short, light, easy to handle, hit's like a pretty substantial skid of bricks (300-gr bullets at just under 2000 fps). I built mine on a Wilson lower. Right now it's got a Leupold 1.5-4X on it, but that will be replaced with an Aimpoint T1 and a 3X magnifier. I can bring the whole thing in under 8 pounds. I'll take it into the Smoky Mountains for boar later this year, as soon as I can get off the crutches.

My goal is to add an Aimpoint 6x magnifier and take it to New Mexico for elk…yes, I'll film it because I know how you guys like to see me suffer. LOL!

Harness the Reindeer, Honey, We're Low on Beer!

Got a foot and a half of that white stuff last night.Sometime today my Sweetie will have to clear the solar panels without my help, but I'm still in the period of not being able to put any load on the leg or have even the slightest risk of bending the knee.

Talk about feeling like a worm!

I'm getting better, to be sure, but I think all of you know how patient I am. I want to work hard and overcome, not sit in bed with a machine pumping ice water around my knee. Whine whine; bitch.

The groundhog dug up through the snow to check on his shadow. I shot him.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Winter Winter Winter….Yeech

It's a cold snowy yeechy morning here at the Bunker, a Monday in every since of the word. Everybody, myself included, is in a foul foul mood. I actually think the podcast is going to perk me up.

I spent the weekend with my leg elevated, walking as little as possible, wired into a machine that pumps ice water around my knee. Today I'm going through my research material for the new season of GUN STORIES WITH JOE MANTEGNA, then order whatever research material I need to write the script.

Busy busy! Have some cool stuff coming up when I get the medical go-ahead to leave the house. I'm hoping to get the Kimber K6s revolver ASAP. I already had plans to do a big  snubbie round-up for DRTV. Now that I'm back on crutches, the Ruger LCR 9mm is my daily companion in the Null SMZ shoulder holster.

Kimber K6s

I have LCRs in 9mm and one of the new .327 Magnum 6-shot ; I also have an LCRx .38 Special. with a hammer. A more "apples to apples" comparison with the Kimber will be the Ruger SP-101 .357s (5-shot), Ruger's all steel little brickbat of a snubby. I have 2 SP-101s, a Wiley Clapp version fitted with Novak sight and a hammerless SP-101 built by revolver-meister Grant Cunningham, who had a substantial amount of creative input into the little Kimber.

LCR 9mm

What I don't have is a Colt "Dick" Special, and they have sadly become collectable. I've shot Detective Specials, and my Mom had a Colt Cobra she carried in her purse. I have a lot more rounds through that Cobra than the vaious Detective Specials.

I suppose you can make an argument that the old, slightly larger, S&W K-frames like the 2 1/2 inch M19 or, in stainless, M66 or the semi-mythical M10 with fixed sights and a 2-inch barrel belong in this discussion. I carried a blue M19  2-/1/2 snub for years, and I can't imagine what cased me to get rid of it. The Detective Special clocked in at a little over 21 ounces, the M19 2 1/2 inch a bit beefier at a little over 30 ounces; my hammerless SP-101 at 25 ounces. Th Kimber at 23 ounces. The polymer framed LCRs come in around 17 ounces.

Looking forward to snubbing up.

Got a note from USPSA today on changes in the provisional Carry Optics. The division remains provisional but with the following changes:

• Authorization for all levels of USPSA and Steel Challenge
• Expanded stippling, contouring and texturing of the grip frame to include undercut trigger guard and grip reduction
• Expanded slide profiles to include serrations and cosmetic cuts not completely through the slide
• Increased weight limit of 45 ounces, including optic and empty magazine, allowing more pistols to compete
• Required use of a slide-mounted optic, prohibiting guns without an optic.

All in all, good and intelligent changes. It doesn't change my plan to run my G19 with an RMR. Yes yes I can give you chapter and verse as to how such a set-up won't be "competitive.' It's not inconceivable thatI might fall down the competition rabbit hole again…I've done it many times before. But for whatever personal/worthless reason, I want to master the G19 in 2016. Before the surgery I was carrying a G26 as EDC and the Ruger LCR as proof positive I was paranoid. I have a G26 shoulder holster coming fro Survival  Sheath Systems very soon, so I anticipate going back to the G26 as primary until I finish the build on my carry G19. Lucky enough, I found the frame and miscellaneous parts on  "SHOT Show exhibit gun," better deal than the real thing.

I'll keep you posted…gotto go do me some podcast!