Ed Harris: Revisiting The Full Charge Wadcutter.

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Happy Black Friday! Today I am pleased to present another great article from Ed Harris, this time about an old load that he’s finding useful in the modern era. It’s helpful to note that Ed lives in a very rural area, and regularly hunts small game with his handguns. This gives him an enormous amount of experience, the kind that is getting hard to find in these days. Sit back, relax, and enjoy his article on the “full charge wadcutter”!

Revisiting ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Another blow to film, and I was right!

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Many years ago I was sitting in a small room at the Eastman Kodak Marketing Education Center near Rochester, New York. In that room were a number of movers and shakers in the photographic industry talking with some Kodak Senior VPs about the state and future of the business.

At one point they asked us what we felt was the biggest threat to photography. When my turn came, I told them that in ten years photography would cease to exist, to ...

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Spitfire machine gun fires after being buried for 70 years. Hysteria ensues.

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Ahh, peat – is there anything it can’t do?

You may be familiar with peat as an important part of malt whisky production, but did you know it could do even more amazing things?

Gunsmith Todd Koonce sent me this link last week of a M1919 machine gun recovered from a peat bog in Ireland. Turns out that a peat bog is a terrific place to preserve metal objects, like the British Spitfire Fighter from which the gun was ...

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Data sets, plausibility, and defensive shooting: what you don’t know can waste your time, energy, and money.

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As I sat eating lunch last week I found myself perusing a gun forum with which I’m not all that familiar. On it I ran across a post from a fairly well known trainer, one that most shooters would not recognize but those familiar with the training world might. I’ve never met the guy, let alone trained with him, but his comments left me distinctly perturbed.

The statement was in reference to some particular techniques that he finds important to teach. ...

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Some (more) thoughts on the defensive lever action.

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Seems a lot of people are interested in the lever action as a home defense weapon. Any choice of defensive armament has pros and cons, so let’s consider the lever action chambered in a pistol cartridge. Some of these are true of all long guns (rifles, shotguns) while some are specific to the one under discussion.

Pro: Good power level, likely to stop a threat with a minimum of shots.
Pro: Not overly powerful like a full sized rifle cartridge, less ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Another notable passing – Pete Rugolo.

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This week I got the sad news that Pete Rugolo has died. Rugolo was a composer, arranger and bandleader, and an influential figure in modern jazz.

Rugolo is probably best known for his iconic work with Stan Kenton. Rugolo’s tenure marked the band’s transition from playing simple dance music to being one of the most progressive big bands in the history of jazz. Rugolo wasn’t alone; Bill Holman and Bill Russo were also actively writing for Kenton in ...

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Now this is just weird: we make AKs, they make ARs?

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This actually happened: last night I had a dream that I was living in my grandfather’s beach residence. This was unusual inasmuch as I haven’t seen that place since I was about five or six years old (my grandfather sold it shortly thereafter) and have only vague recollections of what it looked like.

Oddly, I remember his neighbors and their house more than his. My dream had me in my grandfather’s garage, engaged in firefight with a group of invaders who ...

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Some bits of rifle stuff: 6.5mm cartridges, slings, and lever actions.

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The Firearm Blog (one of the few blogs I read religiously) brings us good news: Alexander Arms (AA) has decided to stop gouging people who want to make 6.5 Grendel rifles! Apparently Hornady submitted the cartridge to SAAMI to be standardized, but AA refused to relinquish their trademark. That recently changed, and now the 6.5 Grendel is available to anyone who wants to use it.

This is great news; I’d once considered building an AR-15 in 6.5 Grendel ...

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The .35 Whelen: when the .30-06 isn’t enough, but you don’t need to go to artillery.

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Over the weekend I had a talk with a relative who was interested in the possibility of rechambering his rifle to something a little more potent than the .30-06 it currently fires. I found myself recommending the .35 Whelen. His eyebrows darted skyward, amazed that I wasn’t recommending some sort of SuperTinyShortenedUltraPowerful Magnum.

Though I’ve never owned one, I have passing familiarity with the Whelen. It is just a good, effective caliber that’s not going to beat the ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: The Great Communicator.

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President Reagan was given that nickname during his tenure in office, but all Presidents before and after have needed to stay in touch with the world around them. Lots of stuff to deal with when you’re the CEO of a superpower, and being able to reach out and talk with anyone and everyone is pretty high on the priority list.

Seems simple in the days of cel phones, but it’s not. The President needs fault-tolerant communications that work even where he ...

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Defensive training. iPhone. What’s the connection? A list.

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Yesterday Apple announced a new iPhone, and with it an advanced software to add voice control to that phone. (“Siri”? Who names these things?)

Almost immediately the blogs and tech sites were abuzz with inevitable comparisons to the competition, complete with tables breaking down the products feature by feature.

I found it amusing that they all had one line that said ‘voice control’, with a simple “YES” or checkmark on each product. Some of the more adventurous would take pains to point ...

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Deer season opens, and thoughts turn to rifles: the .357 as a deer cartridge.

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I’ve mentioned once before that the .357 Magnum is a surprising cartridge. Its performance from a handgun is legendary, if not always deserving of the status, but when stuffed into a rifle it turns into another beast entirely.

Over at The Truth About Guns they took a variety of loads and fired them from a revolver and a rifle, as well as comparing them to the venerable .30-30 cartridge. While ...

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Multi-caliber revolvers: why you don’t see them on gun store shelves.

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Every so often I get an email asking about the feasibility of building a multi-caliber revolver along the lines of the short-lived Phillips & Rogers Medusa. There have been several attempts to build and market such a revolver over the years, and none of them succeeded. The Medusa was probably the most successful of the efforts, and even it didn’t last long.

Aside from the general silliness of the concept (you can’t get .38 Special during the Zombie Apocalypse, but you can ...

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Context, perspective and gun testing: how reality affects training and gear choice.

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Something I’ve noticed in the last year or so: as I’ve experimented with the concepts of reality-based training (RBT) in my teaching and practice, my point of view has changed. I’m not really aware of it until I’m around people who haven’t had that exposure, and then the contrast becomes stark.

The realities of how attacks actually occur and our reactions (instinctive and intuitive) affect not only how and what we train, but what we train with. My upcoming article over at ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: You could always count on Hank. Not easily, though.

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The latter part of September marks the birth – and the death – of an immensely influential, if not terribly recognized, musician: Hank Levy.

Hank started out as a baritone sax player but made his mark as a composer/arranger for Stan Kenton, Don Ellis, and Sal Salvador. His specialty was ‘odd’ time signatures that often changed during the song, making for very complex compositions. It was his association with the extremely forward-thinking Ellis that perhaps most influenced his ...

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King of the road: what do you do about an instructor with an attitude?

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Over a year ago I read a review of a training course on one of the gun forums. It’s been long enough that I don’t remember what the course was, or who the instructor may have been, so I don’t think I have any dog in the fight. Besides, it’s not the particulars that matter in this story; it’s the student’s attitude that I find most intriguing.

The person in question had taken a weekend course at some gun school and ...

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Hyperbolic training: are you buying hype or skill development?

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Sadly, I’ve seen it before: tactical ‘expert’ pronounces that if you don’t use his pet technique, “you’re going to get hit”. A variation: “well, if you don’t want to take a bullet you’d better do this.”

Whether or not I agree with the technique being presented, I hate that method of getting a point across because everyone knows (or should know) it’s nonsense.

Take, for instance, moving off the vector of an attack (which some refer to as “get off the X”) ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: I don’t often like singers, but there are exceptions.

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The reaction to last week’s Surprise was, well, a little surprising. I had no idea there were so many June Christy fans out there, and not all of them old geezers like yours truly. (Can someone of barely 50 years legitimately call himself a geezer?) I’m really quite happy about that, as it shows that perhaps the unadorned human voice may yet win out over AutoTune!

In reality there aren’t many singers I like listening to, making her one of a ...

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The open carry debate rages anew, and a different way to look at the question.

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On Monday, Rob Pincus posted a note on the I.C.E. Training Facebook page about his opposition to open carry (OC). This is one of Rob’s personal ‘hot button’ issues, and he doesn’t shy away from the debate. (Rob doesn’t shy away from much, actually, but particularly so with regards to this topic.) It garnered a lot of attention, making the cut at both Gunnuts and Say Uncle (amongst others.)

Given my association with Rob and I.C.E., it wasn’t ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: The Misty Miss Christy.

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In 1945 Stan Kenton’s capricious vocalist, Anita O’Day, quit to rejoin Gene Krupa’s band. Stan needed a singer, and out of the auditions he held one stood out: a girl name Shirley Luster. He hired her and after a name change to the more stage friendly June Christy, she would become the singer perhaps best associated with the avant-garde Kenton orchestra.

In the beginning the young Christy looked and sounded a lot like her predecessor, but without the drug problems and ...

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A different take on handgun stopping power: the Greg Ellifritz study.

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An article by Greg Ellifritz, titled “An Alternate Look at Handgun Stopping Power“, caused some waves a few weeks back.

First, the disclaimers: like all such attempts at quantifying shooting incidents, it suffers from a lack of strictly filtered data and results in less adherence to statistical principles and methods than we might like. That doesn’t mean it’s not useful, only that it’s not strictly precise (and can never be.) I acknowledge that this is a problem with all shooting ...

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Change is inevitable. Growth? Not so much. Learn to ask this question.

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Rob Pincus asked one of his favorite questions on the (members only) U.S. Concealed Carry forum last week: “what have you changed your mind about?”

It’s a simple question, and it’s amazing how many people couldn’t answer it. The most common reply sounds like something from a cookie-cutter PR firm: “Of course the world is in a constant state of change, and the prudent man, woman, or transgender individual is best advised to take note of such change and incorporate that ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: It’s the best one in our state.

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I’ve never made any secret of the fact that, basically, I’m a country hick. Of course that doesn’t mean I haven’t been citified just a little! For instance, I can’t stand country music (authentic cowboy songs are another matter, though – they have no connection to the dreck which flows from Nashville.) I don’t own a pair of cowboy boots as they’re useless things unless one is riding (which I don’t), and I don’t wear one of those silly pre-deformed ...

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Man and machines: the tools that made your gun aren’t terribly important, except when selling a bill of goods.

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I don’t know if this qualifies as a rant, but I’m annoyed when a gun is advertised as being “built with [insert well known firearm brand] machinery.” Depending on the gun being peddled, you’ll hear Colt machinery, S&W machinery, even Beretta machinery.

It’s horse excrement.

Colt doesn’t make machinery, and neither does S&W. The machines they use are produced by machine tool manufacturers; in the old days, before we allowed our basic manufacturing capabilities to be decimated, that would have been companies ...

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A revolver chambered in .40 S&W? Why?

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Someone emailed and asked about the new Charter Arms Pit Bull revolver chambering .40S&W without the need for moonclips. My reply: “Ummm, OK. Why?”

As I see it, the only compelling reason to use autoloading cartridges in revolvers is because they require moonclips, making for blazing fast reloads. I suppose there might be some argument for the fellow who owns a .40 autoloader and wants a revolver to play with without the bother of stocking two kinds of ...

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People say “I need a gun-friendly lawyer.” I’m not so sure they do.

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While easting my lunch yesterday I decided to do a little surfing. I bounced around a bit, watched a couple of YouTube videos, and ended up doing something I always regret: checking out some of the more popular gun forums. Why ‘regret’? Because they usually make my head hurt; inanity does that to me.

Yesterday’s was a thread with the title “I need a gun-friendly lawyer.” The writer goes on to say that he needs to find one in his area ...

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RFID, PR, and SHTF: are the feds really implanting tracking chips in your guns?

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You’ve probably heard about the flap MKS Distributing caused last week. MKS, a former promoter of Charter Arms, is the primary distributor for Chiappa guns – including the Rhino revolver.

Chiappa disclosed that starting in 2012 all their guns would carry an RFID chip. The chip is attached at the time of manufacture, and presumably contains information such as the gun’s serial number, place of origin, lot number, and that sort of thing. Because it’s applied at the factory, it can’t ...

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Big news. REALLY BIG news! I’ve written my first book!

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Mark your calendars: in late October, Gun Digest Books will release a brand new title: The Gun Digest Book of the Revolverwritten by yours truly!

That’s right, I’ve finally written my first book, and it’s a doozy. With 240 pages and over 200 illustrations (all mine, except for the cover photo) it’s a general guide to the world of the double action revolver. It covers all kinds of things a revolver shooter needs to know: how ...

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FRIDAY SURPRISE: Another musician I admire – Claudio Roditi.

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I haven’t talked much about music lately, despite it being an important part of life — not just mine, but everyone’s. It’s because of the importance of music to our social and intellectual development that I despair for the musical literacy of our country; American Idol has conditioned the population to consume the musical equivalent of fast food, substituting quantity and glitz for quality and interpretative insight. (It’s sad when a vocalist vying for national attention can’t sing in tune, ...

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