Hope for the terminally myopic? A new optical sight enhancement looks promising.

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The Firearm Blog alerted me to this post over at accurateshooter.com. A new sighting enhancement, making use of a “zone plate” optic, is due to hit the market soon. The device makes it possible to focus on both near and far objects at the same time, without the penalty of large, expensive optical systems.

I’ll be anxious to try one of these on a rifle. My eyes cannot focus on close objects without optical help, ...

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An accident at Gunsite. Who’s at fault?

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According to AZcentral.com, a man was shot in the abdomen at Gunsite a few days ago. If you’ve seen pictures of their facility, you’ve seen the shoothouse with catwalks above which allows observation of the proceedings. Apparently a man was on the catwalk and silhouetted by overhead lights; the student saw his outline and shot it. Luckily the man survived the incident and is recovering.

Gunsite says that students are instructed not to shoot toward the catwalk, but ...

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What are the top-selling pistol cartridges? Winchester tell us.

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The Firearm Blog reports that Winchester recently released their top five (even though there are six listed!) pistol cartridges. The 9mm is not surprisingly in first place, and that favorite of law enforcement, the .40 S&W, is justifiably in the number two slot. Coming into third place is a bit of a dark horse – the venerable .38 Special.

What’s most curious is the .380 ACP in fifth place. According to a Federal rep I talked with a ...

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Bore cleaners: is there really any difference? What do I use?

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A recent email asked my opinion on bore cleaners, and to my surprise I found that I’d not written anything on the topic. It is, after all, unlike me to have no opinion – and it may be a bit of a surprise to learn that, on this topic, I don’t have a strong opinion.

When it comes to bore cleaners, it’s been my experience that everything works. Shooter’s Choice, Hoppe’s, Butch’s, Break Free, it really doesn’t matter – with one ...

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What I did during Spring Break: a short Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Development course review.

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I just returned from a visit to Virginia Beach, where I attended the Combat Focus Shooting Instructor Development (CFSID) course. It was 4 days and just shy of 60 hours learning the ins and outs of Combat Focus Shooting so that we could accurately and efficiently communicate the program to students. It was easily the most intensive course I’ve attended in the shooting world.

We spent the first of those day on the range…no, that’s not quite right; for ...

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The annual ritual: make a lead test part of your yearly checkup!

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I have a physical exam every year, complete with blood panel. When they take my blood, I always ask specifically for a lead test to show how much of that stuff has gotten into my bloodstream. Last week the doctor did my blood draws, and today I learn the results. I expect my lead levels to be at their normal lows, thanks to a few sensible precautions.

First, I always wash my hands after shooting. I carry a package of those ...

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A weekend hunting trip. Well, not so much hunting as needed pest control!

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I just returned from a short jaunt to the dry side of Oregon, visiting relatives and doing some shooting. Usually both at the same time!

The shooting part of my trip involved helping to rid my cousin’s ranches of the dreaded sage rat. Sage rats are the colloquial term for several species of small, ground-dwelling squirrels which inhabit the fields of farmers and ranchers in Eastern Oregon, Washington, and parts of Idaho. They’re incredibly damaging to crops and they breed like ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: A shell of former glory – Eastman Kodak’s remains. I was there.

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I usually eat my breakfast in front of the computer. I check my personal email, look in at Twitter and Facebook, read a blog or two, peek at the news, and maybe even check what’s for sale on Craigslist.

One of the Facebook updates this morning was from Rob Pincus, who is heading for Rochester (NY). That brought back memories, as in my former life I traveled to Rochester on an occasional basis, one time staying for the ...

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Attack of the clones: proprietary cartridges and their open-source cousins.

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It comes as no surprise to long-time readers that I’m a fan of the 6.5mm rifle caliber. Though I’ve only owned a single such rifle – a 6.5-284 screamer – the ballistic advantages of this particular diameter intrigue me to no end. It seems to be a “sweet spot” in rifle calibers, where drag coefficients and sectional densities combine to make extremely efficient cartridges. Their stability in flight, ability to resist wind, and deep penetration are the stuff of legend.

I’ve ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Malt-O-Meal?? Some thoughts on Scotch whisky.

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Well, not quite, but a single malt being billed as the “world’s oldest whisky” is now for sale.

A full bottle of Mortlach 70-year-old Scotch will set you back more than ten grand, if you can find one; there are only 54 full-size (700ml) and 162 small size (200ml) bottles from the single cask avilable. That’s for the entire world, mind you.

(Unlike wine, Scotch whisky doesn’t continue to age once it’s been bottled. There are older bottles of ...

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Another sacred cow bites the dust: Rob Pincus on shooting stances.

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I’ve often described the “shooting stance” as being like a scaffold – a device one uses to supply support and stability so that skills can be built efficiently. Past that point, the stance as usually taught has limited utility. This is largely because the circumstances under which you shoot (definitely for defensive shooting, and often in hunting as well) dictate where your feet are when you recognize the need to shoot. This has been met with not inconsiderable consternation from some ...

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The revolver is not a low-capacity autoloader. Don’t treat it like one.

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Over the years a number of 4×4 vehicles have come under fire for being “prone” to rollover accidents: the Suzuki Samurai. The Jeep CJ. The Ford Explorer. The Isuzu Trooper. While the government probes their safety and juries award inflated damages, one pertinent fact is conveniently ignored: a four-wheel-drive isn’t a family sedan, and can’t be driven like one. The results are predictable.

Guess what? The same relationship exists between the autoloader and the revolver.

In the last couple of decades, the ...

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Draw fast. Holster slow. That’s how to not shoot yourself.

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Tam alerts us to a ND that happened at a Todd Green class. In his commendable reporting of the incident, Todd says “Never be in a rush to holster your pistol. We all know it, we say it, we teach it. Not all of us do it.” So true.

As instructors it’s easy for us to forget that reinforcement, and sometimes enforcement, are necessary parts of our job. Especially when we’re dealing with “advanced” students, ...

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An exciting new personal security resource: announcing the Personal Defense Network!

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This week is dominated by SHOT Show news, and in the midst of all the shiny new goodies it’s hard to remember that self defense isn’t just about hardware. Guns and ammo are easy to write about, so that’s what most people concentrate on. As a result, you find lots of sites that deal with hardware, but precious few with the software so necessary for survival.

That situation is about to change: the Personal Defense Network has gone ...

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Vintage gun ads. How many do you remember?

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The SHOT Show, that yearly orgy of all things that go ‘bang’, starts next Tuesday. The products shown there will be arriving on dealer’s shelves over the coming months, but the ads will show up almost immediately. That’s how commerce is done.

It was serendipitous, then, that I recently ran across a site called Vintage Ad Browser. The site collects images of old ads for all kinds of products, including guns and ammo. Just like the SHOT Show, ...

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Massad Ayoob’s new gig: the Massad Ayoob Group (MAG).

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I got an email from Massad Ayoob recently, in which he told me about his new venture: the Massad Ayoob Group (MAG). He’s got a great website where you can read the official announcement.

While the curriculum will be new, the principles he teaches aren’t. No one knows more about the legal and ethical side of deadly force, and his updated classes will build on that expertise. I asked Mas about how the new curriculum will translate to ...

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Book Review: “Personal Defense for Women” by Gila Hayes.

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Personal Defense for Women: Practical Advice for Self Protection by Gila Hayes

It is only now that society is beginning to recognize what those of us who’ve been married for decades know all too well: men and women are different. ‘Equal’, as it happens, does not mean ‘the same’, and we are slowly coming to realize this. (Back to the future!)

Because we’re different, it’s difficult – if not impossible – for a man to ...

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What safety standards? Is there anything like an industry standard for firearms safety?

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On occasion I’ll get feedback on  my articles on safety, and some will opine that anyone who doesn’t teach ‘industry standard’ rules opens himself (or herself) up to liability problems. I’ve heard this argument more than once and it makes less sense each time I hear it – on several levels. I’m sure this view is quite common, so let’s tackle the subject head-on.

First let’s address the very notion that there is such a thing as an industry standard for firearm ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: I’ll take “Stupid things I’ve done” for $100, Alex.

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Back in the early ’80s, I lead small groups of advanced amateur photographers around the Portland, Oregon metro area at night. The goal was to teach them the fundamentals of available-light photography in an environment that was simultaneously familiar, yet unexplored. We’d gather at about 10:pm at a local Denny’s, then head out for a few hours of shooting, usually getting home about 3:am.

Let me paint you a picture: say, 5 people. Camera bags stuffed with multiple thousands of dollars ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: The Witch is Back.

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Back in ’51, the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Oxfordshire welcomed a new member to their staff: a computer. Today we don’t even bat an eyelid when a new PC shows up in the office, but back then computers were a Big Deal. (After all, how many new staff members get their own office – the largest one in the building?)

The Harwell Computer, later to be known as “WITCH” (Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computing from Harwell), now ...

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What is the true value of “dry fire”?

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A few weeks back, I took some flak for suggesting that a working knowledge of cognitive science – especially neuropsychology – was a valuable instructional tool. Such knowledge allows an instructor to better serve his/her students, and gives the students the tools they need to self-correct aberrant behaviors. Some apparently don’t believe this, or perhaps simply don’t understand why.

Some years ago I was having a specific shooting problem, one which I had a great deal of difficulty solving. During a ...

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A few thoughts about the revolver in self defense.

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Regular readers know that, despite my (occasionally) bombastic promotion of the wheelgun, I’m the first to admit that it is not the perfect tool for all jobs. The revolver’s suitability for self defense depends on the nature of the threat one expects to encounter.

The revolver’s greatest weakness is its limited capacity, while its greatest virtue is its resistance to externally induced failures.

It is something of a trend among today’s fashionable criminals to attack in multiples, i.e. more than one assailant. ...

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Perfectly suited: concealed carry (for men) in a professional environment.

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I get a surprising number of inquiries about carrying in an office (suit and tie) environment. I spent a few years wearing expensive Italian suits (and a few actual custom suits) while selling to upper-echelon corporate types, so I’m passingly familiar with the problems involved.

There are a number of ways to carry a gun in a suit: belt holster, shoulder holster, pocket carry, bellyband, Thunderwear (aka ‘crotch carry’), and in an ankle holster.

Belt and shoulder holsters can be considered together, ...

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Reality – what a concept. You’ve got to learn to recognize what it is, however.

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Yesterday, Tam asked “I laugh at the sight of the pimped tactical N-frame, too, but why?” Allow me to explain with some fuzzy dice.

Yes. You read that correctly – fuzzy dice.

If you go to a car show featuring hotrods from the ’50s and ’60s, a common sight will be a pair fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror. They’re always carefully chosen to complement the paint color, and I’ve even seen fastidious owners arranging the dice “just ...

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I CAN’T HEAR YOU: the myth of auditory exclusion and hearing damage.

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A comment on last Wednesday’s article correctly reminded us that there seems to be some confusion about the phenomenon known as auditory exclusion.

Under times of high stress, such as a violent criminal attack, the body makes profound physiological adjustments to limit distracting data and focus on the threat. One of these is to radically attenuate (or even completely silence) aural inputs – in other words, it shuts your hearing down. This is called auditory exclusion.

It’s important to understand that auditory ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: All Jazzed Up, Part Deux.

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If you ever get to attend a major shooting match, one thing that will impress you is how accessible the top competitors are. If you want to meet Rob Leatham or Jerry Miculek, no problem – they’re usually happy to shake hands and talk.

The same is true for the top jazz musicians. Jazz is a personal music, and because of the smaller fan base getting to meet even the biggest names is relatively easy. Imagine being able to walk up ...

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Incorrect conclusions: muzzle flash and blindness don’t really correlate.

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This morning I got a very nice email from a concerned gentleman in a southern state. His NRA instructor gave him numerous pieces of incorrect information about his new GP100, one of which I’ve heard many times before: “Don’t carry Magnums, because the muzzle flash will blind you in a self-defense shooting!”

With all due respect, bull twaddle.

The .357 Magnum is notorious for muzzle flash, based largely on some well-known pictures from the 1980s. These days, even the Magnum uses flash-suppressed ...

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Lightweight revolvers and people who sell the things to the wrong customers. Can you say ‘ouch!’?

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Every so often a client will send me one of the S&W Scandium guns for work, and I’m always reminded of how much I dislike shooting the little beasts. Even with standard pressure Specials, the recoil gets to me very quickly. I can’t imagine actually shooting one with Magnum loads, and I intend to never find out!

For me it’s merely discomfort, but for others the experience could prove more serious.

I constantly encounter women who’ve been sold those guns, because the ...

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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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