Guns & Shooting 2007

At the 2006 SHOT Show I was approached by my friend Ed Brown, of Ed Brown Products Inc. As most of you know, Ed builds some of the nicest bolt-action rifles and 1911 pistols that can be had today. Anyway, Ed proposed the idea that he and I would design a 1911 pistol based upon my ideas of what such a pistol should consist of and offer it as a limited edition “Sheriff Jim Wilson .45 ACP”. As of January 2007, this .45 auto is a reality and I have to say that Ed and his crew did an outstanding job on the gun. For those of you who might be interested in obtaining a “Sheriff Jim Wilson” 1911 pistol all you have to do is visit the Ed Brown web site, then contact them to place your order. The gun will be shipped to the FFL dealer of your choice.

It has been, and continues to be, my policy not to endorse certain products. That’s just not fair to the other manufacturers whose products I am assigned to test and evaluate. So I want to make this very clear: the gun will be a limited-edition piece, made only during 2007, and, most importantly, I have no financial interest in the gun, or in Ed Brown Products, Inc.

Long before Ed and I engaged in this project I had stated, in print, that his guns were among the finest that are made today. I stand by that statement but am quick to point out that there are numerous manufacturers of excellent 1911 pistols from which to choose. The Browns are good people and I consider them my friends. They build great handguns, as does Les Baer, and custom pistolsmiths Wayne Novak and Hamilton Bowen. And I think you will also be pleased with 1911 pistols from Springfield Armory, Kimber, and Para-Ordnance.

For all that, I really appreciate Ed Brown honoring me with this fine limited-edition 1911. If you choose to order one I know that you will be pleased with the material and craftsmanship that is reflected in this pistol.

Speaking of Wayne Novak (, Wayne has come up with a gizmo that experienced 1911 shooters will really appreciate. For years, about the only complaint that you heard from 1911 shooters was that the grip safety on a 1911 was often difficult to get a good purchase on. This became especially true when we began to shoot with the “high thumb” position. Letting your shooting thumb ride down on the 1911 thumb safety, and stay there, just makes too much sense. It gives you more control over the pistol and keeps you from accidentally engaging the thumb safety during a shootout. The only problem with that is that we often have trouble engaging the grip safety with this style of shooting.

With all of that in mind, Wayne and his crew designed a unit called The Answer. This is a one-piece, solid backstrap that replaces the issue grip safety and mainspring housing. There is no longer a grip safety.

Now before everyone gets all excited about safety liability law suits, let me remind you that John Browning originally designed his guns without grip safeties. His later pistol, the Browning Hi-Power doesn’t have one. However, at the request of the U.S. Army, Browning designed a grip safety for his 1911. This is the only reason that the 1911 pistol has a grip safety. Look in any gun catalog and see how many other models of auto pistols currently use a grip safety. You’ll find that it’s very few.

Recently, I sent an older model Colt Commander off to Wayne Novak to have The Answer installed. At the same time, Wayne did some other custom work on the gun. At my request, he installed a set of his famous fixed-combat sights (with none of those silly, damned dots on the rear sight, either). However, he did put a gold bead on the front sight. This gold bead is extremely easy to see (even for old eyes) in any kind of light. Novak also installed a custom barrel in the Commander, tuned the action, and did a great blue job on the pistol. It is a great gun to shoot and has quickly become one of my favorite carry guns.

Beginning shooters should take note that THE ANSWER, from Wayne Novak, is completely safe if you remember and abide by the simplest of safety rules: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO SHOOT.

Again, I have no financial interest in Wayne Novak’s company, or in THE ANSWER. It’s just a new product that I feel 1911 shooters should be aware of.

Early in 2007, Jim Zumbo wrote a piece for an internet blog in which he abused the use of “black rifles” for sporting purposes. Essentially, he said that rifles like the AR-15 and AK-47 had no place in the sporting field and, in fact, he had no use for them at all. He also suggested that game departments ought to outlaw their use.

The response from shooters was overwhelming in opposition to Mr. Zumbo’s comments. As a result of this, virtually every company that had Zumbo on its payroll dropped him. This includes Outdoor Life magazine, Remington, Cabela’s, and several others. Jim Zumbo has since apologized for his remarks.

Now, I don’t know Jim Zumbo and don’t have anything against him. And, not knowing him I can’t comment on whether or not his apology is sincere, or just that of a guy trying to get back in everyone’s good graces. But there is an issue here that goes beyond this incident.

In the next few years we may be faced with a massive assault on our rights as gun owners. And this is not the time, nor is it ever the time, to be knocking someone else’s shooting sport. All we have a right to expect from another shooter, or hunter, is that his conduct be lawful and sporting. I may not care too much for trap shooting but I sure don’t need to be knocking it in a public fashion. It is critically important for us to stick together in our support for the spirit of the 2nd Amendment.

If you’re not a member of the National Rifle Association, shame on you.

In October of 2006, I spent a week at Gunsite ( This is the school that the late Col. Jeff Cooper founded out north of Prescott, Arizona. I was there as a guest of Smith & Wesson, and a host of other companies, to spend the week shooting and using new products. I also had the chance to spend time with the new owner, Buz Mills, and his fine staff. I was impressed enough with their teaching skills that I booked another school with them for May of 2007.

Gunsite is a great place to learn the basics of defensive use of the handgun, as well as develop useful skills with the rifle and shotgun. A little over a year ago, I visited with a lady from Arizona who wanted to learn defensive handgun skills and get her Arizona Concealed Carry license. At my suggestion, she booked a class at Gunsite and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Later, I wrote her story up for one of my Gun Smoke columns.

But Gunsite is far more than a school for beginners. It’s a great place for experienced shooters to re-sharpen their shooting skills. That’s the reason that I’m going back in May. Left to our own devices, we tend to practice what we’re already good at. A good shooting school will make you stretch just a bit and work on those things that need improvement.

I want to thank all of you that have made favorable comments about our Guns&Ammo television show on the Outdoor Channel. We will be filming more segments of the show in May and again in August. Please contact Shooting Times Magazine, or Guns & Ammo Magazine, and let us know what you’d like to see included in future shows. Also please visit our web site at

In September of 2006, we lost one of the giants of the shooting industry when Col. Jeff Cooper passed away. Colonel Cooper was a life-long student of firearms, a magnificent teacher, a thought-provoking man, and the founder of The Modern Technique of the Pistol.

In re-reading some of his writings I came across his comment as to how much he disliked the salutation, “Have a nice day.” He suggested, instead, that we greet each other with a more appropriate line: “Shoot straight.” So, in honor of the Colonel that is what I am going to use from now on and I suggest that you do the same.

Shoot Straight

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