Excited about a club match?

You bet I am. I know it seems silly, but I haven’t shot a match of any level in nearly 2 years. In fact, the last match I shot was the 2014 IDPA Nationals in September of that year, and then I put my guns down for a while. I had other things I needed to do and priorities on where to spend my money.

But this year, as I’ve previous mentioned, I’m back! And I’m excited, because I actually really do enjoy shooting matches. I’m hoping that having taken 18 months off will help remember the fun I had when shooting, because to be honest by the end of 2014 I was pretty burned out on travel and matches and all of that. But now I’ve had some considerable downtime, and I’m legitimately excited about shooting a club match. Which if I’m honest, feels pretty good.

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Anatomy of an accident

Firearms are relatively simple machines to understand. You load them, you point them at something you want to put a hole in, and then you pull the trigger. Easy, right?

So why in the name of Zeus is it so bloody hard to get people to avoid pointing guns at things they don’t want to blow a hole in?

“Excuse me, sir, but would you like to put a bullet through your hand? No? THEN DON’T POINT THE GUN AT YOUR HAND!”

I see this kind of stuff far too often when I’m at the range. On more than one occasion I have actually laid hands on another person to redirect the muzzle of their weapon away from either an innocent person who did not deserve to get shot, or in a couple of cases their own anatomy.

On a trip to the NRA range when I was shooting a drill, out of the corner of my eye I saw Todd Green dive into the next lane. I immediately ceased fire, brought my gun to a ready position and moved. I looked over to see Todd shoving an 8mm Mauser rifle away from my direction. The woman handling the rifle had it pointed directly at me.

Todd got a few inches away from the woman’s face and very sternly said “Do not point guns at my friends.”

Was he being rude? Hell no. He was doing exactly what everybody should do when someone POINTS A LETHAL WEAPON AT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. Endangering the life of another person REQUIRES an immediate and stern rebuke.


In this video we have a clear example of where an immediate and unmistakable correction could have prevented gunshot wound. The victim here appears to be the person who is less familiar with firearms of the pair in the video. I’m all for taking people to the range, but when we do it is incumbent upon us to emphasize safe handling and correct any mistakes instantly and unmistakably.

When the shooter here put his hand in front of the muzzle the proper response would have been to IMMEDIATELY direct the gun away from his anatomy and very simply say “Don’t point guns at anything you don’t want to kill!”

If someone is unable to take that sort of correction, they don’t need to be handling a gun. 

Of course, the shooter here did not mean to do any harm to himself or anyone else. He was simply being careless with a very dangerous object.

But tell me…did his lack of malice matter? Did he get any less shot because he didn’t mean to do it? 

Bullets are stupid. They do the same amount of damage whether you intended to launch one or not. So it is not a trivial matter when someone puts the muzzle on human anatomy…be it yours or theirs.

Rule 1 is rule 1 for a reason. You can screw up every other rule of handling a firearm, but if you observe rule 1 then there is some embarrassment and perhaps some drywall to repair but that’s it. If you screw up Rule 1 then somebody bleeds. Someone is permanently injured. Someone dies.


Rock Island Armory 9mm 1911 2,000 round field strip and inspection

One of the items brought up during the test of the Rock Island Armory was how well the gun would hold up under a round count that, quite frankly, is unusually for owners of this brand to put their guns through. To find out, I field stripped the RIA and checked several critical areas for signs of frame battering, barrel rollover, or any other critical issues.

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Brownells opens retail store

Grinnell, Iowa (April 12, 2016) – The 77-year-old, Iowa-based firearm industry giant Brownells, Inc. has opened its first ever retail store location in Grinnell, Iowa. Known worldwide for its all-things-firearms website – Brownells.com – and their enormous catalogs, the Grinnell retail store marks the company’s first brick and mortar location.

The 7,000 sq. ft. retail store, attached to Brownells’ new 245,000 sq. ft. distribution center, is located at 3006 Brownells Parkway in Grinnell, Iowa, just a few yards off Interstate 80 at the 182 mile marker.

Visitors to the new retail location will experience one of the nicest and most unique gun stores they’ve ever visited. They’ll be greeted by nearly 1,200 new and used firearms, plus a large selection of ammunition, optics, parts and accessories, all set against an outdoorsy backdrop with rich wood accents and a world-class taxidermy collection. If customers don’t find what they’re looking for on the shelves, they’re invited to order from the warehouse where any of the nearly 100,000 firearms-related items will be delivered to the store in minutes.

“Our company has been family-owned and Iowa-based for 77 years,” said third-generation owner and CEO, Pete Brownell. “We’ve done business nationally and internationally for decades, but we’re excited to have an Iowa focus now with our retail store. What’s most unique about this store is that it’s located in the same walls as our distribution center. This equates to a fantastic customer experience and the best of both worlds; a beautiful retail store to transact and access to a huge selection of products unrivaled anywhere in the world.”

Brownells retail store hours are as follows:

Monday: 9AM – 6PM

Tuesday: 9AM – 6 PM

Wednesday: 9AM – 6PM

Thursday: 9AM – 8PM

Friday: 9AM – 8PM

Saturday: 9AM – 6PM

Sunday: Closed

A grand opening for the retail store is being planned for Saturday, June 11, 2016.

For more information about Brownells’ new retail store, or to get in touch with Brownells retail, call 641-236-0001 or visit www.brownells.com/retail.

About Brownells

Serious About Firearms Since 1939™, Brownells is the world’s leading source for gun parts and accessories, ammunition, gunsmithing tools and survival gear. With a large selection of both common and hard-to-find items, and an extensive collection of videos, articles, and gun schematics, Brownells is the expert for everything shooting-related. Committed to maintaining our great traditions, Brownells has more, does more and knows more – and guarantees it all, Forever. For more information or to place an order, call 800-741-0015 or visit Brownells.com. Stay up-to-date with Brownells on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Project Lumen – Final Installment

Here is the fourth and final installment of Project Lumen.  I reviewed two lights this time and was able to draw some conclusions.  I am 100% glad I did this test and I highly encourage each reader to perform similar testing in your home.  It only takes 3-4 minutes each morning and you be rewarded with honest data, for your situation, which you can use to make better choices.  As I have said twice before, don’t fall into the trap of presumption.

Maglite 3D Cell Incandescent:

This is the only flashlight tested that doubles as an assault weapon.  It could literally be used to bludgeon a person to death.  Once upon a time they were considered bright; that time has long passed.  A quick check of the Maglite website shows that they now make better LED versions – good for them.

Let’s be frank; nothing I am about to say about the Maglite will surprise you or be a revelation.  I chose this flashlight based both on its universal familiarity and universal obsolescence.  How am I sure it is obsolete?  Here is a true story proving the point.

The head the inspection department where I work owns a really, really old 2 D Cell Maglite.  He was having issues with it so he called up Maglite.  They actually told him it was obsolete and he should really consider an upgrade.

With the Maglite, I didn’t expect greatness, and my expectations were met.   When I first turned it on the night before the test, it was so dim I suspected the batteries were bad.  I broke out some brand new Energizer D cell batteries and was less than impressed when the light was still dim.  I swapped out the bulb with the spare in the tail cap – no joy.  These are the flashlights that time has forgotten.

At around 45 lumens the light output is similar to the Streamlight Microstream.  But unlike the other incandescent lights, the Maglite cast a nice pattern of light.  And with a Maglite you can adjust the focus, so there’s that.  The Maglite didn’t affect my night sight at all, it was serviceable and in use everything I wrote about the Microstream applied.  With one exception – you can always use the Maglite as a striking weapon, or a baseball bat.

Maglite AR

I shudder thinking about the early nineties when those on the cutting edge of military and police had to tape a heavy and dim Maglite to their weapon.  Hooray for technology!


Nitecore SRT3 (CREE XM-L2 T6 LED, 550 lumens)

The brightest of the flashlights I tested, this is also the one I poo-pooed in the review I wrote.

Nitecore Main

CREE XM-L2 LED, 550 lumens, and a properly designed reflector meant this light provided the best illumination of the test.  When regarding the light quality and effect, during this test…bravo.  Nevertheless, I continue to find the actual light itself to be underwhelming in design.

Similarly to the Streamlight PolyTac, which was the second brightest light I tested, at initial activation the brightness of the flashlight did affect my night sight briefly, although it was shorter period of time than I experienced with the PolyTac.  This test not being performed in a  controlled lab, this difference could have been due to a multitude of reasons: how deep I was sleeping, ambient light, where the light was pointing at initial activation.  As I noted before; when you are trying to identify someone inside of your house any delay is a negative.  But in this case I believe the good outweighs the bad.

As with the PolyTac, there were no weird shadows; just even light across the area of coverage.  It just worked.  If the flashlight itself was more reliable it would be my only choice.  I will start saving for a brighter Streamlight or SureFire.  Until the, the PolyTac is my light of choice.

Streamlight Stinger:

I couldn’t get it.  Therefore it wasn’t tested.  Sorry.

After Thoughts:

Here is what this test has shown me, opened my eyes too and even shed some light on.  Man, that is a lot of light puns in one sentence.

  • It would seem to me, at least in my environment, that reflectivity of light affecting your night sight is a real concern. At least for a brief period of time following the initial activation of the light.
  • I also feel reflectivity is grossly over-exaggerated.  For the purpose of “bump in the night” defense.
  • Be realistic with your environment. Are you only purchasing the light for protection inside of your house?  If so, you can likely get away with less lumens than some might recommend.
  • It is important to remember that your worst case scenario will have you half-asleep. An LEO or MIL will have a worst case scenario where they are clearing a building or other environment while wide awake and alert.  You don’t have that luxury.  Don’t chose poorly based off unrealistic needs.
  • I feel 130-150 lumens is the absolute minimum you need for a defensive flashlight.
  • The more lumens the better, provided you actually TEST what you own in your situation.
  • There was no testing against smoke or fog. As Gun Nuts Commenter JNZ correctly noted, an incandescent light source might penetrate smoke or fog better.  (That sounds like the making of a test around a bonfire)
  • There is no free lunch. Chose one that works for you and practice accordingly.

In the end I had some fun doing this testing.  I learned quite a bit, both about my personal requirements and my environment.  While the expert stranger on the internet might disagree with me, I will sleep soundly knowing that I have actually tested my options and selected the best choice for me based on fact.  I recommend you do the same.

Can Can Concealment: Doing it wrong

cancanconcealment derp

I wonder how the marketing conversation that produced this photo went…

“Guys, I’ve got a great idea for our feature image! Let’s have it be a photo of someone demonstrating our holster and how to use it, you end up pointed a loaded gun at your hand!”

Gun Nuts and 1911s

As you know, I’ve pivoted a lot of our coverage lately to high round count tests of 1911 pistols. So far on the new Gun Nuts 1911 Review system we’ve done a Taurus PT1911 Review, a Wilson Combat CQB Review, a Springfield Range Officer review, and most recently wrapped up a review of the Rock Island Armory Ultra FS. I’m also currently testing a Dan Wesson Valkyrie Commander, and have two more 1911s on their way to me.

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Lessons from real life: The Potato Chip Assault

A friend recently posted a story on social media:

“Breland, who appeared to be in “a highly agitated state,” entered the store and made a purchase before berating the store clerk, using racial slurs, Ruple said. The clerk, who is of Middle Eastern descent, ordered Breland, who is white, to leave, and threatened to call police, authorities said.

He left but re-entered the store several times, becoming more aggressive each time, Ruple said. The clerk then called police.

The armed customer, who was inside the store trying to make a purchase, tried to calm the situation by telling Breland to leave, according to the police account. Breland left again but returned and threw what appeared to be potato chips at the clerk.

The customer followed Breland outside to get his license plate number for police, but Breland got out of the vehicle and attacked him, Ruple said. The man drew his weapon, ordered Breland back and tried to retreat into the store. Breland followed and continued the attack, grabbing for the gun, Ruple said.

The man warned he would shoot if Breland did not stop, and he retreated into a corner of the store while still under attack. He then fired one round, striking Breland, and fired twice more when Breland kept coming at him, Ruple said.

Police Chief Rick Richard said the customer was lawfully carrying the firearm on his side in plain view. “Louisiana is an open-carry state. The guy was straight-up legal,” the chief said.” 

The wise man learns from the experience of others, and I believe there are some things we can learn from this story.

The power of anger: 

Many people have never dealt with a truly angry person before, and have never themselves had experience with genuine anger. When I say “genuine anger” I mean something like this:

Note how flushed the individual’s face is. Note his body language…the almost primate like displays. Note that he’s screaming himself hoarse.

Do you think this guy was amenable to a reasonable discussion? That it was possible to talk sense to him? Even when other people he apparently recognized showed up to the scene telling him to chill out, he continued to be aggressive. It took someone with more stripes on his uniform showing up and exerting some authority to begin to get a handle on the guy.

If you are watching somebody commit a serious breach of social order, odds are pretty good that they are doing so either because they believe they will face no serious consequences for their actions or because they are so enraged that they don’t give a damn about consequences anymore.

In that kind of state the rational part of the human brain is essentially irrelevant. When someone is at this level of anger, their brain function has essentially shrunk down to the amygdala. This is often colloquially referred to as our “reptile brain” or “monkey brain” which plays a critical role in our fight-or-flight response to a threat. We’re used to discussing it in terms of the fear or stress of a lethal threat in both mental and physical terms, but it can be every bit as powerful when inflamed by anger.

You literally cannot talk sense to someone who has crossed that threshold. It seems, though, that the would-be Good Samaritan in the news story attempted just that after the deceased chucked a bag of chips at the clerk behind the counter. This did not have the desired effect of calming the man down. It just shifted his focus from the convenience store clerk to the would-be Good Samaritan instead.

When you witness someone in such an agitated state that they are throwing things, odds are pretty good that you will not succeed in calming them down by appealing to reason…because there is no Dana, there is only Zuul. What you are likely to do is refocus their rage on you. This is, to put it mildly, inconvenient.

You probably aren’t intimidating: 

Let’s return to what I said earlier about displays of aggressive behavior when there is no expectation of serious consequences. Often displays of anger are happening at least partially because of estimations of vulnerability. I’m willing to bet that the guy throwing the fit didn’t see the convenience store clerk as a potentially fearsome opponent. If the clerk had been 6’6″ and built like a professional NFL lineman, I doubt the deceased would have spun up on him.

When the would-be Good Samaritan intervened, I’m guessing he wasn’t very intimidating either. And he had a gun.

So let’s deal with some unpleasant truth: Guns don’t scare everybody. The fact that you have one is not going to impress a certain percentage of the bad-guy population. When I see open carry discussed on the web and even in real life, the default assumption of the pro-open carry camp is that bad men will see the gun and be scared or intimidated by the mere presence of it.This is a foolhardy mindset to slip into.

The ability to intimidate a potential assailant is exceptionally useful and can often prevent the need to use violence altogether…but everyone isn’t capable of being intimidating. You do not magically become more intimidating to bad men when you put a gun on your hip.

In talking with a number of people who regularly openly carry, I get the feeling that a lot of them are hoping that showing the gun makes them sufficiently intimidating that they don’t have to fight…and this comes through loud and clear in the way they carry themselves.

Having the gun does not make up for not knowing how to fight, and if you pin your hopes on display of the gun intimidating the other guy into not wanting to test you on that it’s setting yourself up for disaster. Nobody who does this admits to themselves that they are doing it, of course…but lying to yourself doesn’t change the reality. You can’t Stuart Smalley yourself into being the sort of person who scares off bad guys.

Intimidation is a complex strategy that relies on a number of factors, some of them unique to the circumstances of the confrontation, to be effective. Having a gun doesn’t automatically check all those boxes for you.

Do not behave as if the other guy is going to be too intimidated to hurt you just because you have a gun. The would-be Good Samaritan’s decision to follow the agitated assailant out of the store to record his license plate was likely due to being overly confident in the intimidation power of the pistol on his hip. Had he realized that the agitated assailant wasn’t terribly scared of his gun, he might have played it smarter and stayed inside the store and maybe wouldn’t have had to shoot this guy.

Keep your options open:

The open display of the firearm in this situation removed options from the table. As soon as the agitated assailant started getting physical it became a lethal force situation because everybody knows there’s a gun involved…but that’s not the only way it can go wrong.

Say this agitated assailant had left the scene and called 911 reporting that he had been threatened with a gun…including giving an accurate description of the firearm in question to the police. I know of two occasions where something very similar has happened, one resulting in a normal nice guy looking down the barrel of multiple police-issue firearms.

I would much rather have the presence of my firearm become public knowledge at the moment of my choosing rather than leaving it out there for the other guy to factor into his actions. That gives me more options in a worsening situation.

I also make a habit of carrying OC spray with me because that’s another option. Would this fight have gone lethal if the would-be Good Samaritan had given the agitated assailant a snooter full of Sabre Red? It’s impossible to say for sure, but there have been many fights ended or prevented altogether by the judicious application of some liquid pain.

If the gun is the only plan you’ve got for hostile behavior from another human being, you are painting yourself into a pretty unpleasant corner. If this individual had more options he might have avoided the life altering  decision of to killing another human being.

There’s a lot we can learn from this story if we are inclined to do so. I think this is a perfect example of where abiding by the proverb “Not my circus, not my monkeys” would have been a much better idea. The urge to help is laudable, but we have to be sophisticated enough to recognize exactly when a problem can be genuinely helped by our relatively modest capabilities and resources.

It’s one thing to fight when a violent criminal assault leaves you no other choice. It’s another to end up in a spiraling dance of stupidity that ends in gunfire.

Defensive Ammo Testing with the Dan Wesson Valkyrie Commander 9mm

The Dan Wesson Valkyrie Commander test is officially underway, and after it successfully passed the 10-8 Performance Test, I decided to take it to the range and test it with some more defensive ammo. Like I said in the video, I get that 15-20 rounds isn’t an exhaustive test, but I wanted to make sure I could simply go to the store, grab some defensive ammo, and expect it to run in the gun. As it turns out, that expectation was 100% correct.

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