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Massad Ayoob on Guns

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.


Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 by Mas | 12 Comments »

On the morning of July 20, the ranks of the shooter folk was depleted by one fine man. .

George Voltz, Denny Reichard

George Voltz (left) with Denny Reichard (right) at Sand Burr Gun Ranch in 2013

I knew George Voltz for about three decades, teaching with him annually most years. He had served his country in Korea and Vietnam.  He had raised a fine family, though I only got to know two of his sons, Wade and George, Jr. For many years, George owned a gun shop in Logansport, Indiana.  I bought my younger daughter’s first firearm, a Smith & Wesson .22 Airweight Kit Gun, from him there.

George devoted his last several decades to sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of firearms and his passion for their safe and competent use.  His wisdom can be found on many spots on the Internet gun forums such as, where he normally posted under his initials, GLV.

In person, George was patient, kind, friendly, and unflappable.  He had a dry sense of humor, an uncommonly large supply of common sense, and was one hell of a shot.

I had the good fortune to spend some time with him while teaching in Indiana this past June. Though wracked by cancer and the side effects of radiation therapy, this octogenarian still stood tall, his signature .45 at his hip.  He had, at 83, recently competed in a three-gun match…not as fast as in days of old, but showing the determination that characterized his entire life.

George passed at his son’s residence, with hospice care, and only after his death did I learn that George himself had been a volunteer hospice worker.  It was characteristic of the caring and compassion that the man exuded.  A born instructor to the end, he taught us all how to die with dignity.

In this case, it’s not a cliché to say…We Are Diminished.



Thursday, July 17th, 2014 by Mas | 70 Comments »

Our military – not for the first time – listens to complaints about poor “man-stopping” ability with 9mm ball ammunition in combat: .

It seems to me that there’s little wrong with Beretta M9 performance that better 9mm ammunition (i.e., police-type high performance hollow point), MecGar magazines, and maintenance can’t cure.  (Yes, the trigger reach is long for small-handed personnel. There are some mechanical fixes to help that, too.)

But I’m not military.  Many of you reading this are, or have been.

What’s all y’all’s take on the matter?


Saturday, July 12th, 2014 by Mas | 12 Comments »

In keeping with the last post here, regarding small self-defense revolvers, let me flag you to something an old friend of mine recently came up with.  Roy Huntington spent 20 years as a cop on the mean streets of San Diego, and today is one of my editors. We both started at a time when cops carried service revolvers, and detectives and off duty officers traditionally packed .38 snubs.  Handguns with lights attached were not a practical reality.

Roy has come up with a new product via Hyskore.  The Griplight fits any round-butt J-frame Smith & Wesson revolver, replacing the grips.  Grasping pressure of the firing hand activates 100 plus lumens of white light, much the way Crimson Trace LaserGrips send out a red aiming beam.  Light is more important, IMHO, since it lets you identify your target.  To give you half an hour of running time, it uses a CR2 battery which, storing more juice than flat batteries, needs to be put in the butt area.  This lengthens the grip accordingly.


Left, with Gunlight installed J-frame 5-shot S&W .357 is similar in grip profile to standard K-frame 6-shot .357, right.

This brings grip configuration to about the size of a service revolver with good, hand-filling combat stocks.  No longer an ankle holster or concealed-in-the-pocket proposition, but hell, folks of Roy’s and my generation and older have been concealing full-size service revolvers under sport coats and even un-tucked polo shirts in good hideout holsters for many decades.

On the farm or ranch, open carry is no concern, and the J-frame so equipped carries nicely tucked in the hip pocket or the front pouch of bib overalls; when you’re on your own property, concealment isn’t mandatory.  Right now, my test unit is on a Model 340 Military & Police .357 Magnum. The big grips really attenuate the recoil of a sub-fourteen-ounce super lightweight revolver with a full power Magnum load.

A lot of the vermin that needs to be shot in the countryside can be handled with a .22.  I’m thinking seriously of putting these grips onto my sweet old Smith & Wesson .22 Kit Gun, which is more accurate than a 2” barrel revolver has any right to be.  The last animals that had to be killed on my rural property – a rabid fox, and a water moccasin – were shot with Glocks in calibers .45 GAP and .357 SIG respectively, and both in poor light.  A .22 would have been easier on the ears.  The white light from the Griplight would have been perfect under those conditions.

The Griplight is an excellent value, I think, at approximately $130.  They can be ordered from another old friend, Bill Laughridge at Cylinder & Slide, be sure to click on “new products.”  A very useful product, designed by one good man who knows his stuff, and sold by another…what’s not to like?

The Evil Princess pierces the darkness with white light and orange fire from Griplight-ed S&W.


Ultralight S&W 340 M&P at height of recoil; Griplight absorbed recoil of full power Black Hills 158 grain .357 Magnum rounds very well.



Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 by Mas | 29 Comments »

Michael deBethencourt Snub Nose RevolverThe “snub-nose .38” revolver, dating back to the Colt Detective Special of 1926, is a standard prop in noir movies. Most see it as an urban gun, something to hide under the suit in the dangerous streets of the big cities.  However, country folk like ‘em too.  Where I live nowadays, I often spot one in the jeans pocket of a workin’ man, or even the front chest pouch of a farmer’s overalls (where it’s pretty handy to get to, actually).

A general rule of little guns is that “they’re easy to carry, but hard to shoot.”  A Google or Amazon search should get you to some useful advice, such as the book “The Snubby Revolver” by my old friend Ed Lovette, who has “been there and done that.” Now we can add a small but meaty booklet by an old friend, Michael deBethencourt.

A lifelong martial artist, Michael is best known for his expertise with two weapons: the knife, with which he has developed his own simple, primal, and highly effective series of techniques, and the short-barrel revolver.  The reading matter in question is titled “Thirty Eight Straight Tips for Better Snub Shooting.”  The short-barrel Smith & Wesson .38 depicted on the cover sits under a fedora from the snub-nose .38’s heyday, appropriately enough.

While Michael and I differ on some things, as all instructors do – speed reload techniques for the revolver, in this case – brother deBethencourt gives you advice you can take to the bank. I’ve been in this game for a long time, and I learned some new stuff from “Thirty Eight Tips.” For instance, I hadn’t realized the JetLoader people (Buffer Technologies at were making their super-fast loader for the J-frame Smith & Wesson.  I immediately ordered three, and they’ve become my new favorite speedloader for these little five-shot .38s and .357 Magnums.

You can order Michael’s monograph at, and you can get info on his excellent training at  In addition to knowing his stuff and imparting it superbly, Michael is a funny guy who uses his humor positively as “enter-train-ment,” and genuinely cares about his students.  He embodies something I learned from one of my mentors, the supercop Col. Robert Lindsey, and have shared with instructors I’ve trained ever since.  “We are not God’s gift to our students…our students are God’s gift to us.”


Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 by Mas | 58 Comments »

As we celebrate Independence Day, we need to remember among other things not to take liberties with our liberties.

Open carry – that is, carrying or wearing a visible firearm out and about in public – has become a hot topic on both sides of the gun debate. On our side, there are some who claim “a right not exercised is a right that will wither away.” In recent years, it has turned out otherwise. Ostentatious open carry led to it being banned by the state legislature in California. More recently, a series of store and restaurant chains, most recently Target, have come out and asked customers not to come there armed with firearms. These have been direct results of AR15s, AK47 clones, etc. being carried in their premises for no reason other than “because I can.”

My own position is middle of the road. I would like to see the open carry of a handgun made legal in all fifty states without a permit, with the practice prohibited to convicted felons, those adjudicated mentally ill, and the like. First, legal open carry prevents arrest of concealed carry permit holders whose gun becomes visible when the wind blows their coat open. Second, when someone becomes a stalking victim or the target of death threats overnight, they don’t have time to wait for the bureaucracy to take weeks or months to process a concealed carry permit.

However, a growing majority of gun owners – including me – are fed up with clowns who sling a rifle over one shoulder, a camcorder over the other, and go out to show off and maybe taunt a policeman or two. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these people weren’t false-flag plants from the other side. Not all of them are, though.

It’s self-delusional to think that you’ll spread a positive Second Amendment image by frightening people already made leery of armed people in public by news reports of atrocities like Sandy Hook. The gay rights movement didn’t make the strides it did by having its members have sex with each other in Starbucks, and wandering into a coffee shop or department store with a loaded military style rifle won’t make positive strides for gun owners’ civil rights. A small handful of attention whores have done huge damage to the vast majority of responsible gun owners.

Enjoy the Fourth. I intend to be setting off some fireworks myself, but on the range. Hope you get some fun time for the holiday weekend as well.



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