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‘Be a Student of Weapons-craft’

Miyamito Musashi, perhaps the most famous and revered Samurai who ever lived, said “A warrior should not have a favorite weapon.” On its face that might seem like a contradictory statement coming from a Samurai, because it’s a known fact that the preferred weapon of any Samurai was the katana. However, I think people familiar with Musashi and his teachings understand that what he meant was, he didn’t need his katana. Furthermore, the katana, while the preferred weapon of the Samurai, was not the only weapon with which they were proficient. To put Musashi’s words into more modern terms, Clint Smith, founder, and CEO of Thunder Ranch, tells his patrons to be “students of weapons-craft.”

What does it mean to be “a student of weapons-craft?” For starters, you must come to the realization that you could be in a gunfight with a gun that isn’t yours. If that’s a real possibility, which it is, wouldn’t it behoove you to have a working knowledge of other weapons besides the ones you own?

Did you know that roughly one in five (20%) of all guns in all the world are some variation of a Kalashnikov rifle? For those of you not fluent in Russian surnames, Kalashnikov is probably the most important one you’ll ever need to know. Mikhail Kalashnikov is the creator of the AK-47 rifle. Today, his rifle platform is manufactured all over the globe, in multiple calibers – not just the original 7.62×39.

However, of the approximately 100,000,000 AK rifles in existence, an estimated 75% of them are chambered in the original caliber. Having hit the battlefield in 1947, it’s a weapon that has clearly stood the test of time and since its inception has impacted modern warfare more than any other standard infantry weapon. What I’m getting at here is, wouldn’t it be a good idea for you to know how to operate and fire the most prolific firearm in the history of the world?

As globally popular as the AK has become, here in America, the AR-15 holds the top spot as our nation’s most popular weapon – with an estimated 44,000,000 of them being privately owned in this country alone. #MERICA! Invented by Eugene Stoner in the 1950s, the Armalite Rifle (AR) has been going head-to-head with the Kalashnikov in combat zones all over the world. If you’re an avid reader of this article, you might own one or more of these rifles yourself. If not, AR platform rifles would be very high on the priority list of weapons you should know how to operate.

When I teach classes, I often ask the ladies attending “How many guns are in your home that you don’t know how to operate?” The number is usually pretty high because their husbands, or other men in their lives have multiple guns that the ladies have never been taught to use. I’m not picking on the ladies – it just tends to be the norm – probably because husbands and boyfriends are awful teachers, and their women would rather avoid their incessant yelling and extreme lack of patience. The men buy a bunch of guns (many without their wife’s knowledge) and use them (or don’t) for a variety of different things. My follow-up question is usually something like, “If your gun (the obligatory 5-shot snubby or .380 your gun-dumb husband bought for you) isn’t immediately accessible, and one of your husband’s guns was the closest to you when you’re home alone and someone kicked in your door, what would you do?” The responses can sometimes be rather comical, but what I’ve never heard is, “I’d figure out how to use my husband’s gun,” because they know that’s not a realistic response in that scenario.

Hey, it’s not just women. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen cops (full-grown men) come across various types of firearms during traffic stops, house searches, or other day-to-day activities in law enforcement, and have NO IDEA how to clear (unload) the weapon. Many times, other cops have handed me a gun and asked me to clear it because they have no idea how it works. It’s a little sad and rather unnerving.

Here in the American south, to say we have a plethora of firearms common to our region, would be a major understatement. Below, I’ll list some of the various guns that are most common and suggest that if you’re unfamiliar with them, you should absolutely research how to use them. Because as previously stated, you might not be fighting with your gun.
1.) AR platform rifles.
2.) AK platform rifles.
3.) Polymer framed, striker fired handguns, i.e., Glocks, Caniks, S&W M&Ps, Sig Sauer P320, etc.
4.) Pump action shotguns, i.e., Remington 870s, and Mossberg 500s.
5.) Semi-automatic shotguns, i.e., Remington 1100s, Benellis, and Berettas.
6.) Single-shot and double barrel shotguns.
7.) Bolt action rifles.
8.) Lever action rifles.
9.) Semi-automatic rifles other than numbers 1 and 2 on this list.
10.) Double action revolvers.
11.) Single action revolvers.
12.) Single / Double action semi-automatic pistols, i.e., the Beretta model 92.
13.) The 1911. Yeah, I included it, but I made sure it was unlucky #13 on the list. You should know how they work, but you shouldn’t buy one for personal or home defense – unless you intend to use it as an impact weapon and beat an intruder to death with it.

You have no way of knowing when or where your fight will take place, and you don’t know what weaponry might be available to you at the time. Even if you’re already armed with your everyday carry gun, if there’s an AK or an 870 nearby, wouldn’t you much rather have one of those in your hand? If you’re not sure how to answer that question, let me help you out… YES! You don’t have to buy every model of firearm on the planet to have a working knowledge of the ones you’re most likely to encounter, but you can do your homework, and make yourself more prepared tomorrow than you are today. Until next week…

Avoid what you can. Defeat what you can’t.

Please submit your questions to Ryan via email at

(Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney or a medical provider, and no information provided in “Slicing the Pie,” or any other publication authored by Ryan Barnette should be construed, in any way, as official legal, or medical advice.)