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.

Win Some Peace and Quiet from SilencerCo and SOG Knives

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If you feel the need for a little more quiet in your life, enter the SilencerCo and SOG Tactical Giveaway.

You can enter daily between now and November 25, 2014. If you win, you’ll get a SilencerCo Saker 762 and an assortment of high-end tactical cutters from SOG. Looks like the perfect Zombie neutralization kit to me…

FNH Makes A Competition Shotgun? The FNH SC-1 Competition Over/Under

As you can see by its appearance, the FNH SC-1 is built for competition.

As you can see by its appearance, the FNH SC-1 is built for competition.

FN. It’s a little confusing if you’ve been around a while. Is FN the same as Browning? What’s Herstal? What’s FNH? Is that different than Fabrique Nationale? Should John Browning win a Nobel Prize? Are Belgian waffles all they’re cracked up to be?

Let’s answer these questions with a simple history review. In 1889 Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (FN) was formed for the sole purpose of building 150,000 Mauser rifles for the Belgian Government. A few years later, in 1897, FN’s sales manager traveled to the United States to learn more about bicycle manufacture. We don’t know exactly why, or whether or not he wore those tight biking shorts, but on that trip, biker-student Hart Berg met John Moses Browning, may he rest in peace. That chance encounter kicked off a long and prosperous partnership where FN manufactured many of Browning’s designs including the Browning Auto-5 shotgun, Browning Automatic Rifle and the Hi-Power, which was partly designed by John Browning. John Browning did FN such a solid that when he died of a heart attack in 1926, they stuck his body in the FN board room for visitation. Ewww. I know corporate boardroom meetings are boring, but at least they don’t (usually) include dead people.

Yes, FNH does make a competition shotgun.

Yes, FNH does make a competition shotgun.

Consistent with its military heritage, FN made military rifles, refurbished millions more after the big WWII kerfluffle and then went on to make the FN FAL starting in 1947.

In 1970, Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre officially changed its name to FN Herstal. Just because. Later in the 1970’s, FN acquired controlling interest in Browning, hence some of that confusion between the companies. Now having an insatiable appetite for American gun companies, FN next bought the U.S. Repeating Arms Company, including the license to manufacture Winchester-brand firearms.

Since that time, FN has manufactured gajillions of military rifles including the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M-16, M4/M4A1, MK46, MK48 and M240L machine guns, and the MK19 grenade launcher.

As to the name stuff, FN Herstal begat it’s own parent, The Herstal Group. FN Herstal then begat FN America, who begat FN Manufacturing and FNH USA. And so on and so forth. Got it?

Anyway, it all nets out to this. You might think of FN as a tactical arms company and not one to beget a competition clays shotgun. But remember the brief history lesson: one of FN’s first products was the Browning A5 autoloader shotgun, right? Since that time, FN has produced the FN SLP Standard auto-loading shotgun and the FN P-12 pump action shotgun.

But we’re here to talk about the FN SC-1 Competition shotgun, so let’s get to it.

What is it?

This SC-1 came with five Invector Plus choke tubes.

This SC-1 came with five Invector Plus choke tubes.

The FNH SC-1 Over/Under is, you guessed it, a double-barrel shotgun. It’s designed expressly for clays competition, although there is nothing about it that would discourage other uses. Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to hunt ducks or close geese with it. Why close geese? As a competition gun, it’s got a 2 ¾ inch chamber. Besides, using 3 or 3 ½-inch shells in a competition gun is kind of silly, and you’d only put yourself at a disadvantage. You certainly don’t need the extra power to break clays and the extra recoil would hurt your second shots, not to mention giving you a tremendous flinch as the competition wears on. Remember, unlike hunting, almost any clay target sport will involve hundreds of shots per day. I don’t know about you, but I’m not really into shooting a hundred or so 3 ½ inch turkey loads in one sitting – I have enough pain in my life.

Also giving a nod to its competition design goals, you’ll find ported barrels and easy to configure chokes. One of the two models also features an adjustable comb.

That’s the quick introduction, now let’s talk about the details.

Specifications of the FN SC-1

  • Overall Length: 46.38 inches with extended chokes
  • 30-inch ported and back-bored barrels
  • Invector-Plus choke threads
  • 12-gauge
  • 2 ¾-inch chambers
  • 10mm ventilated top rib
  • Fiber optic front sight with white mid-bead
  • Laminated wood stock
  • Adjustable or fixed comb models
  • Adjustable, recoil activated single-stage trigger
  • Tang safety and barrel selector switch
  • Weight: 8.2 pounds (empty)
  • 5.5 to 7.7 lb. trigger weight

MSRP (Adjustable comb models): $2,449.00
MSRP (Fixed comb models): $2,149.00

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Get Your Beam On! Black Friday Deals From Crimson Trace

1911 Master Series Lasergrip by Crimson Trace

1911 Master Series Lasergrip by Crimson Trace

If you have a gun for self and home defense, it ought to have a laser. It’s an extra tool that can make a huge difference in your ability to effectively use a gun, especially in low light conditions. Looks like Crimson Trace is offering some holiday deals…

Crimson Trace is offering discounts ranging from $20 to $50 off retail prices on products from Friday, November 28 through Thursday, December 25. The discount is determined by the product selected and is automatically applied during e-check out in the company’s online store.

Among the product lines that will be on sale only at www.crimsontrace.com are:

  • Master Series® laser sights which are designed for 1911 pistols and are available in multiple woods (from walnut to cocobolo) and in durable G-10.
  • Lasergrips® with Instinctive Activation™ and a master on/off switch.
  • Laserguard®, a laser sight that seamlessly attaches to the trigger guard on many popular pistol models. Many red or green laser Laserguard models are available.
  • Lightguard™ offers 100- or 130-lumen LED white lights and attaches to the trigger guard of numerous pistols.
  • Rail Master®, the compact red or green laser sights—or light— that can be attached to most rail-equipped firearms.
  • Rail Master Pros™, the small durable light and laser combination units that are machined from a solid block of aluminum. Each Rail Master Pro offers four operation modes: light, laser, light and laser and laser with disorienting strobe light.

Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices of these products range from $129 up to $649. All Crimson Trace products are also designed to be easily installed by the user. For more details about Crimson Trace and its wide range of innovative laser sight and light products, visit www.crimsontrace.com or call the company’s customer service department at 800-442-2406.

Four Outstanding AR Optics for Less Than $400

If you splurge on a 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500-KR, you’re not going to fill the crank case with reclaimed Crisco just to save a few bucks. A similar principle applies to optics. Even with AR-15 prices falling faster than BlockBuster Video’s stock price, you’re still probably going to spend north of $600 on a rifle. Don’t cheat yourself by purchasing an optic not qualified for the task. Cheap optics can give you headaches from fogging, poor light transmission and inconsistent adjustment performance. Most frustrating of all are those times you can’t seem to zero your rifle, not matter what, until you find out the reticle in your scope is moving all over the place with recoil. Remember, friends don’t let friends buy those cheap no-name optics you see at gun shows.

Fortunately, you do’t have to spend more than the cost of your rifle on a quality optic. Here are some of my picks for high-quality optics that you can buy for less than $400 – usually a lot less.

Weaver Kaspa-Z Zombie Scope

Before you start with the hate mail over including a Zombie scope, hear me out. Besides, the dead could rise one day. Check out the audience on the Judge Judy Show, and you’ll see what I mean. Anyhow, my contacts at ATK pulled me aside some months ago and said “Do you want to know what one of our best value scopes is?” Being completely supportive of saving money, I asked to hear the story – and got the full pitch, along with an evaluation sample of the Weaver Kaspa-Z Zombie optic. If you’re not into the whole Zombie thing, that’s OK, as the markings on the scope are subtle. Most of the Zombie cosmetics are in the form of optional stickers.

You won't see a lot of Zombie features on this Weaver Kaspa-Z, but you will get a great deal on a general purpose AR optic.

You won’t see a lot of Zombie features on this Weaver Kaspa-Z, but you will get a great deal on a general purpose AR optic.

Here’s why it’s on this list. Built on a 30mm tube, it gathers plenty of light. With a 16 ounce weight, it’s sturdy enough to use as an impact weapon. The 1.5-6x zoom gives you fast, close range capability as well as precision out to the effective range of a 5.56mm round. The real beauty of this particular scope is the Z-Cirt reticle. It’s brilliant. Variable illumination (green of course) makes it easy to see in low light. The posts and hash marks are pre-mapped to known distances with a wide variety of .223 and 5.56 ammunition and serve double duty as range estimation tools. For example, the solid center dot corresponds to a Zombie’s head at 100 yards and the surrounding parentheses indicate the same target size at 100 yards. The first horizontal hash mark indicates 20 inches (average shoulder width) at 400 yards. With all the ranging and ballistic drop compensation functionality, this reticle is still fast at short to intermediate distances.

MSRP is $299.95, but you can find one on the street for about $199.

Nikon M-223 1-4×20 BDC 600

The Nikon M-223 1-4x20 with BDC-600 reticle.

The Nikon M-223 1-4×20 with BDC-600 reticle.

The M-223 is a one-inch tube model with pure 1x to 4x magnification – plenty for realistic .223 / 5.56mm ranges unless your usage is small varmint hunting at the outer limits of ballistic performance. Turrets adjust in ½ MOA increments with a total adjustment range of 100 MOA. Parallax is fixed at 100 yards, so any potential effect is negligible. Eye relief is generous at four inches, which makes placement on an MSR receiver easy – especially with Nikon’s aggressively cantilevered scope mounts or rings. Both one-piece and two-piece cantilever mounting options are available.

The reticle is developed specifically for 55 grain .223 Remington / 5.56mm NATO cartridges and offers hold points from 100 to 600 yards in 50 yard increments. If you shoot heavier projectiles like 77 grain, you’ll have to establish your own hold point distances out past a couple hundred yards.

MSRP is $299.95, but you can find this one for about $280. Check out other options in the Nikon AR family as you can find great deals on fixed power and higher magnification optics.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

I Feel the Need for .45 Speed!

The Doubletap Ammunition .450 SMC rounds work from a standard +P rated .45 ACP pistol.

The Doubletap Ammunition .450 SMC rounds work from a standard +P rated .45 ACP pistol.

Sometimes we shooters do things because, well, why not? It’s as good reason as any, right?

At first glance, the .450 SMC cartridge may appear to fall into the “why not” category. When you start to look at specifics and potential use cases, it can make a whole lot of sense.

What’s a .450 SMC you ask?

What if I told you…

  • That you could launch a .451 160 grain projectile at .357 Sig velocities?
  • That you could blast a standard .45 ACP 230 grain bullet 32 percent faster?
  • That you could break 1,300 feet per second with an 185 grain .45 projectile?
  • That you could shoot a 255 grain hard cast bullet from an autoloading handgun?
  • And most importantly, that you could do these things from your existing .45 ACP pistol?

Sound farfetched? Nope. Assuming you have a .45 ACP pistol that’s rated for +P .45 ACP ammunition, you can shoot the .450 SMC to obtain this type of performance, and more. As we speak, Doubletap Ammunition offers five different loadings of .450 SMC.

Whose crazy idea was this?

In late 2000, a company called Triton launched the .450 SMC. Similar to the .45 Super, one primary difference was the use of a small rifle primer, theoretically allowing more brass in the cartridge base for strength. Alas, Triton didn’t last, and the .450 SMC faded away.

Fortunately for us speed freaks, the Godfather of Boom!, Mike McNett, founder of Doubletap ammunition picked up the rights and tooling for the .450 SMC cartridge, and it’s now commercially available again.

What is the .450 SMC?

Note the small rifle primer on the .450 SMC case on the left.

Note the small rifle primer on the .450 SMC case on the left.

Hopefully, it’s obvious that you can’t simply jam more powder into a standard .45 ACP cartridge case to obtain this type of performance. It’s a little more complicated than that, especially considering that the .45 ACP was designed as a low-pressure cartridge running at about 20,000 psi. There’s margin in the design, but you don’t want to go and drive pressure through the roof.

The solution is to use a different case while keeping the same dimensions. The .450 SMC uses a small magnum rifle primer rather than the standard large pistol primer of the .45 ACP. The small rifle magnum provides plenty of ignition power, but the smaller primer pocket means more brass at the cartridge base, hence a stronger case. As a result, Doubletap Ammunition can load the case with five to six thousand more pounds per square inch of pressure than a standard .45 ACP. Also, the stronger case prevents bulging even in a less-than-ideally supported chamber like a Glock 21.

As of now, Doubletap Ammunition is the only provider of .450 SMC. Founder Mike McNett bought the tooling and is now having a good old time loading lots of .450 SMC in various combinations. And I’m having a good old time shooting it.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

No Guns Allowed!

I feel like I’m a fairly bright guy. Especially when I watch Wheel of Fortune and guess at least half of the puzzles without buying a single vowel. Brainpower or not, this issue has me totally flamboozled.

Gun free zonesIt’s the “No Guns Allowed” campaign led by the Moms Demand Alimony From That Napoleonic Little Tyrant Michael Bloomberg (MDAFTNLTMB) organization. They’ve been bringing swarms of protesters, like almost 10 or 12, to a whole bunch of events at businesses like Kroger grocery stores. Apparently their goal is to encourage those businesses to adopt a “no guns allowed” policy.

Call me crazy, but I thought we already had a bunch of laws for that, which a slew of tipsy politicians codified over happy hour at the Capitol pole dancing club.

Here’s the thing that’s got me stumped. Exactly who are they worried about when it comes to people carrying guns in stores?

As I see it, there are a grand total of two choices of “people to be worried about” groups.

  1. Legally armed citizens.
  2. Illegally armed criminals.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Creepy Nigerian Dwarf Goat…

Am I missing something or any other groups here? I don’t think so. I was thinking about including Nigerian Dwarf Goats because they just look kind of creepy, but then I remembered they don’t have opposable thumbs, and therefore can’t operate guns.

At a loss to understand this issue, I decided to get some first-hand intelligence and consult a Moms Demand Alimony member.

Me: Hey, if you have a minute, I’d like to ask you why you’re here protesting at the Kroger store?

Moms Demand Alimony Protester: It’s my right to feel safe here!

Me: I agree!

MDA Protester: So we need to prevent people from carrying guns in this store.

Me: Who is carrying guns here?

MDA Protester: You know, those people with concealed carry permits.

Me: Oh. Gotcha. Do those folks cause a lot of crime?

MDA Protester: Well, I don’t feel safe if they have guns.

Me: You know, concealed carry holders commit fewer crimes than active duty police officers. The crime rate among people with concealed carry permits is about as statistically close to zero as you can get.

MDA Protester: But they have guns!

Me: What about criminals?

MDA Protester: What do you mean?

Me: Well, by definition, criminals are people who don’t follow the rules. Won’t they be here with guns whenever they feel like it?

MDA Protester: That’s why we need to ban guns from this store!

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

Be sure to check out our latest books! They are ON SALE now for a limited time!

It’s Time to Get Your Sig On! (If You Want to Win a Boatload of Free Guns)

Sig Sauer Take a Shot ContestWow! The folks at Sig Sauer are getting into the holiday spirit pretty early this year. A heads up on their P320 Take A Shot contest landed in my inbox today. Not only are they giving away guns and gear, two people are going to SHOT Show for a shoot off at the top-secret and super-exclusive Sig Sauer range day event. You want to win this, trust me. Here’s the prize list:

  • 20 P320 pistols
  • SIG MPX
  • SIG MCX
  • M11-A1
  • P226 Mk 25
  • Threaded barrels
  • A case of 9mm
  • A case of 300BLK
  • Spare mags
  • Trips to Vegas
  • Invites to range day
  • SHOT Show passes

From the Sig Sauer announcement, here are the full details:

SIG SAUER, Inc., wants you to “Take a SHOT” at winning one of (20) P320™ Carry pistols, which will also give two lucky semi-finalists a trip to SHOT SHOW 2015 to compete at the SIG SAUER VIP Range Day for the Ultimate SIG SAUER Collection of firearms and accessories, including the brand-new SIG MCX™ and a SIG MPX™. The total prize package is valued at $10,000!

There are two ways to enter to win on www.sigsauer.com:

1. Sweepstakes
Starting today, enter the P320 Take-a-SHOT Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of (10) P320 pistols. One pistol will be given away at random for 10 business days at 3:20pm from December 1, 2014 through December 12, 2014. From these ten winners, a semifinalist will be chosen at random to win the trip to SHOT Show 2015 in Las Vegas and compete at the SIG SAUER VIP Range Day for the Ultimate Grand Prize Package.

2. Video Contest
Starting today and running through November 30, 2014, fans can submit a creative video with the theme “The P320 is Epic Because (fill in the blank)”. From these videos, SIG SAUER will select the ten best videos and send a P320 pistol to the 10 winning contestants.

The top 10 videos will be posted on December 5th, and voted on by SIG SAUER® fans thorugh December 22nd. The contestant whose video receives the most number of votes will be the second semifinalist to win the trip to SHOT Show 2015 in Las Vegas and compete at the SIG SAUER VIP Range Day for the Ultimate Grand Prize Package.

The two semifinalists will then compete in a series of shoot-off challenges at the SIG SAUER VIP Range Day, with the winner taking home the grand prize Ultimate SIG SAUER Collection: a SIG MPX-P with a Pistol Stabilizing Brace in 9mm, a SIG MCX™ in 300BLK, an M11-A1 Flat Dark Earth pistol, an MK25 Flat Dark Earth pistol, a P226® Threaded Barrel and an M11-A1 Threaded Barrel. But that’s not all. These guns need to be fed, so SIG SAUER will throw in a case of SIG V-Crown Elite Performance 9mm JHP and Elite Performance 300BLK rifle ammunition, plus additional SIG MCX and SIG MPX magazines.

A custom Pelican case keeps it all together, and a SIG SAUER PVC patch lets you show your pride every day.

Fans can enter via both methods to double their chances at winning. For complete rules and regulations, please visit www.sigsauer.com.

Black Rifle Holiday Gift Guide

We’re getting into the gift giving, and more importantly, gift receiving season, so here are some of our picks for black rifle accessories. Some are old; some are new; some are expensive and others not, but all are useful additions to the modern sporting rifle.

Aimpoint Carbine Optic

Aimpoint Carbine OpticI’ve always loved the red dot options from Aimpoint. For me, since I like these on a defensive rifle, the “always on” feature is fantastic. You never, ever have to worry about turning your red dot on when you go for your rifle. Just leave it on all the time and make yourself a reminder to change the battery every year.

New for 2015 is the Aimpoint Carbine Optic. Made specifically for black rifles, it has a fixed-height mount pre-measured for back up iron sight co-witness. By making the optic platform specific, Aimpoint was able to reduce the price to an entry point level. It’s got a 2 MOA dot, and if you leave it on all the time, the batteries will last for about a year.

It’s just hitting the dealer shelves now, but you can find one here. MSRP is $393.

XProducts Drum Magazine

Here's a 50-round skeletonized model for .223 / 5.56mmI’ve never paid much attention to drum magazines for black rifles, at least until I checked out the X Products version. Made from steel and aluminum, these are no plastic discount catalog gimmicks. They’re getting to be a big deal on the 3-gun circuit for good reason. Sporting a 50-round capacity, the overall height is still lower than a normal 30-round magazine, do you can dive for prone position shooting and get even lower to the ground.

They’re not just for 2.23/5.56mm black rifles either. Check out the XProducts website to see options for .308 and other calibers.

You can find a 50 round standard drum for about $200 at Brownells.

Badger Ordnance Tactical Charging Handle Latch

Badger charging handleOK, forget the “tactical” part of this product. It’s just handy if your black rifle has any type of receiver-mounted optic. The latch is enlarged and extended, so even if you have a scope that gets in the way of standard charging handle operation, it’s easy to reach. You don’t have to do digging underneath the rear of the optic to find the charging handle.

You can buy just the extended latch and mount it to your existing charging handle or you can just buy the complete charging handle with the bigger latch built in. The neat part is that Badger makes the extended latch in right-hand, left-hand and both-side configurations.

Available at Brownells. The latch only is less than $20, while the complete charging handle is about $100. You can pick up the ambidextrous model for about $120.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Blackhawk! Diversion Rolling Load Out Bag

BH_65DC70BKRD_Diversion_Rolling_Loadout_Horizontal_Wgun_R

New for 2015 is a jumbo-sized black rifle carry bag. You might have seen other carry packs and bags in the Blackhawk! Diversion line, like the “tennis racket” black rifle case. As the “Diversion” name implies, the whole idea is to make carry bags that don’t look all tactical. Live in an apartment or have nosey neighbors next door? No problem, with the Blackhawk! Diversion line you can tote your rifles around in plain sight and no one will be the wiser.

The new 2015 model is the Diversion Rolling Load Out Bag. As you might guess by the name, it’s got urethane wheels to tote its rated 200 pounds of whatever you want to put in it. The rifle compartment is full size, so you don’t have to separate upper and lower receivers as with smaller diversion bags. The gun compartment has a muzzle pouch and straps that lock your rifle in place while you transport. It’s available in various colors including black/grey, black/red and blue/grey. It looks like an ordinary suitcase, so no worries about being outed as the neighborhood tactical dude or dudette.

It’s just coming into the distribution channel so you’ll see it soon at online and local retailers. For now, you can find more information here. MSRP is $399.99.

Pic of the Day: Ankles of Doom

Galco Ankle Glove Ruger LCR 357 Hornady Critical Defense

My favorite ankle carry setup? That’s easy. It’s a combination of the Galco Ankle Glove ankle holster, Ruger LCR 357 and Hornady Critical Defense 357 Magnum ammo.

I like the ankle glove for a number of reasons. The band is neoprene lined inside with sheepskin, so it’s stable and comfortable – even in hot weather. The gun holster is made from sturdy leather and perfectly fit for specific guns. Best of all, the holster compartment is molded completely outside of the ankle band, so your gun doesn’t press into your leg. When I’m wearing boots, I use the Ankle Glove as is. When wearing lower cut shoes, I add the Galco Calf Strap to hold the rig higher on my leg, so it’s not visible.

The extra ammo is carried on a Bianchi Speed Strip, which holds six rounds flat, so they fit comfortably in your pants pocket. Speaking of ammo, I like the Hornady Critical Defense 357 Magnum round as its power factor is somewhere between .38 Special +P and a full-power .357 Magnum. You can actually shoot it from the Ruger LCR 357 with good control.

At some point, I’ll have to add the Crimson Trace Lasergrip to the Ruger LCR 357 to complete the package.

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