My wife and I trekked up to Firearms Academy of Seattle yesterday to spend a little time talking about revolvers, books, and assorted nonsense. Massad Ayoob and Gail Pepin were there, along with Marty and Gila Hayes, Jennie Van Tuyl, and several dogs. We recorded a rather raucous round-table edition of the ProArms Podcast (wherein I actually say some nice things about Taurus, and try to say some nice things about the Chiappa Rhino but fail miserably.)
Marty gave us a status report on the Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network as well as a sneak peek of what's to come. As I pointed out last week, the ACLDN is unique in the field; it's the only place where the armed citizen can get high-level education and legal assistance in the event he or she is involved in a self defense incident. Glad to hear that they're growing and expanding their programs.
Jennie Van Tuyl and her husband Bill own Rivendell Sales, a rather unique gun store. Among other things they specialize in customizing the Remington 20 gauge autoloading shotgun for defensive use, an activity which I wholeheartedly applaud.
I'm a huge fan of the 20 gauge as a defensive tool. No matter how well you shoot a 12 gauge, you'll shoot a 20 gauge better simply because of the huge reduction in felt recoil. The only difference between them is the payload; they both throw their pellets at the same velocity, it's just that the 12 throws a few more. As Mas Ayoob is fond of saying, if you shoot a bad guy the only person who'll be able to tell whether it was a 12 or a 20 is the coroner, and only then by counting the white specks on the x-ray.
(One point I think is often overlooked: many 12 gauge owners use the lower-velocity "tactical" buckshot loads to help tame the recoil of their gun. It's my firm belief that those loads have less effectiveness than a full-power 20 gauge with the same recoil. Any way you slice it, the 20 gauge is the best balance of lethality and shootability that exists in the shotgun world.)
The Remington autoloaders are slim, trim, light shotguns that are a joy to heft after lugging around one of the same guns in 12 gauge. Many years ago my wife and I standardized on the 20 gauge and picked up a Remington 1100 LT-20 Youth Synthetic model. The youth guns had a shorter stock than the regular line, a feature which both of us appreciate. Since there was no one who really worked on the 20 gauges back then, I installed a 20" smoothbore barrel with rifle sights, reamed the forcing cone, and generally spruced it up as a home defense gun. Today the Van Tuyls can handle all that and more, giving you a superb handling, easy shooting shotgun without having to become your own gunsmith.
Check out their site. (I’m jealous of the wood in their stocks.)
Over the weekend Tam exposed us to yet another questionable training organization. Their video actually made me simultaneously cringe and laugh, which when you think about it is really a pretty good trick. pdb also picked up on their shenanigans, giving us his typically humorous critique.
I think, however, that both Tam and pdb wasted a lot of effort actually analyzing the video. They could have simply used my theorem: quality of instruction in a video is inversely proportional to the sound pressure level of the cheesy heavy metal music used on the soundtrack.
Correlation seems to be high.
-=[ Grant ]=-
I recently recorded an interview for the ProArms Podcast, and it's been released. The first half is the ProArms gang discussing the Rhino, and the second half is my discussion with Gail Pepin about the gun. If you've been waiting to find out what I really thought about the Rhino, have a listen!
-=[ Grant ]=-
Though I’ve made reference to each of these in the past, it’s about time I actually plugged some of the people & organizations that have value to those interested in defense of themselves or their loved ones.
The U.S. Concealed Carry Association's purpose is to educate responsible armed citizens. Members have access to their full website, online forums and one of the best "gun" magazines published today. If I were forced to recommend a single resource for the person who carries a gun for self defense, it would be the USCCA. (Disclaimer: I do write an occasional article for their magazine. Since it's only available with membership, you can't read them if you're not a member!)
The Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network started a couple of years ago as a sort of "union" for gun owners. I've heard of many a self defense shooting in which the defendant was facing huge legal issues, and often wondered how they were going to get through the legal process and put their life back together. You've probably seen such cases in the online forums, accompanied by requests to donate to some legal defense fund. The ACLDN serves to pool member's strength to protect one another when one of them comes under scrutiny of the legal system. It's a unique organization, providing a unique service worthy of your consideration.
The Personal Defense Network aims to be the premier source of self-defense videos and articles on the 'net. Less than a year old, PDN is growing rapidly and already has a lot of great content available. The forums are dedicated to self defense issues, keeping the clutter to a minimum. (Disclaimer: I also write articles for PDN.)
The ProArms Podcast continues to have some of the very best in-depth interviews with people in the shooting world, usually focusing on self defense and training issues. If you missed their recent interview with Chicago cop Bob Stasch, a veteran of 14 gunfights, go listen. Now. It may be one of the best they’ve done.
It seems that every time I turn around I’m recommending Kathy Jackson’s website The Cornered Cat. It deals exclusively with women, guns and self defense, and is the very best resource on the ‘net for women who have chosen to arm themselves. I’m not exaggerating when I say “the very best” - there is no other site I’ve seen which even comes close to Kathy’s creation. If you know a woman who is interested in self defense or in firearms in general, but is a bit apprehensive and doesn’t know where to go to find other women with the same interests and concerns, send her to Kathy.
Finally, my interest in shooting and self defense has allowed me to meet some of the best (and most interesting) people. One of them is trainer Robb Hamic, who writes an interesting blog dealing with a wide range of self defense issues. In a recent post he had this gem, one I think that everyone with an interest in self-defense should take to heart:
“I walk around with a smile and I try to be happy but if someone crosses my path that wants to do me, my family or a person that I choose to protect harm; I will do whatever is necessary to keep us safe, based on my perception of danger. Up to and including taking another person(s) life. If it is the only option, I will exchange my life for my wife or children’s life. If I have to fight, I will use every once of aggression, decisiveness and intelligence in my body to overwhelm my attacker(s). ”
-=[ Grant ]=-
Listening to Steve Denney talk about this blog (commentary at the beginning of the ProArms interview) reminded me that the Friday Surprise! has become somewhat less surprising of late. These off-topic epistles have started to be a bit predictable, and I feel the need to bring something new to the table.
Steve, this is for you!
On many of my bags and packs I have zipper pulls that I've made from paracord - that strong, cheap material often referred to by the name '550 cord'. I've got several favorite patterns, but the square weave is a staple. It's easy to do, and once you have it mastered you can make variations with different colors, or even a spiral version that finishes with a rounder cross section.
These can also be used as lanyards for small flashlights, pocket knives and other such objects. I won't use the cliche "limited only by your imagination" (darn, I just did!), but that's literally true. Go find some paracord and have fun!
-=[ Grant ]=-
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 is somehow crammed into an 8" square cake pan. I usually don't eat such rich (and sugary and caffeinated) desserts, and it left me 'wired' for a couple of hours. You can actually hear me slow down toward the end as the effects wore off. My wife thought it was hilarious. Some of the sillier stuff was thankfully left on the cutting room floor (free tip: never do an interview while on a sugar high, unless you want to sound like a deranged chipmunk.)
Most common phrase not heard in the interview: “you can edit that out, right?” I’m sure I added immeasurably to Gail’s blooper reel!
Much as I like bragging about myself, the cool thing is that the other interview on this episode is with Rob Pincus! Rob's interview was done a little over a month ago, just after I finished his Instructor Development class, and Gail thought the two interviews would make a good match. She's right as usual. (Thanks to the mocha torte, this is the only time you'll ever hear me able to talk nearly as fast as Rob!)
-=[ Grant ]=-
NEW ARTICLE UP - Check out my latest article, Dealing With The Double Action Trigger, at the Personal Defense Network!
COWBOY TACTICAL - Don't know if I learned of this from Tam or Uncle, but it's funny either way! From Cemetery’s Gun Blob:
GREAT INTERVIEWS - The ProArms Podcast recently featured interviews with Gila Hayes and Kathy Jackson, regarding their respective books: Personal Defense for Women and Lessons from Armed America. Highly recommended listening (and reading!)
A LITTLE RECOGNITION - Many people have asked about the site's redesign. The site is built in RapidWeaver; the theme is from Nick Cates Design. Last week I received an email from Nick, who said he was impressed how I'd used his template. He asked if he could feature grantcunningham.com in his Showcase, and of course I said yes! You can see it here.
HOUSEKEEPING - You may notice that the tag cloud has changed a bit. I wasn't happy with how I'd handled the tags, so I erased them and started over. Hopefully what you see now is an improvement in usability.
A LITTLE MORE HUMOR - I ran across this link in my archives, and couldn't resist posting it again: How Gun Magazines Write Articles.
-=[ Grant ]=-
It appears that our spell of excessively hot weather has ended. Last week the digital thermometer at our house recorded a high of 111 degrees. (Yes, that's in the shade - who'd be stupid enough to go out into the sun on a day like that?) We set an all-time record for consecutive days over 90 degrees (9 and counting.) I'm just looking forward to being able to spend a full day (more or less) in the shop.
From The Firearms Blog comes the news of a(nother) special edition S&W 627 in .38 Super. This one should have a sticker on the box that says "Now With More Ugly!"
I'm pleased to note that QC at Ruger is improving - the last couple of SP101s I've seen, of recent production, are much improved over those of years past. Gail Pepin at the ProArms Podcast tells me that she's visited the plant recently, and their production floor has changed considerably. She credits their new emphasis on 'lean manufacturing', with its attendant focus on reducing waste and rework, for the quality bump.
The Firearms Blog also brings us happy news of Winchester's reprise of the Model 92 Takedown. I'd be tempted if they'd make it in .357 Magnum...
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to go to work!
-=[ Grant ]=-
Sitrep: gunshow vendors tell me that any autoloading rifle is like gold these days (while they can't give away bolt-action hunting rifles.) Concealed handgun licensing is at an all-time high here in Oregon (and a large percentage of applicants are from what is often referred to as the "left" of the political spectrum.) Ammunition shortages continue, as well as components such as bullets and primers.
If I didn't know better, I'd say a lot of people have joined the ranks of "clingers."
Someone recently asked if I still had the same opinion of Taurus revolvers that I did back in 2006. Given my recent experience with the brand-new 856 model, I'd have to say yes. Nothing at Taurus has changed, as near as I can tell.
Late last year, the ProArms Podcast broke the news that Federal was bringing back .38 Special NyClad ammunition. This load was for many years the best standard-pressure .38 Special available. The NyClad is a soft lead hollowpoint of 125 grains, coated in a nylon compound to prevent barrel leading. It is just the ticket for the recoil sensitive, and especially for the new crop of uber-light "J" frame revolvers.
My sources tell me that Federal planned to do an initial run of the NyClad in March, so it should be available soon (if it isn't already.) Unless your local dealer is particularly astute, he probably won't be carrying it - you'll probably have to special order some.
I wish I had time to write a political/economic blog - between Washington and Wall Street, there is a huge amount of material coming down the pipes daily. (The passing reference to waste plumbing is intentional.)
-=[ Grant ]=-
Last week I discovered that Massad Ayoob has gotten together with some of his friends and started a podcast. (Yes, that Massad Ayoob; the proud and unrepentant technophobe, the man who has proclaimed - in public and multiple times - that to him the computer is "nothing more than a typewriter with a suppressor." With this project, his reputation as a Luddite may experience a steep decline; when he starts toting around a PDA to check his email, however, I'll know the world is coming to an end!)
Anyhow, the ProArms podcast deals with guns and shooting - no surprise there! It's a roundtable format, with Mas and the crew discussing various guns and shooting topics, interspersed with interviews of industry luminaries. (They've already managed to snag, in one fell swoop, three of the most important women in the defensive shooting world: Gila Hayes, Vicki Farnham, and Kathy Jackson. Those are the kind of interviews that you just won't hear anywhere else.)
Though Mas is obviously the main draw, the rest of the cast are phenomenally experienced shooters in their own right. You may never have heard of people like Jon Strayer or Herman Gunter, but in the southeast part of this country they are well known and respected arms experts. You'll grow to appreciate their informed commentary.
The ProArms podcast even has a pretty good website, where you can learn about the show, the crew, and listen or subscribe to the podcast. Of course, like any podcast worthy of the title, it's available on iTunes as well.
-=[ Grant ]=-