So, I was recently discussing the site with a good friend and faithful reader, who gave me a fantastic bit of feedback.  He asked, “Why don’t you make the site more interactive?”  That’s a hell of a great idea!

Let’s face it, guns can be intimidating.  All that power.  Potentially deadly force.  Little room for mistakes.  Unfortunately, gun safety isn’t taught in schools anymore, (though they teach kids about illegal drugs??).  Likewise, for far too many, gun safety and shooting is unfortunately no longer part of the knowledge, or skills proudly handed down from generation to generation, (though such training it could save your life).

Yet, there are many who still think it’ part of, “the man code.”  Like somehow, all men are supposed to know about guns and gun safety.  (That’s the kind of thinking that will get you in trouble, likely hurt, and possibly worse.) I think we’ve all unfortunately had that bad experience, where we’ve gone into a gun store, or bellied up to the gun counter of a sporting goods store, and been greeted by, “Mr. Just Your Presence is Annoying Me“, or Rambo Himself

Trautman: It’s good to hear your voice Johnny, it’s been a long time. Look John, you’ve done some damage here, they don’t want anymore trouble. That’s why I’ve come. I want to come in there and fly you the hell out. Just you and me. We’ll work this thing out together. Is that fair enough? (First Blood, 1982)

Honestly, who needs that?!  Especially if you’re new to the scene, and already intimidated.  Nobody wants to feel like an ass, especially if you’re trying to better yourself by educating yourself about important life skills topics.  So, wouldn’t it be nice if there were a place you could go to ask all your firearm, shooting, knife and other outdoor related questions, without fear of being ridiculed by the guy behind the counter?  That’s certainly my attitude towards the NRA courses I teach, but let Inside The X Ring be that place!

Want to know the difference between centerfire and rimfire ammunition?  The difference between a bullet, a casing, and a round, or what a primer is?  Want to know the difference between controlled round feed, and push feed in bolt action rifles, and why you want controlled round feed when hunting dangerous game?  Want to know whether it’s a magazine or clip, or how to determine the caliber of that old rifle Grandpa gave you?  Ask away.  Just keep it on topic, respectful, and clean!

For now, please email questions to,, and look for a future “Q&A Post.”  If the concept takes off, maybe I’ll make it a “Special Series” and/or add more capability directly to the site to capture your questions.


Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!


© 2014 Inside The X Ring.


Seriously, you’d think gun guys and gals love this question, and we do.  As a general firearms enthusiast, Blogger and NRA Instructor, it’s a question I get a lot, and I can certainly talk to it at length.  However, it’s a tough one to answer, because there are so many great choices, and so many different factors involved.  Different strokes for different folks, as they say. 

For defensive POU’s, the answer is, “Get as much gun as you can comfortably and repeatedly shoot accurately.”

But there’s actually a bit more to it.

First of all, why do you want a gun?  What’s your purpose, or philosophy of use (POU)?  Personal protection carry gun? Personal protection home defense gun?  (Though both focused on protection, some of the key factors that go into each are vastly different.) Recreational target shooting? Hunting? Competition?  Perhaps a jack-of-all trades?  Do you live in a Shall Issues Carry State?  Will you actually carry the gun beyond trips to the range? 

Will you be the only one shooting this gun, or do you want something the wife (or someone else) can also shoot effectively?  (Are you 6’5”, 250lbs, married to a 5’3”, 100lb woman?) 

Is this the first, only and last gun you will ever buy?  (You may think so now, but I doubt it…)

What’s your tolerance for recoil?  How about your wife’s, or other shooters?

What battery of arms are you comfortable with?  A cocked-n-locked Single Action Only (SAO), Double Action Only (DAO), Double Action / Single Action (DA/SA)? 

Wheel gun or auto pistol?  Hammer or striker fired?

How do you feel about safeties and nanny devices?  Do you want a gun with a safety lever that must be manually manipulated, or something with just internal safeties associated with trigger manipulation?  Do you also want a grip safety?  Do you want a decocker so you don’t have to dry fire the gun before field stripping, or to make it safer to carry hammer down with one in the pipe on a DA/SA gun like the Sig P226?  How do you feel about those new nanny features (that actually do more harm than good because they don’t teach fundamentals) like loaded chamber indicators, or the inability for some guns to fire without a magazine in the gun?  (Learn how to properly check the chamber and unload the gun. NEVER rely on nanny features.)

Ergonomics should be important to you.  So, how big are your hands?  What feels comfortable?  Can you reach and easily manipulate all of the gun’s controls?  (As I hinted above, those tiny, micro guns great for deep concealment carry are often difficult for shooters with large hands to manipulate and shoot accurately beyond a few yards.  They may not make great home defense or jack-of-all-trades type guns.)  If your wife or anyone else will be shooting the gun, you’ll likely want something that can be adjusted for different hand sizes by using different back straps or grip panels.  Do you have any physical limitations or disabilities that need to be considered?

Are aesthetics important?  Of course! Who spends hard-earned cash on something that doesn’t appeal to them at some level.  That said, I’m a HUGE fan of Glock firearms.  Though there are plenty who just can’t get past the no frills, all business, utilitarian looks.  (If this is your first or second gun, focus on purpose of use, functionality, fit and feel over looks and coolness factor…)

OK, OK, I Know You Want Specific Recommendations…

When it comes to auto pistols primarily for home defense and recreational target shooting use, I steer most towards a full size (4″ – 5″ barrel) 9mm, aka the 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Luger, 9×19, 9x19mm, and sometimes with the “+P” designation.

The .40S&W has a snappy recoil.  The .45ACP has a heavy recoil.  The snappy and heavy recoil make it a challenge for some new shooters to get comfortable with, and master those calibers, especially if you go with something smaller or lighter.  Do your research and you’ll discover the 9mm has a proven track record as a defensive round.  (I believe it is also the most popular military handgun cartridge in the World.)  And while in an emergency defensive situation any gun is better than no gun, even a .22lr, I personally don’t see any compelling reason to go smaller than the 9mm for home defense.  With its mild recoil, especially in a gun with a 4″- 5″ barrel, I find men and women, the tall and the small, novices and experts alike all shoot the 9mm well.  It is a round that in many instills confidence, and is a pleasure to shoot at the range.  The round is so popular you can get ammunition anywhere in the World, and usually at reasonable prices.  Likewise, due to its popularity, everybody in the game produces at least one 9mm variant, so you’re sure to find the pistol that’s just right for your needs, budget, and your tastes; regardless of whether you want a micro sized, super light pocket pistol like the Kel-tec PF-9, or a full-sized, full-featured battle pistol just like the ones used by our Navy Seals, like the Sig P226.  Recoil aside, you also usually get 1 – 2 more rounds in the 9mm than in the same gun chambered for 40S&W, or 45 ACP.  In fact the 9mm is so popular, and there are so many great choices, watch out for “analysis paralysis“.  As my boss used to say, “That’s a high class problem to have.”  Still want more  direction?  I can tell you from hands on experience that Beretta, Glock, SigSauer, and Springfield Armory all make fantastic choices.  If I were now in the market for a new 9mm, I’d add FNH USA, Ruger and Smith & Wesson to that short-list.

Want a wheel gun?

You can’t go wrong with a 4” barreled .357 Magnum, with 6, 7, or even 8 shots.  Simple to understand.  Easy to operate and use.  It’s something pretty much anyone can shoot, and shoot well, especially when loaded with light 38 Special ammunition, which shouldn’t to be discounted for defensive purposes.  (You know they make 38+Ps for when full powered .357 Mag loads may be a little much, or when rockin’ a snubbie…)  Here again, and from personal experience, Smith and Wesson and Ruger are at the top of my list, though Taurus is certainly also worthy of a look.


.38 Special, .380, 9MM, 40S&W, 45ACP


My Final Thoughts & Recommendations…

Talk to fellow gun enthusiasts.  Surf the net.  Buy the gun rags.  Read as many reviews as you can.  See what your friends have. (Get lost in some analysis paralysis for a bit.)  But in the end, and while I certainly hope my thoughts are helpful, it really doesn’t matter what I, or anyone else thinks.

Finalize your POU.  Think about who else may be shooting the gun.  Narrow down your caliber choices.  Decide if you want a wheel gun or an auto pistol.  Finalize your short list.  Then find out which Local Gun Stores (LGSs) have them in stock.  Go to as many different guns stores as possible.  Get hands on.  Handle as many of your choices as you can.  Always practice gun safety, and be advised that many LGS owners don’t want you to dry fire their guns – so ask first.  Hit the range with friends as much as possible.  Hit a range that rents if possible – especially if they rent the choices you’re considering.  Send lead downrange.

In some cases, you’re going to find that what feels best in hand, and what you shoot best may NOT be the same gun you fell in love with from just pictures and specifications.  I’ve seen it happen.  Better to know before you fill out all that paperwork and plunk down all that hard earned cash.

It’ll come to you.  Again, it’s a high-class problem to have – and we are VERY lucky to live in this Great Country, where we can have such a problem!


Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!


© 2014 Inside The X Ring. All Rights Reserved.

The Second Amendment protects the individual right to keep and bear arms.  It does not put limits on purpose, such as for military use versus recreational use, hunting, or personal protection.  It does not put limits on location, such as inside the home versus outside the home.  It does not put limits on the type of “arms”, such as one model of rifle over another.  The Second Amendment is very clear, and NOT for debate.

Now, while most people tend to focus solely on the individual aspect of the Second Amendment, I believe there is also a Greater Good, a National Interest, a National Treasure of Sorts.

 “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass,” is a famous quotation usually attributed to Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.  Exactly when and where he uttered those words, or whether it was actually said by someone else is irrelevant.  The point remains.

Civilian firearms ownership is, in fact, a deterrent to invading the mainland United States.

Now, before you’re quick to dismiss this as inconceivable, or an impossibility in the year 2014, consider that Sara Palin was mocked in 2008 when she predicted that Russia would invade the Ukraine.  Likewise, 2012 Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney was ridiculed for stating that Russia, is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe. They fight every cause for the world’s worst actors.  Well, if you’ve paid any attention to the news lately, you’ve now realized that while it seemed far fetched at the time, both Sara Palin and Mitt Romney were spot-on correct.

And regardless of how much you may have personally, “evolved into a higher being,” or think society as a whole has done the same, the unfortunate fact remains that there are still evil forces out there.  Evil forces who want to destroy individual people, and whole nations.  Evil forces that can only be defended against, and fought, with force.  You see examples every day in the news.

And lest you think no one would be emboldened enough to invade the mainland United Sates, let’s not forget that in the late summer of 2012 a Russian attack submarine sailed for weeks undetected in the Gulf of Mexico.

So, with President Obama making plans for very significant, major cuts to the military, cuts that would take our Armed Forces backwards to pre-World War II build-up levels, on top of already perceived US weakness due to soft foreign policy, on top of continued threats from terrorists and nations like Iran and North Korea, you should be happy for, and support the millions of Americans who do exercise their Second Amendment Right.

Beyond the obvious reasons usually focused on the ‘individual’, consider that the Second Amendment is strategic in nature for broader National Security.  “There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass!


Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!



© 2014 Inside The X Ring. All Rights Reserved.

We’ve added a ‘Links‘ page, and it does a couple of important things:

  1. It explains a bit of the ‘method behind the madness‘, or the process I go through to bring you, my subscribers and readers, the best information possible.
  2. It gives an overview of my personal network of seasoned professionals and contacts, all of whom provide me valuable input and insight.
  3. Last, but not least, it introduces you to, and provides direct, ‘one-click‘ access to some of the best gun, holster, knife and associated gear reviewers from around the Web.  All of whom:
    • have been vetted and fact checked to ensure they provide accurate information, and
    • have demonstrated safe firearms handling, which helps continually drive home the principles for basic firearms safety.


So, what exactly can you expect from these links?

Write-ups and videos on Guns, Firearm Accessories, Holsters, Knives, Flashlights, Ever Day Carry (EDC) Gear, Tactical Gear, ‘Bug-Out‘ or ‘Go‘ Bags, and Survival Gear.  All delivered in the form of:

  • General observation, and quick overview reviews.
  • Detailed, and extremely thorough table-top reviews.
  • Head-to-head product comparisons.
  • In-action segments from ‘Live Fire’ shooting ranges and other real-World scenarios.
  • Thoughts, opinions, tips, tricks and product recommendations specific to concealed carry.
  • Thoughts, opinions, tips, tricks and product recommendations specific to female firearms enthusiasts and women shooters.
  • Specific videos on safety – firearms safety, basic first aid kit design and use, survival, etc.
  • Educational segments that focus on mindset, philosophy and terminology.


The point is, our links provide direct, easy access to a wide variety of high-quality, accurate information covering the wide spectrum of the products most firearms enthusiasts are likely to be interested in.  So before your next Gun, Firearm Accessory, Holster, Knife, Flashlight, EDC, Bug-Out, Survival or related gear purchase, be sure to check out some of my secret sources

And yes, as content expands, will absolutely roll-in specific review, head-to-head comparison and other videos from each of the folks on our links page.  Stay tuned! 

Inside the X Ring?  What is it? Who is it for? What can you the reader expect? This is a blog about firearms, and all things related to firearms!

Our aim is to introduce and educate you the reader, in order to promote the safe handling and use of firearms for ALL LEGAL PURPOSES – historical, recreational, hunting and/or self-defense.  We want all of your experiences with firearms, shooting and shooting sports to be safe, and positive experiences.  We’ll share tips, tricks and techniques to make it so, even if you are just starting out, and possibly a little nervous.  While we strive to have content for all experience levels, this site is currently targeted towards the inexperienced – even those who have never even handled a firearm – to intermediate shooter.  All you need is a genuine interest in firearms, a desire to learn, common sense and a never-ending healthy respect for your firearm.

So, what can you expect from Inside the X Ring?  Posts on safety, posts on choosing your first firearm, caliber choices, tips on shooting technique, gear reviews, references to ranges, answers to questions, firearms industry news and links to other great resources.  Combining years of collective, hands-on experience with vast amounts of extremely detailed research to bring you value focused straight dope.

Please check in frequently for articles and updates. Better yet, subscribe to have updates automatically emailed to you as soon as they are published.  Click on subjects in the Categories section on the right side of the page to find older posts. Look for more pages dedicated to Safety, Handguns, Long Guns, Special Projects and maybe events as content increases.  Comments always welcome.


Finally, if your into shooting sports, hunting or any other aspect of firearms, and if you’re not already a member, please join the NRA.  No other major organization works as hard as the National Rifle Association to protect The Second AmendmentClick here for a link right to the NRA Membership page.