About Tom McHale

Tom is the primary author of the Insanely Practical Guides series of how-to books. He believes that shooting can be safe and fun, and works hard to make the shooting world easy to understand. If you want to learn about the world of guns, shooting and the American way, check out some of his books. Have a laugh or two. Life is too short for boring "how to" books.

You can find print and ebook versions at Amazon. For more information, check out InsanelyPracticalGuides.com

Feel free to visit Tom at his website, MyGunCulture.com. It's a half-cocked but right on target look at the world of shooting and all things related. If you want to learn with a laugh about guns, shooting products, personal defense, competition, industry news and the occasional Second Amendment issue, visit him there.

Pic of the Day: What Is This?

What is it?

What is it?

Earlier this week I toured a number of companies in the Portland, Oregon area and had the pleasure of seeing just how many cool and interesting products are made.

Here’s a photo I snapped at one company. Got any idea what it is?

I’ll tell ya.

It’s a machining jig used at Warne Scope Mounts. This particular one holds ten scope ring halves in exactly perfect orientation so that each can be shaped, finished, drilled and threaded in a single operation in one of Warne’s milling machines. As you can probably imagine, creating a perfect jig, where each ring half support is oriented correctly is quite an undertaking.

A Story of Students and Shotguns

Note in ascending order the wad, shot cloud and short-lived clay.

Note in ascending order the wad, shot cloud and short-lived clay.

The Clemson squad has taken to naming each other's shotguns. This new 692 Sporting is "Leonidas." a 682 Gold on the same squad is "Maximus Decimus Meridius"

The Clemson squad has taken to naming each other’s shotguns. This new 692 Sporting is “Leonidas.” a 682 Gold on the same squad is “Maximus Decimus Meridius”

What do you get when you combine 133 college students, from seven colleges with over a quarter of a million dollars worth of competition shotguns?

You get boatloads of clay dust and a lot of smiles.

I just returned from the annual SCTP Florida shoot. SCTP is the Scholastic Clay Target Program. It’s a nationwide initiative for students of all ages, including college, to compete in clay target sports. This particular event is a combined discipline event where each squad shoots 50 targets of skeet, trap and wobble trap. Combined scores determine school team placement, but competitors are also awarded individual honors in each of the three disciplines.

In its fourth year at the Jacksonville Gun Club, host school Jacksonville University arranges the match and logistics (thank you!) and invites participation from a number of southeastern schools with shotgun teams and clubs. As a side note, Jacksonville Gun Club is the oldest shooting club in the United States. Some locals claim that Ponce DeLeon founded the club shortly after stumbling ashore in what’s now known as St. Augustine, Florida in 1513. I’m not so sure…

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

X-Products Takes Shotgunning a Beer To A Whole New Level

The term "shotgunning a beer" takes on a whole new meaning with the Can Cannon from X Products.

The term “shotgunning a beer” takes on a whole new meaning with the Can Cannon from X Products.

In the “why the heck not” category is the new Can Cannon from X Products. Known for their rock solid drum magazines for modern sporting rifle designs, the X Products folks got a wild hair to bring something just plain fun to market. The Can Cannon is a complete upper assembly with a soda can diameter barrel. The upper unit contains a custom chamber, barrel extension and “barrel” with gas ports. The upper uses .223 blanks to create adequate gas pressure to launch the soda can down range. It’ll work with a full beer can too, but that would be a tragic waste of carefully fermented grains and hops, no?

In addition to no-excuses fun, the technology will be adapted to more practical uses like retriever training. The company hopes to develop similar versions capable to replicating gun shot noise while launching retrieval toys. Why not get some shooting in while training your hunting dog?

For more information, visit www.xproducts.com.

How To Build Your Own Lasergrips

The author looks confident, but only because Tong is really in charge.

The author looks confident, but only because Tong is really in charge.

I always thought I was pretty handy, at least until today. Then I got humbled.

You see, I had the opportunity to build my very own Crimson Trace LG-401G Lasergrips for a 1911 pistol. I was visiting the Crimson Trace factory in Wilsonville, Oregon, just south of Portland, and those crazy folks seemed to believe that even a klutz like me could make something high tech like a four milliwatt green instinctive activation pistol laser. But they didn’t have enough faith in my technical ability to turn me loose on the factory floor unsupervised.

Tong was the engineer who humbled me, but he was really nice about it. He let me make some mistakes, then gently corrected my little messes while teaching me the right way to do things. I actually worked with Tong on two sets of grips. He built the first set, while carefully instructing me on the intricacies of each step in the process, and there were a lot of them – 13,729 I think, but who’s counting? I then took the drivers seat and started on the Lasergrips that I would build, then take home with me, to install and use on one of my 1911s.

Making your own Lasergrips is easy. In fact, pretty much anyone can do it. Just assemble the following tools and facilities, then we’ll walk through the process together here. Go ahead, I’ll wait til you’re ready.

An armory

I’m assuming you have more than one gun, so you’ll need at least a dozen guns of each type for the laser you want to design and build. Some of them will be used for performance testing. You see, a laser has to be built to absorb massive g-forces of recoil in the x, y and z axis – tens of thousands of times. Oh, the grips and electronic components inside have to deal with rotational forces also. You’ll wear out a few guns until you get the laser and interior components design just right.

Some of the guns you’ll need to chop apart into pieces. This is the part where you and I both cry. Chop up perfectly good guns? Yep, it’s all for the cause. See, when you assemble the grips, you’ll want to do it on the actual gun frame you’re making the laser for, not a copy that might have slight dimensional variances. The best way, how Crimson Trace does it, is to chop off the grip end of the frame of an actual gun to make construction jigs. Of course you’ll need to make multiple sets of these so you can meet the required production volume.

An indoor shooting range

You’ll want to install an indoor shooting range, hire an armorer to keep all the guns in the armory running, then train staff members to perform the hundreds of thousands of rounds of live fire testing. Believe it or not, there will be too much shooting for just one person to handle. Don’t forget to install lead management ventilation systems – and soundproofing so you don’t tick off the neighbors.

An engineering testing lab

If you’re going to do it right, you need testing facilities in house for non-shooting performance testing. You’ll need electrical testing equipment to make sure your battery and power management designs are up to par. You’ll also need moisture and immersion testing equipment, because a laser on a gun wouldn’t be of much use if it stopped working when it got a little wet. Don’t forget environmental testing equipment. Your Lasergrips will need to perform in exceptional hot and cold conditions. Not only environmental temperature changes, but operational temperature changes. Guns get hot when you shoot them a lot.

A collimation lab

Direct green laser diodes are a raw material that need to be directed, tuned and tweaked before they’re capable of projecting a neat green dot on target. After you line up your German diode supplier, you’ll need to construct special housings and install the diodes in them so they don’t get smashed to bits by recoil. Oh, and you’ll need to design an adjustable lens that takes the broad, rectangular green light output of the diode and focuses it into a sharp dot at a range of 25 feet. For this application, you can do what Crimson Trace does and construct mirror mazes, so you can focus each and every diode in a smaller space because you’re bouncing the beam out and back via the mirrors. Distance is distance, regardless of how many turns there are.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

New Product: Maglula Range Bench Loader for MSR Rifles

Load an AR magazine in seconds, no blisters, with the new Maglula Range BenchLoaded

Load an AR magazine in seconds, no blisters, with the new Maglula Range BenchLoaded

New from the finger-saving engineers at Maglula is the Range BenchLoader. Like it’s predecessor, the BenchLoader, it’s designed to instantly load up from 1 to 30 rounds in an AR rifle magazine. The original BenchLoader offered similar performance but was larger, heavier and due to the design, only accepted certain types of standard AR magazines. The new Range BenchLoader does not fully contain the magazine; it attaches to the open of of the magazine using the magazine catch cutout. This means the new Range model will accept all type of AR magazines including P-Mags and Surefire 60 round magazines.

To operate, dump cartridges into the curved tray, oriented properly and push the entire load into the magazine. The entire process takes less than 25 seconds. Weighing just 13 ounces, it’s light and small enough to toss in a range bag.

One more thing. The “lula” in Maglula stands for “loading / unloading accessory” in case you were wondering.

Suggested retail price is $165.00.

For more information, visit www.maglula.com.

Pic of the Day: Choke Tubes All Choked Up

SCTP Florida Shoot Beretta-4

When you shoot competition shotguns, like this Beretta 682 Gold Trap, gunk accumulates quickly. While one might shoot a half-dozen rounds while hunting, a moderate day on the competition clay fields easily numbers in the hundreds. These are a pair of Pure Gold choke tubes, both Light Modified, used a the recent SCTP Collegiate Florida shoot. Nine colleges, 133 student competitors and some very experienced choke tubes.

Pics of the Day: The Breaking of a Clay

I had the pleasure of attending the SCTP Florida Shoot today where nine southeastern colleges gathered to compete in three clay disciplines: trap, skeet and wobble trap. I caught this sequence from one of Clemson University’s squads.

Pull!

Pull! Note target leaving the bunker…

Target Acquisition

Target acquisition…

Gun is moving and about to cross the anticipated path of the target...

Gun is moving and about to cross the anticipated path of the target…

Boom! Note in ascending order the wad, lead shot cloud and clay in it's last moments.

Boom! Note in ascending order the wad, lead shot cloud and clay in it’s last moments.

Target destroyed!

Target destroyed!

Four Gun Laws I Would Repeal First (If I Was a Benevolent Dictator)

7-rounds-robberyBack when I was young, naive and not yet wise to the ways of the world, about two weeks ago, I was fantasizing about being elected Benevolent Dictator of the Universe. You know, just like President Nine Iron.

Since I view the whole gun issue as a great barometer for individual liberty and personal accountability, it would make sense for my first official acts to be striking down some of the more onerous gun laws.

Figuring out exactly which laws to start with would be quite a challenge as there are over 20,000 gun control laws on the books. Why? Because “compromise,” that’s why.

Well, not compromise in the true sense of the word. You see, real compromise means that each side gives up a little, yet wins a little of what they want. Both sides share in their respective upsides and downsides. Like sex.

When it comes to gun control, there is no such thing as real compromise. It’s just a code word for “You guys just keep giving up more and more ground while we give up nothing until we achieve complete and total civilian disarmament.” Real compromise on gun issues, is about as likely as our President skipping a golf outing to attend a national security briefing.

This is why we have 20,000 gun control laws and more being proposed each and every day.

When that glorious day comes, when I’m in charge, I’m going to set about fixing a few things. Think beavers are industrious? Wait til you see me in action with my secret decoder dictator pen! During the first 20 minutes of my reign, I’ll get rid of ALL gun control laws. Well, all except one perhaps. I do kind of like that 2013 Family Protection Ordinance, passed in Nelson, GA, that requires all citizens to own a gun and ammunition. The intent is to “provide for the emergency management of the city” and to “provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants.” I suppose I could live with that one.

Read more: http://www.ammoland.com/2014/10/four-gun-laws-i-would-repeal-first-if-i-was-a-benevolent-dictator/#ixzz3GKezYYQ6

New Product: Stack-A-Rest Rifle Rest

Four stacking foam blocks quickly customize the height of your rifle rest.

Four stacking foam blocks quickly customize the height of your rifle rest.

In today’s why didn’t I think of that and become rich category is the Stack-a-Rest from Quake Industries.

It’s a series of stackable foam pieces, kind of like Legos Gone Wild that fit together in a number of different ways. Stack one, two, three or all four to adjust your rifle rest height and use any leftover pieces under your support arm. If you invert one and put the flat sides together, you can shove a cartridge through the center hole to create a stable rotating turret. The angular side down allows stable mounting on window frames, truck doors, branches, rocks or most whatever else is handy. One of the pieces even has a slit cut across so it will fit snugly on a car window.

Put the flat sides together and create a rotating platform rest.

Put the flat sides together and create a rotating platform rest.

The whole set only weighs ten ounces, so it’s easy to tote to the range or strap to your backpack while on a hunt.

Cool idea. They’re starting to hit the stores now.

Pic of the Day: Most Beautiful Gun at NASGW, BAR None

The best looking rifle at the dance, BAR none.

The best looking rifle at the dance, BAR none.

What was the classiest looking gun at this week’s National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers conference? That’s easy.

This photo, which doesn’t begin to do justice, is the new Ohio Ordnance Works Colt 1918 Self Loading Rifle. You might recognize it as a true World War I pattern Browning Automatic Rifle. During the first big kerfluffle, the US military released contracts to Colt, Winchester and Marlin-Rockwell to produce BARs in quantity. In collaboration with Colt for design specs and licensing, the Ohio Ordnance Works folks have produced a beauty. The bluing is exquisite and the rifle comes in a hard leather, velvet-lined case complete with leather sling, cleaning kit and two magazines. It’s a .30-06 semi-automatic version, but you won’t feel the recoil as the rifle weighs about 17 pounds.

The initial run is for 200 units and they’re selling fast. For about eight grand, you can have one.

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