DeSantis Gunhide Question of the Day: Gun Gurus. Who Do You Love?

“I was watching a video this morning of a so called Instructor flaming about the age old standard of teaching the reaction and remedial of an adrenaline dump,” South Florida Gun School‘s Bob Harvey writes over at “He was making fun of the instructional methods talking about fine motor skills vs. gross motor skills. His comedy was funny although wrong on so many basis. I am betting he has never been in a life or death fight in his life.” [Video not shown.]

desantis blue logo no back 4 smallIf that’s the standard for worthwhile firearms advice, I fail miserably. And I hope I always will. Still, I get it. Which is why I depend on the wisdom and experience of our resident war hero Jon Wayne Taylor for much of my armed self-defense. While I train and learn wherever and whenever I can (including Simunitions), there really is no substitute for real-world mano-a-mano experience.

So who’s your favorite gun guru or gurus? (If you have links or can embed YouTube videos, please provide them.) By the same token, name names of gun gurus you think are FOS.


  1. avatar Jack Wagner says:

    Aaron Cowen from sage Dynamics for practical self defense and shooting advice:

    Demolition Ranch for fun!

    1. avatar James in AZ says:

      I’ll second Aaron

      One of the few guys that actually THINK.

      1. avatar Derek says:

        Aaron Cowan is excellent. I have had the pleasure of training with him on numerous occasions (one day of handgun, one day of vehicle handgun, two days of rifle) and it was easily the best money and time I have spent. Zero ego, zero bs guy. Everything that is done is very well explained and thought out.

  2. avatar RDSmith says:

    Massad Ayoob

  3. avatar James in AZ says:

    Anyone that advocates the so-called “linear non-diagnostic malfunction clearance” needs to be taken with a pound of premium tactical tablesalt.

    “The gun clicks, you tap-rack”

    They’re not necessarily FOS. But this one?


  4. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Jerry. With honorable mention for Hickok.

  5. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch. He makes you think.

    1. avatar RLC4 says:

      +1. And Mas for thinking about legal part of self-defense, first.

  6. avatar Shire-man says:

    As far as instructors I’ve actually taken classes with I really like a local outfit On Target Training.
    I’ve taken courses from faux-operator types in CT and MA and they’ve all been raging OOOH-RAAAH douchebags who I never trusted not to get somebody killed.

    The OTT guys are NOT operator types. They’re regular guys who shoot for fun and don’t instruct off of any rigid methodology. They’ve helped take my gun handling to three levels past the next and do it in a family/women friendly way that’s always safe and purposeful.

    If you’re in NH, MA, RI where they teach at local ranges I recommend giving them a try. Sorry, no heavy metal music, quick camera work, tobacco spitting or crotch grabbing. Just a lot of shooting. A whole lot of shooting.

  7. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    Not really love per se, but I do have some affection for Othias (C&Rsenal) and Ian (Forgotten Weapons and InRange). Of course, they are gun academics rather than shooting gurus. My taste is more along the lines of Bob Ross rather than Rex of Rexkwando.

  8. avatar scooter says:

    TTAG is always reliable! Youtube-wise, I dig Sootch and I like Yankee Marshall’s bluntness. Demoranch is entertaining, Mrgunsngear is informative, and Hickok45 is like hanging out with the cool old guy who know stuff. I definitely follow anything said by Massad Ayoob or Jeff Cooper.

  9. avatar jwm says:

    It was easy before the interwebz. You had a few well known in the gun press. Cooper, Jordan, Keith and others.

    But during the interwebz age all became experts. In an attempt to thin the herd a little I place a priority on any that have actually shot at and been shot at.

    But even those that have been to see the elephant I take with a grain of salt. A tier 1 operator in the military is still a civilian in his post military instructors life. His school and teaching style will be regulated by safety and legal issues.

    You literally cannot achieve military level operator status in civilian life. You cannot devote 24-7 to train and live the life. In military training people live together, eat together, sleep together and even in peace time some are injured and killed.

    Try that regimen in a non .gov sponsored and paid for environment and see how long before you are in financial ruin or court. Or worse.

    Legitimate training for us civilians in self defense is way simple.

    1. Safe gun handling. We will handle our guns daily. Not getting an ND is priority 1.
    2. Same as above.
    3. Same as above.
    4. When to fire so as not to get jacked up by the system.

    1. avatar Captain O says:


    2. avatar Crowbar says:

      You always provide great content jwm. Thanks

  10. avatar Bob Harvey says:

    Rob, my standard is not if they have or have been in a fight for their lives. But I would expect them to articulate their curriculum or methodology and where they were trained in it. If not then practical application would have to help dictate their stance. My standard so to speak, is, do they have a grasp on the fundamentals? Can they do them rapidly, effortlessly and proficiently? And better yet, can they get this across so that their students have a thorough grasp at the end of their training. Another words. I have been asked to monitor courses before as a NRA Training Counselor and veteran USMC PMI. I never want to monitor the instructor. I want to see their students perform the curriculum. That is the attribute of a good Instructor. What do his students do after the instructors training?

    1. avatar tdiinva (Now in Wisconsin) says:


      My dad was a pre-WWII regular and one of the first paratroopers. The Army deemed it necessary to leave him at Fort Benning as cadre. He trained lots of people and I guess they did pretty well in combat.

  11. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Not sure if this falls under “gun-guru” or just plain “amazing gun slinger” but my nod goes to Jerry Miculek hands down!

    1. avatar Jonathan says:

      I’d second this, however I’ve never been formally trained in any aspect of firearm ownership outside of my Father and maybe the hunter’s safety course. I do appreciate the folks that do tactical training but I’d guess that the majority of us don’t have the time or funds to go take a week or two for training at a facility that isn’t close by. God bless those people that are training those of us that can, otherwise I really like Jerry’s videos but I’m certainly not a special shot myself. I also like Hickok45 and DemoRanch.

  12. avatar Chicago Steve says:

    Chris Costa changed my life. Now I do all actions with objects other than my hand.

    Need to open up my laptop? That’s what table corners are for. Go to the bathroom? You don’t want to know.

  13. avatar The Pontificator says:

    I like that “I just f***ing shot myself” guy on Youtube. 🙂

    1. avatar jwm says:

      He was tactikewl. Without safe gun handling you may not get a chance to “pie the corners” or some such nonsense.

      1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

        I saw the video, that dude had more than just the corners of the pie….

    2. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      Here’s the clip for all those keeping score at home.

      He shot him with a .45acp from a 1911.

      If you look closely, you can actually see the hydrostatic shock the .45 folks talk about… around 0:20; he was very shocked.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        And after taking a point blank hit from a .45 he’s still up and mobile. I can’t see if he still had his soul.

        1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

          If it didn’t take his soul, it at least made him sterile, which is probably better.

      2. avatar RLC4 says:

        Longer version. At least he fessed up to his FU.

    3. avatar Klaus says:

      The best safety instructor ever because he has real world negligent discharge experience.

  14. avatar LKB says:

    Steve Smith (Asgard NTG). He’s the real deal (retired SAS door kicker). And his classes are affordable (typically under $150/ day, BYOA), plus the classes are small (under 10 students) and you’ll actually shoot a lot.

  15. avatar Ralph says:

    Wyatt Earp. Everyone else is a wussy, with a capital P.

    1. avatar tdiinva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

      Wyatt Earp couldn’t see, was not a quick draw artist and was a poor shot. He preferred to take out his opponent from behind. In other words he was a smart guy who understood his limitations. He is indeed a person to follow.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Speaking of Wyatt Earp, Hugh O’Brian died today at the age of 91. RIP.

  16. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    My fav gun guy on the tubes… A man all men can aspire to be.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      shannon watts idea of a real man.

  17. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Hickok 45

    Because if gun ownership isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Right. I’m not much into following so-called gurus, but I like watching Jerry Miculek for the same reason. Not only is he inhumanly good at this shooting thing, but he always looks like he’s having the time of his life out there.

  18. avatar Guerrero says:

    Paul Gomez, RIP

  19. avatar Kendahl says:

    Besides TTAG, I follow Masaad Ayoob, Grant Cunningham and Greg Ellifritz. For a class on armed self defense, Tom Givens at Rangemaster in Memphis.

  20. avatar ButtHurtz says:

    My mom.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Low hanging fruit.

  21. avatar PPGMD says:

    I found anyone that can’t talk about a training technique without calling other techniques “tacticool” or some other put downs typically don’t know what they are talking about.

  22. avatar MamaLiberty says:

    Mark Fricke – American Firearms Training and Tactics –
    D.R. Middlebrooks – Fist Fire –

    I’ve trained with both of these. Both take you to your honest potential, and sometimes beyond. Very affordable too. Honest, and down to earth in spite of their serious accomplishments. Great training teams as well.

  23. Ayoob. He’s a great writer too.

  24. avatar kevin says:

    I’ve taken classes taught by Nix White and Larry Vickers and both were good.
    Anything on Youtube that you don’t actually practice should be considered entertainment value only.

  25. avatar Hello World says:

    What, no nutnfancy fans here?

    On the FOS side, James Yeager. Hands down. F that guy.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I watch nutnfancy when I’m in need of a nap.

    2. avatar CarlosT says:

      I’ll let you know when the video is done playing.

    3. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      I do watch his videos, when he has a review on something I’m thinking about buying. I figure, if I can make it through the video, I was serious about the purchase…

      1. avatar Hello World says:

        Haha. Truth. I use his videos to fall asleep when I’m wired. He’s such a tool.

  26. avatar Christian says:

    I’m gonna get a lot of flak but I’m a Yeager fan.

    1. avatar Tile Floor says:

      You mean The skipper of the S.S. Douche Canoe?

      1. avatar Christian says:

        Yes that one

    2. avatar TyrannyOfEvilMen says:

      Yep. Yeager is great. Ayoob is great and Kathy Jackson over at FAS has some important things to teach as well.

      I never have really understood the hate on Yeager. On YouTube, he can be annoying but only mildly so compared to many others. In person, he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Besides that, he and his team have good things to teach.

  27. avatar Bob Harvey says:

    My top 10 list not in any order. They are the best in the business in my opinion.

    Clint Smith- Thunder Ranch
    Tom Givens-Rangemaster
    Adam Painchaud-Sig Academy
    Massad Ayoob- MAS Group
    Ed Head- Gunsite
    Travis Haley- Haley Strategic
    Larry Vickers-Vickers Tactical
    Craig Douglas-SouthNarc
    Randy Cain-Cumberland Tactical
    Kyle Lamb-Viking Tactical

  28. avatar Mark says:

    Larry Vickers, Tyler Grey, Travis Haley, Kyle Lamb, Massad Ayoob for starters!

  29. avatar Bob Harvey says:

    My top 10 list not in any order. They are the best in the business in my opinion.

    Clint Smith- Thunder Ranch
    Tom Givens-Rangemaster
    Adam Painchaud-Sig Academy
    Massad Ayoob- MAS Group
    Ed Head- Gunsite
    Travis Haley- Haley Strategic
    Larry Vickers-Vickers Tactical
    Craig Douglas-SouthNarc
    Randy Cain-Cumberland Tactical
    Kyle Lamb-Viking Tactical

    Sorry add, John Farnham at Defensive Tactics Institute.

  30. avatar derfel cadarn says:

    Modern Othias and Ian, Classic and the greatest Elmer and Jeff

  31. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Skeeter Skelton
    Jeff Cooper
    Mas Ayoob
    Clint Smith
    Col. Applegate

  32. avatar tfunk says:

    Kyle Lamb
    Pat MacNamara

    And although most will disagree, for some stuff James Yeager is on point. Have never taken a class of his, though

  33. avatar billy-bob says:

    Royal Nonesuch

    1. avatar samuraichatter says:

      That kid (Rick) has single handedly redeemed this generation for me. Not a tacticool guy but he has taken the whole running with scissors motif to a new level.

  34. avatar Gerard says:

    Paul Gomez, an amazing instructor who left us too early

  35. avatar The Grayest Man says:

    I just haven’t found firearms difficult enough to need a “gun guru”. Another contrarian approach, I know.

  36. avatar Crowbar says:

    No love for Reid Heinrich? I like him for instruction, Yankee Marshall for humor and commentary, and Hickok 45 because he is just old school cool.

    1. avatar Derek says:

      Reid seems like an awesome guy, I love his knowlege and incorporation of history. Filtering some of his ideas is wise (see the wildly improper demonstration of TI on a recent video titled “muzzle up or muzzle down”) That said I still have him on my list of guys I want to take train with (right below Fisher and the guys at mdfi)

  37. avatar NJ-EMT says:

    Aaron Cowan from Sage Dynamics. He takes a very scientific approach to developing techniques and instruction. I am also a fan of his views on LE and citizen interactions (yes, he explicitly says “citizen” and points out that LE are civilians as well).

    If I can ever afford to travel, or if he ever had another class in the PRNJ, I would sign up in a heartbeat.

    I’m also a fan of Travis Haley for his scientific approach.

    I wish Paul Castle were still around, because I would have loved to see him refine the CAR system more. I don’t use it, but I appreciate the theory behind it.

  38. avatar Leighton Cash says:

    I think that if you are going to train, you should take 3 classes from a top tier USPSA Grandmaster for every 1 class you take from a tactician.

    1. avatar jmf552 says:

      Train for what? if you are training for competition, I would agree with you. If you are training for self-defense, that makes no sense to me.

      1. avatar Derek says:

        I would flip the 3:1 ratio the other way. Comp guys can teach excellent throttle control and other things to be sure but being well informed and practiced on the self defense side first allows you to find the practical self defense application for such generally competition oriented skills

  39. avatar VictorLouis says:

    Now retired from training, Stephen Wenger’s site is chock full of common-sense info:

    Love Mas Ayoob, always have.

    Long passed now, was “PlusP” Darrell Mulroy. His site was the former, IIRC (no longer online). He’d been in more than one gunfight(5 or six?..against humans, LOL), and several of his students went on to be successful too, with a modicum of simple training. It was all based around the concept of using a gun that fits your hand, LOW-light training & understanding (& proving to them) the natural use of point-firing. Much like Fairbairn’s old methods.

    John Farnam’s a class-act, too.

    Of ‘today’s’ crew that I am more than casually aware of, Rob Pincus seems to be worthwhile

    1. avatar Derek says:

      Pincus seems like a nice guy but has his sacred cows and ego to match

  40. avatar Matt says:

    I’m a big nutnfancy fan. I actually like the longer format – he tends to give good information and is very thorough. As long as he’s talking about a product or concept I’m interested in, I’ll watch it all.

    I tend to pay attention whenever I come across Miculek or Vickers content. I watch a fair amount of Sootch00 as well, but something about the production in his videos annoys me sometimes. I love that he leaves some bloopers at the end. Mrgunsngear falls into the same category as Sootch00. Hickok is entertaining, but there’s not much information – it’s an entire channel of him shooting in his backyard and some close ups of the gun and maybe a field strip.

    Yankee Marshall is a prick.

    1. avatar mrbadnews says:

      I’ve heard it said, that if Nutnfancy were a chicken patty he’d be 90% breading.
      Take any meaning from that you can. It’s just what I heard.

      1. avatar Matt says:

        I could definitely see people saying that. I enjoy his content though and my experience with the products he’s reviewed has been pretty consistent with what he’s found. I’m not hook/line/sinker for everything he reviews, but when I’m interested in something, I do tend to see if he’s weighed in on it.

  41. avatar A Brit in TX says:

    Ashley Hlebinsky

  42. avatar mrbadnews says:

    Larry Vickers makes me all sweatty when I look at him.

    But IRL, I’d like to thank Practical Shooting competitions and Winchester White box for always being there for me. There’s no teacher like time behind the machine.

  43. avatar adverse4 says:

    Never met anybody that I could not learn something from.

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