Sunday, May 30, 2010


If there is a standard bearer of what could be called the typical Texas Fishing Knife, I'd have to submit the Buck Hunter as my leading candidate.
It's what's been in my tackle boxes (and another in a tool box, for that matter) since my high school days. For many years, car repairs would have been far more difficult without the Buck Hunter, and all of the sportsman I knew, be they hunters or fishermen, all carried this knife.
Certain types in my high school days carried these knives in belt holsters at all times, while most of the rest of us only had them strapped on during fishing or hunting activities or when doing chores at the place, like cutting open feed bags to feed the animals. The FFA folks, the motorcycle riding folks, the kids who lived and worked on family farms and many of the hot rodders carried their knives on their belts, and in those days at my school, pocket knives were ok and legal belt knives were ok.
Since the blade was 4" long, it was within legal length in Texas for a knife carried on the person. I didn't care much for wearing one unless I was fishing or out at one of our family places where a large knife would come in handy. But a lot of folks did and of course, no one ever attacked or threatened anyone. But back then at my school, your truck gun rack could be full and again, no one cared because no one was going beserko.
Lots of folks lived on farms in that area at that time, and their trucks usually had a .22 rifle and a shotgun of some sort and a CB radio, along with the obligatory cattle prod and lariet hanging from the rear window gun rack. During deer season, the deer rifles replaced the .22's in these folks racks, and in bird season they often had twin shotguns back in their window racks.
All of these guys also carried Buck Hunter knifes in belt pouches. They were up before school, feeding horses and cattle and hogs and the like, and their knife was an essential tool in their lives.
When I was a young police officer in Houston, most law officers I knew carried a Buck Hunter in a single .45 Auto magazine pouch located immediately behind their pistol, as a back up weapon. It was an "unofficial" standard piece of gear, although you had to buy your own knife and magazine pouch.
I was using my police days knife this weekend for a in house project. I keep it in the small toolbox that I keep in the house for minor repairs and adding batteries and the like. Thirty years on, it's in great shape.
Likewise, the first Hunter I bought, and they sold in the mid-70's for like $20 or $25, which was pricey then, resides in my tackle boxes. I have a bag of knives and pliers that move from box to box, so that when I go from freshwater to saltwater and such, my tools always come with me and remain the same.
If you're a Texas man, or one of the many other men the world over who appreciate the need for a good knife, and really, for several knives at a a time, then you understand how historic the Buck Hunter is and was in the sporting history of knife use, and at least in Texas, it was a part of life in both the big city like Houston as well as out in the sticks.
The Buck Hunter is one of those tools. It is hardy enough to hack at frozen mullet, and it's a stout enough knife that the butt end can be used to slam or pound various items in a pinch. I've busted open various mussels before to extract bait with it's butt, and it's in used but excellent shape. I've used it to help me do all kinds of emergency car repairs. It's a great tool.
I still carry the Buck with me as my primary knife when I'm out fishing. Like the Texas Ghostrider mentioned in a recent post, I've usually got several knives in the vicinity at any given time, from Spiderco to Benchmade to Boker to many other types.
Every man I knew as a child in Houston carried a pocket knife. Good men and bad men. Men on both sides of the law often carried a serious folding knife to augment their handgun(s), and as TGR would agree, lawmen saw the need to carry more than one type of knife in the law enforcement world.
One of my father's brothers, a dear man nicknamed Hux, lived near his entire life in East Texas outside of Tyler, save for a period in WWII when the Navy took him places where he saw and did things he didn't like to talk about. He and another older brother both saw combat action in the Pacific, and my dad was still a kid at home at that time.
I heard whatever stories they allowed secondhand through my father, and frankly, good and decent men like that didn't do a lot of story telling when they got back from that war. I don't care what theater of action you were in, men came back, they put it out of their minds as much as they could, and got on with life.
But one time when my Uncle Hux had me running a midnight trotline with him in Lake Palestine, he got his hand bad caught in the trotline and a couple of hooks from a thrashing big cat. Quick as a flash, he pulled his Buck Hunter from it's weathered and sagging pouch, used his huge thumbnail on his huge hand to flick it open one handedly, and cut the line from around his hand, He still had hooks in his hand, but at least they were not tearing his skin from the nearby trot line attached fish having a dance party on the bottom of his boat.
Uncle Hux quickly directed me to his old Montgomery Wards metal tackle box, which held a pair of serious barb wire cutters. He cut the barbs off of the hooks in his hand and got the hooks out. Cussed a bit and then asked me what lesson I learned. I told him have a Buck knife and a pair of wire cutters in my tackle box, and he said I was a smart boy.
I've had a Buck Knife and a pair of serious wire cutters in my tackle box ever since. Although with my selection of fishing pliers, these items make every fishing trip. You don't want to be like actor Brendan O'Connell in one of the Mummy sequels, driving home from a fishing trip with a nice big fly stuck in the side of your neck.

Friday, May 28, 2010


The top picture shows the Pachmyer Presentation rubber revolver grip. It is my favorite revolver grip. I've carried them for thirty years, and my accuracy and enjoyment of shooting revolvers, particularly powerful or light revolvers, increased exponentially since I began using Pachmyer grips in 1981. Basically, if a pistol of mine can have Pachmyers, it does.
Glocks, other plastic handled pistols and other types of guns for which no Pachmyers are made or will fit on do exist, of course. But over the years, various Pythons, Hi-Powers, Commanders, a wide range of revolvers and even several Thompson Contender pistols.
So I was able to shoot the venerable Smith and Wesson Model 1917 in .45 A.C.P. that I've written about before. It does attract attention at the range when I pull that out because of it's vintage self with modern grips on it. I mean, it looks just like any other S&W N Frame when you put Pachmyers on it because that's what it is, the first of the N Frames.
Of course, the 5 and 1/2 inch barrel and the unique front sight attract the attention. The watchers, who own Sigs and HKs and Glocks and come to the range with their guns in the little cases they bought them in and who have never owned a revolver, are fascinated with the full-moon clips I used to load and then eject a smoking heap of six spent cartridges on the table. It is the most amazingly quiet big bore gun I've ever shot, and it kicks about like you're shooting a .380 size shell instead of a .45 ACP round.
El Fisho Jr., of course, goes to town on the gun, which catches their interest even more, as he double action fires as fast as the range folks will let him, and makes a decent size group at 20 feet.
El Fisho Jr. would gladly go through a box of ammo with this gun every session if he could, it's that fun to shoot.
And I've solved the point of aim problem. The top part of the front blade sight on my gun is bent, and after talking to several experienced revolver gunsmiths they tell me to try to deal with it. No one wants to mess with it and break it.
So tonight I found that if you let the front blade reside fully in the rear notch as normal, but let the blade touch the right side of the notch, to the immediate left of the blade is the point of impact. I shot a rapid fire DA group of about 3" at 15 feet once I figured out how to hit a point of aim. So the sight will be fine. I showed it to El Fisho Jr. and he adapted right away and then shot a better group than I did with the gun.
I just wish I had this same gun with a 3" barrel so it could be carried. Yes, you can buy lighter .45 ACP snubbies, but the 325's seem wider to me in the cylinder area than my 1917. As it is, what a surprise that my dad had this gun and moreso that it's a great shooter.
If it could talk there would be some interesting stories this pistol could tell, after years in Brazil (either in military or police or guard service), and then all the hands it passed through getting it's way to my dad, probably at a gun show somewhere for about $100 after it had been refurbished and parkerized.
By it's serial number and a man named Roy Jinks from S&W, I know it didn't see WWII service, since it was part of the 1946 shipment of guns to Brazil, although the gun could have been laying around in any state since the frame was stamped in 1938. What is known is that it was shipped new to Brazil in 1946.
We shot the 1917 several times and again, once we figured out where the point of aim was, it's a dang accurate gun and a sheer pleasure to shoot. The most fun big bore pistol I've ever shot. It doesn't even SOUND like a big gun when it shoots. It goes "KA-POW!!!", instead of KAPOW!!!!! like most other big bore or powerful guns sound when shot.
We wear hearing protection, of course, but you can clearly discern a massive decrease in volume between the M1917 and a 1911 or Glock/HK/SIG in .45 ACP. It is far quieter than the 6" barreled S&W Model 25-5's that I owned in my twenties and thirties, and the M1917 shoots better and kicks far less than it's heavier N Frame breathren. I do not understand why it kicks less than all of these other guns shooting same or in some cases, smaller cartridges, but I'm so glad that it's recoil is extra mild, and I'm not kidding.
Maybe it's the 1917's frame? The metal it was made of? It's a lot lighter than the modern Model 22, and because of the tapered barrel it's a lot more compact of a gun. If I had traditional wooden grips on it instead of Pachmyer Presentation grips, it'd be even more compact. But the grips alone don't make it a big gun. IT IS a big gun.
There are two ways I could carry this weapon. Either in some sort of FBI cant speed scabbard strong side or in a low-slung 60's style "under the left breast" shoulder holster, with an open front and a strong spring around the cylinder holding the gun in the holster.
This old school design I'm talking about is probably the lowest profile shoulder holster you can get for a large frame revolver, and it's a much better design than the kind of holster that copies the "Dirty Harry" style shoulder holster, which rides much higher and to the front, and harder to conceal. I don't know what to call the old school design, but in movies in the 40's through the 60's where actors were packing big guns like the M1917, you saw those holsters.
My dad had one, and one day the spring broke and it just fell apart and became a useless piece of ripped leather with the end of a spring sticking out. I still have the harness, just need a holster.
So along with reveling in the performance of a gun that is right at 64 years old since being placed in service, we also shot a Sig P250 Compact with medium sized grip in 9mm, a very new design with some interesting features and
Billy Ray was there in fine form, shooting his Sig P250, as did I, as well as a dang nice Centennial j frame .38 special he's had for years in lightweight stainless.
The DA only of the P250 takes a bit of getting used to, and I didn't get used to it. I fired about 2 mags through it and it's my first experience with a DA only semi-auto. I've shot lots of revolvers in DA, but it's a different beast in the P250. I'm still thinking how much I like DA only in an auto. I'm not saying I don't like it, I'm just not sure what I think.
I think DA only is very safe with a hammer block safety like it has. I also think that with more shooting one could become familiar with the more mechanical feel of the trigger path. It's hard to explain. It's an excellent smooth trigger, I just had a hard time knowing exactly where it was going to break, but again, I think I need to shoot it some more.
Despite my having to get used to the DA ONLY trigger, which admittedly is not a new concept by any means, it's just I've never encountered it other than in stores and magazines.
I did fire one magazine of several two and three round bursts DA style at a combat distance of 7 feet, and got nice small groups where I intended them to go, the best group being about 5" in size. The first shot of each burst was quick aimed and following shots were more point shooting close range, following the bullet hole in the target. I give the gun an A+ for pointing well. Very well.
Other than that, it was accurate as heck on my first mag load through it. Billy Ray enjoys it and I'd like to have one too, although I think for me one grip step smaller would be best. Billy Ray has the Compact frame with Medium size grips.
Really, on the Sig P250 Compact with Medium grips, like the Glock 19, once you get shooting it, you don't seem to notice the grip being a bit larger than what you're used to if you're from the dark ages like me and learned auto shooting on single stack autos with slim grips.
The Sig P250 9mm with crap grade range ammo, basically one step above reloads, kicked less than either a Browning Hi-Power or Sig P239, and about the same as both the H&K PSP and P7M8 that I have owned. It was as accurate as the HK's for sure. Kicks a little less than a Glock, but not much.
Unfortunately, we had some FTF's (failure to fire) with the P250. I'll write more about that later, but we're concerned at this point because we each had a 10% rate of misfires with new moderate level 9mm ammo.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I posted recently about a modern day adventurer's website I had found at and I've done some more reading on it. After getting into parts about some African music festivals in 2005 and 2006, I realized that I had read some of these posts before, although not with the familiarity of the author and his story that I have now.

I'm a big fan of this very unique group called Tinariwen, which is a band from the semi-autonimous central desert region of Africa. I won't call it the Sahara because it's much more than that. People cannot now agree on names for the entirity or the parts thereof, but that is the region from which this group hails.

Their fire is based upon the fact they are former revolutionaries for the Tuarag peoples who laid down arms and took up electric instruments and played a merger of their indiginous music and various parts of blues, rock, soul, afropop and a little bit of everything else.

These are not religious fanatics, but instead a people who have had a land and a culture for at least two thousand years, but upon whom civilization and the woes of the modern world are battling. Other nations claiming their land. The search and mining for uranium, which apparently is often found near an oasis or water and the corresponding geo structure, and water being that thing there is not a lot in the desert anyway, well, you can connect the dots.

Global warming, whatever the cause, is increasing the size of the deserts and drought has been near endemic since the 60's and 70's in many parts of this area. The nations that surround and/or claim ownership of the vast central African desert are all in sad shape themselves.

The Tuarag people have continued in their lifestyle under near constant attack for the past several hundred years, first via european colonization then through a multitude of wars, revolts, coups and other unpleasantries. But it is the mega-governments and their public and nationalized corporations that will likely win the battle with the Tuareg.

And yes, Volkswagon has a vehicle called the Tuareg.

Money is apparently rolling in several burgs in places like Liberia, the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone from the chinese and for telecom, but it's not enough to help even the limited area where it is spent much less the entire country.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


After discovering the wonder of the Puma Sea Hunter after all these years, I came across the Boatman, which they also still make and which sells for the same price as the Sea Hunter. About $275 USD new. It has a two inch shorter blade, coming in at about 5.1", and a slightly blunted tip on it, which is handy anytime a knife is involved in a boat with a thrashing fish, or even on shore or in the water with a thrashing fish.

I have a nice blunted end diving knife similar to this one, from my very brief diving days near thirty years ago. I'll discuss my two dive career sometime at length, as it was not without it's moments of humor, both light and dark. But basically from the time I bought the knife, I have kept it in one of my saltwater tackle boxes for cutting frozen bait, or any other innumerable chores at a fishing camp.

Despite being a hefty dive knife, as I recall it is a Dacor, it doesn't do well with frozen large mullet, typical of the Texas Gulf Coast. Nor do I suspect it would do much better with live netted mullet. It just doesn't have the weight at the end of the blade like the Sea Hunter or the Boatman knives do, and of course I'm basing this on my experience using my Puma White Hunter for many years in various fishing, boating and outdoor adventures.

I'd be interested if any other knife maker markets a fishing or boating knife with a rubber handle for a better grip as well as some builtup mass at the end of the blade, as with the Puma Sea Hunter and Boatman knives.

Puma also sold for years a knife called The Frogman, with the shielded handguard. It has basically a heavy duty daggar style blade, which is good for cutting or prying or other purposes underwater, as all sorts of situations arise while diving where a knife is needed.

Likewise when fishing, a versatile knife is mandatory. And most fisherman have more than one knife with them. A fillet knife. A folding knife, perhaps with a folding marlin spike to break up rope knots on the boat. Some sort of cheap but sharp bait knives are also nice to have, and I have used a cheap ginsu knife from the dollar store for many a gnarly fishing need.


I don't know the model year of the van picured above, but I assume it's somewhat recent vintage. Mitsubishi has made this van for years, and started making and marketing it pretty much all over the world (Except the United States). In 1982 you could get it with 4WD and lift kits and things.

I don't mean to harp on about how other countries do have nice sports utility vehicles and rides available that sell for the $20's new and nothing like them is available in America.

I mention all of this, and feature this van, because having been recently reading the blog African travel journey of a man and his very serious Land Rover converted troop carrier camper. Very serious in the 6WD catagory of vehicle.

But guess what rig rescued the very large Land Rover when it rolled into a dune on to it's side in the big middle of the Sahara? A Mitsubishi 4x4 van. An older model than the one pictured above, probably an 82-85 model, if the source I looked at was correct. In any event, a sub-4x4 righting about an 8 ton three axle Land Rover.

And to me, the impressive thing about the passage across that portion of the Sahara was that the Mitsu van had no issues. In a later crossing of another trecherous desert area with another newfound friend, the blogger's new travel companion is driving a Land Cruiser truck of some sort with a small camper on it (if I recall correctly) and apparently even the Land Rover dude is impressed by the performance of the Cruiser.


The red knives shown at the top are/were made by the German knife company Puma, and called The Sea Hunter. Apparently these have been made for most of my life, yet I just discovered their wonder recently.
The bottom pic shows the Puma White Hunter. I bought one of these for the princely sum of about $50 in the mid-seventies, and what a knife it is. As the next to the bottom picture shows, the tip of the blade has a larger, heavier part near the end. Yes, you can take this knife and chop a frozen good sized mullet in half or more with little or no effort, compared to using even a heavy duty knife like a marine or air force surplus knife. It's the extra bit of weight at the end that gives it the heft and thickness to just demolish whatever your cutting, if that is your desire. As it is with chopping frozen mullet.
So I don't know how the Sea Hunter knife stayed off of my radar screen. Apparently, it may still be available in Europe and maybe if the Euro keeps falling I can get a deal on a new one. Until then, I'll keep searching for a deal on ebay and elsewhere.
What a great knife. The Sea Hunter features a red rubber handle instead of Stag like the White Hunter. I'm thinking there's a Sea Hunter in my future, somehow, someway...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


In our beach truck discussions, Billy Ray and I have not yet thought about looking at gear racks made for law enforcement and lifesaving beach trucks, either as a source or as an idea or inspiration for a home made gear rack. Although I wouldn't want to buy any surplus vehicle that had spent beach or salt air time EVER, I might buy a surplus rack at auction if I could find one, or other such accessories that might be sold at government auction.
Some ideas certainly, if you're talking about a truck to be taken fishing, which of course means around water of all sorts and in all sorts of weather conditions, some rescue equipment is certainly in order. Some of my friends will insist on trekking out to the third bar to "get that cast far out there", sans life vest, or perhaps kayaking out to do the same, to drop the bait past the third bar in the Gulf, in high winds and rough water.
I've done lots of stupid stuff like that in my youth, and frankly my aged wisdom tells me I was an idiot. A king of the idiots, as Seinfeld's George Castanza would say. And I would have to agree.
But although I have not done things like that in several decades, I know others who still do. And at some point, if we build a beach fishing truck, they will insist on a fishing trip to road test it.
I think two wide sit on top kayaks are the perfect lightweight rooftop accessories for a rack, with storage underneath them in a large rack basket for all kinds of things.
Kayaks are handy for fishing in lagoons and calm passes and bays, but I wouldn't be taking a long board or a kayak out in rough water on the gulf side to rescue some damn fool I'd already told not to venture out. I'd have life vests on the side, available if someone wanted to wade out in the gulf in a strong undertow, or to be wearing if fishing a pass or rock groin or jetty in bad or slippery weather.
When you're on a fishing trip, unless it's hailing, torrentially downpouring or lightening, you fish. Fish often feed during the rain, in both fresh and salt water in Texas, particularly if you have a torrent of rain in a short time followed by either some or no rain for a long period. That's when you get fishing.
A couple of the plastic floaties with lines attached might encourage otherwise daring fishermen (like the wild lawyer brothers I know, including the one who famously shot a rather large hole in his own boat killing a water moccasin that had sprung awake when they were a short distance off the beach in Matagorda in a large fiberglass boat. The non-shooter older brother, who was glad he was not there for the specticle as they raced the large boat full speed to the beach, with water gushing into the boat, in an effort to save the motors, which were heavily damaged by flying across the sandbars and the emergency beaching maneuver.
The shooter, to his own credit, maintained that even he "was surprised at what a large hole at 3 foot range a 158 grain jacketed hollow point .357 magnum would expand in the short distance in the space between the floor and the hull of the boat. IT WAS A REALLY BIG HOLE!"
So there are some cool ideas that could be snagged from these police and beach patrol trucks.


Picture Courtesy of
I found this great travel blog, written by Manfred, who I don't know much about yet. I've been reading some of his posts about his travels, particularly those in Africa. Here's an interesting one that of course caught my eye because he's in Morocco several years ago for the Gnaoua et Musique du Monde.

Go here for the whole post and this page has some cool info on where he got his Land Rover equipped for African desert travel.

Check it out. I think you'll find it interesting, if you have any interest in traveling. I'm reminded of how my old college roommate, The Crazy Australian Paul, tried to talk Billy Ray, John Juan and myself into making a trek throughout the world as Manfred is doing here. I wasn't in the right place 25 years ago to be interested in that kind of trip, and I'm not sure I'm there yet. But it sure looks like an interesting life going on there.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Just a couple of cool pictures of beach vehicles. The top picture from Australia shows fellows stuck good in some serious Toyota Land Cruiser Pick Up trucks, loaded down with fish. Commercial fellows I bet. Maybe netters. That's why you need a serious vehicle to go on the wilds of the beach. To try not to get stuck in the first place, and if you do get stuck, to have the gear and the vehicular ability to extract yourself from sometimes seemingly endless soft fields bad sand.
The bottom pictures is from Thunders Garage, which deals in 4x4 and custom vans. It's just an example of what I think pushing the limit for a heavy 4x4 for wild Texas beach fishing. It does make for a much better fishing camp, particularly if one has a small generator and an aftermarket low profile R/V rooftop A/C to keep that van cool and the skeeters out when it's either bad weather.
And by fishing at an island, I also mean occasionally attempting to go over the island to the bay side to do some fishing over there in kayaks. It must be done in a safe manner for the environment, but many times I've come across trails and passes at low tide that were passible without hitting dunes. They change every day nearly, but there's almost some place to make traverses across islands if your vehicle is serious enough and the terrain in decent shape.
It's the only way to see these kinds of places too. You can see them from a boat, and occasionally (and with much effort) you can come ashore from a boat in the bay or gulf in an undeveloped public land area and see unique wildlife and the way Texas used to be.
I've known two folks in my life who had 4x4 custom vans, and both did admirably in serious wild Texas beach conditions. I saw one by owned by a fellow named Larry many years ago that was brand new with paper tags, and his parents were letting him go fishing with it waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy up the beach at South Padre. My cousins and I made friends with him and went with him, and it was quite a cool deal to be cruising in a short wheel base 4x4 custom van with music from Boston's first album cranking, the dual A/C blasting and the lifted and large tired van just taking the beach like it was a Jeep J-10 pickup.
I've never had a beach truck, but have had many friends who have had either a dedicated beach truck or a daily vehicle adapted to fishing use on weekends. I've got a great vehicle for my daily use, and Mrs. El Fisho has long been in agreement about the need in our family for a beach truck. Back in the late 90's, we once came very close to buying an FJ60 Toyota Landcruiser, actually looked at quite many of them, and should have bought the fairly low milage and slightly overpriced tan one that the lawyer on Ocean Drive in Corpus had for sale.
I'd probably still be driving it today if I had bought it then. There were many lesser models, including one with a rebuilt engine, transmission and 4wd that another lawyer friend in Houston owned for his bird hunting. It was a bit rough, but again, it was for a bargain price back then and I know who bought it and it is still driving and running well, albeit with money thrown at it in various intervals for various issues and repairs.
That's just one vehicle that was just built rugged, the old 80's style Land Cruiser. Before they got fancy. When they were slower and while not fast vehicles at all, they had incredible torque power. And lots of cargo room, especially with the rear seats folded down.
I'll talk more about what I think makes a cool Texas beach vehicle in the next post.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


As of late, I can't seem to get the paragraphs to separate nor can I paste in items I would like. Apologies and I'm trying to keeps posts short where the paragraphs run on and on and on...

So I need to do some minor stitching to reinforce the back belt loop, because I removed some stitching in that area. I think I'm also going to install a tension tightner plastic rivet type deal at the back of the trigger guard area.

The holster tension is perfect. The gun fits well and although the P9 in 9mm is a smaller and vastly different looking gun than the Glock 36 in .45 ACP, the P9 molded form has expanded well with Glock, and I had hoped for that.

The holster is perhaps 1/2" too long to be perfect. I might meander sometime down to a custom holster maker, as redoing the bottom would require a bit more expertise than I could rightly do, but I'm in no hurry. Now, if I had the right kind of leather cutting device I might tackle it, but even working and keeping even lines with a high end pair of leather working shears (sharp little things, they are) and a decent thickness of leather is difficult at best for me.

Cutting would then require more restitching, and a burnishing along the bottom edge. Again, I found that a dremel in a small drill press device and having made a pattern with a stitch wheel where the sewing holes go, a teeny tiny little drill bit makes the perfect size hole, just big enough to get a needle through. Making bigger holes makes holsters look "homemade", which is not always a bad thing. But I like a cleaner look, even in a conversion "frankenstein" holster like this one, with a few extra holes frm removed stitching.

So the holster wears easy at 1/2" long under a t-shirt. The beauty of the actual Bianchi Askins Avenger is that it keeps the pistol against the body, as naturally as a holster can keep a pistol next to the body, in the same way an IWB (in the waistband holster) would keep a gun close to the body.

So while most waistband holsters like the Askins tend to "stick out" under a shirt and not be very concealable under most t-shirts or polo shirts, because of the unique back belt loop placement and angle, the Askins throws the back of the gun into the body. Not uncomfortably, mind you, but just for me, perfectly.

So the point is, for a little under $2 investment, and some skills not so hard to common sense reason out, I've got a holster that I can't seem to find anywhere now for one of my pistols. I'm pretty sure Bianchi had quit making the Avenger by the time the Glock 36 was introduced about 10 years ago, so I've been stymied to find one on ebay or other auction sites. It seems like when one comes up that fits a larger Glock (or a 1911), the prices go sky high.

They're good holsters, and I'm glad my intuition paid off. Even so, there are other guns it would have fit would it had not worked with my Glock 36, and I woulda found a friend with some hardware that would've fit into my frankenstein holster and be glad to trade me a dinner somewheres for the holster.

By the way, you can get supplies at places like Tandy's Leather if you want to repair, modify or make your own holsters or belts or the like. I wish I had the time to build some actual gun belt sets out of the same leather and tan them at the same time. There's lots of other places that sell leather working stuff, including limited simple things like needles and thread suited for leather at local craft stores, and I got about everything I need to make holsters by hand for about $100 15 years ago.

Figure that is now about $250, not including a moto-tool if you desire to be a little high tech in your hole making for sewing. There are several primers on simple holster building available, and although their styles are dated but cool, the techniques remain the same.

You'll need glue, and a burnishing wheel, and an awl, and lots of needles both hand and awl, threads, dyes, edge finish, a very sharp pair of leather shears, a stitching wheel, a punch set. A hard plastic mallet. A rubber working board for stamping and such. I know there are more things you need and I'll update if I recall other items I've needed to build holsters.

As mentioned, some kind of moto-tool with teeny drills and variable speed is nice to have. I can use a wooden burishing wheel at low speed and not have to pull out a cordless drill to burnish edges. Use low speeds in drilling and pretty much for everything else. I've found this method much cheaper than spending big bucks for a leather sewing machine, plus I don't know how to use a leather sewing machine. But I can stitch holsters quite well by hand, and so can anyone.

And if you make a frankenstein holster like I did, and you want to make it not look so bad, it's possible to get an "s" shaped stitching needle and sew a matching thread in the old holes, not sewing the pieces back together but just sewing on one side for decorative purposes now.

I modified one of my dad's Stelzig holsters this way back in the 1980's. He thought it looked fancy. The Holster had been made for a D frame 2" .38 Special snubbie with a sewn in toe plug and he wanted it to carry a Model 66 with a 3" barrel. There was plenty of leather in the holster to expand it, and it was sort of in a design of a speed scabbard with a leather hammer retaining strap. It is a really cool holster.

Moving some stitches and removing the toe plug made the gun fit his Model 66 perfectly. It came out really well.

I'll post some pictures of the Frankenstein holster for the Glock 36 one day. Soon. I promise.


I've had a liking for the Bianchi Askin's Avenger holster since I was in my young twenties in the 80's. They were very popular then. I've had ones for 1911's and Hi-Powers and HK P-7s over the past 30 years, and it's always been one of my favorite holsters for concealed carry of a semi-automatic handgun. I've even seen designs by other makers for J frames and really would like to try one out, but all of the Askins Avengers I've seen were for autos.
So sometime back I was passing through a medium-small town Texas when the GUN SHOP sign beckoned forth from the side of the road, as loud as any thunder I've ever heard. The appropriate response is to pull right over, and I did. After viewing his treasures, and wishing I had the bucks to have made a few judicious gun purchase bargains he had on hand, I did get a couple of Askins Avengers holsters in good used condition for $4 total. One is for a HK P9S 9mm and the other was for a Beretta Cheetah 92. But although I have neighter an HK P9 or a Cheetah (although I'd like one of each, in blue, thank you if anyone is looking to give El Fisho a fine firearm as a a gift), I bought them because I knew other guns I had would fit them well.
But instead of using the larger P9 holster for a more similar gun, I've decided to "Frankenstein" it, and in fact finished part one of the project today. I'm wearing right now, as the commercials used to say, and it's working well with my Glock 36.
I selectively removed some threads from behind the seams of the trigger guard until finally I found the perfect fit, gently prying away the leather and thread also on the interior of the holster with a wide blade screwdriver, then carefully cutting a few threads with a very sharp knife.
The holster now fits the gun fine. I'll assess where I need to bulk up stitching, take a stitch wheel and make a line of reinforcing stitches and then a dremel mini-drill cleaning drills holes as small as any commercial sewing machine can drill. You then stitch it up with an awl or as I prefer, with dual s-shaped needles for a saddle stitch, or my poor interpretation of a saddle stitch.
I may actually leave this work to a professional this time, although I have all the gear to do it and have made numerous simple holsters and a couple of askins clones, as well having modified older holsters to fit new guns and needs and repaired a bunch of holsters of mine, my father, his freinds and my friends.
I've modified more than one old holster to fit another gun. One project in the 90's was making an Askins Avenger P7 holster fit a Colt Commander. Simple matter. Simply remove the inner thread support in the area of the bottom of the trigger guard and it's a perfect fit. Leave the second row of stitching intact, removing on the row closest to the triggerguard. I carried that holster with a lightweight Commander for nearly 10 years.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


As I recently wrote, I discovered a forgotten treasure in guns that my father kept in his collection. One was a Smith and Wesson Model 1917 in .45 Auto caliber. My particular gun is a Brazilian contract gun made in 1937. It was made in America for the Brazilian Military Contract, and I forget how many were shipped over to them over the years but in the 1960's through 1970's both American and Brazilian military surplus began being sold to the public.
Some 11,ooo of these Brazilian Contract Model 1917's, as they were called, were imported back in the USA. Many of these guns made their way to Smith and Wesson, who parkerized them, refurbished and replaced the springs, firing pins and other interior parts, and they were then resold.
The model 1917 served well in both World Wars, and I saw numerous scenes in the HBO series The Pacific in which period correct holsters and ammo carriers and belts for these guns were used. They were particularly popular with those soldiers carrying the .45 Tommy guns, as they shared the same ammo. And could be counted on not to jam.
With half moon (3 rounds), quarter moon (2 rounds) and full moon (6 rounds) clips, these guns are faster to load than with a speedloader. But the beauty in the Smith M1917 over the Colt M1917 was that the Smith would chamber and fire rounds not mounted in any clips. The Colt would not fire shells not mounted in a form of clip, as I understand.
So if you fire without using the moon clips, you have to hand pick or poke out the emptys, often swollen from being fired. And hot, I might add. The moon clips allow the rounds to be ejected by the extractor wheel, since the .45 auto have no rim to eject the shell by themselves.
The trigger was nice on this family gun, very nice. More like a Model 19 Smith than a Python, both of which I have much experience with. I took it to my local gunsmith, John, and he was fascinated by the gun. As I suspected by the notch sight configuration (different than that issued to the American Military), he was very excited by the gun and it's history. He's a big Colt man, loving the Practical Police, and Official Police and the Colt version of the Model 1917.
So he put a bit of break free, just a dab will do it, he said, on the seal on the right side of the faceplate. It was a Brazilian State Seal. After removing the Pachmayer presentation grips my dad bought the gun with at some gun show or pawn shop, John excitedly exclaimed that the interior parts of the gun were damned near brand new. They were shiny.
John excitedly told me that this gun had undergone and extensive trigger job, a very careful and safe job designed to make the double and single action pull smoother, not necessarily dangerously light. He agreed it was definitely a high-dollar trigger job, possibly done at the Smith factory. In fact, he surmised that the gun was in near 100% condition, not counting the refinishing, which certainly would cost some points.
He's going to work on the extremely large front sight for me, as it was grouping 2" to the right and about that same distance down. He refuses to alter the gun in any way. "It's a piece of history, man". But he did agree to straighten the front blade sight and perhaps do some minicule filing, as it appears to be not straight not even across the top.
Shooting it at the range was a joy. Both El Fisho Jr. and I were astonished by the lack of felt recoil. My gun weighs in at just over a couple of pounds, less than both of the 6" S&W Model 25-5's I've owned chambered in .45 Long Colt. And I could not believe that the recoil from the moderate federal solid bullets I was shooting was just SO MUCH LESS than the 25-5's I've shot. The more modern Model 1917, which is the Smith and Wesson Model 22, is heavier than the Model 1917 yet also has more recoil, and the M22 shoots the same .45 ACP ammo as the M1917.
So it's hard to explain how this 73 year old handgun, based on a 1917 production weapon and virtually unchanged in those 20 years between design and the manufacture of my gun, shoots better and nicer than the guns based on it's design that have been made by Smith in the intervening years. Many say the Colt variant shoots even better than the Smith M1917.
I like the gun so much I would strongly consider it as a carry gun. It is damn long with that 5 1/2 inch barrel, but it didn't seem as wide as the modern Smith Model 325 .45 auto combat revolver he produced as an option to me cutting the barrel of my gun.
Besides, he said, it would cost more to have the Model 1917 barrel customized than it would to buy a nice used Model 325 for carry purposes. That may be true, but deep in my mind, I feel a desire to customize it for a family hierloom for El Fisho Jr.
John looked it up in some gun value book, and based on it's condition he said from $800 to $1,000. Which is nice but he was resolute that the gun unaltered would be very valuable by the time El Fisho jr. is in his 30's.
I tend to disagree, based upon my research about the Brazilian contract gun. I'll write to Smith to see if there is any info on the refurb, if they still offer this service. Much of this info may be online. It might be worth that much now, but it is such a damn fine shooting gun with such minimalistic recoil (think .38 short in this same size gun) that you can't believe it blasting out a FMJ practice ammo of 230 grains of .45 auto.
If I did customize it, I'd leave the grips, as they surely contribute much to the less felt recoil. They are handfilling and perfectly fit my hand, as well as El Fisho Jr's, despite the disparity in our hand sizes. El Fisho Jr. was shooting nice groups one handed and the recoil was no biggie to him.
After John made an ever so slight adjustment to the trigger spring tension screw under the grip, El Fisho Jr. is able to accurately shoot rapid fire double action in both groups of twos and threes with no issues at all. Some of my DA revolvers have a bit strong of a double action pull, but El Fisho Jr. had no control problems or accuracy issues doing rapid double and triple taps at the range. It was a new gun to us and we were both getting used to it, just as El Fisho Jr. is easing into range practice, but he attracted a crowd of several other shooters who stopped to watch him shoot some pretty nice groups (albeit with the M1917 off center) with the M1917 and the Combat Masterpiece M67 4".
SO I'm totally impressed with this firearm. Low recoil. With a slight bit of sight work, I'll have excellent accuracy, but it has fair accuracy as it stands now for defense purposes. I'm going to hit a 2" radius from where I'm aiming, but I look forward to having that problem solved with the sight work.
And somewhere in the back of my mind I see this gun with a 3" barrel. A deep rich blue finish, with a gold plated ejector rod, cylinder release lever, trigger and hammer. I don't know if the parts are interchangeable, but I'm sure a good gunsmith could adapt a wide target hammer and trigger to this gun from a Model 22 or perhaps an earlier model of Smith gun featuring the wider models.
I've always been skeptical of trigger shoes, despite the huge worship revolver and holster guru Chic Gaylord had for them, but I might try one on this gun. The current trigger and hammer are not untenable. The hammer reminds me of the one on the colt D frame snubnose revolvers.
In any event, there won't be any customization anytime soon. I think of the history of these guns. They found all over Brazil, and in America, they used them as late as Vietnam, being issued to various naval forces, particularly gunboat soldiers. I have spoken to several naval fellows who worked the exteme backcountry rivers, constantly under fire, who often carried two of these at a time, in crossdraw holsters, with a ton of moon clips in large pouches, a few grenades and M16 clips and a canteen on their pistol belts.
I can see why they liked these pistols. John the gunsmith is also going to look for me a nice concealed carry holster for this gun at the gun shows he works, although I think any wear of this gun is going to be limited to winter clothing months.


In doing more research about where these trucks are for sale, they are apparently for sale in most places in the world EXCEPT the good ole' USA. See the picture above of the AMERICAN CAR CITY dealership, located in France, and as evidenced by this plentiful stock of this Landcruiser truck just awaiting purchase by just about everyone in the world BUT ME.
Note that many of the sites that talk about the 2010 hzj79 Landcruiser Truck limit them to "Tropical Export", meaning developing and thirdworld countries, meaning little or no automobile regulations regarding safety and emissions.
More interesting is that Toyota still builds the venerable FJ60, the LandCruiser from about 1982 to 1990. A great body style, a serious drive train and six cylinder workhorse torqe filled engine that will last 250-300k miles with proper care. It apparently is for sale in the EU.
I also threw in the top picture of a nice beach truck (actually set up for artic running) made from a FJ80 series cruiser. One of these would also make a great outdoors 4x4, and they are a hardy vehicle, although heavier than their FJ60 predecessor. But 1990's examples in good condition can be found for decent prices.
The Orange Landcruiser truck is outfitted with a two person sleeper/camper configuration and is what I think is good inspiration for a bay fishing or surf fishing truck that can get through the serious sand and muck (and more importantly, back again) with some sort of self contained shelter for an enjoyable sleep.
In the marshy beachland of Texas, ironically the best fishing months of the year for most sporting and eating species is the hot months of the year. Muggy. Mosquito weather. If you've never camped at the beach, or stayed in a beach house in the dunes near the beach, you know that heavy beach winds are no deterrent at all to the local mosquitos.
So for me, having a nice, airconditioned abode where one can escape the sun occasionally and get a nice relatively bug free sleep is what Billy Ray and I are aiming at. It makes me much more likely to spend more than one night in a sand covered tent, even if the fishing is great.
So a vehicle with a compact and seemingly fairly light weight camping enclosure on this very serious 4wd truck that can handle the extra weight in beach, hill country and swampy terrain is a very attractive thing.
Bummer for the Americans, unless you are the folks at America Car City.


The photos above show several Toyota Landcruisers, both truck and SUV, that are not available for sale in America, but are currently sold over most of the rest of the world. Why not in America? Surely something to do with probably no airbags or catalytic converters or the like. These vehicles are more simplistic than what the American market is being offered, and as a longtime Toyota owner (4, including one current), I am offended.
Surely there are tons of folks in America like me, who harken back to the days of an affordable and rugged SUV or truck. Something, like this Landcruiser truck, that is just a little on the ugly side. When I think back to all of the excellent 4x4 vehicles I've been in, most were a little ugly. So ugly that they were cool.
You know what I'm talking about. Old international Scouts. The Jeep J10 pickup. The pre-1978 Bronco. Old Jeeps. And of course, the FJ40 and the FJ60 Landcruisers.
Indeed, these foreign made Cruisers, except for the one shown in the middle picture, are based on the FJ60. I especially like the truck, because it is obviously a REAL off road vehicle. The truck has all kinds of possibilities. It's a right hand drive. It has hand crank windows, which means they last for a long time. It is a basic vehicle, but as the top picture shows, it is far from spartan on the inside. The snorkle, for most of America, might be overkill, be here on the Gulf Coast (and indeed, many other flood prone areas), would be a godsend for flooding either due to hurricanes or tropical storms.
It goes without saying that the truck could easily ford shallow rivers or creeks and would have no issues in shore line areas doing a quick traverse of water should that become necessary in an emergency situation, like if a tide comes in whilst out on a penesula in the bay or beach and you have to scoot through a foot or two of water to make your escape.
There are many innovative camper tops and pop-up tops for these trucks also sold in other locales.
The cost of converting a vehicle such as this to be "American legal" is so prohibitive as to even consider for a guy like me. Yeah, a rich guy can afford to have any number of foreign vehicles worth hundreds of thousands made legal for import into America, but that ain't me.
But Toyota could easily keep the spirit of these no frills but highly functional 4wd vehicles and manufacture versions for export to the USA. Make them US compliant. Charge a reasonable price for them. And sell hundreds of thousands of them to folks looking for a highly durable ride that will last them 15 or 20 years as the FJ line is known to do. It's a time tested vehicle, and it's a damn shame that the FJ60 line has not been available in America since 1990 and that a truck version was never available.
Toyota, you're in business to sell cars. Surely your genius engineers and manufacturing gurus could come up with a way to cheaply redesign only the things needed to get past American laws for imporation. Keep the hand cranked windows. Keep the simple features. Make it just like you're making them overseas and just make them American compliant.
The nearest thing that's been available in America for the last 20 years since the demise of the FJ60 line has been the Land Rover Defender, a great vehicle that even used is out of reach of most of us here pricewise. That, plus a history of electrical and pricey engine problems and a need for high maintenance makes the Defender a car for a guy who has a 'vette in his four or five car garage along with his normal family cars, and not a normal fella like me.
Maybe this is my version of a middle age crisis. Wanting a durable 4x4 that will last for years and years. I remember well that back in the 70's and 80's, long before Toyota sold 4 door small pickups (the current Tacoma line) in America, that you could easily get nice 4x4 4 door extended cab pickups by Toyota as close as Mexico and most all other foreign countries. Once in a blue moon, you'd find one that had been imported and titled for sale either new or used at a toyota dealer. I remember that in 1978 I saw one and thought it was a great idea.
Draw from that error now, Toyota. You surely know that since you began selling the smaller 4 door trucks, particularly in the TRO and/or 4WD versions, you've sold a lot of them. I see them all the time on the road. Very popular.
But I want something that has a bit more oomph to it's drivetrain and torque than your standard truck that's been made into a 4x4, albeit with some heavy duty components added.
I want a Landcruiser truck. A new one, or at least newish. Having driven Landcruisers back in the day before they became another heavy luxury out of my price range SUV, they were a vehicle for serious off-roading. And in my middle age, that's what I'm wanting. Something you already make.
Are ya listening, Toyota? Other manufacturers who obviously have a google alert for their products running have responded in comments and emails over the past year to some of my posts, businesses such as Orvis, Daiwa, Shakespeare and others.
I'm joe consumer who enjoys the outdoors and appreciates a well designed vehicle that will last a long time. Sell me what I want because no one else is making a vehicle this good.
Are you listening also, Jeep? Why haven't we had a quality serious 4x4 J10 sort of truck in nearly 30 years?


I've been posting a lot lately about one of my fishing passions, surf fishing. Surf fishing necessarily involves long and longer rods, often up the 15 feet. Most of these longer rods are two or three pieces, which still make for long rods even when broken down. Likewise, I have a few bay and bass rods that are one piece and go up to 7 1/2 feet.

These are rods that even on fishing trips with the boys don't lend themselves to being rigged through the car where they can injure you or be easily damaged by doors or careless passengers. If you're on a family trip, then trust me when I say the non-fishing members of your family may be less gung ho and careful with long rods strewn about the interior of the vehicle. They can sometimes be downright unenthusiastic.

Howa-Eav-ior, as my junior high school science teacher used to say, I'm forever looking for rod carrying solutions that accomodate my family and their space in our mid-sized SUV. They are very understanding of my fishing passions, and in the various vehicles we have owned over the years I've sought to not infringe on their luggage carrying abilities on various trips and vacations.

Nearly every locale we visit has SOME fishing opportunity. I didn't take any fishing gear on my recent trip to N. Carolina because I knew I would be doing home fix up projects for family and wouldn't have the time to venture out onto any area waters to fish, although despite all of my less favorable impressions about my recent N.C. soujourns, it is undeniable that it is a fisherman's paradise with a vast array of fishing opportunities in the State.

Unfortunately, as I understand it, the trout fishing is several hours away at best and the sea fishing is at least five hours away from the unremarkable "Piedmont Triad" area where we visit. Nonetheless, knowing that my inlaws reside in a golf course subdivision on the course, which said golf course having been there 20 or more years, I knew that more than likely fishing opportunities would be available. I had not seen any lakes on the course near their house, but knowing golf courses and their mandatory lakes and ponds, it would have some pond or lake hazards that would be holding some kinds of fish. I didn't take a travel rod, and regretted it as I had a few hours on several days where I could have found a place to fished after the golfers went home or the course was closed.

Years ago, before a fishing trip to the Bahamas, I bought a long hard plastic travel case for long rods from Academy. It has an access hatch at one end and telescopes up to 8 or 9 feet or so. It's sturdy and flight checked baggage approved case that will withstand rough handling when packed correctly, using some bubble wrap to keep the rods from banging around in it. I've lost a few guides on one rod because I had too many rods packed inside of it and it was handled roughly. They don't call the people who load bags "bag throwers" for nothing, not to mention items falling on in the the conveyor belt morass that gets bags to and from the planes.

This case can easily be attached via large flex ties to my SUV roof rack for fishing travels. A few extra flex ties and some wire cutters allow quick removal and reinstallment when traveling.

But I'm about to buy a cargo basket for the rack on my suv, and I'm going to make some custom rod cases out of schedule 40 thickness PVC to bolt on to the cargo carrier in a semi-permanant installation. The idea is to take one or two larger diameter PVC pipes the desired length, attach some screw-able caps on either end (with foam pieces in the caps to protect rod tips, and then use some U bolts and small steel plates to secure the affair to the cargo basket.

Longer rods can then be loaded sans reels in one or more of the pipes, and carried with some degree of ease to your fishing location.

I also thought about making a rack using smaller diameter PVC tubing attached to some sort of stackable rack, that wouldn't take up the whole capacity of the cargo basket but instead stacked three across and three high, to hold rods WITH the reels attached.

A small cutout of 3 inches or so to accomodate the reel footing would allow the rod and reel to "seat" into the rod holder, not unlike the slots contained in rod holder on boats or for the beach. Some sort of short rubber leash to wrap around the back of the reel, attaching to both sides of the PVC tube, would keep the rod from slipping out.

By placing the smaller 2-3" PVC tubes in some sort of rack with a handle on top, you could bungee the affair to your cargo basket or roof rack and unbungee when you reach your fishing destination, rods threaded and ready to rock. If you're fishing at a shore side location where you're going to be with your vehicle at all times, you could leave the rack on top, but if you were going to walk a ways from your vehicle, you could unhook it and put it in the vehicle for locking.

Just a few ideas on transporting big fishing rods, and I'd like to hear of any ideas I have not thought of.


Xavier has an excellent post on his blog about recognizing safety threats as a citizen in your daily life, with much food for thought.

You can look in my blog roll to hit Xavier's blog. If you're interested in self defense, photography, pawn shop gun bargains, various excellent pistols and revolver reviews and the one subject near and dear to my self defense heart, extolling the virtues of combat and self-defense revolvers in the modern seemingly "post revolver days" we live in.

I'm having problems linking with my computer at home, and I cannot figure out the cause, thus I can't post a simple cut and paste link to his site. For a year, no problem cutting and pasting links of web pages and text and now, I can't do it. Also, at the same time, my favorites selector stopped working as per usual. Usually, when I mark a favorite page, after I mark the first page in a certain folder, that folder stays the default favorites folder until I change folders or until 24 hours or so passes, so I don't have to scroll through my lengthy lists of el favorito pages.

I don't think Xavier lives in Texas, and so some of his gun related posts regarding laws and such and news are from here. Just bear that in mind. Every state has vastly different gun laws and self-defense laws. Still, I am long read and somewhat well-educated in both the laws of Texas and the techniques of self-defense. So what folks like Xavier and I say about weapon selection and self-defense is not legal advice, nor tactical advice, it is merely food for thought to urge to you think about these things in your life and perhaps seek out other noted authors on the subjects.

For instance, I can hardly pass up the opportunity to tell a war story every now and then. About thirty years ago, ATM machines were in their infancy. They were sorta new and not really located everywhere. Most ATM machines were of the walk up variety, meaning you had to exit your car and either walk into an exposed front area of a bank or just inside the bank doors or in a special kiosk in front of the bank containing the ATM. There were very few drive thru ATM machines back then in Houston.

I was a fairly new officer, who had attended the academy with a cadre of friends I had met in the several years becoming an officer. Likewise, other academies going in the Houston area contained friends of mine from this same time period as well. One of these fellows who was a big running buddy of mine was Ricky the Rookie. He had earned that nickname at the former job where most of our gang had met when we were all 19. Ricky and I went through the academy at the same time.

Ricky and I soon worked our way through our probationary and FTO periods and although we were working different parts of town, we both shared a lot of extra jobs together, generally in the Westheimer and Southwest portion of Houston. We also both worked the 2p to 10p shift and had already been in enough situations on duty and on extra jobs that we knew trouble could erupt anywhere in Houston and that the class of people we referred to as "turds" could be anywhere at anytime armed with gun or knife or both.

It was a frequent practice for Ricky the Rookie and I to hook up after extra jobs or duty and go out. We had friends that worked most of the clubs, and most night clubs were all about having as many officers there as possible. Again, Houston's a mean old town, as several blues singers have noted in previous times, and back in the roaring early 80's it was no different. Likewise, all of our group of police buddies were unmarried at the time so we had lots of free time.

We didn't just go night clubbing together, but often played in softball leagues and went fishing and hunting and did lots of stuff together. It was good times.

So one night Ricky the Rookie and I went out to meet some friends somewhere, and the memory of where we were going that particular night long since escapes me. But it would have been in 1982 or '83 and around 11 pm. We stopped at an ATM at a bank on outer Westheimer to get some cash. As we were pulling up to the machine, we saw the shadow of a person sneak behind the freestanding brickwork that housed the ATM machine in a freestanding structure outside the bank in the front parking lot. It was the walk up type.

Since we were both off duty but armed, we didn't hardly have to say a word to each other. Also being in our young twenties, feeling relatively bulletproof (but without our vests on), having both already been through A LOT of hairy situations in our police careers, and being more full of vinegar than sense, we decided we'd take the guy down ourselves instead of get into a foot pursuit.

So instead of doing the wise thing, and using the police handheld radio I had in my car to summon some on-duty HPD units, we decided to take down this cat by ourselves. It could've been a homeless person or a crazy dude just hiding from us, meaning us no harm. But we also knew it was just as likely to be an armed perp intending to rob us or worse to get the cash out of my bank account.

I'll note that I did at least turn on my radio and call in our position and request backup and note that we were in plain clothes and called out on the situation. Of course, one of my supervisors caught the call and hoped we were not out playing cowboy.

Ricky the Rookie took the perp down, as I backed him up. He was armed with a large butcher knife, and had a cocaine freebasing drug habit and was coming down hard and needed some cash. He willingly complied and surrended with no hesitation, the sight of Ricky the Rookie's .45 Colt Commander being a powerful motivator, along with Ricky the Rookie's colorful Dale Carnegie-esque take down language of "Drop the knife, Mother f-- or I'll kill you."

When disarming a turd, one does not generally speak in the King's english, or with particular politeness. Instead, one speaks in the vernacular that the turd is likely to understand, which is a command rather than a request, rendered directly and in the "turdish" dialect that street criminals understand.

In any event, he was quickly restrained and back up soon arrived. He had a history of aggravated robberies and pen trips and the street cops thought he would be good for several other ATM robberies at that location and others in the area.

But we were stupid. We should have set up a perimeter around this guy, carefully avoiding a cross-fire situation between Ricky the Rookie and I, and waited for backup. Fortunately, it ended well for us. But it just as easily could've gone the other way.

Now that I'm much older, I see why the "old heads" (as oldtimer police officers were referred to back in my day) were always a bit less gung ho to be the first officer on the scene of the bar fight, or why they always waited for mucho backup to handle a hairy situation.

On the other hand, since we were both working much of our police careers as "solo" officers, we were used to handling potentially hairy situations by ourselves on duty in Houston at the time. Many times, on busy shifts, backup might be many minutes or miles away, even in an emergency assist the officer situation. And many times, the violence coming from in progress calls just wasn't going to wait for you to have backup.

So in the kind retrospect that thirty years of living a law enforcement life can give, I now with some gray hair understand why the old heads were slow to action at times. But when they did get into action, old heads didn't mess around. They were all bidness. That explains why turds would listen often times to an old head when he issued a command when younger officers like us were sometimes not listened to when we issued the same commands to our contacts on the street. The turds knew it too. The old heads didn't mess around, and they were to be taken seriously.

So read X's post on recognizing threats. It's very well written.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Pictures courtesy of imdb.

The man in the bottom picture above, with an innovative AND effective concealed handgun carry system, is Il Duce, the father of the twin McManus brothers who are the Boondock Saints. I totally get the saint part, as it's spelled out in the opening part of the first movie in the priest's sermon. But where the hell did they get Boondocks? They're in the middle of Boston, not out in the Boonies until you hit the sequel, All Saints Day, and it opens with them carrying some very nice sawed off double barrel shotguns (side by side, of course, not some over/under deal, riding horseback and tending their sheep herd on some pastoral and beautiful land in their native Ireland.

In both of the movies, Noah, the twin's long lost father pictured above, wears several different vests that are like the one above when he's heading into shootouts. Lots O' Guns. Lots of them. I'd like to make one of these just for wearing shooting out in the pasture or at any of the places my friends own. I often carry many, or at least several, different pistols to go plinking with when I go shooting with my friends on private property.

So I have never seen these two pieces of wonderful dude films until this weekend. Living in a cave, I know. But as much of a fan I was of the Bronson version of this movie, they do these two differently enough to make them interesting.

It's wide open for a third one, but they had trouble making the sequel financially I read on wiki, so who knows if that's true. All I can say is, they're a great double feature when you feel like escaping into dude-dom.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I don't know how I could have neglected featuring this fine album as a album of the week, but it's long been a favorite of mine. I saw the band twice early in their career, before achieving success. One in L.A., and I liked that show so much I saw them at the van tour level stage of their career in Houston at a Rockafeller's gig. The drummer, Harry Rushikoff, was amazing and it was like he had extra muscles and joints in his arms and legs with his timely yet frenetic and high speed playing.
Every tune on the CD, from rockers to ballads, just burn like Fiya. Hot Fiya. The band was Hon-gray and it showed. They reached for it and they grabbed it. That's something few bands can do, and I didn't like this bands subsequent efforts as much as the debut.
But just like first albums by bands like Jane's Addiction, Guns and Roses, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin and the list goes on, every song rocks you and moves you.
It had one "hit", "Still in Hollywood", a song lamenting the life of a working and struggling musician who thought she'd be outta there by now. A bastardized version of that song ends the album, but you'll want to keep this one on your playlist or in your car CD player for more than one listen because every single one of the songs is great. It's that intense and raw and in your face.
And it makes me feel like I'm in my early 20's again. Back when I was in my early 20's and visiting L.A., rest assured a tape of this song often played as I was driving around town at night heading for a club to hear some music.


Ronnie James Dio passed on today, a victim of a valient fight against stomach cancer. He was treated in Houston and passed away in my home town. I'm sure the folks at M.D. Anderson and the surrounding area were wonderful to his family when they were here, and on behalf of a guy who's become an old man himself, I offer my condolences to one of my favorite artists who I've never tired of listening to since 1975.

Ronnie played with a lot of great outfits, but I first heard him paired with guitar virtuoso Richie Blackmore in Rainbow when I was in high school. I thought his brief stint after that with Black Sabbath resulted in the only listenable Sabbath album where I actually was able to listen to every song on the tape without fast forwarding my Pioneer Supertuner's cassette player.

My favorite stuff was that of his own band in the early eighties. First of all, any band where Viv Campbell did a stint has to be rocking. But of course, Dio was rocking on his own, no matter who was playing in the band, which had many different members over the years.

Holy Diver and The Last in Line were my favorite Dio band albums, and in fact the only Dio (band) albums I bought. I bought a double CD Rainbow retrospective remastered set a few years ago, and of course it is just a fantastic piece of rocking music. Holy Diver was very critically acclaimed and per wiki, was considered by critics to be his best work.

Dio, above all other very talented heavy metal and hard rock vocalists over the years, was to me anyway, the master of the "Epic Rock Ballad" (or ERB).

I remember trying to explain the musical structure (and indeed, of it's paramount importance in the history and development of rock & roll music and inventive new song forms) of the ERB to a female friend in 1984 or so, in the midst of her complaining about the fact that we could be listening to new wave or something poppy instead of Dio's new album.

Rainbow in the Dark off of Holy Diver is a top contender for one of the best ERB's of all time. Although the tempo is restrained, almost with a dotted note feel at times, the song surges thorughout as if trying to hold back something. Yet at the same time, the band is playing HARD and Dio is BELTING it out. Very emotive.

Of course, Ronnie first hit my radar screen in the early portion of high school, when Blackmore broke away from Deep Purple (another favorite artist of mine, particularly their obscure 60's cut of Hey Joe...the weirdest ever cover of one of the most covered tunes of all time) and Dio was his vocalist. These were also the years of the legendary drummer, the late Cozy Powell. I could write for weeks about the cool drumming of Cozy Powell.

But with Dio and Rainbow, there were tunes like Man in the Silver Mountain that were great and hard rocking. Sort of a combination of the rocking force of Led Zeppelin with the hook and song format of a pop song. But rocking enough in nature to render the pop song structuring insignificant. It was new and it was the start of what would plateau in the 1980's with hard rockin' hair metal groups like Motley Crue and Guns and Roses. Janes Addiction took that same feeling and mixed with a punk element to get their sound, like the Red Hots merged these influences with r&b to get their funky metal sound.

With Cozy Powell on the skins, on the second and arguably best ever Rainbow album Rainbow Rising, Dio belted out absolute jams like Starstruck, which also featured later solo act Tony Carey on keyboards. This to me was the best Rainbow lineup, but then Blackmore went into a mode of replacing the band except Dio every album or so, and finally Dio left and founded his own band.

My prayers go out to their family and friends and to Ronnie.