Smoke Signals from Gunsite

High summer is upon us here at Gunsite, meaning we’re experiencing warm summer days interrupted by afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms.  From our vantage point on the ranch we are treated daily to the cloud buildup and thunderstorm formation.  Sometimes we can see as many as a dozen thunderstorms towering and dancing about and sometimes we manage to get some rain from one or two of them.

A couple of weeks ago we were treated to a visit from an old friend, King Abdullah II of Jordan.  As you may know, the king came here as a student back in the mid-80s, at a time when Jeff was running the school and the king was the heir to the throne of Jordan.  For this visit, the King, the current Crown Prince, two Princes (brothers) and a group of friends from both Jordan and the United States were taking a motorcycle vacation of the American West and decided to stop and see us for some visiting and shooting.

For this visit we arranged to have our friends at Colt put together a set of pistols for presentation to King Abdullah. The two gun set consisted of a slightly embellished stainless Colt Gunsite, and a Colt Single Action Army, in .45 Colt, highly embellished with gold accents, royal seals, and so on, and genuine ivory scrimshawed grips.  General Bill Keys, CEO at Colt, and Buz Mills presented these pistols to the King.

American Rifleman is working on an article concerning this visit, so stay tuned for more.

The week prior to the royal visit we were visited by our friend Tom Gresham and his film crew for Personal Defense TV.  We spent the week filming several shows and a number of training tips for the series, which will air starting in October on the Sportsman’s Channel.

Speaking of TV, several episodes we filmed here for American Guardian have already aired this season and more will be following.  Check out this show, hosted by our friend Chad Adams, on the Outdoors channel on Wednesdays.

We have received our latest shipment of blued Colt Gunsite pistols from Colt, and they are as good as any 1911 I have seen.  If you want a pistol that is “good to go” this is it.  And, each pistol comes with a certificate good for a $100 discount on a Gunsite training class.  For information or pricing contact Susan in the Pro Shop (pr*****@gu*****.com).

The 2010 training schedule is taking shape and should be up on our website in a few weeks.  There is still time, if you have particular scheduling suggestions, to get those ideas in before we publish the schedule.  Speaking of our website, it has been undergoing a major makeover and we’re not finished yet.  Along with a number of improvements, look for a greatly expanded online shopping opportunity in the near future (

We just finished our annual Vets Pistol class and the Vets Carbine class is coming up in a couple of weeks.  As you may know, these classes are free to Gulf War vets and are one of the ways we try to show our appreciation for our veterans.  Students throughout the training year donate excess ammunition for these classes, the instructors volunteer their time and we receive support from some of our friends in the industry.  For the pistol class, our friends at Blackhawk, SureFire, EOTech and Mil-Tac were sponsors, and we thank them for their support and hope you will do so as well.

When the PDTV folks were here we did another wall penetration test, this time comparing .223 ammunition and pistol ammunition.  Regardless of the bullet weight, .223 ammunition fired from a 16” barreled carbine does not penetrate as many typical interior walls as does pistol ammunition, whether ball or hollowpoint.  In our test, the .223 bullets tended to tumble and fragment, none of them passing through a second wall, unless in tiny fragments.  Our pistol ammunition, consisting of 9mm, .357 Magnum and .45 ACP defensive ammunition, penetrated all three of our walls and exited our “house”.

Of course, these tests are far from perfect, as we did not test all examples of pistol and carbine ammunition from all barrel lengths in all possible walls.  What this test does show is that, in general, pistol ammunition tends to penetrate typical interior walls further than high velocity carbine ammunition.

For many shooters, ammunition availability is a big concern these days.  Fortunately, if you are coming to Gunsite for training, we can supply most of your ammunition needs.  We have a good supply of the common calibers on hand and there is a discount on ammo when purchased with a class.  Don’t let ammunition shortages keep you from training, come to Gunsite and let us take care of it for you.


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Ed Head (1949 - 2022) was a regular on Shooting Gallery, Gun Stories and Down Range TV. He worked for almost 30 years in law enforcement, first in the United States Air Force and then with the United States Border Patrol, retiring as a Field Operations Supervisor. During his Border Patrol career, Ed worked in a variety of patrol, investigative and training capacities. Ed had an extensive background as a firearms instructor, having trained thousands, ranging from beginners to police, military and special operations personnel. Having taught at Gunsite for 20 years, Ed first trained there under the world famous shooting school’s founder, Jeff Cooper, then later ran the school as the operations manager for more than five years. Ed passed away on September 16, 2022.


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