Single-Action Handguns: Not Much To Do With Chance Laundromat Encounters

Here’s an excerpt from our brand new book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s the second in the Insanely Practical Guide Series

Single-action is a pretty simple concept. And it has nothing to do with online dating sites, chance encounters at the laundromat or a night on the town with two wild and crazy guys.

A pair of single-action handguns

When a handgun is single-action, whether it’s a pistol or revolver, it does one thing, or action, when you pull the trigger. The descriptor, single-action, must be entirely coincidental right?

While I’m sure there’s an exception out there, in most cases, pressing the trigger of a single-action gun will release a hammer or striking contraption of sorts, allowing it to strike a firing pin that whacks the back of a cartridge and ignites it. So, pressing the trigger does one action – which results in firing the gun.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Some single-action guns need to be manually cocked between each shot. Perhaps the best example of this is the traditional cowboy six gun, or single-action revolver. The shooter must “cock the hammer” to prepare it for the single-action release by a trigger press. In old western movies, this is done really fast – sometimes with the shooter smacking the hammer with one hand while holding the trigger down with the other.

Gun words explained - Insanely Practical Guides

Hammer [ham-er]

- Noun

  1. The part of a firearm designed to provide energy to the firing pin in order to strike the primer of a cartridge. Some hammers, such as those on older revolvers, have the firing pin attached to the hammer and directly impact the primer. Others, generally on more modern designs, impact a transfer bar or mechanism to provide energy to the firing pin. The hammer of a gun does not have to be exposed or visible. For example, the Smith and Wesson 642 revolver and M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle both have internal hammers.
  2. Easily confused with similar terms. For example, Hammer Time is not an appropriate usage in the context of guns. Unless you got slick moves and a pair of parachute pants capable of providing wind power for San Francisco or maybe smuggling dozens of illegal immigrants across the border. Otherwise, you can’t touch this.

Important Safety Tip: While it’s OK to cock your hammer, don’t ever hammer your… Ummm. Never mind.

However, just because a gun is single-action does not mean it has to be manually cocked between each shot. Some single-action designs, like the 1911 pistol, are cocked for the first shot. Each subsequent shot uses the recoil action to automatically cock the hammer for the next shot. Since the trigger still does only one thing, release the hammer, these guns are still considered single-actions.

Ruger single-action revolver

So what’s the big deal about single-action handguns?

Generally speaking – again, I’ll bet a nickel someone will find an exception – single-action guns have relatively light triggers since the trigger only serves to release the hammer. That doesn’t take a lot of pressure. A light trigger pull makes for a gun that is easier to shoot accurately. It’s not technically more accurate, just easier to shoot accurately. This is because the force of your finger is less likely to pull the sights off target. If it takes 8 pounds of pressure to press the trigger, and the gun only weighs 2 pounds, then the shooter really has to concentrate to keep that gun perfectly still during a trigger press. On the other hand, if the trigger press requires 2 pounds, and the gun weighs 3 pounds, then the shooter is less likely to pull the gun off target while pressing the trigger.

So, all of that is a fancy way of saying that many folks like single-action guns because they can be easy to shoot accurately.

There’s a lot more to consider when deciding whether to use a single-action gun, so for now, let’s just stick to the definitions. We’ll talk about pros and cons later in the book.

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

Ammo Test: Winchester PDX1 Defender .38 Special +P 130 Grain

When I lug my ammunition testing setup to the range, I get more strange looks than Michael Bloomberg lactating at a Mayors Against Legal Governing (MALG) press conference.

That’s because I bring a couple of now-perforated trash cans full of soaking wet newspaper, some old boots and a bunch of discarded clothing. Shooting into water or plain ballistic gelatin doesn’t tell too much about bullet performance after it has passed through real-world barriers. So I assemble a suitable range wardrobe.

Recently, I brought 1/2 of a fully stocked thrift store to the range to test the Winchester PDX1 Defender .38 Special +P 130 grain self-defense load.

Winchester's PDX1 Defender .38 Special +P self-defense load.

Winchester’s PDX1 Defender .38 Special +P self-defense load.

This load is solid for .38 Special handguns, but also makes a good option for .357 revolvers. Some folks like to shoot .38 Special loads out of sturdier .357 revolvers for less recoil and wear and tear on the gun. Of course, the option is always there to load 357 Magnum cartridges whenever you like.


Considering that this load uses 130 grain projectiles, velocity was appropriate. I tested it from a Ruger LCR .357 Magnum revolver, which features a 1.875 inch barrel. That’s shorter than NY Governor Cuomo’s debate on the SAFE Act! Using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph, I measured a bunch of shots with the chrony placed 15 feet down range. The average of the Winchester PDX1 Defender 130 grain load worked out to 903 feet per second. Not too shabby, and enough for pretty reliable expansion.

Winchester PDX1 Defender .38 Special +P Expansion Performance

I shot another pile of these bullets into a pretty tough target to get an indication of expansion performance. While anything will expand if you shoot it into ballistic gelatin, things start to get crazy when you shoot through real-life barriers like leather and fabric clothing. To put it to the test, I shot through two layers of leather and 4 layers of light canvas. Not counting anything hard that might get in the way, this starts to approach a worst case heavy clothing scenario.

Winchester PDX1 38 Special +P

Expansion was good overall. Throughout testing over 75% of projectiles expanded properly.

I shot everything through the leather and canvas barrier into a deep container of wet pack. That’s a fancy word for soaking-wet newspaper. As you can see by the photo, most projectiles displayed good expansion. About 1/4 of the time, one would slip through with minimal or no expansion. That’s not a big surprise given .38 Special velocities out of a short-barrel revolver.

Closing Arguments

This was a good load. After testing thousands of self-defense rounds, in virtually all pistol calibers, I’ve become a big fan of bonded bullet designs. I’ve yet to encounter a quality bonded bullet that came apart while passing through a tough target. Like jacketed designs, expansion is always measured in probability, not certainty, but overall, bonded bullets have proven to be solid performers.

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

You can find Winchester PDX1 Defender Self Defense Ammunition at Brownells

Insanely Practical Shooting Tips: Dry Firing – It’s Not As Dirty As It Sounds

Here’s an excerpt from our newest book, releasing June 15, 2013 – The Insanely Practical Guide to Guns and Shooting. Like The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters, now available at, it’s a direct, practical and amusing way to learn. We hope you find a useful tip or two about improving your shooting skills by dry firing your handgun!

Insanely Practical Tips Guns and Shooting

Some Shooting Tips About Dry Firing Your Handgun

You have to admit, “dry firing” sounds just a little bit dirty. (Tweet This)

Like something that might happen in a nightclub of ill repute. When it comes to shooting, dry firing is a great thing. Like the other less-desirable implication, it’s safe, but is far more respectable.

Dry firing a gun simply means practicing the shooting motions without actually discharging a projectile.

We’ll talk about the instructions on how to dry fire in a minute, but first I would like to make a money-back guarantee.

If you properly (and safely) practice dry firing on a regular basis, your shooting skills will improve by 312%. (Tweet This)

Or maybe 31%. Or 19.3%. But they will improve. You can bank on that.

I like to think that dry fire practice and teeth flossing fall into the same general category. Neither activity is fun or sexy, but both make a huge difference over time. So if you want to have teeth like Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts, then commit to dry firing on a regular basis.

Let’s talk about how to do it, without harming yourself, your family or your new love seat from Haverty’s.

The most important consideration is safety. You have to develop your own method that insures that you will never, ever, ever have bullets anywhere near your gun when you dry fire. This is because you will be pulling the trigger on your actual firearm when not at the range. All of the safety rules we discussed earlier still apply. You’ll treat the gun like it’s loaded. You’ll keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire. You won’t point your gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy – except perhaps that Haverty’s love seat. And you’ll be sure of your target, and what’s behind it. We’re going to follow all of these rules because if all the stars align just wrong, even for a second, and a live round is in your gun, you won’t hurt anything except your pride and maybe an ottoman.

The first step is to remove all ammunition from your gun. Remove it all from your revolver’s cylinder or the magazine in your semi-automatic. If you have a semi-automatic pistol, clear the round from the chamber. Stick your finger in there to make sure the chamber is empty. Now look at it. Now look through the magazine well and make sure you see nothing but air. Now do that again.

Those bullets you just removed from your gun? Take them into another room and set them somewhere you can see. Now count them. Are there as many there as were in your gun? Next take any full spare magazines you have and place those next to the bullets in the other room.

The end result of all this activity is that you have taken every round of live ammunition from your gun and anywhere else OUT of the room where you will be dry-firing.

While all this may sound excessive, just trust me and do it. Life has far too many distractions and interruptions to be anything less than obscenely safe. If if all of your ammo is in a different room, preferably where you can see it from your dry fire practice area, there is simply not a chance that you will absent mindedly fire a live cartridge.

A Dry Firing Target Tip!

I faithfully do all of the steps outlined above, but with a slight twist. You’ll notice I recommended to place the live rounds in another room where you can see them. I do this to use them near my dry fire target. I do this so that every time I pull the trigger on my gun while dry fire practicing, I am looking at the cartridges that were in my gun, but now in another room. When I dry fire practice in my office, I place the rounds on a dresser in the hallway. This dresser is visible from my office through a large doorway. So now, I’m using those live rounds near my target when I dry fire. If I am aiming a dresser when I pull the trigger, and I see the rounds on top, they can’t be in my gun can they? Of course the dresser backs up to a stairwell and three walls. There is nothing behind it, so I also have a safe backstop. One other additional trick is to line up the cartridges from the magazine right next to each other. Then I take the cartridge from the chamber and place that an inch or so away from the others. So I have a visual cue of the 7 rounds that fit in the magazine of my gun, plus the round that was in the chamber. In a sense, I’m looking at a representation of the full capacity of my gun. The rounds in the magazine and the extra that was in the chamber.

Dry Fire target idea

Here’s a dry-fire target idea that works for me. I take the rounds out of the magazine and line them up near my dry fire target. I remove the round from the chamber and separate that one from the others. If I am seeing these while dry firing at my target, I know the rounds are not in my gun as they are across the room.

How to actually practice with dry firing

Now that we’ve covered the safety aspects of dry fire practice, what do you do? Let’s start simple and add practice exercises.

Basic dry firing simply allows you to practice pulling the trigger pull on your gun without all that distracting flash and bang. All kidding aside, it’s a way to train your eyes, body and trigger finger to pull the trigger smoothly, without moving the sights off target. The real benefit is that you can do all this without that instinctive flinch when the gun normally goes bang. By conditioning yourself to a smooth trigger pull, without a flinch reaction, you’ll eventually find that you do the same with a real gun when it does go bang.

After you’ve completed the safety procedures outlined above, just follow these steps according to what type of gun you have.

First a note about .22 handguns! 

If you shoot a .22 pistol, you’re better off NOT dry firing that gun. Most .22’s do not react well to dry firing due to how the firing pin is placed. Repeated dry firing of most .22 guns will cause damage to the firing mechanism. Most center fire guns are perfectly safe to dry fire. Always check your owners manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.

Select your target. Get a comfortable stance. Find your natural point of aim by aiming at the target, then closing your eyes. When you open your eyes, are the sights still on target? If not, shift your stance and body position accordingly.

Here’s a great place to pause and remember to focus on your front sight only. Remember, your eyes physically cannot have the rear sight, front sight and target all in sharp focus at the same time, so you have to pick one. Pick the front sight. The rear sight and the target should both be a little blurry. That’s OK, you’ll still hit the target.

Now, slowly PRESS the trigger as smoothly as possible. The goal is to complete the full trigger press until the gun’s action releases – without moving the sights off target at all.

As the hammer (external, internal or striker) releases, see where the sights are aimed. That’s where your shot would have hit had you been firing a live cartridge. Think of this last step as follow through. Train your eyes to see the sight alignment just after the gun “fires.” Eventually, you’ll know where your shot hit without looking at the target. You’ll be “calling your shot.” That’s a really impressive gun term that simply says you know exactly where the shot impacted because, during your follow through, you were watching your sights relative to the target.

After your first shot, things will vary a bit depending on the type of gun you have, so let’s take a quick look at the steps for each major handgun type.

Revolver (Double Action)

Revolvers are the easiest dry fire gun. After you complete the first dry fire “shot” you don’t have to do anything to prepare the gun for the next shot. Simply get your body, grip and sight alignment back in place, aim at your target, and pull the trigger again.

Whether or not your revolver has a hammer, always practice it in double action mode. That is, pull the trigger without first cocking the hammer. That’s how you would want to use the revolver in a defensive application anyway, so you might as well get used to it in practice. When you master dry firing a double action revolver without moving the sights off your target, you’ll be a better shot than Ben Cartwright.

Semi-Automatic Pistols (Double / Single-Action)

With a double-action you can configure your dry fire practice depending on what you want to accomplish. Like a double-action revolver, you can always just pull the trigger to simulate a full, double-action firing sequence. However, in real life, after that first double-action trigger pull, your handgun will cock itself so the second shot is a light trigger pull single-action motion. When you’re dry firing, you’ll have to pull back the hammer manually to prepare the gun for a single-action shot. So it’s up to you if you want to simulate a first double-action shot, followed by a series of single-action shots or some other scenario. Do practice double-action shots, immediately followed by single-action shots though. The transition from heavier to lighter trigger takes some getting used to.

Single-Action Pistols and Revolvers

If you shoot a 1911 style handgun or a single-action revolver, dry fire practice is pretty straightforward. You’re going to have to cock the hammer manually between each dry fire shot. With a single-action revolver, you want to make the hammer cock part of your dry fire sequence as you’ll have to do that in real life. With a single-action pistol, you don’t want to build a habit of cocking the hammer each time you pull the trigger. When you shoot live ammunition, the gun will cock itself after each shot so you don’t have to. To help overcome building “bad muscle memory” when dry firing a single-action pistol, I like to fire the first shot, aim at a different target and simulate a trigger pull and repeat that a few times. After a few “shots” I bring the gun back from firing position, cock the hammer and repeat the exercise.

Striker-Fired Pistols

If you shoot a plastic fantastic pistol that’s striker-fired, you have to cock the gun after each shot also. To do this with most striker-fired pistols, you have to rack the slide, as there is no hammer. Fortunately, you don’t have to do a complete slide rack. With most pistols, you can pull the slide back ¼” or so and the striker mechanism will reset. Experiment with your gun to see how little of a partial slide rack you can get away with. Like the single-action pistol mentioned above, you don’t want to build a habit of racking the slide after every shot, so vary your firing sequence accordingly.

Add some complexity!

Hey, now that you’ve advanced beyond the simple certificate of participation for dry firing, you can add some steps to build your skills.

  1. Draw from your holster! You’ve got an unloaded gun, in safe conditions. What better time to practice your draw? Practice drawing your gun, keeping your finger our of the trigger and evaluating potential targets. Mix in some more complex sequences where you draw your gun and and dry fire one or more times. Be creative!
  2. Practice magazine changes. How about dry firing your gun and pretending that was the last shot in your magazine? Practice dropping that magazine, pulling a new one and reloading your gun? Be extra careful that ALL magazines you use are empty!
  3. Practice malfunction drills. When you dry fire, pretend your gun didn’t go bang. What do you do? Practice the clearing drill depending on your particular gun. If it’s a revolver, pull the trigger again. If it’s a semi-automatic pistol, smack the bottom of the magazine to be sure it’s seated, rack the slide, then re-evaluate the situation.

A dry firing tip…

Don’t rush your dry firing. That’s bad form and will help you develop rotten habits. (Tweet This)

Your brain is an amazing thing that will build memory of your actions regardless of the speed at which you complete them. Focus on completing your dry fire sequence slowly and perfectly each and every time. If you do that, speed will happen all on its own – perfectly.

Another dry firing tip…

After you’re practiced a bit, balance a dime on top of your front sight. If you can complete a full trigger press without the dime falling off the front sight, you’re getting good!


Find dry fire accessories here

Holster Review: Pretty Dangerous Accessories Ladies Gun Holster

Shhh. It’s our secret…

Pretty Dangerous Accessories Holster with Springfield Armory EMP 9mm

Pretty Dangerous Accessories Holster shown with a Springfield Armory EMP 9mm

That’s the very appropriate tagline advertised by Pretty Dangerous Accessories. While Pretty Dangerous Accessories offers innovative jewelry designs and clothing for shooting women, we elected to take a look at their holster line.

We had to solicit the skills of our female staff for this assignment because, well, let’s face it, men have the fashion sense of Silly Putty. You see, we needed feminine input not only for functionality testing, but commentary on more intangible factors like fun, fashion points and cuteness. And “cuteness” is as foreign to guys as choir practice is to Lindsey Lohan.

Ways To Use A Pretty Dangerous Accessories Holster

Gun fit versatility is designed in to the Pretty Dangerous Accessories holster. It features an open top / open bottom design somewhat like the famous “Yaqui Slide” style. This allows the holster to fit a variety of pistols and revolvers regardless of slide length. As long as the body fits and the trigger guard is properly covered, you’re good to go. There is a metal clip on one side that allows for different mount options as we’ll discuss in a sec. The clip is removable if you can figure out a scenario where that would benefit you.

We tried to get creative and figure out a variety of ways to use this holster. Here’s what we found:

  • Clip it on jeans for an easy mount / easy removable outside the waistband holster.
  • Clip it to an interior pocket in a purse or other carry bag to keep it exactly in place and out of the clutter.
  • Clip it on a boot!
  • Clip it to other clothing items. We’ll leave that to you.
  • While driving, clip it to a surface in your car for accessibility. Be sure to check local laws regarding car carry with and without a concealed carry license.
  • And more…

Fun for Fashionistas

Pretty Dangerous Accessories inventor, founder, accountant, production manager, and chief designer Julie Ruster Price has an interesting background which led to this combination of style and function. She was a cop for years, but also had experience in fashion and merchandising.

Yes, you guessed it, Julie was the driving force behind the creation of the first Elite Tactical Response Unit for Lifetime Network’s hit show Project Runway. In between emergency deployments to resolve cat fights in the contestant’s shared apartments, Julie hatched the idea for Pretty Dangerous Accessories.

Some ask why devote energy to fashionable materials and designs for a product that will be rarely seen by others. “Why not?” responds Julie. “YOU can enjoy it!”

Gun Fit

We tried the Pretty Dangerous Accessories with a variety of concealed carry friendly handguns. With few exceptions, we found this holster design to  do an admirable job of protecting the trigger and providing a stable means of carrying a gun.

One of the keys to the multi-fit design is assigning a specific gun to a specific holster. That means you’re better off getting different holsters if you plan on using multiple size guns. Being made of leather, the Pretty Dangerous Holster quickly conforms to fit a specific handgun. For larger guns, it will stretch to fit – within reason.

Here are some of the guns we tried with good success:

 Pretty Dangerous Accessories Hair On Cowskin holster with Walther PPK

This combination of a Cylinder and Slide customized Walther PPK and the Pretty Dangerous Accessories Hair-On Cowskin Holster was a winner. The fit was excellent and we found it easy to get a good solid firing grip. And let’s face it – Walthers are just plain elegant and need a holster with equal style.

 Pretty Dangerous Accessories Eggplant Ostrich Holster with Glock 17

We were somewhat surprised to find that a full size Glock 17 Gen 4 worked just fine in this Eggplant Ostrich Holster.

Pretty Dangerous Accessories Black Lizard Holster with Glock 32

Of course, all of the Glock models in 9mm, .40 S&W, and .357 Sig share the same slide and frame width, so the Glock 32 equipped with Crimson Trace Lasersights fit perfectly in this Black Lizard Holster.

Pretty Dangerous Accessories Duty Rose Leather Holster with Glock 26

Here’s a Glock 26 Gen 4 equipped with a Pearce Grip Extension with a Duty Rose Leather Holster.

Pretty Dangerous Accessories Duty Red Croc Holster with Beretta Tomcat

The Beretta Tomcat 3032 .32 ACP with custom grips is wide enough to get a reasonably snug fit in this Red Croc Holster.

Pretty Dangerous Accessories Duty Eggplant Ostrich Holster with Ruger LCP

The Ruger LCP .380 ACP fits in this Eggplant Ostrich Holster, but it’s somewhat loose. It will work fine with certain carry methods – although the gun positions a little too deeply in the holster to get a proper firing grip without adjustment.

Pretty Dangerous Accessories Duty Red Croc Holster with Springfield Armory TRP

A full size Springfield Armory 1911 TRP Armory Kote in the Red Croc Holster. A pretty dangerous gun in a Pretty Dangerous Accessories holster. Just right for the pretty dangerous lady in your life. Notice the trigger is fully protected.

Pretty Dangerous Accessories Duty Ostrich and Rose Duty Holster with Ruger LCR

The Ruger LCR Revolver has a slightly atypical trigger guard. It’s more of an oblong, egg shape – but it still makes lousy omelets. In any case, the fit is a little iffy on this holster. We had 5 different ones in for evaluation and we managed to fit the LCR in two of them. If this is the combination you want, just let the folks at Pretty Dangerous Accessories know you need a bit of extra room. Or gently encourage your LCR to cut down on the late night snacks.

Closing Arguments

This is a versatile and functional holster design. One has to be careful about checking fit with your choice of handgun as it’s a one size fits all design, but we found this holster to work with a broad array of handguns. When tweaking the design, the Pretty Dangerous Accessories team scoured the gun shows to try as many models as possible, so if in doubt, just give them a call before ordering. The only drawback to the one-size fits many approach is fit can be a little loose depending on your choice of gun. We found revolvers and mid size semi-automatics like the Walther PPK and Springfield Armory EMP to be quite snug and secure.

Our Rating

3 Nuns Three Nuns! Stylish AND dangerous. This is a nice holster design. For certain “mid-sized” concealed carry guns, the fit is perfect. It particularly shines with short barrel revolvers. We also liked the variety of leather finishes. Why not make a personal holster fashion statement?
Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Read about more carry styles and over 120 different gun holsters in The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – available at! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters


8 Shooting Tips: How Not To Look Like An Amateur Shooter

Even if you’re new to shooting, you may have heard names like Julie GolobRob LeathamSara AhrensIain Harrison, and Tori Nonaka. Whether you know them from the competitive circuit, see them on shows like Top Shot, or your obsessive shooting sports fan neighbor just can’t stop rattling off stats about them, one thing is clear. They have a reputation of being experienced, no make that expert, shooters.

But wait, you’re new to this whole thing. How do you make that first trip to the range, gun store, or even a friend’s house to check out a gun or two without looking like a total doofus? Admit it, we all want to be cool and look comfortable and confident when learning new shooting tips and gun handling skills. Like all new things, learning how to handle guns can be intimidating. But how do you take the first step and learn basic gun and shooting technique now that Miss Manners’ Sooper Dooper Guide to Shooting Etiquette is out of print?

Check out these shooting tips and you’ll be safe AND looking like an pro shooter, or at least a well-rounded intermediate, in no time flat.

1. Gun Safety Tip: Practice ‘Open sesame’

When someone hands you a gun, whether it’s in a store, at the range, in their house, or at an armory in Kandahar, Afghanistan, point it at something safe, like the floor, and immediately open the slide (or cylinder if it’s a revolver) to verify that it is in fact unloaded. (Tweet This!)

Do remember to keep your finger off the trigger while doing this. That alone will get you 12 extra bonus points! But still remember, a gun is ALWAYS loaded. Even after you’ve opened it to verify that it’s empty. We know, it’s kind of confusing. Just trust us on this one. If you pretend that it’s always loaded, you’ll never do something silly like pointing it at someone or something you really don’t want to shoot.

2. Proper Handgun Grip: Don’t drink tea at the range

How not to grip a gun - the teacup or cup and saucer handgun grip

A teacup, or cup and saucer, grip is about this effective. Hint: Don’t do this.

Friends don’t let friends enjoy tea while shooting. Save it for the post range outing ice cream social.

If you watch some of the faux shooting shows on TV, you might hear someone mention a teacup grip. Some call it a cup and saucer grip.

Just to be clear, a cup and saucer grip is not a compliment or indicator of social refinement. It’s an observation of poor shooting form. (Tweet This)

If you’re going to use two hands to shoot a handgun, you might as well get some benefit out of the support hand. Rather than cupping it under the base of the grip like a teacup saucer, how about snugging it right along side the grip so your support hand fingers can reach around the front? You’ll be amazed at how little your feisty little pistol or revolver jumps when you use a proper grip.

Lack of recoil control is a malady that affects millions of Americans. Only you can help by using a proper grip. (Tweet This)

Here’s a great video that shows how to achieve a proper grip.

3. Safe Shooting Tip: Know that eye and ear protection IS cool

OK confess. You don’t particularly like to wear helmets while riding a bike either. It looks kind of dorky. And you’re probably not going to fall on your head right?

When it comes to the need for hearing protection at the shooting range, there is no probably. There is only absolutely. As in positively.

Every shot you fire without ear protection WILL permanently damage your hearing. (Tweet This)

And each additional shot after that WILL damage it more. You probably won’t know it for a while. Maybe years. But it WILL happen. Same thing with eye protection. If you shoot, stuff WILL bounce back at you and hit you in the face. Bullet fragments. Target fragments. Backstop fragments. Irritable forest critters. And who knows what else? While every shot without eye protection does not result in vision loss, it’s only a matter of time before something wrecks one or both of your eyes. They don’t react well to metal fragments and flaming powder gasses.

The easiest way to spot a new, and foolish, shooter is to look for those too cool to wear shooting glasses and ear protection. There are thousands of stylish eye and ear protection options out there so you can even look cool sporting your common sense safety gear.

4. Handgun Grip Technique: Don’t be all thumbs

Crossed thumbs shooting grip

This grip technique may cause you to bleed all over the shooting range. We don’t recommend it.

I can share this new-shooter tip from a vantage point of, ummm, let’s call it personal experience.

Remember Ghostbusters? And how it’s really bad to cross the streams of the Proton Pack particle accelerators? Well there’s a similar rule of thumb (pun fully intended) for shooting semi-automatic pistols. Don’t cross your thumbs. See the picture in this article? Don’t do that! Sooner or later, that thing called a slide is going zoom backwards at Warp 17 and slice the dickens out of the webby, sensitive skin between your thumb and your index finger. If you want to splatter copious amounts of blood around the range, feel free, but once is enough for me.

Fortunately there’s an easy way to avoid bleeding all over your range. Don’t cross the streams.

When shooting a semi-automatic pistol, never cross your thumbs! If you do, you will get blood all over your gun! (Tweet This)

Point both thumbs forward and keep them on the weak hand side of your handgun. Your hand, and your local drug store, will thank you.

The video linked in Step 2 above shows excellent thumb form.

5. Gun Safety Tip: Learn to be cold to your shooting range companions

Being cold at the shooting range isn’t rude. Or event anti-social. In fact, it’s not Cruel To Be Kindit’s cool to be kind.  Kind of cold that is.

How can you be cold at the range? When you hear “Range Cold!” that means it’s not hot. Which means there is no shooting. Or even pretending to shoot. Which means put your gun on the table. Which means don’t play with it or show your friends anything about it that involves touching your gun. The table and the gun become one. A hot item. And you’re suddenly the third wheel in that relationship. Keep it that way until you hear “Range Hot!” Then, and only then, you can try for a threesome with the gun / table love festival.

When the range is cold, do NOT touch your gun. At all! Step away from the shooting table until the range is hot. (Tweet This)

Bonus tip: If you want to look like a real pro, then don’t just put your gun(s) on the table when you hear “Range Cold!” Step away from the shooting table and stay there the whole time the range is cold. This is a sooper dooper move that let’s nearby shooters know that you are not messing with your gun(s) while the range is cold. It’s very considerate and they will love you for it. Who knows? You might develop your own new relationship while your gun and the table are focused on theirs.

6. Shooting Terminology Tip: Ban the word “Clip” from your vocabulary

You know how you can spot a high school prom couple at an exclusive restaurant? Like when the pimply mannish boy requests A-1 Steak Sauce with his Chateaubriand?  Well, there’s a similar thing in shooting – when people carelessly throw around words like clip.

Clips and magazines are both legitimate shooting related objects. While sometimes subtle, there are differences.

A clip is a device used to hold cartridges for the purpose of storage, packing, and easy loading into a magazine. Clips were a big deal back when the world had anger issues expressed by frequent large-scale wars. Five or ten rounds of ammo might be attached to a clip, which would allow a soldier to slide the rounds into the magazine of his rifle or handgun quickly and easily. Clips are still used today. Some .223 or 5.56 ammunition comes on clips to make it easier to load lots of rounds into a magazine at once.

A magazine is the container that holds cartridges for the purpose of feeding them into the chamber of a firearm. Magazines can be built into the gun, as with many rifles, or they can be removable, as with most semi-automatic pistols and AR type rifles. That thing that falls out the bottom of a Glock? That’s a magazine.

Confused? No problem. We’ve got a near fail-safe tip for you. These days you’re pretty safe referring to most things that hold bullets as a magazine. More often than not, you’ll be correct referring to it that way.

Mixing the words ‘clip’ and ‘Glock’ in the same sentence is a sure-fire way to show you’ve still got a few things to learn.

7. Shooting Tip: Don’t do The Bernie

While the movie Weekend at Bernie’s qualifies a cult movie and spawned it’s own cool dance moves, it really doesn’t play well at the range. Dancing tends to throw off your aim.

Nor does leaning way, way, way backwards when you shoot have any practical value. You see, there is little chance that your gun will suddenly turn around and start chasing you, so the backwards lean position really provides no tactical advantage.

Leaning backward while shooting a pistol provides no tactical advantage. And it makes you look like a n00b! (Tweet This)

if you want to look awesome and skilled like the pro shooters, lean forward into the gun, and towards your target when you shoot. If your shoulders are just a tad in front of your belt buckle you’re in great position. Not only do you look tough, all that aggressive body position really helps to control recoil and keep your shots on target.

After all, you never see Chuck Norris leaning away from those nameless henchmen do you?

8. Last but not least: Don’t be shy about asking questions!

The best way to look like a pro shooter? Even if you’re new to the whole thing? Ask questions! If you’re not sure about something, just ask. You can even ask a pro. We’ve found them to be nice and helpful folks. It’s OK. One of the most pleasant surprises from getting involved in the shooting community has been the overwhelming friendliness of the people. You just might be surprised how far people will go to help a new shooter.

Have fun, be safe, and ask a question if you’re not sure!

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

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

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

Find gun holster options in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – available at! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters


Holster Review: Blackhawk Leather Speed Classic Holster

Blackhawk Leather Speed Classic J Frame Holster allows for fast and natural draw

Blackhawk Leather Speed Classic J Frame Holster allows for fast and natural draw

Sometimes the simplest things can amaze. The Blackhawk Leather Speed Classic holster amazes. Not for one specific reason, but because the sum total collection of details make this holster work. The Blackhawk Leather Speed Classic Revolver Holster demonstrates outstanding concealability, excellent retention, fast draw time, and surprising comfort.

Inspired by the famous Berns Martin design, the Blackhawk Speed Classic is intended for outside the waistband carry of a J-Frame snubnose revolver – like the Ruger LCR or many of the Smith & Wesson J-Frame models – exposed or internal hammer designs. In the mid 1930’s, Berns wanted a holster that would allow him to carry a revolver high on the hip in the Alaskan wilderness that offered excellent retention yet easy access. Soliciting some help with the leatherwork from his friend Martin, the beginning of the Speed Classic design was born.

There are two secrets to this holster.

Blackhawk Leather Speed Classic J Frame Holster split front

The split front design allows for strong retention with sacrifice of draw speed

First, it rides high on the hip. This aids both concealment and comfort. The combination of a short barrel gun with a high riding mount means you can easily conceal this rig with an un-tucked shirt. No long sport coats or vests required. If you are a professional photographer, feel free to wear the vest anyway – it will do a fine job of hiding your snubbie revolver.

Second, the revolver is retained by spring pressure on most of the cylinder and frame. A split front to the holster, bridged by an elastic strap, allows the revolver to be drawn simply by rocking it forward, at which point it slides right out of the holster. The motion couldn’t be more natural. This has quickly become our favorite way to carry a Ruger LCR .357. It’s instantly available, yet you almost forget its there.

The Blackhawk Leather Speed Classic is highly recommended. You can find one here: Blackhawk! Classic Leather Speed Holster J-Frame

Read about more carry styles and over 120 different gun holsters in The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – available at! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Gun Review: Ruger New Model Single-Six Convertible Revolver

The Good
This is too much fun to be legal. Great for first time shooters!
The Bad
Upsets the neighbors when I shoot hundreds of Super Colibri’s in my garage. Upsets rats also.
The Ugly
I have spontaneous and uncontrollable urges to sing Roy Rogers songs like Whoopie Ti-Yi-Yo
Our Rating
3 Nuns Four Nuns!
Ruger New Model Single Six Revolver Convertible

Ruger New Model Single Six Revolver Convertible

Ruger New Model Single-Six Convertible Single Action Revolver

MSRP: $619.00

Yippee ki yay! Get ready for some cowboy fun! While not an authentic cowboy six shooter in the truest sense (Clint Eastwood didn’t use one in ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’), the Ruger Single-Six brings back memories of dime store hats, cap guns, and backyard bad guys. Of all the guns in our modest sized collection, the Ruger Single-Six takes the top prize for most fun. And that’s saying something as it edges out the M1 Carbine, Winchester 9410 .410 lever action shotgun, and Series 1 Colt Woodsman in the “more fun than shooting 12oz cans of Tab” contest.

A single action revolver, with interchangeable cylinders for .22 long rifle and .22 Magnum, the Single-Six is a versatile handgun. The two included cylinders are easy to tell apart as the .22LR one is fluted while the .22 Magnum cylinder is not. While probably not necessary structurally, think “light” for long rifle and “big and heavy” for magnums. Swapping them out is a snap – just press the base pin latch and remove the base pin. The cylinder drops our for replacement or cleaning. One of the things we immediately noticed was that .22 LRs and .22 Magnum’s shot to the same point of aim at reasonable distances, ie 50 yards and less. Or, you might say, the gun shoots in the same “minute of My Gun Culture” cone regardless of which cylinder you’re using.

Roy Rogers

The Ruger Single Six makes us want to belt out some Roy Rogers tunes

The Single Six stainless model is beautiful to look at – fantastic finish, hardwood grips, and plenty of attention to detail. In our home, the purchase was justified as “man jewelry.” And it’s just as solid mechanically. The action is smooth, the hammer clicks are as good as the soundtrack on any high-quality spaghetti western, and the trigger is crisp and light. This is one solid gun. We’re going to be scouring the gun shows to find one of the older Single Sixes in .32 H&R as a result.

Cowboys like the simple life right? If that’s the case, then this cowboy gun follows the simple philosophy to a T.

  • Simple to operate: This is our go-to gun for teaching someone how to shoot. It’s familiar, even if they’ve only seen this style of gun on T.V., it’s non-threatening, doesn’t make a lot of noise, and is safe to operate. For a first time shooter, it’s great to have them shoot, stop, cock the hammer, and shoot again. This built in delay is not only safe, it provides a great opportunity for positive reinforcement and teaching moments between shots.
  • Simple to maintain: The stainless steel finish means you can actually spend more time shooting than cleaning. The cylinder drops out with the push of push of a button, making inspection and cleaning easy.
  • Simple to hit: Our review model had a 6.5″ barrel. That combined with fantastic balance, some actual weight (for a .22 anyway) and a black ramped front sight with an adjustable rear sight (windage and elevation – that’s up, down, and sideways in non-gun speak) made it an easy-to-aim, and easy-to-hit gun. Many golf balls bravely sacrificed their lives for the purpose of this review.

What’s not to love? In addition to keeping the local Wal-Mart sold out of Winchester 555 bulk packages, it makes us feel like singing Roy Rogers songs. Where is Dale Evans when you need her anyway?

Learn more about the Ruger Single-Six at

He said She said
As it gleefully digests virtually any sort of .22 ammunition, I can shoot Aguila Super Colibri low velocity (and low noise) loads in my garage. She loves this. Really she does. I totally agree with everything he says. This is a really fun gun to shoot, but… let me explain something here… I keep my Diet Cokes in the refrigerator in the garage. I have to have one first thing in the morning. I go in there barefoot since I’ve normally just gotten out of bed. Stepping on bullet casings barefoot is not fun. If he leaves spent brass casings in the garage one more time, I’m going to sell his gun!Also I had no idea it had interchangeable cylinders. He never tells me anything!


Accessories available at Brownells

Find holster options in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – available at! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

North American Arms Introduces Nano Pinky Revolver

North American Arms Nano Pinky Revolver

North American Arms Nano Pinky Revolver

Provo, UT – In a move designed to preempt the onslaught of SHOT show announcements planned for the industry’s main event in January, North American Arms today announced its new Nano Pinky Revolver. Described by early customers as ‘teensy-weensy’ the new revolver is gaining accolades for its diminutive size.

Designed for maximum concealment, the Nano Pinky Revolver measures just 1.12 inches in length and weighs just 1.3 ounces.

Due to a lack of suitable holsters on the market, the company has decided to manufacture its own line. “We’re offering a few models” stated Mini Me, Nano Product Line Spokesperson for North American Arms. “The first ones available will be a matched set of earring holsters. We think its especially cool that you can carry your primary gun on the right ear and your back up gun on the left. And if you get them mixed up, it just doesn’t matter.”

North American Arms Spokesperson Mini Me

North American Arms Spokesperson Mini Me

While the company will sell the earring holsters separately, there are special price breaks for the pair. The best deals are expected to be featured on Shoshanna’s Fashion Jewelry Essentials on QVC. Next on the market will be matched cufflink holsters for the man about town who wishes to pack a little heat. “Of course this will only benefit guys who habitually wear French Cuffs” said Mini Me.

Not all are impressed by the size of the new revolver. “Forget trying to pistol whip someone with this gun” complained Harry Callahan, well known San Francisco Detective. “Punks are just not all that intimidated when I threaten them with this thing. My .44 Magnum worked much better for cracking some deadbeats skull.”

RHINO .357 Revolver Caucuses With Autoloading Pistols

Chiappa Firearms RHINO .357 Magnum Revolver

Not all revolvers are happy with the Chiappa RHIN0 .357

Industry insiders appeared stunned today when Chiappa Firearms new RHINO .357 Magnum revolver announced its intention to caucus with autoloading pistols rather than traditional revolvers.

“We feel shocked” said an obviously stunned Smith & Wesson Classic Model 42. “When you’ve been around as long as I have you get to expect that the incoming class of freshmen revolvers will stick with tradition and caucus with us.”

Most assumed that the inclusion of a rotating cylinder would ensure the RHINO would remain loyal to revolver policy issues. Few expected it to become a Revolver In Name Only, or RINO. “We’re just tickled pink about the RHINO’s decision” gushed a Smith & Wesson M&P. “Of course, if push comes to shove and a true autoloader wants the job, that RHINO’s outta here.”

An unexpected benefit of the RHINO .357’s decision is a lucrative new prospective base. Political RINO’s including Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Maine Senator Olympia Snow, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter have all expressed early interest in the RHINO .357 revolver. “I was really excited about a revolver that shared my flip-floppy values” commented Specter. “That is until someone told me it was a RHINO and not  a RINO. Bummer.”

Company officials would not address rumors that the new RHINO might also choose to caucus with rifles and shotguns.