Former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb Shares Thoughts on ‘American Sniper,’ Gun Culture, Concealed Carry — SHOT Show 2015

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Brandon Webb.  Real American Badass.  (Photo: Webb)

Brandon Webb. Real American Badass. (Photo: Webb)

At SHOT Show 2015, I had the chance to interview Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL sniper, a New York Times best-selling author, and a budding media mogul. Yeah, to say that the dude is “accomplished” is an understatement. In fact, I’d argue he’s done more at 40 than most people do in a lifetime. Seriously, check out his bio.

Individuals like Webb are rare, and when you get a chance to talk to someone like Webb you’re bound to walk away enlightened in one respect or another. It may be that you learn something you didn’t know before about the SEAL community, firearms or flying airplanes (another hobby of his) or it may be that you simply gain a deeper appreciation for life, whatever the case may be, it’s worth taking the time out of your day to interact with a Brandon Webb.

Below is our conversation.  Hopefully you enjoy it as much as I did.

S.H. Blannelberry: I think in the mind of many gun owners, every SEAL is a “gun guy.” Yet, I’m wondering to what extent this is true. From your experience, are all SEALs gun guys or do some have a more utilitarian relationship with firearms, i.e. “It’s just a tool for a job, that’s about it.” Do you consider yourself a gun guy? Do you carry concealed? If so, what do you carry? And why have you chosen that specific platform? 

Brandon Webb: I would say that most SEALs are (or become) a gun guy. You can’t help but adapt to the environment of having access to the best weapons in the US military inventory.

I definitely fall into the latter category, as a kid I was an avid underwater hunter but wasn’t around guns too much.

I travel a ton for work but when I’m at home in San Juan or Manhattan (I have places in both cities) I definitely am a fan of concealed carry. I just applied for my Manhattan CCW with the NYPD, and they’ve been very supportive of this. I have a real threat concern since I have a couple of bestselling books about terrorism and ISIS, and am in the public often. I carry a Glock19 and am buying the Sig Sauer P232 because it’s a true compact, and just looks badass. I like surrounding myself with beautiful things, and that gun is a work of art in two-tone.

S.H. Blannelberry: SEALs are no longer the Navy’s best kept secret. In fact, one can argue that they’ve gone mainstream over the past decade or so with books, movies, appearances on primetime TV, youtube, social media, etc. Everyone knows about SEALs. While many are quick to point out the negative aspects of SEALs entering the limelight, what are the advantages of making the public more aware of the teams?

Brandon Webb: I honestly think it’s envy around the negativity. I just ignore it and stay positive. Churchill said it best when he said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

The Internet age has changed things. The SEAL community leadership is learning to cope and I think the community will adapt as best they can.

I’ve lost a lot of friends since 9-11, making the public aware of their sacrifice and their stories (untold otherwise) is important to me personally.

Webb with Chris Kyle, one of his former students at sniper school.  (Photo: SOFREP)

Webb with Chris Kyle, one of his former students at SEAL sniper school. (Photo: SOFREP)

S.H. Blannelberry: When a movie comes out about SEALs, you’re typically the guy to review it. Over the past few years, several SEAL movies have been released. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to rank em in order from your favorite to your least favorite along with a brief reaction to them:

Brandon Webb (click on movie title to read Brandon’s full review):

1. Lone Survivor (My favorite of the bunch, Marcus did a great job with the Director and Cast)
2. Act of Valor (Excellent realism, enough said)
3. American Sniper (Good but should have been a great movie. It was a huge let down for me and I think Chris would have agreed).
4. Zero Dark Thirty (shouldn’t be in the same category as these IMO. The last scene was so corny. Talking on target? Really??)

S.H. Blannelberry: Why was SOFREP (Special Operations Forces Situation Report) started? And in what direction do you see it headed in? 

Brandon Webb: I started SOFREP with Jack Murphy (former 75 Ranger/Green Beret) because there was no legitimate source of information about the Special Ops community on the Internet. Books, movies, yes, but nothing legit on the net. I saw the gap and Jack and I built the site from concept to live site in 30 days. There was a lot of sleepless nights but I’m proud of what we’ve built and that the site has become a legitimate news source for people. You can’t get the kind of perspective we provide on SOFREP anywhere else in the news. Our Spec Ops journalists have access and push stories that makes the New York Times Editors wince. They know they can’t touch what we do, and that’s a great thing in a sea of blah news.

S.H. Blannelberry: On SOFREP, I’ve noticed more video content crop up over the past few years that allows readers, viewers to sit in on conversations between SEALs, Rangers, and Green Berets. Do you plan on expanding this feature? Perhaps a network television show in the future?

Brandon Webb: I’m building our own online TV Channel on SpecialOperations.com, “The Spec Ops Channel”, and we’ll also migrate our older videos to our YouTube channel.

We’re open to our own network show if the right opportunity comes along but right now I’m focused on producing our own content and owning the creative process all the way through to post production. Our “Inside The Team” series has been very rewarding and fun to produce, and the guys open up because they know there’s trust and that we own the process 100%.

S.H. Blannelberry: As the author of at least half a dozen books and as an editor of SOFREP, what writers or books have inspired you? What type of books, magazines, websites do you typically read? What other media outlet(s) is your go-to source for news and information?

Brandon Webb: Here’s my favorites:

Books

1. Atlas Shrugged-Ayn Rand
3. Anything John Steinbeck. I’ve read them all and he’s influenced my writing style the most.
3. The Tree of Knowledge. As a digital media CEO I’m always learning and this book is amazing.

"Among Heroes," Brandon Webb's book about the eight friends and fellow SEALs who made the ultimate sacrifice. (Photo: Barnes & Noble)

“Among Heroes,” Brandon Webb’s book about the eight friends and fellow SEALs who made the ultimate sacrifice. (Photo: Barnes & Noble)

Magazines

Mens Journal (great guy mag, they’re doing a feature on me for the June issue and release of Among Heroes)
Outside (Love the travel/adventure stuff in there)
The Economist (Great perspective on world news)

I wish there was a great gun mag but I honestly don’t think there’s anything worthwhile out there, most of the good content is online. RECOIL came close, I love the look but the content could be sooo much better. Shit, I should reach out to those guys, ok, writing that down!

Websites

I believe in sourcing from multiple sites and view points and then compiling the intel and making your own assessment. That said, my top sites are:

SOFREP.com
WSJ
NYTimes
Economist
Al Jazeera (know thy enemy! Lol)
LoadoutRoom (those guys are killing it over there and that’s one of our sites)
FighterSweep.com (bad ass Mil aviation, and I fly a Yak 52 so…)

***

UPDATE: Brandon responded to documentarian Michael Moore’s tweet that said “snipers are cowards.”  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

A coward is someone who is afraid to engage in intelligent conversation, to see things from a different perspective, someone who throws out thoughtless slurs on social media. You are the true cowards, Michael Moore and Seth Rogen. You can backpedal all you want now that you’re feeling the heat and backlash of an America celebrating one of their heroes. Explain it away all you want, but the damage is done and your true characters have been revealed.

***

Big thanks to Brandon for taking the time to correspond with us.  He’s a true patriot.

In addition to checking out SOFREP and SpecialOperations.com, make sure you grab a copy of his latest book “Among Heroes,” it’s available at Barnes and Nobles. Follow Brandon on Twitter and Instagram.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • tim January 23, 2015, 2:21 am

    after special training myself, not anything like seal training, I can honestly say that what most people think is a rough day, is in no way what the few endure. One must realize that those dedicated individual’s are so much more than one can imagine… it take one’s breath away. I stand with and beside without question anything that those chosen few may asked of me.
    The average person really does not have a idea of just what is real in the world outside. For that I honor all those who step up to the plate to keep my life so comfortable. I am in deep gratitude.

  • Gary Wolf January 22, 2015, 7:44 am

    Great article. I was a Navy LT, JAGC, 1981-85. SJA for 19 subs at Pearl Harbor. Seal teams came often and rode the subs for parts unknown. One of the boats was eventually modified for Seals only. I remember how fit and intense they were. They were small in stature but had a quiet, scary aura about them that said, ‘I am victory.’ Very, very impressive. I always thought, ‘so glad they are on our side.’ Wow. The best.

  • Monte O January 21, 2015, 8:31 pm

    This isn’t written out of negativity or jealousy, but I see a trend where people think the only real heroes are in the Special Operations community, and with the titles of their books, it seems some of them think that way, too. There are many other regular “GIs” (for lack of a better term in my vocabulary) who have sacrificed a great deal. I had always thought the special ops community and regular GIs were in this together, but I get a sense that they simply don’t feel that way anymore. That brings a certain amount of sadness to me. I had always likes it when there was a sense of comradeship between all of the folks who served that I guess doesn’t exist any more.

    • thorne bertrand January 22, 2015, 12:16 am

      Well said! We should respect all military who sacrifice so much, frequently their lives.

    • Brandon January 24, 2015, 12:45 am

      I’ll be the first to give credit to conventional Warfighters, we all served and sacrificed. All gave some, some gave all.

  • Bud Haffner January 21, 2015, 8:24 pm

    Brandon and Jack have the best podcast around and I never served in the armed forces. If you want to hear the truth about what our military has, or is, accomplishing, listen to the opinions of our nations real hero’s, or to simply hear real team mates sharing their thoughts, then listen to SOFREP.com. These guys and their guests actually tell it like it is and its amazing to listen to what our nations finest have been through. Don’t miss an episode with Draggo in it. He is also an amazing mans man! I can’t wait to see what they do in the future. Brandon also created the Red Circle Foundation. RCF utilizes 100% of donations to assist veterans and their families with struggles once they return home, or to help the families of those hero’s that did not make it home alive. How many charities do you know of that provide 100% of donations to the cause that they support? Listen to one podcast (iTunes or SoundCloud) and I’ll bet that you will be hooked!

  • Bill P January 21, 2015, 7:26 pm

    While in the Navy from 1962 to 1966 I made some wonder friends with at that time was the UDT. I swam off the coast of France and Greece with one and enjoyed the work out. I am glad you get the recognition you deserve although you might not want it. I feel that the seal team, like any other undercover team, should have there privacy. My congrats to you and other members of your team.

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