Ed Head, RIP

Ed Head, trainer, author, and veteran of both the Border Patrol and the USAF, passed away on Friday from cancer. I never got the opportunity to take a class with him but did get to share a beer or two with him at a Michael Buys The Beer get-together in Las Vegas. He was wearing his traditional Hawaiian shirt and shared stories with my brother-in-law Larry and myself.

From Ed’s Facebook page in his natural element at Gunsite

His gun reviews were always spot on and you knew you could trust them. Ed knew firearms. More importantly, he knew how to use them in dangerous situations from his days in law enforcement. In addition to his reviews, Ed wrote the Skills Check column for the NRA’s Shooting Illustrated.

Ken Campbell, CEO of Gunsite, wrote this about Ed and his career on Facebook:

Ed (Was) was a US Air Force Security Police Officer from 1972-1976, specializing in nuclear weapons security. Also, he was the Captain of a weapons and tactics competition team.

He entered the US Border Patrol in August 1977 and was assigned to San Diego, CA. During his tenure, he supervised a Patrol Group of 19 supervisors and 160 Agents at the Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station. His stories of his time there are near-legendary. Successfully completing the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Firearms Instructor Training Program with a Distinguished Master rating, he began working as a Range Officer conducting all firearms training and qualifications for the Chula Vista and Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station. That later morphed into the Sector Firearms Instructor and then the Senior Firearms Instructor for the San Diego Border Patrol Sector, including more than 2500 agents. Additionally, he was the Founder, Rangemaster and first club champion of the San Diego Law Enforcement Combat Shooters Association.

Ed retired after 24 years with the USBP, retiring in 2001.

Ed met the love of his life Jean in and they were married over 36 years. They shared many adventures from horses to recent travel in their RV.

The other great love of his life was Gunsite. He began attending Gunsite in 1988, earning the coveted “Expert” (“Golden E”) rating in many of his classes. He attained his Instructor Rating at Gunsite in 1992. Ed worked as Operations Manager from February 2005 to September 2010 and then resumed his lengthy teaching career at Gunsite. His career as a writer in the gun industry also began to flourish, writing for NRA Publications and working with Michael Bane on video productions. Ed taught his last class at Gunsite late May of 2022. We know it was a very difficult moment for him to come to us in early June to let us know of his illness and withdrawing from the active instructor roster. We assured him he was only being moved to the “injured reserve” list and we looked forward to his return.

I love this picture of Ed from his younger days when he was a supervisor with the Border Patrol. You knew he meant business.

His death reminds me of John Donne’s poem.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

We are all diminished by Ed’s death.

Pre-SHOT Show Releases, Part 1

The Colt “snake” revolvers are back. First, they released the Cobra a few years ago followed by the Black Cobra. Last year, Colt released the King Cobra. Yesterday, they announced the re-released of what for many was always a Holy Grail – the Colt Python .357 Magnum Revolver.

The Python 2020 will be available in both 6 inch and 4.25 inch versions. Both will have a MSRP of $1,499.00.

  • Barrel Description: 1:14 LH, 6 Groove
  • Barrel Length: 6 in.
  • Capacity: 6 rds.
  • Finish: Semi-Bright
  • Frame Material: Stainless Steel
  • Grips: Walnut Target Stocks
  • Height: 5.5 in.
  • Width: 1.55 in.
  • Overall Length: 11.5 in.
  • Weight: 46 oz.

The 4.25 inch version will be 4 oz. lighter and have an overall length of 9.75 inches.

The new Python is not the old Python. Changes have been made especially to the fire control parts.

From Ed Head who had the opportunity to fire the new Python 2020 at Gunsite back in November:

Back in November we had the pleasure of hosting Colt at Gunsite for a writer event, followed by a training class for Colt executives. They introduced the new Python, a stainless steel model available in 4″ and 6″ barrel lengths. The action has the smoothest DA trigger I have experienced in a factory revolver. They accomplished this by eliminating 12 parts from the old action and re-designing the internals. Dimensionally these revolvers are the same size as the previous models so grips, speed loaders and holsters are interchangeable.

As to why a blued version is not being released (yet), he wrote on Facebook:

The internals are CNC machined billet steel. Pretty much the rest of the revolver as well. Billet steel barrel. Whether you accept it or not, the reason they explained the blued model would be considerably more expensive is in order to meet the standards expected of a Colt Royal Blue revolver it would require a great deal of hand polishing and labor. BTW, as of mid-November they had a Python on a fixture running it double action and it was somewhere past 50,000 cycles without failing.

Colt released this video about the Python 2020 on YouTube yesterday.

2014 SHOT Show – Ed Head On Ruger 10/22 50th Anniversary Edition

As part of their Day Two roundup, Ed Head and Tommy Sanders of the Outdoor Channel examined the 50th Anniversary Edition of the Ruger 10/22 that was designed by customers. Instead of calling it the 50th Anniversary Edition, they could just as well name it the Appleseed Edition because it seems like a stainless and polymer-stocked version of the RWVA’s Liberty Training Rifle.

2014 SHOT Show – Day One With Ed Head And Tommy Sanders

The Outdoor Channel is streaming live interviews from the SHOT Show at different times during the day. The host of it is Tommy Sanders who used to host the outdoor block of programming for ESPN. In the recap of Day One of the SHOT Show, he talks with Ed Head of Gunsite and Downrange,tv.

Ed makes the point that he really hasn’t seen anything that was new and revolutionary. Rather, it has been an evolution of existing product lines. Much of these evolutionary products are aimed at the new shooters and especially those that are younger and women. These are the growth areas of the gun culture and smart companies are the ones who have responded with new products for that segment. He mentions Ruger in particular as a company that has seen good growth from their new products.

The other thing in this interview that caught my ear was Ed’s description of the mood of this year’s SHOT Show. He said people seem upbeat and united. He contrasted that with last year when the SHOT Show came about a month after the shootings in Newtown and the mood was gloomy. We expected to be hit with both new gun control laws and Executive Orders aimed at firearms. As Ed notes, the community rallied and beat back much of this. He says the AR-15 was the firearm that provided the rallying point. I’m not sure if I totally agree on that but it is an interesting point.

2013 SHOT Show – Day 3 With Michael Bane & Ed Head

I know the SHOT Show was over last week but I just came across this report from day three by Michael Bane and Ed Head. They discuss AR pistols, Nightforce scopes, the Ruger Bearcat Shopkeeper revolver in .22LR, and the growth in reloading sales. Ed Head was saying that the manufacturers he spoke with had a 50 to 80% increase in sales. With the ammo shortage, reloading is coming back strongly as an option as well as practicing with .22s.

New Introductions From Mossberg

When I read the release last week on the new youth/compact models of the Mossberg 500 and Maverick 88 in 20 gauge, I was very interested. I had been looking for a home defense shotgun in 20 gauge for the Complementary Spouse.

Ed Head interviews Linda Powell of Mossberg about their new introductions which includes the shotguns above as well as their MVP rifle in both Flex and patrol versions. I think they will be going head to head with Ruger when the MVP is released later this year in .308 Winchester.

2013 SHOT Show – Day Two With Michael Bane And Ed Head

Michael Bane and Ed Head return to report on day two of the 2013 SHOT Show for the Outdoor Channel. Among the firearms discussed are the Armscor MIG-22 which is an AR clone in .22 LR and the Beretta Nano which will be coming out with various colored frames.

They both agreed that the overriding theme of this year’s SHOT Show was fear. That is, the fear of what would be coming out of Washington. However, after Obama made his speech yesterday, they sensed a rise in optimism along with a sigh of relief.

Some SHOT Shows feature a lot of new innovative product introductions. This isn’t one of them. Ed said the industry seems to be on an even keep with nothing really different. It was more about introducing different colors, sizes, and styles of existing products. Both Ed and Michael agreed that there seems to be a renewed interest in reloading all of a sudden which they attribute to the ammo shortage and proposals coming out of Washington. They will cover this in more depth tomorrow.

2013 SHOT Show – Day 1 with Michael Bane & Ed Head

Michael Bane is covering the 2013 SHOT Show for the Outdoor Channel along with his friend Ed Head of Gunsite Academy. Among the firearms they discussed were the Sig Sauer MPX, the new Ruger Guide Rifle in .375 RM, the Rock Island 1911 in .22 TCM, and the Smith and Wesson M&P 10 which is an AR in .308. They did notice a trend of a lot of red dots being made for handguns along the ammo shortage.

Operation Fast And Furious Has Kept The Numbers Game Alive

Ginny Simone of NRA News interviewed Ed Head yesterday about the varying estimates of firearms that have been traced from the United States to Mexico. Head, who is currently the rangemaster and an instructor at Gunsite Academy, was a Field Operations Supervisor with the Border Patrol prior to his retirement in 2001.

Head made the point that just because a firearm is “sourced” to the United States does not mean it entered Mexico illegally. He pointed out that the United States sells weapons to the Mexican Army along with those of a number of other Central American nations. Head pointed out that many American-made weapons in the hands of the cartels are being stolen or diverted from the Mexican Army. Moreover, other weapons in the cartel’s hands were legally sent to the militaries of such Central American countries as Guatemala. To blame border state gun dealers for this is wrong, Head said.