Yes, there are people who still think warning shots are a good idea. Don’t be one of them.

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Xavier Thoughts chronicles the story of an elderly gentleman who, using his gun, confronted a burglar in his home. The outcome was that the perp got sent to jail. Great, right? Well, maybe not. This may get ugly when the inevitable civil suit is filed.

You see, the perp was injured because the homeowner fired an unaimed “warning shot” which fragmented and struck the intruder. As if that wasn’t bad enough in these litigious times, the gentleman couldn’t ...

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How NOT to spend your training dollars.

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What is one thing I advise potential defensive shooting students?

Avoid “checklist” shooting classes. What do I mean by “checklist” classes? Those where the instructor provides a long list of the things that you will (ostensibly) learn in his/her class, implicitly (or explicitly) inviting you to compare how many things he teaches versus how many things another instructor does. It’s a variation of the “mine is bigger than yours” game played by adolescents of all ages.

This topic came to mind recently ...

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Are ammo prices keeping you from learning?

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Lately I’ve been hearing from people who’ve decided against attending training courses because of the cost of ammunition. If I may, I think that this is a shortsighted attitude!

Yes, ammo prices are the highest they’ve ever been. Yes, the number of rounds necessary to complete a decent shooting class is a significantly higher expense than it used to be. It’s still worth it, and it’s a bargain that you should take advantage of.

If you plan to carry a handgun, or ...

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What causes stacking?

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Stacking is defined as an increase in trigger pull weight toward the end of the trigger’s rearward travel. Some people like it, some don’t, and different guns have varying amounts of it. What causes it?

Some people come up with odd explanations. I recently got an email asking about stacking; the writer had read “on the internet” that stacking was caused by the type of spring – coil or leaf – used in the action. It’s a simplistic answer, and it’s ...

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Sight options for the defensive handgun.

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Much as it pains me to admit this, my eyesight is degrading with distressing rapidity. No, it’s nothing out of the ordinary, nor is it anything serious – it’s just that I’m getting older!

I’m close enough to the big “five-oh” to count the years left on one hand (with fingers left over), and the closer it gets the further out I need to hold the restaurant menu. Oh, yes, my prescription is current – but after wearing bifocals for the ...

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Another day in the life of a famous gun-person. (That would be me.)

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I spent part of last Tuesday at the range, schmoozing with A Famous Gun Writer Who Wishes To Remain Anonymous (hereafter referred to as “AFGWWWTRA”.) We tested a few guns, talked about revolvers – the kinds of things you’d expect two industry gadabouts to do on a range.

AFGWWWTRA happened to have a Ruger Alaskan model in .454 Casull that was being evaluated. Since I hadn’t yet gotten the chance to shoot one, I really wanted to see what it was ...

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My favorite powders for handgun reloading.

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Every reloader has his or her favorite powders. When I first started reloading handgun cartridges, I used what everyone around me used — which I found wasn’t always the best choice for my needs. After experimenting with lots of powders, I settled on a few favorites.

As a general rule I prefer flaked powders over ball (spherical) powders. I’ve found that they meter more consistently in a wide variety of measures, and they seem to burn a bit cleaner than their ball ...

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Allow me to elaborate on the Ruger Mini-14 magazine issue.

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In a recent post I mentioned that the Ruger Mini-14 demands factory magazines to work reliably. That statement may have given a bit of a wrong impression.

The point I was trying to make, and apparently didn’t, is that the only reliable Minis I have seen were using factory magazines. I have actually encountered many examples which wouldn’t run and a change to factory mags got them to working properly.

All is not perfect in Ruger-land, though – in my experience, there is still ...

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“Bullshit Tenths.”

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Pardon my French!

This is a term used by tool & die makers to indicate unobtainable levels of (perceived) precision. Why do I bring this up?

Last week, I was advising a reader on selecting pin gages for use in measuring chamber throats. The discussion revolved around which gages to buy, and whether or not he needed both plus- and minus-tolerance gages (no, in case you’re wondering.) He was concerned about their variance of .0002″ (that’s 2/10,000th of an inch, or 1/20th ...

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On the Virginia Tech massacre.

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At first, I wasn’t going to comment on the sad crime perpetrated on the campus of Virginia Tech this week. I figured that everyone, everywhere, was going to do so (with varying degrees of erudition and insight.) I decided there wasn’t anything I could add. Until…

Listening to the news on the radio, I heard an interview with two students who said that they were in “the room where he was shooting.” According to these people, students and faculty were hiding ...

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“It’s perfect for the little lady” – NOT!

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If you’re here, it’s probably because you like (or at least appreciate) our friend the revolver. My feelings, of course, are well known: I believe the revolver to be the single greatest firearm that one could ever hope to own. I believe that people who shoot revolvers demonstrate themselves to be of above average intelligence, more refined sensibilities, and generally better looking than those who do not. (I exaggerate, of course. Except in my own case, where these things are ...

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More on the Dan Wesson .22 revolver.

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In response to Monday’s blog post about .22 accuracy, a couple of readers asked about the loads that had proven to be accurate in the Dan Wesson .22LR Model 15-2.

Before I answer, you need to keep in mind that your individual DW may not like the same ammunition mine does. With that understanding, my DW likes the Remington Match Target (subsonic, LRN bullet) and the Remington “Golden Bullet” bulk pack. Of the 23 ...

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Wringing accuracy from your .22 rimfire: yes, it can seem frustrating at times!

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I’ve been shooting a lot of .22LR on a recreational basis lately, and am reminded how fickle this round can be.

Many people seem to be unaware that you can’t put just any old .22 round into a gun – be it rifle, pistol, or revolver – and expect it to function correctly, let alone hit where it is aimed!

It is not unusual to find that any given .22 firearm will not function with certain ammunition. I’ve seen guns that didn’t ...

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Maintaining your gun’s fine finish.

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Those who have highly polished guns – polished nickel plate, bright stainless, or Colt’s justly famous Royal Blue – often ask about the best way to keep these fine finishes looking good.

My recommendation: Selvyt. It’s not a paste or a wax, it’s a cloth – a pure cotton, non-impregnated cloth that jewelers have been using for many decades to give the finishing touches to highly polished gold, silver, and platinum.

The Selvyt cloth is simply a specially woven cotton that has ...

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Measuring chamber throats: apparently, I have critics!

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This is an expansion on an email I replied to recently. A loyal reader noted that my name had been brought up on one of the forums (sadly, he couldn’t remember which one) regarding my blog article on measuring chamber throats.

Apparently, the gist of the discussion was that the forum’s “expert” (every forum has one) opined that I was full of it for suggesting that throats couldn’t be measured ...

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On pairing women with guns (or, how to maintain a relationship while learning to shoot.)

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You’ve probably seen news articling exploring the “phenomenon” of women who choose to carry a gun for their own protection. They’re interesting to read, and when I saw one recently I was reminded of my own wife’s journey to self-empowerment (in the ballistic sense.)

I’m of the belief that women should always be proactive with regards to their own safety. Sadly, our current society has inculcated a fear of weapons into the collective conscious of the female half of the population. It ...

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A gunsmith I admire: John Linebaugh.

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John Linebaugh is a custom revolver maker who specializes in caliber conversions on Ruger single actions. Not just any conversions, mind you – he is the originator of the fire-breathing .475 Linebaugh and .500 Linebaugh cartridges.

John first became famous for his modified revolvers that would should heavy .45 Colt loads (250 grain bullets at 1,700 fps.) His work with those heavy loads lead him to develop the .475 Linebaugh and the mighty .500 Linebaugh: 435 grains traveling at 1,300 fps!

Now ...

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The Smith & Wesson Model 625 dilemma.

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So, you’re in the market for a S&W 625, and you’re torn between the “standard” 625 and the Jerry Miculek edition 625. Which to choose?

Well, you have to decide whether the “niceties” – such as the Miculek grips, interchangeable front sights, and the serrated trigger – are worth the extra money. There are some internal differences, though, which you may want to consider.

The Miculek edition is a little unusual, in that it uses a mix of MIM (metal injection molding) ...

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Bent ejector rods.

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A common complaint about the old-style Colt Detective Special is the unshrouded ejector rod. Many people believe that the exposed ejector rod is a liability; should it get bent during a struggle, the theory goes, it will tie up the gun and make it inoperable.

Not quite.

Many folks have experienced this problem with a Smith & Wesson. Since their ejector rods are locked at the front and rotate about the front latch pin, any small amount of runout (deviation from true) ...

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“Stainless” doesn’t mean “won’t rust”.

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I hear the advice all the time: “buy a stainless gun, because they won’t rust.” This kind of comment is what prompted General Norman Schwarzkopf to say “bovine scatology!”

Yes, stainless will in fact rust under the right conditions. What are those conditions? Generally, if you get moisture trapped in a place where it doesn’t evaporate normally (say, under a grip panel or inside the action), you have a situation that is ideal for corrosion. The situation is worse in very ...

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A gunsmith I admire: Hamilton Bowen.

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Someone recently asked me what gunsmith(s) I admired or respected, or that I would allow to work on my own guns. I gave him a few names, and thought you might be interested as well!

My first entry in this occasional series is Hamilton Bowen. Bowen is perhaps the gunsmith that the rest of us aspire to be; he combines technical ability, commitment to quality, and a definite style that is hard to define but easy to recognize. Bowen does it ...

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It’s time for someone else to make revolvers.

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Well, it’s more precise to say that it’s time for someone else to make double-action revolvers!

With Colt out of the revolver business, Taurus showing no signs of moving past the low end of the market, Dan Wesson functionally deceased, and Smith & Wesson producing mere shadows of their former greatness, it’s time for someone else to step up to the plate. It’s time for someone to take over the badly-served upper end of the revolver market.

It’s time for Freedom Arms ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Do you know Nessmuk?

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You know, I had a pretty darned good childhood. I grew up on a small farm, outside a small town (I remember when the town passed the 1500 resident milestone) that was nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Range.

After chores were finished and if there were no other pressing jobs to be done (like hauling hay), I got to do what I wanted. I could go down to our pond and fish, or take off with my friends Dan ...

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An unusual lubrication problem.

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I get the most interesting phone calls!

A client who works for a public agency in California contacted me with a problem. As you may know, California has pretty strict ideas about what constitutes a carcinogen. Management in his agency won’t let him use any lubricants that contain “substances known to the state of California to cause cancer.” That, ladies and gentlemen, excludes most anti-wear and anti-corrosion additives!

After some consultation with experts, I was able to come up with a recommendation. ...

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Getting your gun engraved.

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The lure of a personalized and decorated weapon is centuries old. Embellished swords and knives from the 17th and 18th centuries are well known; before that, soldiers in high standing had their armor decorated. Some of the earliest firearms in existence are lavishly treated, with inlays and fine woods.

Today many people desire to have their favorite guns engraved. But where to start? There are so many engraving styles, not to mention engravers, and asking someone to recommend an engraver without ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: “What the hell were you thinking??”

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That was my dear, departed father’s question whenever I was found to have done something that wasn’t all that bright. Of course, any self-respecting 10-year-old knows how to answer: look at the ground, shuffle your feet, and say (sotto voce) “I dunno.”

Unfortunately, once you become of age and start asking yourself the same question that tried-and-true answer know longer works. As luck would have it, sometimes it takes a while before you ask. Sometimes, it takes years. The great part ...

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The importance of endshake.

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An often misunderstood aspect of revolver construction is the idea of endshake. Endshake is nothing more than the amount of back-and-forth movement (or front-to-back, if you prefer) that the cylinder is allowed to make.

Measuring endshake is easy: using a set of feeler gages, the cylinder is pushed forward and the barrel/cylinder gap is measured. Then, the cylinder is forced backward as far as it will go, and the gap measured again; the difference between the measurements is the endshake. (When ...

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“Can you really conceal a revolver?”

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Sorry to be late today, but my cable internet connection has been experiencing spotty outages lately. For the money I pay, you’d think they’d give me better uptime than this!

GRRRRRR! But I digress…

Anyhow, today’s topic once again comes from that fountain of firearms misinformation, the local gun store. A fellow is looking at several guns, and asks to see a Ruger SP101. The clerk tells him that for concealed carry (ostensibly the prospect’s use), a revolver is “just no good. ...

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Triggers are three-dimensional.

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It’s surprising how little attention is given to the back of a revolver’s trigger. I recently came across a gun that had been worked on by another gunsmith (more on this in a future blog post), and one aspect of the gun illustrated the limited understanding of revolver shooting by many ‘smiths.

The face of the trigger had been polished smooth, but done in such a way that the sides tapered to meet the back, leaving an untouched knife edge. For ...

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Battle of the “J” frames?

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The internet forums sporadically ignite with a common debate: what “J” frame is the best?

The disagreement seems to center around the fans of the exposed hammer models (who hold out the dream of needing to make a “precise, long range” single action shot) and those of the enclosed hammer Centennial models (who opine that the lack of entry points for dirt outweighs ever needing single action capability.)

I’m not going to talk about tactics, but there is one salient point that ...

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