FRIDAY SURPRISE: Coffee, tea, or chocolate??

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fighting-chocolate

My mother’s side of the family were (still are, actually) porcelain makers in the Old Country. My mother, being proud of her heritage, collects vintage pieces from the family works and has been doing so for decades.

I remember a particular piece that she picked up early on: it looked just like a coffee pot but was smaller. I thought it must be some sort of teapot until my mother explained that it was ...

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Learning about the legitimate use of lethal force.

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Last week’s discussion about armed intervention by a concealed carrier drew a lot of commentary, and for that I’m thankful. It’s important that topics like this are discussed ahead of time, before an incident unfolds.

I worded the article very carefully to elicit one thing: a careful consideration, by each of us, of what we would do when faced with that kind of situation. I’ll admit, though, at being rather surprised that a good number of comments reduced the options to ...

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Friday Surprise: The law (and how we apply it) changes over time. Sometimes dramatically.

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One of my favorite bloggers, and one to whom I’ve referred many times, is David Friedman. He’s an academic economist and a Professor of Law at Santa Clara University — and, as he proudly notes, “…have never taken a course for credit in either field.”

Friedman’s background is in chemistry and physics (as I recall, his doctorate is in physics), but interests and expertise go far beyond the hard sciences. He’s also interested in libertarianism and market anarchist ...

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The Streetsweeper shotgun: gone and unlamentedly so.

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A couple of decades back there was a shotgun (and I use the term loosely) called the Streetsweeper. It was basically a giant single action revolver chambered in 12 gauge, and it was the AR-15 of the times: politicians paraded it around decrying its deadly intent and capacity (not to mention its chilling name) and calling for its ban.

In 1994 the ATF finally classed it as a destructive device requiring registration and a tax stamp to transfer, like any other ...

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Should a CCW holder get involved in someone else’s fight?

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A week or so ago, Greg Ellifritz (who’s a police officer by trade) posted a story about a call in which he was involved. Seems that a male store security officer (who is also a cop, albeit part-time) had a running fight with a female shoplifter that ended up on the side of a thoroughfare. The suspect got the bright idea of yelling “rape!” in an attempt to elicit some help on the part of passers-by.

She got it in the ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Gordon Parks – cool like Steve McQueen, but with more talent.

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Gordon_Parks

One of the more intriguing people of the 20th century was Gordon Parks. Born into a poor farm family, attacked and beaten because of the color of his skin, told that trying to achieve anything in life would be a waste of his effort, he nonetheless went on to become an accomplished photographer, writer, poet, composer, and film director – not to mention political activist.

It’s that first career which interests ...

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Keeping the AR-15 (and M4 carbine) gas system running.

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I’m constantly amazed at the number of people who believe that the gas impingement system of the AR-15 rifle and M4 carbine is somehow a liability. So strong is this belief that there is today a growing subset of the industry making good money by adding parts to the original Stoner design in a misguided attempt to “fix” the “problems”.

Over the years (and many tens of thousands of rounds) I’ve not found the gas system of the AR pattern rifles ...

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How should you protect yourself from the knockout game attack?

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Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday! (Be honest, now: how many of you are taking advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals to get yourself something at a gun or outdoor store? Thought so!)

Over the last week or so quite a number of people have written to ask me about the “knockout game” which the media is making such a fuss over. The common query is about how to defend against this kind of attack, and could I give some ...

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Another reason for not taking responsibility for one’s own safety?

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Allow me to be a bit philosophical on this day before Thanksgiving.

Monday on Facebook I shared this link to a story of an intervention by unarmed bystanders in a knife attack on a young woman. I found this heartening, inasmuch as I’d been following an unrelated story a few days earlier that elicited some surprising reactions.

The earlier story dealt with a training session that’s becoming more and more common across the United States: teaching kids how to ...

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A little teaching trick: memory, feelings, and getting the two to work together.

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One of the tasks of anyone who teaches physical techniques is helping the student physically coordinate the various inputs and actions that are necessary to shoot a handgun. For some this comes easily, but for others it can be a challenge (and I’m speaking of both the student and the teacher!)

The brain takes in a huge amount of information from the various sensors in our bodies to be able to performa and replicate a physical action. This is, by and ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: A place where things that go BOOM used to be made. Emphasis on “used to”.

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If you’re new here, you should know about my fascination with abandoned things. As it happens, the more closely related something abandoned is to something else I’m interested in, the more fascinated I become. Today we hit the trifecta: it’s abandoned, it has to do with munitions, and it’s in my family’s ancestral homeland!

The ICI Nobel plant at Ardeer, in the Ayr district of Scotland (ancestral home of Clan Cunningham), was established in 1873 to make nitroglycerine. Alfred Nobel himself, ...

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Ruger Redhawk vs. Super Redhawk: what’s the difference?

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David L. asked on Facebook about the design differences between the Ruger Redhawk and the Super Redhawk. He says “I love the classic lines of the Redhawk, but the Super Redhawk completely took over. When you feel like a change of subject is in order, please consider a little “under the hood” comparison of these two revolvers.”

The Redhawk (often abbreviated ‘RH’) and Super Redhawk (herein referred to as ‘SRH’) are both large caliber double action revolvers. I’ll start with the ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: When it comes right down to it, everything on the planet is either harvested or mined. Here’s a story about the latter.

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It’s pretty well understood that fortunes (and governments) have risen and fallen on such valuable commodities as oil, gold, and gemstones. What’s probably less known is that the same thing has happened with more prosaic things, like salt (yes, salt. Munich, for instance, was largely built on the fortunes of the salt trade, and Liverpool was just a backwater until salt shipments started flowing through her port. Wars were fought over salt, and even involved some siblings – Venice and ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ithaca Gun Company is expanding to South Carolina!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What makes an efficient handgun? ...

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

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

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Reeves Jungkind, 1927-2013.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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640px-Béla_Károlyi
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Taty2007

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

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

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Yet another automatic revolver: The Union.

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

The gun was designed by ...

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

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

So, let’s review the rules for ...

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

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

This all happened because Starbucks ...

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

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

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

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