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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.

Archive for the ‘Firearms’ Category

Massad Ayoob


Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Gunnery Sgt. Brian Zins, USMC Retired, won the national championship of conventional bulls-eye pistol shooting a dozen times, more than anyone else in history. When he talks about marksmanship, I listen.  One-handed pistol shooting at 25 and 50 yards places a premium on trigger control, but his advice on the topic can apply to any type of firearm. (I had the chance to meet Gunny Zins a bit over a decade ago: he’s an excellent teacher, and a fine man of the kind we’re proud to see as the face of American shooting sports.)

Recently, he wrote this article for the NRA.  Among other things, he takes the rather controversial position that the distal joint of the trigger finger is a more advantageous position for the shooter than the traditionally-recommended “pad” of the index finger, which I would define as the part where you find the whorl of the fingerprint.

I teach it as a very useful technique, assuming the gun fits the hand when you shoot this way. Among other things, it gives the shooter’s finger more leverage, ergo, more control.

All y’all trigger-pullers out there, after you’re done reading Brian’s thoughts and experiences, I’d be interested in hearing yours.

Massad Ayoob


Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Today, October 6, SIG announces its new Legion series of up-featured pistols in their SIG-Sauer Classic line: .

I’ve been running a pre-release Legion P229R 9mm for a few weeks now in Florida, Texas, and the Midwest.  My review will appear in a future issue of American Handgunner magazine.

Salient points: First, the company made the Legion modifications based on recommendations from some of its heaviest-hitter users in police work and military special forces, compiled by their own highly-skilled and well-informed instructors at the company’s excellent school, SIG Academy. Since SIGs are used by many police agencies and are standard issue with SEALs, this is a great pool of knowledge to draw from.  Second, they’re creating an on-line “club” for Legion buyers, sort of like a sports car owners’ club.  It’s going to be interesting to see if that becomes a trend.  The promised quarterly e-newsletter with input from other owners could prove valuable.

I like the new “X-ray” sights, particularly the fact that they were dialed in for point of aim/point of impact out of the box.  With a Bruce Gray adjustable trigger and factory action hone, the Legion is about halfway between the already-famously-smooth standard SIG trigger pull, and a custom job by a top gunsmith like Gray or Ernest Langdon.  I was pleased with it.  In three runs on 60-shot police qualifications in three states, it has given me three perfect qual scores (300/300) and a 599 out of 600 score on the tight rings of a B27 police silhouette in competition scoring. Tough to ask for more than that.  One brand of cheap ammo from WalMart felt weak, which would explain the extraction failures that occurred with it, but with an MSRP of $1428 (expect a gun shop price in the low $1300s), the Legion’s target market doesn’t buy their ammo at WalMart.  The SIG Legion ran 100% with several other types of standard pressure, NATO, +P and +P+ 9mm ammo, and I’m carrying it today with confidence.

New approaches to interacting with end users are always welcome. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other firearms manufacturers copying what SIG has done with these new Legion pistols.



Joining the Legion club makes you eligible for all sorts of goodies. That sort of empty space in the custom case is for your choice of several designer knives with Legion logos, not included with pistol.



Shooting a pace-setter qualification with the P229 Legion. Shooting characteristics were excellent.



“X-RAY” day-night sights worked great.




Legion delivered 599 out of 600 in competition scoring for 60 timed shots; the 9 at 10 o’clock was Mas’ fault, not the pistol’s.


Massad Ayoob


Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Gunsmiths customize firearms to add value in different ways.  To make the gun more accurate. To make it recoil less.  To make it fit the shooter better.

My old friend Rick Devoid does those things for customers’ firearms, but he specializes in another kind of added value: he makes them safer.

Many people decline to keep a loaded gun at home or at work for fear that some unauthorized person may gain access to it.  Rick is the sole purveyor of the one “smart gun” that actually WORKS: the Magna-Trigger conversion of a double action Smith & Wesson revolver. It can only be fired by someone wearing the provided, low-profile magnetic ring on their middle finger. I carried one for many years and kept it loaded at bedside when my kids were little.  We tested hell out of it, even shot matches with it. The thing works: it shoots when its legitimate user wants it to, and won’t fire when someone else tries to make it do so.

Rick also has the exclusive on the less expensive Murabito safety conversion of an S&W revolver, invented by the now-retired Frank Murabito. It turns the cylinder release latch into a thumb safety, too.  It’s very fast, and highly likely to confuse any unauthorized person who gains control of your handgun.

Rick is also famous for his action jobs on Smith & Wesson and Ruger double action revolvers, and his slick-up of traditional double action S&W semiautomatic pistols.  Finally, he is an approved – and very experienced – installer of the Joe Cominolli thumb safety for Glocks. Allowing the right thumb (or for southpaws, the left index finger) to activate the device, it operates with the same movement as a cocked and locked 1911: up for “safe,” down for “fire.”Rick also reduces and reshapes the grip on Glocks; he did so on my first .45 caliber Glock 30, and made it shoot way better for me.

Rick and Tarnhelm Supply are known for reasonable prices and fast delivery times.  I have many Tarnhelm custom guns and am happy with every one of them.  Information is available at

Massad Ayoob


Friday, August 14th, 2015

So here I am, teaching a class of mostly high-tech polymer pistol shooters. Glocks, S&W M&Ps, Springfield XD series, and the very popular and very cool new Heckler & Koch VP9.  And what’s on my hip but that old WWI relic, the 1911 pistol?

Well, hell, I’m a relic myself. I try to change guns every training tour to stay current with everything out there. But the still-popular 1911, even though it happens to be the only one on the firing line this week, is like the proverbial handshake of an old friend.  Been using one since I was 12 years old, and frankly, still shoot the old .45 as well as I do anything else.

My significant other, smugly flaunting polymer pistolry on her hip, considers it a symptom of fogeyism.  I suppose the diagnosis is confirmed.  Still, there’s something to be said for the old, proven hardware.  It isn’t fair to teach with one of the fancy custom ones – it gives the student the false impression that you need a Ferrari to drive skillfully, when a Chevy can still get you where you’re going perfectly well.  So this week’s .45 is an out-of-the-box Springfield Armory Range Officer, which I think is as nice a 1911 as you can buy new for under a grand today.

How about y’all?  Is there any corner in the world of the gun where you cleave to the old-style stuff instead of the latest and greatest?


Springfield Range Officer

Massad Ayoob


Sunday, July 5th, 2015

I was tied up all weekend with a murder case report, but couldn’t let Independence Day pass without a little fireworks.  My brief time-out of trigger-pulling on the backyard range was with 10mm and .45 caliber 1911 pistols.  While safe-diving for the ones I wanted, I spotted a little fancy-stocked, silvery stainless ParaOrdnance Companion .45 from Para’s LDA  (Light Double Action) series. Realizing I didn’t remember the last time I’d shot an LDA, I threw it into the gun box for the short walk to the range.

And with the first five rounds of Remington 185 grain .45 hollow point I fired from it, two-hand standing at fifteen yards, I got an exactly one-inch group.


The Companion was a concealed carry design, with 3.5” barrel. Guns that size aren’t supposed to shoot that well, particularly in the 1911 platform.  The light double action (about 6.5 pounds pull weight in this specimen) distributes over a long stroke, making it less likely the shooter will anticipate the shot. I was conscious of not having run an LDA in, oh, a decade or so, and was taking care with the trigger pull.

I found myself doing the same a week before, teaching a MAG-40 class for Thunderbird Tactical in Wichita with a Heckler and Koch P30SK subcompact 9mm that I’m testing for Guns Magazine.  It gave me a 300/300 score on the pace-setter qualification demonstration, and I was happy with its performance.  It has the LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) trigger, which like the LDA is a long, light double action stroke for every shot.


Many years ago, when the great Mike Plaxco was world speed shooting champion and The Man to Beat on the pro shooting tour, I took his advanced class. Therein, he commented that if you’ve hit a plateau in your shooting skills, you might want to try something new – different technique or even different gun – because it will make you focus more on what you’re doing.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Michael proven right. Now that that damn 30-some page report is done, I’m gonna spend some more time on this end playing with that neat little LDA. It’s a useful concept. I’m told ParaOrdnance has recently been bought by Remington; I hope they keep the LDA option.

While I’m doing that, you’re invited to chime in on any shooting experiences you may have had in a similar vein.



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