Shooting Myth: A Laser Will Only Give Away Your Position!

The benefits of surefire aim in low-light conditions and flexibility for shooting from unconventional positions far outweigh any realistic risk of "giving away your position" when using a firearm-mounted laser.

The benefits of surefire aim in low-light conditions and flexibility for shooting from unconventional positions far outweigh any realistic risk of “giving away your position” when using a firearm-mounted laser.

I’ve been a big fan of lasers on handguns for years. At first, this was because they sounded great on paper. After actually running around shooting in the dark at various training events and nocturnal competitions, my “fanboy” meter has maxed out.

But to be really clear, I want to stress that I am talking about gun laser applications for home defense and self-defense. Not door kicking in Afghanistan. Or serving no-knock warrants with the Department of Education’s new SWAT Team. Or anything else “offensive.” See what I did there?

I’ve had all sorts of responses to my discussion on lasers for home defense. One commenter informed me that a laser would clearly show my position and a sniper positioned 600 yards away, who would subsequently easily take me out. I don’t know about you, but I don’t anticipate this event in my home defense scenario—at least until civilization breaks down into a post-apocalyptic battle zone. I’ll take the risk that my burglar has not had the foresight to set up sniper overwatch in the nearest cell tower.

To put the discussion in perspective, let’s walk through a potential home defense scenario. It’s the middle of the night. It’s pitch-dark. You are sound asleep in your bedroom. You are awakened by the sound of crashing glass, which indicates someone has just entered your house. By the time you wake up and figure this out, they are probably already in your house. This is a defensive, not offensive, situation.

Now what? I don’t know about you, but my goal is simple. Get that person and/or their friends out of my house before they cause harm to me and/or my family. If that person happens to get hurt in the process of achieving the goal, then that’s an occupational hazard of breaking into peoples’ homes in the middle of the night. But that’s not my primary goal. Encouraging them to turn tail and leave is far easier for all involved than splashing them all over my new duvet cover.

Pretty simple goal right?

In order to think through my best plan for home defense, I’ll take this goal into consideration first, then apply the most likely scenarios I might encounter. Most likely scenarios. This is where folks get all wrapped around the axle when it comes to using gun-mounted lasers.

Stop and think for minute about the most likely scenario you could encounter in your home. Who is that person that just broke into your house? Is it a team of trained ninja marksman who intend to engage in a cat-and-mouse running shootout in your home, just like on TV? Were you waiting in your laundry room sniper hide anticipating their arrival? Maybe, but not likely. The more likely scenario is that some crackhead is looking to steal your Xbox to fund their next fix. And they woke you up. And they’re already in your house by the time you get your wits about you and get moving.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

Winchester Ammunition’s Long Beard XR: Turkey Hunting or Home Defense?

Note how the shot column is standing on it's own as a result of the "shot lock" resin.

Winchester Ammunition Long Beard XR: Note how the shot column is standing on it’s own as a result of the “shot lock” resin.

While at the professional outdoor media conference range day I had the opportunity to check out some new shot shell loads from Winchester Ammunition. Winchester’s Long Beard XR is designed to create a tighter pattern at longer distances, resulting in twice the number of pellets in a 10 inch circle at distances up to 60 yards, according to the company.

Here’s what’s interesting about Winchester Long Beard XR: It uses a “shot lock” resin to bond all of the shot pellets together into a solid plug. As the load is fired, the resin disintegrates and turns to dust, leaving the shot pellets to fly on their own. The purpose isn’t that the pellets are bonded together in flight but rather that there’s no airspace between pellets at lift-off time.

This is a target set at 60 yards. While the point of aim is a bit off the neck and head, note the density of the shot pattern in the body.

This is a target set at 60 yards. While the point of aim is a bit off the neck and head, note the density of the shot pattern in the body.

In a normal shot shell the pellets are just piled on top of each other and only held in place by the wad and walls of the shot shell. When you fire it, the pellets get all smashed around as they are pushed to supersonic velocity from a standstill. This somewhat violent process creates mis-shaped pellets. Pellets flying out of round tend to spread out more rapidly, thereby creating a larger pattern. Because physics and aerodynamics.

The shot lock resin fills the air space, so the sudden acceleration doesn’t create a mashing effect. The pellets don’t get all squashed and therefore fly straighter in a tighter pattern.

So what happens when the pellets stay round?

The Winchester Ammunition folks set up targets at ranges of 25, 50 and even 60 yards. As you can see the patterns were perfectly usable for turkey hunting all the way up to 60 yards.

Winchester Ammunition Long Beard XR was designed for turkey hunters and is currently available in 12 gauge shot sizes of 4, 5 and 6.

I have to think this might also make an interesting home defense load for those concerned about over penetration inside. The 4, 5 and 6 shot sizes could help the penetration issue, while a tighter pattern might reduce risk of stray pellets. I’ll test this out against simulated walls soon and share the results.

You can find Winchester Ammunition Long Beard XR at Cabelas.

10 Worst Examples of Gun Advice From the Internet

Apparently I’ve taken on a task that is simply not possible without violating several laws of our physical universe – picking only 10 of the worst pieces of shooting advice from across the vast and vacuous expanse known as the internet.

I stopped counting at 32,987,412,318. But no worries, I’ll persevere.

If someone starts talking to you about "knockdown power" they better be talking about one of these.

If someone starts talking to you about “knockdown power” they better be talking about one of these.

Here we go, drum roll please…

1. A weapon light or laser will just give away your position!

If the self-defense scenarios swirling around your brain involve moving ninja fights in the dark that emulate Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon moves, you’re absolutely right!

A weapon light will give away your position, and your tactical pose hanging from the chandelier will be compromised. (Tweet This)

In real life, the benefits of seeing where and / or what you’re shooting at far outweigh any realistic disadvantages of “giving away your position.” One more thing, make it a point to tell the hundreds of thousands of military and law enforcement personnel who mount weapon lights and lasers on their guns specifically for the purpose of fighting in the dark that this is a tactical blunder. What do they know anyway?

2. To defend your home, blast your shotgun through the front door!

We all know that politicians are (self-defined) experts in all things. Some of the best (worst!) gun advice in recent history comes from our very own Vice President. “If you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.” While blasting your shotgun through the door may help you drill a hole for one of those handy peep holes, it won’t help your legal cause in any way, shape or form. Most likely, this strategy will send you straight to jail. Just ask the Virginia Beach man who actually did this when confronted with two armed and masked home invaders. The bad guys escaped, but the Biden disciple was charged with a crime. The “Biden Defense” is just not likely to yield a positive outcome. Come on, we all know politicians are immune from repercussions of bad behavior. It’s an expected part of the job.

3. Don’t use an AR-15 for home defense!

With all this negativity, we should offer some helpful advice: Always keep one hand on the wheel while shooting a tactical rifle from a golf cart.

With all this negativity, we should offer some helpful advice: Always keep one hand on the wheel while shooting a tactical rifle from a golf cart.

You might have heard from internet commandos that a “high-powered” .223 round will go clear through your interior and exterior walls, Margaritaville machine, and most of Montana!

Or maybe that if you torch off a .223 round indoors, the building will explode! (Tweet This)

Actually, most standard AR-15 ammunition will only go through a few pieces of interior drywall with any significant energy. The projectiles are light and traveling extremely fast. This combination results in rapid tumbling and fragmentation when barriers are hit. While there may be other factors in the pro / con debate of using AR-15′s for home defense, over penetration is not one of them – especially when compared to pistol ammunition and buckshot. Of course, exceptions apply if you choose to use ammunition designed to penetrate.

4. You should carry your self-defense gun with the chamber empty.

Unless your self-defense gun is a single-action revolver with a hammer mounted firing pin, that’s almost always bad advice. If you think you can simply keep an eye on things around you so you have plenty of time to draw your gun, and rack the slide, in the event of an attack, try a Tueller drill sometime. It’s enlightening and will quickly relieve you of any security gained by carrying with an empty chamber.

Also, please write Hollywood and tell them to stop racking the slide every time someone is about to fire a gun. It’s a waste of perfectly good pretend ammunition. (Tweet This)

5. I only train for head shots.

Some of the couch commando elite speak of training for head shots to defeat body armor and perhaps save ammunition during these tough economic times. On the range, a cardboard target is pretty darn easy to hit anywhere you like. Now try that while running full speed. Then try that while you and the target are running full speed. Then try it when everyone is running full speed, shouting, and the target is trying to kill you. Enough said.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Top 10 Reasons SHOT Show Is Awesome

The range portion of SHOT Show is equally epic. What you see here is about 10% of Media Day at the Range.

The range portion of SHOT Show is equally epic. What you see here is about 10% of Media Day at the Range.

SHOT Show is an annual pilgrimage of fun, friends, work, pain, exhaustion, more work, more fun and certainly a lot more pain.

It’s infinite, seemingly boundless and more crowded than a buy one get one free bordello, but you still manage to frequently run into people you know among the 68,000 attendees.

I love it.

I got to thinking, which is always dangerous, about why it’s my favorite event of the year and came up with this list…

Where else but SHOT Show is a tactical raptor not even remotely out of place?

Where else but SHOT Show is a tactical raptor not even remotely out of place?

1. The people. There’s always a low-end, like the guy walking around with a t-shirt that said “Vagitarian.” Fortunately, the true class acts use most of the oxygen in the Sands Convention Center. Like this year’s Energizer Bunny, Pro Shooter Todd Jarrett. He was everywhere, all the time. Must be cloned… And this years Best Disposition Award goes to Team Smith & Wesson’s Julie Golob. I know she had an exhausting schedule, but you couldn’t catch her without a glowing smile. Theodoric of Nooge spottings are always a popular pastime and the rocker didn’t disappoint this year – he was all over, gun groupies in tow. Architect of the LaPierreCare Affordable Gun Act, NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre made time for some floor walking. But the very best part is catching up with industry friends – especially the ones you haven’t met yet.

2. Truth in reporting. It’s a refreshing break from the mainstream media. I looked and looked, but to no avail – Piers Morgan and Chris Matthews were nowhere to be found. Also, you’re too busy to turn on a TV, so you get a much-needed break from the state network propaganda political machine. Oh, and the press room? I did some quick math and estimated that the average reporter there owns more firearms than pairs of socks. My kind of company for sure.

3. Gun Control Debate. The only gun control debate was whether you can fit one or two fingers on the new Beretta Pico without the magazine extension.

4. New inventions! While new products from established companies are well publicized, SHOT Show is where you find the startups with a new idea. For example, this year, I ran across LabRadar. They offer a portable radar kit to track bullet velocity. Brilliant. Or perhaps Adaptive Tactical – makers of the Sidewinder Venom drum magazine kit for Mossberg pump shotguns. Can you say home defense innovation?

A low-rider mobile armory? Why not?

A low-rider mobile armory? Why not?

5. I spy. If you looked really, really carefully, you just might spot tiny stickers of flying, ummm, body parts, placed strategically by Top Shot’s Chris Cerino.

6. Dinner. Yes, there are lot’s of great dining opportunities in Vegas, but I’m talking about the NSSF State of the Industry Dinner. I started doing this a couple of years ago and now it’s a “must do” on our schedule. It’s a great opportunity to dine and schmooze with a couple thousand of your best friends. And the entertainment rocks. This year, it was the magic duo of Penn & Teller who pleased the crowd with a dose of humor and their always impressive magic bullets trick. They must know their audience!

7. Perspective. The announcement of a drum magazine for pump shotguns (Adaptive Tactical) was perceived as a good idea, not the end of all life on planet earth, as might be reported by MSNBC.

An honorable mention addition to the list might be the spontaneous happy hours that break out at many booths every afternoon, like this Crimson Trace 20th Anniversary celebration.

An honorable mention addition to the list might be the spontaneous happy hours that break out at many booths every afternoon, like this Crimson Trace 20th Anniversary celebration.

8. Wagyu beef. Wolfgang Puck had the foresight to open a Cut restaurant in the hallway between my hotel room and the show floor. Can you say steak butter? I don’t mean butter-flavored steak, I mean a steak with the consistency and flavor of warm butter. Thanks for lightening my wallet, Wolfgang. #SteakGasm

9. Contagion. It’s the most fun way there is to get the cold or flu. Picking up the same guns as 67,999 other people is a surefire way to do your own live rendition of the movie Outbreak.

10. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) crew. These folks kill it. Every year. Having done far too many trade shows from the vendor side, I know exactly what it takes to organize and pull off an event of this magnitude. Yet you’d be hard pressed to find an NSSF staffer not wearing a big grin and looking to help you find your way. Not only is SHOT Show the place for vendors and gun retailers to meet and do business for the coming year, it generates “profits” for the NSSF that are turned around into productive programs like Project ChildSafe. Gotta love it. Thank you NSSF!

P.S. – If you’d like to check out more photos of SHOT Show 2014, just check out our Facebook SHOT Show album. We’re also adding pictures to our Pinterest SHOT Show board.

Do You Like It Flat? Your AR-15 That Is…

The LaserMax Uni-Max ES offers a very low profile option for your AR-15. Mount it on the top, side or bottom.

The LaserMax Uni-Max ES offers a very low profile option for your AR-15. Mount it on the top, side or bottom.

Do you like it flat?

Meaning the front of your AR rifle? Perhaps you don’t want a vertical fore grip laser and light assembly up front. If you frequently shoot at longer ranges, from sandbags or perhaps from a prone position, a vertical grip can get in the way. If you still want a laser attachment, there’s a great alternative that won’t get in the way of that nice, clean front hand guard.

The LaserMax Uni-Max ES is technically a multi-purpose product – it can switch teams with only a little bit on tinkering. Through a little rearranging of internal (and included) parts, you can convert this from a rifle laser with a remote activation pad to a pistol rail-mounted laser.

For pistols, you install the toggle switch that enables laser on / laser off from either side. With a rifle installation, you can certainly use the toggle switch if you like, but the momentary activation switch option is even better. This is a remote pressure pad which turns the laser on as long as you squeeze it. With judicious placement of the pad according to your personal preference, it’s a very natural motion to turn the laser on and off as desired. Just to be clear, while you can reconfigure this laser, it’s not something you would want to do daily as it will take you five minutes or so. The purpose is to give you flexibility over time to move between different guns.

Let’s talk about that “flat” configuration. The laser unit itself only extends 1/2 inch from a standard picatinny rail. So even if you mount it on the bottom of your rifle hand guard, as shown here, it hardly extends downward at all. Of course, if you want zero footprint, you can mount it on either side of the barrel and keep the bottom rail completely clean.

Here’s what I prefer. I mounted the laser unit on the bottom rail so that there are no “side to side” issues between the laser dot and point of impact. On the Daniel Defense rifle shown here, the laser and bore are only about 1 1/4 inches apart, so it’s not a big deal either way. I’m just being picky. All I have to worry about is an elevation difference of just over an inch between the laser and the point of impact at short distances. That’s nuthin’ right?

I chose to mount the momentary activation pressure pad on the right side so my natural grip was right on it.

I chose to mount the momentary activation pressure pad on the right side so my natural grip was right on it.

I chose to mount the momentary activation switch pressure pad on the right side of the hand guard. I’m right-handed, so my left hand is up front. Holding the hand guard from underneath, my fingers are used to press the pressure pad. I find it to be a very natural position. Squeeze a little tighter and the laser comes on. Release a bit of pressure and the laser goes off.

LaserMax includes a MantaRail cover with the Uni-Max ES, which is 2 3/4 inch section of textured rubber rail cover with an internal slot for the cord connecting the laser unit and momentary activation switch. So the cord comes out of the laser on the bottom rail, feeds underneath the rubber MantaRail cover and bends up to the side mounted momentary activation pad. All in all, there are only two one-inch sections of cord exposed, so there aren’t loose wires hanging around to get caught up on stuff. A side benefit of the MantaRail placement on the bottom rail is that it provides a grippy and comfortable rail cover where you hand goes. Nice touch.

A view from the bottom. Note the MantaRail cover just behind the laser. It secures the cord and makes a great hand grip.

A view from the bottom. Note the MantaRail cover just behind the laser. It secures the cord and makes a great hand grip.

The laser body itself also has a single-slot picatinny rail section on the bottom, so you can hang something else, like a light, just below the laser if you like. The laser unit is small and light, weighing just 2.5 ounces, so there is virtually no bulk up front on your rifle. It’s powered by two Silver Oxide 357 batteries and will run continuously for about an hour and a half.

I’m digging the LaserMax Uni-Max ES setup on a Daniel Defense DDM4V5 300 AAC Blackout rifle. A traditional optic is up top for longer ranges. I have the laser zeroed for 10 yards, but shorter and longer distances work just fine as the laser is so close to the bore line. So, in one package, you can have it all. A laser for home defense (or perhaps night hog hunting use) that’s preset for shorter distances and optics for reaching out.

The best part? Your laser configuration is pretty much out of the way when you want to use the rifle outdoors.

Is The AR-15 Appropriate For Home Defense? Part 1: Penetration Issues

To find out how an AR-15 penetrates interior walls, I built some---and then shot 'em up with a bunch of .223 Remington ammo.

To find out how an AR-15 penetrates interior walls, I built some—and then shot ‘em up with a bunch of .223 Remington ammo.

Is an AR-15 appropriate for home defense? That’s a really big question, isn’t it? Way too big a question for a single article to address in adequate detail. So we’ll look at one issue at a time.

First, since AR-15 rifles cause all nature of mainstream media histrionics, we’ll consider the “high-power” issue, which in a practical sense, translates to penetration. If you torch off a .223 Remington or 5.56mm round indoors, will the building explode? Listening to the news, you might think so.

More rational, and less pants-wetting thoughtful consideration yields a different conclusion when we look at penetration specifically. If you shoot an AR-15 inside your home or apartment, and miss your target, will the projectile continue to pass through interior walls, exterior walls, cars, dump trucks, and eventually the nearest ocean before embedding itself deep under the sea floor?

These are curious questions. Being curious, I decided to build some very small walls and shoot them with an AR-15. I shall call them mini-walls.

I shall call them…mini-walls. I built four in total, each with drywall on both sides.

I shall call them…mini-walls. I built four in total, each with drywall on both sides.

When considering home defense options, from strictly a penetration point of view, the basic question is: what will over-penetrate through walls, furniture, and your shiny new Ninja Blender? A heavier and slower pistol round, or a very light and fast rifle round?

The thing about light and fast bullets is that they tend to get upset–specifically, fragment or tumble—when they hit harder things like walls or furniture. Tumbling and fragmenting both result in a very rapid loss of velocity and energy, therefore a lightweight rifle projectile going somewhere around 3,000 feet per second may actually have less unwanted penetration than a pistol round traveling in the 1,000 feet per second range.

Before sharing results, I should present a couple of disclaimers.

  • I suck at construction, so if you are a professional carpenter, just hold your lunch down while looking at the photos of my mini-wall construction efforts. I’m only shooting them to pieces, not putting them in my house.
  • I didn’t paint the walls. This may sound trivial, but several coats of dried paint are hard, and likely to make some difference in the rate that lightweight, high-velocity bullets break apart.
  • The walls are close together. As you’ll see, some of the projectiles started fragmenting pretty quickly. If they had more time to spread out before hitting the next wall, I suspect they would have lost a lot of energy. Think of a shotgun pattern. When the pellets are still “clumped” together at short-range, there’s more penetration than when they spread out to a three-foot pattern a little further out.
  • I’m not a ballistic scientist. I just got curious, decided to do some basic testing, and share what I found. Do with the findings what you will.

With all that said, I looked at two different “interior wall” simulations. In one scenario, I used drywall (Sheetrock) only. I assumed the projectiles only hit drywall material of multiple walls. For the other scenario, I added a piece of 3/8-inch particle board between walls one and two—just to simulate junk inside walls like cross beams, furniture, or any number of other things besides wallboard that may be inside a home. All shooting was done from “indoor” ranges of five yards.

Read the rest at!

Lessons From The Playhouse: A LaserMax And Gunsite Adventure

What can you learn from a playhouse? Life-saving tips, actually.

Step 1 of the house clearing exercise - opening the door. The Glock is equipped with a Simunitions conversion and the new LaserMax Native Green laser.

Step 1 of the house clearing exercise – opening the door. The Glock is equipped with a Simunitions conversion and the new LaserMax Native Green laser.

I just returned from a few days at Gunsite Academy – one of the nations premier shooting academies located just outside of Prescott, Arizona. That’s pronounced more like “biscuit” by the way, not “Scott.” You may also know of Prescott as Sturm, Ruger and Company builds most of their pistols there. It’s a gun friendly place to say the least.

I ended up at Gunsite thanks to the good folks at LaserMax. They’ve got some big news that will ripple through the laser sighting industry over the next couple of years – Native Green technology. We’ll talk more about that next week when I write a separate article on Native Green laser technology. For now, just be aware that green laser light is currently generated by shooting an infrared laser through some ‘magic’ crystals to “create” green light. Native Green lasers generate bright green light right off the bat with no conversion required.

Chris is not telling me how awesomely tactical I am. He's telling me to stop "water skiing" and that I just shot the bad guy in the hand.

Chris is not telling me how awesomely tactical I am. He’s telling me to stop “water skiing” and that I just shot the bad guy in the hand.

The LaserMax team enlisted the Gunsite staff to help us test out the new LaserMax Native Green lasers in a variety of scenarios, one of which was clearing the famous Gunsite Playhouse. The Playhouse is a specially constructed building designed to simulate a home or business with multiple rooms, hallways and hidden corners and nooks. In other words, it has lots of places for innocent bystander and bad guy targets to hide. The Playhouse is set up to handle either live fire from real guns or Simunitions marking projectile rounds. We used Glocks configured with Simunitions conversions so we could easily see hits. Using Simunitions in the Playhouse also allowed us to take pictures from a catwalk above during the exercises without risk of losing photographers to friendly fire.

I’m an experienced shooter and have taken a number of self-defense shooting classes. One predictable outcome from every training experience is that there are always leaning epiphanies. This time was no different.

First, I must stress how much our Gunsite Rangemasters, Mike Moore and Chris Weare, emphasized that you never, ever, ever, ever want to clear a house on your own. It’s a bad tactic and you’re at a major disadvantage from the start. The purpose of this drill was to learn some basic clearing techniques in the event you had to “clear” a building in order to get out of it, or perhaps reach a loved one in trouble. If you ever arrive at your home or business and see signs that there’s been a break in, back up and call 911. Don’t go in on your own.

We were given minimum instructions: open the front door and “deal” with things. That’s it. At the end of my three or four minute house clearing, I thought about what went right and what went wrong.

Read the rest at!

How To Stash A Gun Most Anywhere

Here’s a chance to point you to a great resource for all sorts of concealed carry and holster gear. The NRA Store offers a great selection of concealed carry clothing with integrated holsters, home and office holsters, gun security devices and of course those really nifty belt buckles. Of course the buckles don’t help with concealed carry, but they sure are cool. Prices are good and you help fund efforts to protect your gun rights.

The Rapid Access Gun Magnet is just that — a magnet.

NRA Store Rapid Access Gun Magnet

NRA Store Rapid Access Gun Magnet

It’s a hard plastic plate, about the size of a business card that has a round, rare-earth magnet built in. The Rapid Access Gun Magnet isn’t rare — the NRA Store has a plentiful supply, but apparently the “rare earth magnets” have a reputation for being extra strong and magnet-y. The magnet itself is a 1 ½ inch diameter circle that’s maybe ½ inch tall. It is completely contained in the plastic housing that also forms the back plate. The back plate has two grommet holes so you can mount it with screws, twist ties or glue to just about anything you like. Most any gun will stick to this magnet like crazy. It has no problem at all supporting a fully loaded, full size, steel 1911. That’s a heavy gun. As the magnet has a little height, you’ll find that the grip is positioned far enough away from whatever mounting surface you choose that you can get a proper hand hold on it when needed.

Media Alert! We did test the magnet with a number of Glock pistols. As we all know from the mainstream media panic-stricken reports, Glocks are impervious to metal detection, so we had to assume that the magnet mount wouldn’t work either. Fortunately, we found it works just fine. (Yes, we knew it would, but we never pass up an opportunity to mock and taunt those so-called journalists.)

You can do a whole lot of handy things with this mounting system:

  • Mount it under your desk. When you are going to sit for a while, unholster your gun and stick it on the magnet for comfort and easy access.
  • Put one under your nightstand. While not a solution for child safety, it will keep your gun handy and accessible to you at night.
  • Put one in your car. Check your local laws first. Some states want you to have the gun on your person, even with a concealed carry permit.
  • Put one under the workbench if you’re a garage tinkerer.
  • Bathroom? You can work that one out for yourself…

We bought this from the NRA Store a couple of years ago and it’s turned out to be exceptionally handy. As most any handgun, polymer construction or not, has steel in it we have yet to find a pistol or revolver that won’t work properly.

Word of caution! This is not a safety device. There is no protection against unauthorized access, so consider your personal situation and environment carefully. Never rely on simply hiding a gun to keep it away from children.

Learn more about gun holsters and concealed carry solutions for your body, home, office and car in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters!

Buy The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters at

When 10 Rounds Of 12 Gauge Shotgun Isn’t Enough

Recently I ran across a deal that I couldn’t refuse on a Mossberg JM Pro 930 semi-automatic shotgun. The only problem is that it’s a little light on capacity. With only 9 rounds in the tubular magazine and 1 in the chamber, this shotgun is limited to a measly 10 shots.

And there are times when 10 rounds of 12 gauge isn’t enough. For example…

  • You hear a bump in the night. But your house has 6 porches. When you step out on the porch and fire a couple of blasts in the air, you’ll run out of ammo by the 5th porch. Wise Uncle Joe didn’t think of that did he? No worries, that’s why we’re here.
  • Let’s face it. The job market is tough. If you have to accept a position as a nomadic crime boss, you’ll want extra capacity for those unruly board meetings and employee grievances.
  • Your upcoming social calendar includes a walking dead family reunion.

Of course there are other less realistic scenarios where you might want to carry extra shotgun shells. Like home defense or 3 gun competition. Or maybe you’re a really, really bad skeet shooter.

For those scenarios, you might want to check out the Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carriers. Add a “by the seashore” to that and you’ve got a proven tongue twister.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier on a Mossberg JM Pro 930

The Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Carrier is designed to mount to your shotgun receiver or stock and carry from 4 to 8 extra shot shells. Models are available for numerous shotguns including:

Remington 870, 1100, 11087

Mossberg 500, 590, 930

Benelli M1, M2, Super Nova, M4, M1014

There are a lot of variables, so be sure to check the Mesa Tactical web site for details.

Most models are constructed from sturdy 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum, so you should be able to mount it to an F-18 Super Hornet, but be sure to consult a competent armorer before attempting installation.

A closer look at the Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Carrier

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier  2

I ordered the Mossberg 930 (6) shell carrier. This one is constructed of solid aluminum and includes all the parts and tools needed for installation.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  7

One of the “hidden” features of the Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Carrier is the adjustable friction mechanism. A channel is machined into the carrier which holds a rubber tube. This tube applies pressure to the shot shells in each port. Mesa Tactical supplies two rubber tubes with different hardness to increase or decrease the amount of friction you want.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  6

Try the default setup. If it works for you, great. No further action is required. If you want the carrier to hold shells more tightly, you’ll need to swap the rubber tube.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  5

On the Mossberg 930 model, 6 screws hold the backing plate to the carrier. Remove those and you’ll have access to the tube.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  4

Replace the default tube with the firmer white tube and replace the backing plate.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation remove trigger group pins

Installation on the Mossberg 930 JM Pro was easy. Just punch out the two pins that hold the trigger group in place. Leave the trigger group in the receiver – no need to take that out.

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Mesa Tactical includes a rubber gasket that sticks to the back of the shell carrier. This creates a no-slip attachment and ensures that your receiver won’t get all scratched up. Stick that on the back, making sure you don’t cover up any of the backing plate screws in case you want to swap retainer tubes later.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  2

For the Mossberg 930, the carrier kit includes two sets of pass through bolts. Insert the two female ends through the carrier and then through the receiver. Be careful to keep your trigger group in place – these bolts are now holding that in the receiver.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation  1

From the other side, insert the male end of the bolts, with washers, and join them up.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier installation

The Mossberg 930 carrier kit includes two hex wrenches to tighten the bolts. Finger tight using the hex wrenches will provide all the tension you need.

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier  1

Here is the Mesa Tactical Shot Shell Carrier mounted. Notice the cutout placed over the area of the receiver where the gun’s serial number is stamped. (The serial number is blurred out in this photo.)

Mesa Tactical SureShell Shotshell Side Saddle Carrier top view

A view from the top. The Mesa Tactical ShotShell Side Saddle Carrier. Notice that it’s well out of the way of the receiver-mounted safety.

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The grip is solid enough to carry shot shells base up or base down depending on your preference. Or, if you want to carry two types of shells, you can alternate them to easily tell the difference between buckshot and slugs. After some use, I found that I preferred the base down method. With your support hand thumb, you can press down on the top of a shell to “dump” it into your support hand. With proper hand placement and practice, you can drop a shell into your support hand and load it in one fluid motion. OK, it was more like a spastic motion before practicing a few times, but practice makes perfect.

You can find the Mesa Tactical ShotShell Side Saddle Carrier at

Mesa Tactical Products, Inc. Receiver Mount Shotshell Holder

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 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.

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