Competition: it’s what’s for breakfast. Too bad I don’t eat breakfast.

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I’ve been chided just a bit for ignoring the growing field of revolver competition. It’s not that I dislike competition, it’s just that it’s not my focus these days; self defense topics are what I’m most interested in and tend to write about.

Still, I do occasionally like to see what’s up with the standings; when I want to know what’s happening in the world of revolver matches, I read Paul Erhardt over at DownrangeTV. This link will ...

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Relevance and role models: what your instructor wears may be a bad influence on how you train.

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A few weeks back I saw a picture of a self-identified defensive shooting instructor which bothered me. I couldn’t put my finger on why, but something about it gnawed at my subconscious. I know the fellow only by what he’s written (and by his association with a much better-known trainer), so it isn’t anything that would stem from a personality conflict, and yet the feeling remained.

It finally hit me the other day: in the picture this fellow is wearing what ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Maybe there is something at work today, Friday The 13th.

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Not being triskaidekaphobic, I normally don’t pay much attention to Fridays that happen to fall on the thirteenth of the month. This particular Friday, however, is a little different: it was Friday, May 13th in 1988 that the jazz world lost one of its more talented members in a very odd manner.

Chet Baker was a trumpet player of uncommon talent. His phrasing, often chided as being ‘feminine’, stood in stark contrast to the edgier playing of many ...

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Speaking of gun lust…I want a new, old AR-15.

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Last weekend I was on the range for the first time in I-can’t-remember-how-long, helping out with a rifle class taught by my friend Georges Rahbani. One of the rifles on the line was an old Colt SP1, complete with skinny barrel, A1 sights and stock, and the teardrop forward assist.

I’d forgotten how light and handy those original guns were. My main AR is a mid-length Rock River with a very heavy barrel, and the SP1 felt like a feather in ...

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This is a bad business to be in if you suffer from gun lust: I want this Ruger GP100!

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Every so often I work on a gun that I personally want, and this is one of them.

Three-inch GP100s are a little uncommon in the typical stainless, but the blued versions are downright scarce. The owner of this gun wanted something special, and I think he got it!

We started with a Super Action Job, which took the DA pull down to ...

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Containing my desire: revolvers in .32-20 are calling me. Again.

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I’ve worked on many Colt Police Positives in .32-20, and it’s a cartridge which has always intrigued me. I’m not one to believe that it would make a good defensive tool, but there is more to shooting than just that!

I’ve often thought that I’d like to have one of the long-discontinued Marlin 1894 CB in .32-20; it would make a great farm & varmint cartridge in the hotter loadings, and loaded to moderate velocities would make a dandy squirrel gun.

Tempering ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Mussolini had nothing on these guys – the evolution of the pocket watch.

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How would you fill the blank in this sentence: “Accurate as a _____ watch” ? If you’re like most people, the word would be “Swiss”. To most people Swiss watches are the epitome of timekeeping, and have been since, well, forever.

But that’s not entirely true. Today, perhaps, but for nearly a century the country that produced the most accurate portable timekeepers was the United States, and we have the locomotive to thank for it.

Back in the days of steam, in ...

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To progress requires change, but not all change is progress.

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I’ve been bombarded with emails over the last couple of days about (yet another) lever action rifle adorned with a red dot scope. I’ve heard it called everything from “tactical cowboy” to “poor man’s Scout Rifle”, but all such sobriquets miss the point.

The lever action rifle, as historically outfitted, has never really seemed to need the red dot.

Please understand that I’m all for moving forward. I’m a technology junkie; I love what is new and demonstrably better. Sometimes, though, we ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Happy birthday, Giuseppe Torelli!

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Today is the birthday of Giuseppe Torelli. His 353rd birthday, to be precise.

Torelli was an Italian composer who was a key figure in the development of the concerto form as we know it today, and particularly so with regard to the solo concerto — where a single instrument is accompanied by an orchestra.

Up until the mid-17th century the concertino form was the norm, wherein a small group of solo instruments was accompanied by the orchestra. The solo concerto, which today is ...

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One of my cardinal rules: if I didn’t reload it, I don’t shoot it.

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Years back I remember being taught never to shoot someone else’s reloads. I violated that rule only once, when I bought some “factory reloads” from a vendor at a gun show. Luckily I didn’t damage anything with the shoddy 9mm fodder, but I still have the remainder — in a sealed ammo can labeled “Dangerous Ammo – Do Not Shoot!” — somewhere in the garage.

That cemented my rule: no reloads that I didn’t make, not even one round. Why?

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What I did on Spring Break: hunting sage rats.

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It wasn’t really Spring Break, but this last weekend was our annual Sage Rat Hunting Trip to the dry half of Oregon. Sage rats, for those of you who may be new here, are actually ground squirrels, the exact species varying depending on location. Belding’s Ground Squirrel is grey with a tan underside, while the Richardson’s Ground Squirrel has a brown back with a buff belly. I have seen both varieties in eastern Oregon, but the Richardson’s seems more common ...

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Short memories: new ammunition that isn’t really all that new. And wasn’t very good back then, either.

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One of the joys of having recently turned 50 (a figure I still write with a combination of bemusement and astonishment, having not actually grown up yet) is that I can poke fun at the younger guys. ‘Younger’, of course, means anyone under about 48.

I say this because last week I read an article about a ‘new’ multi-projectile load that was ‘developed’ by a company called Constitution Arms. My first thought was that the author must be a youngster reporting this as ‘new’, ...

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Paging Dr. Ayoob: clueless person is dispensing dangerous legal advice!

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We need 100cc of Factual Information, stat!

This splashed onto several blogs last week, and it’s just too good a train wreck to ignore. Do not be mislead: the advice this guy gives is a sure ticket to a jail cell. The ‘term clueless loon’ comes to mind…

For years people like Mas Ayoob and Marty Hayes have been educating people on the realities of the legal side of self defense, ...

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Stuff happens. Don’t let it happen to you, and think beyond just shooting.

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In light of the incredible earthquake in Japan last night, I’d like to instead remind everyone that self protection and personal security isn’t always about the gun.

Sometimes, it’s about the first aid kit.

Sometimes, it’s about the shortwave radio.

Sometimes, it’s about the camp stove.

Sometimes, it’s about the water purifier.

Sometimes, it’s about the emergency generator.

Sometimes, it’s about the stored food.

Sometimes, it’s about the solar battery charger.

I know that your neighbors laugh at these things; heck, there are probably more than a few readers ...

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A self defense article for you to read, and it’s not about shooting. It’s still important.

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I’ve mentioned Ohio-based self defense instructor Kelly Muir before. She’s on the forefront of teaching self defense not as a series of barely related skills, but as an integrated response.

She’s got a great article up at the Personal Defense Network, one which I highly recommend that everyone read.

Her remarks about physical fitness resonated with me. Thanks to lots of heavy chores around the farm my strength level is pretty good, but because of my general lack of ...

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A slightly different perspective on personal safety: first aid skills are a necessity.

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I’m sorta ‘into’ guns. If you’re reading this, I suspect you are as well. Because of this interest it’s tempting to focus on the gun part of safety preparations to the exclusion of everything else. No, I’m not talking about knives or canes or even empty hand skills, but rather the more mundane stuff like CPR and first aid and fire extinguishers.

Let’s be honest: it’s more likely that you’re going to need first aid (including response to life-threatening trauma) skills ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Hiding her light under a basket.

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A couple of years ago one of those self-storage concerns in Chicago auctioned off the contents of one of their units. This is not an uncommon occurrence throughout the country; when a storage unit’s rent goes unpaid, the storage company opens the unit and auctions off whatever they find. (I went to one such auction, and when the unit was opened it was discovered that the renter had disassembled an entire automatic car wash and stuffed it into the space!)

In ...

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Some thoughts on the FN-FAL rifle.

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I have more than a passing acquaintance with Fabrique Nationale’s Fusil Automatique Léger, more commonly known as the FN-FAL. I’ve owned a number of examples, from ‘pre ban’ milsurp guns to commercial examples to kit guns built on commercial receivers. Over the years I’ve fired literally tens of thousands of rounds of 7.62×51 through those rifles, many of them in training venues, to the point that at one time I’d become something of a local curiosity: “hey, that’s the guy ...

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Presented for your consideration, again: there is no such thing as a ‘clean shoot’.

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I’ve been pretty clear over the years about my belief in the myth of the ‘clean shoot’. It’s a phrase that comes up with amazing regularity in various forums and in gunshops all across the country: as long as your shoot is ‘clean’, nothing else matters.

As I’ve pointed out, the people who decide if your self defense act was ‘clean’ sit on a jury. Whether you think it was a ‘good’ shoot, whether I do, whether your instructor does, or ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

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One of my favorite places to buy quality tools is the Harry Epstein company. They’ve been in business at the same location in Missouri for over 80 years, and though I’ve never been there (in fact, I’ve never been to Missouri) I enjoy shopping through their retro-themed website.

This isn’t their first foray into mailorder, however. Back in the days before the internet, when Al Gore was still getting his privileged education at a private boy’s school in ...

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Some more thoughts regarding ‘force on force’ training.

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The limitations of the equipment that we discussed in the previous installment aren’t the only things that affect the utility of force-on-force training. The way that drills and scenarios are approached is important as well.

I’ll use two terms to describe broad categories of FOF training. Drills are man-against-man tests of mechanical or physical skills: drawing the gun, moving off the vector of the attack, and so on. Scenarios, on the ...

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Some thoughts regarding ‘force on force’ training.

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Scenario or Force-on-force (‘FOF’) training (sometimes called Simunition training, after the major maker of the marking ammunition used) has become all the rage in the last couple of years, with some instructors making it a hallmark of their courses. Everyone, it seems, is buying Airsoft pistols and touting their FOF credentials. Supporters of the concept have done a very good sales job, as I routinely am asked if my courses have a force-on-force component.

Such questions remind me so much of ...

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The Wrong Woman now has a blog!

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Kelly Muir at Wrong Woman has put up a blog to discuss the unique aspects of this new self defense program. I can already tell that it isn’t going to be your average self defense blog: her third post talks about serial manipulators and the language they use.

It was a bit of an eye-opener for me. This is something men don’t normally deal with, and thus I’d never really thought about such nuances of ...

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Doing good work: Larry Potterfield supports the shooting sports. Again. Still. Big-time.

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I’ve never been much on television commercials; I routinely ignore them, and the most annoying I mute. Such is the case with Larry Potterfield’s ads for Midway USA. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a satisfied Midway customer and will no doubt continue to be, but it’s just that Mr. Potterfield’s ads are, well, annoying. He’s a nice fellow (I’ve met him), but I can’t stand his commercials.

Regardless of what I think about his television performances, though, it’s worth celebrating ...

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My virtue remains unblemished: no hit-whoring here. No sir, not here.

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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) ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: This is the end, my only friend, the end. And other classic songs.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll remember that I’ve been following the demise of Kodachrome film with some interest. In June of ’09 came the news that Kodak had stopped producing the stuff, and in August we learned that the last roll produced by Kodak had been processed at the sole remaining Kodachrome processor. We also learned that they would be closing that service at the end of the year.

Yesterday, December 30th 2010, the last roll ...

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Attitude Change, 2010 Edition: what have I changed my mind about?

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I’ve been actively interested in the topic of self defense training since the early 90s. Over the last decade, particularly in the last five years, a lot of my original opinions regarding self defense have changed. This isn’t because I’m wishy-washy and unable to hold on to an opinion (just ask my wife!) Rather, such change is brought about by being exposed to new information, or because new research alters original assumptions.

As this year winds down, I thought it might ...

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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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