Category Archives: Shooting in General

Are you having challenges Finding 9x19mm / 9mm Luger ammo?

I’ve read a few guys asking about where to buy ammo so I did a quick dig on availability and assembled the below ammunition listings from my sponsors.

Also, so you are aware of what’s moving, I get a feed from Brownells of their current Top Sellers:

I hope this helps you out some.

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You Can Make Black Powder!

Let me open with telling you that I am providing the following information for educational purposes only. I find chemistry fascinating as you can tell by my various posts on parkerizing, acid etching (with apple cider vinegar and with ferric chloride), epoxies and more. So, I’ve seen various posts over the years about making your own black powder and usually filed them away for future reference. What changed was that Youtube actually recommended a video on making black powder and then that led to another and another. I took the three videos I liked the most and decided to share them.

Please, if you try anything, do so safely. Research first, pick safe location and be careful. You accept all liability – I am providing these resources for reference purposes only!!

Starting Basic: The King of Random

The back story is that this guy loved experimenting and posted his projects on YouTube. The genuine tragedy is that he recently passed away in a paragliding accident. This is a very interesting video and sets the stage for do-it-yourself black powder.

The three ingredients from left to right: Sulfur from plant fungicide.home made charcoal and potassium nitrate from stump remover.

In this post, the presenter shows you how to make a basic unrefined black powder with charcoal and then powdered potassium nitrate from stump remover and powdered sulfur from plant fungicide. Note, these are all available at your local hardware store – you need powders and not liquids by the way. It’s a basic process and creates a “green” or unrefined black powder.

A More Refined Approach From the Science Pirate

This fellow is a chemist and really good at explaining what is going on and how to do it. He shows how he goes about processing the 75% Potassium Nitrate, 15% charcoal and 10% sulfur into black powder.

Here he’s screening the charcoal. Instead of expedient materials, he is using lab grade chemicals and supplies as you can see.

The Best Video: GhoolerHunter Covers An Old Military Method

He’s getting ready to strain his solution.

This fellow really goes into detail behind a process for producing a more refined black powder. He does point out to beware of static electricity if you are using metal trays like he is.

Some Charcoals Are Better Than Others

Interesting enough, having the right charcoal is really important. Some woods are way better than others and I think you’ll find that you will either need to make your own charcoal or will need to do some hunting to find very specific charcoal for good results.

For example, woods to use include certain species of Alder, Balsa, Buckthorn (both alder and carolina), Cottonwood (narrow leaf), Dogwood (cornus florida), Maple, Paulownia, Plum (prunus domestica), and Willow (Black, white, weeping and pacific but not Rocky mountain). To learn more, please see:

Other Black Powder Resources

Here are some other resources if you want to read more:

Again, this is all provided for reference purposes only. If you decide to try anything, please research first and put safety before everything else. Also, be sure to comply with all laws and regulations that apply to you.

Sorry to sound like a lawyer but these days, it needs to be said. I hope the info helps you out.

Please note that all images were extracted from the video and are the property of their respective owner.

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Second Amendment Shirts – Order One and Show Your Support

Here are our favorite pro Second Amendment shirts and now is a great time to show how you feel about protecting your right to bear arms. Click on any of the photos below to go to Amazon, learn more about a given shirt and order it.

A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Don’t tread on me
“A free people ought not only be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them which would include their own government.” — George Washington
Shall not be infringed
My rights don’t end where your feelings begin
“Americans have the right and advantages of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms”
Second Amendment Come and Take It – In Defense of Freedom
We the people
2nd Amendment
United We Stand – Land of the free. Home of the brace.
Second Amendment
Don’t Tread on me
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln
2nd Amendment Brotherhood
2nd Amendment – If we can’t protect ourselves, who will?
Nobody needs an AR15? Nobody needs a whiny little bitch either, yet there you are.
“The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.” – Thomas Jefferson
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
USA 2nd Amendment
My rights don’t end where your feelings begin

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Michigan Gun Exchange’s CPL Class Was Excellent!!

This past Sunday, my wife and I attended Michigan Gun Exchange’s 10 hour Concealed Carry Firearms Training class. It was so well done that I felt I needed to write it up and pass along the info so let me give you a bit of background.

I grew up with rifles and shotguns but not really pistols. When my dad was a boy, he borrowed my grandfather’s tiny derringer to hunt squirrels. As he told me, he got excited and accidentally got the web of this thumb in front of the little barrel and shot/nicked himself. Well, that turned him off to pistols and then in WWII they were issued shot out 1911’s that couldn’t hit the side of a barn. My dad had a Marksmans Badge and was the finest shot I ever met with a rifle but he just did not care for pistols. As a result, I did not have a firearms pistol until college around 1989. What little I knew about how to shoot one, I learned from friends and none of them had formal training either. In other words, I knew my pistol knowledge was lacking big time.

So, for years now, my friend, Scott Igert, and others, have told me I need to get a Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL). This isn’t just an application where you simply fill out a form – I would have to take a class. Whoa.

What held me back was three fold – 1) I sucked at pistols and didn’t want to be embarrassed — I have a tremor and have always joked that I might do better at throwing the pistol at the target. 2) Finding the time to actually take the class. 3) Finding an instructor who could actually teach.

Getting Started

What got my wife and I to finally act was the desire to better protect ourselves. It seems like there is so much violence these days that we really owed it to ourselves and our family to proceed with the CPL. This also included the need to better understand defensive pistol shooting for both of us.

To be clear, we paid for this class and while Scott and I have been friends for years, he had no idea I was going to write this post until I sent it to him to review.

Prior to the class, I’d met Andrew Zachary only a few a times as he manages Modern Antique Firearms while Scott is at Benton Township serving as a police officer – his full time day job which he then leaves and goes to his second full time job as the owner of Modern Antique Firearms and Michigan Gun Exchange. That means Andrew gets to wear a lot of hats but he is the chief instructor for a reason — he’s really good at teaching.

That’s Andrew in the front. Brooks Bouwkamp, a range safety officer, is the fellow with his back to us fixing a target. All pistols were cleared and sitting on the tables when this photo was taken.

I was in the shop one day when Scott was working at the township in his police officer role and watched Andrew work with a young lady who wanted to buy a pistol. He was very patient and explained everything. He wasn’t talking down to her or anything negative and that made me realize that he probably was a good teacher. It was a hunch but I’ve learned a lot over the years about what makes a good teacher.

In addition to seeing his interaction, I had also heard good things about Andrew from folks who took his class. You see, on top of Andrew being a good guy, he is a certified instructor from both the NRA and USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association) plus years and years of experience.

The Day of the Class

Seven us, including my wife and I, showed up at the Stevensville Grand Mere Pistol Club on Sunday, June 9th at 7:45am, and Andrew kicked things off promptly by 8am. It was raining outside so we all felt better about being indoors!

I could immediately tell that Andrew really cared about the topic and was an effective presenter – he wove in facts, stories, humor and practical tips together. He encouraged note taking, told us where to find more information in the accompanying course book and also had a projected presentation with videos.

The class was well thought out and took a big picture approach to self-defense. It’s not about how to kill or something crazy like that – it’s about how to defend yourself and it builds from the ground up. I used to take Tae Kwon Do years ago so there were a lot of parallel concepts that I could relate to. The best way to defend is to not be in the situation to begin with and only use the force necessary to stop the attack. Personally, I hope I am never in such a serious situation that I have to defend myself with a firearm.

Back to the topic – the class had two portions – most of it was us gathered at a table in a classroom setting and the other involved actual shooting at the range.

Classroom portion

Andrew started with a lot of very straight forward recommendations about avoiding incidents to begin with – be aware of your surroundings, don’t go down dark alleys, have your house light on, set the alarm, etc. The point, and it is a very valid one, is that the pistol is a last resort and a CPL license actually puts more liability on you in many cases because now a firearm is involved. A lot of legal considerations were covered both in general and for the state of Michigan specially.

In terms of a formal agenda, the classroom portion covered:

  • Developing a personal & home protection plan
  • Self-defense firearms basics
  • Shooting fundamentals
  • The legal use of force
  • Violent encounters and their aftermath

In the classroom, Andrew also had training pistols that looked like Glock 17s but were colored bright red and shot a laser. These let us safely practice our grip and trigger pull before we even got out to the range.

Range Portion

We then headed out to the very nice indoor range at the Grand Mere Pistol club. It was clean, well lit and equipped. By this time, Scott Igert and Brooks Bouwkamp had showed up to assist Andrew. This enabled them to ensure safety and give tips from multiple perspectives. For example, one time Brooks saw from across the room that one lady was canting her pistol up as she pulled the trigger.

Safety was stressed first and foremost. Ammunition was set out in five round groups and you could only load the mag when instructed. They would ensure everyone was ready and then we’d load the pistols with them always facing downrange and we’d then do the drills. After set of five rounds, we would clear the weapon and place it back on the table.

I should point out that only four folks shot at time so our class went through in two batches. My wife was in the first batch and I was in the second. Guys, there is a huge benefit to letting a true instructor explain things to your wives objectively. She learned a ton.

My fear of being embarrassed was unfounded. The other students were all starting out also and the instructor team offered tips and encouragement the whole time.

Scott is watching the student on the left. My wife, on the right, did a great job – I am very proud of her!!

Remember how I told you that I sucked at pistols? Folks, I have always had to use a bench rest to get any degree of accuracy. The following photo is from a 50 round box of 9mm 115gr Fiocchi FMJ ammo with my legally registered Polymer 80 Glock 34 clone. That middle group was done with the sights shooting for accuracy at 10 feet. The rest is from defensive point firing. This is easily half the size of what I would have done before the class. Most of the shooting world is probably better than me but I am very happy with the improvement.

Most of the rounds in the circle were shot during aimed fire. Do you see the few groups that are touching? I have never done that before in my life with a pistol without a rest. This was all from the Isosceles stance with the grip Andrew taught me that combines an isometric principle of pushing slightly with my right hand and pulling slightly with the left. I will be practicing that a ton.


We wrapped up between 6 and 7pm and, to be honest, the time flew by. We did take a 30 minute break for lunch and I feel like we learned a ton. My wife and I compared notes and really liked how the class was handled and what all we learned.

Andrew on the left and Scott on the right wrapping the day up answering questions one-on-one.

If you are worried about having an instructor who is a jerk or is there to stroke their own ego, that is not Andrew. He’s there to teach and that’s the highest compliment I can give any instructor. If you are looking for class to get your CPL or even just a solid class for self-defense with pistols, I highly recommend what Michigan Gun Exchange has put together. Their phone number is 269-944-5788.

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The Best Websites To Buy Ammo From

A common question I’ve been asked over the years is where to buy ammo from online. I can definitely understand the question – there is a bewildering number of online vendors that sell ammo and some offer great deals and service and others don’t – plain and simple. I’ve been involved with firearms since my dad held a .22 for me in the 1970s and have been involved with the Internet since the early 1990s. The combination of the two really took off around 2006 when I got interested in AK rifles and started frequenting the AKFiles, the AKForum and other boards as part of that.

It’s been an amazing ride to say the least. A lot of great guys have helped me over the years and part of my blogging is me trying to give back some. So, back to the topic at hand – where to find ammo? The short answer is that there are a ton of places and it does pay to shop around, wait for sales when you can, sign up for vendor newsletters to get discounts and sales info, etc.

Remember that ammo is heavy. I’m not joking – be sure to look at what the delivered cost will be when comparing vendors. One group might have a great ammo price but real steep shipping charges that nullify the savings. Likewise, a vendor might have a sale one weekend where they have a discount and free shipping and you may only know about it if you sign up for and read their sales emails. I can’t stress signing up for the emails enough – some places will send you a coupon code right away.

What I am going to try and do is list the websites/vendors that I’ve had very good luck with. I’m going to split them between Highly Recommended and Recommended. I’m not going to disparage any vendors but I’ll say that if they are not on my list, just do some searching around and see what others say about them. There are tons and tons of great vendors out there who I have probably never heard of and never will but there are also some not so great groups out there as well.

What follows is my trying to give a bit of guidance about things to consider and sites to go:

Is Buying Ammo Online Legal?

Guys ask me if they can legally buy ammo online – meaning from a website. The problem is that the answer to this question depends on federal, state and local laws. At a federal level it is ok. For most states it is ok. Once you get down to the county and city/town level, it depends. You need to check around and find out the answer to that question. Use the Internet to research, ask your local gun club, sheriff’s department, etc.

Are Websites Always Cheaper Than Buying Locally?

The short answer is a very strong “Not always”. A lot of gun stores can be very competitive. Ammo is heavy and local gun stores can buy in bulk plus they can do a number of things to lower their cost. For example, Modern Antique Firearms in Benton Harbor, MI, is owned by my friend, Scott Igert, and they regularly get great deals on ammo that they then pass along to their customers.  They will also group special orders together to further lower cost for people looking for relatively rare ammo.

Speaking of, if you are in an area that lacks competition or are looking for specialty loads or relative rare calibers, online is probably your better option if not your only option. For example, I had a .50 Beowulf. You aren’t going to walk in a store and find that ammo. The same tends to be true for my .338 Lapua.

One other shout out I want to give to the local gun shops is customer service. Again, pointing to modern antique firearms, you can go in there and get a lot of advice about how to select ammunition and what would work good in your situation. Never underestimate the value of good advice.

Highly Recommended Websites For Ammo

Websites in this category are ones that I have bought from many times and are usually the first ones I check when looking to buy ammo. I have no hesitation in recommending them to you as you start your journey to find ammo.

By the way folks, I get no money at all from any of these places. I’m telling you purely based on my experience. All the vendors on this list are groups that I’ve ordered from at least 10 times.

  • SGAmmo – this is a family-owned business that has been around for a long time. They were recommended to me many years ago and I have ordered a lot of ammo from them over the years. They have very good prices and are quick to ship. When I thought who to list as my number one go-to, it was these folks hands down. You absolutely need to subscribe to their email newsletter. There’s no two ways about it.
  • J&G Sales – I first ran into J&G Sales many years ago. People were recommending them as a place to get combloc ammo from and I bought a lot of 7.62 x39 from them over the years. They have expanded their offerings to include a lot of ammo from different companies such as Wolf, S&B and many others.
  • Midway USA – Midway has a huge online presence selling gun parts, ammunition, and many other things. I have bought so much from these folks over the years my wife knows those boxes on-site 🙂
  • Sportsman’s Guide – this is another big online website. Sometimes they do have good deals on ammunition and are worth checking out especially when they have sales and free shipping.

Recommended Websites For Ammo

Groups in this category I have ordered from a number of times and have been very satisfied.  The websites below are listed in order they came to mind,

  • Palmetto State Armory – Palmetto is a interesting low-cost vendor out there. I have bought a lot of AR parts from them over the years and been very happy. Once in a while they will have a great sale on some popular ammunition in a given caliber. You definitely want to sign up for their sales newsletter.
  • Cabelas – sometimes these folks have good prices on ammunition but they are good to remember because sometimes they will have inventory when other groups do not.
  • Buds Guns – they often have competitive prices and are definitely one place to check. Another good example of a place that may have in unison in stock when others don’t. For example I recently bought some S&B 124 grain 9 mm ammo from them.
  • Able Ammo – definitely one vendor to check. I have bought firearms and ammunition from them over the years.
  • AIM Surplus – they carry quite a selection of ammunition, magazines and so forth.
  • Mile High Sports – these folks are a good source for match ammo. For example, I bought 338 Lapua from them.
  • Gunbroker – if you have never used it, GunBroker is an auction site for all kinds of firearms, ammunition and related items that are for sale from literally hundreds of sellers on their site. You really have to do some research before you bid to know whether you’re getting a deal or paying a fortune. Never assume you are looking at the lowest price just because you are on an auction site. I have gotten some fantastic deals on GunBroker over the years but I have also seen a lot of ridiculously high-priced items as well. One last comment, as I mentioned earlier, ammo is heavy. Find out what your total cost will be before you buy.

A Recommended Ammo Purchasing Strategy

If you are new to firearms, bear in mind that ammo is not all the same even within a caliber or bullet type. Each different type of round is designed for a specific use be it plinking, self-defense, hunting and so forth. Decide what you want the ammo for. For example, you would not want to buy a boat load of very expensive self-defense hollow point ammunition just to go plinking. Conversely, you ought to consider spending the extra money to buy some really well regarded self defense hollow point versus Full Metal Jacket range ammunition.

It is interesting how fireams can still can differ even within a model. For example, you could have to virtually identical pistol sitting next to each other and find that one likes a particular type of ammunition more than the other pistol does.

Certainly it pays to research recommendations on ammo for your particular firearm but bear in mind that you must always test ammunition before you buy a bunch of it. I can’t stress this enough. Your gun may not function at all or it may have horrible accuracy with a particular type of ammunition. Do not leave it to chance. You sure do not want to buy ammo and go straight out hunting or rely on it for self-defense. Test test test test. Also, be sure to test it with the magazines.

Once you have an idea of what you want to buy, then check the various websites listed above.


Have you ever wished there was a website where you could search across many vendors to see what prices are? I found a service called just that – AmmoSeek.  It’ll help you get an idea of pricing for a wide variety of ammo.  Again, look at total cost – product + shipping + insurance when comparing vendors.

If you see a vendor you have never heard of before, do some searching with Google and see what people see.  Try phrases like “Is vendor X any good”, “vendor X reviews”, and so forth.


Like I said before, a lot of guys helped me out when I first got started. It began with my dad and his friends, then my friends and their fathers and it just grew from there. I truly hope this helps you enjoy your firearms and be prepared.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at

The Rise of Useless Reviews on Amazon – Read Before You Buy

Amazon is really cool. I can get good deals on stuff and have it delivered to where I live. The problem is that I used to historically look at the number of reviews and the average score to determine if something was worthwhile or not. A pure math approach of looking at the numbers is not working any more and let me tell you why.

I’m noticing a lot of reviews where people give 4 to 5 stars without really using the product. I don’t know if they feel they need to report right away or just what but you will read stuff like “it looks good” or “it feels good” and nothing about the actual use. I suppose it’s better than nothing but not by much.

Also, some merchants reach out and correct problems then ask the buyer to revise the score. You know, I’m cool with that. A friend of mine recounted the story of being hounded – email after email – from the seller to change the score. So, you need to be aware of this too – I’m not a huge fan of wasting time troubleshooting stuff – I want it to hit the ground working.


Again, the basics are true. Products with no reviews are very risky and less than 30 are still risky but you are starting to get a safety margin. However, you must dive deeper to learn what folks are saying.

What I am finding is that you need to read the reviews and:

  • Look for people who actually used the product and are reporting back.
  • Look for trends – was the product great and having more and more problems or vise versa?
  • Look out for tons of edits where people post that they have revised the score after the vendor sent a replacement. Why was this necessary? I could understand a few but not a lot and definitely not a trend.
  • Be sure to click on the number of reviews right under the product name so you can see the breakdown of scores and even click on the number of stars to read the reviews. So, if you click on “1 star” you can read those reviews.

Fortunately with Amazon, they give great customer service and I can’t guess how many times they have made things right over the years. I think a lot of folks have a level of comfort with Amazon now and I also think you need to use the tools they gave us to make a better purchase decision.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at

Check out Gunstreamer for Firearms Videos

Folks, if you are like me and are sick and tired of the assault by liberals on our second amendment freedoms, you are always looking for sources of firearms advice. Youtube used to be a great source for videos on firearms – everything from reviews, to gunsmithing to build-it-yourself (BIY) guidance. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case – Youtube has turned anti-gun also and I resent it.

So, where can you see videos about firearms? One promising source is Gunstreamer – I’ve watched a few videos there now and find the site easy to navigate and there are definitely some quality videos showing up there. Definitely check them out and consider supporting them – I am.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at

Old World Craftsmanship – Firearm Making at Holland and Holland

As you know, I tend towards modern military arms but I also have a deep appreciation of craftsmenship and history. While surfing the web one day, I happened across a video about “gunmaking craftsmanship” at Holland & Holland (H&H). It was probably in the mid- to late-1980s when I encountered my first H&H double rifle and it was a functional work of art and I have seen more over the years. So, I added the video to my list of things to watch.

H&H was founded in London in 1835 by Harris Holland and he started manufacturing sometime in the 1850s. His nephew, Henry William Holland, joined in 1860 and became a partner in 1876 leading to the Holland & Holland name we know. (Click here to visit their website’s history page.)

Today, H&H continues the firearm craftsmanship of fine hunting arms – that is their niche. When you watch the video, you will see some automation, such as in the machining of the action, but you will see a tremendous about of handwork. What they turn out are absolutely stunning firearms.

The video steps you through barrel making, the stock, fitting and finishing. It’s really neat to watch them at work. If you appreciate fine arms, you really need to watch.

Here’s the Video

Please note that all images are extracted from the video and remain the property of their respective owner(s).

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How to Defeat WiFi censorship around Firearms, Military and Law Enforcement with VPN Apps on Mobile Devices

I am sick and tired of businesses and other groups telling me that something that is perfectly legal is not acceptable. Have you ever tried to use your phone or mobile device in an establishment and got some kind of message like the following instead of the web page you wanted:

Or perhaps something like this when you know full well the website is working:

What is happening is some pain in the butt liberal is blocking your web access based on the website address you’re going to.

I’m really sick and tired of messages like these when I try to access websites from my phone or tablet that involve firearms, law enforcement, military, or anything else perfectly legitimate that the provider of the Wi-Fi services feels is inappropriate. Screw them.

What happens with Wi-Fi is that your phone is connecting to a wireless network which in turn passes through any number of devices that can subscribe to what is known as a “block list.”

The block list is provided either by the vendor of the network device or from a service provider and is updated regularly with a list of websites with different categories that the subscriber can then block. So if you try to go by name to my website like the above image shows, you will be blocked at many public venues.

Use Virtual Private Network Apps

The way to get around this is to run virtual private Network (VPN) software on your phone or tablet. It basically works by using an application that encrypts all of your phone’s WiFi data traffic to the VPN provider who then routes the data on their servers and network to your desired destination. The group trying monitor your traffic has no idea where it is going or what the contents are due to the encryption in the VPN

There are free providers that can be very slow and your security might be in question or, like me, you can use a commercial service.

I prefer a service called “IPvanish” and I’ve been using it for a year and a half. I have no affiliation with them and get absolutely zero money for this recommendation. It just so happens that I’m at a major theme park right now and I’m royally pissed off because they are blocking my access to sites I normally go to that are perfectly legal. This is censorship.

So I’m sitting here ticked and figured writing a blog post to help you guys out so you can get to these sites whenever you want would be my best revenge.


I have a Samsung Note 8 phone that runs Android and IPvanish makes an app that is very affordable. You can get it through the Play Store for Android plus other platforms are supported such as Apple and they are in the Apple store.

Getting going is pretty easy.  You simply sign up, pay, install the app, enter your user ID and password and you’re ready to go.  Yes, you do pay but this means you have fast connections because they can afford to have adequate capacity.

If you want to read more first go to their website at

Some interesting options

There are a few interesting options to point out to you. You can have the software start automatically if you wanted to, you can tell it what country or maybe even what city you want to say it’s accessing from. For example if I wanted to make it look like I am in Canada, I can do that. If I am in another country and I want it to look like I’m in the United States, I can do that too. It gives you some interesting capabilities if you run into a situation involving digital rights such as situations where content you normally use in the United States is not licensed for people outside of it and so forth.

In summary

If you are sick and tired of being blocked, get yourself some VPN software. Ipvanish is my preference but you definitely have others to choose from. Don’t let other people dictate to you what you can and cannot do when it comes to perfectly legal topics such as Firearms, law enforcement and Military websites.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at

Beretta USA Factory Tour And A Seriously Stunning Picatinny Rail Concept

Military Arms Channel (MAC) visited the Beretta USA facility in 2015. To be honest, I really didn’t expect anything surprising because three years had passed and Beretta really hasn’t done anything of interest to me for years and years. Well, that changed in this video at the 10:12 mark but let’s not jump ahead.

MAC got a good tour with tons of photos of the M9 service pistol, notably the M9A3 with its Picatinny rail and other updates. You get a chance to see some automation but also considerable handwork. When I watched the video on Beretta’s Gordonne, Val Trompia,Italy, facility, there seemed to be much more automation.

Regardless, it was interesting to watch purely from a manufacturing perspective. Nothing really noteworthy to be completely honest – just another factory … and then the video kept going on and knocked my socks off…

The Picatinny Rail as a Platform

Now this is where I need to point out that my jaw dropped starting at about the 10:12 mark. If you have been around weapons in recent years, you are probably very used to seeing the Picatinny rails on weapons for mounting accessories. Historically, firms would have proprietary means for adding accessories and this would limit your ability to find devices that could be mounted and your ability to move them from weapon to weapon.

MIL-STD-1913 was published by the Picatinny Arsenal in 1995 and finally created a standardized solution. This enabled all the different light, lasers, optics, mounting points and more to have a standard way to connect to the weapon.

So, let’s come back to the video. Beretta realized that the rail can be far more than a dumb mounting point. It can be a backplane that enables both shared power and data. I really had a “holy cow that makes so much sense moment.”

No more different battery types or some full and some not. You can attach to the rail and the device taps in via exposed connectors for power and data services. Beyond the battery, you could, for example, have a laser designator and range finder providing data to an optic and uplink all modularly.

Note the gold colored contacts nestled inside the top of the rail.
Modularr CR123A modular battery pack.
Good photo of contacts on the side rail.
Another view of the top rail.

I like the idea of a hard wired connection vs wireless that can be compromised or outright blocked. As more and more electronics show up on small arms, engineers will need to figure out how to make them both reliable, resistant to electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) and secure and that last part I am referring to information security.

Bottom line, kudo to Beretta. They thought of this over three years ago!! I think we are seeing a future direction for the industry here if it can leap frog from Beretta and get some other big players behind it notably Magpul and other DoD suppliers.

Here’s the Video

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