© 2014 Grant Cunningham Click to email me!

What's going on with this blog?

I've heard from some concerned readers that there hasn't been any activity here lately. Well, there's a reason!

As I mentioned at the beginning of May, this site is undergoing a redesign. Actually, more like a transfer: I'm moving from a standalone CMS to Wordpress, to give the site better performance, functionality, and features.

This has proven to be more work than originally thought, so it's taking far more time (and energy and money!) than originally forecast. The biggest problem is that Wordpress has absolutely no way to import the hundreds of pages of blog posts that are currently hosted here, and so each post from 2006 to now has to be laboriously cut-and-pasted into the new system. Along the way all of the outdated/broken links are being fixed as well.

Rather than add more work to be done by continuing to post articles to this blog, I've decided to wait until it's all up on the new system. I'd hoped to have it done by now, but it looks like several more weeks of work.

It'll be worth it, though, as I'll be free to use more pictures and more video than I ever could on the existing site. I've got a lot of articles in the backlog to write, too, so there will be little shortage of new material.

In the meantime, hang on and read some of the archives — I'm finding some neat stuff I'd forgotten about over the years!

-=[ Grant ]=-

I have heard your complaints. Change is coming!


Just a bit over a year ago I spun off all of the personal defense, home security, and training articles to a new blog over at my training site,

After I did that I started getting complaints: following two blogs was too much work, people missed being able to get all of the information I put out in one place, and some people had trouble figuring out who I was when the site didn’t have my name on it.

At the same time I grew really enamored with the software which runs the PSI site. This site is done in an offline CMS called RapidWeaver; the PSI site is done in the ubiquitous Wordpress. Since Wordpress is pretty much “the” standard in website development these days, and RapidWeaver exists in its own little backwater, there are lots of things I can do on the PSI site that I can’t do here. Many of those things make for a better user experience, some make it easier on me, and others are just plain cool!

All of this together (along with some consulting work from friends of mine in the firearms and IT businesses) have convinced me to bring everything back under one roof. In the next few weeks this site will undergo a radical remodeling, the self defense articles will be back, and you’ll have some neat new features to play with (not all at once, of course, because time and money will dictate how quickly things happen.)

The PSI site will continue for our local students to find out about (and reserve places in) our Concealed Carry for Oregon classes. Everything else will be here!

This change will also make possible new video features (yes, I’ve paid attention to those requests) as well as some neat downloadable items. It will also make it possible to add far more illustrations to articles and the site itself, which I hope will make the site more interesting and informative.

So, when does all this happen? I’m working right now on the new site; it’s about one-third finished. At some point I’ll “flip the switch” and the new site will suddenly appear!

If there’s anything you think I should add to the remodeled site, or anything you think I could do without, please let me know in the comments!

-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-


New Years news from Ruger, Glock, and more!

I hope everyone had a good holiday season (and don’t have too much weight to work off!) Let's start the year off right and dive into some of the news in the shooting world!

Am I neglecting this blog? Perhaps just a little!

You may have noticed that I've been posting to this blog a little less frequently lately. That's largely due to the fact that, after eight years of writing three new posts each week, I'm running out of things to say!

I'm not usually one to continually repeat myself, nor devolve to issuing pithy one-liners, nor simply linking to other people's works without adding any original thought, so the result is a lack of posts in the last few weeks. I'm working on it, I promise!

I'll be spending part of the upcoming holiday weekend brainstorming some new topics, but in the meantime should you have anything you'd like to see covered here please email or let me know in the comments! Remember that the Revolver Liberation Alliance blog is focused on firearms, shooting, gun rights, gun history, revolvers, ammunition, reloading, gunsmithing, and all things related to the hardware.

My other blog, the
Personal Security Institute, is devoted to self defense, training, and all of the safety and prepping topics. If you have something you'd like to see there, please let me know that as well! (And, if you haven't visited that blog yet, may I suggest that you do - and share it with your friends?)

Speaking of holidays, I definitely won't be posting anything on Monday - I need time off too!

-=[ Grant ]=-

No, I'm not dead. Just very, very busy.

I'll see you after I get my taxes filed.

-=[ Grant ]=-

Which blog will be updated when — and how?

With the launch of the new
Personal Security Institute blog and its emphasis on self defense and defensive shooting topics, you might be wondering what’s going to be updated when.

This blog has historically been updated every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (for nearly eight years!) That schedule will continue, and as I mentioned previously we’ll be returning to a format focusing on hardware, shooting history, technical information, some Second Amendment activism, and the traditional Friday Surprise potpourri of interesting off-topic tidbits.

The PSI blog will be updated on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and will focus on self defense and legal issues, incident analysis, training, some preparedness now and again, and teaching. (If you haven’t been over there and looked around, please do so. Also, please make sure to follow and like us on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter!)

-=[ Grant ]=-

No, you're not in the wrong place!

I’ve been planning a site upgrade for a few months, largely because the old site wasn’t on terribly friendly terms with the new crop of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets.) This new site uses what’s called “responsive design”, which means it’s optimized for whatever device is being used for access.

At the same time I decided to update some of the photos, and you’ll notice some slick animations here and there. The web guy still has some work to do; the search function is temporarily missing and I need to dig through my archives for more pictures, but it should be functional.

I’ve been holding off on some other site upgrades, like revamping the Library and a few other things, because I knew the work would just be redone when the new design came online. Over the next couple of months I hope to get those fixed, too.

Please let me know if you run into any issues!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Advertisements, endorsements, and what they mean to this blog.

Over the next few weeks you're going to see some ads and links to outside companies added here on the blog (and sometimes throughout the site.) In the interest of full disclosure, these ads and sponsored links will, if you use them to buy something, net me a bit of cash to help offset the cost of maintaining this otherwise free resource.

I'm not putting in just any advertisements, however. What you won’t see are those rotating advertising schemes where I can't control who and what shows up on my site. I'll only allow ads from companies (or for products) that I personally use. Even so, I have a stricter requirement for the use of my space (and your attention) than most.

You see, sooner or later everyone who writes anything in a gun magazine or publishes a book or pens a sufficiently popular blog is approached to shill for a product. It happened to me the first time a few years ago, and I turned the company down. Not because they don't make a good product (by all accounts, they do), but because I use a competing product with which I'm completely satisfied - and I'm not going to lend my name to a product that I don't actually use. It's just that simple.

When I say "use", I don't mean in the sense that someone sends me some product and says "try it - if you like it, would you endorse it?" I mean in the sense of a product that, on my own, I've researched and chosen for myself, by myself, and spent my money doing so.

For instance, some of the ads you'll see will be from the
Personal Defense Network. I was one of the original writers at the launch of PDN, and in the ensuing couple of years it's become a huge source of free information on the wide world of self defense. There's more to PDN than what you see, though, because there's a membership side to the site where you can find exclusive videos, longer presentations and online learning options. It's only $34.95 a year, which is a bargain when you consider the average training DVD is more than that! I'm proud to have been with them since the start and feel strongly enough about the value of the information offered that I agreed to have some of their promotional materials on my site.

Another ad you'll be seeing is from
Brownell's. I've been shopping with them (to the tune of many thousands of dollars a year) for more than a decade; they get at least 90% of my tools/parts/accessories business because they carry darned near everything, they have superb customer service, and they ship quickly and reasonably. I could probably put up affiliate links from another company and make more money, but Brownell's is where I actually shop (darned near once a week!) They even carry ammo these days, which is a big help to me; my local stores didn’t carry much in the way of defensive ammunition even when it was available.

I would never confidently tell a friend to buy a product or patronize a company unless I had personal experience with it. If I wouldn't tell my friend to buy it, why should I treat you any differently? These are two of the companies that I would advise my friends to patronize, because I do.

From time to time I might review a product for a magazine article, or include a wide range of products in an overview for a book, because sometimes it's important that a reader know the totality of what's available in the marketplace. What you won't see is an endorsement of those products here or see my name directly associated with them, unless the product or service is something I believe in and use myself.

It's because of this annoying streak of integrity that I've more or less resigned myself to not getting any juicy endorsement deals anytime soon, which means I'll probably never be rich or famous or have my own TV show! It does mean, however, that I'll be able to look you in the eye and say with complete conviction "this is the best product I've found, and because of that I use it myself. Now, would you consider buying from this link to help support the blog?"

-=[ Grant ]=-

Join Personal Defense Network


Well, that answers that. Oh, and Happy Halloween!

A couple of days ago I asked for feedback on the tag cloud. Between the comments here, on Facebook and on Twitter, it's clear that less than a handful of people have ever bothered with the cloud, and no one used it regularly or recently.

Thanks to all of you, I can now make some room for other things!

While I’ve got your attention: as you probably know, tonight is Halloween. This is a dangerous time for kids, and my buddy
Paul Carlson at Safety Solutions Academy has a podcast with some great safety tips to keep your kids safe tonight. Please have a listen before your kids don their costumes!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Do you use the tag cloud on my blog?

To the right you'll find a tag cloud for this blog. (If you're not familiar with the term, it's the long list of commonly used words that you can click to access specific content. On this blog, they're in blue and are the last things you see in the dark sidebar.)

Those words take up a surprising amount of server clock cycles to calculate and update, and I'm not sure anyone is really benefitting from them. Would you take a moment and leave a comment to this post indicating whether you do or do not use the tag cloud? If no one is using it, I can use the space (and server money!) for better things.


-=[ Grant ]=-

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

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

So, let's review the rules for discussion in what amounts to my living room:

- No insults, name calling, or ad hominem attacks; such will result in an immediate block, with no warnings or reprieves.
- Any comments with profanity will be deleted immediately.
- Do not bring religion into gun, shooting, or self defense discussions.
- Don't attack or demean any other user's race, sex, sexual preferences, or any other personal attributes.
- Think twice before hitting the reply button. Re-read what you’ve written with a critical eye: is it logical, supportable, free of invective and hyperbole, and -- most importantly -- does it elevate the discussion? If not, maybe you shouldn't submit it.

Basically, I'm asking that everyone behave as rational, intelligent adults. I don’t delete or censor people who disagree with me; quite the opposite, in fact. I encourage that because a) an exchange helps me develop my own arguments (or, sometimes, causes me to re-evaluate my position) and b) it does the same for you. It’s when the disagreement turns personal or ugly that I respond with my moderator’s cap on.

Thanks for participating!

-=[ Grant ]=-

I've made a decision.

I'm taking the day off. See you on Monday!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Monday Meanderings: Reactions to recent blog posts.

While you can see some of the interactions here in the comments to posts, some folks prefer to send emails expressing their thoughts. Some of them are interesting enough to talk about.

On the recent topic of not carrying all the time (which I should have called "everyone does, but very few will admit to it"), I got quite a few emails thanking me for expressing a non-macho point of view. Glad to do it, though it's not so much anti-macho as it is pro-intellectually-honest-with-myself (and therefore my students and readers.)

Those posts actually precipitated a somewhat heated exchange between two prominent industry members on Facebook, one of whom took the Marie Antoinette approach (so named because he was of the opinion that you didn't need to restrict you life at all to carry. Seems that he travels in Europe extensively, and has contacts there who supply him with guns and certain paperwork to be able to do so quasi-legally. Yeah, sure, like the rest of us can do that!)

The reason this is so important is because of the integrity topic of which I’ve commented from time to time. As an industry we tend to believe (and thus teach) that everyone can do what we do: carry a full-sized autoloader in an OWB holster all day long and don a “concealment” vest for those times we run into the grocery store. This leads us to ignore certain realities, like the fact that a lot of people carry in pockets and bellybands because that’s the only way they can conceal a gun in their workaday world.


My prediction about being ostracized by the more absolutist crowd in this business has apparently come true, as I got an email indicating that some folks on the more "warrior" side of the matter have decided I'm not really one of them. (Apparently they aren't regular readers, as I think I've made it clear that I don't think of myself as a superninjawarrioroperatortacticalguru. I don't even own a thigh holster or a plate carrier!)


On the subject of the formation of the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors (ADSI), I’m proud to report that it is growing faster than we expected. We're on the cusp of having 200 members already, and the feedback from members has been terrific. The defensive shooting fraternity has needed something like this for a very long time and there are a lot of instructors out there who see that need. I'm proud to have been invited to take part in the launch of this organization, especially considering the big names who are involved. I must say it's a little humbling!


Finally, you still have time to sign up for my courses this spring. I’ve reduced the ammunition requirements for all of my classes, making it easier to train during this time of ammunition shortages. There has never been a better (or more important) time to get in some relevant training, so click on the Training tab in the menu and check my schedule for a class near you!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Sometimes a guy just needs a day off.

Every so often I just get to an overload point. This is one of those times.

I spent all day yesterday talking to a great class about revolvers, all last evening dealing with Second Amendment stuff, and all along reading myriad emails and Tweets and Facebook posts that deal with - you guessed it - guns and politics. Not to mention this week’s normal paperwork, client interaction, and even some good old fashioned work.

I feel a little like Lili von Shtupp.

So today is "me" time, at least as far as the blog is concerned. (Oh, and I'm not dealing with any politicians today, either. They may be the greatest drain on a psyche that exists in modern America.)

-=[ Grant ]=-

Internetus interruptus.

Lack of connectivity yesterday. Hope I didn't miss anything fun!

-=[ Grant ]=-

This is not really a blog post.

After nine straight days of blogging - a new record for me - I'm talked out. Oh, I've got a lot of things to say, but I'm too tired to say them right now. Maybe later.

-=[ Grant ]=-

Not much to say today.


But take heart: this Friday I'll have another of Ed Harris' great articles for you!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Tongue tied.

Over the weekend I came up with a topic for today's blog. Unfortunately I didn't write it down at the time, and have now forgotten what it was! Trust me on this - it was great.

I did want to comment on this, however: a couple of weeks ago,
The Firearm Blog did a review of a Taurus .454 Casull model that sports a ported 2" barrel. They've got video of the gun being shot, which leads me to wonder why they didn't try a rapid fire sequence? Heck, I tried it with a very similar gun - a Ruger Alaskan in .454 - and I lived to tell the tale. My elbows hurt for a month afterward, but I did it! (No, I'm not doing it again. I may have a crazy streak, but I'm not stupid.)

-=[ Grant ]=-

Closing out 2011.

Tomorrow night we'll be celebrating the arrival of the New Year and looking back at what 2011 has wrought. I, for one, am glad that 2011 is almost behind us (and on Monday you'll discover one of the reasons why!)

I look forward to 2012 with both elation and trepidation. This next year will bring a presidential election that is already shaping up to be one of the most hideous of recent memory, in the midst of a fragile economy and growing discontent amongst the citizenry. The threat of violence on a large scale has never been as high as it is right now, and giving some attention to your own personal protection plans would be a prudent resolution to make this weekend.

On a more optimistic note, there are a lot of really neat things in the works for 2012! I hope to kick the new year off by breaking some big news in January, and if the rumors I'm hearing are true the upcoming SHOT Show may hold some great things for revolver enthusiasts.

In the next couple of months I’ll be adding a new lever action class to my course offerings, as well as a few other surprises - including videos!

Enjoy your weekend, celebrate safely and sanely, and check back in on Monday for a raucous and somewhat tongue-in-cheek blog entry - one sure to get some people's blood pressure up!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Monday Meanderings: holidays, old guns, my book.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving weekend - ours was filled with windstorm destruction and a blown head gasket on my primary vehicle. My spare time for the next couple of weeks will be filled with hauling debris and fixing an engine. Why can't these things happen in summer, when it's nice to be outside working?


Thanksgiving weekend seems these days to be filled more with thoughts of football than of peaceful coexistence with one's fellow man. Here in Oregon we had our annual Civil War Game - Oregon State University versus University of Oregon, the prize being the opportunity to play in another game of some sort. (No, I don't follow college football - does it show?) I personally find it rather sad that folks can tell you who's playing, why they're playing, who the head coaches are, and even the names of a couple of ousted coaches from a college clear back in Pennsylvania - but can't name five of the top physics programs in the country.

(Just for the record, this is not age-related curmudgeonliness - as my siblings will gleefully tell you, I had precisely the same opinion as a kid.)


Someone (could have been
Tam, but I’m not absolutely positive) recently turned me on to a cool gun blog: Forgotten Weapons. Lots of great stuff about guns you may not even know existed, presented with a decidedly scholarly bent. Immediately became one of the few in my daily RSS feed.


A couple of days ago I found out that my new book, The
Gun Digest Book of the Revolver, is being sold in the U.K. by Amazon. As of this morning the folks across the pond only had two copies left, which sounds as though it's a big seller over there. Then again, they may have only ordered three copies total - this realization serving to keep my ego in check!

-=[ Grant ]=-

I'm not blogging today.

Haven't come up with anything to say.
Luckily Chris Byrne has, and I agree with his take.

-=[ Grant ]=-

Monday Meanderings.

Back on track - I hope: My apologies for not getting a post up on Friday. Thursday evening our dog fell ill and the very first thing Friday morning I made the half-hour drive to the vet, dog in tow. They put him under the knife shortly after arrival, and I made it back home with him in the late afternoon. We're still awaiting the results of a biopsy but at this point things are looking pretty good. Amazing how much of a scare a sick dog can be. (He now weighs in at 96 lbs. No wonder I can’t easily pick him up any more.)

Maybe not quite: This weekend I was working on a number of projects around the place. I've got three retaining walls to build this summer as well as lots of general land clearing to do (a perennial task here in the rainforest.) As I was hooking a brush cutter up to the tractor to work on the latter I managed to smash the middle finger of my right hand between a drag link and the tractor. This morning it's still quite painful, especially when typing. (When you're as bad a typist as I am you need every finger you've got!)

This just in: As I was preparing to upload this post an email from Ed Harris alerted me to a company selling free range squirrel in a can. Certainly less messy than doing it the old way, but less fun as well. (Don't think of them as cute - think of them as delicious!)

Happy Monday.

-=[ Grant ]=-

Not much going on, but I have a favor to ask.

I'm not going to blog a whole lot today, mainly because I'm busy trying to get a couple of tricky jobs out the door this week. There is something on the horizon about which I'm somewhat excited; more as it develops, but if it turns out as I hope I think a lot of you will be excited, too.

Now for that favor: do you know someone who is high up the food chain at Qwest Communications? I've got an issue with our DSL service at the house and have gotten several conflicting stories from their customer disservice folks. This morning I was greeted with a rather rude call from one of their people who grudgingly issued a rebate on my bill while simultaneously challenging me to go find someone else. Of course, he knows full well that there is no one else out here in the sticks. (There's always satellite, but from the people I've talked with it's hardly an alternative.)

I'd love to talk with someone who a) is in a position to give me a real answer, b) isn't a jerk, and c) might be able to actually cause the problem to be solved. I’ve been a reasonably happy Qwest customer up to this point, and I’m surprised they’d so easily write off a good customer in these sketchy economic times.

-=[ Grant ]=-

No blogging today.

Too much to do, not enough time to do it. Maybe later.

-=[ Grant ]=-

The start of a new week.

You may have noticed that there was no Friday Surprise last week. In fact, it wasn't until yesterday that I noticed there was no Friday Surprise! Apparently I simply lost track of what day it was, one of the risks of working by and for oneself.


I need your help. I'm looking to scope a few old .22 rifles, and would like to find some vintage scopes to do so. What I'm looking for are the Weaver Model A4 (4x power, 3/4" tube) or the '60s vintage Bushnell Custom jobs with the integral full-length dovetails (also 4x magnification.) Yes, I've tried the usual places (eBay, etc.) and for such a common item they just don't show up very often. They're not exactly high dollar attractions, and I suspect that's the reason no one bothers to list them on the auction sites -- not enough return on investment.

Should you happen to possess one of these, and should its optics be in excellent condition, and should you wish to part with it, drop me an email.


Speaking of .22 rifles: there are tons of inexpensive autoloading .22s in the marketplace, and if they're not Ruger 10/22s no one seems to take much notice. I've talked to more than one person who bought a Mossberg or Savage or Marlin .22 auto at a gunshow and sold it off immediately because it "didn't work right." They usually end up going to Wally World (or the local equivalent) and getting a 10/22 on sale, secure in the knowledge that the Ruger will work where those "cheap guns" wouldn't.

I've salvaged several of those gun show rejects, and with only one exception (where I had to replace an extractor) they were returned to proper function simply by cleaning the bolt. A .22 rifle is a dirty beast, and over decades of shooting the extractor and firing pin channels become caked with goo (a technical term used by gunsmiths.) By pulling the bolt from the gun and getting rid of that sandy, greasy mess you can solve 90% of functioning problems.

Cheap .22 rifles are to be celebrated, not feared. They're easy to fix and loads of fun, even if you can't buy carbon fiber geegaws for them.

-=[ Grant ]=-

I hate doing tune-ups, too.

Regarding organization, I'm like the guy with his feet in a bucket of ice and his hair is on fire: "on average, I'm comfortable." On average, I'm organized.

My organization goes in streaks. I'll get the urge to clean, arrange, and organize my workspace, and once done it slowly - over a period of time - degrades once more into chaos. At some point the organization mania comes back, I fix everything up, and the process repeats itself. The cycle takes months.

I'm in the organization part of that cycle, and it hit yesterday afternoon: I finally got tired of digging my way across the shop to find the lathe ("I know it's here somewhere.") I started by clearing some of the workbenches of their layers of stuff: at the bottom of one pile were some new FedEx boxes I'd gotten from their depot perhaps five - maybe six, who knows - months ago.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon inventorying bags of commonly used parts that had simply been dumped in a bin on arrival. (If I need a spring, for instance, I go to the organized parts drawers to see if I have one. If not, I paw through the incoming parts bin. I always find what I’m looking for, but the routine chews up precious time. And it’s annoying.)

The great part is that once I'm finished the shop will seem newly spacious. There are times I think I need to move to a bigger location, then I clean everything up and I find space I didn't even know I had! That's the payoff, but unfortunately it never lasts. Sooner or later the clutter returns, and I'm back to scouting new digs. Won't I ever learn?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to find the broom and dustpan. I think I saw them over by the lathe...

-=[ Grant ]=-

Wednesday Wanderings.

Sorry for not having a post on Monday. If you tried to check in, you probably found that the site was down. My hosting company, Dreamhost, experienced a system-wide outage on Monday which took down all of their client sites as well as their own. My site came back up, sporadically, sometime Monday afternoon. It wasn't until Tuesday night, however, that I could actually get access to upload anything. Everything seems to be back to normal (knock on wood.)

First things first: On Monday I taped an interview with Doc Wesson for the
Gun Nation Podcast. He'll be playing it tonight on a LIVE streaming podcast episode he's calling "The Wheel Of Love". It starts at 9:pm EDT, and you can listen live at this link. He'll even be taking call-ins (which gives me an idea...)

Yesterday Breda over at
The Breda Fallacy posted a little rant about lightweight snubnose revolvers for women. Tam picked it up this morning. I read both and agreed with pretty much everything they said, but I had this odd feeling I'd read it all before. Oh, now I remember! That's because I've written the same thing. More than once. More than twice. Great minds? Well, I don't know that I can claim to have one, but they certainly do. (If you listen to the Gun Nation podcast tonight, you'll probably hear me tell Doc that the snubnose revolver is an 'expert's weapon', not something for a beginner.)

In a previous life I dealt with police reports on a fairly regular basis, and I was always amused at the language and syntax in the writing. One Deputy, who was forever on 'the outs' with his supervisors for not playing the game, was once reprimanded for using the phrase "I watched him...” instead of the more official-sounding "I observed as the suspect..." This memory came back when I read a
Miami Herald article about a Florida Highway Patrol firearms instructor who was shot in the derriere by her supervisor. The official report was that the supervisor was 'inspecting' the weapon, which is apparently FHP-speak for "screwing around with". Were I in charge I'd be sorely tempted to allow Trooper Mellow Scheetz ('Mellow'? Seriously?) a penalty kick at her supervisor's privates, just to bring home the lesson, then do some remedial safety training that doesn’t allow for the “but I thought it was unloaded!” defense.

That's it for today. Be sure to check out the podcast this evening!

-=[ Grant ]=-

It's spring cleaning time.

Over the next week or so I'm going to be deleting some of the older posts here. Don't worry, nothing important is getting dumped, but I am getting ride of the superfluous stuff: a lot of the Friday Surprises, news announcements that are no longer news, and that sort of rot.

The reason? The blog files are taking up far too much space on the server (hey, this costs money!) It's also taking longer to upload each new post, as the server doesn't calculate things like the tag cloud on the fly; it's generated as the files are uploaded. This means that each day's upload gets slower than the last, and I'm impatient!

The plan is to do the housekeeping on a rotating basis, so that at least the last six months are maintained in their entirety. After that, the less useful or noteworthy stuff will go into the
bit bucket.

-=[ Grant ]=-

A few updates.

- I wrote a few weeks back about
a new feline inhabiting my workplace. Some disagreement exists regarding the name of said feline - I think "ShopKat" is perfect, my wife prefers "Cali" - but the little furball is already doing good work. Mice infiltration is down, and she's managed to snag one or two rodentia herself. This is in stark contrast to the lazy cat at home, who spends all of his productive time curled up in front of the woodstove.

- Several people have asked if I managed to find a line of
shirts I like. So far readers have suggested two good candidates: the Overland long sleeve from Triple Aught Design ($$$ but made in the U.S.), and the Safari Shirt from Long Grass (made in South Africa, but not so much $$$.) I’ve not actually ordered either yet, but I'll get around to trying them in the next month or so. Thanks for all the suggestions!

- My wife came home with a big surprise recently:
Sparky's Root Beer, elixir of the deities, is once again available in Oregon. I can't tell you how happy and excited I was to find that I now have semi-regular access to my absolute favorite brew! I say semi-regular, as it's only carried by the local speciality food retailer, but the fact that I can get it at all is cause for celebration. My fellow Oregonians, gettest thou to your local Market Of Choice and try Sparky's for thyself!

-=[ Grant ]=-

My virtue remains unblemished.

Welcome to 2011! I hope everyone had a happy and safe New Year's celebration.

Whether you're just tuning in, or you've been here for a while, I think it's worth pointing out the three things that make my blog different from every other in the firearms/self defense field.

First, I long ago made the commitment to writing a large percentage of original content. That is, things that I wrote myself, as opposed to taking from others. My goal was (and still is) to provide information to my readers that they may not find anywhere else. Many bloggers simply link to other's work, perhaps adding a few comments of their own along the way. Don't get me wrong - sometimes that commentary is insightful and adds to the enjoyment of the material. It's just not what I want to provide to my readers.

I want my readers to come away informed. Sometimes I'm forced to resort to linking to other's original work, namely because I don't have time to write lots of original content each week, but my goal is to have at least half of what you read be mine alone. I think over the past few years I've done a little better than that.

Second, I'm not attempting to monetize this blog. Monetization is the act of leveraging ones readers to generate income, and it's the big thing these days. There have been books, DVDs, websites, podcasts, and - yes! - blogs devoted to earning big money by blogging. Supposedly the way one does this is to write lots of short posts linking to other's work (bringing us back to that whole original content thing), which in turn attracts readers to the blog - the end game being to derive ad revenue from their visits.

That's just not 'me'. You'll notice that there aren't any Google ads, pop-ups, or resource-hogging Flash animations here. That's because I'm not trying to fund this blog; it rides for free on the website to which it's attached. The website carries the expense, leaving me free to deliver original, informative content in a way that doesn't try to extract money from my readers. Someone who just wants to read my scribblings can do so in peace and without ever venturing into the rest of my site.

Finally, I don't "hit whore". Hit whoring is the practice of writing something about a currently popular topic that raises the passions of the reader and virtually dares him/her to visit and respond. Entries sprinkled with phrases and keywords calculated to appeal to search engines also come under this classification. This is a very popular technique to use when monetizing a blog: one simply links to someone else's content, adds a few lines of emotional appeal to one side or the other, formats it in such a way as to mimic the likely terms someone might Google, and presto - the hits are a'comin!

For instance: this year you're going to see a lot of hit whoring related to the centennial celebration of a certain autoloading pistol invented by a certain gun designer who lived in a certain western state known for having a large population of a certain religious group. If I were hit whoring, I'd mention all of those proper names (and the gun's nomenclature, and its caliber, and the certain self defense teacher from a certain other western state who retired as a commissioned officer from a certain well-regarded branch of the military to open a certain training facility whose symbol was a certain black bird and who was famous for popularizing this gun during the '70s and '80s.)

Once I'd mentioned that gun, and it's designer, and it's caliber, and everything else a reader might Google, I'd make it hit bait by writing such things as this certain gun being "the best EVAHH!!!!!", and this certain designer "the greatest EVAHH!" and the caliber with which it was most identified as being "the best EVAHH!!!!" This would be carefully crafted to appeal to the myopic, die-hard fans of the gun/designer/caliber, and impressionable youth who can't spell.

I could also engage in reverse hit whoring. That's where I do the same kind of name-dropping, but instead of fawning praise I write things like this certain gun being an inefficient, unreliable example of design-by-committee (the gun's manufacturer and end user having significant input into the design) or how the gun's inventor was a hack with limited talent (after all, the guy couldn't even design a revolver.) That is, if I wanted to engage in such nonsense.

You'll kindly notice that I've not mentioned anything or anyone specifically, and because I was careful not to use any common search terms or proper names in any of the preceding no one is going to find this original post by Googling. That means I'm not a hit whore, which means I can't monetize my blog, which accounts for the fact that I'm not rich!

So much for virtue.

-=[ Grant ]=-

Nothing to see here.

Not much to say right now. I'm in the midst of my annual push to get as much out the door for Xmas as I can, and today blogging takes the backseat.

-=[ Grant ]=-

New commenting format.

You may notice that commenting has changed. For the last several years I've been using HaloScan/ECHO/JSKit, and my account is up for renewal next month. The company decided that they needed to dramatically increase the cost of their service, do I've jumped ship to Disqus. The look is different, and it has a bigger choice of options for both you and me.

Unfortunately the existing comments from JSKit didn't import properly, so it looks like we've lost those. I'm still working on it, though!

-=[ Grant ]=-

A couple of blogs you have to read.

Two people I know have started new blogs in the last week or so, and I believe they're both worth your time to check out.

Fellow instructor Omari Broussard and I met at the Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Development course
I recently mentioned. Omari's done a lot of training in armed and unarmed combatives, and he's kept a logbook (multiple logbooks, actually) of all the courses he's attended. His blog is called, appropriately enough, the Training Log Blog.

Keeping a training log is an idea endorsed by a wide range of instructors. Doing so gives you a legal record, a way of reminding yourself of lessons learned, a chronology of your development as a student, a chronicle of your evolution in thought, or perhaps just an opportunity to reminisce about good times and good people. A training log is all of these things, and more. So important is this process that Rob Pincus wrote the Training Log Book to make it easier to keep up with the task.

In my case I've been remiss about doing this. Despite my slightly OCD nature I've just not been as disciplined about this as I should be. Omari, however, has kept detailed logs over the past several years, and his blog is all about sharing those many entries with you. Expect to learn what's important to him, what he's changed his mind about, and how he's grown through what he's learned. Omari's blog stands a good chance of becoming
the must-read blog for those who are serious about their training and personal growth. He's off to a great start.

Speaking of Rob Pincus (what a segue!), you're probably familiar with him from his articles in SWAT Magazine - or perhaps his television appearances, his DVD instructional series, or maybe even his books (the aforementioned Training Log Book, and his essential
Combat Focus Shooting: Evolution 2010.) Rob's always in the public eye, but there's something you don't know about him.

He's homeless. By choice. He decided that would be a good name for a blog, and so it was born.

Homeless By Choice blog details Rob's life without a permanent residence. Rob travels more than three hundred days a year, and a while back he decided that it was silly to maintain a home base that he never saw. He put all his stuff in storage and resolved to live on the road as a preferred condition.

I know that doesn't sound so unusual, as many people live full time in motorhomes and have no fixed residence, but Rob doesn't have an RV - he lives in hotels with what he can carry on his back! The HBC blog covers his life on the road: where he goes, what he does, where he stays, the people he meets and the things he sees.

If you ever wanted to read a blog where you could actually live vicariously through someone else, HBC is definitely it!

-=[ Grant ]=-

It's not Monday; some more safety stuff.

Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday - I was occupied with more pressing matters. The series on the Rhino revolver will resume tomorrow.

I couldn't let this pass, however. Seems that
Alan over at Snarkybytes wants to do away with Traditional Safety Rule #1, "all guns are always loaded" (or variants thereof.)

Welcome to the club, Alan - I've been
saying the same thing for over three years now, and caught the same flak that you're now getting.

The comments over at his place are very similar to the comments that I got (and continue to get.) For whatever reason, people are convinced that the more 'rules' they have to follow, the safer they'll be. (Of course they'll argue the opposite about gun laws, the irony being lost on them.) They present all manner of convoluted arguments and frantic re-wording to avoid the very thought of doing with fewer gun handling guidelines despite the logical probability that those fewer guidelines would prove more effective.

(There is that rabid subset of Cooper acolytes who oppose any change simply because The Colonel didn't approve of it, but their numbers appear to be dwindling.)

I have a couple of nits to pick: "Keeping the finger off the trigger" isn't specific enough for my comfort level; I prefer "finger out of the triggerguard", as simply ‘off the trigger’ does nothing to prevent stumble/grasp accidents. Second, while I understand his argument (and even agree with it to a great degree) about knowing your target and what’s behind it, I believe there needs to be something that addresses things like aerial shotgunning and proper backstopping for dry fire practice. Hence my third rule, though I’m willing to consider that I’m being needlessly redundant.

My modest proposal is that safety rules should be taught thusly:

Never point a gun - any gun, loaded or unloaded - at anything you are not willing to shoot.

Keep your finger out of the triggerguard until you are ready to fire.

Know where your shots will land and what they’ll touch along the way.

Alan's chart is pretty good, though, and I wish I'd thought of it!

-=[ Grant ]=-

I may not blog at all next week. Then again, I may.

I'd like to try a little experiment next week (4/19-4/23), and do my updates on Twitter and Facebook via the iPhone. It's possible that I'll go stir-crazy and just have to fire up the blog software on the computer, but I'd really like to try a minimalist approach. If it works out I may pick up the software to integrate my blog's self-contained software (which the iPhone can't access) to Blogger (which the iPhone can use.)

Wish me luck, and watch my
Twitter and Facebook pages next week!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Not today, thanks.

Have several deadlines and projects I'm juggling this week, so blogging has to take a backseat.

As someone once said, “today’s not your day. Tomorrow’s not looking good, either!”

-=[ Grant ]=-

It happens all the time.

Monday's post several people emailed links to various threads on various forums, asking "is this the one you were talking about?" In each case I had to respond that no, it wasn’t; the incident in question was some months ago, and I was just getting around to writing about it.

(That’s the way things go around here. Sometimes the words flow easily, while other times I start writing but hit a brick wall halfway through. When that happens I step away and just let it percolate in my mind. Occasionally it will emerge as something coherent, but it might be weeks or months later.)

The reason for the apparent recognition of the thread is because those kinds of cyber-bashing exchanges are a constant in the gun forums. As my late father used to say, "you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one!"

I did find one or two of the links to be pretty amusing, however. Thanks for sending them!

Stay tuned - I'll have that book report for you next Monday.

-=[ Grant ]=-


Yes, I know I didn't have a Surprise for you yesterday. I'd intended to present instead the latest installment of the Self Defense Thoughts, but fell asleep.

I write most of my blog articles in the evening, then finish them up and post them at breakfast. On Thursday evening I fell asleep, and Friday I had to get up very early (and miss my breakfast!) so that I could be somewhere first thing in the morning. The blog got ignored in the rush that ensued.

The latest installment of the series follows. Enjoy!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Anniversary #3.

Yesterday was the third anniversary of the Revolver Liberation Alliance blog. It doesn't seem like I've been doing this for the last three years and five-hundred-some-odd posts!

At the beginning, the RLA was long on personal commentary on happenings in (and slightly outside of) the shooting world. Many of my early posts were links to other's articles, with my comments added. While this is the recipe that many other successful bloggers have used, for me it proved unfulfilling. Oh, I like to snark as much as the next guy (
or gal), but that's not my raison d'être - I prefer the role of teacher to that of critic.

It's in that spirit that I started writing more original (and factual) content. My opinions still come through, of course, in the subject matter I choose and the way in which I approach it, but my goal is to bring solid information to my readers. Sometimes the information is from the side of the 'loyal opposition', sometimes it's unpopular, and sometimes it's based on analysis and theory, but it's always supported by evidence. I'm not a believer in snake oil!

Some entries are better than others, of course, and some prove vastly more popular. I'm particularly fond of certain articles: the
failings of traditional safety rules; basics of aesthetics as applied to revolvers; myths about stopping power; and judging your abilities.

Along the way I've picked up many loyal readers. I've been fortunate to have some very knowledgeable and important industry members check in from time to time, and I've had the misfortune of being fooled by one of them. Still, I won't consider my work successful until it's been attributed to
Major Caudill, a travesty to which I'm looking forward.

Sometimes what I write has profound effects on the reader. I got an email a while back from a fellow who said that my scribblings had helped him decide on the direction his life should take, and is now happily employed in an important position in the shooting community. I am humbled, and pledge to keep doing what I'm doing, to the best of my ability.

Now to the fourth year. I just hope I don't run out of things to say!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Feedback from the Stopping Power series.

I continue to get email from last year's
"Self defense, stopping power, and caliber" series. It remains the second-most visited page on the site, behind only my article on lubrication, and appears to be well received by the majority of readers. Thank you!

As you might imagine, such popularity generates feedback, and some questions pop up more than once. While not exactly a FAQ, here are some of the common emails I've received.

Email: You didn't cover the difference between crush and temporary cavities, which I think is very important.
My answer: No, I didn't - because I don't consider it critical to the discussion. You see, I really don't care what the wounding mechanism is, as long as one exists. Going back to the article, as long as the bullet a) reaches something that the body finds immediately important, and b) does rapid and significant damage to that thing when it arrives, then I'm really unconcerned about how it actually does so.

Email: Can you comment on ammo from [a smaller maker], whose stuff is just as good but doesn't waste money on advertising?
My answer: In general, I recommend that one avoid "boutique ammunition." The majority (if not all) of such ammo purveyors are simply loading bullets made by someone else, but without the knowledge of how to make those bullets perform their best. Why should I risk unknown quality control to get a product that, at best, can only be as good as what I can get from a producer that has actual design and test budgets? My advice is to stick with known quantities: Winchester, Speer, Federal, Remington.

Email: What's your opinion of the book "Handgun Stopping Power" (aka "Street Stoppers", aka 'Marshall & Sanow')?
My answer: There are a number of solid, critical analyses of their work online; I suggest that you read some of them, as the problems with their "research" are both serious and numerous. In case I was too subtle in the articles, I consider stopping power ratings in general to be complete hogwash, and theirs are particularly so.

You'd be further ahead to take the money you would have spent on their book, and practice until you can shoot to a high standard of accuracy under stress. Couple that with a quality hollowpoint from a major manufacturer, and you'll be much better prepared than any ten people who swear by their scribblings.

(This should not be construed to mean that I am a follower of their chief antagonist, Dr. Martin Fackler, either. He concocted his ratings from a different sort of nonsense than Marshall & Sanow, and came to different conclusions - which were just as useless. Again, there is criticism of his work that can be found on the 'net, if one is so inclined.)

Email: Is there any reliable source of information on bullet performance?
My answer: Because of the huge number of variables in any shooting, and the relatively low number of incidents, the idea of hard statistical data is meaningless. What we're left with is anecdotal evidence which, while not valid in a scientific sense, does give us some rough feeling for what is and is not working. That's the best we can do under the circumstances.

One of the more prolific collectors of such information is Massad Ayoob. He is in a unique position: since he travels all over the country both as a trainer and an expert witness, he's thrown into contact with large numbers of police trainers and shooting survivors. He elicits their opinions of their issue ammunition, based on shootings in their departments. He gets some great feedback, which he doesn't try to disguise or characterize as anything other than raw opinion from people who have actual results to talk about.

If you want to hear some of Ayoob's findings direct from the man himself, listen to
this episode of the ProArms podcast.

-=[ Grant ]=-

Monday meanderings.

I'm gratified - and somewhat surprised - at the tremendous response to last week's post
"Risk assessment, or lack thereof." One of the difficulties I've found with this whole blog adventure is predicting what will resonate with my readers. In some cases I've been deliberatively provocative in order to get people to think outside of their comfort zone, while in others I've tried to deliver solid technical information not readily available in the swamp that is the internet.

On occasion (as with the article under consideration) I worry about whether I'm talking over my audience, that the subject might be a bit too abstract. I'm happy to find that my readers are significantly more discerning than average.


One complaint about the Bianchi SpeedStrips is that they're not available in calibers other than .38/.357. I'm surprised that, until tipped off by a reader, I didn't know about
Quick Strips from Tuff Products. They appear to be a clone of the Bianchi product, but are available in a wide range of calibers. Check 'em out.


You may have heard that the U.S. Attorney General called (not surprisingly) for reinstating the infamous Assault Weapons Ban. What was surprising was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's adamant refusal to consider such legislation. Mr. Obama's administration may find their road tougher sledding than they'd originally anticipated. All the better for us!


A while back I wrote about the iPhone/iTouch ballistics application iSnipe. While it worked well, it was pretty basic; as I explained to the author, it needed some features added to enhance utility for the serious long-range shooter.

It didn't take long for competition to appear:
Ballistic FTE has everything I ever wanted, and then some. It is superb in every respect; you must see the target recording function! It even has a calculator to help with rangefinding (mil-dot) reticle use. Ballistic FTE is a bargain at $9.99.

-=[ Grant ]=-

The stopping power series

I've added a link to my "Stopping Power" series to the Library. I have no idea why I didn't think of doing so earlier!

-=[ Grant ]=-

Let's catch up a bit...

If you've hung around here for any length of time, you've noticed that on Mondays and Wednesdays I try to keep the blog somewhat on the topic of firearms, preferably on revolvers.

Today is not going to be one of those days.

Why? I was so busy over the weekend I didn't even get a chance to think about the blog, let alone write anything! Well, that - and the fact that my elbow hurts like heck!

As you may recall, I'm suffering from a very painful occurrence of tendonitis in my right elbow. So painful, in fact, that it hurts to type! As I mentioned last week I took it fairly easy for several days, and was feeling vast improvement until I did something so innocuous that I am startled at the outcome. It involved a Junkyard Dog.

No, not the kind you're thinking of -
this kind of Junkyard Dog.

As it happens I live equidistant from the knife companies of Kershaw and Benchmade (and, by extension, the firms of Gerber, Leatherman, and Lone Wolf Knives. I guess you could call this "Edged Alley"!) Over the years I've bought many Benchmade knives, and generally avoided the Kershaw brand. Kershaw just didn't have the quality of blade that I desire in my knives, and despite having met Pete Kershaw himself I was never persuaded to carry one of his products.

When Kershaw moved a lot of their production from overseas to right here in my own stompin' grounds they got my interest, but not enough to make me want to put one of their products in my pocket every day. It was when I found that they were transitioning from the use of cheap 440A and 440C steels to Sandvik steels that I became truly interested.

(Bear with me - this does eventually get back to my tendonitis!)

I have quite a bit of experience with Sandvik blades, particularly with their 12C27 steel as used in the
famous Swedish Mora knives. It is, in my estimation, one of the better 'all around' steels that one could use on a general purpose knife. It holds an edge well, is very resistant to breakage, and is easy to sharpen. The fact that there were almost no folders made out of that superb yet underrated steel annoyed me greatly, and I was left to console myself with my Moras.

It was when I found out that Kershaw had gone to Sandvik steel (13C26, a very close relative of 12C27) that I decided I had to have one. The Junkyard Dog II had gotten rave reviews over at
Bladeforums, so I decided that I was to get one.

(Luckily my wife intervened, and got one for me as a gift, thus saving me from the guilt of buying it for myself!)

It arrived at the end of last week, and from the start I was smitten with it. Fit and finish is quite good, easily up to the Benchmades that I own, and at the price point it is astounding. I haven't gotten a chance to resharpen the edge and really test it yet (any factory edge is downright primitive compared to what a few minutes with a set of stones can achieve), but I expect great things.

The trouble is that the blade is really quite heavy, and flicking it open delivers a solid "whack" to one's muscles. I was absentmindedly doing that while watching television the other night: opening and closing it repeatedly, just because it's fun to do. After about a half-hour of such foolishness I found that my elbow was as sore as it ever was, and then some!

So now you have, as Paul Harvey would say, "the rest of the story."

-=[ Grant ]=-

READER FEEDBACK: "A gunsmith I admire"

A regular reader sent me a note that, essentially, asked if I weren't a little daffy for talking about (promoting) other gunsmiths.

Quick answer: I don't think so.

In any endeavor, there are people who stand out from the crowd, whose peers agree are worthy of recognition and serve as inspirations to others. Gunsmithing is no exception, and those who do high grade work deserve a bit of fanfare.

The tone of the email suggested that I would be cutting my own throat (in an economic sense) by giving another gunsmith free publicity. While it's a possibility, I suppose, I'm not all that worried; after all, I refer people to other gunsmiths on a regular basis when I can't provide what they seek. In the case of Hamilton Bowen, if someone needs the kind of service he specializes in I'm happy to make a connection for them!

In what can sometimes be a contentious, egotistical business maybe I can do my part to civilize things, if only a little bit. Call it my small contribution to the field!

-=[ Grant ]=-