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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, June 25th, 2014 by Mas | 14 Comments »

On Tuesday, we lost one of our great modern firearms and self-defense instructors, Louis Awerbuck. He had seen the elephant in South Africa, and came to the US to do what he did best: teach good people how to survive when other people were trying to murder them. For many years lead instructor at Col. Jeff Cooper’s famed Gunsite training center, Louie went on to establish his own school, the Yavapai Firearms Academy.
A master with pistol, revolver, and every kind of long gun, he was particularly noted for teaching the defensive use of the shotgun. His trademark was innovative shooting scenarios that duplicated real-world difficulties in which firearms had to be employed to protect the innocent. Awerbuck was one of the great trainers in his field, but more than that, he was a thinker. He understood better than most that in the word “gunfight,” the operative syllable was not “gun.”
In person, Louis was an absolute gentleman with a broad knowledge of relevant history and philosophy. He spoke with the same insight and dry wit that characterized his last page column in SWAT magazine, the one I always turned to first when my monthly issue came in the mail.
Fortunately, he leaves a legacy of books and training videos for those who didn’t have the opportunity to study under him personally. A list of these can be found here: .
Of the many eulogies pouring in from the training world, I think the most memorable came from our mutual friend John Hearne, who wrote, “They say that when an old man dies, a library burns. We have lost Alexandria.”


Sunday, June 22nd, 2014 by Mas | 23 Comments »

After three weeks on the road, about 36,000 shots fired by 90 or so students. I have some time at home, which will be devoted to writing. “Instructor” cap comes off, “gun writer” hat goes on. Ten or so guns will be tested in the coming days.

Massad Ayoob SIG P320A couple of ‘em, I’ve already been running while “on the road” teaching. One was a P320, SIG’s new striker-fired pistol. It gave me a 300 out of 300 when I shot a pace-setter qualification with it for our Illinois class. If you’re testing a deer rifle for an outdoor sports magazine, you’ll want to go deer hunting with it; if you’re testing a combat pistol, well, you’ll want to shoot a “combat pistol course” with it to see how it performs. I spent a day carrying it; it rode perfectly in a Leather Arsenal inside the waistband holster made for a P250 the same length; no surprise, since the brilliant SIG engineer Ethan Lessard developed the P320 from the SIG P250 platform. The P320 in the full size configuration is not a small pistol, but it’s no trick to conceal a fairly large handgun if you know how.

Gun Digest Book of The SIG Sauer 2nd Edition by Massad AyoobIf you’ve read many of my articles in the gun magazines, you’ve seen me refer to the “test team,” a group which varies depending on where I am when the gun is being tested. If you read my latest book, “Gun Digest Book of the SIG-Sauer, Second Edition” you saw the picture of me with designer Ethan Lessard, and the prototype P320 whose frame was marked “P250” because it was an early version photographed at the SIG factory in Exeter, NH before the final gun actually came out. Researching who developed the gun, and why, and how is part of the story, too. When I write a gun up for a magazine, it ain’t just me pullin’ the trigger and puttin’ holes in targets: there are small people and big people, lefties and righties, men and women, to see how the gun works for different potential users.

Tam Keel shooting the new SIG P320Sometimes I feel like Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence: my friends do the work, and I get the credit, and my friends like being “the first on their block” to test a new gun most others have only “heard announced on the Internet” but haven’t actually seen or touched. But, the fact is, it gives me a helluva lot more useful feedback to pass on to readers about how the given gun is gonna work for a wide variety of users.

Massad Ayoob shoots a perfect 300 with the SIG P320Confession: teaching may be the most satisfying part of my job description, but testing is sometimes the most fun part.

Spoiler alert: No, the slightly higher bore axis of the SIG P320 doesn’t make it kick noticeably more than any similar 9mm pistol, and yes, you can shoot a perfect score with it out-of-the-box with 40-some people looking over your shoulder.


Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 by Mas | 10 Comments »

Hillary Clinton’s ill-concealed campaign for nomination as President continues, with her accusing us NRA types of promoting views which “terrorize” the general public. Is she sure that concussion didn’t cause some brain damage?
Although the NRA annual meeting was discussed here in the blog, an expanded version can be found here:
The next big conclave for gun owners civil rights activists will be in September, the GRPC (Gun Rights Policy Conference). Info here:
Hope to see you there!


Saturday, June 14th, 2014 by Mas | 5 Comments »

Every now and then, I read a historical novel in which the writer diligently researched the times and career of their protagonist, but didn’t really understand him or what he did, and let that slip out. They transfer their own values to someone in a world and a job where things had to be done differently, and it shows, and spoils the whole effort. People who’ve never ridden a horse or fired a Colt Single Action probably shouldn’t try to create words or thoughts for real cowboys, and maybe it takes a real physician to write a historical novel about a great doctor.
I offer you a real cop who has brilliantly executed a first novel about a real – and great – Twentieth Century lawman. I know Mike Conti, who retired a while back after a distinguished career with the Massachusetts State Police. He’s still a master firearms instructor, and if the name seems familiar, you may have read his well-written training manual or met him at a conference of IALEFI, the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors.Jelly Bryce
One of Conti’s passions is studying the great police gunfighters, which leads us to his new historical novel, “Jelly Bryce: the Legend Begins.” Delf Bryce began as an Oklahoma country boy with a phenomenal talent for shooting, a talent which got him recruited onto the Oklahoma City Police Department’s pistol team. Once he was patrolling that city’s mean streets, he had to use his gun more than once “on the two-way range.” Promoted to detective more for his skill in relating to people than for his wizardry with his favorite Smith & Wesson revolver, he found himself in still more shootouts. A natty dresser, he got his nickname from a would-be cop-killer whom Bryce trumped at his own game. As the downed gunman lay dying from the wounds Bryce had inflicted on him with his trademark S&W .44 Special, he gurgled to the stylishly-attired detective, “I can’t believe I was killed by a jellybean like you!” Those famous last words became a nickname, and he would ever after be known as “Jelly” Bryce.
Conti’s book mixes meticulous research into Bryce’s life with the insight of a real policeman. At one point, Bryce sadly tells an older and wiser cop that he considers himself a monster, because he feels good after gun battles in which he has killed his opponents. The old head explains to him, without using the modern term, that what he’s feeling is survival euphoria: the exhilaration comes, not from having caused death, but from having escaped it. Your ordinary wordsmith would have missed that, but Conti absolutely nails it – and that kind of insight, again and again, brings the book to life.
Beginning at Bryce’s birth and going up to the turbulent “Dillinger Days” when J. Edgar Hoover decided to reinforce the ranks of the fledgling FBI with street-proven police gunfighters, “Jelly Bryce: the Legend Begins” is a riveting read. Mike tells me it’s the first of a trilogy, and I for one am eager to read the next volume. I found “Jelly Bryce: the Legend Begins” a wonderful read. You can order the book from, which also offers Mike’s work on police pistolcraft for modern times.


Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 by Mas | 24 Comments »

Bonfield_02I recently taught a class at the Illinois State Rifle Range in Kankakee, Illinois. Set in the “breadbasket of the nation” farmlands surrounding that small city, it’s a great range and getting greater, with substantial construction going on as I write this.  More ranges, and also a spacious classroom are being built. However, there’s not yet a classroom on the range per se, so we rented the nearest hall for that part of the program.  This year and last, that was the Lions Club in Bonfield, IL.

Bonfield_05With a listed population of 364, there isn’t exactly a “downtown Bonfield.”  They used to have a café there.  The village restaurant is where the locals gather to talk about everything from crops to local politics to solving the problems of the world and hey, how are the grandkids? When the café closed its doors, the Lions stepped in to fill the gap.

Bonfield_01They configured part of their meeting hall to a separate-able coffee shop, specifically a coffee-and-continental-breakfast shop.  Menu prices look as if they came back from the past in a time machine. Think “donation,” not “bill.”  I learned that the coffee shop is not run for profit.  They just ask enough to cover expenses.  The Lions Club is one of our great civic groups, and their purpose in opening their club for this purpose was to serve the community.  To maintain a gathering place for the citizens.

Bonfield_04For the four ten-hour days of a MAG-40 immersion course, the ladies of the Lions did noble service feeding the thirty-some students and seven staff that MAG and its host entity, MTG, brought in.  They fed us splendidly, and we collectively groveled in gratitude.

Chris Supinski, Riley Armellino (9), JoCarol Emling

Chris Supinski, Riley Armellino (9), JoCarol Emling

I discovered that, at least in this chapter of the Lions, the ladies who fed us so well are not to be called Lionesses.  Apparently, that element of the Lions Club is falling by the wayside and the women are, in most chapters, Lions like the men.

The Lions Club is one of our greatest civic groups, particularly important to the smaller and more rural communities.  They embody all the best values of America.  Our time there was sort of a Norman Rockwell moment.

Have I mentioned lately that I love this country?

MAG 40 Bonfield, IL 2014



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