Warning shots: they can land you in jail, and you’ll probably deserve it.

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One of the sure ways to get a certain number of gun owners up in arms is to post a story about someone being arrested for firing a warning shot. The attitude seems to be that if the person didn’t shoot at someone else, and didn’t hit anyone accidentally, where’s the harm?

Warning shots seem to be grossly misunderstood by a large percentage of gun owners, who are confused about their legality and practicality. It’s really quite simple: they’re virtually never ...

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A true story about my Ithaca Model 37 shotgun: it’s all about how much lead you can deliver.

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A number of years ago some friends and I belonged to the same gun club. One day the club was holding a “shotgun speed steel” match, and my friends talked me into going. Since it was a spur-of-the-monent decision, the only thing I had with me was my old Ithaca Model 37 in 20 gauge and some birdshot (perhaps #4 or #6, I don’t really recall.) My Ithaca had a Modified choke tube installed, which is what I normally keep on ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: How to make water flow backwards using a video camera.

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One of the interesting things about a video camera is the effect its sequential shutter has on moving objects. A video (or a movie) is a collection of still frames played back rapidly enough that your visual system doesn’t detect the gaps between the images. Each image is a slice of time, but when those slices don’t match the movement of an object you get some interesting effects. (Ever watch a video of a moving car where ...

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Ithaca Gun Company is expanding to South Carolina!

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I’ve made little secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of Ithaca shotguns. The venerable Model 37 is my favorite shotgun of all time; the light, smooth action is just a joy to use, and I’ve said many times that it’s the cure for chronic short-stroking. Hand an Ithaca to someone who’s having trouble cycling their Mossberg and the problem almost always disappears.

Because I’m a fan I tend to follow the company fairly closely. It hasn’t always been ...

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What is an efficient handgun, and why is it important in self defense?

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Last Wednesday we talked about inefficient handguns, namely the Beretta 92 (and variants.) It wasn’t that I was picking on the Beretta, you understand, only that (as I explained) I’d gotten an email about that specific gun. Also, as I pointed out in the article, the Beretta was hardly alone; the older S&W autos were very similar in operation and deficiencies, yet for some reason they don’t have nearly the vocal following!

Let’s start today by talking about efficiency as applied ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: The Star Spangled Banner wasn’t always our national anthem. What was?

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So, let’s say you’re starting a new country. There are lots of things you need to do, but once the fighting has stopped and your new nation is established you turn your mind to more important things – you know, things like adopting a Constitution, setting up a court system, figuring out a national currency, paying off your war debts, and so on. Management, it’s called.

One of those management tasks on your to-do list might be the adoption of a ...

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The Beretta Model 92: why is it an inefficient defensive handgun?

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Someone sent me a kind email the other day asking about something I’d mentioned on The Gun Nation podcast last week: why did I single out the Beretta 92 (his gun) as being ‘inefficient’, and what do I mean by an ‘efficient’ gun? It wasn’t because I dislike the Beretta specifically; there are a lot of similar guns out there which are inefficient too. The Beretta was just the first one that popped into my mind!

What makes an efficient handgun? ...

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Reviews of Defensive Revolver Fundamentals, I interview Gila Hayes, and more!

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Renowned trainer Tiger McKee recently wrote a very nice review of my revolver books (Gun Digest Book Of The Revolver and my new Defensive Revolver Fundamentals) for The Tactical Wire. This is pretty exciting to me, as he is one of the most direct descendants of Jeff Cooper and is a proponent of both the 1911 pistol and of the “Modern Technique” — all of which, as you’re probably aware, are ...

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Reeves Jungkind, 1927-2013.

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I received a sad email from Massad Ayoob yesterday; Reeves Jungkind, Python ‘smith extraordinaire, has died.

For those of you not familiar with the name, Reeves Jungkind was generally regarded as one of the true masters of the arcane Colt revolver action. He, along with Fred Sadowski and Jerry Moran, were the Three Musketeers of Colt tuning: you’d be hard-pressed to find any people better than they, and their work became almost legendary. Sadowski died some years back and Moran dropped ...

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CCW: Some more thoughts on the appendix position for concealed carry.

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The appendix carry position (so named because the gun is on the front of your body, between your navel and the point of your hip; roughly on top of your appendix if you’re a right-hander) has gotten quite popular in recent years. That popularity has made it the subject of both scorn and praise, with some believing it’s the work of Beelzebub himself and others opining that it’s the best thing since a bunch of duck hunters in Louisiana decided ...

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Don’t do stupid things, and don’t talk to the media. And never do both at the same time!

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From Toledo, OH comes the story of a homeowner who did something stupid: she took her .357 and confronted a petty thief who her boyfriend reportedly caught stealing a bicycle from her front porch. Why is this stupid? Because the thief’s actions did not rise to the level that justifies the threat of lethal force.

In general, lethal force can only be used when the defender is in immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm through the ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Riding the rails – my first experience with Amtrak.

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On Wednesday I mentioned that I’d attended a shooting instructor’s conference; what I didn’t tell you is that I decided on a slightly unconventional (for 2013) mode of transportation to get there: I took a train from my home in Oregon to Bakersfield, CA.

Anyone who knows me knows how I hate to fly. I don’t mind airplanes, you understand; in fact, I’m fascinated by them. What I dislike is air travel: airlines, airports, crowds, intrusive security, and all the stuff ...

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Defensive Shooting Instructor Development – the way it should be done, but usually isn’t.

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640px-Béla_Károlyi
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Taty2007

Take a good look at the fellow above and try to guess what he does for a living. (No fair using image search to find out; I will, however, tell you that it isn’t what you might imagine.) We’ll come back to him in a bit.

What have I been doing lately? Well, I spent the last few days at a conference for shooting instructors — to ...

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Yet another automatic revolver: The Union.

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As you may remember, Ian at Forgotten Weapons has been chronicling the various automatic revolvers that have been made over the years. Except for the Mateba Unica, they’re generally rare (with appropriate price tags, of course.) This variant on the theme follows the trend: there were only 300 Union Automatic Revolvers made. Of those 300 it’s hard to know how many survived. In fact, it’s hard to know if all 300 actually made it to market!

The gun was designed by ...

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My house, my rules. Let’s review them.

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My article from Wednesday generated some heated comments. Sadly, some were heated enough that I had to block two users – which brings the grand total of blocked users since this blog started to four. It’s not something I do very often, and I dislike the need to do so, but sometimes it’s necessary to maintain some semblance of civility. I want to foster discussion, but I don’t want this blog to turn into M4Carbine.com.

So, let’s review the rules for ...

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Is this how “responsible” gun owners behave? I don’t think so, and neither does Starbucks.

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In case you missed the news yesterday, the President/CEO of Starbucks finally got fed up with conflict stirred up by the open carry faction of the shooting community and said, in effect, “no more.” In a statement on the company’s blog he posted a note (which you need to read to understand clearly what this is all about) which asked people to leave their guns at home when visiting any of his stores.

This all happened because Starbucks ...

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Do you still do press-checks? Here’s another reason not to!

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If you’ve taken any of my classes you know I’m not a big fan of the press-check (drawing the slide of an autoloader partially back to ascertain if there’s a round in the chamber.) I hold that it’s an unnecessary movement which does little more than raise the risk of the gun not being fully in battery when the slide is eased forward.

As it turns out, press-checking also has an effect on bullet setback (the pressing of the bullet backwards ...

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Book Review: Concealed Carry For Women by Gila Hayes

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I recently received (courtesy of the author) a copy of the new book “Concealed Carry For Women” by Gila Hayes. (In the interest of full disclosure, I assisted Gila with some pictures for this book and there is at least one picture of me inside. I’ve also known her for many years and consider her a friend, which is not a word I use frivolously. Even if I didn’t know her, however, I believe my review would ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Want a Van Gogh but can’t afford it? This is for you!

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3D printing is probably the hottest thing in the tech world right now. It promises to revolutionize small-scale manufacturing, and even though it’s still a very young technology it’s being testing for everything from prototyping to making rocket engine parts.

Of course being a firearms enthusiast you probably already know about the various guns and gun parts that are being made with 3D printing, but here’s an application that’s worlds apart from rockets and bullets: 3D printed artwork.

We’ve had lithographs of ...

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What’s a SnagMag, you ask?

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Today I’m bringing you a review of a product for autoloaders. Why? Because I often carry a semiauto pistol, I’m sure most of you do as well, and I’m always looking for ways to make doing so a little easier. I think I’ve found such a product, one which I didn’t even know existed until a couple of months ago. Note that I said “think”; you’ll see why in a bit.

I was recently introduced to a fellow who makes a very ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: How do you tie your shoes?

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Today is the start of Labor Day weekend. Many people take this day off so that they are able to have a four-day holiday break before the kids start back to school next week. (Yes, I understand that the kids in some areas are already at their little desks, but in this part of the country school doesn’t start until after Labor Day.)

My point, if I ever had one, is that blog readership for this Friday is always way down, ...

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Let’s talk antique guns: the Husqvarna m40 and the Gustoff Volkssturmgewehr!

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Just the other day, Forgotten Weapons put up a story by Peter Rasmussen about the Husqvarna M 40 pistol (sometimes referred to as a Lahti, for its designer Eimo Lathi.) Rasmussen goes into some detail regarding the pistol and its history in Sweden, including the reasons for it eventual demise.

This was particularly interesting to me as I once owned an M 40. I found it at a local gun show, pristine and complete with holster, two magazines, ...

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Is your defensive shooting stance really something you can choose?

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RECOIL Magazine, as you may have heard, is back in big way with all new management and a revised attitude. Though they tout themselves as a “gun lifestyle” magazine, that doesn’t seem to limit them to mere fluff; a recent article from Aaron Cowan, titled “History and the Fighting Stance III: what Burroughs found”, is a good example.

Cowan makes the case that a shooting stance when faced with a surprise lethal threat is a matter of instinct; ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: The Photography of NASA

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When the Space Race against the Soviet Union started in 1957 we entered into a period of great technological progress. We discovered things that had never been discovered, designed things that had never been designed, and went were mankind had ever gone before. It was an exciting time to watch what we could do, both as a nation and as a species, when we put our collective mind to a singular task. NASA became the preeminent research and engineering organization ...

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It’s official: Defensive Revolver Fundamentals has been released!

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DRF book cover_small

My latest book, Defensive Revolver Fundamentals, officially launched yesterday! The Outdoor Wire carried the press release, saying “In his new book, Defensive Revolver Fundamentals, Cunningham makes an informed and convincing case for the revolver as a personal defense firearm.”

This is the book I’ve wanted to write for some time. It distills everything I’ve learned about defensive shooting up to this point, focusing ...

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Why do pistols look the way they do?

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It’s normal to assume that the products we have today – from toasters to autoloading pistols – have the form (design) they do because somehow that form has been shown to be the ‘best’. It’s a Darwinian notion, or rather a perversion of Darwinian thought. In reality, it’s always a combination of factors that may have more to do with relative, rather than absolute, advantage.

What we have today may not necessarily be the best, but simply the collection of attributes ...

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Would you use a .22 for self defense? Should you? Why not?

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One of the interesting things to come out of Greg Ellifritz’s study of ammunition effectiveness was how well the .22 Long Rifle worked – or, at least, appeared to work. By some measures, it performed better than the vaunted .45 ACP! There is a small but dedicated group of people out there who seized upon this data as proof that the .22 is in fact the most deadly cartridge ever made by man. After all, they insist, the figures don’t ...

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Defensive training, religious fervor – and you: why deification is bad for self defense.

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I’ll admit to not fully understanding religious zealotry, despite having studied it fairly extensively. In most major religions you can find sects who seek to fix their beliefs and observances at some arbitrary point in time, and from then on never change (or, at least, try their hardest to not change.) This leaves me to wonder: what makes their arbitrary point in time better than someone else’s arbitrary point? On that very question is built sectarian warfare, as even a ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Is there a bright side to a drone?

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Drones are all over the news as of late, and usually not under pleasant circumstances. They’re usually thought of in terms of surveillance and destruction, but there is another side to these unmanned aircraft – they can be used to make stunning videos from vantage points most of us will never have.

Take this video, shot in NYC by a privately owned DJI Phantom Quadcopter. Gorgeous footage!

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