Category Archives: gun culture

On the Road Again

So I spent the last week and change racking up the Delta Skymiles and Best Western rewards once again, filming new episodes of Select Fire for

These guys, Scott and Ben, are awesome. Yes, that’s me in the middle, looking somewhat more…vagabond than normal in my old age.

We were on the ground in Minnesota, spanning the length of the state for gun content. I ate my first Walleye (along the shores of Lake Mille Lacs), was amazed that the sun was still up and bright at 9:30 at night, posed with Babe the Big Blue Ox in Brainerd, shot some amazingly big handguns at Magnum Research, found out some amazing stuff (that I am sworn to secrecy over) at Maxim Defense, and hung out with thousands of student-athletes at the world’s largest shooting sports event in Alexandria.

How about this BFR in .500 JRH? This is, without a doubt, one of the finest and smoothest wheel guns I have ever touched.

Oh, yeah, and hung out at the GDC warehouse where I got to pour over 6,000 guns for a few days.

Yup, Colt Boa. Possibly one of the rarest serpents there is. Just 600 .357 Magnum-chambered 4-inchers such as this one were made for Lew Horton in 1986 only, and this one is immaculate.

So stay tuned for all that.

Much to follow!

SIG Goes Spectre

New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer recently debuted a pair of new pistols from their Custom Works program, the P320 XCOMPACT Spectre and P365XL Spectre.

Both Spectre series pistols are 9mm striker-fired handguns that feature the all-new LXG Grip Module with laser engraving on all four sides, a deep trigger undercut, and extended beavertail. The Spectre slide has a distressed finish and custom lightening cuts. Both include XSERIES flat triggers, XRAY3 Day/Night sights, and optics-ready slides.

And they don’t look all that bad.

More in my column at

Python Shorty

While most of Colt’s world-famous Python .357 Magnum models were service-sized and longer, some more abbreviated variants were made.

First introduced to Colt’s 1955 catalog for a price of $125 and pitched as “a finer gun than you actually need” to “a limited number of gun connoisseurs,” the big double-action revolvers were most common with barrel lengths in 6-inch and later 4-inch formats. There were even some big 8-inchers that came along eventually.

Downsizing, Colt produced a few short runs of these vaunted revolvers with a 3-inch barrel known to collectors as “Combat Pythons,” and, off and on between 1955 and 1994, the 2.5-inch model, which still sported full-sized grips.

And they are beautiful.

More in my column at

Did you know that Daisy used to make Firearms?

Back in the 1880s, the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company of Plymouth, Michigan, used to make vaguely daisy-shaped all-metal windmill kits, specializing in sales to small and medium-sized farms. Founder Clarence Hamilton, a watchmaker, and inventor, also had an interest in airguns, forming the Plymouth Air Rifle Company at about the same time to manufacture pellet guns of mostly wooden construction.

Designing an all-metal air gun, Hamilton approached the board of the windmill company he founded with the prototype and it was soon in production as the Daisy, with the company including one with the purchase of new mills. By 1895, the guns proved so popular that the windmill company changed its name to the Daisy Manufacturing Company, to reflect their primary product.

After a brief (and accidental) stray into the firearms market in the 1960s, Daisy launched a line of .22LR rifles in the 1980s that was both interesting and short-lived.

More in my column at 

Vale, Chip McCormick

Texas pro-shooting icon, gunsmith, and firearms industry trendsetter Chip McCormick has passed. He not only pioneered the “drop-in” AR-15 trigger and the “modular” M1911, but also nearly perfected the M1911 magazine.

I remember getting into shooting 1911s in the mid-1990s and, finding myself plagued with mag issues, being told by several people that Chip McCormick mags were the tried-and-true solution to that and, to my delight, that advice held true.

Almost 30 years later and that advice still holds up.

Thanks for the mags, Mr. McCormick.

Kafkaesque Pistol Brace Rules Released

There are between an estimated 3 and 7 million (that’s a big swing) stabilizing braces on the market right now, all of which got there after the SB15 brace was released just a decade ago. ATF has been notoriously squishy on the legality of braces, especially at the intersection of its use on a handgun to the point that it turns a pistol into an illegal short-barreled rifle or SBR. Unregistered SBRs can get you a dime in the federal hoosgow.

You sitting in the federal hoosgow, looking to trade a pack of mackerel fillet to make unwanted friends in the shower:

“What are you in for?” says the broker

“I added a plastic stock that is not a stock to my pistol and the ATF found out and, it turns out, they ruled it was a stock,” says you.

“That mack got soybean oil or water?”



Anyway, to keep clear of just what is illegal or not, the DOJ today released a proposed rule that is so simple it has a 71-page explainer to it. It includes a new ATF form (#4999), a two-sheeter that walks you through if your pistol with a brace on it is legal, or an SBR in three easy-to-figure-out sections.

Heavier than 64 ounces and between 12 and 26 inches? Boom, just failed Section I on ATF 4999, head to Section II.

There, if you earn a maximum of three points, proceed to Section III. Have over four points, and you are out of compliance and have an extremely dangerous SBR. So dangerous it only magically becomes safe for the public to own after you pay a $200 tax and wait 10 months for the paperwork to clear. 

At Section III, you can earn a maximum of three more points to keep your brace/pistol combo legal. Four or more, which can be earned even by installing “peripheral accessories” that would show you “intend to shoulder” your pistol, such as a bipod and/or short eye relief optics, or BUIS sights and it’s an SBR even if you passed Section II.

Sounds “simple”, right?

Check out these three examples in the proposed rule. One is (barely) legal, with 3 points in both Sections II & III; the second is an SBR, with 8 and 5 points in each section, and the third is also hot with a combination of 23 points on the worksheet.


The thing is, the photos, to the average user, look almost identical.

It is almost as if the feds want to make it so complicated and sow so much confusion and angst over the legal use of braces that most gun owners won’t even bother in an abundance of caution.


Worse, what about the average gun owner who bought one of these, legally, at their local gun store thinking it was neat or cool, then they take it to the range five years from now (the proposed rule has no grandfathering) and a picture from that trip makes it to social media and someone casually tags the ATF in it. 


Makeshift STEN foregrips

No matter what, you just gotta love a STEN.

British 6th Para Div on D-Day, note the Denison smocks, Skrimmed helmets, toggle ropes, and a STEN MK V. Introduced in 1944, the MK V was a better-quality, more elaborate version of the Mk II including included a wooden pistol grip, a vertical wooden foregrip, a wooden stock, and a bayonet mount for the No. 4 Enfield rifle, whose sights it borrowed.

These “plumbers’ dreams” were, even in their most finished forms, always very ad hoc not to mention dangerous to due to their open bolt design. With that being said, both the American M3 Grease gun and at least the first two varieties of the STENs were often modified in-field to make them a bit more user-friendly.

With that, The Armourer’s Bench (TAB) has a great 5-minute video, new this week, on makeshift STEN foregrips spotted in the wild.


Huge Batch-o-M1 Carbines Headed to Market

The good news: Midway USA recently just imported a few containerloads of WWII vintage M1 Carbines back from Europe, where they have apparently been in Italian arsenal storage for years.

“Per our supplier, these guns are believed to have come directly from use in the European theatre of WWII, eventually making their way to the Italian Armed forces. From there they went to the Carabinieri – the Italian National Police – and have been in storage since the early 1950s. There are no records indicating how the Italian Armed Forces came into possession of these WWII M1 Carbines.”

As noted by Midway:

This single lot of M1 Carbines includes guns from 9 manufacturers with serial number ranges indicating production years from 1942-1945. Conditions offered will be “Fine”, “Very Good to Fine”, “Good to Very Good” and “Fair to Good”. We used the NRA Firearm Condition Standards for guns of this era as our guide to grade these fantastic guns. Many different product numbers will be offered to indicate manufacturer, variant and condition.

National Postal Meter
Quality Hardware
Standard Products
Saginaw – Variants S.G and S’G’
Underwood – Variants B, S, T and W marked receivers

Between the models, subvariants, and the grading of each, Midway has identified 100 variations of these M1 Carbines.

The bad news: The pricing seems pretty high, starting at $1,149 and going up from there, with no guarantee of working.

Plus, they all have import marks.


However, barring the pie-in-the-sky of those South Korean guns ever returning home, this may be one of the last large groups of vintage M1 Carbines to make it to market. 

Just Clarence & Chuck putting on their faces for a night out

“Pvt. Clarence C. Ware, 438 W. 15th St., San Pedro, Calif., gives a last-second touch to Pvt. Charles R. Plaudo, 210 N. James, Minneapolis, Minn., make-up patterned after the American Indians. Somewhere in England.”

Note the censor has marked out the unit insignia on Plaudo’s shoulder. Also note the good private’s M1 Thompson SMG, which has medical tape around the stock, likely to help guard a growing split in the wood. Photo 111-SC-193551 via NARA 

Both of the paratroopers are members of the now-famous “Filthy Thirteen” of the 1st Demolition Section– the direct inspiration for the fictionalized Dirty Dozen— of the Regimental Headquarters Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st “Screaming Eagles” Airborne Division. The mohawks and “war paint” came like a bolt of youthful inspiration from Sgt. Jake McNiece, a fellow member of the Thirteen who was part Choctaw.

As for the men shown above, Clarence was wounded in action in Normandy and after the war he returned to California, passing away in 2001 at the age of 78. Meanwhile, “Chuck” Plaudo re-enlisted after the war into the Air Force and later served in Japan. He passed away at age 26 in April 1950 from injuries due to an auto accident.

Cowboy Guns as Brush Guns for Canadian Guerillas

As part of the general mass panic that came about all along the Pacific coast of North America after the attack on Pearl Harbor, which kicked into overdrive with the follow-on actions of Japanese submarines off Oregon and California and the seizure of windswept islands in the Aleutians within six months of that Infamy, a home guard force was formed in British Columbia.

Eventually christened the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers, they eventually grew to some 15,000 members. With guns and training time for new types short, they were outfitted with old bolt-action rifles which dated to the previous World War– which grizzled old vets of the Rangers no doubt remembered– as well as almost 5,000 commercial rifles from Connecticut.

Lever action Marlins and Winchesters.

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