Becoming a gunsmith: my recommendations on joining this profession.

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Over the years I’ve gotten a number of inquiries about becoming a gunsmith. I’ve dashed off short answers to some, but was forced to ignore many others simply due to the amount of information that the answer demands. Here in full (or as full as I’m going to get) is my advice on becoming a gunsmith.

First let’s consider what kind of gunsmith we’re talking about. Some “gunsmiths” are really nothing more than parts changers – people who can disassemble a ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Colored by a point of view.

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In 1935, a fellow by the name of Roy Stryker went to work for the federal government. Specifically, he took over the job of managing the Historical Section of Roosevelt’s Resettlement Administration. Almost immediately the organization morphed into the Farm Security Administration, and his section became the Information Division.

Without putting too fine a point on it, Stryker’s job was propaganda – to give the Administration what they needed to justify spending money that they ...

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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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In Oregon, we’re used to rust. That doesn’t mean we put up with it on our guns, and here’s how we avoid it!

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That doesn’t mean that we like it, however!

A recent email from a reader asked about protecting guns from rust in long-term storage. There are many approaches to the problem, most of them involving some type of coating or oil.

My preferred technique has long been wrapping the piece in a Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI) paper. VCI paper is coated with chemicals that vaporize to provide a protection layer against moisture and rust. Properly used in a sealed container (like a Zip-Loc ...

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Spring forward: does the type of mainspring affect action stacking?

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In the past I’ve mentioned that I don’t spend much time on the various gun forums (‘fora’, to be excruciatingly correct.) My free time is too precious to spend wading through such drivel as “my instructor can beat up your instructor” or “the .45 is so powerful it knocks people off their feet!” The only time, in fact, that I look at a forum is when I’m eating breakfast or lunch and have nothing better to read.

It was at lunch ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Hoe, Hoe, Hoe!

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My Father was a child of the Great Depression, as well as being a farm boy. He learned early on how to make a penny squeak, which unfortunately meant that he was always looking for the cheapest way to do anything. This trait was passed down to me, but I’ve learned something: there is a big difference between being frugal and being cheap. Frugality means looking for the best value, not the lowest price.

Buying cheap tools, for instance, is actually ...

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The S&W lock issue just won’t go away.

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Several people emailed me about The Firearm Blog’s picture of Jerry Miculek’s 627PC. It would appear that his gun has had the locking mechanism disabled, leading to much renewed discussion about the incidence of accidental lock activation.

When the locks first came out there were a few reported cases of locks self-engaging. The wisdom of the internet held that the locks were just fine, that S&W would never knowingly introduce something that would put people at risk, that ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: I want, I want, I want!

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I mentioned that last weekend I was on the range for a defensive rifle class. The range is not too far from a small airport, and it’s common to see all kinds of interesting aircraft fly overhead.

The students were preparing to shoot another drill when an autogyro passed overhead. I had to stop and watch it disappear behind the hills, because as a kid I was entranced by this movie:

Ever since then ...

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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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What happens after the shooting? Get this free booklet and learn!

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It’s easy to get preoccupied with in the shooting part of self defense preparations. Let’s face it: shooting is fun!

If you take self defense seriously, however, at some point you have to ask about the “after part” – what happens after you’ve discharged your gun at an assailant. This is an area that is infrequently covered, or simply covered in misinformation.

Marty Hayes wants to change that.

Marty is the President of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, which ...

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Mil-dots. iPhones. It had to happen.

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From The Firearm Blog comes news about a new iPhone/iPod Touch app called Mil-Dot Rangefinder which claims to “take the math out of ranging targets.” Intriguing idea.

Sadly I have no mil-dot scopes in my inventory; several scopes with rangefinding reticles, but no mil-dots. This app is therefore useless for me, but looks pretty neat and will probably be of great value to those who do have appropriate optics.

I must admit that I feel my ...

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Hey, I made the ProArms Podcast!

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Last year Gail Pepin interviewed me for the ProArms Podcast, and it finally got released this week!

I’m pretty sure the delay was due to the amount of editing required. We were up at the Firearms Academy of Seattle, and Gila Hayes had insisted that I try a dessert she’d made – some sort of brownie mocha torte. Near as I can tell it starts with a 55 gallon drum of concentrated chocolate extract which ...

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What I did on my days off: I taught a class with Rob Pincus. A good time was had by all!

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I spent the weekend up at FIrearms Academy of Seattle teaching a Combat Focus Shooting class with the guy who wrote the book on it, Rob Pincus. We had one bright, sunny day (got the sunburn to prove it!) and one exceptionally wet, cold, dark day. That’s life in the Pacific Northwest!

We had a diverse group of just under 20 students, some of whom were “advanced practitioners” and some who were significantly less experienced. ...

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Not showing good JUDGEment: ‘less lethal’ .410 ammunition is a silly idea.

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The Firearm Blog alerts us to a company called Lightfield Less Lethal that is now selling rubber buckshot rounds for the Taurus Judge. (I’m sure someone will point out that a Judge loaded with .410 birdshot is already “less lethal” and thus has no need for this product. Can’t say that I disagree all that much, either.)

I’m concerned that the Judge is already selling to people who profess to “not wanting to kill someone”, but have a ...

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Book Report: Combat Focus Shooting – Evolution 2010.

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Rob Pincus’ original book on Combat Focus Shooting was published in 2006, and in a very few pages – 120, give or take – managed to present a very different (and in some ways very new) way of looking at defensive handgun training.

Instead of forcing contrived techniques onto a fight, techniques that might not be appropriate or even effective, CFS offered a radically different perspective: pay attention to how the body reacts to a ...

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Ruger go ‘boom’, and not in a good way: catastrophic failure of an LCR.

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My morning perusal of The Firearm Blog’s RSS feed uncovered this entry about a Ruger LCR that suffered a catastrophic failure. I generally agree with the concept of a timing error, though of course there are other possibilities.

I lean toward the timing theory because of my own observations. I’ve not yet been able to take an LCR apart, but I have handled quite a few. In this admittedly small sample I’ve noticed that the gun’s timing is ...

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Another company that apparently doesn’t want your business.

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The Fear And Loading blog alerted me to this story from the Charlotte Gun Rights Examiner. Seems that with the NRA Convention in town, the local Marriott decided to take conventioneer’s money and then slap them in the face for the privilege. Interesting read, and it looks like the Marriott manager has bitten off more than he can chew.

(This is in stark contrast to the Virginia Beach Resort in which I ...

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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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