PUBLISHED FIREARMS INDUSTRY ARTICLES and BLOGS

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum: At Home in the Clouds

posted Jul 21, 2017, 10:10 AM by Wendy Zachman

Throughout history there have been a handful of men and women who have not accepted the pull of gravity as a limitation. What begins as awe and wonder as a child ponders how birds can soar high above the treetops, transforms as feathers become canvas, and then metal; treetops become clouds, then space.
  Someone once said, “To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home.” Thanks to the vision of the late Captain Michael King Smith and his co-founder and Father, Mr. Delford Smith, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum brings the beasts that fill the sky back down to solid ground.

Tucked comfortably in the middle of Pacific Northwest wine country, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and Captain Michael King Smith Educational Institute is just over three miles southeast of McMinnville, Oregon. An experience for all ages intending to inspire and educate, as well as promote and preserve aviation and space history, Evergreen is home to more than 150 historic aircraft and exhibits.  Get up close and personal with the SR-71 Blackbird, explore the Titan II Missile from inside her silo, and get a first hand glimpse from inside a fully restored B-17 Flying Fortress. The star of the show, however, is undoubtedly Howard Hughes’ aviation icon, the Spruce Goose. 

 

Designated H-4 by Hughes (not only did he despise the nickname Spruce Goose, but the Flying Boat is actually constructed of mostly birch with very little spruce) the wooden giant is the world’s largest airplane ever constructed, yet has only flown once.  What she lacked in airtime, she made up for in pure ingenuity as Hughes’ expertise was highly sought after during World War II, all the while his “Wooden Wonder” remained flight ready but out of the public eye. After Hughes’ death in 1976 she was set to be dismantled, a relic of aviation history, but it seems that just wasn’t how her story was to end.

She spent several years on display in Long Beach, Calf. and in 1992 Captain and Mr. Smith saw to it that the Spruce Goose was given a proper and permanent home. It took nearly 10 years to disassemble, move, and reassemble but it was well worth the wait, as the Spruce Goose and her impressive 320-foot wingspan is now the centerpiece of Evergreen’s Museum.

Also impressive and easily missed is the Captain Michael King Smith Firearms Collection situated on the mezzanine overlooking the Spruce Goose.  A relatively new exhibit at only four years young, Evergreen collaborated closely with the NRA’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va. to guarantee the utmost in historical accuracy and breadth.  The Collection is a thorough capture of the role firearms play in every era of American history.  With 18 cases and seven to-scale dioramas there is something for everyone.  The history buff can reflect upon Roosevelt’s Rough Riders’ raid at San Juan Hill, or perhaps a World War II paratrooper’s decent into Europe, while the avid hunter can appreciate the father and son sport-hunting scene complete with pheasant and dog.  Furthermore, every major United Sates battle rifle is accounted for. Be it the German Mauser – the precursor to Springfield’s M1903, the stalwart M1 Garand, the persistent M14 or the short-barreled carbine Colt Commando foreshadowing today’s selective-fire M-4, they have it covered. Equally represented are pistols and machine guns.  Scanning the cases you’ll see more than battle rifles lie beneath the glass; the hefty semi-automatic Desert Eagle shines brightly in comparison to the battle worn Webley Mark VI.   But don’t let the Webley’s rough exterior fool you.   What just may be the first repeating revolver introduced into the British forces (the Mark VI variant introduced in 1915) proves among the most powerful top-break revolvers produced to this day. Equally as impressive and perhaps even more intriguing is the Lewis Machine-gun.  Manufactured by the Savage Arms Company, this light machine gun is easily identifiable by its top-mounted drum-pan magazine and although made in the good ‘ole USA, the Lewis Gun saw service in Belgium and the United Kingdom before being adopted by the US Navy and Marines.  Appropriately enough the Lewis Gun also has the distinction of being the first machine gun ever fired from an aircraft; what soon becomes a tactical necessity, began in June of 1912 on a Wright Model B Flyer.

If the wife and kids have seen enough heavy metal for the day, do not fear.  While you catch one of several IMAX movies at the Evergreen Theater, let the misses meander through the Evergreen Farm Store for some wine tasting and gourmet treats.  If a larger hunger needs satisfying, try the Liberty Belle or Cosmo Café. Let the kids burn a hole in your pocket in one of two substantial gift shops before wearing them out at the Wings & Waves Waterpark.

Not to be overlooked are the countless volunteers, many of them veterans, each adding to the mystique of the museum and if given the opportunity are more than happy to share their personal accounts of the evolution of aviation in their lifetime, some spanning nearly a century. Executive Director Larry Wood professes, “I consider our volunteers to be the ‘Heart and Soul’ of the museum. Air museums are usually artifact based so the things on display are ‘just things’. Our volunteers make the artifacts come alive by telling their stories of what the airplanes really mean. Some of them have experienced the aircraft – those stories give another silver airplane a real life meaning in the context of those who operated, maintained, and built it. Our “things” become living through those stories. That’s why I come to work every day.”

Needless to say, Evergreen is well on its way to becoming a destination. With a Boy Scout park on the back forty and a chapel and hotel in the works, it seems the legacy of Captain Michael King Smith truly lives on and that Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is without question the tangible result of one man’s dream and a father’s commitment to see that dream through.

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is open daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark hours vary seasonally.  For admission information as well as current events and exhibits, please visit www.evergreenmuseum.org.


Published in Recoil Magazine, Issue 8

The National Firearms Museum

posted Jul 21, 2017, 10:06 AM by Wendy Zachman   [ updated Jul 21, 2017, 11:01 AM ]

“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.”

- James Madison, The Bill of Rights

 

Our nation’s capital has a wealth of tourist destinations, many steeped deep in history. You could easily spend days wandering up and down the Mall, visiting the many museums. Few know that just a stone’s throw down Interstate 66 from the District of Columbia is an often overlooked museum; the NRA’s National Firearms Museum representing a portion of history, not just relevant to the United States, but to the world. Situated in the town of Fairfax, Va. the National Firearms Museum is truly an experience for all ages intending to inspire and educate, as well as promote and preserve firearms history. It is home to 15 galleries and more than 2000 guns spanning over six centuries. See first hand just how indispensable guns were to early American exploration and then later, proved vital in their pursuit of independence. Get up close and personal with an authentic Coney Island shooting gallery, the recreated rubble of WWII Germany, and the firearms that complete the athlete and bring home the gold. Stand in awe before the largest public display of Gatling Guns. Be humbled by the twisted remnants of fallen NYPD Officer Walter Weaver’s Smith & Wesson found amongst the debris of the Twin Towers on 9-11. Wander the halls, peruse the multiple kiosks, and walk through history as the firearm evolved from hand cannon to Barrett .50 cal.

AN AGE OF ELEGANCE

There was a time when men weren’t just men, they were Gentlemen.  They surrounded themselves with finery, in rooms of with dark paneled wood, lined with books, oil paintings, and mounted trophies. A recreation of such a room can be found in Gallery 9 where you are given a glimpse inside of what Theodore Roosevelt’s library was like in his Sagamore Hill home on Long Island. Carved ivory tusks and a mounted rhino head frame the marble fireplace; a large brass chandelier looms above and draws attention to the tiger skin rug.  The cases are filled with the guns an experienced hunter would own, several by T.R. himself. A favorite could only be the beautifully engraved Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3, as records indicate he most likely took possession of the revolver not soon before training his Rough Riders. This gun is particularly unique due to the fact it is chambered for the .38 Colt, not the typical .44 Russian. Equally unique are the famous Parker Invincibles, housed a few cases down. Highly sought after by shooters and collectors alike, the Parker shotguns are among the finest in the world and have maintained their name and quality for nearly two centuries. The three on display together at the museum are the only three to have earned the title “Invincible”, or Grade 9.  These three sporting arms are truly treasures in the gun world.

THE PETERSEN GALLERY

How many of you out there have picked up Hot Rod Magazine, Motor Trend, or perhaps the teenage favorite, Tiger Beat? (You know who you are) No? How about Guns & Ammo? I thought so. The late publishing mogul Robert E. Petersen, known for his love of the automobile (yet published several teen magazine staples), was also an avid hunter and collector of some of the finest sporting arms in the world. From the intricately engraved gargoyle Rizzini side-by-side and the famed Annie Oakley Hambrusch shotgun given to her by none other than Buffalo Bill himself, to the macabre Colt .38 fit for a vampire hunter, complete with coffin case and carved silver bullets, Petersen had it covered. Museum Director Jim Supica agrees this is “the best single room of guns on display anywhere in the world”. You can spend an hour or so in this gallery alone, studying famous makers such as Boss and Holland & Holland or admiring firearms once belonging to President John F. Kennedy or the infamous Reichmarshall Hermann Göring. There are treasured modern guns such as the stunning J. Purdey & Sons .600 Nitro Double Rifle featuring a beautiful African game scene in gold inlay and those that date back to the mid 19th century such as the Devil’s Shotgun; a 16 gauge percussion shotgun featuring none other than engravings of devils and clyster syringes. This collection is truly a gem and exemplifies the vision of one man to make available to the public what otherwise is reserved for the elite. 

WILLIAM B. RUGER SPECIAL EXHIBITS

Intended to run only a year but due to such high demand is now running three years strong, the seventh rotating exhibit featured in the Ruger Gallery, Hollywood Guns, gives you a first hand look at some of the most famous firearms to make it to the big screen over the last seven decades. Senior Curator Doug Wicklund points out, with 125 guns filling nine cases, there is something to please every generation and cover every genre it “allows our museumgoers to travel beyond the exhibit case, to the silver screen and become part of the story.” The large loop lever Winchester Model 1892 carried by John Wayne in movies such as McLintok! and Big Jake, surrounded by other “Duke” memorabilia, brings you back to the days where grown women were spanked and men had dirt under their fingernails.   There is no shortage of representation for the man’s man; the Beretta 92FS used by both Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon and Bruce Willis in Die Hard, and the hefty Remington 12 gauge used by the late Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight, are sure to please. As will the jaw-dropping silenced Remington 11-87 used by the Oscar winning Javier Bardem as the ruthless Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men and JT Sanborn’s Barrett Model 82A1 used in the Academy Award-winning The Hurt Locker.  And let’s not forget Tom Selleck’s celebrated roll as Thomas Magnum in Magnum, P.I., where short shorts were okay as long as you had hair on your chest, drove a Ferrari, and carried a Colt; specifically a Colt Mark IV which is highlighted in case three.

The ladies have some brief but interesting representation as well with the pearl handled Stevens single shot used by Elizabeth Berridge as Annie Oakley in Hidalgo and for the handful of you out there you actually saw Fair Game, (insert eye-roll here) you can catch a glimpse of Cindy Crawford’s Beretta 92FS Inox. That being said, before exiting the Ruger Gallery, “you’ve got to ask yourself one question, ‘Do I feel lucky?’”  You should.  Made famous by Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of Harry Callahan, the Smith & Wesson Model 29 received so much notoriety as the “most powerful handgun in the world” that retailers had trouble keeping the revolver in stock after the release of Dirty Harry. On loan from screenwriter John Milius, this icon of firearms movie memorabilia is not to be missed and the same can be said for each and every gun on display. Supica divulges, “These guns have never before been seen together, and probably never will again.”

Before winding down for the day, your visit is not complete without a stop in the Museum Store which features a variety of gifts and merchandise proudly made in the USA as well as one of the most extensive collections of firearm related books in the nation. Furthermore, the National Firearms Museum also houses one of the most complete firearms research libraries in the country and is available for public use by advance appointment. So whether you are in the mood to be thrilled or humbled, educated or enlightened, you will indeed be more than satisfied with the wealth and breadth of what the National Firearms Museum has to offer.

The National Firearms Museum resides at NRA Headquarters at 11250 Waples Mill Rd., Fairfax, Va. and is open daily 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (closed Christmas Day). Admission is always free. For more information as well as current events and exhibits, please visit www.NRAMuseum.com.

Published in Gun Up Magazine, August 2013

Hollywood's Firearm Follies

posted Jul 21, 2017, 10:05 AM by Wendy Zachman   [ updated Jul 21, 2017, 11:02 AM ]

WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE, sitting at the Cineplex, popcorn bucket in one hand, ridiculously large pop in the other, ready to settle in for a solid two hours of serious gun play–only to be reminded that when it comes to all things firearms, Hollywood takes artistic license to new limits. Just as I’m irritated (or amused) by the fact Hollywood can’t seem to get military uniforms correct, or the fact they frequently amuse “locals” when a certain town is represented inaccurately in a movie (Wayne’s World’s depiction of Aurora, Ill. drove me nuts), they are equally as inept when it comes to firearm accuracy. I know, I know, I need to remember that I didn’t just shell out a small fortune to check every aspect of a film for authenticity and validity. I’m there to laugh, to cry, and simply to be entertained. Entertaining it is, as the firearm follies seem endless! So go grab your own popcorn (because I’m not sharing mine), and let the entertainment begin.

Sometimes I wonder how many cups of coffee the sound guy has in the morning before he starts his work. Some of the most outlandish errors in movies come from overzealous sound effects, and at the top of my list is the mysterious “CLICK.” Just about every handgun seems to “CLICK” as it is pointed at its target. How or why, I do not know. Another “CLICK, CLICK, CLICK” as the bad guy realizes he is out of rounds, again a technical mystery. And why on earth is a striker-fired Glock “CLICK”ing at all?

Next up, the infamous “KERCHUNK.” How many times do I hear the ever-intimidating pump of a shotgun only to see the firearm in question is a side-by-side? Moreover, are you telling me the shooter in question has been standing around in a potentially deadly situation without a chambered round? While he is terrifying his opponent with an audible “KERCHUNK,” the bad guy has most likely shot off a few rounds of his own, perhaps incorporating another favorite, the “TING,” “PING” and “ZING.” These frequently represent the constant and needless ricochet sounds in the much-loved Spaghetti Westerns. I never knew there was so much metal in the Old West!

Finally, let’s not forget that according to Hollywood, silenced guns make almost no sound at all. The Cohen brothers try to convince us that Javier
 Bardem successfully silences a Remington 11-87 in No Country for Old Men. Although a really great concept, “silenced” guns are still loud, some reaching as high as 130 decibels. That’s louder than a clap of thunder and comparable to a military jet taking off, so if you’re looking to perhaps confuse your location, I’d say a silencer will work wonders. But if you are a budding spy hoping to covertly take out your next target, think again.

THE SPECIAL EFFECTS SUPERVISORS must take notes from the Foley Artists when it comes to firearm creativity. We have all seen the excessive muzzle flash that screams “Hey bad guys, I’m over here,” the recoilless guns sometimes shot sideways, sometimes from the hip, and sometimes shot unusually accurately from men and women alike. We’ve also seen and heard the never-ending ammo from not only machine guns, but from Steve Buscemi’s  supposed 30-plus round Smith & Wesson in Reservoir Dogs.

But have you noticed all the magic bullets? You know the ones I’m talking about, right? The rounds that cannot penetrate a car door, a sofa, a locked bedroom door, or even a toppled over kitchen table, but somehow can kill a man under water. I’d like to see them explain that because unless your target is already doing the dead man’s float, he would have to be within about eight feet of the surface of the water, and directly below the shooter, in order for the round to blow a fatal strike. For all you Mr. Wizard fans out there, at sea level water is nearly 800 times denser than air, providing considerable protection from not only a 9mm, but also a .223 and even a .50 cal. If you don’t believe me, check out Mythbusters episode 34.

In the world of special effects, penetration power is usually followed up by some serious pyrotechnics. The exploding bullet is a close runner-up to the magic bullet as I’ve watched bullets explode everything from cars to sharks. How many of you remember the climatic scene in Jaws where Brody fires a round at a scuba tank lodged between the shark’s teeth, causing a huge explosion? It just doesn’t happen like that. Neither cars, nor sharks (and the pressurized containers in them) explode so easily, and if they did, an ordinary fender bender on a morning commute might resemble more of a Michael Bay or Tony Scott movie, providing an endless log jam of gapers and rubber-neckers.

But before the Foley Artist can tinker with the sound, and the SFX Supervisor can amp up the pyrotechnics, some direction is needed from the, well…Director. With glazed over eyes, I watch bad guys spray endless bullets out of a machine gun at the good guys, never seeming to find their target. Meanwhile, the good guy pulls out a pocket-sized snub nose, sends a single shot down a dark hallway, and somehow nails the bad guy in the chest, of course putting him permanently out of commission. By the way, the good “guy” these days is more often than not a woman…in high heels (insert eye-roll here).

THEN THERE IS THE OBSESSION with working the action of a firearm. At some point in movie history, the act and sound of a hammer being pulled back and a round chambered became synonymous with “I mean business,” but with the innovation of things like double-action pistols, the need to repeatedly cock your pistol has become obsolete. Someone forgot to tell Hollywood this, and in turn, the MacManus Brothers in Boondock Saints. In the efforts of boosting their intimidation factor, Connor and Murphy MacManus must have actually been de-cocking their pistols before shooting the bad guy in order to make the ever-dramatic clicking sound. Similarly, in Reservoir Dogs, there is so much cocking that I wonder if it was actually written into the script as the main antagonist. When there isn’t repetitive cocking, there is the unnecessary pump of a shotgun, or the superfluous pull back of the slide. All of this really makes me wonder, is Quentin Tarantino trying to convince me that not only are these men walking into a gunfight without a chambered round, but then uselessly pulling back the slide of their pistol which realistically sends unspent rounds cascading to the ground? If so, I suppose that gives need to the creation of Steve Buscemi’s thirty-plus round magazine mentioned earlier.

The icing on the cake for pure directorial fantasy though is in True Lies as Arnold Schwarzenegger hands Jamie Lee Curtis’ character, Helen, a MAC-10 during one of the movie’s many intense action scenes. Helen attempts to incapacitate the bad guys but unable to control the muzzle climb, she fumbles and drops the MAC-10 down a flight of stairs. Cartwheeling off each step, the gun conveniently continues to fire (but not at her), sending several rounds into the warehouse, each miraculously finding their intended target and nearly clearing the room of all threat. Mythbusters got their mitts on this one as well and in episode 189 proves Jamie Lee Curtis’ accident as nothing more than humorous.

Unfortunately, humor is not an added benefit from all tactical flubs, especially when firearm safety is involved. To prevent negligence and promote accuracy, more often that not, technical advisors are hired in order to provide detailed information and advice to the Director. One would think Zero Dark Thirty would be exempt from foolish errors in firearm artistry, especially since the movie spent more time behind a desk than behind a gun. While trying to get over the fact the film is more about the obsession of the female agent’s quest to find bin Laden, and less about the actual mission, I quickly realize that the military advisor was either negligent or napping as some bush-league  mistakes transpire when boots hit dirt.

First and foremost, the team breaks firearm safety rule number one: always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Infrared lasers humming, (think dog whistle, not light saber) the men infiltrate the compound bin Laden is thought to be hiding at. Experiencing the mission in night vision, I watch the green dots of their lasers bouncing between empty doorways and yes, you’ve got it, the back of their teammates’ heads. Unless friendly fire is the mission, I’d say the back of your fellow soldiers’ helmet is not a safe direction. Muzzle swiping is a serious no-no. Furthermore, I watch them tightly hug walls as they round corners, forgetting the arms length rule for cover. And did the writers not consider that Al-Qaida might have access to night vision goggles as well? They have eBay too, you know! No soldier, much less a member of an elite team such as the one that took out Bin Laden, would keep their IR lasers switched on. They might as well have a target on their chest.

Whether it is the Writer, the Director, the Editor, the Foley Artist, the SFX Supervisor, or perhaps the Technical Advisor to blame, it never ceases to amaze me some of the firearm theatrics we are force-fed at the movies all for the sake of being entertained. I could keep going and discuss the many backwards magazines (please don’t use the term “banana clip” because it is neither a banana, nor is it a clip), bullet holes going the wrong way or just simply over-exaggerated, and one of my all time favorites, caliber identification from a swollen tissue puncture on a corpse, but I am about out of popcorn so I think I’ll save those for another day and savor my last few handfuls while I watch Scarface. “Say hello to my little friend.” Gotta love Hollywood.

Published in Western Shooting Journal, May 2013

The Barrett Experience

posted Jul 21, 2017, 10:04 AM by Wendy Zachman   [ updated Jul 21, 2017, 11:03 AM ]

American entrepreneur Steve Jobs once said it is “our DNA is as a consumer company – for that individual customer who’s voting thumbs up or thumbs down…and we think that our job is to take responsibility for the complete user experience. And if it’s not up to par, it’s our fault, plain and simply.”

Jobs relied heavily on likeability, trustworthiness and quality to keep his customers coming back. The “user experience” remains and is more than just a single product, it is a marketing ideal – a marketing ideal that a certain Tennessee firearms manufacturer strives to reach as well.

Over three decades ago, Murfreesboro, Tenn., native Ronnie Barrett had an idea. Sitting at his dining room table, he toiled over this idea, sketching designs and imagineering parts. Out of the eraser rubble was born the Model 82, a shoulder fired .50-caliber rifle, a rifle rivaled by no other and used by civilians and military alike to this day.

But there is so much more to Barrett’s namesake company than its ability to think outside the box. Barrett’s success relies greatly on what it puts into the box (or in this case, the Pelican case). Most don’t realize there is much more to buying a Barrett than just buying a gun.

And so begins (to coin Jobs’ phrase) the “Barrett Experience.”

EASY INFO AT YOUR FINGERTIPS If you have ever happened upon the Barrett website, your experience has already begun. Elegant simplicity is delivered in black, white, and red. Perfection is mandatory, as is ease of navigation and finding a wealth of information at your fingertips. The company’s product images are detailed and sharp, yet artistic. The product descriptions are informative but not overwhelming.

The goal is not only to exceed the company’s own expectations, but also to exceed yours, welcoming you to become part of the legend.

Barrett’s QDL Suppressor is shipped in a firm foam insert and comes complete with a mirage-mitigating device (MMD) and a Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) pouch. (BARRETT)

MAKING A (PELICAN) CASE FOR YOUR GUN Barrett knows to keep you coming back you must trust that your new purchase is worth every penny, from the case to the instruction manual and the bag that houses it. There is little worse than rushing home from your local firearms dealer with your new rifle only to open a beat-up cardboard container that rattles worse than a box of Legos. 

Not quite the experience Barrett has in mind. Consequently, the company looks to Pelican-brand cases, a longtime supplier to the military, to prevent their rifles from being a pile of rubble before they reach the range. With their watertight, crush-proof and dust-proof polymer construction coupled with their double throw latches, stainless padlock protectors, and lifetime guarantee, Pelican cases provide not only a secure container, but an almost-indestructible shipping vessel as well.

Barrett also extends this luxury to the public consumer. The company’s marketing team points out that the military mystique reaches far beyond the armed forces and is also a key aspect in Barrett’s ongoing success in the commercial market. The quality of the brand is important, as is represented by this passage on the company’s website: “People want to feel connected to that somehow. Whether they used a Barrett on duty, or have always been true patriotic Americans and fans of our products. We [see] an opportunity to present everything, even spare parts, the way you would expect something with the name Barrett to be presented.”

As you pop the latch and raise the lid on the Pelican case, you immediately see no detail has been overlooked, especially in the case of the MRAD. Recipient of a 2012 NRA Golden Bullseye Award for Rifle of the Year, the MRAD, like other Barrett rifles, is nestled perfectly in a bed of custom fit firm foam inserts with plenty of room for extra magazines and spare parts.

REDUNDANT PROTECTION IN PLACE Wanting to extend the reputation of quality beyond the case, Barrett looks to Heritage Packaging and their ZCORR line to replace the standard poly-mil zipper bags that previously housed Barrett’s spare parts. Heritage Packaging is all-American, family owned and operated, with over 20 years in the industry. Military proven, their reputation precedes them.

Heritage Packaging mirrors Barrett’s brand ideals so well they have joined forces to co-brand their anti-corrosion bags. Constructed with volatile corrosion inhibitors (VCI), the bags will provide corrosion and moisture protection far superior than their predecessors. These bags will not only house the medium spare parts kits, warranty replacement parts, and military support kits, but also just about anything else that will fit in the bag.

Falling into the “anything else” category happens to be the MRAD’s barrel caliber conversion kit. These kits haven’t started shipping yet, but when they do, they too will be in a protective VCI bag, which in turn will be secured in a CORDURA bag complete with handle.

Six or 65 years old, we all know the CORDURA brand. As children, who of us didn’t have a Jansport backpack? Known for its durability and resistance to tears and scuffs, CORDURA is a key ingredient in high-performance gear and tactical wear with brands from North Face and Oakley to Propper and Rite in the Rain. Barrett understands using CORDURA will provide a versatile and durable kit bag that can be easily accessed and just as easily tossed into your Pelican or soft-sided carrying case.

ADVANCED SUPPRESSOR SYSTEM Barrett’s QDL (quick-deploy large) Suppressor receives the same attention to detail as the accessories and rifles. Shipping in a firm foam insert, the suppressor comes complete with a mirage-mitigating device (MMD) and a Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) pouch.

Barrett has taken the time to consider not only whom the target audience is, but also that the product needs to be field ready. In this case, the MMD is vital in the ability to accurately identify and engage targets, as well as estimate wind speed and direction downrange, as it significantly reduces the mirage created by the suppressors’ displacement of heat.

The MOLLE system has become standard for current modular tactical gear and now is filtering down into the outdoor equipment market as well, so supplying the suppressor in its own compatible pouch allows quick and easy portability. Furthermore, Barrett buyers are guaranteed an accurate fit, and can avoid having to shop around for an otherwise ill-fitting pouch.

From the creation of the Model 82A1 to the co-branding efforts of the VCI protective parts bags, it is clear that Barrett cares not only about the quality of their firearms, but also for the consumers’ desire to feel good about their purchase.

You work hard for the money you make, and should have complete satisfaction in what you choose to spend that money on. Barrett understands that. The company understands that your purchase is an investment, and what it means to properly accessorize and protect that investment. They’ve done the research so you don’t have to, and if you like the Barrett name and the people who stand behind it – and you trust the quality of design and craftsmanship of the products – you will continue to come back to Barrett.

“Barrett pays attention to the details, even down to our packaging, because we know the value of our products, how they are used and that they should be treated with respect,” says marketing director Angela Barrett. “Regardless if the product is going to a civilian or military end user, we make sure everything we send out the door is just as rugged, reliable and accurate.”

Like the quest for the most superior firearm, likeability, trustworthiness, and quality are not just a passion of Barrett, but almost an obsession.

Welcome to The Barrett Experience.

Published in Western Shooting Journal, February 2013

When the Sun Goes Down: Light 'em Up!

posted Jul 21, 2017, 10:03 AM by Wendy Zachman

Crimson Trace Corporation has been on the cutting edge for laser sighting products for nearly two decades.  Marketing their products to the military, law enforcement, hunters, and the armed citizen alike, they dominate their niche in the industry.  But for this small company out of Wilsonville, OR, that just isn’t good enough. They pushed the envelope once again, this time reaching out to the ever popular and quickly growing competitive shooting community by holding their very own 3-Gun Invitational this past July with just one hitch…the shooting doesn’t start till the sun goes down. It makes sense, right?  What better way to test your product’s ability than to gear up some of the industries most talented marksmen and then turn out the lights!  But there was more to it than that… Iain Harrison, Crimson Trace’s Media Relations Manager and winner of the History Channel’s Top Shot season one, spearheaded this event and drew on his own experience as a competitive 3-Gunner.  Having shot in some of the world’s top matches, he had a pretty good idea of what would work, and what wouldn’t.  Furthermore, he revealed “One of my objectives has been to grow the sport, and the best way to do this is by exposing as many people as possible to it.”  So how did Mr. Harrison ensure this would happen?  He embedded the media personnel, pounding the dirt right beside the shooters. 

So for those of you who aren’t familiar with 3-Gun Competition, think Call of Duty, only the bullets are real and you are no where near your sofa.  As you may have guessed, in 3-Gun matches you use three different types of firearms: a rifle, a shotgun, and a pistol, which each competitor provides.  The shooter moves through different stages setting their sites on various designated targets.  These targets could be anything from clay pigeons and steel targets, to cardboard silhouettes and pretty much anything else that has been deemed acceptable by the match director.  Accuracy and speed are key as the shooter navigates the terrain because the competitor who hits the most targets, while avoiding the pesky  “no shoot” ones, in the least amount of time, takes home the prize…which in the case of the Midnight 3-Gun Invitational increased from $6,000 to $10,000 if you outfitted each of your guns with a Crimson Trace product.

Crimson Trace wasn’t going to dish out anything less than a challenge.  For the first and only event of this kind, shooters, sponsors, and media converged on COSSA (Central Oregon Shooting Sports Association) Range located on the outskirts of Bend, Oregon.  Situated in the high desert, COSSA provided ample space, a night sky darker than coal, and enough sand and lava rock to make your footing anything but solid.  It was day one and nightfall was fast approaching.  The competitors’ bellies were full courtesy of Nike, who incidentally had never before sponsored a shooting event.  Now eager to hit the dirt but had a bit of time before doing so, they caught up with fellow competitors and perused the sponsors’ booths.

Familiar faces were everywhere as the best of the best were here to test out what Crimson Trace had to offer.  The Miculek Family was present, as was Rob Romero from Team Novesky, Daniel Horner and his shooting partner Tyler Payne of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit, Chris Cerino of Top Shot fame, and many more.  The goods being promoted were just as impressive.  Danner arrived with an array of boots, tempting both men and women with their state-of-the-art designs.  Otis Technology is always a draw with their innovative, and surprisingly comical, cleaning systems.  They too have jumped on the Zombie bandwagon (insert eye-roll here) with their Zombie Gun Cleaning System.  Nike was at the adjacent table and highlighted a single product, their Special Field Boot which truly lives up to its promise of providing comfort and stability for the tactical athlete…and several competitors found out first hand as Nike was passing them out for a little field testing.   There were also several behind the scenes sponsors such as Bladetech, Bushmaster, Colt Competition Systems, Federal Ammunition, FLIR, FNH, Leatherman, LED Lenser, Leupold, MGM Targets, Nosler, Primary Weapons System, and Warne Scope Mounts.  Without them, this event wouldn’t have been possible.

The range was abuzz as shooters made their way out of the main tent and to their specific stages.  What stages they didn’t complete tonight, they would tackle tomorrow.  Competitors were permitted to outfit their guns (and I suppose their bodies in the case of headlamps and night vision goggles) with any sighting or lighting systems they desired, hopefully giving them an edge up on the demanding eight stages.  Night had fully fallen; to put this into perspective, the range lighting was extremely minimal.  Glow sticks served as safety markers and headlamps, if you were lucky to have brought one, were your only means of navigating not only the range, but the outhouses as well.  Welcome to Disorientation Station, as I called it.

The competitors’ work was cut out for them, as the stages were anything but ordinary.  Mr. Harrison handed the reigns over to Match Director Chuck Anderson for stage design, admitting, “I just gave him the canvas and paint to work with and the direction to make best use of the sponsor provided guns, optics, and targets.” Well, he recruited the right man for the job.

Stage one asked “Can You See That Far?” forcing the shooter to engage a total of 19 paper targets and three reactive targets at varying yardage with a stage machine gun, in this case the FN SCAR, and a rifle in a somewhat linear path. 

Stage two kicked it up a notch with “Roundabout Right”.  Just the word “Roundabout” instills fear into most American motorists.  At one time or another I think we’ve all quoted European Vacation’s Clark Griswald, “Look kids, there’s Big Ben, and there’s Parliament…again”.  Now take away your car, toss a rifle in your hand and a pistol in your holster, and run almost a full circle in the pitch dark while engaging 15 various targets.  Gives a whole new meaning to the word “Roundabout”.

Stage three demanded you “Pay the Toll” and required the shooter to successfully hit a pepper popper before moving onto the remaining targets.  All three types of guns were used and again the distances of the targets varied.   The shooters had started to realize where their lighting equipment was succeeding and unfortunately failing.

Stage four left you “Alone in the Dark” with a stage pistol, your shotgun, and finished off with your handgun.  I heard from several folks it was one of the more “fun” stages, as the targets were in closer allowing most lighting systems to sufficiently light the stage.

As I made my way down the range to Stage five there was an audible chatter.  It seemed “Bump in the Night” was turning full grown men into kids again with its shoot house.  Donning night vision, shooters took aim with a full auto AR-15, courtesy of Primary Weapons System, outfitted with the CTC Defense MVF600 infrared targeting laser, and entered a pitch-black house in search of 15 targets.  We now know how to entice boys to “play house”…toss in some NODs and an AR and they will be ironing in no time.

Stage six used all three firearms, including a Colt Competition AR which was generating some buzz, and brought the layout back to traditional

3-Gun stage.  With 24 plates, four paper, four flash, and 8 clay targets, the “Rack of Doom” was an appropriate name.  It appeared that navigating between the two halves of this stage caused shooters the most difficulty, some became disoriented, and others lost track of their footing or how many rounds they spent.

Stage seven, “Darkness Falls”, tested not only your accuracy, but also whether or not you thought to bring an extended magazine.  16 targets were engaged before dumping the rifle and moving on to take out the remaining clay targets with the shotgun and the steel targets with the shotgun or pistol.  Speed was key, but accuracy was vital.

The eighth and final stage, “Light it Up”, gave competitors a chance to unleash an M249 SAW fitted with FLIR thermal sighting before finishing the stage with a shotgun and pistol.  An otherwise straightforward stage, shooters started from the prone position and were told to use all 10 rounds in the SAW when engaging the first two targets or otherwise incur a procedural penalty.

These eight stages would be challenging enough in broad daylight, but when you all but removed one of the shooters key senses coupled with the fact many of the competitors had been awake for nearly 24 hours by the time the first night came to a close, you have a serious competition.  To overcome the obvious obstacle of darkness I saw shooters using everything from Crimson Traces own Light Guard to a Surefire flashlight ducktaped to the barrel of a shotgun.  No matter what they were using, the consensus was the same; EVERY GUN must be equipped with a light.  Do not rely on your headlamp to discern whether or not you were on target at a range of 25 meters or more. Given Crimson Trace’s upcoming release of green lasers I was also curious to hear what competitors had to say regarding the red vs. green debate.  Those few who had the opportunity to use the green laser agreed it was the better of the two; green was easier to see and caused less strain on the eyes.

So who best overcame the challenges set forth by Crimson Trace?  It was no surprise that SSGT Daniel Horner of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit was awarded Grand Champion and for using Crimson Trace products on each of his firearms he was awarded $10,000, albeit $4000 of it was humorously awarded on a tiny cardboard makeshift check.  Top Lady was awarded to Kay Miculek and Top Junior was awarded to Hayden Hixon.  The winners and the runners up all earned a pass at the prize table, and those of us who didn’t participate won a new found appreciation to what it is like when our limits are pushed after the sun goes down.  Once again, Crimson Trace sets the standard, creating and hosting a spectacular event while broadening the reach of competitive shooting.  I for one look forward to see what they have up their sleeves and in their range bag for next year… When the sun goes down, light ‘em up!

Published in Western Shooting Journal, October 2012

Crimson Trace: Green is Go!

posted Jul 21, 2017, 10:01 AM by Wendy Zachman

The old adage appears to be true; good things come to those who wait. The industry-wide whispers about Crimson Trace introducing green lasers can finally be silenced because they have officially unveiled new Laserguards and ever-popular Rail Masters with green lasers for purchase this fall. Don’t confuse this advancement in laser technology with the whole Zombie craze. The human eye naturally picks up the color green more so than red, allowing more accuracy in acquiring your target so green lasers were the next logical step . . .

Historically, green lasers have taken up more space and generate more heat than their red counterparts. To remedy this, Crimson Trace put countless man-hours into perfecting their green lasers, producing what they claim is the most efficient and lightweight green frickin’ laser beam to hit the market. They outperform their competitors in battery life, temperature variation and size.

With an “over two hour” run time in both green laser platforms and the patented Instinctive Activation on the Laserguard, these are no-brainers. So for those of you who prefer a more visible green laser over the traditional red, the streamlined Laserguard will be available for Smith and Kimber 1911’s, Springfield XD & XD(M), as well as full-size & compact Gocks. And you’ll be able to slap a Rail Master on just about any gun with a Picatinny or Weaver rail.

I can’t wait to test out the green Rail Master on my HK P30.  See you all at the range!

Originally Published: Posted on  The Truth About Guns 8/4/12   

Ban Magic Bullets

posted Jul 21, 2017, 9:40 AM by Wendy Zachman

As some of you may already know, I pay my bills by combining my love of art with my love of the outdoor industry – most often firearms – as a graphic artist. I don’t have much to complain about. I can work almost anywhere I can find an internet connection and I get to see and do some pretty exciting things…like the recent Midnight 3-Gun Invitational put on by Crimson Trace. But the graphic art biz isn’t without its speed bumps...

Often left to my own devices to find appropriate and usable image assets, it never ceases to amaze me at what I can find on the Internet when forced to troll for royalty-free images of firearms. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to make the majority of you snicker, while giving a few of you a brief recap on the science of projectiles, a.k.a. ballistics. (Yes, I realize those who need this refresher course are most likely not reading this any more).

As most of you know, when the trigger’s pulled on a firearm, the firing pin strikes the primer at the base of the cartridge (please do NOT use the word bullet here) causing the chemical compound within the case to ignite. The pressure created by this rapid combustion inside the cartridge forces the bullet down the bore and out the muzzle of the barrel without the case. I repeat, WITHOUT the case. 

So there you have it folks. Please stop littering the Internet with images of these magic cartridges! Only in bad foreign films will you ever see the cartridge leave the barrel in tact, which is indeed movie magic…as are bulletproof tables, which seem to be readily available these days according to Hollywood. But that gripe is for another day.


Originally Published: Posted on  The Truth About Guns  8/1/12

Product Review: Nike Special Field Boots

posted Jul 21, 2017, 9:36 AM by Wendy Zachman

In the world of competitive shooting, we all know the firearm in your hand is a critical choice, but without sure footing, what good is the most skilled shooter? I’m starting at the bottom, working my way up – in all aspects of life – but today I’m specifically talking about my Nike Special Field Boots, or SFB’s. While attending Crimson Trace’s Midnight 3-Gun Invitational, I did my obligatory pass at the vendor tables. Danner displayed some stellar boots as usual; Otis and Glock also enticed me to linger a bit longer, but this time Nike SFS (“Special Field Systems”) had my full attention. Created specifically for what Nike calls the “Tactical Athlete”. . .

 

Nike boasts their SFB’s are extremely durable and supportive while weighing in well under a pound if you’re a men’s size 9 or smaller. Fast-drying and highly articulated, Nike claims they require no break-in period and when they get dirty, you simply toss them in the wash. Yeah, you heard me correctly…just toss them in the wash!

As soon as I reached for a sample pair, a jolly voice inquired as to my size. Then he tossed me men’s size sixes, saying, “Wear ‘em. Bring ‘em back before you leave and let me know what you think.” Is he serious? I am in Bend, Oregon. More specifically, the high desert.  Did he see the amount of sand and lava rock I’d be traversing over the next few days?

Eager to give them a try, I thoroughly loosened the laces (necessary for proper fit since the tongue is permanently attached to the boot) and slipped on Nike’s answer to the Field Boot. I immediately noticed how very lightweight they are, fitting almost like a pair of slippers. But how would they fare in the Oregon high desert? My job was to find out.

By 1:30am on the final night of the Midnight 3-Gun Invitational, I ached in places I didn’t know I had, but my feet wasn’t one of them. In fact, I didn’t have a single blister and the only sign of “new shoes” was a bit of a raw spot on the back of my heel which is probably due to me not lacing them tightly enough.

Nike lives up to their claims; the articulated outsole, reminiscent of the traditional waffle design, allowed my feet freedom of movement over the uneven terrain. And the combination leather/Kevlar foot bed mimics Birkenstocks’ cork foot bed, conforming to my feet and allowing me to walk the way nature intended.

Not only do the boots weigh almost nothing, they’re also completely breathable – all the while keeping sand out. Had moisture been an issue, I’m sure these boots would dry quickly with perhaps only a change of socks. They’re not only great for the competitive shooter, but would also be ideal for any first responder or outdoorsman.

Finally, I tracked down the Nike employees that kindly allowed me a little R&D time, ready to reluctantly turn over my SFB’s. But by the time I got there, the booth had already been packed up and they were saying their goodbyes. “Did you like them?” asked one of their Product Innovation Specialists. When I told him I did, he said, “Then keep them and wear them.” He didn’t need to tell me twice! As it turned out, I’m one of the few who had ever actually tried to return a pair. So with a clear conscious and a new pair of boots, I packed my gear and headed home looking forward to tossing these bad boys in the wash!

Specifications:

  • Quick-drying synthetic leather overlays for durability and support
  • Multiple ventilation zones that allow the boot to breathe and drain quickly
  • Genuine leather foot-bed for durability, flexibility and comfort
  • Nike Free-inspired outsole, for traction and range of motion
  • Sticky rubber forefoot lugs for exceptional traction on all terrain
  • Weight: 15.9 oz (men’s size 9)
  • Price: $140 and up

Ratings (out of five stars):

Design: * * * *

True to Nike co-founder Major Bill Bowerman’s ideal of making sure a boot does its job and is light, these field boots do that and more.

Comfort: * * * *

I wasn’t exaggerating when I said it feels like I’m wearing slippers. Would have been a five star rating had I not had hot spots on my achilles.

Durability: * * * *

I can only speak to the few nights I pounded the desert floor with these boots but they took a licking and showed little wear and tear.

Overall Rating: * * * *

I’ve worn several field boots over the years and these are the best that have graced my feet. Nike’s is onto something good here.

Originally published: Posted on The Truth About Guns 7/25/12 

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