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Gunfighter Moment – Aaron Barruga

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

Respect This

In 1945, my grandfather returned from the war in The Pacific to discover the America he fought for was different than the America that welcomed him home. As a first generation immigrant from the Philippines, he spent the post war years dodging misplaced racism, unemployment, and blanketed disenfranchisement towards minorities.

Although he wasn’t Japanese, the war and Pearl Harbor were still fresh. As a result, any resemblance of asian heritage was enough to solicit racist comments. And even more ignorant, yet comical, were the occasions in which he was slurred at for being Mexican.

Regardless, my grandfather loved America and understood that although he was a citizen, and had fought for America—even earning a combat infantryman’s badge for bravery on a no name island—he would never prove he was an American by simply expecting others to accept him as one. He understood that every day, he would need to demonstrate why he deserved his rights, regardless of already being entitled to them.

And therein lies a reality that is lost on the current generation despite being only decades removed from the Civil Rights movement. Just because you are entitled to certain rights, does not mean that others will allow you to access them.

My grandfather fought every day to defend rights that he had already earned. However, other large groups of immigrants used racism as an excuse to never assimilate. Consequently, these groups didn’t develop the social tools that facilitate access to what they deserved as citizens. And when inequality occurred through employment or everyday interactions, the results were tense arguments and protests that only further divided the immigrants from the majority population. Unfortunately, this meant that these minorities were only seen at their worst, when they were outraged and attempted to combat stereotypes.

Today, the faint sound a of a familiar echo can be heard over discussions of the second amendment. Owning firearms in America is a civil right. And I believe 100% that all law abiding Americans are entitled to firearms possession. Unfortunately, we’ve seen how others would abolish this right through legislation. Similar to the pockets of minorities that only interacted with majority culture during periods of conflict, gun owners are also susceptible to only allowing others to see us when we are highly emotional and attempting to combat false narratives.

And that’s the bigger problem. If we only choose to be vocal about our culture during times of conflict, then we are directing energy at disproving the opposition’s agenda. Rather than demonstrating the values we actually believe in, we are forced to disprove the ones we do not.

———

For me, shooting has never been about violence. It’s always been about craftsmanship and discipline. A man’s rifle is more than a tool, it’s an outward display of his self-reliance. I learned this when my father first taught me how to shoot at the age of eight. After an early morning hike into the forest, we arrived on a ridge line and began setting out clay pigeons. Unslinging his rifle from his shoulder, he handed it to me and said the two most important words that accompany all gun ownership, “Respect this.”

Without haste, I depleted our ammo supply. I was hooked.

The following week at school I told all of my classmates about my excursion into the wilderness. Not once did I think I was handling a tool that could also be used as a weapon. Instead, I felt so much pride in using my hands to build a skill set. I played sports and was athletic, but shooting and firearms were different.

Later, when I was deployed overseas, I witnessed first hand the uncertainty that is created by lawless regimes in failed states. Caught between the violence of militia groups, terrorists, and government forces, civilians in these countries were living a dystopian reality. For them, gun ownership was not about heritage and craftsmanship. There was no time for that. Gun ownership was that of necessity for family security.

In the US, a citizen’s security is not constantly under threat by criminal actors or non-state terrorists. Still, bad things happen and the police are hardly capable of preventing all crime. Worse, the temporary lawlessness caused by extreme natural disasters or civil unrest can actually rival the violence of war zones. However, the nation as a whole functions. We are not living under constant fear of our personnel security being threatened and society’s infrastructure collapsing.

This allows gun ownership to exist beyond the sole purpose of personal safety, and is why American gun culture is rich with a heritage that respects craftsmanship, rugged individualism, and family traditions.

Give that a second, because the following is important.

If a tool’s only utility is grounded in fear, it allows for one dimensional stereotypes of its owner. Those opposed to your beliefs will label you, contain you, which will anger you while also leaving you vulnerable to manipulation. Although this is unfair, it happens regardless.

Stereotypes of gun owners and gun culture in America couldn’t be further from the truth. Yet, the only time the nation as a whole interacts with gun owners is following the tragedy of a mass shooting. With emotions already high and fingers being pointed, responsible gun owners are pigeon holed into false identities that they then feel forced to defend.

We’re not backwoods racists incapable of adapting to metropolitan society. We’re not paranoid hermits stockpiling for a last stand. We’re not men attempting to compensate for insecurities about masculinity.

We are, however, doctors and blue collar workers. Feminists and fathers. Hunters and hipsters (yes I’ve met them). Republicans and Democrats. Yet, this is not who the mainstream anti-gun crowd knows us as. Instead, they see us at our worst. When we feel attacked after the tragedy of mass shootings; and when we take the bait and respond to false headlines that only serve the purpose of agitating. Yes, it is necessary to critique flawed statistics about gun violence. But longterm change of perception is not accomplished through memes or shouting bumper sticker slogans. These actions only add gasoline to the dumpster fire.

In the long run, appreciation of our culture won’t be won by only engaging the anti-gun crowd on their terms. It isn’t enough to only make our culture known when we are called to defend it. We must also do it during lulls and periods of normalcy. As a young American, the pride I felt in using my hands to learn a skill was unrivaled. No sport or achievement in school mirrored the satisfaction of focusing my body and mind on a target, and then sending a bullet to score a direct hit.

Throughout the US, everyday Americans feel similar sentiments towards gun ownership. But we cannot make these qualities known in the middle of an argument. Arguing with opposition never changes their mind, it just causes them to further entrench in their beliefs. Therefore we will never experience a significant blow to the anti-gun crowd by only challenging their false narratives. Instead we must demonstrate through our own agendas why we value firearms. The greatest success I experienced with this approach was after I left the military and attended college.

I finished my undergraduate studies at a California university. The political climate annoyed me—trigger warning—but I was there because the campus was parked on the beach. Despite the confused politics of the school, I started a marksmanship club that allowed students and faculty to participate in recreational shooting. At first, the faculty were concerned with sanctioning a gun club on campus. But prohibiting the club contradicted all of their rhetoric about equality and inclusion. Approved by the university, we began hosting monthly range events for students.

We were a hit.

What surprised me most about the club was that there was no single unifying characteristic of its members. There were graduate students and sorority girls. Faculty members and socially underdeveloped Generation Z’ers. Some of the club members owned firearms, but most did not. Regardless, shooting was never about violence. Marksmanship was a sport. Our members easily classified it next to other outdoor activities such as surfing.

The students felt a similar satisfaction that I felt with my father by shooting rifles and pistols for the first time. For me, fulfillment also came in the form of mentoring young adults to do something with their hands other than text or take selfies. The success of the marksmanship club serves as a broader vignette about gun culture in America. When you label a group of people without ever actually engaging with them, you’re likely to develop stereotypes that are not grounded in any kind of reality. The administration at the university was concerned about promoting gun culture because they had been exposed to the wrong narratives about gun ownership. For them, guns were strictly symbols of violence.

On the other hand, the students were characteristic of everyday Americans. They enjoyed the sporting of marksmanship because it allowed them to learn a skill with their hands. Their motivation was not derived from fear. It was not of hollow bravado. As a group, their satisfaction was communal. An appreciation of American heritage, being outdoors, and learning discipline.

A finer moment of responsibility was displayed by a graduating female that explained why she was learning to shoot a pistol. She already secured a job and would live by herself in a new city. She considered buying a pistol for self-defense, but dismissed it as an option due to fear of misuse. The club allowed her an opportunity to learn about firearms. Not solely from the standpoint of self-defense (or fear) but through an appreciation of American heritage and taking personal responsibility for her safety.

———

For me, marksmanship is important because it is one of the few things I can actually do with my hands in the modern business world. I love writing, I love creating, but marksmanship is something tangible. In a trip to San Francisco my friend Mark took me shooting on private land outside of the city. He was formally an engineer in tech and recently transitioned over to the executive side running operations for a decent size firm. He is a part of what is actually a very large number of closet gun owners in Silicon Valley. Mark gets excited about firearms, but as an engineer it is usually out of respect for craftsmanship.

Regardless, Mark loves shooting because it is a physical test of his skill and discipline. Loading magazines on the back of his hybrid SUV he looked at me and said, “A lot of my peers make decent money, but they’re incredibly unhappy. Everyone in tech goes through the typical phases of getting really into endurance racing or hiking, but hobbies are like fads. Shooting is different. When I come out to the range, it is one of the few times I can actually disconnect from my phone and just focus on myself. It’s kind of like yoga that way.”

This appreciation for firearms that Mark and so many Americans have is not demonstrated when we’re screaming to explain why 30-round magazines shouldn’t be outlawed.

Mark has converted several of his hybrid-driving-soylent-diet-hipster-beard executive buddies into gun owners. He did not accomplish this by challenging anti-gun beliefs, but instead by showing the positive aspects of why he appreciates firearms. This truth is at the core of all civil rights movements. If you only promote your values when others attack it, you will never show the real depth of your culture.

———

When I was younger, if someone attacked gun culture, I felt that they were attacking my family. All of those trips to the ridge line with my father would surge to the forefront of my mind. However, these sentiments were never something I could demonstrate mid-argument. By getting drunk with emotion and charging head-on against the opposition’s narrative, I was only ensuring that they would control the flow of debate. Although it was satisfying to fact check someone in the heat of the moment, it accomplished nothing in the long run.

In college, when the administration was hesitant towards sanctioning the gun club, I did not respond by telling them why they were wrong about guns, or by defaulting to bumper sticker slogans and pro gun memes on social media. Instead, I showed them on my own terms and through my own narrative why I value firearms. This produced the lasting effect of challenging ignorance without giving into toxic behavior, but more importantly, it equipped me with the tools to champion gun ownership outside of the opposition’s control of the narrative.

By recognizing that he needed to demonstrate value in his rights every day, my Grandfather developed social tools that allowed him to navigate racist agendas. Similarly, I try to do the same with the second amendment. Although I am entitled as a citizen to own firearms, it doesn’t guarantee that others will not try to abolish this right. When I see a purposefully inflammatory anti-gun agenda, I do not allow myself to give into anger. Because as with all political movements, if someone can anger you (both from your party or the oppositions), they will control you.

Owning a gun in America is a civil right. And our nation has a rich history of civil rights being upheld by individuals that not only defend their culture, but also champion it.

Aaron Barruga is Special Forces veteran with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Pacific Theater of Operations. He has trained foreign commandos, police officers, and militia fighters. He is the founder at Guerrilla Approach LLC, where he consults law enforcement officers on counter-terrorism and vehicle tactics.

www.guerrillaapproach.com

www.facebook.com/guerrillaapproach

www.instagram.com/guerrilla_approach

Gunfighter Moment is a feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Zack Harrison

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

In today’s post, we are going to dive into the discussion of physical readiness. The purpose of this article is not to describe which physical training program Northern Red thinks is the best; it’s to discuss the importance of keeping our bodies physically prepared. We will examine why it’s imperative to maintain a high level of physical readiness in order to succeed.

Why is it important to maintain a high level of physical readiness? We are going to break this down into two categories: Job performance and cultural aspects. If you carry a gun for a living, you have many additional duties you need to perform other than shooting. Many of these require physical exertion. Running, climbing, combatives, etc.…. If you fail to maintain a state of physical readiness you are setting yourself, your partner/team, and those you’ve sworn to protect up for failure. Being physically fit is, unarguably, crucial for optimal performance.

It’s very difficult to make good decisions or shoot well when your heart rate is through the roof. It’s impossible to make entry if you do not possess the ability to climb over the wall that separates you from the residence. All of your others skills go right out the window if you cannot physically make it to where you need to be. Ineffectiveness comes on rapidly in those who do not train properly. Your body must be acclimated to physical stress in order to conduct the tasks you are required to perform.

From a cultural perspective, physical readiness is a gateway into every combat arms SOF unit. From Ranger School, to SFAS (Special Forces Assessment and Selection), and BUDS, they all have must pass physical fitness requirements just to begin the course. This is the initial thinning process, which continues as these courses progress. The ideology behind it is if you cannot show up physically ready to go, then you do not deserve to even try out. Everyone of Northern Red’s instructors have worked in places where you give everything you’ve got just to be average. That’s one aspect of the culture, and everyone is held accountable. It was not uncommon for us to show up for work in the morning and have a PT test without warning. Whether that be running an Obstacle course, a ruck march, or some grueling event your TL came up with the night prior. You had to be ready for Performance on Demand. No warm up, no re-test. What you brought that day is all you have, and no one cared about what you did last week. This is the environment and culture that kept people from becoming complacent. Everyone on the Northern Red team keeps themselves in shape, and none of us are on Active Duty anymore. Why? We keep a high level of physical readiness because we know that we could still be called upon to perform on demand, and we refuse to allow laziness and complacency to keep us from succeeding.

There are many other positive effects that fitness provides. We can say we don’t judge people based on our initial assessment of them, but in reality, humans are extremely judgmental. The first thing most people notice in others is physical appearance. If you take care of yourself, bad people are less likely to do bad things to you. Physical readiness shows that you have a high level of self-respect, which leads to many other sought after traits. There is also indisputable evidence of the positive mental effects of staying fit. The old saying of “sound body, sound mind” may not always be accurate, but for the most part, this adage is more true than not. From first impressions, to self-confidence, performance, and stress reduction, consistent physical training has too many valuable attributes to neglect.

With all of our combined experiences, we’ve probably done every fitness program invented. It’s very hard, if not impossible to be incredibly good at everything at the same time. If all you do is power lift, then you probably are not running or conducting High Intensity Training. We believe that you must be well rounded in regards to physical fitness. You need to be able to run up 10 flights of stairs with kit on and the next minute you need to be strong enough to casualty carry your buddy back down. Think about a Strong Safety on an NFL team. He’s fast enough to cover people and he’s strong enough to take on blocks from lineman. He is quick, agile, and highly explosive. That, is a complete physical specimen. There are plenty of excellent, well thought out programs that will advance your overall physical capabilities. Our suggestion is that you ask yourselves two questions when deciding on a program: 1. Is this functional and applicable to my job and its requirements? 2. Am I willing to commit to doing it? If your answer to question 1 is no, then find another one that better suits your needs. We cannot provide any insight if you answer no to question 2. That’s an individual issue that must be figured out from within.

What could the consequences be for failing to maintain a high level of fitness? We could give examples and “what if’s” for another five pages. We will provide one and the rest is left for you to decide. Your buddy is shot and needs to be moved to a position of cover to receive medical treatment. You get to him, but you do not possess the strength to pick him up and carry him. You’re weak, winded, and have made the conscious decision to blow off PT for God knows how long. He succumbs to his wounds. Now picture yourself watching his grieving wife being handed a folded flag. Let that sink in for a minute.

Gunfighter Moment is a feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Bravo Company – Combat Rail Systems

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

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COMBAT RAIL SYSTEMS
Designed to the specification of combat end users, BCM® Combat Rail Systems are built free float, for improved accuracy, with Aluminum alloys, that are light weight but do not compromise rigidity. Mission flexible platforms, ideal for end user customization in the placement of optics and accessories such as light mounts, vertical grips, hand stops, lasers and bi-pods; BCM Combat Rail Systems are available in three interface systems:

+ KeyMod™
+ M-LOK®*
+ 1913 Picatinny Rail

Whatever your mission requires, bcm offers products ready for any American going in harm’s way.

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KMR ALPHA :: KEYMOD™ SYSTEMS
The BCM® KeyMod Rail(KMR-Alpha) delivers a robust, ultra-light modular handguard for the AR platform, second to none on the market today.

Manufactured from Aircraft Grade Aluminum alloy, the KMR-A gives end users an extensive range of customization options, with seven KeyMod lined mounting surfaces and one with baked in MIL-STD-1913 at the 12 O’Clock position. The KMR-A features ergonomics tailored to combat end user requirements, with its reduced profiled maximized for positive control of the weapon system in the lightest possible package.

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MCMR :: M-LOK® COMPATIBLE MODULAR RAIL SYSTEM
The BCM® M-LOK® Compatible* Modular Rail” (MCMR) delivers the same optimized ergonomic profile and lock up** developed for the KMR-Alpha rail system, but with an M-LOK® compatible interface. Precision Machined Aerospace 6061-T6 Aluminum Alloy, the MCMR is both rigid and light-weight, featuring mounting interfaces on seven sides in addition to the baked in MIL-STD-1913 at the 12 O’Clock position.

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QRF :: QUAD RAIL FREE FLOAT RAIL SYSTEM
A MIL-STD-1913 rail, the BCM® QRF(Quad Rail Free Float) Rail System is built with Picatinny Rails running the full length of the handguard at 12, 3, 6 and 9 O’Clock. Precision machined from high-strength lightweight Aerospace 6061-T6 Aluminum Alloy, the BCM QRF features the same lock up* as and steel barrel nut insuring the rail resists movement even under extreme use.

With four QD limited rotation sling swivel slots built into the rail at 3 and 6 O’Clock, the QRF provides end users an uninterrupted mounting surface at 12 O’Clock when mated with a BCM or other Mil-Spec upper receiver, allowing for the fine tuned positioning of optics, lasers or other accessories potentially vital to mission success.

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COMBAT RAIL LOCK UP
The entire BCM® Combat Rail System fleet uses our patented(US Patent 8904691) lock up system where self-locking cross bolts apply force at the 12:00 position of the handguard equally distributing force around the surface area of the rail. This insures continuous top center alignment of the rail and mitigates forwards/backwards movement of the handguard when the weapon system is fired.

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MADE IN AMERICA
All BCM® Combat Rail Systems and accessories unite state of the art manufacturing with lightweight and durable materials to ensure components that last a lifetime, performing far beyond performance requirements established nearly six decades ago. Like all BCM rifles and BCMGUNFIGHTER™ accessories, all BCM Combat Rail Systems are made in the USA.

Learn more at bravocompanymfg.com/combat_rails

* M-LOK® is a registered trademark of Magpul Industries Corp. – www.magpul.com/ip
** Bravo Company MFG, Inc. US Patent 8904691

The Capability – An Original BCM Production

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

SSD-Pinned-Banner

The Capability is a brand new series from Bravo Company, directed by Jon Chang of American Gunfighter and Black Powder Red Earth fame. You can view the first episode by clicking the image above.

Check out the official release at soldiersystems.net/2017/08/31/the-capability-an-original-bcm-production.

The Capability – An Original BCM Production

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

BCM

Hartland, WI – August 31, 2017 – BCM is proud to announce, The Capability, a new series produced by BCM and created and directed by Jon Chang (creator/director of the American Gunfighter documentary series and the Black Powder Red Earth™ graphic novel series).

The first chapter of The Capability is a demonstration showcasing instructors from Northern Red working side by side with students from a counter terrorism unit, executing a multi-breach multi-team hostage rescue mission.

Staffed exclusively with US Army Special Operations combat veterans, Northern Red specializes in developing core skills, the application of those skills and internal cultural transformations of law enforcement and security forces at metropolitan and national levels. BCM provides Northern Red the most capable and reliable weapon systems possible, required for high-risk zero fail missions such as hostage rescue, combat raids and high threat dignitary protection missions domestically or abroad.

The Capability is a celebration of the men selected to preserve our nation at tip of the spear.

Stream the episode on YouTube here youtu.be/3yReIGUV9UE

Learn more about Northern Red’s services at NorthernRedTraining.com and BCM weapon systems at BravoCompanyMFG.com

Gunfighter History Pt 5 CSR – Concealable Sniper Rifle

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

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The M24 Remington Bolt Action Rifle has been the standard in accuracy and reliability for the US Army since 1998. Consistently delivering sub MOA performance on demand, the M24 is 43″ overall length is very much, a traditional sniper rifle.

Today, more than half the world’s population lives in urban spaces. Drawn by economic opportunities, social connectivity, infrastructure and better standards of living, the useable landmass of these metro areas can only support so many people giving rise to a sprawl of smaller cities, suburbs and slums, often built directly adjacent to the primary area. Built specifically around zero fail missions in these settings, we needed a sniper rifle that was maneuverable and could be end user carries with a reduced signature.

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At first, we explored gas guns. While making excellent battle rifles, a gas gun, no matter the tolerances, cannot predictably deliver the pronounced accuracy of a bolt gun.

From the ground up, the receiver on AR10 pattern rifles simply does not have the mass to retain a heavy contour precision barrel in a predictable position after it settles from a shot. Also, while tight chambers improved accuracy on manually fed bolt guns, in practice, they caused reliability issues when magazine fed by a gas or piston weapon system because, even 95% performance is not 100% of the time.

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Built for the M118LR round, we started with the Surgeon 591 SA(Short Action) and a 16″ 308 barrel. This “short” barrel would make the weapon system easier to maneuver and could be removed to further reduce the end user’s profile. The barrel could then replaced with zero effect to the 1/2 inch groups the CSR consistently delivered, thanks to the tolerances Surgeon used/uses in manufacturing their barrels.

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Housing the Surgeon action and barrel, is a Remington Accessory Chassis System (RACS). Not only the lighter than other rifle chassis, it is one of the fastest to break down and set up, with only 3 bolts needed to remove the handguard. The free float handguard is modular, allowing user configuration to keep the weapon as light as possible and features wire channels and plugs to route and manage cables.

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The RACS also features a skeletonized folding stock with adjustment in the recoil pad and cheek height to support a range of scopes with bells and objective lenses of varying size. Stock folded, it can be fit into a normal sized bag, something seen in every day life, and still be immediately accessible to the end user if the situation dictated. That put a 800 meter gun in a day pack. A capability unlike any other at that point in time.

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Fully loaded, the CSR is about the size of a M4. It can be maneuvered quickly through doors, windows, alleys, ladders, and hallways without encumbering the end user. It can live alongside of a carbine in a vehicle, meaning it can go everywhere and be deployed at the same speed as a carbine.

Today, the CSR is employed by law enforcement and security professionals in the exact settings and mission it was designed for. It is second to none.

Assorted contributors to include
Tyler Payne
Shawn Wiseman

www.bravocompanyusa.com

Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

It is of interest that changes in the ‘gun culture’ are always in flux. When the market was concerned about the lost of gun ownership rights, we tend to purchase guns that reflect utility. Examples are the recent high demand for AR-15/M4 style carbines and CCW handguns. Guns chambered for 5.56 Nato, 7.62×39, 308 and pistols in 380, 9X19mm, 40 S&W, and 45 auto all become desirable because supplies of ammo are typically good, prices reasonable, and ballistically effective.

With increase in demand, prices soar and supplies shrink. That is the result of a free market. Now, with changes in politics, demands for certain types of firearms have begun to modify. One factor is that many folks have stock piled guns and ammo over the past decade in fear that they would be prevented from getting them if the anti-gun left had their way. Now, this fear has subsided to most peoples concerns. Sales of ‘utility’ arms and ammo are stagnant.

What has began to take over is the demand for ‘collector/investment’ guns. Simply put, many people have chosen to invest in items that they feel will appreciate with time. Older guns, those that will never be manufactured again due to the craftsmanship or cost of manufacture have become attractive. Old pre-1964 Winchesters have a special following. Smith & Wesson revolvers made prior to 1980, or Colt revolvers made prior to 1990 have taken on increased value. Everyone is aware of the increase in the price and demand for Colt Python revolvers. Without doubt one of the most overpriced and overrated handguns of all time. In the 1990s when Colt was still manufacturing the Python revolver, they couldn’t give them away. They offered them to dealers as a bonus for buying quantities of other Colt firearms.

Certainly, older military firearms have a great interest in the collecting community. As a youngster I used to buy GI 1911 pistols for less than $100 dollars. My first was a Remington Rand 1911A1 that I paid $22.50 for. Nowadays, check out the price of a nice original GI 1911 pistol. The point here is that if you have a closet or safe full of ARs, AKs, and Glocks that will last you for a lifetime, buying quality collectable firearms may be one of the best investment plans you can have. Remember the golden rule of collectable investments; whether it is cars, watches, art, or firearms, don’t buy something that you have to apologize for when you show it to a friend. Condition is the most important factor. Rare is a misused term in the firearms world. Condition is always the goal. A rusty piece of junk, regardless of how rare it is will always be a piece of rusty junk.

If you have interest in US Military history, then consider adding a nice M1 Garand or M1 Carbine to your collection. Even 1903A3 Springfield rifles are still to be found for reasonable prices. You can’t help but feel something special when you handle one of these arms that in the hands of ‘the Greatest Generation’ went off to save the world. Whether it is an M1, Springfield 1903, or M1911 you can actually take them to the range and enjoy the experience of shooting these pieces of history. One of the best kept secrets in military history is how outstanding the British No. 4 Enfield rifle was as a battle rifle. They can still be had for very reasonable prices, and again taking one out to the range for an afternoon is a joy. Don’t be afraid to study some of the excellent books about the history of small arms. I don’t care if you are a treehugger or not, the history of the world is pretty much centered around the use of weapons.

One of the most troubling things I encounter is the number of people that are new to the the gun culture that have no clue about firearms in general and only know what they have experienced in the last couple of years since they became a gun owner. Likewise, vast numbers of vets know about the arms they were issued, but know very little else about small arms. Of course there are hoards of folks that have gotten much of their firearms knowledge from the internet forums. This can sometimes be a good source of information, but sadly it seems to breed a level on knowledge and understanding that is lame at best.

As a firearms instructor, I have always felt that it is not necessary to be a good shot, but it doesn’t hurt if you can demonstrate what you expect your students to do and be able to do it well. Likewise, if you are going to train people about the use of small arms, having a solid knowledge about firearms and their use/history is a desirable goal. Even at my age, I am still learning. I consider myself a ‘student of weapon craft’, and part of that is knowing what the whole ‘gun thing is about’.

It can be an enjoyable journey, why not give a little ‘gun’ knowledge a try.

– Ken Hackathorn

Old Guy With A Blaster

Ken Hackathorn has served as a US Army Special Forces Small Arms Instructor, Gunsite Instructor, and NRA Police Firearms Instructor. He is currently an FBI Certified Firearms Instructor, Certified Deputy Sheriff with Washington County SO, Ohio, and a SRT member and Special Response Team trainer. Ken has trained US Military Special Operations forces, Marine FAST and SOTG units and is a contract small arms trainer to FBI SWAT and HRT.

Ken has provided training to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and been active in small arms training for the past 25 years. He has written firearms related material for Guns & Ammo, Combat Handguns, Soldier Of Fortune, and currently American Handgunner and contributed to at least six other gun/shooting journals. Ken was also a founding member of IPSC and IDPA.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.

Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

NRA Show Review:

The 2017 NRA Show in Atlanta was a joy to behold. Unlike SHOT, the folks walking the Show floor are the end users, the real deal ‘gun culture’. Unlike the SHOT Show which is oriented towards the dealer/distributors of firearms and related hunting gear, the NRA Show is all about show and tell for the members of the National Rifle Association. This year was of interest for a number of reasons. First the election of Donald Trump has calmed the nerves of the gun owning public. As clueless as the left is about why they lost, make no mistake the five million member strong NRA was a positive factor in the fact that Trump won. For the left to attack firearms ownership and still expect it to ring true for most of the heartland is just plain stupid. The anti-Second Amendment attitude does not sell in the states between the Socialist North East and the Left Coast.

A look at the folks walking the floor was quite educational. First, the bulk of people present were males over the age of fifty. However, more than any other NRA show that I have attended in my lifetime females were in noticeable attendance. Not just the wife tagging along with their hubby, but single and even groups of women, active in the shooting/gun culture. Trust me when I tell you that the CCW movement in the USA has had a profound impact on women. Realizing that with equality comes the responsibility to protect themselves; days of expecting a man to protect them is over. Life is about change, and we have little choice sometimes in the direction our lives must flow.

The second demographic that was very noticeable was the presence of people of color. The NRA has always been a strong supporter of equal rights; even back in the day when civil rights was not always popular especially with the Democratic Party. It was impressive to see both women and blacks asking intelligent questions about firearms and their use. I will wager that during the three days of the NRA Show more people were armed in that building than anywhere else in the USA. And, these folks packing heat all were carrying loaded firearms. In the course of the three days, not one loud noise was heard. Despite the complaints of the ‘anti gun crowd’, it was proof that people can be not only safe but responsible with concealed sidearms.

As a product ambassador for Colt Firearms, I was constantly having people coming up to me in the booth and asking questions about their guns, and they tended to all be loaded. Another thing that struck me was that if you took all the AR-15 (MSR’s for the gun culture political correct) and related accessories out of the show, the show would be less than half the size that it was. The reality is that nearly half of the gun culture has embraced the AR platform firearm. I do know some folks that do not own AR-15 style firearms, but damn few. When I moved to the mountain West, I knew that hunting rifles and handguns would be common, what surprised me was that nearly everyone owns an AR. Often more than one. The other thing that came to light was not a surprise at all: Mr. Obama was the best firearms salesman in history. Sales of the ‘black rifles’ has slowed to a trickle after the election. Nearly everyone in the retail end of the gun business will tell you sales have nearly come to a halt. Ammo demand has also slowed dramatically, prices are finally becoming more reasonable. Handgun sales continue to be solid, again directly related to the CCW market. New introductions of firearms at the NRA is becoming more common as much of the industry has tired of the strangle hold the NSSF has on the industry via the SHOT SHOW. Cost of the SHOT Show soars every year, and most vendors are tiring of the process.

This years NRA show introduction of pistols like the Beretta APX, FNH 509, H&K VP9SK, or Springfield Armory XD-E, and you can see the demand for quality handguns remains strong. The XD-E is directly oriented towards an small, flat, single stack 9X19mm pistol that is ideal for the AIWB crowd. If you plan on shoving your CCW sidearm into an inside the waist ban holster that is pointed at your balls, the XD-E a great choice. The gun that was my pick at the NRA Show was Wilson Combat’s new X9 pistol. What most folks want in a CCW sidearm is a 15 shot 9X19mm pistol the size and weight of a Clock 19, but with the controls, trigger, sights and accuracy of a 1911. The Wilson Combat EDC-X9 is just that, beautifully made of the best materials, a pride to own, but with a price tag more in tune with the Rolex crowd, not the Timex variety.

Overall, the flavor of the NRA show and the ‘gun culture’ was somewhat laid back, in tune with the change of politics in the USA. It seems that when a Republican takes the oval office, gun sales slow; put a Democrat in office and gun sales soar. There are some good deals in guns, ammo, and accessories to be hand in the coming months, hide and watch.

– Ken Hackathorn

Old Guy With A Blaster

Ken Hackathorn has served as a US Army Special Forces Small Arms Instructor, Gunsite Instructor, and NRA Police Firearms Instructor. He is currently an FBI Certified Firearms Instructor, Certified Deputy Sheriff with Washington County SO, Ohio, and a SRT member and Special Response Team trainer. Ken has trained US Military Special Operations forces, Marine FAST and SOTG units and is a contract small arms trainer to FBI SWAT and HRT.

Ken has provided training to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and been active in small arms training for the past 25 years. He has written firearms related material for Guns & Ammo, Combat Handguns, Soldier Of Fortune, and currently American Handgunner and contributed to at least six other gun/shooting journals. Ken was also a founding member of IPSC and IDPA.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Bravo Company USA. Bravo Company is home of the Gunfighters, and each week they bring us a different trainer to offer some words of wisdom.