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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for February, 2012

Massad Ayoob


Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

The fifteenth annual indoor winter national championships of the International Defensive Pistol Association ( wrapped up last weekend, and I was pleased to see some friends in the winners’ circle, including my teammate Bob Vogel from Team Panteao, the overall winner and also high police officer.

Randi Rogers turned in her usual stellar performance, capturing the women’s championship. Her mid-teen protégé, Tori Nonaka, won the junior championship.  Tori bested both genders in her age group to claim her title, and Randi kicked a lot of male boo-tay on her way up the scoreboard, too.

This pleases me, as a father of daughters.  Randi and Tori both come from shooting families.  Randi rose to prominence in the firearms world when she was about Tori’s age now, shooting three-gun cowboy competition (single action revolvers, and Old West style rifle and shotgun) under the auspices of the Single Action Shooting Society (  There, the young Randi didn’t just beat the other women and the other kids…she beat EVERYBODY, including prime of life males.

It is the almost universal observation of shooting instructors that females more quickly learn to shoot than males.  Some part of it is probably their inherently better fine motor coordination. When a male like football player Roosevelt Grier learns to knit, it’s national news; women are more or less expected by our culture to take to knitting.  Trigger pulling, like knitting, is a fine motor skill.

Most schoolteachers will tell you that girls focus better than boys. Shooting is a discipline that DEMANDS mental focus.  Women are more flexible than men, supposedly by a factor of 30 degrees in the pelvic axis.  In position rifle shooting, where some downright contortion-like postures are demanded in, for example, the sitting stage, the overall national champion is often a female.

Congrats to Randi and Tori, and indeed, to all who competed at the Indoor Winter Nationals hosted by Smith & Wesson at their facility in Springfield, Massachusetts. It’s always a well run match, and a challenging one.

Massad Ayoob


Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

You’re a New York City cop, driving home with your spouse and kids from a pleasant family gathering watching a game on TV… a pedestrian runs into your car, you stop to help, and discover the pedestrian was being chased by a guy in a mask with a gun. That guy points the gun at you…and you draw your off-duty 9mm and shoot him.  He runs away, wounded.

No, it’s not a real case, though it certainly could have been. It’s an episode from the highly regarded TV series Blue Bloods. You can stream it from CBS’s website.

The whole show, well worth watching, is considerably more complicated than that. Ongoing story lines deeply touch what happened on 9/11/2001, and the survivor guilt of those who lived when their brothers next to them died.  But, for purposes of this blog entry, consider the following clip.  The cop’s son – present at the off-duty shooting, in the line of fire of a couple of bullets fired by the masked man – asks the police parent about guns.  See it here

It’s not about genders. It’s a little bit about cops and their loved ones: in the whole show, Tom Selleck classically says that the only thing tougher than being a cop is being married to one. I know female officers, and female armed citizens, who’ve been unable to get the reality across to the men in their lives.

I wish the screenwriters had done a little bit better job of getting the basic safety rules in order, but on the whole, what’s said by the cop in the above clip strikes me as pretty much gospel truth.

What’s y’all’s take on it?

Massad Ayoob


Saturday, February 18th, 2012

St. Louis gun expert Tim Mullin knows his stuff. I quoted a couple of his books in the first volume of “Massad Ayoob’s Greatest Handguns,” and more of it in the forthcoming Volume II, of which I’ve just reviewed the galley proofs (should be out this year).


Tim has just come out with “MAGNUM: The S&W .357 Magnum Phenomenon,” published in the finest “coffee table book” style by Collector Grade Publications in Ontario (

Magnum book

It’s every bit as well researched as his previous book on the Colt National Match pistol, and the photos will induce at least the same high drool level among connoisseurs as did the latter book.

The big revolver and its ground-breaking new cartridge – “the gun that took the ‘proof’ out of bullet-proof vests,” as it was advertised at the time – did much to popularize hunting big game with handguns.  Gun collectors know the ultimate “grail gun” was the very first “Registered Magnum,” given by the company to J. Edgar Hoover, later to disappear into “a private collection” after his death. Well, grail hunters…you’ll find a couple of pictures of it in this book. Hoover thought enough of the weapon to order several for the FBI, and many more agents bought their own, including legendary gunfighters Jelly Bryce and Walter Walsh.  Walsh, over 100 years old, is still with us, a living monument to the ideals the Bureau was meant to stand for.

Mullin delves deep into the history and the subtleties of this classic outdoorsman’s revolver. He points out that the first gun expert to write about it in The American Rifleman did so without ever actually firing one. While Tim details the .357s that followed it – from Smith & Wesson, and from other makers – he focuses on the original .44-frame model, later designated the Model 27 series.  Its mirror-polished finish, its checkered topstrap, and its hand-honed action crafted by the company’s most skilled artisans, made it a showcase of the finest American workmanship that could be applied to a firearm.

The $69.95 retail price is commensurate with super-high quality “coffee table books,” and worth it for the details of Mullin’s painstaking research. I for one enjoyed the heck out of it.

Is the classic Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum one of your favorites, too?  If so, come on into the comments section here, and tell us about it.

Massad Ayoob


Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Hope all y’all had a great Valentine’s Day.

Started the morning with true romantic spirit, sleeping in and watching “Zombie Apocalypse,” the Ving Rhames one, which turned out to be every bit as unintentionally funny as I’d been told.

High points for hilarity were a tie between the Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a shopping cart, and the zombie tigers.  The latter were kinda matted & ratty, as would befit their undead status, and the Ray Harryhausen-ish movements were about what you’d expect from a critter trying to “walk off” a pretty good case of rigor mortis.

Well, my valentine and I are both Calvin & Hobbes fans, and all we could think was, “Hobbes Twenty Years Later.” “Sooo, Calvin, you thought you could just abandon me at that dump when you went off to college, eh…?”

The live critters of our holiday were more fun, bearing in mind that we’d celebrated Valentine’s Day as a couple the weekend before, at a Glock match ably run by the Central Florida Rifle and Pistol Club in Orlando.  After an absence of prehistoric wildlife, the range pond now appears to have two resident alligators, one of which kept a wary just-above-the-surface eye on the loud doings a short distance away.  My valentine is a self-described “shooter chick,” and we were far from the only couple in attendance.  Nothin’ says redneck romance like volleys of gunfire.  A recovering big city denizen, my sweetie is in her element on the range, and loves living where she can carry.

We finished up the 14th at Starbucks, dropping two-dollar bills (to commemorate Starbucks’ refusal to knuckle under to anti-Second Amendment advocates boycott, see post here of January 28, 2012).  Thanks to all who did the same.  The barista who served us told us we certainly weren’t the only ones there for The Cause, and our collective presence was appreciated. (Tried their new Blonde Roast, a light, crisp blend for an afternoon cup.)

Guns, ‘gators, and zombie tigers…seemed like a righteous redneck Valentine’s Day to me.Also helped me to understand why I’m the firearms editor at Backwoods Home, and not the romance editor…


“O my Valentine, my love for you is as undying as, uh, this zombie tiger from ‘Zombie Apocalypse,’…”

Zombie Apocalypse

Photo by Lara Solanki – © Syfy


It ain’t a REAL  redneck Valentine shootin’  match if ya ain’t got a pond ‘gator watching the range balefully… 


Range Gater

Shooter-chick celebrates Valentine’s Day by strafing down six plates right to left with a Glock 30 loaded with .45 hardball.  Notice spent casing from last shot just behind pistol’s slide, muzzle still on target as middle plate is hit. Strong women are the most interesting…


A $2 bill, symbolizing “2A support,” goes into the tip jar at the nearest Starbucks.

Massad Ayoob


Monday, February 13th, 2012

A recent white paper from Cato Institute has some good info for those who keep guns at home, or legally carry them in public, for personal protection.  Link for the document: “Tough Targets

They’ve done their homework.

The co-authors bring good credentials to the issue.  Clayton Cramer has long been a highly respected researcher in this field, and David Burnett serves Students for Concealed Carry as PR director.
Learn how a national news magazine’s supposedly impartial roundup of “facts” in the gun control  wound up understating the frequency of justifiable homicides in defense of self or others by more than half.

Read account after documented account of law-abiding men and women and even responsible kids who, in life-threatening emergencies, picked up loaded guns and used them successfully to save the lives of themselves, of loved ones, and even of total strangers who had come under violent criminal or animal attack.

Have a read.

Get back and let us know what you think about it here at Backwoods Home Blog.

True accounts of your own experiences in this vein, or documentable experiences of others you know, are invited as well.

Oh, and don’t forget a Valentine’s Day visit to Starbucks to support that company’s refusal to ban lawfully armed citizen customers.  A $2 bill in the baristas’ tip jar signifies “Second Amendment support.”

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