Jan/Feb 2005  •   Reviews & Interviews

The Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, 5th Edition

Review by John D. McFarlin

The Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, 5th Edition.
Massad Ayoob.
Ktause Publications. 2002.

Have you ever heard someone refer to the most deadly of all the martial arts? In fact, is any single martial art more deadly than the others? Of course! The martial art of combat handgunnery, as handed down to us over the Twentied Century, exceeds all others.

This art, like most of the Twentieth Century variations on art, lurks in the heart of all of us, lusty, deep, and generative. Its practioners need be neither archers, jujitsu masters, nor swordsmen. And like much 20th Century art, the laymen practice it poorly if at all. Yet, the infatuated tend to practice to excess. Our last century was in no small part defined by guns, handguns in particular I would argue, though some would say machine guns—especially German machine guns—just as the end of the 19th Century was characterized in part by the shotgun and the Edwardian shoot. As we rise over the final hump of the 20th Century and settle down on the 21st, the 5th edition of The Gun Digests' Combat Hand Gunnery by Massad Ayood holds a special place in the explication of hand gunnery in our times.

Ayood writes neither a polemic on gun rights nor a right of passage to forbidden knowledge. What great success! That in itself is cause for celebration. Ayood offers an advanced introduction to handguns. If you know guns; if you have some experience with weapons that snap, bang, and jerk; if you have conquered any lingering mythology of the fire of Zeus and the thunder that makes small dogs shake; you are ready for Ayood. He takes his readers systematically through every major phase of modern handguns, makes, models, methods, and modes.

The bald fact is that Ayood writes mainly for new cops, guys and gals who have just had a whale of a lot of power and responsibility placed in their hands. By way of explanation, he also includes citizens who think they want to carry a weapon. If, by the end of his ruminations on legal responsibility and carrying a weapon during a home invasion or car jacking, you'd rather be alive than dead, then I suspect you don't truly appreciate the US judicial system. Yet, if you follow Ayood's advice, you may survive.

Ayood gives his readers a forthright, righteous presentation of what modern handgunnery is all about. He refrains from down home advice, although he gives one the idea that the Glock is a design to be reckoned with, and he writes in a lucid, human narrative that is as far as one can get from dogma, tech-writing, and polemics yet still be on topic.

If you've ever considered carring a gun, then read Massad Ayood. If he doesn't change your mind, then at least he'll put you in the ballgame.


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