“A hit with a .22 is better than a miss from a .45” – how true is that?

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An interesting confluence occurred last week: I got an email from a fellow asking about the .380ACP as a defensive cartridge, and this rather myopic article on the .22 Magnum rimfire came out in American Rifleman.

As a teacher of defensive shooting it’s my job to make my students as proficient as I possibly can. Part of that job is helping them to pick a gun/cartridge which allows them to make the bad guy go away using the least ...

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Rob Pincus enrages America. And England. Is France next?

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In case you missed it, the biggest news event to come out of the NRA Annual Meeting and convention this last weekend came from an unlikely source: a seminar on home defense concepts by Rob Pincus. (Those who know Rob may say it isn’t all that surprising he’d make headlines, but with the election of a new and indiscriminately vocal NRA president intent on reliving the 1990s it was surprising the press would focus on Pincus instead. Probably just as ...

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Is the Caracal dead in the water?

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I’ve been a little hesitant to talk about the woes of the Caracal pistol, largely because it’s a gun I really like. Why? Well, for starters it’s just a nice gun to shoot! That’s largely due to the incredibly low bore axis and well designed grip.

How low is that bore? I’ll put it this way: it’s the only gun since the HK P7 which gives me what I call the “Monitor feeling”, in reference to the Civil war ship that ...

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Back from SHOT Show 2013, Part Two: Gear.

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I don’t really go to SHOT to look at gear, but on Friday I had the whole day to get out and look at stuff. Prior to that I only saw gear on a “hit and miss” basis as I ran between appointments and meetings. Here’s what I managed to see:

– The first thing I have to report (and the most exciting for revolver enthusiasts) is that Korth, the top-tier German revolver maker, is looking for a ...

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When is a 1911 not a 1911? When it’s an Obregon!

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Ian over at Forgotten Weapons has come up with another interesting video: a tear-down and a range test of an Obregon pistol. Made in Mexico (many people forget that Mexico had an inventive and thriving arms industry at one time) it’s sort of a John Browning meets Karl Krnka sort of affair. There are also a few surprises (like how the thumb safety is implemented.)

The gun is quite rare (there were, by most accounts, less than a ...

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When will the silly defensive shooting techniques stop?

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After my article on not falling for a technique simply because someone of authority promotes it, a reader sent me an alert about an article in the Shooting Times Personal Defense 2012 magazine. The article is titled “Fight With A .380” by one J. Guthrie. (Had I written this article, I’d probably be embarrassed to use my full name too. You’ll see why.)

Mr. Guthrie bases much of his article on conversations with Ed ...

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My new PDN article: sight-seeing!

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I’ve got another new article up at the Personal Defense Network, and those of you who are pushing 40 (or pulling 50) will be particularly interested. It’s called “I Can’t See My Sights!”

It’s the distillation of all the things I’ve learned over the past few years about how to adapt to vision changes, particularly those related to the march of time. If you have contrast or color blindness issues, or if you wear bifocals, this article will ...

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Defensive handgun choices.

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Well, it appears my editor over at Personal Defense Network finally did some actual work! Rob Pincus wrote a great article about choosing a defensive handgun, and why you should look for certain characteristics.

I’m gratified to see the defensive shooting world coming to some of these same realizations. While there are some folks out there who are still stuck with outdated beliefs, like the .45ACP being the “ultimate” defensive cartridge despite the lack of corroborating objective data, ...

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My Adult ADD strikes again: I almost forgot to tell you about the flintlock repeater!

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I had a number of things I wanted to talk about this morning, but something shiny (and Italian) caught my eye and I’ve forgotten about everything else!

Forgotten Weapons posted an amazingly cool video of a Lorenzoni Flintlock Repeating Pistol. These things are almost mythical; I’d seen a drawing of one, but never any really descriptive pictures let alone an operational video. Ian got his hands on one and shows it off; I now have a much better ...

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It’s deja vu all over again: force-on-force training in 1909. At least they understood protective gear.

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Long-time readers may remember that I’m a big fan of the Shorpy Historical Photo Archive site. In fact, it’s one of the few that’s in my “favorite” RSS feed tabs in Safari. I never get tired of seeing what they’ve come up with!

Last Friday they showed a picture taken in 1909 of a gentleman (I assume it was a man) dressed up in protective clothing and holding a pistol. Labeled “dueling with wax bullets“, ...

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Some thoughts on round counts and reliability.

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What follows came up in a discussion about the reliability of 1911 pistols, but is actually universally applicable: to Glocks, SIGs, HKs, rifles, shotguns – and, yes, revolvers.

The context of the discussion was the validity of looking at failures during a training class as indicative of larger problems. It usually takes a form similar to “I’m not going to fire 1,000 rounds in self defense, so a gun problem in a class proves nothing; my gun is reliable enough for ...

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An opportunity for a discussion: the short-barreled 1911 pistol sucks.

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Over the weekend Rob Pincus – never one to shy away from a firestorm (I was going to say another kind of storm, but this is a family-friendly blog) – posted a video on YouTube. In it, he details the failure of yet another compact 1911-pattern pistol and expresses his disdain for the breed in general.

The online response was immediate and predictable. Many people agreed with Rob, but a very vocal portion of the shooting ...

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Picking a gun the wrong way: choosing a caliber by silly rules-of-thumb.

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We have a lot of trite phrases in the defensive training world, and one of them sets my teeth on edge: when someone asks how they should choose a gun for personal protection, the usual answer is to “pick the biggest caliber you can shoot well.”

It’s nonsensical, and I’m tired of hearing it.

The problem is how to define “well”. Are we talking in terms of accuracy? If so, I contend that anyone can shoot any handgun caliber “well” – at ...

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There is beauty in workmanship: the Japanese Hino-Komuro pistol.

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Forgotten Weapons recently featured some pictures of an extremely rare Japanese autoloading pistol: the Hino-Komuro from 1908. It’s intriguing because of its blow-forward design (the only other examples of which I know are the Mannlicher of 1894 and the Schwarzlose of 1908), but not a lot is known about it. There were only 1200 made, and only a handful survive.

Until this post, I’d never seen a picture of one – only line drawings in Pistols Of The ...

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Sights for autopistols: why are they low profile in the wrong direction? Still?

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I was reading about the Kimber Solo over at The Firearm Blog the other day, and something struck me as odd. No, it wasn’t the anachronistic thumb safety (on a double action, striker-fired gun) nor the smooth front and back grip straps (which make it impossible to control in anything resembling realistic defensive fire.) It wasn’t even the incredibly specific ammo requirements (the likes of which we haven’t seen since the introduction of the Seecamp LWS 32.)

What ...

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Hello 2012, am I glad to see you! The 1911 Centennial was about to drive me insane!

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WARNING: if you are humor impaired, or can’t stand the Ugly, Ugly Truth (UUT), stop reading now! You won’t be happy, which means I won’t be happy. Well, that’s not exactly true, but one of us will not be happy. And it probably won’t be me. Which kinda narrows it down. And now, today’s blog:

The year 2011 was a pretty good one for me. I built some wonderful guns, met a lot of interesting people, got a clean bill of ...

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Context, perspective and gun testing: how reality affects training and gear choice.

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Something I’ve noticed in the last year or so: as I’ve experimented with the concepts of reality-based training (RBT) in my teaching and practice, my point of view has changed. I’m not really aware of it until I’m around people who haven’t had that exposure, and then the contrast becomes stark.

The realities of how attacks actually occur and our reactions (instinctive and intuitive) affect not only how and what we train, but what we train with. My upcoming article over at ...

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Probabilities and perspective: what about protection from wild animals?

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I hope everyone had a great Christmas weekend!

Despite the holiday (or perhaps because of it), I got a lot of email this weekend. One of them asked a question that comes up every so often, and my answer to it has changed over the years.

The question is usually something akin to “I’d like a gun for protection against dangerous animals (bear, cougar) while out hiking. What do you suggest?”

In the past I’d have answered with a run-down of the best ...

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Recoil and reflexes: unintended discharges with heavy-recoiling guns.

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A video of a petite woman shooting a S&W .500 Magnum made the rounds last week. At issue was an uncontrolled (negligent) discharge, occurring as a rapid “double tap.”

Watch the video, and you’ll see that as the gun recoils from the first round, a second round is ignited. The barrel is nearly vertical when the second shot fires, raising all sorts of concerns about its eventual landing place. It’s definitely an unsafe situation!

The various comments made (not ...

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Steyr rides again: their striker fired polymer pistols have returned to the U.S. market!

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A few years back Steyr Mannlicher USA imported a batch of their M9 and S9 pistols. They were polymer framed, striker fired guns of the type popularized by their fellow Austrians at Glock, but that’s as far as the similarities went.

The Steyr guns featured a steeper grip angle, more ergonomically sculpted grips, a lower bore axis, and better triggers. Like all Steyr products, they were superbly constructed of quality materials.

Sadly they’ve been unavailable in this country for a few years, ...

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What’s in MY holster? Nothing esoteric – just solid, reliable guns.

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I get many emails asking what I carry on a daily basis. While my choices are mine alone, and aren’t meant to be prescriptive for you, why I choose certain items may be of some help to you.

As most probably already know (or, from the pictures on this site, have managed to guess) I often carry a revolver. Not 100% of the time, mind you; there are many instances when I carry an autoloader, and have done so for many years. ...

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So, Grant, have you joined the Dark Side? No, but many people think I have!

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I get emails. Crazy, some of them. (Not that I’m pointing any fingers, but watch out for pharmacists.) After I said something nice about the Steyr autopistols, some assumed that I’d somehow lost my bearings or that I’d been abducted and replaced by a lookalike with absolutely no taste in firearms.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As I’ve said more than once, I’ve been known to carry a high-capacity autoloader when the circumstances were ...

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So, just what is the .357 Magnum like in a confined space?

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A number of years back my wife and I served as coordinators for the defensive pistol matches at our gun club. Our matches were somewhat similar to IDPA, but without the endless rules to make everything “fair.” We enjoyed a large following of regular participants who were very involved and loved to build sets for stages.

(Some of them got a little carried away; one particular gentleman once designed a stage that featured cardboard cows. Yes, cows, complete with udders. He’s a very ...

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Everything has a purpose in the hands of Ed Harris. Even the .32 ACP.

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Many of you are familiar with Ed Harris, firearms engineer and ballistic experimenter. One of Ed’s passions is the hunting of small game – squirrels, rabbits, etc. – and the guns that facilitate that activity.

(Before we go any further, it seems that a lot of folks today don’t have any experience with serious small game hunting. There are an awful lot of people who consider it somehow inferior to the taking of large game, but they are sorely mistaken. In ...

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On dry firing: is it good for your gun? That depends.

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One of the great advantages of the double action revolver is that the mechanism makes dry firing easy. Unlike the majority of autoloaders, you don’t have to break your grip to operate the slide or recock the hammer; just maintain your grip and pull the trigger, over and over. As a result, I suspect most revolvers are dry fired with greater frequency than most autos.

Various pundits have opined over the years that it is perfectly safe to dry fire any ...

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Living with your choices: not all guns are equal, and your safety might depend on being honest about that.

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One-liners, sound bites, and witty retorts are often used to convince others to unthinkingly follow a certain path or belief. When the subject matter is of little import, they are simply amusing. When subjects turn more serious, they impede the flow of vital information necessary to make good decisions. Such is the latest, a hearty retort of “guns break!” when people are faced with evidence (or even the considered opinion) that their choice in safety/rescue equipment might not have been ideal. This ...

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Do you need a trigger job?

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It occurs to me that not everyone who stumbles into my little corner of the internet necessarily knows what they really need. I receive quite a number of emails that essentially ask “should I have a trigger job done on my revolver?”

(I am aware that asking someone who became known as a gunsmith that question is tantamount to requesting that the fox guard the henhouse. Still, I’d like to take a crack – hopefully a fairly objective one – at ...

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Sight options for the defensive handgun.

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Much as it pains me to admit this, my eyesight is degrading with distressing rapidity. No, it’s nothing out of the ordinary, nor is it anything serious – it’s just that I’m getting older!

I’m close enough to the big “five-oh” to count the years left on one hand (with fingers left over), and the closer it gets the further out I need to hold the restaurant menu. Oh, yes, my prescription is current – but after wearing bifocals for the ...

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“It’s perfect for the little lady” – NOT!

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If you’re here, it’s probably because you like (or at least appreciate) our friend the revolver. My feelings, of course, are well known: I believe the revolver to be the single greatest firearm that one could ever hope to own. I believe that people who shoot revolvers demonstrate themselves to be of above average intelligence, more refined sensibilities, and generally better looking than those who do not. (I exaggerate, of course. Except in my own case, where these things are ...

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“Stainless” doesn’t mean “won’t rust”.

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I hear the advice all the time: “buy a stainless gun, because they won’t rust.” This kind of comment is what prompted General Norman Schwarzkopf to say “bovine scatology!”

Yes, stainless will in fact rust under the right conditions. What are those conditions? Generally, if you get moisture trapped in a place where it doesn’t evaporate normally (say, under a grip panel or inside the action), you have a situation that is ideal for corrosion. The situation is worse in very ...

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