The Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting: The Cup and Saucer Grip

One of my very favorite things is to take new shooters to the range. My second favorite thing is simply seeing new shooters at the range. My least favorite thing is to see folks launch into their shooting career without any instruction, thereby developing a bunch of bad, and sometimes unsafe, habits. To help them along, I’ve put together some tips that will help improve anyone’s handgun shooting skills. After all, it’s much cooler to look like a pro on the range, even when you’re brand new to the sport.

Cup and saucer handgun grip

Using a cup and saucer handgun grip is just about this effective.

I have scientific proof that the “cup and saucer” handgun grip is bad and bordering on evil. Check this out. If you rearrange the letters in “cup and saucer” you get the following secret phrases:

Arcane Cud Pus

Uncaused Crap

Rude Caca Puns

Freaky isn’t it? Who knew that “cup and saucer” was some type of satanic code?

Now that we can agree that a cup and saucer grip is bad form and just plain spooky, what exactly is it? More importantly, how does one go about exorcising that demon?

Read the rest at!

The Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting: Doin’ The Bernie

We’ve started a new project – a weekly column at The current series describes the Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting. Hope you enjoy!

7 Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting - Doin The Bernie

Here’s our model shooter doin’ the Bernie. Or facing a hurricane–we’re not sure which.

The ’80s movie Weekend at Bernie’s was a pop icon film that exemplified heart-wrenching and soulful acting, panoramic cinematography, and helpful tips on how to party with a dead guy. Why it was shunned from Academy Award consideration remains a mystery, although industry insiders have long suspected a voter fraud scheme by Morgan Freeman and the producers of Driving Miss Daisy.

Weekend at Bernie’s is not only a golden example of the silver screen art form, it demonstrates dozens of important practical life tips. For example, if you ever find yourself dead as a result of forced heroin overdose by Mafia hit men, you can still party for days on end simply by wearing sunglasses.

You can also inspire short-lived fads like popular YouTube dances. In this case, it’s called the “Bernie,” or in some circles, “moving like Bernie.” If you watch someone doin’ the Bernie, you’ll notice the essence of the dance is a severe and painful backwards lean.

Which brings us to this weeks installment of the Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting: doin’ the Bernie.

Read the rest at!


You Don’t Have To Aim A Shotgun

Shooting Myths Explained

Fact or Fiction?  You Don’t have to aim a shotgun!

Not many people know this, but shotguns were invented by actor Val Kilmer for use in the movie Tombstone. Kilmer needed a weapon capable of taking out a whole posse of Clantons and McLaurys – without much aiming. Hence the invention of a weapon capable of being fired from the hip, while giving the camera a sexy look.

A lot of people believe shotguns are great home defense guns, and easy to use, because you don’t really have to aim. If you just point one in the general direction and fire, it will clean house so to speak. Right?

Well, in The Terminator movie franchise, that’s how they work. In the real world, shotguns need a little more skill in order to be effective.

Just because a shotgun fires multiple projectiles – BB’s, pellets, buckshot or whatever you want to call them – that doesn’t mean that the shot spreads out like a giant cloud of locust intent on devouring a field of ripe Okinawan Purple Sweet Potatoes. It’s important to remember that the shot leaves the barrel of your shotgun in a “cloud” exactly the diameter of your barrel. That’s a pretty small cloud. To put it in absolute terms, the shot “cloud” leaving a 12 gauge shotgun measures just about ¾ of an inch in diameter.

While it’s true that shot projectiles spread out more the farther they travel from the barrel, they typically stay in a pretty tight pattern at realistic distances. That’s what that shotgun barrel does after all – keep the shot all together while it launches towards the target. If we’re talking self defense, a realistic distance is some fraction of the interior of your house – like across a room or down the hall.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple of range tests to see exactly how much the shot spreads out at realistic “inside your home” distances.

First, we’ll try buckshot. Buckshot loads contain a small number of very large pellets. In the first example, we’re using 00 (double ought) buckshot shells, which have 9 pellets that measure just about ⅓ inch in diameter. Typically, buckshot loads like this one will only create a “cloud” a few inches in diameter at short distances.

RIO Royal Buck buckshot pattern

This 12 gauge buckshot load (9 pellets) was fired at the target from an “inside the home” distance of 18 feet.

If you choose to use shotshells with a smaller pellet size, the cloud of short will typically spread out a little bit faster. Even still, at short distances, we’re still talking a few inches.

Let’s take a look at Number 1 size shot pellets. Number 1 size pellets are about .16” in diameter, or about half the size of the 00 buckshot we tested. The Remington shotshells we tested contain about 125 of the Number 1 pellets per shell.

Remington number 1 Shot pattern

This Number 1 shot stayed in a pattern about 6″ in diameter at a distance of 18 feet.

Finally, we tried really small birdshot – Number 7 ½. These shells have pellets that are only 0.095” in diameter and these particular 7/8 ounce shells have about 306 pellets. As you can see, this very small shot spreads out even more, but still, at a distance of 18 feet, the pattern still falls within 8 inches with most of the density within a 3 inch circle.

Federal Target shotgun Load

The Number 7 1/2 shot spread out to 6 inches, but most of the pellets fit in a 3 inch circle.

The shotgun we used for these simple tests was a Mossberg JM Pro. It has a butt stock that’s just about 12” long. So if you held it like a club and tried to whack someone with it, you’d have to aim less than if you fired it.

The bottom line?

You still have to aim a shotgun.

Top 10 Tips For A Successful Gun Store Visit

Shopping with the President can help

Shopping with the President can help

While many gun stores are going full-auto retail and implementing 20th century ideas like greeting customers, being polite, and hiring helpful sales staff, you’re going to run into the occasional old school shop run by Clem, Bodean, and Clem’s other brother Clem. Here are a few helpful tips to get you through the experience with a bare minimum of angst and/or gunfire.

1. Don’t acknowledge anyone when you walk in the door. If this makes you really uncomfortable, you can give the briefest hint of a nod in the general direction of Clem, Bodean, and Clem. Don’t work yourself into a hissy about being rude – they won’t acknowledge you either. Under no circumstance should you brightly say “Hello! How are you today? Boy, it sure is hot outside isn’t it!”

2. Stuff your right cheek full of Red Man. Not Copenhagen – that’s for sissies and you’ll be exposed as a rookie poseur right away. If you have not done The Red Man before, practice in advance as uncontrollable nausea can result. If it’s a nice store with real floors, bring the styrofoam coffee cup you used at breakfast for your porta-spitoon. If the shop has a coffee maker, you can top off with a little joe while you browse. Careful, that’s week old coffee there.

3. Don’t remove your John Deere hat when entering the store. You are wearing one aren’t you?

4. If you want to look at a particular gun in the case, but are unfamiliar with the make and model, use the mouth full of Red Man to your advantage. Throw a little extra self-imposed unintelligibility into your request to see the gun. It’s OK, Clem will assume you know what you’re talking about as you have a wad of Red Man ‘sploding your cheek and a John Deere hat. After some practice, your request should sound something like this: “Cun ahhh hole thus mrggumpghphtt rahfull?” (Or ‘puhstull‘ as required)

5. When handing a rifle, aim it at the ceiling and look knowingly over the sights or through the scope as appropriate. Although you may be tempted, don’t try to gain street cred by saying something like “I kilt a buck with one like this last month.” You may be holding something like a Ruger 10/22 or Winchester 9410 and exposed as a rookie poseur. Just nod your head a lot, make grumbly noises, and hand it back when you’re done.

6. Keep your finger off the trigger. Yeah, we know, it’s meant for pullin’, but resist if you can. It’s especially bad form with rifles.

7. Whenever you look at a price tag, shake your head a bit and say “They sure are proud of this one, aren’t they?”

8. Make sure you don’t inadvertently aim at Clem or Bodean. It’s bad form and one or both will almost certainly return the favor.

9. If you do end up buying a gun, and still don’t know what type of ammo you need to go with it, just add some more Red Man and say something like “Gimme 3 boxes too.” Keeping it generic will make Clem assume you know what you’re talking about.

10. Last but certainly not least, don’t dress like a Mall Ninja for the occasion. It’s not as cool as you think.

As an extra bonus tip, if you want some extra-special service, see if you can accompany the President on his next visit to a gun store.

Advice for the Zombie apocalypse

From my position… On the way!:

“Monday, November 15, 2010 The coming Apocalypse I love zombie movies.

Whether it’s the concept of so many oxygen thieves wiped away from the population, the idea of a world where guns are not an optional accessory or frowned upon, or the idea that twinkies are indeed a holy grail to be sought out, I dig the idea of a zombie apocalypse.

What I don’t like, are the obvious flaws in thought in every movie.

1. People in comas generally WON’T wake up without medical care. No one adds water to the feeding tube, in about 3 days you’re dead. Not to mention that since outbreaks would spread rapidly in hospitals (since they don’t take prophylaxis against the zombie virus) your are laying undefended and helpless in bed–a veritable buffet for the walking dead. Also, waking up 28 days later means either waking up in a pile of your own poo, or waking up with a colostomy bag the size of a hefty bag. In the case of the…”

Hat tip: Say Uncle

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture