The same week the most anti-gun Presidential candidate in history lost her White House bid, we in the gun culture lost two more greats.

Mike Dillon has passed.  Mike was the man who made progressive ammunition reloading machines available cheaply to the general public. The availability of affordable centerfire ammo in volume has created great strides in improving shooting skills nationwide, and has made it possible for countless more good people to become active in the shooting sports.

Mike was a gentleman in every respect.  I will always appreciate how kind and friendly he was when he took my significant other on a tour of his plant in Arizona a few years ago.

Dillon Precision set a high-water mark for customer service, not just in the firearms industry but in American industry, period.

Phil Shave, former head of police firearms training in Washington state and now working with a major gun owners’ civil rights group there, informs me that John Lawson passed away early in November.  John and I followed parallel paths in some respects. He and I were both columnists for American Handgunner magazine in its formative years going back to the 1970s.  If memory serves, Lawson and I both got our gun-writing starts with the late, lamented GUNsport magazine edited by the great Ken Warner, me in 1971 and John earlier than that.

Lawson 1911
John Lawson did this first “Ayoob Special.” Colt Combat Commander .45 auto has an early Jim Hoag grip safety, 5″ Bar-Sto match barrel ported on exposed portion, S&W adjustable revolver sights, and an exquisite Lawson trigger job. RIP, Brother John.

John’s niche was gunsmithing.  A master at the trade himself, his specialty was showing readers how to safely and effectively work on their own firearms.  Perhaps his most famous series was on a rifle he built for his little niece.  I have the privilege of owning two John Lawson custom .45s. The first was a Colt Combat Commander he built for me in the ‘70s, its extended barrel ported on the exposed part to reduce muzzle jump, and one of the first beavertail grip safeties by Jim Hoag. I won a gold medal with it at an IPSC match overseas in ’79.  When I was shooting for Team HK under Team Captain John Bressem in the early ‘80s, John built a pin gun out of a Heckler & Koch P9S Target model with a heavy barrel weight, Mag-na-Ported.  That sweet pistol won multiple guns for me at the Second Chance bowling pin shoots in Michigan. I am glad I have those two Lawson Custom .45s to remember him by, and will cherish them all the more now.

Vaya con Dios, brothers. Each of you were sterling examples of the character of the people in the real Gun Culture.


  1. Mike was an innovator and had a good memory too. Some years ago he was good enough to call me at work saying he wanted me to know why the Navy didn’t adopt the .50 gatling (GAU-19) for the seaborne MH-60s – a move which I had been advocating. He said despite the performance against small boats the Pentagon bean counters insisted it not be adopted unless it could feed from the in service .50 belted ammo for the M2.

    Too bad, coulda’ used it in two wars since.

    RIP sir.

  2. Sad news…..I had three Dillon press at one time…..I did get a chuckle from Mass though, been reading you since the early 80’s when I started in LE, and he never failed to talk about himself, and something he won….. hilarious

  3. I am very sorry to hear of Mike Dillon’s passing. I met him once years ago and he struck me as a good man, a straight shooter, a gentleman. May he rest in peace knowing he helped American freedom with his efforts.

  4. Randolph, back in the mid-70s Pachmayr grips came with a ridge below the thumb line, which impeded the thumb’s access to the magazine release button for a quick reload. Don’t remember whether the alteration was done with a grinder or a Buck knife, though…

  5. Let’s hope that Dillon Precision does not go the way of nearly every vision-driven company and immediately start to sacrifice customer service for “additional profit”.

  6. I have 2 Dillons and have been well satisfied, when I have paid attention. I still get the Blue Press catalog/magazine and always enjoy.
    Mas, on that commander I see that you have a longer barrel with slots to vent gas upward, to help control recoil. Do you feel that it really helps? I have a full size Colt with a Wilson compensater and it definitely helps, but that compensater also weighs about 1.5 oz. I feel that extra weight up forwards does more than the slots. I also have a Ruger old model Blackhawk in .45Colt that has been Magnaported as well as a S&W Hunter .44mag that is Magnaported. To me the jury is still out. How about some testing to get some empirical data and write it up? In a handgun the powder charge that is vented is small. On the other hand, in a rifle, powder charges are considerably higher and venting those gases makes sense (example-muzzle brake).

  7. Randy, I found the MagnaPorting reduced muzzle jump, allowing me to get back on target, but did not appreciably reduce rearward “kick.” The later expansion chamber recoil compensators did both when properly designed.

  8. It is a little off-topic but something interesting happened to me at work today.

    I use a computer at work and, like millions of people, I tend to “surf the net” during my lunch hour. My employer (surprisingly) does not forbid this. He simply uses software to block objectionable sites. No looking at porn during lunch, for example (which would spoil my appetite anyway! 🙂 ).

    However, as a “Gun Person”, I often did surf firearms-related sites. Well, today I found that my anti-gun employer has now classified firearm sites are “restricted” and they are being actively blocked.

    Why this is suddenly implemented today is hard to say. Maybe someone is upset at the Trump victory and decided to take it out on the hicks and rubes that elected him? After all, the messiah, President Obama, has told them that one characteristic of the hicks and rubes is that they bitterly cling to guns and religion. It might look funny to block religious sites but, no doubt, they figure that the gun sites are OK to block.

    It looks like sites that sell guns, like Buds Gun Shop and Gunbroker, are all blocked. Firearm manufacturers like Ruger are also blocked.

    Mas, you will be interested to know that your blog here is now blocked for me at work (I am writing this on my home computer). Congratulations! My employer evidently ranks you just as high, in terms of undesirability, as the Ruger and Smith & Wesson sites!

    In any event, I won’t have to put up with this anti-gun crap from my employer for too much longer. In about 230 calendar days, I’ll have my time in and can retire and draw my pension. I have a “Retirement Clock” sitting on my desk at work counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds!

  9. I once sent a 6″ barrel for my 1911 in .45 ACP to Mag-Na-Port for their modification on the exposed portion. I could discern no difference in recoil reduction and sold it to a friend who had the same experience before he had a compensator installed which really lessened the muzzle rise.

    I also had a Mag-Na-Port customized Charter Arms .44 Bulldog in hard chrome finish I had won at the 1982 Second Chance shoot and could not feel any difference in recoil compared to a friend’s stock model using the same loads.

    Maybe for high intensity and velocity loads, the Mag-Na-Port slots may lower the recoil, but not in .45 ACP and .44 Special, both fairly mild loads in factory ammunition.

  10. Tom606–
    Strange that you should mention the Second Chance bowling pin shoot. That was the first time and place that I saw a compensater. Also when I first met Mas. Long long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Always had a great time. Won a Ruger mini-14 once.

  11. John Lawson was my gunsmith and friend in the 80’s and 90’s. He lways took care of business and always provided interesting conversation. RIP

  12. R.I.P. John Lawson.

    The article on the Ayoob Special was one of my favorite magazine articles, ever. I still have it, and my Lwt. Cmdr. A.S.

    — ML

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