The Hell Of Benghazi

Two Of Benghazi’s Secret Soldiers Speak

Story by Frank Jardim • Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures

There’s good reason to see the Paramount blockbuster film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. It’s the true story of a group of six former US military private security contractors who fight with awe inspiring bravery and professionalism to save the lives of their fellow Americans during the September 11-12, 2012 terrorist attacks on the American diplomatic compound and a CIA base (known as the Annex) in Benghazi, Libya. In a battle that eventually took on the feel of a small scale Alamo — odds

They opened a can of all-American whoop-ass on the terrorists

against them may have been higher than 10 to 1 — they steadfastly stuck to their guns, their duty as they saw it, and most importantly, they stuck together as team. They opened a can of all-American whoop-ass on the terrorists, won the firefights and made it possible to evacuate everyone to safety the next morning. A well trained, highly disciplined and motivated American warrior is a force to be reckoned with, and this comes out in the film’s heart pumping battle sequences.

13 Hours: Benghazi
Pablo Schreiber plays Kris “Tanto” Paronto, John Krasinski plays Jack Silva, David Denman plays Dave “Boon” Benton and Dominic Fumusa plays John “Tig” Tiegen in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. 

Another good reason to see 13 Hours is that you probably don’t know what you think you know about how America really protects her interests abroad. The State Department and CIA have their own private security organizations to identify, hire and manage security contractors. Tens of thousands of former American military and law-enforcement personnel work for them in some very dangerous places, even our own former American Shooting Journal executive editor and the web guy was one of them. You hear very little about these contractors because their work in the diplomatic and intelligence communities requires them to keep their mouths shut. That’s how you keep a secret after all.

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13 Hours: Benghazi
Pablo Schreiber plays Kris “Tanto” Paronto in 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.
It might come as a surprise, but the typical CIA agent isn’t very much like James Bond at all. The guys the CIA hires to protect their agents and staff abroad are the heroes of this story. Those private security contractors are called Global Response Staff (GRS) and they make around $150,000 a year. That may, or may not, be good money depending on your feelings about being killed on the job. Dying is a very real possibility in this line of work. During the battle 13 Hours depicts, two GRS men were killed and another gravely wounded along with a State Department private security contractor (DS).

The man [CIA] in charge of the six GRS operatives, actually held them back for nearly 20 minutes

One thought provoking and disturbing aspect of the story is that the Benghazi attacks could likely have been prevented if the State Department had heeded warnings and beefed up security at the diplomatic compound. It was amazing to me to learn that the security at the front gate and emergency alert responsibility was left in the hands of a few disgruntled Libyan militiamen and three unarmed locally hired Libyan guards. It’s more amazing that nobody there thought that was a problem. The attacking terrorists ran into the compound through the unlocked front gate, and caught the relaxing DS operators completely by surprise. Bear in mind, the attack happened on the anniversary of the most successful terrorist attack on US soil, and nobody bothered to check the gate before turning in for the evening. As a whole, the US State Department comes away from this affair looking complacent and negligently indifferent at its higher levels.

As bad a day as it was for the State Department, the lack of a response from the CIA’s leading agent in Benghazi is comparably appalling. The man who was in charge of the six GRS operatives who tell their story in the film, actually held them back for nearly 20 minutes while terrorists swarmed and burned the diplomatic compound less than two miles away. While the CIA’s Benghazi chief tried by phone to get members of the local Libyan militia to rescue the Americans trapped at the diplomatic compound, two of them died.

It should interest the reader to know that the militia he was calling for help was the same militia that had the responsibility of guarding the compound. The implication is that the CIA chief was deluded and/or misinformed and therefore incompetent.

Ultimately, rather than stand idly by while their fellow Americans were in danger, five GRS operatives at the Annex simply left on their own initiative, without orders or approval, and improvised a rescue at the diplomatic compound as best they could. Had they not done so, it is reasonable to assume American casualties would have been higher.

The hell of Benghazi

The GRS rescue mission to the diplomatic compound was only the beginning of a long night. They drove out the terrorists and fought off a counter attack while searching for the missing ambassador in the burning ruin of his residence. Unfortunately, the ambassador could not be found. Having killed and wounded an unknown number of attackers, they withdrew to the Annex, which the sixth GRS operative had already organized as a defensive base.

They repulsed two terrorist ground attacks

Prudently, the GRS operators had long worked out plans for defending the Annex against siege. Though surrounded by a curtain wall and fortress-like in appearance, they deemed it inadequate for a defense against anything more than AK-47s and a few RPGs. The six GRS operatives, joined by three of the rescued DS security men, took positions on the roof tops of the Annex’s four buildings and on guard towers they’d built against the curtain wall. Everyone else sheltered inside the command post.

They repulsed two terrorist ground attacks on the Annex and inflicted heavy casualties, but not without cost. At the start of the final attack at dawn, the terrorists used a mortar to target the roof of the command post building where two GRS operatives and a DS man were laying down a ferocious fire. The enemy attack was broken, but the mortar barrage left the four men on the rooftop dead or wounded.

I had the honor of interviewing two of the five surviving Benghazi GRS operatives about the film and the battle. Mark “Oz” Geist organized the Annex for defense while his teammate Kris “Tanto” Paronto was part of the five-man group that retook the diplomatic compound. Both men fought off the attacks on the Annex that followed, and Oz was gravely wounded in the final mortar attack.

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American Shooting Journal Was there anything that the film 13 Hours left out that you think should have been included in the story?

Co-author of “13 Hours” Mark “Oz” Geist attends the Miami Fan Screening of the Paramount Pictures film “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.”

Mark “Oz” Geist We sat down and discussed what should have been in and what shouldn’t, as a group and individuals. I’ve thought about it a lot and there’s not a lot that they could have put in that would make it any better. I really can’t put my finger on any one thing. Of course it would have been great to see more of Max Martini in some of the set up scenes, but that’s more of just a personal thing. He’s playing me, and getting him more screen time would tell more of the lead up to the story. For example, what I was doing out that night [that kept me from participating in the rescue mission to the ambassador’s compound], but that would have slowed down the movie, and I don’t think it would work from a theatrical standpoint. As it is, I don’t think you could have gotten better than what it was.

ASJ Do you think the film captured the feel of that night?

Kris Paronto attends the Dallas Premier of13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’.

Kris “Tanto” Paronto Wow. As far as getting emotions down, to me, it did get the emotional effect that we were looking for. Speaking for myself, I was re-living a lot of those emotions that I had that night and in other crisis situations or operations I’ve conducted throughout the years. So that was important. It was basically a 13-hour event that the movie condenses into two. There is some melding of characters, and they had to skip some things, but the important [thing] that I was worried about was that it captured the feelings we had that night. The humor that goes into it — you see a bit of that, and when you read the book. It’s fun. There’s a lot of humor that comes into combat situations. That’s a coping mechanism. You get the great edge, you also get the horror of people dying and body parts hanging off and you also, you know, you get the satisfaction of working with the guys you love working with. All that came through. At least I thought it did. Last night was the first time I sat through the movie with an audience, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t look at their reactions. That wasn’t what I was there for. I don’t know how they reacted to it, but I do know that I react very strongly and emotionally when I see it. If it wasn’t done right, then I would not feel like that. It hurts, but it’s necessary, and I’m glad I feel it. [In] the movie script, they got it right. They got the emotion down.

There’s a lot of humor that comes into combat situations.

ASJ At the start of the attack on the compound, five of you were waiting in the car at the Annex for the CIA base chief to give the order to go. When you finally just left without orders, I thought to myself, “these guys are fired, they’ll never work again.” When you made the decision to go, did you realize it would end your careers as GRS contractors?

Tanto We really didn’t worry. Put it this way, it’s on your mind a little bit, but saving other people, saving human life, is way too important. Just doing the right thing — and that was the right thing — is more important than a paycheck. When you see the movie, John Krasinski [portraying the GRS operative pseudonymously named Jack Silva] says, “You can’t put a price on human life, you can’t put a price on how you’re gonna live the rest of your life when you could have had the chance to save somebody, and you didn’t because you were worried about your job.” There wasn’t anything that could have kept us from going.

For me, honestly, it was kind of a joke. I thought “Oh well, guess I’m gonna loose my job.” It wasn’t “Ahh shit,” it was more a ‘ha-ha’ trying to be funny sort of thing. And we did loose our jobs, but we still did the right thing. Money comes and goes. Your friends, man when they need you, you gotta go. When they need you in those situations where they are dying, money is nothing. I’ll get another job.

Oz, Tanto and John “Tig” Tiegen attending the Dallas premier.

ASJ You’ve been pretty critical of your CIA team leader and Annex chief for lack of leadership. What was the crux of the problem?

Oz Our [CIA] team leader didn’t have a military background. He was a full time employee. He was not a contractor. That’s why he didn’t have the same military background that we do. He was the buffer between the knuckle-draggers and the intellects.

AVENTURA, FL - JANUARY 07: Max Martini (L) and Co-author of "13 Hours" Mark "Oz" Geist attends the Miami Fan Screening of the Pramount Pictures film "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" at the AMC Aventura on January 7, 2016 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures) *** Local Caption *** Mark Geist; Max Martini
Max Martini (left) played Oz in 13 Hours.


ASJ You being the knuckle-draggers, right?

Oz Yeah. (Laughs) Us being the knuckle-draggers.

Tanto (Laughs) Good looking knuckle-draggers though [grin].

Oz He just didn’t have the fortitude to step up and do what we thought was right at that time, and make that hard decision. Because being a full-time employee — I’m not making excuses — but a lot of times they just look at things different than we do. We do what we do because we’re out there wanting to make a difference in the world, and I can’t speak to why he does what he does. If we were career-oriented people, we would probably be in a different profession.

Tanto I had issues with the TL [CIA team leader] because I knew him when he first started as team leader, and he was not highly regarded by the operatives because he didn’t have military experience, let alone special operations experience. He came off like a new second lieutenant coming in who was trying to run the enlisted guys who have already been doing it (the job) forever. The reason I got upset with him was because he was going to get beat down in a lot of the places where we were, and I stuck up for him.

It kinda felt like a slap in the face, like hey brother, I went to bat for you, stuck out my neck for you, I’ve known you, I helped mentor you, I’ve worked at some sites before Benghazi and now you aren’t listening to me. I took it a little personally because we had history before Benghazi.


ASJ At least he got in the car.

Tanto That’s it. He, yeah, at least he had the guts to get in the car.

Oz The thing is, it would have made him look even worse if he had not and we ended up leaving without him. He would have looked a whole lot worse being stuck there with one thumb in his mouth and the another thumb somewhere else.

ASJ Among your group of GRS operatives that night, was there a squad leader in the field? It seemed like the other team members entered the compound gate on Tanto’s word that he thought it was clear.

Tanto In that part I said, ‘Hey, just shoot, move and communicate and you’ll be fine.’ Which is lingo for ‘Hey, use your tactics, and we’ll meet somewhere in the middle.’

ASJ So, basically you did this old school.

Tanto Yeah. (Laughs) We’re old. We’re all old.

Oz Hey, I’m only 50. That doesn’t count. I’m not old, I’m 50 young.

Tanto That’s a tribute to the teams’ maturity level. Tig [John Tiegen] was the youngest. He was 39. The rest of us were in our forties, and had been serving for a while. Yeah, were able to do it up close and on the take without a lot of talk on the radio. Just do your tactics. So, as far as there being a team leader, Rone [Tyrone Woods] was the assistant team leader to our TL for a title. But honestly, we all were either NCOs or officers. Myself, I was both. I was a mustang, enlisted and an officer. We didn’t have one leader per se, we all were leaders. So it wasn’t, ‘Hey this guy [go] do this and this.’ It was if somebody needed to say something, they’d do it, and people would listen.

ASJ And you didn’t know what you were going to find. You didn’t have a plan other than to go in there and find out what was happening, and see what you could do to save those Americans?

Tanto Yeah

Oz You know, that’s what he talking about when he says, ‘shoot, move and communicate.’ You’re always looking for work when you’re doing that. You’re moving down there [but] you’re not just rushing in blind. You’re just moving as quickly and as tactically as you can, and each person is looking for the dead spot where somebody might be hiding and covering that area. As you go in, second by second you’re just analyzing everything that’s going on before your eyes.

If there’s something you see that needs attention you just take care of it, and then everyone else on the team will react from your actions. This is how we work together. It’s just kind of a free-float teamwork concept.

Tanto We had a term for that in the military. It was called moving and working expeditiously. I had that ingrained in me since basic training. It means you’re moving as fast as the situation allows you to, and still maintain control. That’s what we were doing.

Oz It goes back to the training we have all had from SEALS, Marines, Rangers, etc. It all goes back to that.

ASJ Thank you gentlemen, or should I say knuckle draggers?

Oz (Laughs)

Tanto (Laughs) ASJ

The hell of Benghazi

Best Action Movies of All Time

The best action movies of all time starring some of the best action stars to have ever fought on screen. The best action movies tend to be the ones where we get a little substance to go along with the shooting; some battles are realistic some not. This list has some of the most awesome action films of all time.

This list of greatest action movies ever has a mix of one man renegades (Die Hard), extraterrestrial thrills (Alien), and science fiction dreams brought to reality on the big screen (Terminator, Jurassic Park).

You’ll even find some great comedic performances among the gun fights, smack talking, and explosions. Heck, you could probably fill a New Jersey size dump with all the stuff that gets blown up in these action films.
The list covers a broad time range as well with nearly as many classic action movies making the list as newer, big budget CGI action-fest.

We added a few that aren’t on the list but the gunfight choreographs are good and realistic. For the the serious gunfighter movie-goer understands some movies get their gunfights right and some not so good. Here are some that got it right:

Heat Shootout

Sicario Border Shootout

John Wick

Here’s one that is not quite realistic but fun to watch from 6 Underground.

Don’t see your favorite action movie on the list? Let us know, this is a fan ranked list compiled from Reddit and Ranker, not from IMDB.

Without further adieu these are the best action movies of all times:

  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Die Hard

  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • The Matrix
  • The Terminator
  • The Dark Knight
  • Aliens
  • Predator

  • Lethal Weapon
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • The Bourne Identity
  • Star Wars
  • Jurassic Park
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Star Wars Ep V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • First Blood
  • Gladiator
  • Braveheart
  • The Avengers
  • Taken
  • Dirty Harry
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance
  • 300
  • True Lies

Sources: IMDB, Reddit, Ranker

Training Actors for War Games

“Saving Private Ryan” is a classic military movie which the main characters went through a mini boot camp taught by Warriors Inc Cadre

The movie “Saving Private Ryan” is a classic military movie directed by Steven Spieldberg. The main characters of the movie all went through a mini boot camp taught by Warriors Inc Cadre (Founded by Ret. USMC Capt Dale Adam Dye – a California company that specializes in training actors for realistic military portrayals, for movies), the trainers of the 80’s hit movie “Platoon”, that shaped Charlie Sheen & Tom Berenger into grunts.
Back to Saving Private Ryan, here are some of the things that the main characters under went to get them not into shape, but the shaping of the characters behind the grunts of WWII. Without further ado, I give you Warrior Inc Cadre commentary.

Our Warriors Inc. Cadre included the CO, 1stSgt. John Barnett, Sgt. Billy Budd, T5 Brian Maynard (Medic) and Cpl. Laird Macintosh as Platoon Right Guide. As we designed the WW II Ranger training schedule, we assigned each Cadre member a specific actor/trainee for special attention. Capt. Dye focused on Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks), 1stSgt. Barnett worked with SFC Horvath (Tom Sizemore), T5 Maynard taught T4 Wade the squad medic and Cpl. Macintosh worked with T4 Upham, the attached interpreter. We all pitched in to provide training and character building background for the remaining three Rangers in training.

The Cadre designed a seven-day, seven-night schedule that was to take place in the deep woods near Hatfield, England, an abandoned British Aerospace manufacturing plant where several of the major sets were being built. The weather typically turned English on us. It was raining most of the time and mud quickly became an infantry mobility problem. Regardless, we were up early each morning for PT, which included long runs to improve stamina and endurance. Weapons handling was a priority and we spent long hours firing and reloading M-1s, Thompson SMGs, carbines and BARs under simulated combat conditions. Weapons maintenance also became critical as the rain and mud were always getting into actions as the troops crawled or maneuvered through the rough terrain.

Courses taught were land navigation, fire and maneuver, patrol formations and tactics for assault on fortified positions since all of these events were called for in the script. Also included in the curriculum were classes on Communication Procedures, field first aid, casualty evacuation, close-quarters combat and bayonet training. Many of our patrols took place at night and over extremely constricted terrain. Rangers in training ate British 10-in-1 rations in the field and slept under leaky canvas when they weren’t running night patrols. By the end of T-3 (training day three) the Ranger unit was functioning under its own chain of command and the Warriors Inc. Cadre plus some locally recruited help from the production staff were serving primarily as aggressor forces.

One extremely valuable and interesting aspect of this training was conducted by Doc Bryan Maynard who obtained a partial sheep carcass from a local butcher to teach Ranger Medic Wade how to suture wounds and probe for bullets or shrapnel.

When we moved to southeast Ireland for the D-Day sequences, Capt. Dye was called away to consult with Director Steven Spielberg and the Warriors Inc. Cadre came into its own during an exhausting two days of getting 1,000 Irish Army Reserve soldiers into shape to portray American GIs on Omaha Beach. They did an outstanding job in a very short time-frame. Just prior to filming, we took all our available Higgins Boat Landing Craft to Wexford Harbor where Capt. Dye taught the actors and the Irish Army procedures for landing from these boats on a hostile shore.

Incidentally, we intentionally did not include Matt Damon who plays the actual Pvt. Ryan in our field training, as we did not want the Rangers to bond with him. They resent him in the story and we wanted to preserve that feeling. Warriors Inc. Cadre did train Damon and other paratroopers in his unit later in the production while shooting on other locations was taking place.

Horrific Weather
While filming in England for the big D day, the weather was just horrific, nothing but rain. (Sounds like Seattle) There were stories that people had quit the training while filming. It’s not true, all actors complain, but that’s natural in this kind of settings.

What was true was that there wasn’t enough equipment to keep the actors warm and dry. The Cadre wanted to replicate the conditions that was back in D day. The Cadre’s went on to explain the real conditions that the Rangers had to endure to storm Omaha beach, which was much worse than the filming conditions. As actors they were fortunate to re-enact this significant historic scene, surely they can do with a little discomfort.


Jesse James Guns

James started manufacturing firearms (and why not?), predominantly 1911s and AR-15s, at the end of 2013 in Austin, Texas. The JJFU CISCO 1911. (DAVE WILSON)

The phone in my office rang and when I picked up, the voice on the other end said, “Hi, it’s Jesse, I heard you wanted to talk to me.” Yes, in fact, I did want to speak with Jesse James of JJFU (Jesse James Firearms Unlimited). You might recognize the name from his famous motorcycles (West Coast Choppers TV series) or cars (Monster Garage TV series), but our interest was solely based on his seemingly new passion for guns. If you do not know, James started manufacturing firearms (and why not?), predominantly 1911s and AR-15s, at the end of 2013 in Austin, Texas, and has been going strong ever since. We have been following JJFU since its inception and reached out to our readers to find out what you would want to know, now that James’ shop has been up and running. We took all of your questions and created a great interview.


NOMAD AR-15 Lower receivers. JJFU also makes a NOMAD AR 10 Chambered in .308 (DAVE WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY)
NOMAD AR-15 Lower receivers. JJFU also makes a NOMAD AR 10 Chambered in .308 (DAVE WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY)

Talking to James was as easy as talking to an old friend. If I didn’t know any better, I would have pictured a teenager with sun-bleached hair who just walked off of the beach in California. I wasn’t too far off, as James hails from Long Beach, but what I didn’t expect was his easy-going and unpretentious nature (this is not what he is known for on set). He was happy to answer my questions, no matter how technical or routine, and seemed eager to share his thoughts on current and future concepts. This is where you start to see the perfectionist and zero tolerance for error, and somehow, this comes through his boyish demeanor.

Danielle Breteau What prompted you to start building firearms after so many years of custom motorcycles and cars?
Jesse James I’ve spent so much time building bikes that sometimes I feel I’ve done everything I had set out to do with them. I feel like the firearms industry found me about three years ago when I moved to Texas. You know, most gun-smithing is simply knowing how to machine, and I have over 25 years of experience in that field, by hand and with CNC (computer numerical control) machines. It was a natural fit.

The NOMAD AR-15 with skeletonized grip. (DAVE WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY)


DB Do you consider firearms to be pieces of art or useful field equipment?

JJ It took a while to consider myself as an artist. I think most people would find firearms to be art or art-like; I certainly think so, and I love the lines. Also, there is art to tailor-making everything by hand, the details of the fit and finish. That is what is important to me.

Jesse James Jr. is also highly skilled in manufacturing and machining and can be found at JJFU working along side of his father Jesse. (DAVE WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY)


DB Who are your clients?
JJ Anyone from operators to lawyers. It seems to be a pretty wide swath of people who are interested, but when I was at the SHOT (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show this year, there were a lot of people who told me they didn’t even know I made firearms. We haven’t advertised yet, so far everything has been by word of mouth.


DB Do you compete in any type of shooting competitions?
JJ No. All that running around does not look like something I want to do. I shoot at my range (the one at his house) and I think I can shoot pretty well.

DB Do you hunt?
JJ No, but I think I could. Not a trophy hunt, but maybe small game, like a turkey, but it would have to be respectful to the animal, like the way the American Indians hunted and took only what they needed. Overall, though, it is not my cup of tea.



DB Any thoughts on creating other guns, like a shotgun or precision rifle?
JJ F&N has a great long-range .50 bolt-action rifle, but when I think of building my own, I would have to do something different. It couldn’t just be a rifle that I built; it would have to be something special. I have a revolver design in my mind, but I haven’t actually started creating it. We do have a 12-gauge shotgun coming soon, but I didn’t want to go crazy and build everything out there. I want to do a piece and do it perfectly before I move on to other projects. If you have too many projects going, then you don’t do each one as well as you would if you are focused on just one.

Jesse James and his son hand machine 80 percent of all the components that make up a JJFU firearm. (DAVE WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY)

DB What is your favorite firearm?
JJ My first favorite would be my dad’s M1 Garand. I used to shoot that when I was a kid. My other favorite is a 1911 Commander, chambered in 9mm, that I built for a customer. I knew this guy was really into firearms and I felt a lot of pressure building the gun for him. I checked it four times before I let it leave the shop, and what is funny, when my customer received it, the first thing he did was take the whole thing apart on his coffee table and looked at every piece. Once he shot it, that was when I got the final thumbs up. I really liked that gun and it is probably my favorite so far.

DB Why would someone buy your firearm over all the other options out there?
JJ They are very smooth to shoot. The first time I shot a Colt Commander, it hurt my hand. I used to think that Kimber or Les Baer 1911s were really nice, until I made my own. You also have to remember that the amount of time and attention to detail, where no expense is too high and no amount of time is too long, makes my firearms so precise and smooth. That level of detail costs a lot more.


DB Do you machine all of the parts for your firearms?
JJ No, not every part. If I averaged it, I would say about 80 percent of each firearm is actually machined in house. Some parts, like the thumb safety on the 1911, I don’t make those. That just doesn’t seem like an interesting part to make, so I work with STI International. They have an amazing facility and are very close to my shop. I also work with Magpul for some of the furniture on our rifles, but we do make our own lightweight grips and aluminum buttstocks.

DB What do you have to say to people who have expressed negative comments towards your products?
JJ I have found that the people making those comments have never held or fired any of my firearms. I would put more value into their comments if I knew it came from first-hand experience.

The JJFU Aero Sonic Suppresor. 1.5 Pounds and 8×2.25 inches. (DAVE WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY)

DB Tell me about your suppressor. It’s beautiful and clearly a designed piece, but why would someone choose yours over another?
JJ It seemed natural to make my own because I have so much turbo-manifold exhaust knowledge; it didn’t make any sense not to. Many of the suppressors you see out there are based on the Hiram Maxim theory and that concept is like air hitting a brick wall. In short, my suppressor works similar to an air-brake system, which is more efficient, and in my opinion, simply works better.

Jeff Donaldson works with Jesse James in a sort of Gal Friday capacity from what I gleened. (DAVE WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY)

DB Your website seems pretty basic and doesn’t necessarily answer many of the questions people might want to know. Is that by design? (Note: the website has been updated since this interview)
JJ I haven’t spent a lot of time focusing on the website. I am a shop guy. I had a website as early as 1995, before Honda and Harley Davidson, for my bikes. The problem I had back then was when customers ordered a bike, I never actually met the customer a lot of the time. I guess if you order from Brownells, you may not need to have human contact, but I don’t like that. One thing I absolutely hate is getting a recording when I call anywhere for information and I will probably just hang up, if I do. I think I’m going to go back to hand-written receipts and personal updates. I like the human-to-human interaction, customer to creator, if you will. I like people to send emails and ask questions or call the shop. I’ll answer the phone. ASJ


Dave Wilson is an amazing freelance photographer and was kind enough to work with me during the Jesse James interview. He painstakingly created the images I wanted to portray to the readers; the workshop, the atmosphere, the products. I wanted you to feel like you were actually there and Dave did a great job.

Originally from Scotland, Dave lives near Dripping Springs, Texas. Dave uses new imaging techniques created by digital workflow. Many of these techniques blend multiple exposures to render a single image, which would be impossible to create using conventional, single-exposure methods. This form of processing allows deep shadow and bright detail to be captured while accentuating texture, detail and the play of light over the subject. This results in an appealing yet intangibly different atmosphere to his images. You can visit his website at

Here are some 1911s that Jesse makes:

Interview by Danielle Breteau * Photographs by Dave Wilson Photography

Other Sources: Auction Armory

Halle Berry Epic Training for John Wick 3

With the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Keanu Reeves’ is getting a badass vixen backup in the form of Halle Berry’s Sofia. This actress is no stranger to action franchises, see her in the X-Men movies and Swordfish. For John Wick3, Halle Berry had to up her game for the role and that meant going through some seriously intense firearms, hand-to-hand training which you can see in the video below.

Halle Berry was quick to say that she learned some serious skills training for John Wick3. Watching her performance out on the range, you can tell she had been working hard at it.
To “double tap” while on the move takes serious practice. Halle Berry didn’t just show up for a half day one time.

Taran Butler of Taran Tactical trained Halle Berry for this rigorous role. Taran will tell you, it was all Berry, he fed her the instruction she just went out and put in the hard work.
Some critics have mentioned that the video highlights were from multiple sessions and not from one session. Does it really matter? Who cares, what it does show is Halle Berry was dedicated to doing it well.

The tactical/personal defender groups can appreciate the actress moving like a pro when she does her reloads and moving from target to target and transitioning from rifle to pistol.

Check out these Cool Gun Safes Click HERE to Check it out.

There’s another video clip about the intense training that Keanue Reeves and Halle Berry went through, Reeves praised Berry for her work ethic.
“Some people say they want to do John Wick training, and then it starts and they’re like, ‘Oh, this is John Wick training?'” Reeves jokes in the video. “And when Halle said she wanted to do that, director Chad Stahelski said, ‘Here you go.’ And Halle said, ‘Thank you, sir, can I please have some more?'”

AR vs Shotgun

Shooting Down the AR Hype – According to Ted Nugent

With all the negative news about how lethal an AR is, why is it we don’t hear any bad news about shotguns?
Enter the ageless Rock n Roll icon Ted Nugent to set things straight. In a recent episode of Alex Jones’ Info Wars, the rocker Ted Nugent shared his bits about the shotgun that we use to hunt ducks with are often overlooked and how it can be more devastating than an AR-15.
Here are some of the things that Ted brought up about the shotgun:
-If the shotgun was used in these AR shootings the death rate could have doubled.
-Three and a half inch triple 000 buck can bring down a cinder block wall, takes only two shots to tear it down.
-3.5 inch Magnum 000 buck used for backing up bears and lion hunters, each round shoots over 30 pellets.
See the video below.
See the pellets – From one 000 Buck round
Well, what do you all think? Thanks Ted!

Bullet Catch

[su_heading size=”30″]It’s Real, Do not try this at Home[/su_heading]

Magicians are well-known for their death-defying acts. Some, like the Masked Magician, are known to use tricks and clever optical illusions. Some, like David Blane, takes it to another level.

While not strictly speaking a ‘magic trick’ by the look of it, this trick (stunt) is the kind of absurdly dangerous stunt you would expect to see of a magician: Catching a bullet in a steel cup. In one’s mouth. While pulling the trigger on themselves.

Obviously, don’t try this at home. Also, don’t try it anywhere else.
There has been 6 magicians that have tried this in the past.
Madame Delinsky – died 1820
Arnold Buck – died 1840
Professor Adam Epstein – died 1869
Chung Ling Soo – died 1918
Black Wizard aka H.T. Sartell – died 1922
Ralf Bialla – died 1975
Unfortunately, out in the wild internet, you have wannabes doing it on their own without any safety precautions like this one below.

Prepping for the trick reportedly involved being shot multiple times in the chest while wearing a thin bulletproof vest, and being shot at while behind a pane of bulletproof glass, to get conditioned to standing still while being shot at. It’s no trick for the faint of heart– and he still forgot to check the solidity of the mouthguard, which snapped in his mouth and cut the back of his throat. Ouch!

[su_heading size=”30″]Video Transcription[/su_heading]

Stopping a bullet trick

David Blane: The Deadliest feat in Magic is the bullet catch, and there are two ways you can go about doing it. You can do it for real, or you can fake it.

Ironically, twelve magicians that have faked it in the last century have died performing it. In 2009 I performed a real version of the bullet catch, where I convinced my best friend to fire the gun, and that’s the last time I’ll ever ask anyone to assume that risk. So from now on, I’m gonna be the one pulling the trigger. I’m also going to be using a bullet that’s nearly twice as big, and twice as fast. I’m gonna have a mirror in one hand, and with the other, I have to carefully pull a string attached to the trigger, which will send the bullet flying into the steel cup in my mouth, and there’s no margin for error.

If anything goes wrong, it will be a disaster right here, and right now.

–Two… one…




Alright, we’re good.

[Assistant]: “Yes… hold on no no no. …Yes… yes… up slightly, up slightly. Stop, stop. Yes. yes. Yes. Yes.”


Interviewer: “So what happened when you fired the gun?”

David: Time… just started to move… really slow. When the bullet struck the cup, there was a high-pitched ringing in my ears, and I felt an impact in the back of my throat, and I was sure the bullet went right through my head, and I was dead. And then suddenly, I became aware of the pain, and it brought me back. And at that moment, I realized that the mouthguard had simply shattered again, and I was alive.

Aid: “You good? You good? Alright, you okay?”

David: “That [Bleep]ing broke. Ouh!”

Person with microphone: “David, let him look at you.”

David: “Uh-huh”

Aid: “This popped off. This whole thing came off.

First-aid: “You have a laceration.”

David: “Thank you everybody for being such an incredible audience, peace and goodnight!

Interviewer: “Your biggest fear is to die from old age, or something? [laughter]”

David: “Of course! I mean if I was going to die I’d like to die pretty like pshh, you know, like pretty quick.”

Interviewer: “On stage with a gun pointed at you?”

David: “No, that’s not how I’m gonna die.”

Interviewer: “Something like that?”

David: “No chance. That’s not how I’m dying.”

by Sam Morstan

Source: Clainsk Youtube, CTV

Post-Apocalyptic Guns

Here’s some pics from Imgur user ricraynor of a post-apocalyptic style custom rifle build that looks like from a Mad Max film.

The two rifles, an AR flattop build constructed with a split wooden stock around the buffer tube and what used to be an Ottoman Turkish Mauser, seem like they are a step away from being shiny and chrome.
But before you get worked up about hacking up the vintage bolt-gun, the creator cautions the Mauser was on its last legs and was no longer collectible. So the next best thing besides throwing it away is to custom build it.

“It was in such bad shape when we started that restoring it would have cost way more than it’s worth,” says ricraynor. “The stock was mostly rotten and cracked and the barrel needed to be counter-bored and re-crowned.”

The AR is still a Title I gun and they both reportedly still work.

“All of the apocalypse builds work and we shoot them occasionally,” says ricraynor.
“They look like hell but are actually maintained and safe to shoot.”

DL44 – Jerry Miculek Blasting Away

Did you know that the iconic DL-44 Blaster that was used by Harrison Ford alias ‘Han Solo’ in “Star Wars” can actually fire real bullets?
Legendary quick itching finger Jerry Miculek had a chance to blast one.
Watch Jerry takes this modified DL-44 Blaster for a run.
He goes thru what he calls the “Keso Run drill” where its all point shooting at close range at three different targets for inside the bar fight scenes. He nails 6 shots on all three targets in a little over 1 second. Don’t believe us take a look.

In the Star Wars world the DL-44 blaster pistol was used during the years of the Galatic Republic and the Age of the Empire.
Was considered one of the most powerful blaster pistols in the galaxy, delivering massive damage at close range.
The idea for the blaster originally came from the C96 “broom handle” Mauser firing the .30 Mauser/ 7.63X25 cartridge.
Engineers took the concept blaster from Star Wars built the add-ons to the the C96 chassis to make it a workable firearm.
-Flash Suppressor was from an MG-81 machine gun.
-Scope was a M19 optical sight from a Sherman tank

Did you see Jerry in the last drill where he unloads all six shots on one target in under a second?, 0.8 seconds – could be a world record.
If you ever get a chance to see a live demonstration of someone like Jerry that showcase their fast twitching shooting fingers, do so.
Seeing it on video is one thing, but man when you see it live, its hard to comprehend. Shooting at that high rate is hard for the eyes, brain and ears to register that quick.

Han Solo’s Blaster Replica that Slings Rubber Bands

Star Wars has become a pop-culture phenomenon, Harrison Ford who portrays Han Solor is a very popular one.
When one think of Han, we can imagine him quick drawing the iconic blaster pistol.
Youtuber Slingshot Channel guy, Joerg Sprave, liked the weapon so much that he made a functioning rubber-band replica.

Not only did we get a look at an awesome replica of the DL-44, but we also get to know a bit of history about the design of this fictional weapon.

Who knew it was based on the real Mauser C96 which shot a 7.63x25mm (almost a 9mm)? Sprave did a great job of recreating the look of Han’s blaster right down to the weathering marks.
Yes, this toy isn’t a real gun, but if you’re a fan of Star Wars, you’d probably love to have this to play with.
Also, isn’t cool to use glow sticks as ammo to simulate the laser blasts? You’ve just got to love this guy’s creativity.