Your Hump Day Reading List for March 23, 2016

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This week I’ve collected quite a few gems for your edification! First up is a look at AR-15 barrel life; then an essay on why the change that comes from carrying a handgun is positive; a link to an article on the pitfalls of the ever-popular slide-mounted red dot sights; Ian McCollum has a video about early lever-action rifles; why you might want to learn how to use a map and compass in this modern age; Claude Werner tackles the idea of “out-thinking” your attacker; Greg Ellifritz dissects an incident where a robber took hostages; a doctor explains why blunt-force trauma is so dangerous; and some considerations about the revolver as a defensive tool. Enjoy!


All AR-15 barrels are not created equal

From John Farnam comes some informed observations about AR-15 barrels in heavy use. They tend to mirror my experience; if the barrel isn’t stainless, I want it treated (chromed or nitrocarburized) for longevity. (Though people laugh at me for recommending Colt rifles, the fact is that they usually get everything right — plus, I’ve never experienced nor observed a functional failure with a Colt. I cannot say that for a lot of other AR makers.) It’s interesting, though, that only in recent years has this become and issue. I’ve said before that we shoot a whole lot more than our forefathers ever did, and the issues with AR barrels illustrate that quite convincingly. As little as two decades ago a worn-out AR barrel was an oddity; today, it happens often enough that people actually need to debate the issue. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad, but it does explain why ammunition seems to always be in short supply!


Does carrying a concealed handgun change you?

Men, I think, are far less cognizant about their feelings and thoughts than are women (or, perhaps, we’re just not inclined to talk about those things lest someone label us a “metrosexual”.) This article from Beth Alcazar is an acknowledgement that her adoption of an armed lifestyle has changed her outlook, and for the good. Great article to share with the person in your life, male or female, who is concerned or hesitant to carry a defensive firearm for fear that it will change them. Yes, Beth says, it did, but she’s now a better, stronger person because of the change.


What is the value of the miniature red dot sight on a handgun?

The mini red-dot sights (MRDS) are all the rage today; they’re almost de rigueur if you want to move in certain shooting social circles. I’ve tried them, watched students with them, and come to the conclusion that although they have some specific utility they also have some significant downsides — and that those downsides easily outweigh the strengths. Specifically, they’re great if you need to shoot something at long distances; say, 50 yards or so. They make those shots almost ridiculously easy (assuming you have your fundamentals down cold, of course.) In the most plausible defensive shooting distances, however, they seem to be more of a hindrance; students are often slower, especially shooting one-handed, than without the MRDS. Personally, I don’t think that’s a good tradeoff.  This has been Jeff Gonzales’ observation as well, which he shares in this article at the Trident Concepts blog.


A close look at early lever-action rifles

You may already know that I’m a fan of the lever-action rifle as an all-around tool for home defense, hunting, and even plinking. Where did they come from? What did the first lever actions look like? How did they function? Ian McCollum at Forgotten Weapons looks at the first lever actions that made it to market and shows how they rapidly evolved into the form which we know today.


Do you know how to use a map and compass? Maybe you should!

Not too long ago the use of a map and compass was standard knowledge for anyone who ventured off the interstate. In fact, using a map alone was a vital skill ON the interstate! Today, with GPS-enabled phones almost ubiquitous, those skills seem to have lost their value. Even in the digital age, however, knowing how to combine the map (even an electronic one) and a compass might be the difference between being lost and making it home only slightly inconvenienced. The Survivalist Blog has this article on the basics of getting around with a map and compass.


Can you out-think your opponent? Yes, but you have to do it ahead of time.

The OODA loop continues to be a misunderstood staple of defensive shooting courses, even when it makes no sense. As Claude Werner points out in this article at The Tactical Professor, working out possible scenarios and responses in advance is how you make use of Boyd’s research, as opposed to the ridiculous notion of “out-thinking” your opponent in the heat of an attack. In reality, all training is planning ahead — but Claude has some specific ideas on how to do that.


What should you do if a robbery turns into a hostage-taking?

One of the best features of Greg Ellifritz’s blog is his Tactical Training Scenario feature, wherein he dissects an actual incident to derive lessons — both good and bad — from what happened. In this installment he looks at an armed robbery that turned into a hostage scenario, what the defenders did right and where they could have improved. Sit down and take some time with this one; read the original story he links to and then his analysis. It’ll be worth your time.


Understanding the dangers of blunt-force trauma

Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO) continues to be an oft-overlooked source of great information, and this article is a perfect example. Dr. Miguel Faria explains in simple terms what blunt-force trauma is and why it is so dangerous. Next time you hear someone complain that the police shot someone who was “only” armed with a baseball bat, you’ll understand what they faced and why a bludgeon-like weapon justifies the use of lethal force in response. If you only have time to read one article today, make it this one.


The revolver as a defensive tool: a balanced look

You may know me as “the revolver guy”, and after having written two books on the subject I suppose I can see why. I’ve always, however, done my best to straddle that line between revolver evangelist and revolver critic. The wheelgun has advantages and disadvantages, and in general I don’t recommend them for new shooters. Unless someone can make a conscious decision after being provided with objective information, I’ll usually suggest an autoloader (and even in those cases where the person wants a revolver, I’ll steer them away from the “snubby” — a gun I consider an expert’s weapon.) In this article in his continuing revolver series, Chris Baker looks at two revolver classes he took and what he learned along the way.

– Grant Cunningham



About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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