Gearing Up for SHOT Show 2014!

In preparation for next weeks SHOT Show, we’re packing, planning and setting up more meetings than Lindsay Lohan appearances on COPS.

If you’ve never been, SHOT Show is huge. I mean monstrous. Epic. Ridiculous. And maybe boundless. It’s always been a challenge to accurately describe the scale of this shooting, hunting and outdoors trade show.

Fortunately, the National Shooting Sports Foundation released an infographic that helps accurately describe SHOT. Some spoilers…

  • If you walk by each booth, you’ll put a minimum of 12.5 miles on your shoes.
  • The exhibit halls are equivalent in size to the Great Pyramid of Giza.
  • If you filled up the entire Super Dome with shooting industry vendor booths, that would be the same as SHOT Show.

We’ll be posting lots of news and updates on our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages throughout the show. Stay tuned!

how-big-is-the-shot-show_52caf4735d725

Black Friday Sale – No Camping Out Required

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun EditionWe were going to have an in-person Black Friday (and today and Saturday) sale event, but the thought of all those people camping out for days outside the office was kind of weird. We decided to be Insanely Practical about the whole thing instead.

Today, tomorrow and Saturday, our newest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition, is not 10, 20, or even 40, but 60% off!

That’s right, the Kindle version is just $3.99 for these three days only.

Recently featured in American Handgunner magazine, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting is the perfect resource to help you, or a friend, develop safety, confidence and skill with handgun shooting. Filled with tips, ideas, products, lots of photos and even a few cartoons, this book will get you up to speed in no time.

American Handgunner Magazine - Insider column feature

What our readers have to say

“Tom does a great job, in a comedic fashion, of explaining firearms and shooting in general.”
Hank H.

“This is a fun yet serious read. Great for anyone new to guns as well as those with some experience.”
Richard H.

“This a great tongue-in-cheek look at sometimes serious problems in becoming a gun owner. Everyone from rookie to veteran gun owners should read this.”
SixFourCop

Pick up a copy of The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting today! Whether you’re an experienced handgunner, or just starting out, there are plenty of helpful tips, photos, ideas and more that will help you become a better shooter. And it’s all delivered with a dose of fun.

Win This LaserMax UNI-MAX ES Rifle Value Pack

Tis’ the season for giving right?

Win this LaserMax UNI-MAX ES Rifle Value Pack laser

Win this LaserMax UNI-MAX ES Rifle Value Pack laser

Thanks to the nice folks at LaserMax, we’re going to give away a LaserMax UNI-MAX ES Rifle Value Pack to one of our lucky Facebook fans. That’s right, just head over to our Facebook page to enter, or you can do it directly from here. That’s all there is to it.

Keeping with our Insanely Practical philosophy, there are no strings attached. All you have to do is Like our Facebook page. The contest entry asks for your email, but that’s only for notifying the winner. We won’t even add you to our mailing list if you enter. Of course, if you would like to get our weekly email, packed with tips, product reviews and fun commentary on all things shooting, you can do that here.

This is an awesome addition to your AR-15 rifle, or any other rifle that has a rail up front. Heck, since it’s modular, you can even mount it on a pistol. We reviewed the LaserMax UNI-MAX ES recently if you want full details.

Enter here!

Deal Alert: Brownells AR Magazines On Sale For $9.99

Brownells AR MagazineJust saw this folks – a great time to stock up on Brownells AR magazines. They’re excellent and reliable.

Want Free Body Armor From Engarde USA?

Hey folks, I’ve got some exciting news that may cheer you up in these troubled economic times. Great, now I sound like a G. Gordon Liddy commercial…

The good folks at Engarde USA donated a free set of body armor for us to give to one of our lucky readers. Yes, that’s right. Free. No charge. And it’s not even used! Just kidding… but seriously, it is new in the box. And it’s never been shot at. If you win, it’s our recommendation that you try to avoid getting it shot at also.

Win this Engarde USA body armor. A $625 value, it can be yours just for sharing a little "Like" on your Facebook page.

Win this Engarde USA body armor. A $625 value, it can be yours just for a little “Like” on our Facebook page.

We’ve actually got a second identical set of Engarde Body Armor that we’re going to shoot at with all sorts of pistol calibers. So you can see exactly what you’re getting and how it performs. Look for a separate review article here in the next week.

But, just to tide you over, here are the basic features:

  • External configuration designed to wear over your shirt.
  • The carrier fully encloses front and back panels that overlap on the sides.
  • The panels are constructed from Dyneema SB-21. You can read more about that here, but for now, know that it’s designed to stop most pistol rounds.
  • Separate pockets allow insertion of ceramic plates to help stop rifle or machine gun rounds. Ballistic plates are not included in this giveaway, but you can buy them from Engarde USA.
  • Generous hook and loop panels allow attachment of gear on the exterior – front and back.
  • The carrier features hook and loop straps over the shoulders and around the sides for a perfect fit.
  • The interior features mesh construction to help keep you cool and comfortable.
  • The carrier is navy blue.

This is an incredibly awesome opportunity! The Engarde USA armor we’re giving away retails at $625! Yes, six hundred and twenty five dollars! 

How to win:

  • Like our Facebook page.
  • Yes, that’s it. No catches. Nor do you have to attend a brief seminar educating you on vacation property investments in the swamps lowcountry of South Carolina.
  • We’ll fire up the Google machine and use Random to pick the winner from all of our followers on Saturday November 23rd. So, instead of going shopping after Thanksgiving, make sure to get on Facebook for a minute and like My Gun Culture.
  • If you already like our Facebook page, you’ve already entered! And thanks for checking us out before this contest!

The fine print:

  • The size is large. If you win, you can choose any size you want, as long as it’s size Large. Don’t worry, be happy, the Engarde Large size fits the broadest variety of humans. I myself take an extra large, but I’ve really been enjoying the Butterscotch Krimpets recently. Sorry, no substitutions. I have one set here, in the box, waiting for you, but it’s a size large.
  • The color is Navy Blue.
  • State laws. It’s up to you to make sure there are no stupid laws in the place of your residence that would prohibit me from sending this to you. If your laws won’t allow you to win, we have to pass you by and go to the runner-up. Sorry, no substitutes or cash equivalents. Write your congress-critter and get the laws fixed so you can win next time.
  • We’ll post the winner on our Facebook page. Depending on your specific Facebook privacy settings, we may not be able to message you, so it’s up to you to check our page to see if you won. If a week goes by and we can’t contact you, we’re going to the next name generated by Random.
  • That’s about it. We’re going to keep this pretty simple. Because we believe in insane practicality.

While you’re waiting to win, why don’t you check out our latest books, available in print and eBook format. They’re insanely practical too.

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

 

A Look Inside of Blackhawk! A Photographic Factory Tour

Last week I had the good fortune to tour the BLACKHAWK! manufacturing facility just outside of Bozeman, Montana. This isn’t just an assembly or packaging facility, it’s a soup-to-nuts, raw materials-to-finished product plant. Polymer beads come in one end, and really nifty gun parts and accessories come out the other.

The Blackhawk! plant in Manhattan, Montana, just outside of Bozeman, manufactures holsters, gun stocks, cleaning supplies, and al sorts of other items. And lots of them!

The Blackhawk! plant in Manhattan, Montana, just outside of Bozeman, manufactures holsters, gun stocks, cleaning supplies, and al sorts of other items. And lots of them!

Rather than blather on about how neat the BLACKHAWK! factory is, let’s take a photo tour:

Blackhawk 1651 Everything starts with design. Here, an engineer works on a new stock prototype. Sorry folks, I had to blur the computer screens as the details are top secret! The design stations were equipped with advanced CAD-CAM software allowing a design to be “operated” virtually before the first prototype is built. Most of the engineers also had tool kits on their desks to allow work on physical prototypes during the design process.
Blackhawk 1594 All polymer manufacturing starts with raw materials—small beads of various types and colors of plastic material. It feels like a heavier version of that mysterious stuff inside of bean bag chairs.
Blackhawk 1593 Inside the plant is a farm of storage tanks for the polymer beads. Here, part-time tour guide and full-time Production Supervisor Tim Finlayson explains the process to American Handgunner Editor Suzi Huntington.
Blackhawk 1598 The exterior storage tanks for raw materials dwarf those located indoors. That’s a lot of holsters folks!
Blackhawk 1636 This facility houses one of the largest polymer molding operations anywhere. Note the piping from above that continuously delivers polymer raw material to the molding machines. These operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
Blackhawk 1579 Here’s just one of the molding machine stations. Raw material pellets are delivered via the bin located in the upper-right, melted, and pressed into custom molds to create the desired part. Some molds produce a single item while others produce dozens per cycle.
Blackhawk 1589 Here, polymer pellets enter a molding machine in preparation for a serious meltdown.
Blackhawk 1585 This molding machine is currently set up to product cartridge separators for use in 20-round .223 ammunition boxes. The robotic arm and panel shown here remove “batches” of newly-molded separators and place them on the conveyor for cooling before inspection and packaging.
Blackhawk 1592 While we were on the tour, this conveyor never stopped. These cartridge separators are shipped to ammunition producers continuously.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

Primers Exist! Here’s The Proof…

Blackhawk! is making primer trays for ammo component manufacturers 24x7. Here's some fresh out of the molding machine.

Blackhawk! is making primer trays for ammo component manufacturers 24×7. Here’s some fresh out of the molding machine.

If you reload, or have been looking for ammunition anytime during 2013, you know that supplies of primers are scarce. In case you don’t know, primers are those little metal “caps” that go in the base of a cartridge to make it go bang. They’re sort of like those newer style caps for toy guns except they’re made of metal, not plastic, and have a lot more juice.

Last week I had the great pleasure of touring the Blackhawk! factory in Manhattan, Montana where all sorts of polymer things are made: holsters, gun stocks, magazine carriers and primer packaging trays. Since primers have a tendency to go bang, they’re packed very, very carefully. They come in boxes filled with plastic trays so each individual primer is isolated from everything else. Kind of like a heavy-duty egg carton.

Boxes like this one are filled every couple of minutes. Yes, we're using that many primers!

Boxes like this one are filled every couple of minutes. Yes, we’re using that many primers!

A couple of the 30-ish very expensive molding machines at the Manhattan facility have been 100% dedicated to the manufacture of primer trays seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for just about as long as folks there can remember. While molds in other machines are frequently changed out to make different products, these machines continue pumping out primer trays day after day after day. Blackhawk ships them to ammunition companies as fast as they can make them.

So, primers are manufactured in record numbers. It’s just that panicky people like us are continuing to stockpile them in even greater numbers.

I’m starting to see light as the end of the tunnel, as at least some primers are now available at local suppliers. What are you seeing out there?

Cool Products From The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational Media Day

Some of the shooting industry’s leading vendors teamed up with Crimson Trace to sponsor the Midnight 3 Gun Invitational event in Bend, OR. While I can’t cover all the new products displayed here, a few stood out.

Colt Competition Rifle 1424

Colt Competition Rifle

During daylight hours when shooting was not deemed challenging enough, we had the opportunity to talk guns, gear and new offerings from a dozen different companies.

There’s some cool stuff out there, with more on the way this fall. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of our favorite finds:

OTIS Technology

OTIS Technology MSR / AR-15 Kit with B.O.N.E. Tool and Ripcord cleaner

OTIS Technology MSR / AR-15 Kit with B.O.N.E. Tool and Ripcord cleaner

We’ve been big fans of the OTIS system longer than Barney Frank has been cheating on taxes. The big news for this fall is the OTIS Ripcord. Similar to the Bore Snake cleaners in only the most cursory of looks, the Ripcord brings a lot of improvements. The cleaners are semi-rigid and made of Nomex, so they are far more durable and a lot less likely to get caught in the receiver when pulling them through your rifle or pistols. The helix pattern serves both scrubbing and dirt gathering functions for thorough cleaning. Ripcords have threaded caps on both ends so you can attach a wire brush for extra cleaning power, or perhaps a solvent-soaked patch in front of the cleaner. Oh, and they’re heat-resistant to 700 degrees. They’ll be released this fall in .223/5.56mm, .308, 9mm, .40 and .45 ACP calibers. I suspect we’ll see that list grow.

In the relatively new category is the OTIS MSR / AR-15 cleaning kit. Contained in one of the OTIS small zip cases, it contains everything you need for thorough AR cleaning. The B.O.N.E. Tool is beautifully designed to clean carbon gunk from the bolt carrier, bolt and firing pin. It’s especially handy for that impossible to clean bolt tail area. Lot’s of scrapers, brushes and picks help you reach all the other hard to access places in the AR rifle.

HH Bauer Custom Case

HH Bauer Custom Case

HH Bauer Cases

Traveling with one gun is challenging enough. Traveling with three, and all the assorted gear for an event like this is a supreme test of logistics and packing skills. HH Bauer makes custom foam inserts for Pelican and other cases. As a Pelican dealer, they can equip you with gun and gear cases to make the pros envious. Already got a case? No worries, they can whip you up custom inserts for your specific gear.

Danner Boots

Danner Tachyon Boots

Danner Tachyon Boots

In addition to generously outfitting Media participants with Rivot TFX Hot Military boots for the event, Danner displayed a variety of their products in the vendor fair. The ones shown in the photo drew my attention, and when I picked them up, I quickly found they were anti-gravity boots! The Tachyon Hot Military boots are the lightest boots I’ve ever seen, bar none. Wow, it was pretty amazing. Want to go run some trails? Try these.

MGM Targets

MGM 22 LR Spinner target

MGM 22 LR Spinner target

MGM has a new line of .22 rimfire targets. The one that got my attention was the MGM .22 Rimfire Spinner Target. The idea is to hit top, bottom, or alternate between both to get the target to spin a complete 360. It will take multiple, perfect hits to succeed. It gets really challenging when the target starts rocking back and forth and you have to hit it on the move to increase the momentum. It’s more addictive than Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And that’s saying a lot. Want to burn through 1,000 rounds of .22LR? Get a Ruger 10/22 and one of these!

Warne Scope Mounts

WARNE RAMP Scope Mount

WARNE RAMP Scope Mount

I was able to shoot a Colt Competition with the new Warne RAMP mounting system. Two things stood out here. The shooting scenario had us taking a shot with one scope mounted in a Warne RAMP, then removing the mount and scope and replacing it with a different scope mounted in a different RAMP mount. The idea was point of impact repeatability. Yep, it worked like a champ.

The second neat feature of this mount is the integrated 45 degree mounting rails. They are detachable, so you can use them on either side or both. Mount a short-range optic like an iron sight or Trijicon RMR to complement your primary optic. Cool.

Leatherman

Leatherman Rail

Leatherman Rail

Leatherman showed us a bunch of gear for all sorts of tasks, but I was particularly keen on the Leatherman Rail. Made specifically as an AR platform range tool, the Rail includes a sight adjustment tool, a pin punch, ⅜” wrench and bits and driver for rail, scope and other adjustment tasks. It also features and oxygen bottle wrench in case you get a little woozy at the range! Are you a shotgunner or bowhunter? No worries, check out the similar Leatherman Pump and Cam tools for those platforms.

Colt Competition Rifles

We saw these at SHOT Show and wow they are sweet, sweet AR rifles. You can count on somewhere in the ½ MOA accuracy range. I shot a .223 at a 500 yard gong with great success. Check them out at your earliest opportunity!

Crimson Trace

Crimson Trace MVF-515 Light Laser Foregrip

Crimson Trace MVF-515 Light Laser Foregrip

We we able to test out the Crimson Trace MVF-515 vertical fore grip for rail-equipped rifles. This unit features a green laser and a 200 lumen light. Pressure pads on both sides of the foregrip allow you to control light and laser independently. Wow! The stability of the laser on a rifle, combined with the strong light, allows amazingly fast target acquisition and aiming. I was shocked at how effectively I was able to shoot a rifle in zero light conditions.

The Cody Firearms Museum: More Guns Than You Can Shake A Gun At

Which of the following statements are true?

A. Cody, Wyoming is the most pro-gun city in the United States. You’ll see people open carrying freely and most every business prominently displays pro-Second Amendment messaging. Oh, and not coincidentally, murders in Cody for the years 2002 through 2011 (last reported dates) were measured at zero. Yes, that’s zero each and every year.

The Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Photo: Sean Campbell

The Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Photo: Sean Campbell

B. Winchester motorcyles look a lot like Harley Davidson motorcycles, but historians have found no evidence that notorious biker gangs like the Warlocks, Hell’s Angels, or Galloping Goose Motorcycle Club (founded 1942 in Los Angeles–really!) ever adopted the Winchester bike as club standard equipment.

C. The finest and most protein-enhanced breakfast on the planet can be found at Our Place Home Cookin’ restaurant in Cody, Wyoming.

D. Perhaps the most extensive and impressive firearms display in the United States can be found just about six blocks from the Silver Dollar Bar in downtown Cody, Wyoming.

If you guessed “all of the above” you are correct!

At the recent Shooting Industry Masters event, attendees were invited to a welcome reception at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. This amazing museum is an overflowing buffet of artifacts, guns, and stories that helped shape the American West.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

A Brief History of Guns, The Early Years…

Here’s an excerpt from our brand new book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s part of the Insanely Practical Guides series and is loaded with light-hearted education, lots of helpful photos and some comedic relief. Hope you enjoy!

Before there were guns...

Before there were guns…

Guns have been annoying politicians longer than you might think. Before we jump into modern day firearm knowledge, let’s take a look at the long and winding road of gun history…

1,100 BC

Legends of the earliest known uses of guns have been passed down through generations of Zoran women. Historians believe that many women folk of Zorah, then near Philistine, gushed and swooned at the sight of Samson’s guns. According to the folklore, Samson had two guns, of exceptionally large caliber. Also according to history, he used those guns on more than one occasion – smiting at least one lion and many Philistine warriors. Sadly, the Zoran Congress, led by Senator Delilah of Timna, Philistia, soon enacted an assault hair ban and Samson was stripped of his guns.

 

1250 AD

Most historians believe that the key ingredient required to make all those useless guns work was invented around this time. In fact, NRA National Firearms Museum Director Jim Supica claims that Franciscan monk Roger Bacon wrote of the mixture shortly before 1250 A.D. That was an awfully long time ago – just after the birth of Joan Rivers.

Anyway, according to Bacon’s ancient texts, the lute and dulcimer trio of Guns and Roses discovered gunpowder while searching for better ways to wow the crowd at outdoor concerts. The forward-thinking band found that a mixture of charcoal, sulphur and salt peter provided plenty of noise and flash for bitchin’ stage theatrics. Salt Peter, Saint Peter’s long-lost stepbrother, was not at all happy about this recipe and he immediately started work on development of smokeless powders that did not require any of his bodily parts. Progress was slow as smokeless powder was not invented until the late 19th century.

 

1300

The earliest cannons appeared on the scene. After all, what good was the newly invented gunpowder without something to shoot it from? Early cannons were quite simple – nothing more than a tube open on one end and closed at the other. A small hole near the closed end allowed cannoneers to light a powder charge inside. Crudely constructed from iron, wood and sometimes Mighty Putty, these weapons applied the same basic principles used by guns today.

 

1350

While loud and impressive, early cannons did little to meet self-defense requirements. Since gun holsters had not yet been invented, concealed carry was not feasible. Hunting with the newly invented firearms was also problematic as many animals were reluctant to stand in front of cannons long enough to be converted to SPAM. In response to complaints of supermarket butchers everywhere, the “hand-gonne” was invented. Simply a downsized cannon mounted on a pole, the hand-gonne struggled for popularity mainly because no one knew how to pronounce the word “gonne.”

 

1400 to 1639

Clearing up name confusion, people stopped making “hand-gonnes” and replaced them with matchlocks and wheellocks. Matchlock guns featured an exposed flash pan filled with fine – and easy to ignite – priming powder, which would light the main charge to fire the gun. A dangling, and lit, fuse was suspended over the flashpan. A mechanical linkage was used to lower the smoldering fuse into the highly combustible flash pan. Occasionally, the matchlocks would fire when the user wanted, but usually before, after or not at all.

 

1526

The gun company Beretta is founded in the Foccacia region of Italy, in a town called Brescia. Having made guns prior to this date, company founder Ben Cartwright achieves his first commercial success with production of 185 Arquebus Matchlock barrels for the Arsenal of Venice. The British Secret Service, Double-0 branch, is issued the 186th Arquebus. England quietly canceled the Double-0 program when it was discovered that matchlock rifles concealed poorly under dinner jackets.

 

1640

The first kinda, sorta reliable flintlock was built. Some astute marketers even guaranteed their flintlocks to be 31% reliable, 67% of the time. Offering major advancements in luxury and comfort, such as heated drivers-side seats, the flintlock allowed shooters to carry their guns pretty much anywhere, except schools and government buildings, of course. As the flintlock features a covered flash pan for priming powder, users could even take their guns into rainy conditions. No longer would major World Wars endure rain delays, thereby minimizing network television scheduling challenges.

As a side note, the phrase “keep your powder dry” came into vogue during the flintlock era. As guns of the time relied on ignition of two separate powder charges – one in the flash pan and one in the barrel – keeping powder dry and flammable was a requirement of guns going bang instead of fzzzlpphhtt.

Stay tuned for the the next phase in firearm history…

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition is available on Amazon.com now!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

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