Even though I had assumed I knew enough, almost everything I had...
In This Article
The Premise: Violence is a universal constant in human history, whether it’s carried out with bare hands, clubs, edged weapons, or firearms. As author Tiger McKee puts it, “The firearm is simply a tool … ultimately, we fight with our minds.” This underlying martial arts philosophy serves as the foundation for an informal yet thorough manual for firearm-based combatives. By McKee’s own admission, this book was never intended to be published — it was a personal journal written in the early 2000s that documented lessons learned while training with his carbine and sidearm of choice. The entire book was handwritten by the author and is interspersed with sketches and diagrams. In line with this style, tone is conversational, and there are frequent spelling and grammar errors (we noticed half a dozen on the first page alone). The majority of this book’s content is focused on fighting with a 1911 pistol and AR-15.
The 411: The Book of Two Guns has no table of contents or chapters; it flows from one concept to the next. It begins with commentary on mindset and the fighting spirit, immediately reinforced by case studies such as the 1986 FBI Miami shootout and 1993 “Black Hawk Down” incident. Situational awareness is discussed in detail, with references to the OODA Loop and Jeff Cooper’s color code system. Readers are encouraged to act rather than react and to visualize realistic what-if scenarios frequently. Several pages are spent on threat identification, anatomy, and incapacitation factors.
Above: The Book of Two Guns advises readers to carry a 1911 pistol with minimal modifications. Even the double-adjustable rear iron sight seen on this BRN-1911 is deemed unnecessary; the author prefers a simpler contoured rear sight.
About 40 pages in, the firearm-specific content begins. Pistol modifications and holster configuration are discussed in relation to the 1911 — McKee recommends a 4.5-pound trigger, basic iron sights, de-horned hammer, and a strong-side holster with reinforced opening. When it comes to an AR, McKee’s advice feels positively archaic — he recommends a fixed A1-stock, 16-inch carbine (he calls it “the ideal length”) with a simple over-the-shoulder sling (not an around-the-torso “tactical” sling). He writes, “iron sights are best … anything with batteries isn’t good.” It’s noted that AR magazines should be loaded to “10-percent less than capacity” to avoid insertion problems.
Above: McKee's ideal carbine, as described in the book, features an A1 fixed stock and iron sights, much like this BRN-16A1 M16A1 clone from Brownell's. However, McKee prefers a shorter 16-inch barrel and 30-round magazines (down-loaded to 27 rounds).
The fighting stance depicted in this book is modified Weaver, with dominant arm almost straight, hands applying push-pull tension against each other, bent waist, and dominant foot pointed outward. Carbine stance is similar, with dominant elbow held up and body bladed sideways. During a section on reloads, readers are urged to never release a handgun’s slide with the slide lock lever, and encouraged to carry a spare mag between the fingers of the support hand for quick reloads in “target rich” environments. One-handed shooting and malfunction clearance is also discussed for each weapon.
Above: This 1987 photo of a Marine firing an M16A1 serves as a rough approximation of the bladed, elbow-up stance recommended by McKee. (Source: U.S. National Archives)
More than 30 pages are dedicated to tactical movement and use of various body positions. This includes moving while shooting, changing positions, peeking around cover, and clearing rooms. A dozen pages are focused on low-light shooting and tactics. The book concludes with McKee’s opinions on subjects ranging from dry-fire to the importance of spirituality — “the man without any religious belief is closer to defeat,” he writes. There’s even a strange half-page on “internal energy” that should be projected through your body as you shoot, “forcing the bullet toward the target.”
The Verdict: This book was published in 2004, and it serves as a stark reminder of just how much guns, gear, and shooting technique have changed over the last 20 years. Much of its content was written in the earliest days of the Global War on Terror, and before the start of the Iraq War — a time a growing segment of our readership might be too young to remember (this realization makes us feel old). Given that context, we have to cut it some slack. It was relevant at the time it was written, but we simply can’t recommend it in 2022.
Several elements of this book have stood the test of time, especially those relating to situational awareness, tactics, and movement. Others, however, are obsolete in our modern world of precision short-barreled rifles, striker-fired double-stack pistols, isosceles stance, advanced slings, reliable optics, and LED lights. Experienced readers can separate the wheat from the chaff, but a new shooter might be confused. If you pick up a copy of The Book of Two Guns, do so with the understanding that it’s a product of a different era.
Book & Author
The Book of Two Guns: The Martial Art of the 1911 Pistol and AR Carbine
By Tiger McKee