Firearms Archives -
May 4th, 2017 by AmSJ Staff

Are you a fan of redesigning weapons?

Let’s re-phrase that, are you a fan of shouldering a pistol stabilizing brace? (Sig Brace)

According to one open letter from BATFE just post SHOT Show 2015, those two were one in the same. Now, 72 hours before the 2017 NRA Annual Meeting, we can all breathe a sigh of relief: It’s not really considered a redesign, shifting the gun’s weight up the distance of your arm to peer down the sights.

Letter Excerpt:
“These items are intended to improve accuracy by using the operator’s forearm to provide stable support for the AR-type pistol. ATF has previously determined that attaching the brace to a firearm does not alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to National Firearms Act (NFA) control. However, this classification is based upon the use of the device as designed.When the device is redesigned for use as a shoulder stock on a handgun with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length, the firearm is properly classified as a firearm under the NFA. The pistol stabilizing brace was neither “designed” nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, and therefore use as a shoulder stock constitutes a “redesign” of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item. Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked…Any person who intends to use a handgun stabilizing brace as a shoulder stock on a pistol (having a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a smooth bore firearm with a barrel under 18 inches in length) must first file an ATF Form 1 and pay the applicable tax because the resulting firearm will be subject to all provisions of the NFA.”
Full letter here.

The real surprise is that it took two years for them to determine that.

So go shoulder your arm braces while you can– before they determine that doing so constitutes turning your gun into a rocket launcher.

by Sam Morstan

Posted in Industry Tagged with: , , ,

March 27th, 2017 by jhines

[su_heading size=”30″]Dude Look at the Size of this Hole![/su_heading]

Getting Shot At Point Blank Range…How bad is it? Clearly, we all know being shot in any way isn’t a good thing lol!

Have you wondered what it looks like to get shot at point blank range? If you’ve invested much energy around firearms, the idea most likely has gone through your head. And if you are one of those people who really need to know “What’s the most terrible that could happen?” todays is the day to find out. Might you be able to survive any of these shots? Possibly. Would you be able to take any of these shots holding up? Probably not.

Credits to Adriean of GY6 Youtuber for providing us with this demonstration.
GY6 steps up the caliber to see the effects of caliber at point blank range against a ballistic gel.

  • Taurus PT-92 9mm
  • Kimber Eclipse Pro 2 45 ACP
  • Double barrel 1911 45 ACP
  • Taurus Raging Bull 44 magnum
  • Smith and Wesson 500 (500 grain projectile)
  • AR-15 5.56
  • AK-47 Century Arms (7.62×39)
  • Remington 870 12 Guage

Video Transcription
Hey it’s Adrian with GY6Vids, and today’s episode, we have guns Vs. ballistics gel at point blank range.

This thing’s gonna blow a hole so big the whole shoulder might come the F*** off.

Ok so we’re just gonna go right into it, we’re gonna go from gun to gun to gun and step up the calibers as we go, we’ll change them up a bit, starting out with 9mm. We are using Lehigh defense. These are some nasty rounds. The firearm we’re using is the Taurus PT92 9mm. Alright!

[Shot, laughter]

See what happens.

Alright, so next up is 45 ACP, We have a 1911, this is the Kimber Eclipse Pro 2, and we’re shooting the HPR 185-grain jacket hollowpoints. See what this looks like. IN THE CHEEST. Fire in the hole.


But why stop at a single 1911 when you can use a double-barrel 1911? We have the Arsenal firearms 2011, this is a double-barreled 1911 shooting two 45 ACP rounds, using the exact same HPR rounds rather than doing it this way where the high speed’s only gonna see one shell, let’s adjust the killshot. We have to. Aaand… 3…2…1.

[Shot, laughter]

Alright, up next: 44 magnum. Why not. This is the Taurus Raging Bull 44 magnum, we have the Barnes Vortex 225-grain, hollow point round. Definitely leaves a decent hole in whatever you shoot. And we’re about to see it first-hand. I love my job.


Clearly, we can’t move past any type of firearm without using the Smith and Wesson 500. This thing is a tank, and a fire breather. Hopefully we’ll be able to see some fire on the gel. We are shooting Hornady XTP 500-grain projectiles. Comparing this to the 44 magnum round, it’s like child’s play. Like putting in a lipstick container.


[Laughter] YEAH. ‘MURICA! Good god, did you feel the difference? The concussive force of that?

We’re doing the 556 AR15. Alright, let’s get into it. [Singsonging]
Hm. I highly doubt that’s gonna be nearly as cool as the Smith and Wesson 500.

This is gonna be our drum that we won’t care if it gets a hole in it. ‘cuz this one’s about to go right through this barrel. Guys ready to rock and roll? Ears in?

Alright, up next, AK47. Decided to switch it up a bit, brought out this stubby little Micro-AK47, this is from Century Arms, so much fun, probably one of the most fun guns I have, I shoot it all the time and it’s a blast. And it breathes fire like crazy, so hopefully we’ll pick it up in high speed.

The ammunition we’re shooting is G2Research’s Trident rounds, this is the 762×39 round they’re making now; it expands out, massive expansion, so hopefully it’ll leave a nice big hole in high speed. Let’s see what happens! Gotta love this gun! Woo! huh![Shot, laughter]

This thing’s gonna blow a hole so big the whole shoulder might come the **** off. Alright, last but not least -and I know what you guys are thinking, shoot more rifles, 308s, 300winmag, 50cal; I just may. Just let me know if you guys like these videos, I need to know because I don’t wanna post stuff that’s just boring you, but for right now, this will suffice. And last but not least, the Remington 870 12-gauge, we are definitely gonna do the 1oz slug round, 12gauge. I’m gonna shoot him right here just above the heart, and it should give us a nice… *dislocation* of the shoulder, to say the least. Alright, 3…2…1…[SHOT]


Dude! Look at the size of this hole! [laughter]

Ok guys, hope you appreciate that video, hope you enjoyed. This is something that’s gonna be very similar to what we were posting as stand-alone videos on our secondary channel GY6slowmo, head over to, click the subscribe button, there is a playlist of certain types of videos that are coming that I think you’re gonna enjoy, very unique and interesting to see, trust me, you wanna go over and subscribe, a video’s gonna be coming that you’re gonna wanna watch, and it’s gonna be stand-alone only on GY6 SlowMo, not here on GY6 Vids. So it’ll give us a way of posting easier quick videos on that channel, that we’re not gonna be able to post here on GY6 vids, due to the fact that this channel’s been for longer-duration videos.

The main sponsor of this video though is Audible. I can’t say thank you enough to Audible, fantastic program, you can go to the link in the description right now, or go to, that is something that’s gonna give you a link to go to the website, you get a free 30-day trial, you also get a download of a free book, and if you don’t like their program you can cancel your subscription and still keep that book, so it’s pretty much a no-brainer. Audible not only offers books, but many other comedy routines, and things you may not know about even if you do know about Audible, so there’s a lot of things you can download on there, take it with you on the go, if you’re like me, you don’t have time all the time to sit on the couch or even read a book, I don’t have that downtime, so whenever I’m on the road in my jeep, I play things through the speakers, let books get read to me, and when I’m not, I’m actually clicking off the Whisper Seek mode, which is what reads it to you, and reading the book myself on my apple device, or any other smart device you might have. Currently I’m listening to 13 Hours, a fantastic movie if you haven’t seen it yet, but also it was originally a book before they made the movie. Go check it out, that’s what it looks like, go on their website and download it for yourself, it’s the secret soldiers of Benghazi, all the things that happened behind the scenes of all the crazy crap that you might not know about, what happened back in the benghazi incident, you must take the time to go check it out. Read it for yourself or have it read to you through Audible, that’s currently what I’m listening to, and last month I listened to American Sniper, so, it’s a good book to read, it’s a good book to have read to you if you don’t have time, go check it out,

Sources: GY6 Vids Youtube

Posted in Just Plinking Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

October 19th, 2016 by AmSJ Staff


R&J Firearms makes it a point to make sure its customers, especially women and first-time buyers, “are not afraid to ask any questions so they can be educated and make proper decisions.”

R&J Firearms makes it a point to make sure its customers, especially women and first-time buyers, “are not afraid to ask any questions so they can be educated and make proper decisions.”

[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]S[/su_dropcap]tarting out as a gun shop in western Oregon’s Willamette Valley, R&J Firearms now builds ARs and may soon manufacture suppressors. American Shooting Journal’s Garn Kennedy sat down with cofounder Jason Harris for more about the family business.
Garn Kennedy Can you tell us about why you started R&J Firearms and what makes you different?

Jason Harris My father, Bob, and I started R&J Firearms in
March 2012 as a simple home-based 01 FFL, primarily as a way to make a little side income. I’ve always had an interest in shooting and firearms in general, and this seemed like it could be a fun venture.

One thing we quickly noticed was how many folks, especially first-time buyers and women, were afraid to ask questions. They had likely either had a bad previous experience or were afraid of sounding uneducated. We make a firm point to make sure our customers are not afraid to ask any questions so they can be educated and make proper decisions. Many are buying their first firearm, which may be the only one they’ll purchase. We want to make sure that they are getting a great match and feel comfortable when they leave our shop.

As the business quickly grew, we constantly found ourselves in a position where we were either limited or unable to purchase many firearms, mainly AR-type rifles. At that point we decided to change over to an 07 manufacturer’s license and see how well our brand would sell. I’ll admit, it has been a ton of work, but now having control of our own product is incredible! Click this

We have partnered with some great businesses in the industry and are, in my humble opinion, producing amazing products at a great price point for consumers. Because we are not a large-scale producer, we are able to place more attention to details, fit and finish in our ARs. Each R&J AR is assembled from start to finish and test-fired by the same person. This allows us greater attention to detail. The only time I want to see one of our ARs come back to the shop is for some sort of upgrade and not for repair. We are completely family-owned and operated.


GK Do you specialize in something that sets you apart?

JH While we offer ARs in 5.56, .300 Blackout, 7.62X39 and .502 T-Sabre, the .502 is probably a standout caliber. As for a specialty rifle, our 7.62X39 ARs are really popular. We build them to be as reliable as a 5.56, with an enhanced stainless fire pin, performance hammer spring, proper feed ramps and quality magazine. We build the gun to run the caliber. They have no problem eating up steel-cased surplus! They are a great .30-caliber option and cheap to feed!
GK That .502 Sabre looks like it delivers quite a thump. Can you tell us a little about it and why it is a good option?

JH The .502 T-Sabre is a fun round to shoot. Cloud Mountain originally developed it around 2000 or 2001. Not too many were produced – maybe less than 50. We bought the rights to the branding, all of the available .502 T-Sabre Starline brass and barrel inventory. After about a year of toying around with the platform, we have it where we are pretty happy with it! The rifles retail for $1,599. They feature a 16-inch stainless Lothar Walther 1:19 barrel. They now come with a thread protector or the R&J Mega Keg brake for $99, including a 10-round mag. Five-round hunting mags are available and recoil is pretty civilized. It’s about the same as a 12-gauge pump shotgun. We currently offer three loads: 330-grain hardcast slugs at 1,875 feet per second, 325-grain JHP at 1,650 fps and 300-grain FTX at 1,775 fps. Ammo costs start at $1 per round, which puts it as one of the most affordable bigbore ARs on the market.


GK What are most of your return customers saying when they come back to you and what else are they looking for?

JH We have some of the best customers in the business! Many travel several hours to come out to us. It’s very humbling to hear how happy people are with their purchase, especially when it’s a product we produced. Many times they are returning for some sort of upgrade(s) or to expand their collection, or to just come in and say hi!
GK Where do you see your company going from here and which area would you like to grow?

JH I hope to see us continue to expand and grow the R&J Firearms name. We currently have the RJ-10 platform in the works and will be offering them in a .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor. We have also discussed producing our own suppressors, as that market has really boomed – bad pun – in the past couple years.

For more, visit ASJ

Company cofounder Jason Harris puts one of R&J Firearms’ rifles through its paces.

Company cofounder Jason Harris puts one of R&J Firearms’ rifles through its paces.


Posted in Industry Tagged with: , , , , , ,

February 22nd, 2016 by AmSJ Staff


[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”0″]This Is How Vegas Does Shooting Range[/su_heading]

Review by Danielle Breteau • Photographs courtesy of Dawn Zlotek

Almost everyone has been to Las Vegas, and if you have not, there is an excellent chance you will some day. Las Vegas attracts millions of people each year, some willingly, some not and some subject to business conferences that they must attend. Wherever you sit on this continuum, if you are shooter or even if you’re not, everyone – including visiting aliens – should stop by The Range 702. “Why?” You ask. What makes this range different from the one down the street? Read on.

THE RANGE 702 is the largest indoor shooting range in Las Vegas, and we all know that everything in Vegas is big … or is that Texas? It doesn’t matter. Everything in this town is epic, and this range is no exception. The owners have created a place that truly delivers the ultimate shooting experience.

When I first walked in, I stepped into a vast, clean open pro shop, complete with a concierge who quickly addressed my needs. Everyone who worked there said “Hello” as they walked by and made sure I was taken care of – although my request for a martini was not fulfilled. This level of attention is not commonly found in many places, and gun ranges are no exception. Walking among the displays, guns and gear, they offered anything and everything I might have needed for shooting if I had, by chance, left my gear behind, which I would never admit to here. Anyway, one of the standard services they offer is a private chauffeur to and from the range for no fee at all. How is that for dedicated customer service?

the range 702 Proshop

This range prides itself on operating a clean, open, organized and friendly range.


This over-the-top range offers 16 lanes and four specific VIP lanes, an on-site gunsmith, and many other amenities, but the thing many people flock here for is the heart-pumping action this team puts together. These packages are what The Range 702 calls shooting experiences, and they boast titles such as Area 51, Femme Fatale – not sure what is involved here – Adrenaline Rush and Judgment Day, to name a few.

The lanes and space are state-of-the-art, with reverse airflow in brightly lit, clean and open shooting ranges that ensure shooters breathe in comfort, and don’t walk out smelling like they have just been to war – come to think of it, maybe that is not a good thing.


For the discerning shooter, their VIP lounge definitely caters to the non-masses by offering a private hostess, bar, restaurant, LCD TVs and pool table.  These high rollers even have their own private restroom facilities. The VIP route is literally the ticket to an unforgettable pampered shooting experience.

This area includes:

Four private 25-yard lanes;

Leather couches;

Kitchenette with complimentary soft drinks;

Viewing window from their suite into the range;

Did we mention the private bathroom?

All in all, not a bad setup.

The Range 702 VIP room

The VIP lounge offers its own private entrance, a hostess, personal range security officer, big-screen TVs, bar, pool table and private bathrooms.


No range would be worth its weight in gunpowder if it didn’t offer a standard regime of courses for new and expert shooters alike. Courses such as concealed weapons permit classes, intro to handguns, women-only courses, even personal one-on-one instruction is available. These are just a few of the options this range offers.


There are many options for memberships, although you do not need to be a member to shoot there, and they even offer special law-enforcement and military rates. We at the American Shooting Journal appreciate anyone who supports our brothers in blue and military ranks. Other memberships include rates for individuals, family, family plus, corporate rates and as we mentioned earlier, the VIP membership for those who need their own special place to pee.

Memberships include: unlimited use of shooting range; priority placement on range; The Range 702 T-shirt; free use of eye and ear protection; discounts on select merchandise; free machine-gun rental on your birthday; five guest passes per year; discounts on training courses; one free FFL transfer; shooting league discounts; two free handgun rentals; and one free gun breakdown and cleaning, among a few other benefits.

These services alone make the low monthly fee worthwhile. Speaking of fees, they vary, so I would suggest you check out their website at ASJ

The Range 702 in Las Vegas

The Range 702 is Las Vegas’ biggest and most advanced shooting range. Not only are they over-the-top, they are a customer-service machine that includes personal chauffeur service to and from the range. 

Posted in Editor's Blog Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

September 22nd, 2015 by AmSJ Staff

[su_heading size=”27″ margin=”0″]A Gun Vault For Life[/su_heading]

Bald Eagle Gun Vaults Now At An Amazing Price!

Bullets.comBE1159 A is excited to announce new Bald Eagle gun safes! These solid and stately gun safes have been made specially for us, and we think you’ll agree they’re one of the best around!

The plush shelves can house an impressive 22, 39 or 51 long guns (depending safe size) and the safes include an adjustable top shelf for storage.

Sizes available:

Small (shown here) 60″ x 30″ x 24″ NOW! $725

Medium 60″ x 40″ x 24″ NOW! $975

Large 72″ x 42″ x 28″ NOW! $1,195

Know that your firearms will be secure with heavy-duty 1-1/4 inch chrome- plated door bolts and a Securam heavy-duty digital lock. Securam is a well respected name in digital locks for reliability.

The safes are is fire resistant for up to one hour, so you’ll never have to give another worry to your gun’s safety. Five spoke chrome handle partnered with an attractive red powder coat finish makes for a striking piece.

BE1159 B

Posted in Media Releases Tagged with: , , , , , ,

June 15th, 2015 by AmSJ Staff

John Johnston (4)

Story by Danielle Breteau • Photographs by John Johnston

When I first heard about something called Ballistic Radio, which doesn’t sound like two words that go together, I did what anyone would do: I Googled it! One of the first websites I landed on was for the Ballistic Radio Youtube Channel. The description? “A channel that is dedicated to making the Internet cry by destroying popular gun and shooting myths.” I immediately needed to know more.

“I don’t want there to be any stupid gun owners.”

PHOTO 1 John Johnston (3)John M. Johnston is the owner and host of Ballistic Radio. Johnston may not be what you would think when you visualize a guy in a radio station, sitting behind a DJ’s microphone. Johnston is a 6-foot, 2-inch, 250-pound man, with lots of tattoos and a shaggy beard that conjure up images of a cave man crossed with an ornate Aztec warrior. Maybe that is what he is going for, but my interview with him proved to be something more than a discussion with only grunts and sign language. Johnston is actually quite brilliant and has a diverse background in psychology, real estate office management and fashion photography, to name a few. Ballistic Radio seems to allow Johnston to express his deep-seated passion for bringing gun-industry news, tactics and concepts to the world in a very intelligent and sometimes humorous manner.

PHOTO 3 John Johnston (1)Ballistic Radio is a syndicated weekly radio show that covers topics about self-defense, firearms and training without politicizing it. “Stereotypes of gun owners have nothing to do with politics, and how you feel about guns is not a point to be made when someone is kicking down your door,” Johnston threw out during our conversation, making a very poignant point. After listening to multiple podcasts of the show to get a feel of the conversations, subject matter and demeanor, I found that they refreshingly incorporate industry experts with intelligent conversation and a good dose of humor to top off the content. I think this is great, since the average age of his audience is younger than you might expect, around 32 years old. It seems to be doing well so far, and as of this issue’s press deadline, they are on their 101st episode, with plenty more content yet to cover.

PHOTO 6 John at the radio

While dodging occasional death threats, which Johnston honestly gets from time to time, he tries to be a mediator between the folks who speak “gun” and those who may only attempt to understand the attraction.

I asked Johnston what he was trying to do with his radio show. He said, “I don’t want there to be any stupid gun owners. I would like to see people understand that there is more to self defense than just having the gun. It is not a magic talisman that wards off evil just by existing. You’ve got to have the knowledge of how, when and why to use it, as well as familiarity with local laws, which can make a huge difference in how a gun owner can react in a bad situation. I feel like there are lots of different sides to this vast topic, and I am able to help breach the language barrier between them. I love being able to talk to people from all walks of life, and have even received an email from a couple who fall into at least six minority/specialty groups combined and are professed liberals. They own guns and said they felt like I wasn’t alienating them by talking about things outside of the self-defense topic, and that is why they love the show.” Johnston went on to say that he felt that we as a community are fighting against the Dunning-Kruger effect, a psychological phenomenon where people without knowledge, experience or expertise pass along bad information as fact, while ignoring and arguing against accurate information. He feels he runs into this quite often, and almost seemed defeated when he said it.

“I do product torture tests, not dumb ones like shoving a ham sandwich into the action and seeing if it will fire, but realistic ones”

PHOTO 7 John at the radio5

John Johnston welcomes conversations from all facets of the gun industry.

The start of this radio show was a combination of luck and good timing. After a rough divorce, Johnston found himself working in a gun store. Johnston said he often heard gun store clerks say things around him that he simply couldn’t believe. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a clerk at a store suggest something like a Smith and Wesson J-frame .357 magnum (subcompact revolver) as the perfect self-defense gun for a woman because it’s small. The problem, of course, being that they’re incredibly uncomfortable to shoot and almost impossible for a new shooter to shoot well. Can you imagine trying to train with that if you have never shot before?” Johnston went on to explain that there are everyday questions that inspire him to want to help the industry. “I’m probably strange for enjoying this, but I like having conversations with people who say things like, ‘I don’t need to have a flashlight handy because I have night sights on my gun.’ Having to explain the importance of knowing what you are shooting at before you shoot pushes me to try and help educate gun owners.”

The gun store where Johnston was working was given an opportunity to have a radio show on a local station. He ended up running it and tailored it with his personal ideas and topics. That show subsequently became very popular locally and online, according to Johnston. “After some time I offered to buy the show from my boss and he agreed to sell it,” Johnston said, and that is how Ballistic Radio started.

PHOTO 5 Ballistic Radio (6)

Wilson Combat 9mm 1911 put to the torture test.

Among Johnston’s hobbies, and much to the entertainment of many, he spends a great deal of time destroying guns through hard use, then  documents his efforts. “I do product torture tests, not dumb ones like shoving a ham sandwich into the action and seeing if it will fire, but realistic ones,” he emphatically states. As an example of what he calls a test, he took a Salient Arms International MK25 Tier 1 Prototype and shot 25,000 rounds through it in 18 days in the middle of winter, a test which he himself barely survived physically.

PHOTO 4 Ballistic Radio (1)

Salient Arms International MK25 Tier 1 Prototype suffering from abuse.

Another of Johnston’s gun-torture tests involved practically submerging a Wilson Combat 9mm 1911 in the mud, and immediately after rescuing
it, demonstrating a successful firing sequence. You can see videos of some of his torture tests like this at His next victim will be the LWRC Tricon MK6 with a SilencerCo suppressor. Johnston says this will be the first public high-roundcount test of a suppressor ever done.


You can find Ballistic Radio on multiple radio stations to include: 1100 KFNX in Phoenix, 55KRC in Cincinnati, 820 WWBA in Tampa, among several others, with 20 to 30 more on the way. If you are more of a podcast person or mobile-app type, there is a Ballistic Radio podcast and you can listen via iTunes, or you can catch the live stream Sundays at 7 p.m. EST on iHeart Radio (55KRC channel). You can also check out Ballistic Radio at to keep up with all the latest action in the gun industry, as well as gun and shooting experiments, AKA “torture tests,” that are quite entertaining. ASJ

Editor’s note: When I explained to Ballistic Radio show host John Johnston that I would need some photos to share with our readers, even though he is a former fashion photographer, he couldn’t imagine what I wanted. I flippantly suggested a photo of him geared up in camouflage, covered in mud, holding a gun and radio microphone would be a good start. Well, you get what you asked for, and this is just another glimpse into Johnston’s level of effort and humor, which we applaud.

PHOTO 2 John Johnston (5)



Posted in Editor's Blog Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

June 11th, 2015 by AmSJ Staff

You only have to look at Bianchi Cup competitors to see that after an athlete invests in extensive training, scientifically tested gender inclinations are meaningless down range. Author Tatiana Whitlock observes while Zachary Howard fires.

Story and photographs by Tatiana Whitlock

When it comes to who is the better shooter and why, men or women, the iconic Irving Berlin duet from Annie Get Your Gun immediately springs to mind. “Anything you can do I can do better! I can do anything better than you” is sung while Annie Oakley and Frank Butler prepare for the climactic sharpshooting contest in the classic Broadway musical. For an object as functionally gender-neutral as a gun, why is it that each of the sexes assumes they are better adept at mastering it? Any quality instructor will tell you the real weapon is not the gun. The educated mind that controls the gun possesses the real power. Therefore, do men and women learn and process information differently especially with a gun in hand?

“men are quick to act and apply aggression in a dynamic self-defense scenario”


Thanks to advances in neuroscience we now know that there are actual differences between the male and female brain. Studies have shown that men have more front-to-back connectivity within the brain’s hemispheres, suggesting they are more optimized for fine motor skills and compartmentalized learning. Women’s brains have more left-to-right connections between the hemispheres, leading scientists to believe they are more optimized for analytical and intuitive thinking. These brain patterns are not exclusive to men or women, but the average findings over the population as a whole. The author with Laura Duffy and Cynthia Wood (right).

There is still much uncharted territory when it comes to the human mind. The scientific community offers studies of both children and adults that prove more similarities between the sexes than there are differences at the biological level. Painting with a wide brush can lead dangerously down a path that reinforces gender-specific stereotypes and hinders learning down range. That being said, touching on some of the salient points that make men and women unique is worth investigating.

From an instructor’s perspective, new male shooters tend to learn better when introduced to a concept or technique by presenting the mechanics of the skill first and then putting that activity into context. Women tend to learn the same skill best when introduced to the context of when and why that particular skill is important and then taught the mechanics of putting it to use. The result is the same: the student learns both the action and the application, though from opposite perspectives. Both are fully capable of executing the skill set with precise fine and gross motor skills, regardless of gender, and put it to use when and where appropriate in the real world.

Processing Information

Male and female brains have a number of well-documented structural differences that illustrate how men and women process information. One major difference is in the grey and white matter of the brain and how the sexes use it all to process information. The female brain utilizes more white matter (the connective network that links the information and action processing centers of the brain) by a multiple of 10, and that may be why women are considered better at making social connections, observational connections and are better at multi-tasking than men. By contrast, men utilize seven times more gray matter (the information and action centers that are localized in different regions of the brain), which is largely why men are attributed with being good at task-focused activities, having tunnel vision or a “one-track mind.”

“Women often need to be taught how to tap into that aggressive and competitive part of themselves”

New firearm students offer the best opportunity to see these differences in action, especially in a high-stress environment like their first force-on-force class. Students often break down into two categories that display these brain behaviors without prejudice. Women can be observed as seeing and processing a wide range of critical information, yet they often hesitate to take specific action, while in a first-time force-on-force scenario men can be observed to identify one specific problem and focus intently on it missing other threats entirely. This isn’t to say that both aren’t guilty of making the same beginner mistakes, nor does it mean that these mistakes can’t be corrected with proper instruction.


Whitlock works with Chuck Whitlock

Flipping the Chemical Switch

The male and female brain differ at a chemical level as well. Women produce more oxitocin and seratonin than men. These two chemicals are associated with an ability to be calmer and have more relationship and bonding behaviors. Men, on the other hand, produce more testosterone that is associated with varied levels of aggression and impulsiveness. Both men and women produce these neurochemicals, but to varying levels. The very nature of self- and home defense require a realistic preparation for an uncomfortable level of violence. Women are the largest growing demographic in the firearms community largely because of an interest in being able to protect themselves and the ones they love. The fact that they are taking ownership and personal responsibility for their safety rather than deferring to their male counterparts for protection proves that they are capable of flipping the chemical switch to face violence head on. Not only are women making the retail investment of the gun and the gear, but they’re also investing in their continued education on how to use them in context with their lives.

“Mankind has proven time and again that such defining traits are not exclusive to either sex”

Joining a firing line with a dozen bearded, molle-covered, tactical hipsters is out of the question for most women new to shooting. Women generally prefer to begin their journey into the world of firearms by training with other women. This birds-of-a-feather model is successful in part because it appeals to a woman’s inclination towards social interaction and community.


Left: The author and Seth Balliet

Men represent the predominant student population of run-and-gun, tactical-ninja, and gun-camp courses. These courses are generally physically intense, mentally taxing, and speak directly to understanding violence and how to counter it in kind. This isn’t to say that women don’t also enjoy the athleticism and aggressive nature of shoot house, force-on-force or vehicle close-quarter battle training, but it is typically not their initial launching point for learning. While men are quick to act and apply aggression in a dynamic self-defense scenario, they often need to be taught how to slow down and take in the details so they can take appropriate action. Women, by contrast, often need to be taught how to tap into that aggressive and competitive part of themselves to apply that same action.


Mankind has proven time and again that such defining traits are not exclusive to either sex. We didn’t attain apex-predator status without a brain that made us adaptable problem-solvers. For all of the differences that have been observed between the male and female brain there is no evidence that one is more optimized for firearms use than the other. Having an understanding of these types of gender-specific tendencies helps instructors build curriculums and better communicate with students. A desire to learn and a commitment to personal development down range is the only differentiating factor between the Annie Oakleys, Frank Butlers and everyone else in the shooting world. The gun allows us a unique opportunity to meet at the firing line, cast off societal stereotypes and engage in friendly competition to prove just how alike we really are. ASJ


Women produce more oxitocin and seratonin – two chemicals associated with the ability to be calmer and have more bonding behaviors – than men, while men produce more testosterone – which is associated with varied levels of aggression and impulsiveness – than women. Women generally prefer social groups and training with other women. National women’s groups have sprung up over the past decade such as The Well Armed Woman and A Girl With A Gun. Whitlock, Jody Chase, Christi Hissong, Lisa Kendrick and Joy Corrant.

Posted in Women and guns Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,