Man Cave Makeover or Dame Den Remodeling Sweepstakes from Crimson Trace

Man-Cave-Makeover-Sweepstakes Prize PackageI just got an email from Crimson Trace about their Man Cave Makeover Sweepstakes. No worries ladies, the mega-gear giveaway is equally useful for a Dame Den Remodeling.

Visit the Crimson Trace BookFaceBook page to enter. You can win…

Grand Prize (1)

(1) Grizzly™ 75 Custom Cooler with Crimson Trace® Logo
(1) Crimson Trace® CMR-205 Rail Master® Pro™
(1) Crimson Trace® Neon Sign
(1) Crimson Trace® Rubber Floor Mat
(1) Crimson Trace® Wall Clock
(1) Crimson Trace® “Speed of Light” Tin Sign
(1) Crimson Trace® “Where There’s Red” T-Shirt
(1) Crimson Trace® “Laser-Bones” Trucker’s Hat
(4) Crimson Trace® Stainless Mason Jars
(2) Crimson Trace® Stainless Coffee Tumblers
(1) CRKT® R.B.T.™ (Range Bag Tool)
(1) CRKT® Picatinny Tool™
(1) BLACKHAWK!® CQB Rigger’s Belt
(1) BLACKHAWK!® Universal Bedside Holster
(1) Tactical Tailor® Medium Range Bag
(1) Tactical Tailor® Universal Laser Holster

Approx. Value = $1500

Second Prize (4)

(1) Grizzly™ 16 Custom Cooler with Crimson Trace® Logo
(1) Crimson Trace® CMR-201 Rail Master®
(1) Crimson Trace® Wall Clock
(1) Crimson Trace® “Speed of Light” Tin Sign
(2) Crimson Trace® Stainless Mason Jars
(1) Crimson Trace® Stainless Coffee Tumbler
(1) BLACKHAWK!® CQB Rigger’s Belt
(1) BLACKHAWK!® Universal Bedside Holster
(1) BLACKHAWK!® Universal Laser Holster
(1) Tactical Tailor® Small Range Bag

Approx. Value = $500

The Making of a Smith & Wesson

 

Smith & Wesson revolvers

You think Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Alimony From Tyrannical Little Ex-Mayors With Serious Napoleon Complexes (MDAFTLEMWSNC) has serious armed security? If so, you should check out Smith & Wesson’s Springfield, MA manufacturing plant. We’re talking motorized vehicle barriers, iron gates, metal detectors, and security guards armed with – you guessed it – Smith & Wesson M&P pistols. Of course, one of the many differences between Smith & Wesson and Shannon Watts is that the Smith factory actually warrants tight security. That and the Smith & Wesson folks make a productive contribution to society.

I had the distinct pleasure of touring the Smith & Wesson factory this month to see exactly how guns are made. Wow. I’m still stunned by the complexity, equipment, people, scale and history. The current facility was built in 1945 using a war-footing design. It’s engineered to keep operating during a direct aerial booming attack. The idea was that the catacombs well under dirt, steel, and loads of concrete would house operating machinery and workers even while the above ground part was flattened. That’s pretty hard core.

This is less than a seven day supply of future guns. Who says Americans aren't buying guns in record numbers?

This is less than a seven-day supply of future guns. Who says Americans aren’t buying guns in record numbers?

It all starts with steel. Lots and lots of it of various types and grades. Like other modern manufacturers, Smith & Wesson streamlines efficiency using LEAN manufacturing techniques, so raw materials are delivered continuously. What you see in the photo here is only about a seven-day supply.

Bar stock like this is headed for two potential fates - the forge or the mill, and sometimes both.

Bar stock like this is headed for two potential fates – the forge or the mill, and sometimes both.

When steel arrives as bar stock, it faces two different fates, and I’m not sure which is more violent. First, it can head to the forge, where giant, two-story transformers machines pound them into gun frames and various other components. Second, the raw stock might head straight for computerized milling, where it will be transformed into things like barrels, slides, revolver cylinders and other miscellaneous parts. We’ll start with the forging process as forged parts also head to the milling machines after they’re stamped out.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

 

Looking for Christmas gift ideas?

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

The Making of an All-American Boot

What else would my official tour guides be wearing other than Danner Mountain Cascade boots? You'll see these in the new Reese Witherspoon movie, Wild, hitting theaters December 5th.

What else would my official tour guides be wearing other than Danner Mountain Cascade boots? You’ll see these in the new Reese Witherspoon movie, Wild, hitting theaters December 5th.

Few things are more personal than boots.

Perhaps the deep emotional attachment stems from the fact that feet are our primary attachment to Mother Earth, barring any unintended face plants from overindulgence or clumsiness. Or maybe it’s a result of the activities we do in our boots: work, hike, hunt, shoot, walk, run, sleep (sometimes) and who knows what else.

In any case, plenty of us have a love / hate relationship with our footwear. I hate shoes, but I love boots. My feet just aren’t comfortable in anything else. Some people laugh at me because I wear my Danner Tanicus boots almost all the time. They think I’m trying to be all G.I. Joe, but the real reason is that it feels good to wear those giant pillows on my feet – I don’t care if I am wearing shorts or a suit.

A small sampling of some of the stitch down styles made at the Danner Portland, OR facility.

A small sampling of some of the stitch down styles made at the Danner Portland, OR facility.

My boot fetish led me to seize the opportunity to tour the Danner boot factory in Portland, Oregon a few weeks back. One of my favorite parts of this job is touring factories, seeing how products are made and meeting the people who make them. Danner didn’t let me down. Who knew that the process of making footwear could be so darn interesting? Seeing all that goes into the making of my boots also explained why a great pair can cost a few hundred bucks – and be well worth the money.

We’ll focus on the classic stitch down styles that are generally made right here in the US of A. Why stitch down? Because those fancy leather upper sections that you work so hard to break in just right can be reattached to new soles when you wear those out. They also provide a more durable and stable platform on which to walk. We’ll talk more about that later.

Let’s walk through the manufacturing process. Ha! See what I did there?

Call in the cows

Come on, we can’t talk about a classic boot that’s not made of leather, right? When I toured the Galco Gunleather factory, I was blown away by the amount of leather they use. Now I’m not so sure who uses more quality hides.

Each and every half-cow is hand inspected and areas with blemishes or other irregularities are marked so they aren’t used as a boot upper. Cosmetics are important, but you really don’t want a weak spot in the leather to be used in your boot. Testing is done on each hide to grade thickness, tensile strength and adhesion of any colorings or coatings.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Find 22LR Ammo

This is 2,900 newly purchased rounds of .22LR ammo. It might last me a month.

This is 2,900 newly-purchased rounds of .22LR ammo. It might last me a month.

This is a real, un-doctored photo, taken just this morning. This ammo was purchased Wednesday evening. Really. And I could have bought more.

Yes, .22LR ammunition is a lot more scarce than it used to be, especially those bulk packs of Winchester, Remington and Federal. But just because you don’t see those 300 and 500 round boxes sitting on the Wal-Mart shelf doesn’t mean that .22LR ammo isn’t available. It is. You can get all you want, with two conditions:

  1. You have to work harder to find it.
  2. You have to pay more.

It’s a basic economics decision. You can clutch the memories of old prices while sitting at home not shooting your .22s, or you can accept the new reality and shoot. Your choice.

I’m going to work harder and pay a little more because I really like shooting my .22s. I’m not going to hoard what I have and continue to buy ammo to squirrel away – that’s exactly what’s causing this problem for all of us. I’m going to shoot my .22s and have fun doing it. As I write this, I’m testing a CMMG .22 conversion kit for AR rifles, the new Smith & Wesson M&P 22 Compact with a SilencerCo Sparrow and a Ruger 10/22 with a Timney Trigger upgrade. I intend to shoot lots and lots of .22LR through these guns.

Subscribe to the emails

I few months ago, I got an email from Cabelas letting me know that they had 2,000 round cans of Federal Champion .22LR ammo. I clicked, and a ton of .22LR ammo was on its way for a good price. Subscribe to emails from companies like Cabelas, Webyshops and Brownells, and you just might be surprised at what lands in your inbox. Most companies place a lot of value of their email subscribers and are more than happy to tell them first about new product availability. It’s a win-win – help them communicate with you! Just be sure to keep a close eye on your inbox as you’ll need to act fast.

Grand openings

New stores are opening all over. Chains like Academy Sports, Bass Pro, Cabelas and Gander Mountain can’t build new locations fast enough. Guess what? When they have a grand opening for a new location, they want to create excitement and buzz. Every single grand opening I’ve attended in the past year has managed to offer plentiful supplies of .22LR ammunition. In fact, the ammo in the picture above was purchased at the Grand Opening event of a new Palmetto State Armory store here in South Carolina. Keep an eye on the news and make time to attend. It’s fun, and you’re sure to find some deals.

Set product alerts

Brownells has a neat feature (and plenty of other retailers do also) that allows you to set an automated alert for out of stock products. Use it. You’ll get a text message or email as soon as new product arrives and can be the first to order. I use this all the time with great success. You never know when an alert will come in, so again, keep an eye on that inbox and act fast.

Set alerts like this one at Brownells so you can be notified immediately when the ammo you want is in stock.

Set alerts like this one at Brownells so you can be notified immediately when the ammo you want is in stock.

GunBot.net

Here’s a great example of American ingenuity that solves a frustrating problem. The creators of GunBot.net have established wonder-magic connections to dozens and dozens of online retailers for ammunition. Their website checks availability and pricing of ammunition, magazines and reloading supplies. All you have to do is visit gunbot.net, and you’ll see a consolidated list of retailers that have the products you’re looking for. You can display in-stock products only and sort by price per round. Just click and you’re linked to that particular retailer to place your order. Couldn’t be easier. As of today, you’ll see that you can buy all the .22LR ammo you want for about $.10 per round. Yes, that’s more than it used to cost. Get used to it – it’s still half the price of centerfire ammo. Oh, and don’t gripe at the GunBot.net folks about prices, they don’t set them, they just link you to the folks who do. Make it a point to check GunBot.net a couple times a day and you might find a deal closer to the “old” prices.

These are a couple of the methods I use to shop for my .22LR ammo. I’ve yet to run out, and shoot my .22s as much as ever.

How To Build Your Own Lasergrips

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

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

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

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

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

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

An armory

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

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

An indoor shooting range

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

An engineering testing lab

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

A collimation lab

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

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

A Galco Gunleather Tour: How Many Holsters Can You Make From 44 Miles of Cows?

Got leather?

Got leather?

Got cows?

Galco does. Lot’s of them. You know Galco, right? They’ve served billions and billions of holsters. Well, maybe not billions, but at least dozens of boatloads, judging by the size of their factory and activity level of all the folks in there.

I recently had the distinct pleasure of a factory tour. You see, I’m a self-admitted holster geek. I even wrote an entire book on methods of concealed carry and gun holsters. Yes, I’m hopeless on holsters, so when I had the opportunity to visit Galco, I jumped on it like Kanye West to the nearest microphone.

The very first thing I learned about was cows. Did you know that every year, Galco turns 886,000 square feet of leather into first-rate gun holsters? That’s about 20,000 cows. If you lined all those cows up, they would reach from PETA’s headquarters in Washington DC all the way to the Chick-Fil-A in Warrenton, Virginia. Trust me, I did the math.

OK, so odds are you’re not reading this because you need to know how many cows it takes to block the highway from DC to Warrenton, so let’s get to the cool part – the making of holsters. It’s a fascinating mix of high-tech automation and skilled hand crafting.

The first challenge is shoes. See, we used to make lots and lots of shoes here in the US, so there were thousands of tanneries that supplied all that leather. Now, since most shoes are made overseas, there are only two major vegetable tanneries here in the US, and Galco buys the lion’s share of tanned leather from both of them.

Just some of the leather headed towards the factory floor.

Just some of the leather headed towards the factory floor.

Like yummy steaks, leather comes in different cuts depending on the intended usage. Galco orders back sections, which are about half a cow from the center of the back down each side. One of these sections is about the size of the hood of a 1970 AMC Gremlin, but not quite as wide and a little longer.

The handmade dies (upper left) are mashed through the leather sheets to produce desired shapes.

The handmade dies (upper left) are mashed through the leather sheets to produce desired shapes.

The older way of cutting leather involves use of hand-made dies. These dies are laid out over a sheet of leather and pressed through to cut the desired shape. It’s up to the experienced cutter to obtain maximum use of each sheet of leather while minimizing waste.

High-tech cutting. The leather is optically scanned to capture shape and flag areas of imperfection.

High-tech cutting. The leather is optically scanned to capture shape and flag areas of imperfection.

The new way is incredibly cool. As each cow is different, the incoming leather sheets are always different sizes. Imperfections such as discolorations or scrapes exist in different spots on each and every sheet. A digital scanner looks at each incoming sheet of leather and identifies shape, surface area and “marks” imperfection areas with a “do not use” status.

Read the rest at AmmoLand!

The Making of a Timney Custom Trigger

If you want to get maximum accuracy from your rifle, check out a Timney Trigger upgrade.

If you want to get maximum accuracy from your rifle, check out a Timney Trigger upgrade.

If you’re in the business of eking every last bit of performance out of an already fine-tuned product, you have to have a relentless, bordering on obsessive, sense of attention to detail.

Looking at the factory floor of Timney Triggers, the compulsive behavior quickly becomes apparent. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you could eat off the floor” before. At Timney Triggers, you really can. Well, actually you can’t, because eating off the floor would get it dirty. This place is seriously clean and polished. Even the brass outlet covers and ventilation grates on the factory floor are shined. I suspect even a Marine Corps Drill Instructor would have to begrudgingly express satisfaction.

The folks at Timney wouldn't let me eat off the factory floor as I would have gotten it dirty.

The folks at Timney wouldn’t let me eat off the factory floor as I would have gotten it dirty.

According to Timney Triggers owner John Vehr, this fanatical approach to organization and cleanliness sets the tone for the level of detail that goes into product design, manufacture, testing, shipping and most of all, service. After all, he wants Timney to be known not for products and inventions, but their service. “I want Timney to be the Kleenex of triggers, so people say ‘Check out my Timney’ instead of ‘Check out my trigger.’” The company intends to get to that point my removing internal competition and focusing all efforts externally. “When we no longer compete with each other, but rather outside competitors, it turns out we’re competing with companies that are competing with themselves,” says John. Every one of Timney’s 22 employees signs posters on the wall that detail Timney’s five commitments and Collaborative way. The fact that Timney has virtually no turnover seems to indicate the corporate culture investment is working.

I recently had the pleasure of spending a day touring the (relatively) new Timney manufacturing facility just north of Scottsdale, AZ to see just how Timney trigger parts and assemblies are made. Hint: It’s a fascinating process which is a lot different than you might imagine. Let’s take a look.

Calvin the mad scientist-engineer working on a new design.

Calvin the mad scientist-engineer working on a new design.

The process starts in the spacious work area / lab / office / studio occupied by mad scientist Calvin. New gun candidates for Timney aftermarket trigger are racked up near Calvin’s desk awaiting scanning with a three-dimensional video imaging system. This captures exact dimensions of the internal receiver space that a potential Timney Trigger product has to occupy.milling machines along a back wall, we didn’t see any powered up the day we were there.

 

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

 

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

Need Fathers Day Gift Ideas? Crimson Trace Sale On Now!

Crimson Trace Beretta 92FS-1Just a heads up folks – Crimson Trace has most of their laser and light products on sale between now and Fathers Day June 15, 2014.

According to the company,

“The discounts apply on: Rail Masters®, Lightguards®, Defender Series®, Rail Master Pros®, Lasergrips® and Laserguards®. Further discounts apply to the Master Series™ that are designed for the popular 1911 handgun. The deepest discounts of this annual Father’s Day Sale apply to laser systems designed for Glock and Sig Sauer handguns, plus the MVF-515™ Foregrip that is designed for rail-equipped AR rifles. Yes, shoppers will also find that many models of the popular green laser sights are now on sale.”

Shipping costs are also waived during the same time period, so if you’re thinking of adding a laser or two, now is a great time.

Git it while the gittin’s good…

Astroturf? Not. NSSF Breaks 10,000 Member Mark

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reports that it has recently surpassed the 10,000 member mark, reflecting strong industry support for its efforts.

No, these new members were not paid with a pack of cigarettes, bussed in to enrollment centers or counted multiple times. The best part? All of these new members are actually living. These are companies, media organizations and individuals who have made the effort to join, and pay dues, to support the industry.

As big as it is, the NSSF SHOT Show is only a small part of what the National Shooting Sports Foundation does for the industry.

As big as it is, the NSSF SHOT Show is only a small part of what the National Shooting Sports Foundation does for the industry.

“NSSF membership continues to climb because more industry connected companies, organizations and individuals are aware of the many ways NSSF works to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports,” said Chris Dolnack, Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer. “Such growth empowers NSSF to speak with a single, powerful voice on behalf of the industry inside the Beltway and in state houses across the country.”

To better accommodate the volume of membership renewals, the NSSF has changed their renewal terms. Now, renewal dates can be anniversary, rather than calendar date, driven. The NSSF membership team hopes that this change will speed up the process of distributing membership and renewal packets.

“We appreciate this incredible support,” said Bettyjane Swann, NSSF Director, Member Services, “and we similarly thank our members for their patience in awaiting their membership renewal packets. If a member has not received the packet and has any questions regarding this, they can certainly contact me.”

The NSSF offers a variety of membership types including voting, supporting, non-profit, retailer, range and individual media. Contact nssf.org for more information.

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture