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Massad Ayoob on Guns

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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Massad Ayoob


Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Woot! Today marks three years helicopter crash-free!

(Of course, it’s also been three years helicopter-free. “No. More. Helicopters. EVAH!” decreed the Evil Princess.  “Aw, honey,” I answered, “all we need are newer, bigger helicopters.” I have not yet won that argument.)


Our gang at the Glock shoot in Boulder City. From left: Tim Young, Me, Bill Goldstein, the Evil Princess, Scott Gray, Nathan Love.

She and I got to the house this morning about 2:30 AM, and were grateful for it.  Lots of folks at the SHOT Show in Vegas had their plane flights cancelled or horrendously delayed because of the Eastern Snowpocalypse.  We had planned to stay the weekend anyway, seeing old friends in Vegas on Saturday and shooting the Glock match in nearby Boulder City on Sunday. The best I could do at the latter was a second place in the Pocket Glock event, using a G42 .380 with AmeriGlo sights and otherwise out of the box. Congratulations to Seichei Ishakawa, who was clearly the man to beat there. When you are the guy who publicly said “Friends don’t let friends carry mouse-guns” and you do your best with one (and not for the first time), it’s sort of like you’re Ralph Nader and do your best rally driving in a Corvair.  I may need therapy.  EP, on the other hand, continues to shoot her best with the .45 caliber Glock 30, which she is adopting as her daily carry gun. And which may require more therapy still for .380 boy here. (Sniff.)

Driving home from the airport we noted that we managed to escape the creeping crud that usually infects a bunch of SHOT Show attendees, the result of spending several days in a giant Petri dish with 64,000 people and whatever germs and viruses they brought to the convention. (Me: “Well, my throat is a little dry.”  EP, with profound eye-roll: “Duh, you’d think you just spent days in the desert or something.”)


Each of these contain media kit thumb drives. Cute!

One thing I should also be grateful for is that the stacks of catalogs and dead-tree media kits I used to have to ship home have been largely replaced with much handier thumb drives, some cute enough to double as tchotchkes. 

Massad Ayoob


Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Blog reader Jim Burke asked about the new Honor Guard, an 8+1 shot 9mm subcompact pistol with polymer frame. I spent some time today with the gun and its maker, Gary Ramey, and with some folks who unlike me were able to test-fire it on Media Day.  All looks good so far. I’ll be getting one to test for American Handgunner magazine.  Nighthawk Custom has its first Browning Hi-Power, made specially for them by Browning and then given Nighthawk’s own Cadillac/Ferrari upgrade. Trigger pull is excellent, and Nighthawk’s Shawn Armstrong assures me it is drop-safe, unlike early High Powers.  The frames are made by Browning WITHOUT the usual magazine disconnector, which a lot of American pistoleros hate.  Removing it from the gun allows an unscrupulous prosecutor to claim, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, for you to convict the defendant of manslaughter, you have to believe he acted recklessly with his gun. You have seen the proof: he deactivates the safety devices on deadly weapons!” With this particular Browning, it came from the factory without that feature, and while I didn’t tear down the one on display to examine it, Shawn told me the mag disconnector safety can’t be retrofitted. Therefore, that blood is out of the water should you come to trial for an action involving this pistol. I have an assignment to test this one for American Handgunner too, and am looking forward to it.


Gary Ramey, president of Honor Defense LLC, shows Mas his Honor Guard pistol.


This is the trigger system (“chassis”) of the Honor Guard pistol.


Smith & Wesson’s new Victory .22 target pistol gave a good first impression.

Smith & Wesson’s new Victory model .22 looks like one of their low-priced plinkers,
but the S&W rep I talked to swears that from a machine rest, it shoots like their bigger, heavier, and justly famous Model 41 precision target pistol that has been winning championships since 1957. In the hand, it feels more solid than it looks, and reminds me of the pre-war Colt Woodsman. Trigger is surprisingly good and, for a truly match-grade pistol, price is surprisingly low. I want to spend more time with this pistol.



Sample Victory .22’s trigger pull was nice, and overall “feel” was reminiscent of the classic early Colt Woodsman.

For me, though, the hit handgun of the show is one I’ve asked Springfield Armory for since they introduced the 9mm EMP a decade or more ago. The Enhanced Micro Pistol is a tiny gun that shoots 2” groups, and was scaled down from the original 1911 design to fit the overall length of the 9mm cartridge, which made it the first 1911 9mm that could be counted on to feed reliably out of the box.  Mine became an often-carried favorite of mine, until it was torn away from me by my evil girlfiend became a token of love that now belongs to my sweetie, the only such pistol owned by a Princess of Polymer Pistols infamous in shooting circles for her anti-1911 rants. It won me several IDPA BUG (Back-Up Gun) matches, and at least one IDPA match in the Enhanced Service Pistol division against full size, tricked out 1911s, long barrel Glock 34s, etc.  Back then, I implored Williams to make one with a longer slide for more advantageous sight radius, and a longer grip-frame to extend the 9+1 magazine capacity to 10+1, the maximum allowed in IDPA. That request has been answered this year with the EMP4, whose configuration now resembles a slightly thinner Colt Commander.  This is the one gun I’ve seen here that gets my “Most Likely I’m Going To End Up Owning One” award if it turns out to shoot as good as it looks. The smaller grip frame and shorter trigger reach makes us average-size guys feel like a six-foot-four John Wayne holding a regular 1911 .45, but it ain’t about machismo: it’s about getting more flesh and bone wrapped around the grip to stabilize the gun, and more finger into the trigger guard to give more leverage for fast, sure trigger-pulling.



Springfield Armory EMP4, left, is only slightly larger than the proven EMP, right, but holds one more round and offers a longer sight radius.



Left, Springfield EMP; right, its new companion gun, the EMP4.

On other fronts, I missed meeting gun expert Richard Mann, for whose work I have a lot of respect, at the Galco booth. However, Galco’s Mike Barham showed me the new sling Richard designed, appropriately called the RifleMann sling.  In can be used as a hasty sling, of course, but also more or less like a marksman’s sling, and like the Ching Sling popularized by the late, great Jeff Cooper. What particularly intrigues me is that the sling can be quickly locked onto the shooting arm instead of the support arm, which could be a game-changer in certain awkward or disadvantaged positions. I’m getting one. Or two. Or three…


Galco’s Mike Barham shows the solidity of new RifleMann sling, which can be applied to the firing arm instead of the support arm if user chooses.



One pair in hand and one pair on, a 5.11 staffer demonstrates the already infamous Tactical Yoga Pants.

And, finally, in the matter of the 5.11 Tactical Yoga Pants: I am ordering a pair, which will be tested by my beautiful surrogate stepdaughter, a second degree TKD black belt and pistol-packing ex-Marine. One blog reader who will remain nameless, and whose twisted sense of humor is frighteningly like my own, suggested that I model a pair. A much more suitable model is depicted in the attached photos.

Massad Ayoob


Sunday, January 17th, 2016

If ya don’t read, ya can’t write, and if ya don’t learn, ya can’t teach.  Christmas season afforded me some recreational as opposed to work-related reading time for a change…and whaddaya know, I learned some stuff.

I grew up reading the work of Dashiell Hammett, who created the original hard-boiled private eye genre with characters like Sam Spade.  I had always heard the author’s first name pronounced “DASH-ee-ell,” or occasionally “DAY-she-ell.”  Turns out the man himself pronounced it “da-SHEEL.”  Learned it from the superbly researched bio, “The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett” by Nathan Ward.

Likewise, I was a little kid when I read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Little kids tend not to pick up subtleties.  Reading Shelley Fisher Fishkin’s recently published “Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee,” I found the following:

“In 1949 in an essay  titled ‘Everybody’s Protest Novel,’ James Baldwin wrote that Stowe was ‘not so much a novelist as an impassioned pamphleteer,’ author of ‘a very bad novel’ whose sticky sentimentality gave life to racial stereotypes while denying life and complexity to its black characters; the book, Baldwin believed, promoted rather than challenged prejudice based on color and race: the only black characters in the novel who manifest intelligence, initiative, and independence, he reminds us, do so in direct proportion to the lightness of their skin.”

I totally missed that as a young boy, and am going to have to reread “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

If you folks out there have had any such “Damn—I didn’t know that” moments lately, you’re invited to share them here.





Uncle Tom's Cabin

Massad Ayoob


Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

Is it time for New Year’s Resolutions? I dunno…that tradition never particularly worked for me. It is, however, a logical time to look at the past year and forward to the new one.

The Evil Princess and I were lucky in a lot of ways last year. Health? She came down with a monster flu a bit less than a year ago that made us cancel our trip to the 2015 SHOT Show, but she recovered soon.  I had a tenacious respiratory infection it took all summer to shake, but I came out of it OK. At our my age, I’m just glad nothing was worse.

2015 was a very heavy travel year for us. But we never got stranded in air travel, nor lost our luggage even briefly, and road travel problems were few and relatively minor.  Given that we’ve had years where none of those things were true, we consider that an overall win.

Having taught outdoor shooting classes in tropical storms and horizontal sleet, we were blessed with the weather this year. The worst we experienced was Texas in May, just when the monster rains started that didn’t stop, and caused the massive flooding the Lone Star State experienced. We shot in horizontal rain and major mud, using iPhone apps to follow the weather and get our students safe before the lightning hit. A day or two after the Evil Princess and I drove east, the hotel we’d been staying at was wrecked by a tornado.

What we teach has potential for injury. I didn’t keep a total “round count” of live fire training, but there were weeks where we and our students put 20,000 bullets downrange. There were no gunshot injuries…par for the course. We only needed two ambulance runs: a wounded warrior’s wheelchair went out of control on the handicapped-accessible ramp and dumped him during a classroom break, and one young woman dislocated a knee during weapon retention training with dummy guns. Both students were in and out of the ER and swiftly back to class. We are grateful.

On this end, we have to occasionally had to re-schedule classes because they conflict with court dates. We had to do that twice in 2015, fortunately with enough advance notice that the students had no problem with it, though on our end we ended up losing a class or two that we could have done elsewhere. One trial ran longer than expected (again, par for the course) and my staff proved they don’t need me by teaching the first day of class superbly prior to my late arrival. Whew.

For us, the first part of the year is mostly sabbatical from training. For most folks, right after Christmas is a lousy time to be coughing up tuition and travel-for-training money, and on the police side, it’s when Academies are often starting and the instructors who take train-the-trainers programs can’t be spared. It allows us to get caught up on writing, bookkeeping, curriculum review, and “personal time.”  My significant other and I enjoy competitive shooting, and just a few years ago, were able to log 24 matches in one year. In 2015, from mid-March to the end of the year, we were able to shoot exactly ONE match.  Frankly, it’s not looking much better than that for 2016, but we ARE gonna hit at least four or five shooting tournaments during our first-quarter respite.  That’s about as close to personal New Year’s Resolutions as we can get.

How about y’all?  Feel free to chime in here on last year vis-à-vis this year, from YOUR personal perspective.

Massad Ayoob


Thursday, December 24th, 2015

From all of us on this end, to all of you and yours, the Evil Princess and I extend our best wishes for a wonderful, safe, and renewing Christmas weekend.  It’s a joy to have you all here, particularly those of you whose participation in the commentary really makes this blog work!




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