Secret vaccine industry ties and military involvement with Institute of Medicine

Secret vaccine industry ties and military involvement with Institute of Medicine

Mike Adams
August 29, 2011

The Institute of Medicine is suddenly in the news following the release of its vaccine “adverse events” research which found that MMR vaccines actually cause measles, seizures and anaphylactic shock. The old media predictably distorted the story and used it to deceptively announce that “vaccines are not linked to autism!”

In falsely reporting this study from the IoM, however, the old media reporters never bothered to even read the adverse reactions report. Nor did they ask a few simple questions such as “Who is funding the Institute of Medicine? And what is the agenda of the IoM?”

Today, NaturalNews publishes a stunning story about the IoM which reveals this government-created non-profit to be a key player in the military medical complex involving a shady network of weapons manufacturers, the Department of Homeland Security, top pharmaceutical companies and population control globalists such as Bill Gates. Here, we expose who’s giving the IoM money and why the actual sources of funding behind the IoM destroy any credibility it once claimed to have on the subject of public health.

We’ve already published the first honest assessment of the IoM’s report in a news item posted yesterday:…

That story takes an honest investigative look at the IoM and what its report really says. The old “dinosaur” media, as usual, has predictably twisted this story around and falsely claimed that it gives vaccines a clean bill of health. Only NaturalNews (and other alternative media organizations) dares tell the truth while questioning the IoM’s financial ties and funding sources. The entire mainstream media blindly accepts the IoM’s “authority” as beyond reproach, neglecting to conduct basic journalism and follow the money as NaturalNews is doing.

By the way, you can view the IoM’s full report for yourself at:…

Why does the truth about the Institute of Medicine really matter?

Because the IoM is positioned by the federal government as an independent, “prestigious” organization whose decisions are based on scientific facts. When the U.S. government rolls out its upcoming mandatory vaccination requirements, it will cite the Institute of Medicine as the source that said vaccines were safe (even though that’s a lie).

The FDA, for example, cites the Institute of Medicine is setting its own vaccine policies (…). The USDA also turns to the IoM for its recommendations on things like school lunch programs (…).

Even more to the point, President Obama’s recent demand that health insurance companies pay for birth control medication was based on the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation (…). It was the IoM that put forth the guidelines to “require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services” including “FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling.”

Even the CDC commissioned the IoM to study the control of viral hepatitis infections, after which the CDC quickly advised that all infants should be injected with multiple hepatitis vaccines “…as soon as they are stable and washed.” In this same set of recommendations, the IoM advised that students who are not vaccinated against hepatitis B should not be allowed to attend school. (…)

The IoM, in other words, is the go-to organization for the setting of government health policy. Never mind the fact that the IoM is two-thirds funded by government itself and also takes money from the world’s top vaccine manufacturers. The conflicts of interest within the IoM are not merely notable, but severe conflicts of interest. They are so prominent, in fact, that no person in their right mind should believe a word the IoM says about vaccines, yet both the government and the mainstream media is positioning the IoM as (somehow) being a trustworthy independent non-profit that tells the truth about vaccines.

Even the Washington Legal Foundation (, a group that advocates free choice in health care (and personal freedom in general), charged that the FDA could not legally accept recommendations from the Institute of Medicine because the committee members put forth by the IoM did not meet the lawful requirement of being “fairly balanced.”

“Using advice from a committee that lacks fair balance encroaches upon Congress’ mandate that each Advisory Committee should be representative of a broad range of viewpoints and should include affected individuals,” said WLF Chief Counsel Richard Samp after filing WLF’s Citizen Petition. (…)

This is where the danger really lies. Everybody else in government listens to the IoM and usually adopts its recommendations as public health policy. And yet the IoM is actually run and financed by a complex network of globalists and vaccine promoters, as you’ll see below.

Because of the IoM’s unchallenged influence in setting public health policy, we are all being set up for a military-run mass vaccination campaign funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, and relying on vaccine-tracking information technology from companies like Northrup Grumman, a weapons manufacturer with a history of illegal international arms trafficking. (More details below.)

This is what vaccines have become in America today: A military agenda against the People. And the IoM sits at the hub of influence for this diabolical command center. This is all explained in more detail in the rest of this story, as well as in upcoming stories about the IoM slated for publication here on NaturalNews.

Please share this story far and wide so that your friends and colleagues can learn the truth about the IoM and where its money really comes from.

I wish to thank the NaturalNews Facebook fans who conducted much of this research to help us find the truth behind the Institute of Medicine (

The IoM’s secret ties to the military and weapons manufacturers

The Institute of Medicine was created by Congress in 1970. On its website, the IoM claims “we do not receive direct federal funding for our work,” which as you will soon see is a highly misleading statement, given that 64.9% of the IoM’s funds actually come from the federal government.

NaturalNews learned that the IoM is funded by the Who’s Who of the most evil corporations, non-profits and government organizations involved in things like secret medical experiments on humans, global population control agendas, the spread of degenerative disease, international arms trafficking and crimes against humanity (see list below).

The IoM is also blatantly deceptive about where its funding comes from. While its website claims it does not receive federal funding for its work, an investigation by Senator Coburn’s office reveals that 55% of the IOM’s funding comes from the government (…). This number varies year to year, of course, and we’ve found documentation showing this number to be as high as 64.9%.

It all begs the question: Why would the IoM try to hide the fact that it receives so much money from the federal government? We’ll get more into that later, but first, check out some of the government organizations from which the IoM receives its money:

Government departments that fund the IoM

• Department of Homeland Security

• Department of Defense

• Department of Health and Human Services

• EPA (in charge of allowing corporate pollution of our nation)

• USDA (the pro-Monsanto, pro-GMO sellout)

• Social Security Administration

In all, two-thirds of the IoMs money comes from government sources, several of which are military and “homeland security” related. What this reveals is that various government agencies function as “shell companies” to funnel money into the IoM. More than five percent of the IoM’s funding comes from the Department of Defense, and a further 3.6% comes from the Department of Homeland Security.

It makes you wonder: What does WAR have to do with medicine? Well, everything, as you’ll soon see. In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security requested that the IoM conduct a workshop entitled, “Medical Preparedness for a Nuclear Detonation in a Major U.S. City”. (…) The workshop “assessed the ability of emergency services, healthcare, and federal, state, and local authorities to respond to a nuclear weapon equivalent to 10 kilotons of TNT detonated during a workday in a central business district of a large U.S. metropolitan area.”

The IoM even managed to twist the terror attacks of 9/11 into its own pro-vaccine agenda, issuing a strongly worded press release on November 5, 2011 which declared, “[America’s] capacity to develop, produce, and store vaccines to deal with these agents is inadequate to meet the nation’s needs.” The IoM then recommended the creation of a “National Vaccine Authority” which would be used to spearhead the U.S. government getting into the vaccine manufacturing business in what the IoM calls a “the creation of a government-owned, contractor-operated national vaccine facility.” (i.e. the federal government actually manufacturing vaccines, mandating their use, outlawing lawsuits against vaccines and imprisoning those who refuse to take them). (…)

The IoM describes this “vaccine authority” as a group that “…could become a source of appropriate reliable information to the media health care personnel, policy-makers, and the public.” (i.e. a vaccine propaganda Ministry of Truth.)

Vaccinating all the children of the world

Immediately following this recommendation, the IoM published a document called “The Children’s Vaccine Initiative: Achieving the Vision” which it describes as “…an international endeavor to ensure that children throughout the world are immunized. One of the best opportunities to address the growing problem of immunization in the United States …lies in marshaling the vaccine development and production efforts in the United States and abroad.” (…)

In addition to receiving funds from the DOD and DHS, the IoM also allows its key reports to be reviewed by weapons manufacturers before they are published. Its recent report on vaccine adverse reactions, for example, was reviewed by Sam Shekar from the military defense contractor Northrop Grumman, a weapons manufacturer and military technology engineering company that has been caught engaging in illegal international arms trafficking by the U.S. State Department. A subsidiary of Northrup Grumman “provided portions of the computer source code of Air Force One to a Russian company in 1998,” reports Wikipedia (…).

Northrup Grumman also illegally sold computer guidance systems to Angola, Indonesia, Israel, China, Ukraine and Yemen.

On the health front, Northrup Grumman was awarded a key role in a $5 billion grant from the CDC to run a “public health” information technology program. (…)

What’s a public health information technology program? It is a cybersecurity technology system used to track people who have been vaccinated while monitoring the spread of infectious disease (which the IoM admits is caused by the vaccines themselves). Remember: Most people who are diagnosed with infectious disease are the very same people who were vaccinated against those diseases! (…)

We suspect this technology will likely be used to track and enforce an upcoming militarized mandatory vaccine agenda in much the same way that IBM sold its technology to the Nazi regime in World War II to track Jewish prisoners as they were hauled off to concentration camps. (…)

In this, we have a blurring of the lines between military and medicine. The theme that emerges from all this is that conventional medicine is being militarized, and the signs of that are all around us (see more, below). For example, the FDA has stepped up its armed raids on innocent dairy farmers, using “shock troop” tactics while borrowing techniques from the KGB to build a network of spies and infiltrators (…).

That an international arms trafficker is now being given grant money by the CDC to engineer and run a “CDC global health mission” is a direct admission of the globalist agenda behind these criminal organizations. The Northrup Grumman press release on this admits that the contract work with the CDC will be conducted in “50 countries around the world” involving “20 business and university partners.”

Private sources of money for the Institute of Medicine

While 64.9% of its funding comes from the federal government, 32.7% comes from private sources. See page 55 of the following report to see for yourself:…

That funding chart does not break down private sources of money for the IoM, so once again, NaturalNews turned to its researchers on Facebook ( to find out where all this money is actually coming from. The answers may surprise you.

For starters, the IoM receives funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is, of course, a total front for vaccines and Big Pharma. This alone completely biases the IoM, as having financial ties with this foundation is really like being caught with your hand in the vaccine cookie jar.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for those who don’t know, recently declared this to be the “decade of vaccines” (…) and pledged ten billion dollars to make sure that every man, woman and child on the planet is injected with at least one vaccine shot, and preferably several.

And what’s the real agenda behind this? Bill Gates has publicly stated that vaccines will be used to reduce the global population. Specifically, he says, “The world today has 6.8 billion people… that’s headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.” (…)

Watch the video of Bill Gates saying this at:…

By accepting money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Institute of Medicine is taking part in a campaign of human genocide while exposing its own pro-vaccine interests.

Bill Gates is also listed as a “lifetime contributor” to the IoM, giving “$100,000 or more” to the IOM. Other contributors who gave big money to the IoM include Margaret Hamburg, the current head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the same agency currently masterminding KGB-style infiltration schemes and running an illegal network of government spies to destroy the raw dairy industry (…).

In addition, globalist Ted Turner is listed as a major contributor. See the rest of the names of those who give money to the IoM at the end of this article — it’s a who’s who of globalists, financial elitists, pharma executives and vaccine pushers, including people with links to the Federal Reserve, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, the Rockefellers and more.

Junk food promoters found funding the Institute of Medicine

Beyond taking money from the genocidal Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the IoM is also funded at times from junk food and soda companies such as PepsiCo (…)

Even more interestingly, a prominent board member of PepsiCo is also a member of the Institute of Medicine: Victor J. Dzau, a conventional medical doctor, has made the rounds through Harvard Medical School and Duke University. Now he’s a top PepsiCo board member while simultaneously serving as a director of these three pharmaceutical and medical device companies: Genzyme Corporation, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Medtronic, Inc. (…) and (…)

Ring any bells? Medtronic is the company that was recently caught bribing a doctor to fabricate study results (…). The company was also caught up in allegations of Medicare fraud (…) and was sued by 22 states, which said Medtronic “unlawfully and unabashedly developed, marketed and promoted its biliary stent medical devices for uses unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration.” (…)

Genzyme Corporation, on which Victor Dzau also sits as a board member, is a fully owned subsidiary of Sanofi-Aventis (, one of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers and the company that recently received hundreds of millions of dollars in government vaccine contracts for the hyped up H5N1 swine flu scare. Sanofi-Aventis admittedly received $192.5 million from the U.S. government just in the second quarter of 2008 to produce vaccines for a “pandemic stockpile” against H5N1 (…).

Genzyme produces medicines to treat kidney disease, one of the most common side effects of flu vaccines. (…) In this way, the more vaccines that are injected into people, the more kidney disease drugs can be sold by companies such as Genzyme.

And yet Genzyme has questionable health practices itself! In June, 2009, Genzyme’s U.S. manufacturing plant was shut down due to the discovery that it suffered from a “viral contamination.” In November of 2009, “fragments of stainless steel, rubber, and fiber-like material were discovered in some of Genzyme’s drugs,” after which the FDA said all those drugs should stay on the market because there was no evidence of any side effects from those materials. (…)

Not surprisingly, Victor Dzau was named a “Distinguished Scientist” by the American Heart Association and was the recipient of the 2004 Max Delbruck Medal, Berlin, Germany. Max Delbruck, by the way, was a German biophysicist who promoted the idea that living systems (including humans) are nothing more than biochemical robots, and his work on molecular genetics was, in many ways, ground-laying work for modern-day genetic engineering (GMOs).

Other board members of PepsiCo, in case you were curious, read like a who’s who of the most powerful (and some say “evil”) corporate giants in the world: JP Morgan, Colgate-Palmolive, Google, Novartis AG and more.

Beyond PepsiCo, the IoM also receives money from these producers of processed dead foods, fast foods and foods made with (collectively) hundreds of different synthetic chemicals and preservatives:

• Kraft Foods, Inc.

• Mars Incorporated

• McDonald’s Corporation

• Mead Johnson Nutritionals

The IoM’s ties to Big Pharma

In addition to its ties with junk food companies, the IoM receives millions of dollars in grant money from pharmaceutical companies, using that money to create new staff positions which claim to be “providing the nation with sound advice grounded in scientific evidence, to improve people’s health and well-being.” For example, the IoM received this $2 million grant from a pharmaceutical company (Schaeffer):…

Schaeffer is a total pharma insider, according to Forbes Magazine, which lists him as the director of pharma giant Allergan, Inc:…

Allergan is most famous for producing BOTOX, a cosmetic treatment made from a deadly viral strain best known for killing people through food poisoning.

In addition, the IoM has financial ties to Merck, Pfizer, Astrazeneca and nearly all the top pharmaceutical companies, most of which also profit from producing and selling vaccines:

• AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals L.P.

• Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

• Eli Lilly and Company

• GlaxoSmithKline

• Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, LLC

• Merck & Company, Inc.

• Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

• Pfizer, Inc.

• Sanofi Pasteur

• Sanofi-aventis

• Wyeth

In addition to promoting pharmaceutical interests, the IoM has also pushed its agenda of regulating dietary supplements as if they were drugs, thereby hoping to outlaw virtually all supplements sold on the market today (…).

IoM’s huge conflicts of interest with vaccine producers

Notably, the pharmaceutical companies listed above represent the top vaccine producers on the planet, once again showing that the IoM has severe conflicts of interest in producing a report on vaccine adverse reactions.

This is like the fox guarding the hen house! If the IoM told the truth about the dangers of vaccines, it would risk losing a significant portion of its funding and discrediting many of its most prominent financial supporters. (It makes you wonder: Why didn’t Forbes raise this question? Or the NY Times? Or Washington Post? Or any mainstream media organization? Why is real journalism dead in America today everywhere except in the alternative media like NaturalNews, which is fast becoming the most popular choice for discerning readers?)

In addition, vaccines cause the very health conditions which are profitably treated by the pharmaceutical products of these companies. Thus, today’s entire medical racket of treating sickness and “managing disease” requires that disease to be propagated in the first place. Vaccines play a key role in causing immunological disorders, compromising the nervous system, damaging kidneys, promoting cancer and causing the very diseases that keep Big Pharma in business.

If you’re skeptical of that, watch this stunning, jaw-dropping video admission of much of this from a top Merck scientist, the “father” of many modern vaccines, who openly admits that vaccines contain hidden cancer viruses:…

The IoM’s ties to foundations and globalist groups

The IoM also receives funding from other institutions (such as NIH) which are funded by government — and they largely operate as pharma front groups to push more vaccines, more pharmaceuticals and more medications for Americas; often while downplaying any role of nutrients such as vitamin D.

Here’s a list of some of the non-profit groups that donate money to the IoM. Note the presence of all the corporatists and globalists:

• W. K. Kellogg Foundation (tied to the Kellogg’s cereal company)

• The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

• The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

• Merck Company Foundation

• The Rowe Family Foundation

• Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Global Impact Funding Trust, Inc.

• The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

• The Whitehead Foundation (ties to Goldman Sachs, and John C. Whitehead was a former board member of the Federal Reserve. He also oversaw the Whitehead family’s fortune of investments in the Rockefeller Group.)

IoM’s ties to globalist food and agriculture companies

The food and agriculture companies that give money to the IoM represent some of the most evil corporations in the world, including Monsanto which seeks to dominate the world food supply through its GMO seed technologies.

Here are some of the food and agriculture companies that financially support the IoM:

• Cargill, Inc.- sold ground turkey widely contaminated with salmonella, which resulted in fatalities (…)

• ConAgra, Inc.- sued for falsely labeling GMO oils as “natural” (…)

• General Mills, Inc. – engaged in deceptive food labeling (…)

• McDonald’s Corporation – sells Chicken McNuggets that contain an industrial chemical (…)

• Monsanto Company – voted “most evil corporation” by NaturalNews readers (…)

• PepsiCo, Inc. – produces aspartame-laden diet soft drinks also made with high-fructose corn syrup. Uses MSG throughout many of its snacks.

As you can see, these companies aggregately support factory farmed animal meat production, dishonest and deceptive food labeling, “terminator” seed technology that destroys seeds and is contributing to the global spread of suicides by farmers, the promotion of obesity and diabetes through the use of high-fructose corn syrup, the neurotoxic poisoning of consumers through aspartame-sweetened beverages, monopolistic trade practices, abuses of the court system and much more.

If Hell had a board of directors, many of these corporations would have members sitting on it. And these are the members who financially support the Institute of Medicine.

Interestingly, the IoM also has financial ties to several health insurance companies who profit from sickness, disease and vaccines, including Aetna Inc. and Kaiser Permanente.

The IoM’s financial ties to the sickness and disease industry

Not surprisingly, the IoM is funded by a large number of influential (and wealthy) organizations in the cancer industry, the diabetes industry, and the sickness industry in general.

Here are some of the national groups — all of which profit from disease — that funnel money to the Institute of Medicine:

• American Association for Cancer Research

• American Cancer Society, Inc.

• American Chemistry Council

• American Diabetes Association

• American Hospital Association

• American Medical Association

• American Nurses Association

• American Society of Clinical Oncology

• Association of American Medical Colleges

• College of American Pathologists

• Critical Path Institute

• Infectious Diseases Society of America

• National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation

• National Society of Genetic Counselors

• Oncology Nursing Society

• Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

• Task Force for Child Survival and Development

As you can probably tell, nearly all of these organizations are pro-chemical, pro-chemotherapy, pro-vaccine, anti-nutrition, anti-health freedom organizations that function as disease parasites on society, profiting from sickness rather than showing people how to be healthy. None of these organizations, for example, has yet to firmly promote vitamin D as a simple, low-cost, nearly-miraculous nutrient that can prevent cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, gum disease, kidney disorders and many other health conditions.

They are all steeped in the false mythology of western medicine and its drugs-pushing, profit-seeking agenda which includes the mass vaccination of the population.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

IoM is headed by pro-vaccine globalists with ties to WHO, CDC

After learning who funds the IoM, you might still be wondering: Who runs the Institute of Medicine?

The IoM is currently headed by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, a globalist with ties to the World Health Organization, which of course heavily pushed its H5N1 swine flu vaccination charade through a “panel of experts” who were taking money from the pharmaceutical companies to declare a global pandemic when there wasn’t one. The whole purpose of this conspiracy involving the WHO and the CDC was to sell more vaccines. (…)

Dr. Fineberg also has ties to the CDC, the other group pushing vaccines and killing children through its incessant infectious disease mongering. The CDC’s own vaccine research scientist, Poul Thorsen, has been indicted under federal law for alleged money laundering (…). See the Web of Alleged Fraud involving the CDC, Merck, Thorsen and medical journals at:…

In 1988, Dr. Fineberg received the Joseph W. Mountin Prize from the CDC. Fineberg is, predictably, a Harvard graduate where he earned a conventional medical degree from Harvard Medical School plus a Ph.D. in government from a Harvard graduate school. (…) Harvard is a source for many of the most despicable medical globalists who promote things like GMOs, vaccines and even chemotherapy for children.

Fineberg also served as the president of the Society for Medical Decision Making, a Big Pharma front group that promotes the use of vaccines and pharmaceuticals while claiming to follow a “scientific” decision process. This group receives money from the PhRMA Foundation, a total Big Pharma money funneling outfit that uses its grant money to influence the work of other organizations. It is funded by Merck, Eli Lilly, Bayer, Astrazeneca, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and all the big pharmaceutical players.

Dr. Fineberg is a pro-vaccine globalist who even describes the 1976 swine flu vaccination fiasco which killed hundreds of Americans and damaged thousands from vaccine side effects a “qualified success” because it resulted in 40 million Americans being vaccinated. The way these vaccine pushers think, the more people get vaccinated, the better… no matter how many people die in the process. They literally do not seem to mind sacrificing the lives of innocent people as long as more vaccines can be injected into the masses.

To this day, the IoM still will not openly admit that the 1976 swine flu vaccines killed anyone at all. In fact, the IoM was instrumental in laying out the false fairy tale that swine flu vaccines were never responsible for Guillain-Barre syndrome. As the totally discredited government website Flu.Gov explains:

“The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a thorough scientific review in 2003 and concluded that people who received the 1976 swine influenza vaccine had a slight increased risk for developing GBS. Scientists have multiple theories on why this increased risk may have occurred, but the exact reason for this association remains unknown.” (

In other words, they swept it under the rug and now pretend such a link doesn’t exist.

A total Big Pharma cesspool of money, influence and quackery

Essentially, what we’re looking at here with Institute of Medicine, its director, its funding sources and its laughably unscientific conclusions is an orgy of Big Pharma money and influence peddling masquerading as scientifically-grounded public health.

When the IoM recently issued its report on vaccine adverse effects, what it was essentially doing was running interference for all its financial supporters which are, of course dominated by vaccine manufacturers and dubious government organizations such as the Dept. of Health and Human Services which oversees the criminal U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The point of all this is to spread the fabricated story that “vaccines are essentially safe” and thus there is no harm in mandating that the entire population be injected with them.

That’s what’s coming soon, you see: A mandatory vaccination policy which will no doubt cite this IoM report as being a “credible” and “scientific” review of all the evidence concerning vaccines. Such a claim would be, of course, completely laughable if it weren’t dealing with life and death issues.

Countless children are killed every year by vaccines, and many more become autistic after their nervous systems collapse in the hours or days following vaccine injections. And yet what’s clear from all the attacks, the lies, the cover-ups and the total criminal corruption from the medical industry that we’ve seen over the past couple of years is that the medical military establishment is desperately trying to destroy or dismiss all the evidence linking vaccines to autism.

This IoM report is essentially the work of vaccine industry cover-up con artists and quacks who are protecting their financial sponsors: the vaccine manufacturers.

Is anyone really surprised?

List of other big-money contributors to the IOM

Who else supports the Institute of Medicine? Here are some of the biggest individual contributors. NaturalNews has not yet had the time to research the backgrounds and globalist ties of these individuals. If you recognize any of these names as being involved in the vaccine industry, the banking industry or the military industrial complex, please let us know so we can update this article:

Ron Paul: Liberty is More Important Than the Illusion of Safety

Ron Paul: Liberty is More Important Than the Illusion of Safety

Ron Paul

Aug 23, 2011

Recent incidents of violence in Norway and London have made us understandably uncomfortable here at home, as many fear that a worsening economy will lead to violence and unrest in American cities. This is why Congress must view the economy as its first priority and a matter of national security: unless and until we get our fiscal house in order to foster economic growth, civil society will continue to deteriorate.

The fundamental lesson every American should learn from these incidents is that government cannot protect us. No matter how many laws we pass, no matter how many police or federal agents we put on the streets, a determined individual or group can still cause great harm. Both Norway and England have strict gun control laws, and London in particular has security cameras monitoring nearly all public areas. But laws and spy cameras are useless in the face of lawless mobs or sick mass killers. Only private individuals on the scene could have prevented or lessened these tragedies. And we should remember that theft, arson, and property damage were not the only criminal acts in London–innocent bystanders were assaulted and killed as well. In those instances deadly force used in self-defense would have been fully justified.

Perhaps the only good that can come from these terrible events is a reinforced understanding that we as individuals are responsible for our safety and the safety of our families. This means, frankly, that we must safely own and use firearms to deter or prevent criminal assaults on our homes and persons. It is absurd to think police or government agents can protect 310 million Americans around the clock.

Thanks to our media and many government officials, however, Americans have become conditioned to view the state as our protector and the solution to every problem. Whenever something terrible happens, especially when it becomes a prominent news story, people reflexively demand that government do something. This impulse almost always leads to bad laws, more debt, and the loss of liberty. It is completely at odds with the best American traditions of self-reliance and individual responsibility.

Do we really want to live in a world of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras, and metal detectors? Do we want to imprison every disturbed or alienated individual who fantasizes about violence? Do we really believe government can provide total security? Or can we accept that liberty is more important than the illusion of state-provided security?

Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference unless they use force or fraud against others. Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives. Liberty has meaning only if we still believe in it when terrible things happen and a false government security blanket beckons.

Buying Your First Handgun

by Dick Clark
by Dick Clark


Okay, so something has finally tipped the scales of your judgment in favor of acquiring your first handgun. Maybe you know someone who was just victimized by a criminal. Maybe you have a new family and feel the urge to make yourself ready to protect them. Whatever the reason, you have decided to buy a handgun. Here’s how to do it.


For most United States citizens, purchasing a handgun is as simple as going to your local gun store, choosing a particular gun to buy, showing photo I.D., filling out the background check form, and then paying for the gun upon approval from NICS (usually instantaneous, but may take as long as three days). There are a few states where this procedure is more cumbersome due to some requirement imposed by statute. To check your state’s particular rules, simply ask a local gun dealer or refer to Each state’s rules vary, so I won’t cover them here, but some states restrict not only who may purchase and possess a handgun, but what particular models are permitted for such possession within that state. Restrictions may apply to so-called “assault pistols,” those that are capable of accepting high-capacity magazines (usually 10+), or those that the state may classify as “Saturday Night Specials.”

Possible Applications

The first, most obvious question that you must ask yourself is “What role(s) do I expect this gun to fill?” The possible answers include competition or target shooting, hunting, home defense, and self-defense outside of the home.

Competition or Target Shooting

I can neatly avoid providing any useful information on this point because anyone who plans to spend cash on a “race gun” or high-performance target handgun is likely already familiar enough with weapons to have no need for my advice. It suffices to say that there are handguns designed for fast presentation, sight acquisition, and follow-up shooting that are advantageous for competition use, but not practical or economical for defensive uses. Likewise, there are target handguns that are designed for precise shot placement that may be too bulky, of insufficient caliber, or otherwise unsuited for defensive applications.


Hunting handguns may be used to take a number of different varieties of game, from squirrel to deer to wild boar to bear. Regardless of the quarry, a hunting handgun is almost always a bulky sort of implement, either because the gun is chambered in a large caliber that requires a heavy frame and barrel, because optics are mounted, or both.

The most common hunting handgun type is the large-caliber revolver. Many states permit deer hunters to hunt with pistols and revolvers above a certain caliber, usually .40. The .44 Magnum cartridge is well known for its ability to take down even large, dangerous game like bear, and it may be found employed by all manner of medium and large game hunters. Revolvers in a large caliber like the .44 Magnum are undeniably intimidating and effective enough for use in home defense, but are too bulky for most personal defense applications where discreet possession of the handgun is preferred.

Single-shot handguns utilizing either a break-action or bolt-action occupy a small but growing niche within handguns designed for hunting use. Predominantly manufactured by companies like Remington, Savage, and Thompson-Center, these guns are extremely specialized and are designed for one thing: to accurately fire a rifle bullet out of a package much smaller than the average rifle. The recoil is often tremendous, the time for a second shot is long, and the speed for target acquisition is as slow as it would be with any scoped weapon. These specialized firearms may be used for hunting or for long-range target shooting, but they have little application outside of these areas.

Home Defense

For many users, a handgun is the best weapon for home defense. The handgun is more easily wielded than a shotgun by individuals with a slight build, and the shorter length of a handgun allows greater maneuverability in close quarters than a shortened pistol-grip shotgun. In considering a handgun for home defense, there are several questions that you should ask yourself before proceeding:

1) Does the gun fit in my hand comfortably? Is it comfortable for the largest and smallest potential shooter?

In a life or death situation, confidence is a necessary component of a potentially life-saving action. Having good positive control of the gun in your hands is essential to confidently wielding it against an attacker. Additionally, you must be able to hang on to a gun in order to fire it safely and accurately.

2) Does the cartridge caliber/load make the handgun’s recoil too severe for the people most likely to need to use the gun in defense?

Recoil that is so strong as to be uncomfortable can make a shooter anxious and tends to dissuade the shooter from practicing regularly. Both of these may mean that the handgun is less useful when a situation requiring decisive action arises. As physics dictate, a cartridge generally generates more felt recoil as the mass it has to displace decreases. Therefore, larger, heavier guns will typically have less recoil than smaller guns chambered in the same cartridge. In a smaller pocket pistol, .380 ACP may be the largest round a shooter feels confident with, whereas the same shooter might be completely at ease with a .44 Special in a heavy, full-frame revolver. For the recoil sensitive, .380 ACP, 9 mm, and .38 Special are all safe bets that still offer reasonable power.

3) Is the cartridge for which the gun is chambered effective enough to insure that I will be able to stop an attacker?

There is much debate over caliber selection within defensive handgun circles. Many shooters argue that anything less potent than 9 mm or .38 Special is unreliable for self-defense. Except for extremely petite or physically weak shooters, I would tend to agree that cartridges like .32 ACP, .25 ACP, .22 Short, .22 LR, .22 Magnum, and even the .380 ACP are all too impotent for a dedicated home defense weapon. While they are all superior to a pocketknife for self-defense, I think it is worth the slight extra recoil to move up to a more effective “major” caliber, including 9mm (although this round’s effectiveness is sometimes questioned too), .38 Special (also criticized as impotent), .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, and .45 ACP, among others.

If you buy a minor caliber, you will definitely have to purchase the more expensive defensive ammunition in order to improve the round’s efficacy against an attacker. Standard full metal jacket or “hardball” ammunition will work satisfactorily for defense work if in the largest calibers, such as .44 Magnum or .45 ACP. This should not be a major consideration, though, since I would generally recommend defensive ammo for regular carry because those rounds frequently feature corrosion resistant nickel-plated cartridge casings and are manufactured to tighter specifications.

4) Does this manufacturer have a reputation for reliability?

Unless you are really pushing the poverty line, it is hard to justify buying a gun that might work when you need it. Stay away from guns manufactured by unknown or disreputable makers. My short list of quality handgun makers would include: Sig-Sauer, Heckler & Koch, Ruger, Glock, Smith & Wesson (revolvers), Colt, Kimber, Para-Ordnance, Kel-Tec, Walther, Springfield, Beretta, Browning, and Taurus. Some of these are better than others, but each has established a reputation for reliability and safety. There are other companies that make good guns, but the companies listed above have history of consistent excellence for at least the past ten years, and many for over a century.

Self-Defense Outside of the Home

In addition to the considerations listed above, the selection of a handgun for self-defense outside the home requires the added consideration of concealability. If a gun is too bulky to be worn comfortably on your person, you are less likely to carry it often and therefore less likely to have it at hand when the need for it arises. Be sure to select a gun that isn’t too heavy for you to easily carry. For some, this means selecting a handgun chambered in .380 ACP or some other smaller caliber. While these calibers may not be optimal, they are preferable to being empty-handed in a situation where a gun could save your life.

Action Type

Handguns are most commonly available in one of two action types: revolver or semi-automatic.

A revolver holds five, six, or more rounds of ammunition in a rotating cylinder behind the barrel. When all the rounds are expended, the shooter must swing the cylinder out, eject the spent casings, and load each of the chambers with a new cartridge. The only revolvers that you should consider are “double action” (DA), meaning that you need not cock the hammer before pulling the trigger to fire a round.

A semi-automatic holds ammunition in a magazine, usually vertically inserted into the grip. When you pull the trigger to fire, the hammer strikes the firing pin, discharges the cartridge, and uses the force of the fired cartridge to cycle the action of the gun, reloading the chamber with a fresh round from the magazine. Semi-automatic pistols may be single action (SA), double action, or double-action only (DAO). A DA semi-automatic will fire if the user pulls the trigger when the hammer is at rest and there is a round in the chamber. The trigger pull for the second shot will be shorter and lighter because the action of the gun automatically cocks the hammer. A DAO has the same, heavy trigger pull each time, and the hammer is always at rest.

As with revolvers, I would recommend that most first-time buyers avoid SA semi-automatics simply because the learning curve is slightly steeper and the time required to bring the weapon into action is longer since the hammer must be manually cocked prior to the first shot. The most popular SA semi-automatic is the M1911 .45 ACP designed by John Moses Browning and manufactured most famously by Colt. While this venerable design has much to offer, I cannot recommend it as the sole lifeline for a beginning shooter.

When choosing between a revolver and a semi-automatic, remember these factors:


  • may be reloaded more rapidly by simply removing empty magazine and inserting a fresh one (and, depending on the model, either racking the slide again to chamber the first round or releasing the slide from its locked position)
  • usually has a higher magazine capacity
  • may be flatter and therefore more concealable
  • more likely to have a manual safety
  • malfunction/misfeed may require more steps to remedy


  • cleaning is easier because disassembly is usually not required
  • in case of a misfire, simply pull the trigger again

Recommended Models

While I cannot offer an exhaustive list of suitable selections here, the following models are a few of those with which I have personal experience and thus can wholeheartedly recommend.

Home Defense

Any Smith & Wesson revolver chambered in .38 Special or better, including:

Any Sig-Sauer pistol chambered in 9mm or better, including:

Any Heckler & Koch pistol, including:

Any Glock pistol, including:

  • Glock Model 23 (.40 S&W): Durable, reliable, and easy to shoot. Semi-automatic.

Concealed Carry

Any Kel-Tec pistol except the PLR-16, including:

  • Kel-Tec P3AT (.380 ACP): Medium potency round, but in an extremely light, concealable package. Very competitive prices. Semi-automatic.

The basic model Taurus pistols and revolvers chambered in .38 Special or better, including:

  • Taurus Millennium Pro 111 (9 mm): More potent than .380 ACP, but slightly bulkier gun too. Semi-automatic.
  • Taurus Titanium Model 617 (.357 Magnum): Lighter than steel but stronger than alloy of gun below, this gun fires the potent .357 Magnum. Relatively inexpensive compared to gun with same features from S&W. Revolver.

Any subcompact Glock, including:

  • Glock Model 36 (.45 ACP): Incredible potency, but limited magazine capacity. Semi-automatic.

Any Smith & Wesson J-frame revolver, including:

  • Smith & Wesson Model 638 (.38 Special): Light alloy that is cheaper than the slightly more durable titanium revolver from S&W, fires slightly less potent .38 Special. Concealed hammer makes for snag-free draw from concealed position.

Note also that stainless steel is less likely to corrode than carbon steel, so paying extra for a stainless steel model or a model with a tough anti-corrosion coating is often a good investment for a carry gun that will frequently come into contact with your skin, dust, etc. Titanium, scandium, and other alloys are used instead of steel in the frames of many revolvers to save weight. Titanium and scandium are more durable than the cheaper alloy frames, with regards to the finish of the gun.

Dealer or Show?

Most guns at gun shows are being sold by dealers who are Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs). They tend to mark prices down for the show because they want to be competitive with the other dealers present and they don’t want to have to pack up the guns on Sunday. Individuals also bring guns to sell at gun shows, so you may happen across a great deal on a used gun from such an individual. In my experience, though, haggling at a gun shop tends to be about as effective as attending a gun show with regards to finding a good sale price on a particular gun. If you know what you want, you will probably get it either way. In either circumstance, paying cash tends to lower the price.

If you are looking for something unusual, or a model with a very specific configuration, attending a gun show may be advantageous. For a specialized order, you can also either order through your local FFL or find what you want on and have the local FFL transfer it to you for a fee – usually about $25–$50. According to federal law, an individual buyer can only buy a handgun in the state of his residence. This means that an out-of-state dealer has to ship to your local dealer, who then performs the background check and maintains the required records. Most states place no restrictions on individual to individual transfers, although you should get a bill of sale – handwritten or in printed form – for the gun no matter whom you buy from.

Good luck, and happy shooting!

Assembling Your Home Armory

Assembling Your Home Armory

by Dick Clark

Previously by Dick Clark: Too Big To Fail?

Some folks collect guns and never shoot them. Some people acquire guns for the sake of owning them, showing them off to others, and generally babying them. It was due to these people that the term “safe queen” was coined. There is nothing wrong with collecting things. And with guns in particular, all you have to do is buy one to find out that it is hard to be satisfied with just one gun. But some of us don’t have the money, time, or interest to indiscriminately accumulate a collection of firearms as an end unto itself. We want to assemble an array of firearms qua tools, suitable for the variety of applications for which we anticipate needing that sort of tool. Each person’s lot in life is different, so no single list of “must have” guns can be truly authoritative.

Possible uses for firearms

Guns are useful for lots of different things: hunting, home defense, personal protection outside the home, paramilitary operations, and target shooting. These different applications present their own unique demands, and the firearm that is best suited for one is often ill-suited for the others.

A hunter in the swamps of lower Alabama will never have the opportunity to take a thousand yard shot in that area because the ground cover is too dense and elevations don’t provide a vantage point from which to make such a long shot on game in that region. A rifle that is capable of accurately throwing a bullet that far can be a fun hobby gun for such an individual, provided he has access to a long-distance shooting range, but the extra weight of a bull barrel, adjustable stock, large optics, and other accouterments reduce mobility. Likewise, a varminter in “big sky country” might find a .22 pistol utterly useless for shooting critters to which he never gets closer than seventy-five yards. We can look at the different classes of firearms and determine which of these fits into our lives and what qualities we should look for in a specimen from each relevant class.

Some guns are designed to perform very well in a limited, specific role. For example, the rifle carried by a modern biathelete is a creature of the competition context and the sport’s rules: .22 caliber, at least 7.5 pounds in weight, highly adjustable stock, short lock time, and capability to operate reliably in cold, snowy conditions. While these specifications may make such a rifle a good rabbit gun and an excellent target gun, a shorter, lighter gun with fewer frills can be had for far less money and still serve well in those roles.

Weapon engagement zones

A weapon engagement zone (WEZ) is a space of defined dimensions within which a particular weapon is to bear primarily responsibility for engaging targets. The best way to think about this is the “sweet spot” for each weapon – the range for which the weapon is optimized. Working our way out from CQB distances to long-range, a variety of different firearms present themselves as most suited for each zone: concealable handgun, full-frame handgun, shotgun, assault rifle, battle rifle, precision rifle, and heavy precision rifle.

The outer zones beyond 800 yards are likely not of concern to individuals primarily occupied with home defense preparations. My suggestion is to prepare for the innermost zones – mousegun, full-size handgun, and shotgun – first and then work through to the outer zones as needed given your particular geographical and socio-political contexts and whatever shooting or hunting sports you enjoy.

(NB: Firearms of each class are capable of sending rounds well past their optimal WEZ – sometimes several miles farther – so always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.)


Handguns are lightest and smallest, and they are the firearms best suited for close-in confrontations and personal protection while outside of one’s home. Handguns are also near the top of the list for home defense, since they can typically be fired with one hand, meaning that your other hand is free to manipulate doorknobs and light switches or to fend off an attacker as you bring the muzzle to bear. And of course, they are easier to carry on your person or in your car than would be even the smallest shotguns or rifles.

The most easily concealable handguns are small and light for convenient everyday carry, an important consideration, but their diminutive size limits their firepower in terms of ammunition type and ammunition capacity. Compared to full-size pistols, affordable mouseguns like the Kel-Tec P3AT and Ruger LCP are tougher to shoot, with sights that are harder to see, heavier trigger pulls, and less gun to hold onto. Casual shooters will find it very difficult to reliably connect using these pocket pistols at ranges greater than ten yards. Full-size handguns, like the SIG Sauer P226 or Glock 17, are much easier to shoot well, with the novice shooter likely maxing out at around thirty or forty yards. Many handguns, especially larger models chambered in major calibers, are also useful for hunting a variety of game.

I offered more substantial advice for first-time handgun buyers in a previous article.


Shotguns are versatile weapons that may be used for hunting, sport shooting, or defensive purposes within forty or fifty yards. They are very different from rifles and handguns in that their barrels aren’t usually “rifled” – grooved so as to impart a stabilizing spin to a projectile – they are capable of projecting a pattern of pellets rather than a single projectile, and they operate at much lower chamber pressures. A shotgun may be loaded with many different types of ammunition: smaller, more numerous shot pellets for smaller game, larger “buckshot” pellets or slugs for larger quarry, and a variety of specialty rounds including less lethal options, breaching loads, and others. Shotgun rounds that fire multiple projectiles in a pattern make it much, much easier to shoot moving targets like birds and squirrels.

Shotgun projectiles are propelled at a relatively slow velocity. Although they are capable of imparting more energy into a target at close range than are pistol rounds, this energy dissipates with smaller shot sizes that make for a vastly greater surface area for the same total mass. As a result, a shotgun may be a good choice where over-penetration is a concern, such as in a home defense scenario. Be advised thought that, like pistol and rifle bullets, shotgun slugs and buckshot are capable of penetrating multiple interior walls and still retaining enough energy to injure or kill. According to one writer’s tests we can expect the following penetration characteristics:

Type Equivalent interior walls penetrated
12 gauge shotgun, 2 ¾” birdshot 1
12 gauge shotgun, 2 ¾” #4 buck 3
12 gauge shotgun, 2 ¾” #1 buck 3
12 gauge shotgun, 2 ¾” 00 buck 4
12 gauge shotgun, 2 ¾” 1 oz rifled slug 6+
.22 LR pistol 3
9mm pistol 6+
.45 ACP pistol 6+
5.56 x 45mm rifle 6+

Additionally, the pattern of shot thrown by a shotgun gives the shooter a greater chance of scoring a hit within the weapon’s effective range, with the pattern spreading out to three to six feet in diameter at forty yards, depending on the choke used and other variables. Rifled slugs greatly improve a shotgun’s potential for accuracy at longer ranges and make the gun more useful for taking large game. An advantage of the common pump shotgun models – the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 – besides the multitude of readily available accessories, is that the barrels are easily swapped out, and additional barrels are readily available in local gun stores or for purchase from internet vendors. This means that budget-minded individuals can buy a sporting shotgun with a longer barrel more useful for hunting and later, for a modest sum, purchase a shorter barrel more suited to defensive applications.

Assault rifles

From fifty yards to two hundred fifty yards, no weapon is better suited for quick, accurate defensive shooting than the assault rifle or its semi-automatic civilian equivalent, the modern sporting rifle. Firing intermediate power rifle cartridges like the 5.56 x 45mm and 7.62 x 39mm, rifles of this type – first developed in the early twentieth century – don’t quite have the power of a traditional hunting rifle. However, these cartridges are much shorter and lighter than their full powered counterparts, meaning that it is easier to carry more of them, a very good thing if you are expecting a gun fight. The lower recoil from these intermediate power cartridges also means that the user can send follow up shots downrange more rapidly than a full power rifle’s recoil impulse would allow.

Full power rifle rounds are accurate out to distances of 800 yards or more, but the trajectories of bullets fired from AR and AK-type rifles drop quickly after a couple of hundred yards. Even so, assault rifles are far more accurate than pistols. They are much more powerful, too, with the 5.56 x 45mm round from an AR capable of transferring three to four times as much energy into a target as the 9 x 19mm round. These rifles are also capable of bringing down game as large as a deer, though the conventional wisdom is that the 5.56 x 45mm round is undersized for humanely harvesting deer.

There are many options available to American buyers, with the AR and AK designs being the most popular – and most controversial – exemplars of this class. Because of their popularity, magazines and accessories for these models are readily available. Other options include Ruger’s venerable Mini-14 and Mini Thirty rifles, the featherweight Kel-Tec SU-16, and the ultra-affordable SKS, the standard version of which has a fixed magazine which must be reloaded one round at a time or with stripper clips.

Battle rifles

Battle rifles are easily differentiated from assault rifles by comparing the potency of the rounds they fire, ammunition capacity, and weight. Rather than firing an intermediate cartridge like the assault rifles, battle rifles fire full-powered cartridges like the .30-06 Springfield, 7.62 x 51mm, or the Russian 7.62 x 54mmR. Although these cartridges are heavier than the intermediate cartridges, they are far more powerful and capable of reliably bringing down targets at greater ranges. The 7.62 x 51mm cartridge, for example, is capable of communicating twice as much energy into a target as the 5.56 x 45mm. Penetration through cover is far superior as well, and the effective range of the 7.62 x 51mm is 800 yards or greater. Battle rifles are capable of reaching and neutralizing tougher and more distant targets than assault rifles, but this comes at the cost of higher recoil, smaller magazine capacities, and heavier, more expensive ammunition.

These rifles are not as abundant on the American market as AK and AR rifles, but many options are available. Some shooters, particularly those who enjoy an AR-15, swear by rifles patterned off of Eugene Stoner’s AR-10 design. Others are convinced that the Springfield M1A is the best battle rifle to be had. The Heckler & Koch G3 and Fabrique Nationale FAL have their own factions of devotees as well. The Spanish CETME rifle is an affordable option that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially since many of the parts are interchangeable with G3 components, both guns having been developed in a collaboration between H&K designer Ludwig Vorgrimler and the Spanish government small arms establishment. The new, hard-to-find Kel-Tec RFB from George Kellgren employs an ambidextrous bullpup design and molded polymer components for a shorter, lighter battle rifle suitable for urban environments. It is worth noting, however, that some folks argue that all bullpup designs are fundamentally flawed.

An excellent bargain still readily available on the surplus market due to miscalculation by twentieth century communist central-planners is the Soviet Mosin-Nagant rifle. This bolt-action rifle been in continuous service in one part of the world or another since 1891. It has a much lower rate of fire than the semi-automatic battle rifles listed above, but it can be had at a price that is nearly an order of magnitude cheaper: about $100. Surplus 7.62 x 54mmR ammunition is relatively inexpensive and widely available, just be warned that you will experience variations in quality and performance.

Precision rifles

Precision rifles are rifles mechanically capable of shooting groups that are one minute of angle or better within the rifle’s intended engagement zone. Such a rifle will, in the hands of a proficient marksman, post shot groups smaller than one inch at a hundred yards. If chambered for a full power cartridge, like 7.62 x 51mm, and fitted with adequate optics, these sorts of rifles can reliably hit man-sized targets out to 800 yards and beyond. Since the 7.62 x 51mm cartridge (called “.308 Winchester” on the adoring commercial market) is a NATO standard round, it is widely available, as are ballistics tables and other information on the many different .308 loads. Modern battle rifles are typically chambered for this ammunition type, so the same ammunition will fire in both sorts of rifles. Be advised, though, that ammunition specifically intended for use in a precision rifle will be manufactured to tighter tolerances and is much more expensive than military surplus rounds that are just fine for a battle rifle.

Many modern bolt-action deer rifles would serve well in this role, as has been proven by the military track records of the Remington Model 700 and the Winchester Model 70, the former of which was the basis for the United States Army’s M24 and the United States Marine Corps’ M40, and the latter of which was used for a number of years by U.S. Army and Marine snipers, including the legendary Carlos Hathcock. An excellent choice in class is the Savage Model 10FP, which boasts an extremely strong action and features an adjustable trigger assembly, free-floated barrel, and other accuracy enhancing features.

Hathcock’s 1967 record-setting 2500-yard single-shot kill with his Browning M2 machine gun and Unertl scope inspired gun-makers to create a new class of heavy precision rifle based around the .50 BMG cartridge. The cartridge was originally designed by John Browning for anti-aircraft use at the end of the first world war, but as a scaled-up version of the successful .30-06 Springfield cartridge it had the potential for excellent accuracy at previously inconceivable ranges. Barrett Firearms Manufacturing is far and away the best known maker of fifty caliber rifles. These extreme long-range capabilities come at a price, both in terms of weight – 25–30 pounds to lug around – and price – $3500–$8000 before you’ve even bought the requisite optics or the $3/round ammunition. The size of the .50 BMG round also means that there is a tremendous recoil impulse to deal with, something that Barrett and other designers tackle with gargantuan muzzle brakes. While the Barrett brake is very effective in taming the recoil generated by the .50 BMG, it does so by directing a substantial amount of pressure and noise back towards the shooter, kicking up a sizable dust cloud, and making serious (perhaps even redundant) ear and eye protection absolutely mandatory for safe shooting.

A more portable and more cost-effective substitute for the .50 BMG rifles can be had in rifles chambered for the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge. The .338 was conceived of in 1989 specifically for use in long-range sniper rifles, and since its inception it has proven effective in that role, with the longest .338 Lapua Magnum kill logged at 2707 yards by a British sniper in 2009. The Savage 110 BA is a nicely equipped .338. With a sticker price of nearly $2000 it represents the lower end of what one might expect to spend on a precision rifle built around this special purpose round.

All precision rifles, no matter how finely tuned, depend on the skill of the shooters employing them. Mastering the fundamentals of rifle marksmanship can guarantee that a shooter connects with his targets within a few hundred yards, but at longer ranges an assortment of factors affect the trajectory of a bullet, including wind, temperature, and humidity. At extreme ranges, gyroscopic drift and even the rotation of the Earth may have to be accounted for in plotting a point of aim. While the ticket price for these rifles is substantial, accumulating the knowledge and experience necessary to take full advantage of their capabilities is even more daunting.


Before tying up a substantial sum in a precision rifle with all the bells and whistles, it is worthwhile to establish good shooting habits through lots of practice. A .22 LR rifle can be had for a very modest sum and fires a low-recoil, inexpensive, and ubiquitous ammunition type that is perfect for getting lots of practice. Although the extremely successful Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic rifle is more versatile for applications like small game hunting, as an old Boy Scout I prefer the bolt-action rifles with which I learned basic marksmanship. The process of opening the breach, manually loading each round, sliding the bolt forward, and locking the bolt down before firing incentivizes the shooter to make each shot count. This works to counteract the urge that a frustrated or excited shooter might have to just start banging away without really concentrating on trigger control, breath control, and sight picture.