Sunday, January 25, 2015

Home Again Home Again Jiggity-Jig

Here's a shocker…my feet don't hurt! I would happily do commercials for Lowa Boots — I alternated between my two pair of Lowas, a GTX and a pair of the Desert Boots favored by U.S. Special Forces and the boot I used in Africa. So there's an unsolicited plug for a non-sponsor!

I would have loved to sit down with the execs at Lowa and waxed poetic, but this year at SHOT I achieved my own unfortunate "personal best"…except for transit to or between appointments, I did not set one foot on the Show floor. And I still did not management to speak to all the people I needed to sit down with. Or, more grammatically, with whom I wished to sit. Like Lowa, or Crimson Trace, or DoubleStar, etc. Sigh.

I do have some bullet points from SHOT 2015. Let's start with what I was right about…

Pistol caliber carbines were everywhere. Marshal and I pretty much hit this nail on the head. Both the  massive flood of AR-based carbines and various subsets of submachine guns were everywhere, and the buyer I'm gonna venture a few guesses on "why" — availability of low-cost East Bloc 9mm ammunition vs. 5.56 prices…the minimized blast of 9mm and the other pistol cartridges from 16-inch barrels as opposed to 5.56…and most importantly, the sheer "cool factor" of these guns. I would expect a lot of 3-Gunners to pick up one of the relatively inexpensive Stag 9T as a great practice rifle.

Pistol variants were perhaps a spec less visible than Marshal and I anticipated, probably because of fallout from the ATF's nonsensical "Open Letter" released in the Friday before SHOT. There were still a huge number of them, many, if not most, fitted with stabilizing braces, but they were less front and center than they would have been if that giant turd hadn't dropped on Friday.

I had a chance at Media Day to sit down for a few minutes with my good friend Mike McNett at DoubleTap Ammunition. I outlined my idea for a 9mm round optimized for 16-inch barrels. We disused several options, including his 77-gr pill going very fast and a heavy 147-gr bullet. McNett is going to start work on both a target and a self-defense version right away. I'm also going to have the same conversation with Peter Pi and Mike Shovel at Corbon as soon as I can. I want to get carbine-optimized pistol ammo on the shelves as soon as possible so the little guns can live up to their potential.

The "commoditization" of the AR platform is now complete…that is, new AR accessories, mods, versions, etc. are no longer about function, but rather the exclusive province of fashion. My mentor in manufacturing Dave Garwood once said to me that all industries, if they succeed, eventually evolve to fashion…I, of course, thought he was nuts. Upon reflection, it turned out that he was exactly right. I could go into a long dissertation about product development "S Curves,"how innovation in form and function takes place on the steep upward gradient of the curve while, at the almost horizontal line at the top of the curve charges tend toward fashion changes…but you'd probably fall asleep. Instead, think about AR triggers — when we first mod'ed them on SHOOTING GALLERY's first season 13 years ago, we did it exactly the same way we did 1911s…with stones on the original military triggers (which sucked). That evolved into jogs to make the stoning easier...drop in triggers...specialty, highly evolved drop-in triggers…colored, even more specialty triggers…etc. Maybe the ultimate vision of the fashion AR are the Unique AR hand guards.


BTW, during my frantic 10-minutes-until-closing-time Friday afternoon sprint to the finish, I made myself late by stopping by the Geissele Automatics booth to tell them that I pay MSRP for Geissele triggers because I believe they are the best out there. They asked me whether they could publicize I'd said that, and I of course said yes. I also ordered an ALG red dot mount, another Geissele-derived product, for my Glock 34…yes, I have finally decided to go "Open!" I also ordered an Aimpoint T2 on the fly for that mount. And yes, I agreed to pay MSRP! LOL!

FINALLY, THE SINGLE BIGGEST TREND OF SHOT 2015…

QUIET! SHOT 2015 WAS ALL ABOUT THE MAINSTREAMING OF SUPPRESSORS…

Silencers hit the tipping point Big Time. My little cherubs and seraphim tell me that even the Boy Scouts of Maine are considering a pilot program of using suppressor on their firearm training program. There are now three massive "Poles of Power" in the suppressor industry…the Old Guard, including Gemtech, SureFire and several others…the new powerhouse of SilencerCo (best booth at SHOT 2015, BTW), whose Salvo shotgun suppressor and focus on suppressors for hunting is helping reshape the industry…and the emerging world-shaker of Sig Sauer Suppressors, introduced to the world at SHOT 2015 and powered by the intellectual team of my old friends Kevin Brittingham, Ethan Lessard and John Hollister, all formerly of AAC (Ethan worked at Sig before we went to AAC…and the world goes round and round). I'll be headed up to Sig in New Hampshire in April to go through the product line, including suppressors.

The key point is that all the silencer guys, new and old, are united in the push to move these fundamental safety devices off the $200 tax stamp to ether the AOW $5 stamp or off the NFA list completely — which is the logical, most intelligent outcome. I am more convinced than ever that the ATF's "Open Letter" will price to be a major misstep for that agency, shining the light on the inadequacies — and the often ridiculous — provisions of the NFA. It is not impossible that silencers will be one of the beneficiaries of shiny some light on the outmoded piece of panic legislation.

Finally, I bought this:


MasterPiece Arms Bolt Action Rifle in 6.5 Creedmore. I can't wait!!!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

THE BEST DEFENSE

Named BEST SHOOTING SHOW of the year at 2015 GOLDEN MOOSE AWARDS!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Some Random Thoughts on the ATF "Open Letter"

My friend Kevin Creighton says in an email that this is a high-risk move for ATF…this will eventually go to court (hopefully sooner than later), and its going to be hard to explain to a judge and jury how an individual can "redesign" a firearm by raising it roughly 12 inches and letting it touch a body part. This is a little bit like a dog and baby analogy…you can dress a dog in swaddling clothes and put him in a crib, but hey, he's still a pooch. And if ATF fails to make the argument stick, SBRs and SBSs are pretty much out the door.

A bigger up front question is if the ATF "Open Letter" stands, it grants the agency sweeping powers to "ban by redefinition." For example, AR pistols with buffer tubes have certainly be legally defined as "handguns' for decades. A pistol with a buffer tube — a necessary part of the firearm — can be shouldered, exactly the same as a pistol fitted with a stabilizing brace. The same "logic," and I use the word in its loosest possible connotation, can be applied to the buffer tube itself, which was neither "designed nor approved" for use as a shoulder stock. The classic Mare's Leg lever action rifle can be shouldered, albeit awkwardly (which is the case with most of these options).

The point is that the whole concept of short-barreled rifles and short-barreled shotguns no longer make sense — if they ever did. I think we as an industry, and as a culture, need to call on the lawmakers who support us to address yet another lame situation where legal gun owners can get caught up on a technicality and face federal felony charges.

UPDATES

This from my friend Iain Harrison at RECOIL MAGAZINE:
"...the missive sent to FFL holders from Max Kingery at ATF Tech Branch was an opinion, and you know what they say about opinions and assholes. If the ATF were confident that what they were peddling would hold up in a court of law, they would have issued a ruling, rather than opinion. Then they would have published it on their website for all to see. As yet, they haven’t."
This from Prince Law Offices, which has been on top of the stabilizing brace issue from the beginning:
"ATF claims that it applies common meaning when using the term “redesign”. I don’t know of a single person who would think that “redesign” entails the misuse of an object. If anything, I would venture to say it would require the individual to modify an existing object. If I were to use a screw driver to pry open an object did I just redesign it? Is using a pencil to drum on the table redesigning it into a drum stick?"
By all means, read the whole articles!

Kerry's Stunning Racist Faux Pas!

Where is the outrage??? Our Secretary of State takes James Taylor on his "Groveling on Our Knees" tour of France! James Taylor?!?! Martha White's Self-Rising Flour!

Why not Beyonce?

A dat da girl dem need and dem not stop cry without apology
Buck dem da right way – dat my policy
Sean Paul alongside – now hear what da man say – Beyonce
Dutty ya, dutty ya, dutty ya
Beyonce sing it now ya
France, we be sorry…

50 Cent?

I don't know what you heard about me
But a bitch can't get a dollar out of me
No Cadillac, no perms, you can't see
That I'm a motherf%$^' P-I-M-P
But we sorry your cartoonists got K-I-L-L

Eminem?

…no…wait...


Friday, January 16, 2015

And Speaking of Turds in the Punchbowl...

This is an Open Letter on the Redesign of "Stabilizing Braces" from Max Kingery, Acting Chief, Firearms Technology Criminal Branch, BATFE. Rich Grassi of The Tactical Wire received this Open Letter this afternoon. Forgive me if it's been published earlier. Here's the "nut graf," as it were:
The pistol stabilizing brace was neither “designed” nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, and therefore use as a shoulder stock constitutes a “redesign” of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item. Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked.  
Any person who intends to use a handgun stabilizing brace as a shoulder stock on a pistol (having a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a smooth bore firearm with a barrel under 18 inches in length) must first file an ATF Form 1 and pay the applicable tax because the resulting firearm will be subject to all provisions of the NFA.
What does this mean? On first reading, it seems the ATF has completely walked back the approval of the Sig brace and other subsequent versions. Hopefully, Adam Kraut at PrinceLaw.com will weigh in pretty quickly...they've been on top of the whole ATF waffling issue from the beginning.

A Great Bog Ole Sigh Day...

…today was a perfect day to be on the range. So I sat in my office staring out at my range, staring out my shooting bench, staring at the sunshine, and working like a CRAZY MAN to be ready for SHOT next week!

Of course, I'm not. Marshal asked me for a list of "must visit" companies for both Monday Media Day and the overall Show. The Media Day list would take, like, 2 days to get through. Forget the main list. Still, there are a couple of things that stand out:

• As I said more than a month ago on the podcast, this is the Year of the Pistol Caliber Carbine. Nine-mil carbines have blossomed like cactus in the spring here at the Secret Hidden Bunker II.

• It's also a Pistol Caliber Pistol year, that is, both the AR variants (check out Angstadt Arms) and a flood of carbine/submachinegun pistol variants like the announced Uzi PRO and the CZ Scorpion EVO.

• This will be the Year of the Prepper, survival gone big-time mainstream.

• It's a New Product Year — there has been pent-up new products while companies filled the flood of Obama-orders…the results will be visible at SHOT.

I'm hoping for some eclectic-tissity, please GOD no more "innovative AR rail systems that break the mold!!!"

I actually think this might qualify:


I got an email on this baby this morning. It's a Korth Sky Marshal 9mm revolver. The German Korths have always been considered the Rolls Royces of the revolver work, with their MSRPs hovering around the cost of a couple of a couple of Wilson Combat ARs or a relatively crummy, but serviceable, Kia Sportage. I've handled Korth .357 revolvers — and they are indeed the evolved version of the Colt Python — but I can'r recall ever firing one. No sane person would trust me not to break it, probably.

Anyway, the Sky Marshal is a 6-shot 9mm that loads without moon clips. It features a rail on the right side for mounting a light and it looks…Germanic, or perhaps like the odd love child of a Chiappa Rhino 2-inch and an S&W Night Guard .327. I wish it was in .44 Special, in which case I'd get a bank loan and have one in a minute!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

On Working With the Media

I note that our blood enemies have launched their own "media education program," bankrolled by the nasty little fascist in New York:
To help journalists and news organizations in the Southwest improve their reporting on guns and gun violence, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School is organizing a two-day regional workshop April 17 and 18, 2015 for reporters, editors, news directors, photographers, producers, and bloggers. The workshop, funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, will offer independent expert briefings and specialized reporting skills training to enhance the practical ability of journalists to report on guns and gun violence knowledgeably, ethically and effectively. The workshop will cover such topics as state and federal gun laws; patterns of gun sales and gun trafficking; national trends and polling; education and prevention initiatives; social, economic and public health impacts; and special populations (e.g. children and youth, women and returning veterans.)  
Speakers include national public health and policy experts; researchers and clinicians; award-winning journalists, and prevention advocates and survivors.
I note that Dart is offering $350 "travel and expense" stipends to 15 select journalists. Guess where that $350 comes from?

I've seen a lot of buzz on the Internet that basically asks why the firearms industry isn't running exactly the same program.

Well, we did.

Years ago, working with NSSF President Doug Painter, Doug and I created the Media Education Program. The Program was tweaked by Bill Brassard, who is still with NSSF, and Paul Erhardt, now with his own media company that works with IDPA, Apex Tactical and others. In the 6-year span of the NSSF Media Education Program our focus was to put guns in the hands of the journalists and teach them to shoot.

I was privileged to oversee a cadre of instructors that has never been equalled, including Jerry Miculek, Kay Clark, Randi Rogers, "Evil Roy," Bruce Gray, Todd Jarrett, Chris Edwards from GSSF, Walt Rauch from IDPA, Dave Thomas from USPSA, Lisa Munson, Dave Arnold, Dave Lauck, Olympic athletes, top law enforcement trainers like Bill Murphy, top military trainers, etc.

In working with my instructors beforehand, I emphasized that they were to answer any and every question as honestly and thoroughly as possible, because we all fundamentally believed in the correctness and, for lack of a better word, the honor of our cause. Whenever possible, we wanted to show, not tell. In my other conversations with media experts on our side, I steadfastly held to our position of not proselytizing the Second Amendment…my feeling (which proved to be true) was that our students would arrive in the same place through the training. That is, we arranged the cart and the horse in their proper configuration.

We structured the Program on the writings of Malcolm Gladwell, which were revolutionary at the time. The situation we found was that most journalists (and this is unfortunately still the case) unconditionally accept every word from the antigun side as gospel truth handed down on a marble tablet. Our primary concept as articulated by myself and Erhardt was that we weren't trying to "convert" the journalists to our side; rather, we thought of ourselves like a defense attorney in a capital case...we weren't trying to "convert" the jurors to our side of the story; rather we wanted to create a small shadow of doubt that every word coming from our enemies was true. If we could plant that doubt, we had succeeded.

We were also not afraid to reach out to there who shared our views. I brought trainers from the Pink Pistols, the largest gay self-defense group, on board. And yes, I took a lot of crap — a LOT of crap! — for it. But it was the right thing to do. My absolute statement was that people who shoot, hunt, compete with firearms, carry guns for self-defense...they are our friends! Deeds, not words.

The Media Education Program was the most successful media outreach ever attempted by the gun culture. At the beginning of the Program, Sarah Brady had bragged that with one phone call in the morning she could be on all 3 national networks (3 national networks…isn't that quaint???) by that evening; the Program broke Brady's stranglehold on the news without directly attacking the antigun "spinners." We made unprecedented inroads into the antigun media...and it drove our enemies crazy. I even got an email from a prominent antigun activist who had, ironically, come up through magazine journalism much as I had. His email read, "Who ARE you?" My answer, equally cryptic, was, "I am you."

The Program was expanded into Hollywood with the now semi-legendary stunt, property master, armorer and action/second unit director events, addressing the antigun biases in Hollywood once again through training and, honestly, exposure to our marvelous team of instructors. After the first 2 events, major Hollywood directors and even well-known actors began asking about upcoming events and whether they could attend. We expanded the Program again into fiction, working with the Mystery Writers of America to produce an event for their national convention that the group called the best, most successful event ever held by that group. My plan was to keep chipping away at American popular culture, based on concepts created by myself and Paul Erhardt on the "normalization" of firearms in American society.

We succeeded beyond our wildest crazy-ass best-case projections. The industry still benefits from the Program, which ended years ago. We forged alliances within the shooting sports and training community and helped everyone to understand the importance — and the power —  of speaking with a single voice and staying on message.

There are many great stories that came out of the Program. I tend to remember our victories...there was one antigun columnist in California who started his column on the Program with something to the effect that one usually thought of gun owners as "ignorant hillbillies," but that "these people are slick, sophisticated and they almost sold me!" LOL! I loved it when the Brady organization called me "crazy" in the New York Times.

In the end, the industry decided that such events were too expensive to continue. Yes, they were expensive. But the payoff was huge. Worse, I think we as an industry simply retreated from dealing with the MSM, and like a stretched rubber band, it popped back to shorter than it was before. The industry to the best of my knowledge maintains no media outreach.

Here's one last little bit of irony. Note the "$350 expense stipend" offered for this event. The bottom of the one-pager put our by Dart Center reads, "This workshop is being made possible by a generous grant from Everytown for Gun Safety."

When we ran the Media Education Program, we initially considered offering journalists a travel stipend to help them get to the event. The journalists I bounced the idea off of were ENRAGED, furious that I would even consider such an "unethical" action. How dare I suggest they take money from the "gun lobby?" And yet how easily they take money from the antigun lobby...

Me thinks any "journalist" who accepts the $350 "stipend" is a whore.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bought a New Rifle...

…in advance of SHOT, no less. This one:


The Ruger Hawkeye FTW Predator rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor.
The Hawkeye FTW Predator rifle design began with extensive on-range consultation with SAAM (Sportsman's All-weather, All-terrain Marksmanship) shooting instructors at the world-renowned FTW Shooting School in Barksdale, Texas. The SAAM instructors were impressed with the proven accuracy of the Hawkeye Predator and the quick handling of the Gunsite Scout rifle. With their input, Ruger engineers designed a rifle that combines the trigger and action of the Hawkeye Predator with the adjustable buttstock design found on the Gunsite Scout rifle. The result is a perfect combination of ergonomics and long-range accuracy needed in a fast handling predator rifle.
The new FTW Predator combines elements of the GUNSITE Scout with the proven Hawkeye Predator platform. Given that the 2 bolt action rifles I have the most rounds through in the last 5 years are the GUNSITE Scout in .308 and my Guide Gun in .300 Win Mag, the purchase makes perfect sense. The last time I was at FTW I saw and handled Hawkeyes in 6.5 Creedmoor that were "school guns." In fact, Dianna Liedorff used one of the school guns in an episode of SHOOTING GALLERY from FTW you'll see later this season. The 6.5 Creedmoor is crazy accurate. Here's my friend Bruce Towsley's piece and the Hawkeye Predator from AMERICAN RIFLEMAN a few years back, along with Scott Rupp's hunting take on the cartridge.

The FTW Predator features a 24-inch barrel at 1:8 twist.

I've been thinking about a 6.5 Creedmoor since I watched Dianna on my last trip to FTW. I have to be honest with you guys…250+ rounds of .300 Win Mag out of a 20-inch Guide Gun with a muzzle brake over 3 days just plain beats you up. The last drill at FTW, engaging multiple targets in failing light at distances from 300-800+ — a drill in which I'd excelled on a previous visit with a .308 AR — left me flailing. After the drill Tim Fallon, who runs FTW,  suggested I come back with something less of a cannon next time…"you'll learn more," he said, "if you're not pounded to death."

I'll go with a Burris XTR II 5-25X, a scope I'm familiar, and very happy, with.

So I'm really looking forward to this rifle! Meanwhile, I'll keep working with .22s, especially the .22 Ruger American bolt gun.

BTW, speaking of long range rifles, take a look at what's coming from Springfield Armory:

Now THAT is a "Loaded" M1A! I'm more of an AR-10 guy myself, but I've shot enough M1A to really respect them, especially as incredible target rifles. It looks like SA is taking the platform to the next step.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

As We Sprint to SHOT...

...even as the Colorado Legislature prepares to repeal the ridiculous Michael Bloomberg magazine capacity limit, the former Colorado company of Magpul has announced on their FaceBook page the SHOT SHOW stunner, a 60-round drum for the AR-15:
The PMAG D-60. Sixty rounds. Reliable, durable, lightweight, shorter than a 30 rd mag, and full of features that make it extremely easy to use. MSRP $129.95. Please note that transparent back and cut-away versions were for testing purposes only, and the solid drum with round indicator window is the variant that will be offered for sale. Shipping Spring/Summer 2015, but you can get a sneak peak of the drum in action at ATAC range day before SHOT show.
Shorter than a 30-rounder...that is just too cool! 

The Repeal looks good at this point:
The magazine bill isn't popular with several Democrats, which means it could pass the legislature by as much as 21-14 in the Senate and 34-31 in the House.
Even if our moron of a governor, who has admitted repeatedly that the mag law was a huge huge mistake, decides to take more money from Michael Bloomberg and veto the Repeal, I am lucky enough to have owned at least 4 of these prior to the July 1 2014 activation date of the Bloomberg law!!!