Is the old lever action half-cock safety really all that safe?

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We’ve all been taught about the half-cock notch on lever action rifles. How safe is it, really?

When I was growing up lever action rifles (with the exception of the Savage 99) had no safeties. It was assumed, and taught, that the safe way to carry a lever action with a round in the chamber was to lower the hammer to the half-cock notch. When needed, the hammer was thumbed back as the gun was brought to the shoulder.

Fast forward to ...

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My time as a Frenchman: the wonderful MAS 49/56.

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Ever shot one of these? If you haven’t, you don’t know what you’re missing!

As I mentioned recently, I’m not really a collector of anything — no, not even guns. To me firearms are a utilitarian thing, used to do work. It was like that when I was a kid on the farm; I took out one of the guns to do something specific, not to amuse myself (though I admit to having done some occasional plinking with a Winchester Model ...

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Is the prone position useful in defensive shooting? I don’t think so, and here’s why.

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It happened again just the other day: someone asked me about my Perimeter Defense Rifle class and was surprised when I told him that I didn’t teach the prone position.

He seemed both offended and perplexed (which is an interesting combination of emotional states, I’ll admit.) He simply couldn’t fathom that someone teaching a rifle class wouldn’t teach his students to shoot from the prone position. That is, after all, the most stable rifle shooting position, isn’t it? They teach ...

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Self Defense news from the 2015 SHOT Show!

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Unless you’ve been under a rock with regards to social media recently, you probably know that the 2015 SHOT Show happened in Las Vegas last week. I was there!

I almost wish I hadn’t been, however. It seems whenever I go to SHOT, I pick up a bug. No, not bedbugs — colds and flu!

With over 60,000 people in a fairly confined place, all of them handling the same products (especially products like rifles, which you put next to your ...

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Do you have a defensive shotgun? More importantly, have you trained with it lately?

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I’ve made no secret of the fact that the shotgun and I aren’t best buddies. I have shotguns, I use them, I’m pretty good with them in fact, but I do find them hard to warm up to. None of that changes the fact that the shotgun is a good home defense tool, and learning to run it well is a matter of good training!

More importantly, though, is learning some specifics to address the shotgun’s weaknesses. My buddy Andy Loeffler, ...

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The rifles used by French police look a little familiar, don’t they?

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The recent terror attacks in France have brought the French police and counter-terrorism troops into the public eye. Some of them are armed with a decidedly un-French rifle.
If you’ve watched any of the news about the Charlie Hebdo massacre, especially online, you may have seen typical French military hardware such as the FAMAS bullpup rifle. Those are typically carried by the Gendarmerie Nationale, the federal police controlled by the military. The famous ...
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What happened to the M16 in Vietnam? How about asking the guy who designed it?

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You can find all manner of misinformation on the internet, but you can also find the truth. The problem is that the latter isn’t always as interesting as the former, but not in this case!
The M16 is now the longest-serving general-issue small arm in the United States military. Hard to believe? It was first adopted in 1962, and because of continual upgrades and improvements continues to be relevant even 53 years later. That’s remarkable, if you ...
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Can a WWII-era rifle be modernized?

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There are a lot of interesting arms designs from the early part of the 20th century that might be serviceable even today — with some modernizations. I’m not talking about taking an old Mauser and sporterizing it, but actually redesigning something to have modern relevance!
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It’s actually a bit hard to believe, but the AR-15 is now 55 years old. Introduced by Colt in 1959, it’s been soldiering along with the U.S. Military since 1962. ...
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Thoughts on the .30-30 Winchester – is it all it’s cracked up to be?

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The .30-30 Winchester, more properly known as the .30 Winchester Center Fire (WCF), is one of the most popular cartridges in the world. Why?
The .30WCF, more popularly known as the “thirty-thirty”, is a staple of deer hunting in this country. (Well, it certainly used to be, but I’m getting ahead of myself.) Introduced in 1895 ...
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Ed Harris says: “A Hillbilly Assault Rifle? You bet!”

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Ed Harris, ballistic experimenter extraordinaire, is back — this time with some details on his “lever action utility rifle”. As usual, he’s got some good ideas!
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Modern Sights to Upgrade the Lever-Action Utility Rifle
by C.E. “Ed” Harris, Gerrardstown, WV

I like the 1894 Marlin. I have three of them, in .357, .44 ...
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DVD Review: Defensive Firearms Myths and Misconceptions.

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In my ongoing review of new DVDs from the Personal Defense Network, I come across one that’s interesting and a little different from the rest of PDN’s offerings. This one deals with what you know that you probably shouldn’t!

Defensive Firearms Myths and Misconceptions
Presented by Rob Pincus

Do you know what a “negative target” is? It’s a cardboard target with shapes cut out of it; you’re expected to shoot into the holes ...

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Gun makers plus consolidation equals history!

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How many U.S. gun makers can you name? I’ll bet there are quite a few that you’ve either forgotten about, or never even knew existed — but their legacy lives on, even today!
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It’s tempting to think that the way things are today is how they’ve always been. This perspective changes as the generations do; for kids growing up today, they probably assume that ...
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Rifles of the “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”.

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French firearms are a popular source of amusement for enthusiasts in the United States. That’s sad, because there are some real gems to be had from the land of Napoleon.
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A popular pastime amongst the British is making fun of the French. Apparently we inherited more than a little of our attitudes from the people we beat in the Revolutionary War, because no matter how much the French do for us (you realize we wouldn’t ...
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I don’t care what Joe Biden says, the shotgun isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

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I have a confession to make: I’m not a fan of the shotgun as an in-home self defense option!

I know this goes against every Billy Bad-Boy trainer in the world and even against our own Vice President, but though I have a shotgun within reach of my bed it’s not the first gun I’d grab in an emergency. I’ve trained with them extensively and even taught others how to use them, but I’m still not wild about them.

Why is that?

Let’s ...

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The never-ending quest for the “perfect” rifle round, or: Grant is lusting for another lever action!

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I got a surprising amount of email on last week’s lever action article. Seems I’m not the only one with a fondness for the simpler things in life — nor for getting a new rifle just so I can have a different round to shoot!
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That article also got me to thinking about a particular interest of my own: .35 caliber rifle cartridges. I’ve often opined about the utility of the lever action in .357 ...
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I like all rifles, but lever actions have a particular place in my collection. Here’s why.

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The lever action may seem antiquated, but maybe its old virtues still have value in today’s shooting world!
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There’s been a lot of talk about lever action rifles lately. One well-known person in the industry wrote an article about how much he likes them, and another industry personality wrote a social media rebuttal about how they’re ...
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Is a rifle or carbine a good choice for home defense? Here’s how to decide.

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I recently received an email asking about my thoughts on using a pistol-caliber carbine or a rifle for home defense. Sometimes it’s a viable idea, sometimes it’s not — and occasionally it’s only part of an overall solution. How can you know if it’s right for you?

Self defense inside the home (which is a very different thing than perimeter defense, which happens outside the house but on your property) is a task usually assigned to the handgun, and with pretty good ...

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The lever action as a military arm? Yes, it’s happened – but not often.

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We all know about the use of the Winchester Model 1895 in the Russian army (and later trickling down to smaller militaries), but what of it’s more famous sibling: the Model 1894?
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The lever action rifle has never been a popular choice as a military arm — even though the first successful lever action, the Henry rifle, was purchased in small quantities for cavalry use by the Union army during the Civil War. While its ...
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Grant want big boom. 37mm worth of boom.

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I mentioned last week that I was tired of heavy rifles and yearned for something lighter, but that wasn’t completely true. I’ve found a very heavy rifle I do want — so heavy, in fact, that it’s mounted on a carriage!

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It’s actually pretty rare these days that I come across a gun that really pushes my buttons. In fact, I’ve gotten so jaded that the opportunity to shoot a new gun isn’t all that appealing any longer; there ...
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From my email inbox: what’s the best .22 ammunition for a rifle?

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A recent email asked about the accuracy of .22 ammunition, and which I found was the best in my rifles. I couldn’t answer that question, and here’s why!
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I’m sometimes amazed at the coincidences of life. I’m currently testing ammunition in a rather unusual (but awfully neat) .22 rifle for an upcoming article in Gun Digest, and at the same time I get an email from Anthony asking about .22 ammunition for a ...
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How do the Swiss make a sniper rifle? Carefully. Very carefully!

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As you might guess from my watch & clockmaking youth, I admire the Swiss. I especially admire the way their commitment to self-preservation scared off the Nazi war machine when everyone around them was being invaded. What was their secret? Accurate rifles and soldiers who knew how to use them!
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Ahh, the Swiss. Aside from chocolate and fine timepieces (two things of which I’m ...
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What’s old is new again: the SMG Guns FG42 rifle.

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While I was teaching in California last week I got to handle (but, sadly, not shoot) a brand-new reproduction of a WWII German autoloading rifle!
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The FG42 was a select-fire rifle issued to German paratroopers during the Second World War. The concept was to supply the troops with a relatively compact rifle capable of firing both in semi- and fully-automatic modes, one which ...
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Shotgun lust: the Remington Versa Max.

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Sometimes when I teach I learn something new. That happened to me just the other day!
Last week I was down in California doing some training for a private group at a members-only range. This was my second teaching trip to this particular club, and I must say I enjoy it immensely!

One of the students had a shotgun I’d heard about, but not actually had ...

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The full squat: the most overlooked rifle shooting position?

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Instructor Georges Rahbani teaches the squatting position

If you’re a rifle shooter you’ve probably practiced standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone; but have you practiced shooting from the full squat? Maybe you should!

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When I got my first formal rifle training we focused on the traditional shooting positions, the ones that the NRA had been training for perhaps a century. It wasn’t until some years later, when I took my first “tactical” or ...
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A different design for a revolving rifle, but this one is full auto – and a mystery!

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Ever wanted a revolving rifle that fired three-round bursts at an equivalent cyclic rate of 4,900 rounds per minute? Three inventors in the 1970s came up with an idea to do just that. Maybe.
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The revolver mechanism has proven itself over the last century or so to be a robust and reliable means of providing repeating capability to a handgun. Of course not all revolvers have been handguns; there have been a few revolving rifles over the years, ...
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You know what grinds my gears? YouTube videos where women suffer shooting big guns.

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There’s a genre of YouTube videos consisting of women shooting guns with heavy recoil for which they’ve not been properly prepared. Those vids disgust me.
For some reason a certain segment of the male shooting population loves to see what happens when a woman (old or young) is given a powerful firearm and allowed to shoot it on camera without proper instruction or preparation. The results are predictable and serve to show just what can happen if a shooter ...
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The sad story of the Smith & Wesson Light Rifle.

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There aren’t really a lot of engineers in the firearms business who move between specialties easily and with equivalent successes. In the case of the S&W Light Rifle, its designer was just a little out of his element.
Joseph Norman was once the chief engineer at Smith & Wesson, and was responsible (or at least had a lot to do with) some great S&W guns: the models 39, 41, 52, and 59 ...
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The Remington Model 8 and 81: guns I wish I’d bought when they were cheap!

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The Remington Model 8 and its restyled cousin, the Model 81, were once common at gun shows. They’re getting harder to find these days; are collectors finally taking an interest in these fine rifles?

Some years ago I got to know a local gun show fixture by the name of Mike Percival. Mike was a holdover of sorts, because when everyone else was selling Glocks and AR-15s Mike dealt in old iron and walnut: guns of the past. In stark ...

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