Sonoran Desert Institute

All the Latest News, Reviews and Developments happening with the Sonoran Desert Institute!

SDI Prepares for Grand Opening Celebration This Saturday… and YOU are Invited!

Sonoran Desert Institute is growing and changing, folks.

In another symptomatic move made by the ever-growing school, SDI has moved from their long-occupied space in Scottsdale, Arizona to 1555 W. University Drive, Ste. 103, Tempe, Arizona- a larger space more capable of handling the growing needs of the successful school, its staff, and its students.

We’re pretty darn thrilled about the whole thing.

In celebration of the occasion, SDI is hosting a Grand Opening celebration this Saturday (March 2) from 11am-2pm, and you’re invited (yes, you)!

“We are so excited to host this Grand Opening celebration,” said Jennifer McInnis, VP of Growth and Marketing at SDI. “The event’s been in the works for months, and we know it’s going to be fun to show students, graduates, industry partners, and community members our new space.”

It won’t be just an open house, of course. The Grand Opening will include food trucks providing complimentary refreshments (while supplies last), music from a local radio station, and more!

“Between the KUPD team, the food trucks, the raffle, and the demos, it should be a really fun event and we hope to have a great turnout!” said McInnis.

This space visitors will be able to see is more than just bigger. It’s better. Among other things, we now have the capability to handle shipping and fulfillment in-house- that means a more direct line from us to our students.

“This is a much larger, more modern-feeling space than our last administrative office, which speaks to the growth and evolution of the school,” Jennifer noted. “Plus, it’s great to have shipping and fulfillment in-house, and I think people will like getting a look at that during the event.”

Last, but certainly not least, it’s our pleasure to announce that the new campus facility will contain a Military and Veteran Services office, a space dedicated to the betterment of our SDI active duty and veteran students.

“Sgt. Michael Beckerman’s story has been so important to us these last few years since naming the scholarship in his honor. We wanted to honor him by dedicating the Military and Veteran Services office in his name, and we hope that every veteran and active duty military student who walks through those doors knows how much his service–and theirs–means to us.” McInnis stated.

We fully expect this event to be an absolute blast — come join us!

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Graduate Spotlight: Kevin Cline

Love what you do and you never have to work again. This idea is the embodiment of the American Dream and a goal many thrive to reach. Thanks in part to the knowledge he gained at SDI, Kevin Cline was able to make his dream a reality.

After graduating from SDI with his Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree, Kevin opened up his own gunsmithing shop called Blue Coat Arms Company in Central Illinois.  Although his shop hasn’t been open very long, Kevin says that business is booming thanks to the Facebook and marketing webinars he participated in while attending SDI.

I think that I have watched, or at least tried to watch, every webinar that SDI has available on Youtube,” said Kevin.  “They are great because it allows students to get different perspectives on the industry. Kip’s webinars about starting a business with gunsmithing were the ones that helped me out the most once I had graduated. He breaks things down very well and a lot of the information (Federal law and FFL info) is still relatively the same. Zeke’s webinar about marketing was also very influential in how I have begun to build the brand for my business.”

Blue Coat Arms Company not only embodies Kevin’s love for firearms but for history as well.

“Part of the branding I have built for Blue Coat Arms is the fact that I am a history nerd. ‘No Matter Your Era, We Got Your Six!’ is my slogan and I have some pretty incredible stories from soldiers, veterans, and family members that bring in heirlooms,” said Kevin.  “I have also dived into some projects that were mashed together but turns out that the gun itself had some interesting stories of its own upon further research. Firearms are not just weapons or technology. They are a unique American symbol of our culture and each one is unique with its own story to tell.”

While some prospective students may wonder whether an online school is right for them, SDI’s flexibility is what attracted this new business owner.

One of the biggest reasons I chose SDI was because it was online. I needed something that was going to be flexible, and allow me to stay where I was. My wife and I didn’t have the money to move at that time. The course being online didn’t scare me, probably because I am a little younger. I have also always enjoyed learning at my own pace so that I can power through what I thought was easy and really spend time on the things that I struggled with,” said Kevin.   

Kevin is clearly wise beyond his years and has his flourishing company as proof. What advice does he give to those looking to start their own gunsmithing business?

“KEEP LEARNING! SDI provides its students with a solid foundation to get your foot in the door with this industry, but that is what it is–a foundation. If you don’t continue to learn and push yourself to be better than you will not last very long. Gunsmithing is a long-term commitment to yourself and to your customers. You have to have a thirst for knowledge if you want to be good at it, and stay relevant.”

Spoken like a true master gunsmith in the making.

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Why SDI is Stoked for the META Group Skills Summit

Whether you’re an expert marksman looking to pit your knowledge against the best, or an up-and-comer looking to hone your skills, the META Group Skill Summit is the place for you! The two-day takes event will take place October 5th – 7th in Loganville, GA and will be hosted by KC Eusebio and Jessie Harrison, who are both World Champion and United States Army/Navy Special Operations instructors and members of SDI’s Advisory Council. Those attending the course will learn techniques to improve their practical and competitive shooting skills, along with hands-on training in field trauma and combat lifesaver techniques. Needless to say, SDI is thrilled to be a part of this and to support its Advisory Council members!


“We are excited,” said SDI Senior Vice President Wes LeMay. “This is an opportunity for people to come in and get training from two of the top shooters in the world and former representatives of the Special Operations community.” Not only are KC and Jessie members of SDI’s Advisory Board, but an SDI Sponsored Shooter will be attending to sharpen his skills as well.


“I honestly am just super excited to have the opportunity to represent SDI at such an awesome event,” said Theo. “I am always excited and open to learning new things–especially gun-related. The first aid will probably be the most challenging since I have no prior knowledge of that topic. Having SDI there is going to be huge, I love that we are constantly working to make new relationships with people in the industry and are able to tell our story.”


Along with gaining knowledge from experts, those who attend will also get to walk away with custom ZEV/META Pistol!


If you’re interested in learning more about this event, check out this link and follow META Group on Instagram at  And stay tuned for updates on how the event is going!

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Here’s Why Constitution Day is the Biggest Holiday You’re Not Celebrating

The Fourth of July, or more properly Independence Day, is one of the biggest holidays on the American calendar. We mark it with parades, fanfare, fireworks, and of course, almost uniformly eating like starting on the fifth none of us will be permitted to ever eat food again.

That’s not a complaint — I like brats.

However you choose to note the day, there’s perfectly good reason for raucous celebration. It’s the day we declared independence from England, for crying out loud! We abandoned the rule of a monarch in one of the greatest blows struck for freedom in history.

So why is it then, that the day of the creation of our form of government — the very thing that we ultimately left monarchy for —  is far less visible to the public eye?

In fairness, the Untied States Constitution isn’t what many believed it would turn out to be — initially, we had the Articles of Confederation. These articles were ratified in 1781, and they didn’t last all that long. The intentional weakening of the national congress made their jobs just about impossible.

That didn’t go well, and you’ll remember from your high school history class how Shay’s Rebellion served as a stark warning that the federal government might need to do fun things like collect the funds they desperately needed to maintain a country’s functionality. What’s often not mentioned, additionally, is the Newburgh conspiracy.

The Newburgh conspiracy is one of the largest threats to the United States we’ve ever had, and it’s relatively unknown. In short, officers in the Continental Army and members of Congress attempted to instigate something akin to a coup, wherein states would be forced to grant more powers to Congress, who would in turn raise the cash that soldiers, extremely nervous about actually getting paid, would receive.

You can thank George Washington for shutting that down, but that’s an entirely different story.

So here we are, in 1787, with a weak amalgamation of states, a broke national government, a near-coup, and a failed rebellion. Obviously, something’s gotta give.

In May 1787, Philadelphia hosted a meeting of some of the greatest minds of the time to create the historic Constitutional Convention, and of course, the first thing they decided to do was ignore their mandate to amend the Articles of Confederation and create something new from scratch.

The rest is, well, history.

I won’t quote to you the entirety of the Constitution, or even paraphrase it — it’s lengthy, and dollars to donuts you know all about it already. What? You don’t? In that case, take some time and read it using the link here.

What you’ll want to take away, here, is this:

Today — September 17th, is Constitution Day, to mark the signing of the United States Constitution back in 1787.  Without what happened in Philadelphia on that day, we very likely not only would not have grown to the nation we have today, we probably would be either a territory or oblast of another power.

In other words, Constitution Day is every bit as important as Independence Day — we might even consider it an extension of the same.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go rustle up some brats.

What do you think? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

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WATCH: Army Tests Out Hawkeye 105 mm Howitzer

The United States Army recently tested out the Hawkeye 105 mm Howitzer mobile artillery system, developed by the Mandus Group, and man — it looks sweet.

How do I know it looks sweet? Well, a video showing some of that testing in slow motion made its way to Twitter and, well — it’s really, really nice.

Besides it being a big old boom stick with a great capability to reach out and touch, this weapons system is special because of the way it can make its way around the battlefield.

This baby was built to ride on a Humvee.

The “Mandus Group is proud to announce it has teamed with AM General to create the lightest weight, most maneuverable self-propelled howitzer in the world today,” the Mandus Group reported in a statement.

“AM General recognized that the unique “hybrid soft recoil” technology incorporated into the Hawkeye howitzer was a game changing development for artillery in general, especially for self-propelled artillery. Up to now, self-propelled artillery has been mounted on heavy vehicles in order to absorb the extreme shock of recoil from the howitzer.

“These heavy self-propelled howitzers are limited in their ability to be transported to the battlefield and also in their ability to maneuver on the battlefield due to their heavy weight… There simply is no other self-propelled howitzer in the world today that offers the strategic and tactical flexibility that the Hawkeye/HMMWV brings to the fight.”

It’s true — one of the greatest problems facing militaries since the days of antiquity has been getting on and off the battlefield in a timely order and deploying them where they will be the most effective.

Now, American artillery has long been on the cutting edge of this particular line of technology, if they haven’t been the edge.

If use of this weapons system became widespread, I’d imagine we’d be in solid command of that edge for a while.

If you want the nitty-gritty specs, you can take a look here. For those who just want to see something go “Boom!”, just look below.

As Task&Purpose’s Brad Howard noted: “Utilizing an inventive hydraulic system to reduce recoil, the Hawkeye was designed to lighten a tried-and-true artillery solution enough to allow such a large cannon on a small platform.

“It can fire up to eight rounds per minute via remote for three minutes or three rounds per minute sustained, and the mobility of the Humvee allows a small crew of between two and four to rapidly deploy the suspension system, fire, and get out of dodge within 60 seconds — or before counter-battery fire can hit back.”

That’s extra nice if you have to be the person worried about counter-battery fire, not that the United States has had to be real worried about the superiority of their artillery for the past few decades.

This is, however, a fantastic way to take tech we’re already using — the ultra-wildly utilized Humvee — and integrate it with improvements to American war-fighting capability to keep it relevant for years to come.

What do you think about this new equipment? Please share this article on Facebook and Twitter and let us know! Keep and eye out for our next installment on military tech!

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Patriot Day: a Remembrance

Everyone remembers September 11, 2001 differently.

I was in grade school at the time of the attacks, which I consider a mercy, but the most profound impression I remember were the faces of all of the adults around us, especially the parents that for some reason came in a wave to pick their kids up from school that day.

The teachers didn’t tell us — they judged us too young to handle that one without our parents, which was reasonable. When I got home, however, I was treated to that impact footage that was placed on repeat for a seeming eternity thereafter.

And no one said anything.

I can vividly remember thinking, as a kid, “Are my cousins alive?”

I had an aunt, an uncle, and two cousins that lived in the New York suburbs. I wasn’t old enough to understand what portions of the area were in danger, so I just thought I had lost a third of my extended family.

And there are much, much worse stories. I have an in-law that didn’t die that day because he woke up ten minutes late — and he still was put through the trauma of the attack as the aftermath unfolded right in front of his face.

And yet, through all that, both he and I are extremely lucky.

Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks — that’s hundreds of thousands of people whose lives were rocked, and I don’t think there was a single American that wasn’t affected to some degree that day.

It was a black day.

It was also one of our nation’s finest moments.

From out of the woodwork, men and women poured to help those injured and struggling to stay alive. One of the planes terrorists planned to weaponize was brought down in Pennsylvania when the passengers flat-out refused to be victims. 343 Firefighters gave their lives protecting and rescuing and protecting others during the attack, according to Business Insider.

Every once in a while — and may the spaces between these crises grow ever-extended — the American people are given a difficult option: remain entrenched in our divisions and fear, or band together to make real change.

We’ve got a record, and a nation, to be immensely proud of.

Today, Patriot Day, is so important for two reasons, really. You might still see the occasional sign or bumper sticker with the line “never forget.” There are two things to never forget.

  1. Never forget the tragedy and sacrifice of thousands of men and women that lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
  2. Never forget what the American people are capable of when radical love, sacrifice, and service is required of them.

I’ll never forget either.

Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and help us remind folks why today is so important!

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British Army to Cerakote Entire Infantry’s “Weapons Fleet”

Militaries evolve constantly, even if some would argue that they don’t change rapidly enough to reflect the times. Most of the time, that manifests itself in tiny changes that accumulate over time. Sometimes it’s something much larger, like finally fleeing the ACU-style camouflage for something much, much better.

One of the United Kingdom’s newest developments might not be as massive as a new tank model, but it’s big enough news for folks under combat arms, and what’s more — it’s highly visible.

The entire British infantry’s “weapons fleet,” as the British Army’s Soldier magazine termed it, is going to be going Flat Dark Earth — one of the better-known Cerakote colors and likely one some of you have at your hip or in your safe right now!

I won’t lie — it’s one of my personal favorites, and I’m extremely excited.

The British have a history of coloring their small arms to match where they’re going. As The Firearm Blog notes, “The British Army has a long history of painting weapons suitable colours for operational environments but the new initiative is set to see a shift to a new default weapon colour.”



British Army/MOD

What we’re seeing, essentially, is the hope to realize a military philosophy as conveniently as possible.

It seems as though the United Kingdom has a belief that it’s important to see to it small arms are brought to match the environment, just like a uniform ought to.

That’s both a good a idea and a big ol’ pain, re-working or re-issuing firearms as troops are rotated to different locations. The desire for a workaround is absolutely justifiable.

Here, we can see a colorization that will match its environment in nearly all environments, which is one of the reasons FDE is so gosh-darn popular.

Virtus L85A3

British Army/MOD

Major John Anthistle of the Equipment Directorate told Soldier that “The SA80A3 was the first weapon to be painted with this — it is hard wearing and resistant to the elements. As a result, it will enhance durability and the user’s camouflage as the black bodies stand out significantly against the PCS [the British Army’s current multi-terrain pattern Personal Clothing System] background.”

It’s a legitimate concern. I don’t think I have ever heard an American veteran complain about the color of their firearm, but I can certainly concede that I haven’t spoken to every veteran that’s ever served and this could well be a problem that I haven’t yet stumbled across.

The British are looking to act on this soon, lending more credence to the theory that to them, this is real important stuff.

“They will be painted this year but the size of the fleet is so vast users will see a mix of black and brown weapons for a number of years to come,” Anthistle noted.

What do you think? Is this something that the British are just smarter about than we are? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter, tag a friend or three, and let us know!

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Shooting Sports Month Highlight: Bullseye Shooting

August is National Shooting Sports Month!

In honor of this auspicious occasion, we’re going to spend some time looking at different aspects of shooting sports — maybe one will pique your interest!

Today, we’re going to take a look into one of the most basic forms of competition shooting: bullseye shooting.

Bullseye shooting is a category of competitive shooting in which shooters are given a fixed amount of time in which to put shots on a target as close to the center as possible.

This sport requires the use of slow, precision fire, and as such could easily been seen as one of the more daunting of shooting sports categories — we’re talking a lot of pressure, all at once.

At the same time, as mentioned before, this is a very basic form of competitive shooting, with a large emphasis placed on your shooting fundamentals: sight picture, trigger control, breath control. Because you have a long time relative to other shooting sports events, competitors should nail these basics, but even if you can master the pressure, you’re up against a myriad of similarly-skilled shooters hitting bulls-eyes left and right.

You can see some incredible bullseye shooting with the NRA precision pistol events, and a mass of International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) events.

Let’s take a look at what they have:

  • ISSF 10 Meter Air Rifle
  • ISSF 50 Meter Rifle Prone
  • ISSF 50 Meter Rifle Three Positions
  • ISSF 300 Meter Standard Rifle
  • ISSF 300 Meter Rifle Prone
  • ISSF 300 Meter Rifle 3 Positions

The shorter ranges listed above are shot with small-bore rifles, where the longer distances are shot with larger bore rifles. The ISSF also has multiple pistol events:

  • ISSF 10 Meter Air Pistol
  • ISSF 25 Meter Pistol
  • ISSF 25 Meter Standard Pistol
  • ISSF 25 Meter Rapid Fire Pistol
  • ISSF 50 Meter Pistol
  • ISSF 25 Meter Center-Fire Pistol

Those falling outside of the center-fire and air pistol events are shot in .22LR.

Shooting sports are not just a fun way for experienced shooters to strut their stuff — they’re a fantastic way to introduce new shooters to the world of firearms.

Precision marksmanship might not be the immediate entry point for someone unfamiliar with firearms — if it is, more power to them! — but because of its simple, straightforward nature, bullseye shooting, or simply practicing putting shots on paper, especially with low-recoil firearms, is an easy-to-grasp activity with a built-in metric for success without too much pressure out of the competitive spotlight.

Take time this month to catch up with that friend (or three) that has said they want to give shooting a chance, but haven’t yet gotten around to it. I promise, the time invested will be well worth-it.

What do you think? Please share this story on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

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