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Killmonger and the Kardashians: Meet Hollywood’s Go-To Gun Trainer

We might think of Hollywood as the crunchy, far-left, center of the anti-gun movement, but like most issues surrounding guns and gun politics, it’s not quite so simple as that.

Whether for work or protection, it turns out many folks in Hollywood are interested in safely and effectively handling guns too.  Who would have thought?

And who do the folks we see on TV and in movies turn to to learn the right way to handle a gun?  This guy right here.

taran butler
The man himself.

Taran Butler is the firearms trainer to the stars.  Everyone from Keanu Reeves (who we’ve already talked about) to James Cameron, Michelle Rodriguez and yes, even the Kardashians (who we’ll get to in a second), have come to Taran for training and advice on carrying firearms.

I wanted to know more about what it’s like training movie stars to shoot, so I had a talk with the man himself to find out.  While I had him on the phone, we also talked about Black Panther, and teaching the Kardashians to shoot.  We also talked a little bit about why it’s so worthwhile to introduce people who might otherwise be afraid of guns, or anti-gun in general to firearms.

First, Some Background

A lot of you are probably wondering “who the hell is Taran Butler”?  Well, first of all, shame on you for not reading this article where we talked to him the first time.  If you don’t feel like reading or rereading that article, here’s what you need to know.

He makes awesome rifles and accessories, and also shoots really good.

at Rainier Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I personally own these base pads and they make a massive difference in matches where they’re allowed.

Of course, in addition to talking a lot of smack at the range (which he does) and training all your favorite movie stars, he is also the twenty-three time Southwest Pistol League Champion, five time California State Three-Gun Overall winner, five time USPSA Multi-Gun National Tactical Champ, two time IDPA National Champion, and the USPSA Multi-gun First Ever Triple Crown Champion (I’m stopping here because both his ego and the article are already large enough)  he’s also well known as the founder of Taran Tactical Innovations, one of the most prominent custom gun and gear shops around.  

Basically, Taran Butler shoots better than you.  

Don’t feel bad though, there are maybe five people on the planet that this isn’t universally true for across the wide range of shooting disciplines, and I can almost guarantee you none of them care enough about what I have to say to read this.

There are certainly shooters that do this or that better, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone living who can do everything better.

Even Bob Vogle, who Butler described to me as “the greatest GLOCK shooter that’s ever lived” couldn’t quite beat him when it came to Butler’s big party trick, burning down targets quickly from the hip.  Check out Butler acing three center-mass targets.  At 15 yards.  In a little over three quarters of a second. 


You can watch the full video here and see what it’s like when two titans go at it.  And credit where it’s due, Vogle does things with a GLOCK that nobody on the planet can do, and he pulls out a win on a plate rack drill, but Butler still has him beat on the quickdraw…and he does it from the hip.

When talking about other trainers who have had negative comments about Butler’s fast, dynamic style of training, he summed his position up nicely.

“There are guys out there that I wouldn’t want to be in a shootout with, but they don’t want to be in a shootout with me either, and they sure don’t want to be in a standoff where they have to fast draw, because I’ll beat anybody on the planet”.  

Bold claim, but looking at his record, it’s really a difficult one to refute.

Black Panther and Keeping Up With the Kardashians

All of this shooting prowess has certainly impressed Hollywood, with everyone from James Cameron to the cast of the new SWAT TV show all coming to Butler for training.

We talked specifically about some of the folks he’s worked with, and he shared some truly amazing stories (some of which were off the record, but we were worth more to me personally than anything, being as they were about shooting and some of my favorite movie stars).

Since Black Panther made roughly all the money in the world this weekend, lets start there.

Black Panther

If you haven’t seen Black Panther, go do so.  It’s one of the best comic book movies, in my opinion, since the Dark Knight, and deserves to stand with the best of the Marvel movies.

Black Panther Banner
Seriously, go see this movie.

One of the things that it does so well, and in my opinion the thing that it does better than almost any other Marvel movie except maybe the first Avengers movie, is the villain.

A good comic book film, in my considerably nerdy opinion, is only as good as it’s villain.  Hence why possibly the movie with the best villain, the Dark Knight, is so high on my list of comic book film accomplishments.

Killmonger in the Black Panther movie, played by Michael B. Jordan, who you may know from other awesome movies like Creed and Fruitvale Station, is probably my favorite Marvel villain now, and has proven beyond all shadow of a doubt that the raging dumpster fire that was the Fantastic Four remake was no fault of Jordan’s.

Black Panther and Killmonger
Left to Right: T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)
Credit: Matt Kennedy/©Marvel Studios 2018

Now, if you poke around online, you’ll find no end of people talking about all the awesome things Jordan did to prepare for his role, but I haven’t seen a lot of talk about the work he put in at the gun range.

In the film, Jordan’s character is someone with an immense amount of combat training, to the point where he is very much a match for the titular character (played by Chadwick Boseman, who also did an amazing job).

Granted, he spends most of his time in the film wielding a badass spear instead of the Daniel Defense DDM4 Mk18 we see him carrying early on, but when he’s got a gun in his hand, he really handles it competently.

ddm4 black panther

So, to prep for that role, it totally makes sense that he would go to someone who could teach him to handle a gun like a pro.  That’s where Taran Butler got involved.

When I asked Butler about it, he had this to say:

“Michael B Jordan is a beast.  The kid can really shoot.  He came out to get ready for Black Panther, and worked his ass off to get it right”.

High praise for someone who’s won more competitions than most people have even competed in.

That type of effort is something that really pays off in the film.  Jordan, like Keanu Reeves, Garret Dillahunt, and others that have trained with Butler, really moves like someone who knows how to handle a gun, and that’s because he does.

The best way to look like you genuinely, authentically know what you’re doing is to just learn how to do something, and in that respect I really enjoyed Jordan’s performance.

As a gun nerd and a competition shooter myself, nothing bugs me more than an actor doing something that doesn’t make sense with a gun, or saying some bullshit about GLOCKS not showing up on x-ray scanners at airports.

I passionately love all four Die Hard movies (there are only four, shame they never made a fifth one) but this still pisses me off.  

Jordan wanted to authentically portray someone with some serious gun handling experience, so he obtained serious gun handling experience.  I greatly appreciated not having to watch him blink while shooting or shoot 300 rounds out of a 30 round mag, so props to the armorers, director Ryan Coogler, and Jordan himself for putting in the extra effort there.

Keeping Up With the Kardashians (At The Range)

I doubt terribly many of our readers are overly familiar with the show Keeping Up With the Kardashians.  We don’t exactly have similar audiences, Kim and us.

That being said, I guarantee all of you are at least aware of the Kardashians, even if you became aware against your will.  I work on the internet and I promise, I know more about them than I ever, ever, eveeerrrr, wanted to know.

That being said, one of the things we all probably know about the Kardashians is that their political views tend to be rather left-of-center.  

Now, fear not, you’re still safe from the toxic cloud that is American politics here.  I’m not going to go either way with this, but by her own admission, Kim K is decidedly anti-gun.

Khloe and Kendall Jenner are another story however.

On an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians last December (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write here), we got a look at the discussion regarding gun ownership in the Kardashian household when Khloe and Kendall wanted to learn how to use guns for protection.

And of course, Taran Butler was the one they turned to for proper handling and safety instructions.  And I have to say, props to them for wanting to learn how to safely and effectively carry.  I think whatever our political opinions, everyone can agree that anyone who carries a gun should have some form of training so they aren’t a danger to their self and others (well, except others who wish them harm).


Butler had this to say about training the Kardashians:

“We had Khloe and Kendall come out, and they were sweet as hell. Very nice, very willing to learn, and they did a great job.  They wanted to learn gun safety so they could get a gun for the house, for self-protection.  And of course we had comments from people that wanted to talk shit and be like ‘why are you training them, they’re anti-gun, how could you do this, yadda yadda’.  And it’s ridiculous.  They’re at the range, they’re handling guns, and they’re wanting to learn.  That’s not very anti-gun”.

I tend to agree.  Confession: I’m a dirty liberal hippie myself on a lot of issues, gun ownership aside, and I have lots of friends who are anti-gun to the point of being outright afraid of them.  In my experience, a lot of people are afraid of guns because they don’t understand them, or they have misconceptions about them.

And one of the best ways to get those people to be less afraid of guns?  Take them shooting.

Taran Butler had a similar observation.

“One of the big things that the shooting community in general needs to understand is that, I’m showing them guns in a different light.  It isn’t just walking to a range, poking holes in a target at a round a second, on a paper target where you can’t see where the shots are landing, and then calling it done.  I’m making it really fun, shooting fast, and getting them shooting really well, and doing it quickly.  And it opens their eyes, liberal or not, to how much they can like it.  And why not, you know?  Why not convert people?”

I totally agree.  And I have nothing but respect for somebody who can bring that kind of positive attention to something as contentious as firearms, in a place like Hollywood.  


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