Team Glock’s KC Eusebio: USPSA Grand Master By Age 12?

Recently we caught up with Team Glock Pro Shooter KC Eusebio. We talked about what it’s like to become a Grand Master before the voice change, who would win an all out street brawl with the Gunny, R. Lee Ermey and how many times Glock teammate Michelle Viscusi and former Army MP had to bust him back in the day.

KC Eusebio Team Glock

Pro Shooter, child prodigy and Jujutsu artist KC Eusebio of Team Glock.

My Gun Culture: As I understand, you started shooting at a ridiculously young age. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you won your first intergalactic championship at age 8, right?

KC Eusebio: Well, not quite… I started shooting at age 8 and became a Master at age 10. At age 12 I became a USPSA Grand Master. So I became the youngest USPSA Master and the youngest USPSA Grand Master. Both of those records still hold today. I’m not sure anyone will beat those unless they are some kind of prodigy.

MGC: Well we’re planning on adopting a shooting sports prodigy any day now to only focus on beating your record… So what led up to that? Were you some kind of paintball or airsoft champion at age 3? Or perhaps you were fixated on cap guns?

KC: I actually started off shooting with a real gun – a full-size 1911. I shot Open Class and Major Power Factor. My father was a Master Class shooter himself and got me into the sport. I’m really happy that he did that for me, because look what I’m doing today! I worked really hard and lost a lot of free time as a kid because I was at home loading bullets. I dry fired religiously every day. That got me where I am today.

MGC: So you made Master Class at age 10 shooting a full-size 1911 in .45 ACP? That’s crazy! What prompted you to take up shooting with that gun? Was it a hand-fit issue? What your dad shot? Were you completely insane? Or were you just a total badass?

KC: It came to me kind of naturally. And my dad was sort of strict. But I thank him for that. He exposed me to a a great pastime. For a hobby, competition, personal defense, or just hanging out shooting with friends.

MGC: So how did a nice, respectable guy like you, with a strict upbringing, get involved with a crazy outfit like Glock?

KC: Well, I wouldn’t say Glock is a crazy outfit! They’re more of a clean-cut, perfectionist company. I guess they saw me when I was shooting for the Army – I did that for about 4 years. I guess they saw what I was about and liked that. I’m grateful – I love shooting for this company. Glock is the best handgun in the world and nothing else beats it. They’re proven.

MGC: I know you started shooting 1911’s, but were you shooting a Glock when Glock found you?

KC: I’ve always liked shooting every type of gun. I like to say it’s not the bow, but the indian. At the same time, my bow is THE BEST. So it’s the best of both worlds.

MGC: So back to your family, do you have any brothers or sisters?

KC: I’m an only child.

MGC: How many Glocks do you have? Round off to the nearest dozen.

KC: Glocks that I have? Easily over a dozen. I use them for various types of competitions. All different models, but mostly 9mm and .40 Smith & Wesson.

MGC: Do you have a specific competition load that you like? So, for example, in 9mm, do you shoot 124 grain bullets? Or 147 grain? Or perhaps something totally secret and illegal?

KC: It depends on the competition. For example, for Steel Challenge and other speed shooting, I use 115 grain projectiles. If I am shooting Major competition, I use 125 grain at about 1,400 feet per second. If I am using the normal stock Glock I like to use 147 grain bullets going about 1,100 feet per second.

MGC: You’re a California boy right?

KC: I was born and raised in California but moved to Georgia when I joined the Army at age 18. I’ve been in Georgia ever since.

MGC: So what type of Glock did you carry while surfing? On second thought, don’t answer that, it’s probably a top-secret pre-production submersible model right? We’re going to be talking with Michelle Viscusi in a few minutes and she was also Army. Military Police in fact. So you better come clean on these next questions because we’re going to ask her. Did she ever have to bust you and haul your butt to the brig for tearing up a dingy Tijuana bar or anything?

KC: Well no, I was on active duty in Georgia and she was in Guard in Arizona.

MGC: It sounds like you’re dodging the question, but that’s fortunate for you, because I hear she’s tough. So, being an Army veteran, you can help us settle our long-term debate. I want an MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher for home defense. She’s worried about blast damage to the furniture. Can you settle this for us?

KC: Well when it comes to home defense, even a .22, used properly, can be effective. I don’t want to hurt anyone else, or the furniture. That’s stuff is expensive! It takes a long time to fill up a house!

MGC: You’re a Jujutsu student. Why do you need a gun at all? Can’t you just whirl and twirl and disarm dozens of evil henchmen without breaking a sweat?

KC: I enjoy a lot of combat sports. I did wrestling in High School and I liked the combat training in the army. Jujutsu is not a high impact sport so it’s not hard on the joints. I just love it.

MGC: So R. Lee Ermey, the Gunny is right here behind us. If you two got into a scrap, who’s gonna prevail?

KC: I think the Gunny would have to take it. Out of respect for what he’s done for this country. I guess I would just have to play possum if I had to fight him!

MGC: Glock has some new models this year. I recently shot the Glock 30S and was surprised at how gentle it was for a compact .45 ACP. What are you liking?

KC: All of the new Glocks are Gen 4 models. The Glock 20, which is a full size 10mm, is amazing. The 10mm is a big cartridge that can put a hurt on your hands. I’m really impressed with how soft shooting the Glock 20 is. It’s amazing. I’m going to have to pick one up myself.

MGC: Tell us about your competition schedule. What’s the life of a pro shooter like?

KC: It’s pretty hectic. I’m traveling maybe 40% of the time. This year I have about 30 matches on the schedule. And they’re not just here in the US. Many of them are international. I’m going to New Zealand and a tour of Europe. It’s stressful, but I love it. I love to compete. I love to win. I love to show off the Glock products – they are the embodiment of perfection.

Team Smith & Wesson’s Trevor Baucom: Go Big or Go Home!

If you’re thinking about getting into competitive shooting, you could always start small, maybe with a local club match. Of you could just go and enter the most challenging competition there is – the Bianchi Cup. That’s what Team Smith & Wesson’s Trevor Baucom did. Oh, and he did it from a wheelchair. You see, Trevor is a medically retired Chief Warrant Officer and Blackhawk Pilot who was paralyzed in a crash during a night assault mission in Afghanistan. Now, as a sponsored competitive shooter, he’s opening doors to the shooting sports for lots of folks.

Trevor Baucom, Team Smith & Wesson

We caught up with Team Smith & Wesson’s Trevor Baucom at SHOT Show 2013.

We had a lot of fun talking with Trevor Baucom. Here’s what we learned…

My Gun Culture: So Trevor, if we have our facts straight, you’re a relatively new addition to Team Smith & Wesson. Didn’t you join the team sometime in mid-2011?

Trevor Baucom: That’s right, I was formally introduced as a team member at the NRA Annual Meeting in 2011 in Pittsburgh.

MGC: Now for the interesting part – was your first major competition really the The 2011 Bianchi Cup National Championship?

Trevor: Well no, not really. Bianchi was my FIRST shooting competition PERIOD! I had shot plenty just playing around, but never anything in terms of serious competition. After a couple of months of training, Bianchi was the first match I ever shot!

MGC: Ummm, that’s kind of like learning how to read by picking up a copy of War and Peace isn’t it? For those who aren’t familiar, the Bianchi Cup is the most brutal test of handgun shooting skill.

Trevor: It’s all about accuracy. Meaning out to 50 yards with a handgun kind of accuracy.

MGC: So were you completely high on drugs to venture into competitive shooting this way?

Trevor: Nah… That was the first one and I kind of think “Go big or go home!” I had a blast and it was really fun.

MGC: So how did you do?

Trevor: Well, I didn’t come close to winning. Doug Koenig has nothing to fear from me! I’ll improve on it as I go. My goal is always to outdo myself every year. Hey I didn’t come in last place either…

MGC: How did the whole Smith & Wesson thing come about? Tell us about the chain of events that got you here.

Trevor: I had just gotten out of the hospital and was going to outpatient rehab. I was in and out of the rehab facility and I saw this car with GUNS-TV on the license plate and I thought “That’s pretty cool.” Then I saw a 2nd Ranger Battalion license plate on the front of the car. And I did my first five years in the Army in the 1st Ranger Battalion so I go out there one day and see a bunch of guys talking by that car. So I went over and asked who the Ranger was. The guy answered that it was actually his son, and it turned out the guy was Jim Scoutten, host of Shooting USA. Anyway, over the next week or so, we talked more and one thing led to another. He introduced me to the folks at Smith & Wesson and here we are.

MGC: Now you also shoot Steel Challenge right?

Trevor: Yes sir!

MGC: How’s that going for you?

Trevor: It’s a blast, I love Steel Challenge. I did the World Shoot the past couple of years. I’ve been improving my times year over year and did the Nationals this year.

MGC: We also heard that you’re starting into 3 Gun competition as well?

Trevor: I am. I am shooting the AR15.com match in July at Rock Castle. That’s going to be my first major 3 Gun match. Ithaca Gun Company has sponsored me. They don’t offer a semi-auto shotgun, so I have to shoot the Heavy Metal class. So I’m going hard core!

MGC: Let’s talk about your competition guns. For Bianchi and Steel Challenge what are you using?

Trevor: I’m shooting the Smith & Wesson M&P Pro Series with a 5 inch barrel. I’ve got a production version and an Open Class M&P that Apex Tactical has fixed up for me. For Steel Nationals, I’m going to shoot the new Smith & Wesson M&P Core. For 3 Gun I’ll be shooting a Smith & Wesson M&P AR, probably the 300 Whisper. So I’ll still be shooting the .30 caliber for Heavy Metal, but with a little less pop. Then I’ll use one of the Smith & Wesson M&P Core’s in .45 ACP for the pistol and of course an Ithaca Model 37 pump shotgun.

MGC: So with all that, you’ll leave Rock Castle with a nice, sore, shoulder…

Trevor: Nah, it’s alright. They hooked me up with a really nice recoil reducer. It has a strut inside that soaks up a lot of the recoil. I did a charity trap shoot with it a couple weeks ago and it was fine.

MGC: Let’s talk about hunting. You live in Tennessee right? Lot’s of hunting opportunities there, so what do you enjoy?

Trevor: There’s lot’s of hunting and fishing. I hunt deer, turkey, and HAVA (Honored American Veterans Afield) is working on getting me out for an elk hunt too.

MGC: So how was your deer season this year?

Trevor: I didn’t get out very much at all. But, my oldest son got his first deer. It ended up being a management buck, but it was bigger than the 10 pointer it was hanging next to in the freezer. So while it was a management buck, it was a big one. So that was the only one we got this year as we just didn’t get out enough. Turkey season is great because I don’t have to go anywhere. The farmer behind us has given us free rein to hunt 300 acres for Turkey. So as long as I don’t shoot his cows, I’m OK!

MGC: No worries, I’m sure the Bianchi Cup stuff has got your accuracy all set. So, since you’re an Army Ranger veteran and probably expert on this topic, you can settle a long-standing debate. My wife and I have been arguing over the best home-defense gun. I think it’s an MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher, but she’s worried about the blast radius and collateral damage. What say you? Settle this for us, please.

Trevor: I got this. I coach soccer, and one of the soccer parents asked me about home-defense a couple of weeks ago. Her husband is deployed and there is a lot of construction where she lives, so there are lots of strangers coming and going at weird times. She went shopping for pistols and couldn’t figure out what she needed. I told her, look, we’ll get you a pump shotgun. First of all, the noise is going to scare the hell out of anybody. If someone tries to break in, take your boys into the bedroom, and if someone tries to come in, shoot them right in the junk! He’s not gonna mess with you any more! So that’s where I’m at. Load it with light bird shot – you don’t have to have anything heavy. It’s not gonna go through walls. If you hit him below the belt, he’s going to stop. And a pump shotgun has follow-up rounds if you need them. A shotgun is harder to miss with than a pistol and it’s not going to go through walls and such.

MGC: Remind me never to break into your house… So what’s your schedule for the year looking like?

Trevor: I’m competing about once a month on average. What I really love is doing HAVA shoots. I love going HAVA because you’ll get guys out there and see a 180 degree attitude change. We had a quadriplegic who hadn’t been able to get out. We set him up with a friend operating the stick because he can’t move anything. They had the sip and puff trigger where you blow into it and it shoots the gun. That guy went from not saying a word to anyone and moping to having a huge smile after the second round. He was happy, having fun, and talking to everybody. That’s why I love HAVA. You get the wives and kids out there. They teach everyone gun safety first and get them shooting. It’s a great organization.

 

We’d like to thank Trevor Baucom and Team Smith & Wesson for helping us get Trevor’s story out there. If you haven’t tried competitive shooting, you now have no excuse! No need to start with the Bianchi Cup though. You can leave that to Trevor.

Michelle Viscusi: Team Glock’s Military Police Enforcer & Former Gymnast

Michelle Viscusi Team Glock

Team Glock’s Michelle Viscusi

Today we’re talking with Team Glock Shooter, Top Shot contestant, Border Patrol scout and former Army Military Police veteran Michelle Viscusi. We expect to hear scandalous stories about the many times she had to arrest Glock teammate KC Eusebio, also retired Army, at some hole-in-the-wall border cantina. Let’s get to the bottom of the rumors…

My Gun Culture: So Michelle, from a look at your background, I see that you’ve served in the Army Military Police and Border Patrol. Can you give us a bit more background on that?

Michelle Viscusi: I’ve actually served in the Army National Guard. My time with Border Patrol was during my active duty with the Army. I was assigned to border patrol duties for about a year and a half. So I was still Army, just working with my counterparts at Border Patrol.

MGC: So you were busting people coming across the border and engaging in big firefights with drug cartels?

Michelle: Actually, our duty was more of an observe and report role…

MGC: So you were piloting attack drones then?

Michelle: No, unfortunately we didn’t get to do any cool things like that. I wish!

MGC: We just talked with KC Eusebio, who is also retired Army. Since you were part of the Army Military Police, I suspect you had some run ins with him. How many times did you have to arrest KC at some Tijuana bar for conduct unbecoming of an Army soldier? We expect the truth, so no trying to cover for your teammate!

Michelle: I wish I could give you a huge story…

MGC: Well, just make one up!

Michelle: He doesn’t even drink, so there’s no way I could have arrested him at a Mexican bar.

MGC: Maybe he just likes to fight in bars?

Michelle: Well, maybe we brought him in about 5 times then…

MGC: So, Military police huh? I’m standing here next to you and I’m about twice as fat as you. I’m trying to picture you wrestling and cuffing drunk angry  dudes…

Michelle: Are you calling me fat?

MGC: No, I’m calling ME fat. What do you do as an MP? Are you out arresting people and throwing them in the brig?

Michelle: Well, actually I’m not LEO (law enforcement officer), I’m more general purpose duty.

MGC: Let’s talk about Top Shot! We’re big fans and loved your season. What changed in your life the day after the first episode aired?

Michelle: My life has completely changed! The show helped me to get here! It’s interesting because my time in the military helped me get on Top Shot, and Top Shot helped get me into competition shooting representing Glock. Obviously I wasn’t on there a really long time, but I’m thankful to have a good following!

MGC: How did you decide to apply for the show?

Michelle: I was watching Season 2 and loved it. I sent in an email and photo and I heard back about 3 weeks later. From that point, it was just following the application process.

MGC: So did you shoot Glocks before joining Team Glock?

Michelle: Well, actually, the first gun I ever owned was a Glock 19, so I’ve always been crazy about Glocks.

MGC: How old were you when you got your first Glock?

Michelle: Ummm….. 21? Yeah, it must have been 21… But seriously I started shooting my own Glock 19 when I was 19. But I started shooting when I was 15. When I started shooting competition, I started shooting a Glock 34.

MGC: Tell us about the first time you ever shot a gun.

Michelle: Well I was 15 and my dad took me to the range, just for fun! I was nervous but loved it. My dad was a cop, so he had a gun and shot quite a bit.

MGC: Were you instantly hooked or was shooting just something you did now and then?

Michelle: Well actually at the time, I was really big into gymnastics – that was what I was going to do. But when I joined the Army, I really grew to love shooting – so that’s when I got really serious about it.

MGC: Tell us how many Glocks you own. You can round off to the nearest dozen.

Michelle: We’ll right now, I only own two. But I expect that to be changing this year when I start competing more.

MGC: How much time do you expect to be on the road competing this year?

Michelle: It’s averaging 1-2 weeks per month. My schedule seems to be about 2 competitions per month, but I am shooting and preparing for a week around each one.

MGC: Tell us about the equipment you’ll be using this year.

Michelle: I’ll mostly be shooting a Glock 34, but will use a Glock 17 for some divisions. I’m doing both IPSC and IDPA. I use a JR Holster.

MGC: So what’s it like jetting around the world in the Glock corporate jet?

Michelle: It’s awesome! There’s usually a pile of cash waiting on my seat along with champagne :-)

MGC: We ask everybody to weigh in and solve a long standing debate question. Do you think that an MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher is appropriate for home defense?

Michelle: We’ll only if it had a Glock Gen 5 logo on the side. And I would put one in each window, facing out, to minimize blast damage in the house.

MGC: Let’s finish up with a hypothetical question. The Gunny, R. Lee Ermey, also represents Glock. If you had to bust him for disorderly conduct, could you take him down alone, or would you have to call for backup?

Michelle: You know, I’d probably have to call for backup, but I’d give him a good fight!

Thanks to Michelle Viscusi and the nice folks from Glock for helping us catch up and learn a little more about Glock’s newest competitive shooter!

Our Talk With The Miculeks – The First Family of Shooting

We had the opportunity to catch up with Jerry, Kay and Lena Miculek recently to ask them about life as the First Family of Shooting, family rivalries and how often Jerry has to sleep in the couch. As you’ll see, the Miculeks are some wild and crazy folks!

The Miculeks  First Family of Shooting

The Miculek Family sporting their work attire, courtesy of Team Smith & Wesson

My Gun Culture: Here we are with the Miculek Family – Jerry, Kay and Lena. Lot’s of folks know you as the First Family of Shooting. How did that come about?

Kay Clark Miculek: Well, technically… Jerry married INTO the First Family of Shooting. My father, Jim Clark , Sr. was a gunsmith and now Clark Custom Guns is run by my brother. The Clark family had actually been branded as the First Family of Shooting. So anyway, Jerry decided to practice with my brother one day, and we decided to keep him!

MGC: I know I promised you that this interview was more about entertainment than scoop, and that I wouldn’t try to trip you up with any hard questions. But I kinda lied. The other day, the President signed an Executive Order granting the First Family Secret Service Protection for life. Since you’re the First Family of Shooting, I have to ask if all y’all will be the ones providing this security? And will Smith & Wesson supply all the gear?

Jerry Miculek: I’m up for hire you know! I’m “Johnny on the spot” so show me the money and I’m your man!

Kay: We’ll need a whole bunch of those 7 round magazines though…

MGC: We’ll probably be able to get you an exemption on the new 7 round magazine limits.

Kay: Or we can all just use wheelguns!

MGC: Jerry, there’s this rumor on the internet that you can empty a revolver in .57 seconds. I’m thinking, heck, I can even do that. You just open the cylinder and dump the rounds out. I could’ve told you that a long time ago and saved you a lot of trouble!

Jerry: I think I can still beat you though. By the time you get that thing open, I’ll be done! So I got ya beat…

MGC: So Jerry, tell us about the Miculek revolver grip. How did that come to be?

Jerry: It kind of originated when Jim Clark, Sr. and I were traveling and competing in the Masters event. I was shooting a revolver and beating the pistol guys. I was taking Smith & Wesson grips and altering them with Bondo and tape. I screwed little pieces and parts on them and they looked really, really ratty. Jim told me to go see this gentlemen, Guy Hogue, who actually makes grips that look a whole lot better than that trashy one on my gun. So I went to see Mr. Hogue and out of his kind heart, he made me a couple of sets of custom grips. He’s a super nice guy along with the rest of the Hogue family. Anyway, he was kind enough to throw me a bone and make me grips because be thought I was an enthusiast at the time. We started selling them as they seemed to fit the need for a lot of folks.

MGC: I can see how Smith & Wesson might have liked that you switched to professionally made grips. As a marketing guy myself, I can see how they would be a little stressed out having their team shooter run around with a beautiful Smith & Wesson revolver equipped with Bondo and duct tape on the grips…

Jerry: Yeah, it looked a little cheap, but it got the job done.

MGC: The latest info we have is that you and your wife have different gun selections with Smith & Wesson, with her using an M&P and you being more of a revolver guy. Is there friction in the family over this? Does Jerry sleep on the couch a lot?

Kay: No there’s no friction!

MGC: Let me rephrase that, does Jerry sleep on the couch a lot?

Kay: (Laughs) Not at all! That’s what keeps our marriage strong! I can still beat him occasionally as he’s got a six shot revolver and I have a 17 round M&P. So now and then I can rub it in that “I beat you again!” We won’t count the part where he had 3 reloads and I’m just pulling the trigger…

MGC: So Kay, is your M&P competion gun stock, or did you get the Smith & Wesson Pro Shop to jazz it up? I hope you didn’t let Jerry work on it as he probably would have put Bondo and duct tape all over it!

Kay: Well, Jerry might have tweaked the internals a little bit, but I said no to Bondo!

MGC: So Lena, you were born, born on the range. And now you’re cruising all over the country racking up championships. What’s on your schedule in 2013?

Lena Miculek: I have 22 matches scheduled so far. I’m also an instructor with Babes with Bullets so I have 4 or 5 three to four day classes. So my schedule is crazy, but I love it. Most of my matches are 3 Gun so I can get out there and do what I really love. Actually I just competed in the 3 Gun Nation Shootoff and I was able to take the Ladies Division win. So I’m on sort of a 3 Gun high right now.

MGC: Did your mom compete in that?

Lena: Yes!

MGC: So you’ve been kicked out of the house?

Lena: Well we both made it to the finals!

MGC: You’re dodging the question. Did you beat your mom or not? 

Lena: Yes!

MGC: Kay, what drove you to start Babes With Bullets?

Kay: It started off as training for ladies interested in competition, but so many new shooters were interested that now it’s more oriented to that. Smith & Wesson has generously provided guns, so bottom line – these ladies can come to the classes, try out the gear and make an informed decision for when they decide to buy something.

MGC: Jerry, I saw an episode of Sons of Guns, where one of their gunsmiths raced you. He was shooting a full auto rifle against you shooting a semi-auto AR-15. And you dang near beat him!

Jerry: Yeah, but if you go back and look at the footage, his first shot was in the ground, while mine was actually on target. So he was just shooting towards the target zone, while I was actually hitting something! Ummm, they didn’t edit that correctly…

MGC: To get that kind of trigger finger speed, you must have some sort of custom Nautilus Finger Training machine. What’s the secret?

Jerry: I just have a lot of excitement in my life. I’m an excitable guy. When I get excited, things just happen quick!

MGC: Well, since you’re going down that path… With such a well-developed finger you must have other interesting skills…

Jerry: ???

MGC: No, not that! Your mind is in the gutter!

Kay: I’ve tried to teach him to type, but that was a failure…

Lena: You should see him with elevators. When he has to wait, he keeps pushing the button over and over and over really fast. Like it will make a difference…

Jerry: Yeah, I can lock up the elevator.

MGC: What else do our readers need to know?

Jerry: Send checks and donations!

Kay: Yeah, we’re not a non-profit organization! We’re just kidding! We’d love people to check out our new Team Miculek website and of course encourage the ladies to get involved with Babes with Bullets.

We’d like to thank all the Miculeks for a great time. Unlike real First Families, the First Family of Shooting has a great sense of humor!

You can learn more about their happenings at Miculek.com and ladies, be sure to check out Babes With Bullets!

Talking, Talking and More Talking with Max Michel of Team Sig

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one… to attempt to interview another one, who is every bit as nutty as the first one, one looks for Team Sig’s Max Michel.

So we did. We caught up with Max at SHOT Show and dragged him away from the screaming fans and corporate endorsement dealmakers long enough to squeeze in a serious investigative report. Remember folks, you heard it here first…

Champion Shooter Max Michel of Team Sig

Champion Shooter Max Michel of Team Sig

My Gun Culture: So Max, I understand you’re Captain of Team Sig. How is your relationship with all the other Team Sig members?

Max Michel: I treated them pretty fairly. But I had to fire them all, you know?

MGC: So, right now, it’s just you on Team Sig???

Max: Yeah, exactly! I had about 5 other guys and they just started cramping my style and cutting into my budget. And I thought, “I just can’t have that” so I had to release them.

MGC: Well if you’re into world domination, you gotta take out the internal competition. Just ask Dr. Evil or maybe Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Max: That’s the first thing to do!

MGC: You’re also the Manager of Shooting Activities. What’s in the scope of that role for you?

Max: I think what’s interesting about Sig Sauer is that’s it’s a very well-known company. Most everybody knows of Sig – you don’t have to be a gun person. Sig Sauer has always had that military and law enforcement reputation – you know, “to hell and back reliability.” They brought me in about four years ago to help bring them into the competitive market. So, to the traditional Sig values of reliability, I bring about 20 years of practical competitive shooting experience. I help to coordinate our position in competitive and recreational shooting. For example, I look at things like where we want to compete, what we want to sponsor, what do we want to support and emphasize for the year, and that sort of thing. In short, I help bridge the gap between the company and the competitive shooting world.

MGC: Does this liaison role of yours also extend into Sig’s product development strategy?

Max: Most definitely. I’m really excited about that part! The product and marketing teams come to me for input, and I love that. I love those conversations. In fact, I just enjoy talking!

MGC: Well I can already tell this interview is going to take about three days…

Max: I have a flight on Friday, so as long as I make that, we’re good!

MGC: Is there a specific Sig gun that you personally point to and say “I’m especially proud of that one because I had a lot of input”?

Max: Absolutely. That would be the 1911 Max. I’ve been screaming to get a gun for a long time that is built from the ground up as a competitive model. The product team was really receptive to my ideas. In fact, I pushed for a lot of aftermarket parts on that model and the product guys were completely open to that. Now I’m pushing for a new 1911 Max. But I can’t talk about that just yet…

MGC: Tease! The original 1911 Max is available now right? Can you tell us a little about it?

Max: We launched it at SHOT Show 2012 and we took it slow as there are aftermarket parts and we needed to make sure the whole package met Sig’s quality and reliability standards. It’s a target 1911 gun that has been enhanced with competitive parts. Like Hogue G10 chain link grips, a custom mag well that’s an extension of the grip, adjustable rear sight with a fiber optic front sight, front and rear cocking serrations, wide safeties, a flat trigger, the Doug Koenig speed hammer and matching sear, and extended firing pin.

MGC: So with the Koenig custom hammer, do you have any concerns that it’s really a subversive plot by Smith & Wesson to sabotage the Sig 1911 Max? Maybe it’s specially designed to self-destruct like those old Mission Impossible tape recorders…

Max: I’m worried that I’m going to lose my job when someone realizes I put in my competitors part! Just to be clear, the hammer is a Doug Koening part and not a Smith & Wesson part. Maybe this will encourage Sig to make some Max Michel parts!

MGC: So you’ve won everything there is to win about infinity-eleven times. Last I looked it was about 100 championship titles. What gives? You and Lance Armstrong are doing what on the weekends?

Max: No comment… Actually it’s just a passion of mine. I love it. I’ve been doing this since I was 8 years old. It’s not work for me, it’s fun and not a job. When I was 13 I had a goal and purpose to have the type of job that I have today. I wanted to be the next Rob Leatham! But you know, that guy just won’t retire!

MGC: We interviewed Rob several months ago, and he said the only reason he’s staying in the sport is to crush and humiliate you! Let’s talk about your show Hot Shots. You know, the one with you and Charlie Sheen. It’s about Navy Seals or something right?

Max: Yeah right! Me and Charlie Sheen… Hot Shots is a show that illustrates the real life drama of what it’s like to be a pro shooter. People get to see the real deal and all the things behind the scenes. The practice, the work, competition and family life balance. I like how the show is done because the producers just tell me to be Max. There are plenty of times when I’m not happy on camera, but that can be reality. When you’re not winning, you’re not happy. I like the realism.

MGC: Are you planning on getting into the Three Gun circuit? Now Sig has ⅔ of the bases covered with pistols and rifles right?

Max: It’s coming and I’m looking forward to it.

MGC: Everybody and their brother wants to sponsor you and obviously that’s because of your good looks.

Max: And my bald head of course…

MGC: I told you I wasn’t going to ask you about any secret future plans, but I was lying. I’m hearing that you have a sponsorship deal in the works with Snuggies. Care to comment?

Max: I hope so! I’ve got three kids now and I have to prepare for everybody.

MGC: How much time do you spend on the road doing competitions?

Max: I typically spend about nine to ten months on the road, so it’s a pretty heavy schedule. Of course I’m stopping by home, but I never really unpack. It’s a pretty grueling schedule, but I enjoy doing it and hope I can keep doing it for ten or fifteen more years.

MGC: Do you have an idea of how many rounds per year you shoot in practice? What does it take to keep the edge in a sport that can be won or lost by hundredths of seconds?

Max: A lot of people don’t believe it, but there was a time when I was in the Army when I was shooting 5,000 rounds a week for ten months out of the year. These days I just don’t have that much time. I shoot maybe 40,000 to 60,000 rounds a year now. The trick is finding time to practice while you develop other ways to add value to the company that sponsors you. You can’t just focus on winning matches. You have to be a representative of the company and bring value in other ways too.

Max Michel Training AcademyMGC: You do a lot of training. If you had to pick one basic tip for new shooters, where would you steer someone first?

Max: Safety is always first of course. Before any tips, you need instruction on how to safely handle the gun – loading and unloading, storing and general handling. Once that’s covered, I tell people the biggest things to focus on are stance and grip. You’ll be surprised how quickly and accurately you can shoot with proper grip and stance. It’s funny, but I tell people in my classes to expect to be bored the first few hours because I go back to the basics. If you ask other shooters like Rob Leatham, they’re working on those basic fundamentals too. There’s no such thing as advanced shooting, there’s only advanced application of basic fundamentals.

MGC: What are some of the new guns from Sig this year?

Max: We’ve got a lot of new introductions. For example, the P227, which is a double stack .45. It comes in a number of configurations, so you can get options like a threaded barrel. We had quite a challenge designing the 227 so that it’s not too big in your hand, but it worked out really well. You can hardly tell the difference in your hand between a 226 and a 227, but the 227 has 10 rounds of .45 ACP. We also have the P226 SAO which is really nice. I love Sig’s implementation of single action in this gun.

MGC: Before we wrap up, can you tell our readers a little bit about about the Max Michel Training Academy.

Max: It’s aimed at all types of shooters – recreational, competitive, self defense, and law enforcement or military. Basically I teach anyone who wants to get better with a handgun or a rifle. I do maybe a half dozen courses a year at my home range and contract some remote locations throughout the year. For some of the tactical training, I partner with the VATA Training Group and they do an excellent job. The fun thing is that we train anyone – from a raw beginner who has never drawn a gun to military and law enforcement professionals. I love it!

 

We’d like to thank Max and Team Sig for being such great sports, sharing some knowledge and continuing to make fantastic guns! Check out some training opportunities at the Max Michel Training Academy, and you can always keep up with Max and his plans for world domination at MaxMichel.com.

A Molly Minute with Molly Smith – Team Smith & Wesson’s Youngest Shooter

Recently we had the good fortune to catch up with Pro Shooter Molly Smith of Team Smith & Wesson. This was no small feat as this lady is seriously on the go. Ever see The Flash from DC Comics? Well, she’s kind of like that…

My Gun Culture: So Molly, we’ve heard you called a lot of things…

Molly Smith Team Smith & Wesson Pro Shooter

We caught up with Team Smith & Wesson Pro Shooter Molly Smith at the 2013 SHOT Show.

Molly Smith: WHAT???

MGC: No, just kidding, not that! Like Molly Minute and Millisecond Molly. We heard about those nicknames from our friends over at Women’s Outdoor News. How on earth did you manage to get involved with a bunch of crazy chicks like them?

Molly: Well, I’m not exactly sure how it happened… I have a blog and through my blogging I’ve been able to go to various things like the Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno – that is one of my absolute favorite events – it’s fantastic! Different events like that get me connected with folks around the internet community. Also I’ve been reading Women’s Outdoor News and other sites that are encouraging women shooters. It’s made me want to contribute as well.

MGC: I saw that you recently participated in a mock Second Amendment trial. Was that a school event?

Molly: It’s a statewide competition. I’m from California and every year there is a new case with a different theme. There are two parts and I was involved with the Second Amendment portion. It was a murder case where a gun was not used, but one was found in the perpetrators car. So my part of the debate was related to whether the defendant was allowed to have that pistol and whether there should be additional charges. I got to reference recent big cases like Heller and McDonald to make my arguments.

MGC: So, are you for, or against, the Second Amendment?

Molly: (Laughs. A lot. At our expense.)

MGC: OK, that was a trick question, but we’re going to make you answer it. So?

Molly: I am for rights! I am for more freedoms! I could write you a paper on my interpretation of the Constitution!

MGC: I’m part of Smith & Wesson’s background check network and we just making sure that their team members are up to snuff on these issues…

Molly: Umm, we have a problem???

MGC: So did you win?

Molly: Well, we did not go on to state, but that was not all my fault! It was a team effort and we did really well, however one school beats us every single year. But this year they are going down! This year’s topic is a 5th Amendment debate. I have a huge interest in constitutional law and I’m planning on going to law school as soon as I am able to so I can defend every freedom we have.

MGC: That’s fantastic!

Molly: Well, my mom wants me to marry Prince Harry, but I’d rather be a constitutional lawyer, or better yet, a Supreme Court Justice.

MGC: We’d love to see you on the Supreme Court! Let’s talk about competition. You’re Team Smith & Wesson’s youngest shooter. How did it feel when Smith & Wesson sent out the corporate jet to recruit you? How did this all start?

Molly: Well, I competed at my first International Revolver Championship when I was 10 and I was shooting a borrowed gun as I had only been shooting about 3 weeks at that time. But I didn’t come in last place! I came in second to last, behind a guy who didn’t finish, but that’s OK! I won a revolver there through a drawing. It was a Smith & Wesson 627 and that’s my gun of choice to this day. I’ve shot nearly every event with that same gun.

MGC: .38 Special right?

Molly: Exactly! 8 shot N frame. It was my second International Revolver Championship and I finished pretty well with second or third place for my junior division. After the match, Julie Golob came up. All the women were very nice. They blew me away! They were beautiful and friendly and the best shooters. I decided I wanted to be like them when I grew up. That was my determination at that age. So, Julie asked if I wanted a t-shirt. Then if I wanted a gun! And I was like OK!

MGC: So we hear you’re going to fill in while Julie is on maternity leave. Is there a coup in progress where you’re going to plot and scheme to take her position while she’s out?

Molly: Well actually it’s all a big conspiracy… Wait, you’re not gonna put that in the article!

MGC: So what’s coming up for you in 2013?

Molly: Well the Bianchi Cup. It’s a very difficult and challenging match. It makes my head hurt, and it’s fantastic, and I get so much out of it. It’s the most difficult match I’ve ever heard of and I love it. It teaches me so much, even by just competing in it. By the time the next match, which happens to be the International Revolver Championship, comes up for me, I am ready. I have the fundamentals engraved in my mind because I’ve been focusing so hard for months on the Bianchi Cup. I get to the IRC and then it’s a breeze for me and I have so much fun running around and going fast. I generally do much better at the IRC than Bianchi because I am better at it – that helps my self-esteem a little bit. I’m also thinking about starting Steel Challenge and then I’ll be starting to visit college campuses.

MGC: So is that this coming fall for you? Are you a senior?

Molly: I’m a junior, but I am aiming for some prestigious schools so I’m starting early.

MGC: Want to tell us which ones?

Molly: Well, I have plan A. And plan B. And plan C… I’m ultimately aiming for an Ivy League and hoping to go into Political Science or English and then into law. If I end up going to a California University I can knock almost two years off my undergraduate program as I’ve already been taking college classes. NYU and Georgetown are also schools that I’m looking at. I love Washington DC! I went there over the summer with the NRA Youth Education Summit. Best experience of my life! It was the most fantastic week I’ve ever had. If there are any Freshmen and Sophomores out there, look into this program!

MGC: How many Smith & Wesson guns do you have? You can round off to the nearest dozen…

Molly: Well, 3 actually. I don’t like having more than I need.

MGC: We’ll work on fixing that with the Smith & Wesson folks. What else do you want our readers to know?

Molly: My biggest goal right now is to promote gun safety, safe gun ownership and encouraging women and kids to shoot. I love to see more women and juniors out there shooting because it’s such a fantastic sport! I don’t like to see people afraid of firearms, because when they’re used safely, they’re a great instrument for fun. I really like to be an ambassador and encourage the sport.

We’d like to thank Molly for taking time to meet with us. Be sure to keep up with her via Smith & Wesson, and of course at The Molly Minute or Millisecond Molly at Women’s Outdoor News.

We Turn The Tables On Tom Gresham, GunTalk Host & Former Rock Drummer

Tom Gresham - GunTalk Radio Host

Tom Gresham – Former Rock Band Drummer. And host of GunTalk Radio, GunTalk TV, and Guns and Gear Television

We’ve been listening to Tom Gresham’s GunTalk Radio for years – mainly via the Podcast version. We’ve also gotten to know Tom a bit from his support of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) – a great group of folks who support the media who support outdoor sports and recreation.

Tom sure asks people a lot of questions. So we thought it time to turn the tables on Mr. Tom Gresham and con invite him to our interview hot seat. Tom was gracious enough to spend some time with us, and here’s what he had to say.

My Gun Culture: Tom, I’m a regular listener of the GunTalk Radio show. As I can’t seem to sit still for more than about 90 seconds, I listen to the Podcast version on my iPhone while tinkering about. (Editors: The Podcast is great – even the commercials are cool!) Here we have the luxury of being able to edit. But you, on the other hand, have to deal with a lot of unexpected stuff on live radio. You just never know what someone is going to say. Any particularly crazy experiences stand out?

Tom Gresham: Well, yeah we get the occasional call that leaves you scratching your head… One that comes to mind is the fella who called in and was raving about how much he loved his .308. He said he took a deer with it at 800 yards! I thought, well, there are some people who could shoot things at 800 yards. I said “Really, well how high did you have to hold over the target?” He said he didn’t hold over at all – those things shoot flat! Well now we’re defying gravity and all ballistic science that exists. But the guy just told me he did this and I couldn’t really call him a liar on the air, so I said, “Well that is some shot” and I let it go. Then the next caller comes on and is laughing his head off! And then we had a woman that called in and was saying she had a self-defense gun. I could hear kids in the background so I asked her how she stores her gun safely with little kids around yet keeps it accessible? She said “Well, that’s easy, I just hang it on the chandelier!”

MGC: Nice! That sounds more like a booby trap! I already figured out who the first guy was. That had to be John Kerry when he was out “gettin’ him a deer with his trusty side-by-side shotgun.”

Tom: The trick to making those long shots is you just have to pull the trigger real hard!

MGC: The week we did this interview, you were on your way out the door to get all shot up by Special Forces guys during a Simunitions training event. We wanted to include some “after” photos for this article, but were afraid showing your battered, shot up body might scare off readers. How did it go? What did you learn? How long will you have visible bruises? Did you cry?

Tom: The truth is we’re working on a new project. I can’t say too much now, but I will say it involves force-on-force training. We’ve learned from Simunitions that there is this thing called a “pain penalty.” Those things hurt! You can shoot Simunitions from revolvers, semi-autos, AR15’s and pump shotguns. You have to modify the guns and use special Simunitions ammunition, but they will function a gun just fine. We’ve been working with VATA Group on training and they are just terrific trainers. We’re doing some stuff with them on DVD and using our super slow motion cameras for training sequences.

MGC: If you guys are looking for a patsy to take some Simunitions rounds while you do this stuff, I volunteer! I might cry though, but that might make for good television.

Tom: Well, it’s kind of an intelligence test. If you volunteer for it, you fail! On the question of did I cry, well yes, but that’s not any different from any other time I go out and shoot. So it really doesn’t mean anything.

MGC: I have to ask you about the recent Wounded Warriors Project fiasco. I listened to your interview with Wounded Warrior Project Executive Director Steve Nardizzi “Esquire” and heard quite a bit of double-talk on GunTalk! Two comments: First, you must have really moved up in the world in order to get a genuine “Esquire” on the show! Second, I figured that after 16 years you would know better than to invite a lawyer as a guest! What were you thinking???

Tom: What a mess that turned out to be! All I wanted to do was invite The Wounded Warrior Project on the show, on Veterans Day, to promote them and talk about the good things they do. And then it just takes a hard left turn, and I do mean left, where they say they won’t come on the show because we talk about guns. They finally agreed to put their CEO on the show and I felt like I was talking to a politician the whole time. The outcome of this is that there are a lot of people now looking for other places to put their donations. Fortunately I don’t hear anyone saying they’re not going to donate to other vets – they’re just going to do it through other means. A lot of folks are saying that’s fine, I’ll just give my money to someone else.

MGC: Strangely enough, in March of this year, we approached Wounded Warrior Project to be the beneficiary of our Soup it up for Soldiers project. In short, we documented the customization of a Ruger 10/22 rifle for auction with all proceeds going to Wounded Warriors Project. We didn’t even want to use a logo, and here’s the response we received: “Thank you for your support of WWP and our nation’s wounded warriors. We are going to have to decline the opportunity to be the beneficiary of your event. WWP fundraisers cannot be based upon the exchange or sale of firearms.” Fortunately, we were introduced to the great folks at Project Valour-IT, affiliated with Soldiers Angels. They were great to work with and ultimately received a whole slew of donations related to the project. What can readers do to help break this rotten cycle of demonization of firearms owners?

Tom: On a side note, this week I heard from Gene Lumsden, President and CEO of Legacy Sports International. Legacy has been making 1911’s with the Wounded Warriors logo for several years. They came to him at a previous SHOT Show and loved the idea. He’s contributed somewhere around $50,000 to them and just this week, they came to him and asked him to stop using the logo. So they are doubling down on this and making sure no one is using the logo. It’s just sad and disappointing. It’s like finding out something bad about Mother Theresa. I don’t event want to know this. We all have to be more careful about selecting the groups we support. Ask the hard questions. We’ve all heard politicians say they support the Second Amendment. Then it’s always followed by a “but…” There can’t be a “but” – you either do or you don’t. My opinion is that if someone wants to marginalize us and say “we’ll work with anybody, except those guys over there” then I think it’s our job to let them, and everybody, know that we won’t work with them. Their revenue next year is projected to be around $180 million. They decided they can do without us, so let’s find out how much that’s going to affect them.

MGC: They can certainly do without me. There are a lot of great causes out there supporting our warriors. Like Project Valour-IT and  Soldiers Angels.

Tom: There are A LOT of great causes and we’re finding out about them. We’re putting a list of them on our website and I’m doing a series of interviews with various support groups for wounded vets each week on GunTalk Radio.

MGC: We ask all of our guests the same very important question. What’s your opinion on using an MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher for home defense? My wife and I are still arguing about this. She’s concerned about collateral damage to the china, but I think the stopping power and intimidation override any collateral damage concerns. What say you?

Tom: First we have to address the collateral damage to China. I don’t think they’ll shoot that far, but if they did I don’t really care about that kid of collateral damage! I actually have shot the MK19. As Tim the Tool Man Taylor used to say, more power. More power is the thing. And this is the ultimate quote. “There is no such thing as overkill.”

MGC: Well when we interviewed Iain Harrison, he thought this wasn’t enough and said he prefers the 105mm Light Gun for home defense.

Tom: Well when we interviewed Iain for our Zombie show, we asked him what he was doing to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse, he had a stack of shoulder fired LAW rockets. So you kind of have to factor in the whole Iain thing. With Iain, his idea of having enough firepower is having a hand-held radio where is can call in an F-18 strike unit.

MGC: Air strike huh? Well, there would be collateral damage to the house, but it’s without doubt got one-shot stopping power. Hmmm. I appreciate the work you do, especially with GunTalk’s Truth Squad initiative. I know you already have a badge-type logo for the Truth Squad, but I am thinking maybe you could update it to something like the old “Mod Squad” one from that show in the 70s. Oh, and maybe add an official secret handshake. Anything new in the works with the Truth Squad? What should our readers know?

Tom: You don’t know about the photos of me with my afro. Seriously! In in the old, old days I was a rock drummer with bell bottoms and the craziest afro you ever saw. So there may be a little Mod Squad in the Truth Squad after all. One thing I want to mention about the Truth Squad is that one thing we’re really good at in the gun rights area is we will complain – readily. People are figuring out the meaning of our motto “no lie left unchallenged” – because a lie left unchallenged becomes the truth. So we have this no shrug policy. We don’t shrug and say “that’s just the way it is.” People will complain, but what we forget to do is say “thank you” when somebody does it right. Because that is equally important. Take for example, someone like Starbucks, who has been lobbied by gun haters saying they should ban guns on their property. But they just go along with whatever the law is where we are and that’s fine. If you’re legal to wear a gun outside of Starbucks, you’re legal to wear a gun inside. We’re OK with that. We have to remember to stop and support them, say thanks, and tell them why we’re shopping there. Because without that, the only feedback they’re getting is from the negatives.

MGC: I love their response. It’s such a win-win for them. They’re just saying “we don’t make policy, we just follow the law.” Certainly that benefits us as well. You’ve been referred to as ‘The Great Enabler’ for talking billions and billions of American’s into buying guns. I need some help convincing my beautiful bride that a new Ruger 556 is vital to the continued success of our family. Any advice?

Tom: I think that’s fine, but you probably ought to get one for yourself also!

MGC: Oh great! You’ve taken HER side already! Apparently there’s this new thing called cable and satellite TV and it seems you’re neck deep in it. I certainly enjoy watching Guns and Gear Television and GunTalk TV. Can you tell our readers where to find you on the tube?

Tom: You can catch our shows on NBC Sports or the Pursuit Channel. If people can’t get them there, we put all our shows on Youtube on our GunTalk TV Channel. We’ve been tracking these shows with the Nielsen ratings and Guns and Gear is the number one by far and GunTalk TV is number two on general gun shows. Not counting the shows on History Channel.

MGC: SHOT Show is almost upon us! You must be busier than a gun store after election day. What are your plans for SHOT Show 2013?

Tom: I’m gonna take a shopping cart and run fast. You know, the thing about SHOT Show is that it’s so big, that in four days, if you were to see every booth, you would have 45 seconds to spend at each booth. It’s that big. You can’t see it all. So the issue is where do I go and what do I see? You hit the big booths, but you want to hit the small ones because there’s some real innovation taking place. Three of four years ago, we found this little holster that’s become a favorite of mine for carrying these little itty-bitty guns like the Kel-Tec and Ruger LCP. It’s called the Recluse Holster. It just slips in the front pocket or back pocket and makes a gun disappear. It looks goofy at first, but it just works. So my plan is to see everybody, but don’t overlook the little booths because that’s where some of the coolest stuff comes from.

We’d like to thank Tom Gresham for spending some time with us. Remember folks, be sure to catch GunTalk radio either on a station near you or via Podcast. Tom and team have also created an iPhone / iPad app for GunTalk which will let you download and listen to regular episodes and special bonus Podcasts. And don’t miss Guns and Gear television and GunTalk TV on NBC Sports and the Pursuit Channel.

Our Interview With Massad Ayoob – He’s Not A Dancing With The Stars Contender

Massad Ayoob

Massad Ayoob

Recently I was invited to sit in on Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 class. Lisa Marie and Tommy Judy run a great training business – B.E.L.T. Training – and were hosting Mr. / Officer / Instructor / Drill Sergeant / Coach / Counselor / Professor Ayoob’s four day MAG-40 class. They had space for me to sit in and observe the intense 2 day classroom portion which is separately offered as MAG-20. And when I say intense, I do mean intense. Ten to eleven hours each day. No breaks. No food. No water. Well, I might be exaggerating on the food, water, and break thing, but we didn’t dawdle and did in fact work right through lunch both days. So it was serious learning.

Here is where I would write many pithy and intellectual observations about the course and my experience with it. Or I could just be honest and tell you that this class scared the living be-jeepers out of me. And it did.

But in a good way.

You see, Mag-20, otherwise known as Armed Citizen Rules of Engagement, starts the process of preparing the student for legal, tactical, and aftermath management issues for the lawful armed citizen. The student is immersed in the frightening real-world scenarios that may result from even lawfully protecting yourself and loved ones. You’ll learn the difference between Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws. And much more. We’ll be doing a separate article talking more about the class experience. For now, let’s just say you need this type of training from a quality instructor. And you need it now. The fear this course generates is healthy and will inspire you to all new levels of preparation. That’s good.

Now back to the business at hand. Having read Massad Ayoob’s work in shooting, concealed carry, and training books, American Handgunner, Combat Handguns, and just about everywhere else, it was about time I was able to meet the man behind the mustache in person. Here’s what he had to say:

My Gun Culture: For those who are not familiar with your work, you’re a career cop, gun writer, self-defense and firearms trainer, legal adviser, expert witness, and competitive action shooter. So what are you going to be when you grow up?

Massad Ayoob: I was always a part-time cop, although fully sworn. That kept it fresh, and prevented burnout. When I grow up, I wanna be about six feet, maybe six feet two…

MGC: Oh I get it. You’re trying to out-wise guy me. I just want you to know that I’m a trained professional when it comes to being a doofus. Is a gig on Dancing with the Stars in your future?

Mas: Hell, son, at my age I’m grateful to WALK. If I ever look like I’m dancing, it’s probably only because I’m struggling to stay standing up.

MGC: Well, Buzz Aldrin did it! Then again, that was somewhat of a disaster… I just completed your MAG-20/Classroom – Armed Citizens’ Rules of Engagement class. It scared the living hell out of me. After a few days I managed to stop whimpering and get out of the fetal position, so I think I’ll be OK with some extra group therapy. For those new to self-defense and concealed carry, which of your dozen or so books would you recommend reading first to prime them for a live training class?

Mas: Damn…I failed you. We don’t usually teach shooting from the fetal position until the next level class… To prep for a MAG-40, I’d suggest reading Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry, Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, In the Gravest Extreme, and Volume I of StressFire.

MGC: Just hypothetically speaking, if you are called as an expert witness, and Perry Mason is cross-examining the be-jeepers out of you, what strategy would you adopt? And no, begging for mercy is not an option. Nor is turning off the TV.

Mas: Same as always: by telling the truth as I see it, and explaining it to the cross-examiner and the jury. Wouldn’t happen, though, since Perry Mason (a FICTIONAL defense lawyer, remember) only defends the innocent, and I wouldn’t be speaking for the prosecution against someone shown by the evidence to be innocent.

MGC: So you caught trying a trick question. It’s my job OK? We ask all our interviewees this important question. As a respected self-defense expert, I think you might have some great insight on this question. Is the MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher appropriate for home defense? Obviously a drawback is shrapnel damage to our home, and probably nearby neighbors. On the plus side, I think it has a great intimidation factor. What do you think?

Mas: Might have been awfully useful in Benghazi, but here…prolly not optimum.

MGC: Some of my favorite reads are “The Ayoob Files” in American Handgunner and “Self Defense and the Law” in Combat Handguns. While many are tragic, the real-life stories have powerful lessons. If you had to offer just one piece of advice to responsible citizens, what would that be? Yeah, I know, it’s a completely unfair question, but I am confident you can handle it!

Mas: Think about it to the nth degree beforehand, and be prepared…because when it happens, it will happen too fast to figure it out then.

MGC: Quick one. What was the first gun you ever owned? And do you still have it?

Mas: First very own gun was Eastern Arms 12-gauge single barrel. Still have it. First very own handgun was Ruger Standard Model .22 auto, age 11. Wish I still had it.

MGC: I wish I had your Ruger Standard Model .22 Auto also! You’re a busy man. What are you going to be most focused on in 2013?

Mas: Same as ever, one more year…what the year brings will impact the focus, as always…

We’d like to thank Mas Ayoob for sharing some time with our readers. He’s busy as always and devoting some of his precious time to serve on the Advisory board of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. This organization is a must have resource for all lawfully armed citizens – concealed carry holder or not. In 2013 Mas will also be one of the co-instructors for several of their CLE (continuing legal education credit) courses, geared for attorneys who handle deadly force/firearms cases. You can get more information on the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network here.

We’d highly recommend taking one of Massad Ayoob’s classes. He partners with a number of training firms around the country so you just might find a class offered in your neck of the woods. Get more information at http://massadayoobgroup.com.

Does Hot Caliber Jewelry Make You Hawt? We Ask Founder Manos Phoundoulakis

Manos Phoundoulakis - Hot Caliber

Manos Phoundoulakis – Hot Caliber founder busting some clays at the Hot Caliber station at The Shooting Industry Masters

We’re talking with Manos Phoundoulakis, founder of Hot Caliber Jewelry and master inventor behind the flattened bullet jewelry concept. Well, actually, when you dig a little deeper into the story, most of the credit for the idea goes to his partner and bride Kelle. Isn’t that the way it always is?

While shooting with Team Hot Caliber at the 2012 Shooting Industry Masters event, we were able to pick Manos’ brain about being ‘hawt’ with Hot Caliber jewelry. As a side note, the Masters event served as the launch for the custom edition benefitting USA Shooting.

My Gun Culture: Right off the bat, I need to clarify an important question. Do you need to actually be ‘hawt’ to wear Hot Caliber flattened bullet jewelry? Or do you have to at least perceive yourself as ‘hawt’ to wear this stuff?

Manos Phoundoulakis: No, actually that’s what’s great about Hot Caliber. If you’re not hot, and you wear Hot Caliber, you will become hot. We guarantee it! Be careful of not wearing your Hot Caliber jewelry though, you can lose your newly found hotness.

Hot Caliber Derringer Pendant - USA Shooting Benefit Edition

Hot Caliber Derringer Pendant – USA Shooting Benefit Edition

MGC: I understand you put together a special benefit program for USA Shooting. Can you tell us about that?

Manos: Earlier this year at the NRA Annual Meeting, we decided to put together a benefit program around the Shooting Industry Masters event.  The FMG Publications (editors note: American Handgunner, Guns Magazine, and American Cop Magazine) folks came up with the idea to benefit USA Shooting and right off the bat it was clear to me this was a great idea. You see, I’m Greek. The Olympics started in Greece. They weren’t shooting back then, but they were throwing stuff, and that counts for something. We didn’t invent the gun, but we do take credit for shot put.

MGC: So without divulging too many trade secrets, how do you make Hot Caliber flattened bullet jewelry?

Manos: After more than 4,000 rounds of testing, we now know what it’s going to take to create a perfect flattened bullet. Normally, we shoot 100 rounds of a specific ammo type, depending on the type and size of piece we want to make, at a big heavy piece of steel. Over time, I’ve figured out what exact brand and load will produce perfect flattened bullets of a given size. Then I get to sift through the dirt and retrieve the flattened bullets. At this point, I pick the three best and run them by a small committee to help identify the best overall bullet impression.

MGC: So people have to be small to be on the committee?

Manos: No, but they do have to have really good eyesight. The committee is small in number, not in size! At this point, I take the flattened bullet and mold it in a rubber molding compound. From there we cast the initial model. If it’s our general Hot Caliber product, that model gets cast in silver or gold, then it gets put into the jewelry. We use a lost wax casting method. I won’t bore you with the details, but there are many important steps involved in creating a piece of silver or gold jewelry with this technique. I’ll go ahead and claim that the Greeks invented the lost wax technique also – even though that probably isn’t true. Sometimes we use an oxidation technique to help bring out the visual texture. For the Masters Edition, we have to take one more molding process to engrave one or both sides, depending on the piece.

MGC: Since you use actual bullets to come up with these designs, when did Mayor Bloomberg contact you about outlawing Hot Caliber Jewelry in New York City?

Manos: Well I don’t know him personally. And quite frankly, he’s not very attractive, but he would be much more attractive if he were to be wearing Hot Caliber jewelry. Then he might lighten up a bit.

Hot Caliber flattened bullet cufflinks

Hot Caliber offers a variety of flattened bullet jewelry for men and women – pendants, rings, cufflinks, keychains, and more.

MGC: Hot Caliber jewelry is already pretty elegant stuff, but do you have plans to enter the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” market? Maybe something Paris Hilton would wear?

Manos: Just between us, we’re thinking about a “Haute Calibre” line. But that’s secret.

MGC: If other organizations or companies want to create special Hot Caliber editions to sell or fundraise is there any way they could do that?

Manos: We do offer special editions and licensed manufacturing for sale on other websites/catalogs. I would personally love to make an edition for any of the US Armed forces, or a Soldiers Angels Edition…anything that could help support the people that risk their lives for our freedoms. I’d make a Nancy Pelosi edition, but she would probably use the money to take my guns away.

 

Be sure to check out the Hot Caliber collection at www.hotcaliber.com. Better yet, order a special edition piece to support USA Shooting!

Can the S&W 500 Be Carried In A Bra Holster? Our Interview With Bart and Lisa Looper

Bart and Lisa Looper of Looper Brand Holsters

Husband and wife dynamic duo – Bart and Lisa Looper

Don’t let the lame-stream media fool ya. If you’re willing to put in some hard work and get creative, you can do just fine. At this year’s NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis, the American Dream was alive and well. We met dozens of entrepreneurs who simply refused to accept the status quo. New ideas. New products. And new passion. It was awe inspiring.

A shining example of the American can-do attitude is Looper Brand Holsters – now run by the dynamic, and quite insane, team of Bart and Lisa Looper. You may know them from their law enforcement heritage. You may know them from the new Flashbang concealed carry holster for women. We got to know them a whole lot better at the NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis. Here’s the scoop…

My Gun Culture: I see from the Looper Brand website that your company was founded in 1938. Neither of you look nearly that old. What’s the secret? Human growth hormones? Organ replacement? Bionics? Do you want to comment on this?

Lisa Looper: I’m wise beyond my years… Just kidding! Actually we’re the 3rd generation. My husband Bart’s family started the business in 1938. Then later his dad took over, and then we took over about 7 years ago.

Bart Looper: Since then we’ve been running it and taking the company in new directions. We started out in western belts, watchbands, and ladies handbags. Through the years we went from that to doing a little work for the FBI in the 50’s. Then my father, who was in law enforcement reserve for 40 years took the company into law enforcement products. We ended up in mostly concealed carry and law enforcement products.

MGC: Looking at your website, and there’s two – FlashbangHolster.com and LooperBrand.com, it’s clear you make everything under the sun. How on earth do you guys decide where to invest your time and efforts?

Looper Brand Holsters Booth - NRA Meeting - Flashbang Booth

The Looper Brand Booth was packed at the NRA Annual Meeting

Bart: That’s actually really hard because I tend to be way more emotional and Lisa tends to be way more business-like. I want to hold on to the past and say “No, we have to make the wallets we’ve been making for 50 years.” Even though I know they are losing us money. Lisa and our production manager will slap me upside the head once in a while and say “we’re not making money on that so we can’t do it anymore.” It’s hard to look at the company from a business perspective and sometimes move on from our past. Now we have to really stop and consider, “How can we arm all of the good guys? Especially since we’re so focused on law enforcement and concealed carry products.”

MGC: So you’ve already completed the mission of arming all of the bad guys?

Bart: Yes! Yes.

Lisa: The market ran dry on bad guys.

Bart: We usually don’t have to worry about the bad guys. You know, they stick the gun in the front of their pants, it goes off, and the problem takes care of itself…

MGC: I couldn’t help but notice that with the broad array of products you have that you sell both sexy gun holsters that go in underwear AND you also sell handcuffs. To me, and maybe it’s just me, that’s kind of a scary combination. What kind of creepy phone calls do you get?

Lisa: You know, it’s been a while since we got one. I guess it’s been about 3 or 4 years. We did have a guy call us and ask if we could make harnesses for men that, ummm, were on the wild side…

Bart: And my aunt was still partly in the business and she took it on as a side project. She actually did it and they made some interesting products in army green, inmate jumpsuit orange, and some police black, and some different things with some really interesting tie downs and straps. But of course we’ve never actually done that under the Looper brand name.

MGC: We visited your booth at this years SHOT Show and saw a bunch of new products specifically for ladies in The Pin Up Collection – like The Marilyn, The Annie-O, The Sophia, and The Betty. You may know this already, but the world famous @SavannieOakley on Twitter works with us and so we’re thinking that maybe you’ll make a custom holster called the Savannie Oakley? Obviously it would have to be a concealed holster for a Smith & Wesson 500. Any ideas or plans on that?

Lisa: Maybe a sword style, down the leg rig?

Bart: I don’t know, I did see Lisa put a Smith & Wesson 500 in her bra in a Flashbang holster one time, but that was on a dare and there may have been some cocktails involved… Yeah.

MGC: Of all the new models in the Pin Up Collection – 5 including the Flashbang – which one is getting the most attention?

Lisa: The Flashbang of course is the leader because it’s been out for about a year now, but The Betty and The Marilyn are close on its heels. The Marilyn is made to go on the side more like a shoulder holster. It mounts on the bra. The Betty is an inside the waistband type holster.

MGC: So The Marilyn is the one you were telling be about that is accessible from the top. So if a woman was wearing a long dress or other clothing that would prohibit access to the Flashbang, then they might consider The Marilyn?

Lisa: Right. It’s accessible through the neck opening. The Betty is for more traditional waist carry.

Bart: We’ve had so much response from men about The Betty that we’re going to have to repackage it under a different name. Guys just aren’t willing to buy a holster called The Betty!

MGC: Oh! We got it! How about The Bert and Ernie!

Bart: Yeah! Done!

The Betty Holster from the Pin Up Collection from Looper Brand

The Betty Holster – Part of the new Pin Up Collection from Looper Brand Holsters

MGC: We’ll work out a royalty deal on that name we just gave you. Speaking of The Betty… Lisa you mentioned that for women especially, that straight drop (or straight cant) holsters are more useful. Can you help our readers understand this?

Lisa: Yes. It’s generally because we have a shorter torso and a more curvy situation of course. So when a woman tries to draw from a forward cant, it torques the shoulder and arm more. You really have to raise your elbow up high to draw from a forward cant. If you’re drawing from a straight cant you can keep the arm down at your side and pull the gun straight out and bring it forward in an easier manner.

MGC: Bart. Looper has a lot of women’s holsters in the new line. Have you ever thought about some discreet carry holsters for the guys like the Jock Jammer or something like that?

Bart: No, because Lisa says it won’t make us any money! You know, half of our company’s business is now the women’s line. Look at our booth here – there’s nothing that says “Looper” specifically – it’s all Flashbang branded. So I’m going to try some new things for men but I’m probably going to get shot down!

MGC: Lisa, keeping in mind that our site is PG rated, how many guns can you carry in your underwear?

Lisa: I think the most I’ve ever had on is 7!

MGC: Tell us about your relationship with Blade-Tech. We love those folks! Some great products have come out of that partnership – in fact I’m wearing one now – the Looper / Blade-Tech leather/kydex gun belt.

Bart: About 2 years ago, Ryan Preece, Rock Star from Blade-Tech – you can take that in jest if you want to – got a directive to add belts to the Blade-Tech line. They researched about seven different companies online and placed orders anonymously. When he got the belts, he liked ours the best and recognized our high level of customer service. Then he called us and told us Blade-Tech wanted to carry our product. I just about dropped the phone. Over the past two years, we’ve developed a mutual partnership. Now, we help them with leather and they help us with kydex products. We work together on the hybrid holster, the hybrid belt, and we have a bunch of new belts in the line. And a top secret new holster product…

MGC: So what’s next for Looper Brand?

Bart: We plan to continue to grow the women’s line of course. And we’re having a lot of success picking up new retail partners who want to sell made in the USA, family owned company products with a great reputation for quality and customer service.

MGC: I hear you guys have gone Hollywood. What’s the scoop?

Lisa: Well NCIS Los Angeles contacted us and said that one of their characters was going to be drawing from a bra holster in an upcoming episode. After doing some research, they came across the Flashbang and were impressed by it. They decided to showcase it on the show!

MGC: One last question. Do you two ever sleep?

Bart / Lisa: No!

Thanks to Bart and Lisa for being such good sports. We wish them MUCH continued success and a bit more sleep…

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture