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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.


Saturday, January 23rd, 2016 by Mas | No Comments »

The firearms industry’s premier trade show closed Friday at 4 PM, and stats show it was the second largest in the organization’s history. Sponsor NSSF, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, reported over 64,000 attendees. It should be noted that this is a closed program for industry people only, primarily firearms retailers. There were more than 1600 vendor booths.

All of us here are glad that the “miles of aisles” are done. The Evil Princess’ FitBit told her she walked six miles in just one day. When I was interviewed for the Guns America video blog today, the cameraman told me he was averaging 15 miles a day of walking through the Show.

An update on the much-discussed Kimber revolver from Kimber consultant Grant Cunningham, whom I’ve mentioned before, is here.

SHOT_5_01One of the neatest accessories I’ve seen here comes from Racking Assist, LLC ( . There are lots of folks who for whatever reason have difficulty activating the slide of a semiautomatic pistol. Inventor Russ Hoeffken came up with an ingenious device to facilitate this.

See pix. Go to the website.

Glock pistol with Rack Assist at right…

…muzzle is placed on device as shown…

…quick downward movement of hand on gun allows even debilitated user to apply body weight and activate the slide, charging a round into the chamber if the gun is to be loaded.

SHOT_5_05RoBar has come up with a premium grade AR15 rifle whose unloaded weight is…4.8 pounds. You’re looking at the lower-middle $2,000 price range, in large part because of the cost of all the expensive Titanium involved in its manufacture. The Evil Princess played with it for a while, and then sent the not-entirely-telepathic message, I want this!! Sigh…somewhere, I hear a cash register ringing.



The annual NRA show is where you see the customers. The SHOT Show is where you meet the retailers. The manufacturers are at both. I left the SHOT Show with a strong sense of “We’re on the right side of this, and we’re going to prevail, but it’s going to be a constant generations-long fight”…as it has been for as long as this senior citizen has been alive.

While the 2016 SHOT Show may be over, this blog’s commentary on it is not. There is more to discuss. Stay tuned…


Friday, January 22nd, 2016 by Mas | 8 Comments »

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.


Thursday, January 21st, 2016 by Mas | 9 Comments »

Rifles: One rifle now getting a good bit of attention here is the Howa “mini-rifle” newly chambered for the 6.5 Grendel cartridge, and for 7.62X39. It should be available in these calibers later this year. The short action and 20” tapered sporter barrel bring it in under six pounds unloaded, sans optical sights. Many are reporting the action to be extremely smooth.

Shotguns: Benelli is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their excellent Black Eagle semiautomatic sporting shotgun. It’s gone through some permutations in that quarter century and now sports a quintessentially modern European styling, with the same rugged reliability as the one I won many years ago at a match. I was no longer into bird hunting and sold it to someone with more need for it, but miss it still. Franchi introduces a line for small statured folks (they’re pushing it for female shooters, a growing gun demographic) called the Catalyst. The Affinity Catalyst is an autoloader, and the Instinct Catalyst, an over/under.  On the economy side, the new Stoeger P3000 has that distinctive “Euro” look much like the Benelli, but is a slide action with manufacturer suggested retail price of only $299.

Handguns: The new Kimber revolver that’s getting so much attention has apparently had design input from wheelgun guru Grant Cunningham, which to my mind is reason enough all by itself to check one out.  SIG is showing competition versions of their striker-fired P320, and also, their long-promised variant with the manual safety is apparently at last available.  Both seem to be getting big thumbs up from SIG fans visiting the booth.

Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to alert you to the fact that one of my favorite clothiers, 5.11, has just introduced…Tactical Yoga Pants.


Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 by Mas | 2 Comments »

With permission I now channel you a dispatch from Jeff Chudwin at the SHOT Show:

“Range day on Monday for media and industry was held at the Boulder (City Nevada) Rifle and Pistol Club. So much firearms and gear to report on, not enough time.


Having used a 1911 pistol for many years in competition and carrying one for my law enforcement work, I first went to Colt to see what they were working on. Good news to report.

“Colt displayed a number of 1911 Government models that included the light rail version built for the Marine Corps with an Ion Bond (PVD) finish that replaces the original Cerakote, a blue finish competition model in both 9m/m and .45 with a fiber optic front sight, under cut trigger guard, Novak adjustable rear sight, beaver tail grip safety,  ambidexterous thumb safety, match barrel, and custom Colt logo G-10 grips, a  blue finish Combat Unit Rail model in .45 similar to the competition model upgrades but with 25 line per inch checkered front strap, light rail, custom Colt grips, and a  fixed Novak rear sight, a pair of Commanders with the enhanced frames and slides including a blue finish Lightweight Commander in 9 m/m, and a stainless .45 Commander with 25 lpi checkering named after noted writer Wiley Clapp.

“With the limited shooting opportunity I was able to shoot the rail gun and the 9 m/m competition model. With production features mirroring what used to be expensive custom modifications, handling and feel was very good. Both pistols were accurate on the steel targets out to 25 yards but the real answer will have to wait until I can get a chance to run the pistol through a far more extensive set of tests.

“Handling qualities and looks wise, these are very nice pistols. As indicated in the sales sheet below, Colt is obviously working hard to bring the costs down on the 1911’s yet give you an out of the box pistol ready for hard service.

“My only suggestion to Colt is make these pistols in a slim line version using the VZ thin grips and a short trigger. This simple change truly enhances the feel and shootability of the 1911 platform for smaller hand / shorter finger shooters who make up a good part of the market.

“Colt also has a new econo model AR carbine. The Expanse M-4 has all the Colt features minus a dust cover, forward assist, and lacks the chrome lined barrel. For those who will not be in extreme conditions where salt water and rust are a concern, I am not worried about the lack of the chromed chamber and bore. The other rifles we have used since we started shooting do not have this feature and have held up just fine. The dust cover and forward assist are obviously preferred but again, not truly needed. All said, I you want a Colt, the price is right at just under $700 MSRP.”

Thanks, Jeff!


Monday, January 18th, 2016 by Mas | 21 Comments »

It’s that time of year again, the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show. It is here that firearms and accessory managers introduce more new products than any other time of the year.

For part of it, I’ll be commenting, and for part of it, I’ll be channeling posts from my good friend Jeff Chudwin.  A champion shooter and master instructor, Jeff is one of the world’s foremost experts on tactical police use of weapons, so don’t be surprised if his observations trend more to “protection of life” stuff than “sporting” stuff.

Walther PPS M2_01

I’ve just gotten done putting beaucoup bullets through the Walther PPS M2 9mm pistol, a more ergonomic upgrade of one of the most successful sub-compact, small frame, full power semiautomatic handguns.  Definite thumbs up. Something I haven’t handled yet is Kimber’s announced first revolver, an all-steel 23-ounce pocket size .357 Magnum with a six-round cylinder. I hope to have an opportunity to test one before long.

Rifles? Colt has announced an economy-grade version of their AR15, which many still consider the gold standard for the breed.  It’s good to see that company paying more attention to the civilian market. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some new .17 caliber offerings across the board for varmint eradication.

Shotguns? The biggest “new thing” I see there so far is a new 12-gauge slug from OATH, which promises shallower but wider and more devastating wound effect. Apparently geared more toward anti-personnel work, which will make it of interest for farm and ranch defense for example, if it works out I can see it as having an application in the hunting fields. There are lots of places where deer hunters are restricted to shotguns; where the deer don’t run terribly large; and where hunting pressure is so intense that if your quarry runs over the top of the hill before it dies, another hunter might claim what should have been YOUR venison. Doesn’t sound like the right wound profile for Alaskan grizzlies, though. Time and testing will prove its worth.

More to come. Any new stuff all y’all are particularly interested in?



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