6 Mar 01
Latest on the New Jersey State Police and their new pistols. This is from a trainer with the NJSP. We must keep in mind that any new equipment coming into a system will always be greeted with skepticism. However, this is what they have to say so far:
“We are quickly discovering that these new pistols are going to have a rocky break-in period. The honeymoon with the NJSP never even started!
Most of the pistols came with exceptionally rough feed ramps. We’ve had many feeding problems as a result. We complained about it, and S&W sent us new barrels. Unhappily, the new barrels are no improvement over the old ones, and the problems persist.
During our orientation, we were told, ‘It doesn’t matter when you decock. You can even decock after you have holstered. Just remember to decock prior to drawing the next time.’ This is from the lips of one or our senior ‘instructors.’
Not surprisingly, we didn’t have long to wait for our first AD with the new pistol. A Sergeant AD’d in his car after leaving the range. Taking his instructor’s advise, he attempted to decock while his pistol was in the holster. He said that had forgotten to decock earlier. He stopped his vehicle on the way out of the range parking lot and tried to decock. He somehow got his finger on the trigger. No injury, but a nice hole in the patrol vehicle. We have every confidence that this will not be the last.
Some of the difficulties are not S&W’s fault. For example, our blithering idiot colonel decided that the sixteen-round magazines which were supplied with the pistol allowed for one round too many. So, he sent them all back to S&W to have them modified to hold only fifteen rounds! (I’m not making this up!). The magazines came back marked, “Caution-15 rounds only,” and (You guessed it!) they are now causing no end of ADDITIONAL feeding problems. Management is so embarrassed that they are issuing each trooper a rubber mat, which he is supposed to put in front of his shooting position when he goes to the range, so that the new magazines won’t be damaged during reloading drills.
Morale is about normal here!”
…the blind leading the blind
7 Mar 01
From a friend at the S&W Academy:
“When the P99 pistol was ordered by the NJSP, the S&W Academy staff went there to train their trainers. The decocking policy described in your posting is, of course, NOT what we teach. We teach decocking the same way that you do. When we were there, the version of the pistol the NJSP had did NOT have a manual decocking button at all, as that is the way they ordered it. So, when we were there, we didn’t even mention manual decocking.
As you know, NJSP pistols have since been refitted with manual decocking buttons. We have not been invited back since the change. I have no idea where the cock-eyed procedure you mentioned came from, but it didn’t come from us.
We’re as frustrated as your friend is!”
8 Mar 01
This is from a friend who is teaching in the Middle East:
“I just witnessed what could have been a training catastrophe. A student was engaging a low-light, rifle training exercise, when his short-barreled Galil rifle (223) EXPLODED in his face. The entire top half of the rifle disintegrated! The student ended up with numerous lacerations on his face. He was bleeding profusely.
His eye protection (Oakey) did just that! The lenses have deep scrape marks, but his eyes and vision are okay. Had he not been wearing glasses, he would likely have been permanently blinded.
As a trainer, here is what I learned:
>Don’t allow ANYONE on a range unless they are wearing adequate eye protection, CONTINUOUSLY. Students often take their glasses off and then forget to put them back on.
>Do not allow students to use old, corroded, or dirty ammunition or ammunition from dubious sources, particularly in rifles. This student was using ammunition that way lying loose in a bucket. It was moist, and many of the rounds were covered with green scum. Heaven knows where it came from! In any event, I instructed all students to stop using it. I should have banned it from the beginning.
Low-pressure, pistol ammunition is one thing, but high-pressure rifle ammunition, such as the 223 or 308, is capable of causing significant injury to both shooter and bystanders.
>Finish the fight! Even though this student was startled and hurt, and his primary firearm outright demolished, without hesitation, he dropped his rifle, drew his Glock 17 and continued the exercise. He didn’t give up, and he didn’t call a ‘recess.’ Good show!”
15 Mar 01
Latest on NJSP pistol problems:
“A teletype came out last night, and today’s newspapers are already having a field day with it. It states, ‘IMMEDIATELY CEASE ALL SW99 TRANSITION TRAINING!’ In the interim, we are supposed to go back to using our H&K P7s, the ones that, five years ago, were so worn out that they had become undependable.
The reason cited for the recall is unspecified ‘safety concerns.’ No further details were provided. However, we have been in touch with our union reps who have told us that the union is extremely dissatisfied with the stoppage rate (thus far) being demonstrated by these pistols. The majority of the problems are still feeding related, and the ‘special’ altered magazines (insisted upon by our idiot colonel) are a major contributor.
All this exactly one day after our last recruit class graduated, and the whole world heard our colonel say (during the graduation address), ‘My first priority is, and always has been, the safety of my men.’ The only ‘safety’ he has ever worried about is that of his own pathetic job. Politics ALWAYS comes first!
We are all disgusted and embarrassed, once more!”
17 Mar 01
This is some valuable background on the ongoing NJSP story, from a friend in the NJSP:
“The P7M8 has been in service with the NJSP since 1983 and is showing its age. The first major reliability issue was the gas port. Years of firing enlarged the gas ports. This necessitated periodic replacement of the barrel and piston.
However, the major rallying point for replacement of the weapons was the murder of our Trooper Gonzalez in 1996. He was in his patrol car and engaged in a gunfight with a mentally deranged man who was armed with a shotgun. Gonzalez’s P7M8 malfunctioned during the gunfight, and he did not survive. A subsequent examination of his weapon by our lab revealed one of the firing pin springs (there are two, one inside the other) was broken. The cause of the spring breakage was identified as metal fatigue. Tests demonstrated that the broken spring would indeed cause the weapon to malfunction on an intermittent basis.
The prior colonel (not the current one) kept all that information under wraps and did not release it to the rank and file until five months later. Curiously, no spring replacements or retrofits were ever instituted, despite the information contained in the lab report. In addition, no one ever told Trooper Gonzalez’s widow about what they found. She had to learn of it through media reports. She has a lawsuit pending.”
It is not difficult to understand why, these days, every move made by NJSP ‘management’ and their political commissars is viewed with suspicion, by both the media and the NJSP troopers.
17 Mar 01
The Invasion of Poland, September 1939
As the end of the third decade of the Twentieth Century drew to a close, Hitler in Germany, unlike most other world figures, truly realized the implications of emerging technology on warfare and geopolitics. Armies could be motorized and mechanized, vastly enhancing their mobility and firepower. The German Army, first in secret, then openly, was thus rapidly expanding and modernizing.
No longer dependent on horses for transportation, trucks and aircraft could quickly deliver large armies to remote locations and keep them supplied indefinitely. Tanks could casually roll over conventional defensive positions. Instead of directly attacking large, stagnant defensive installations, mechanized armies, with the aid of combat aircraft, could now simply bypass them and attack far to the rear. Sieges, which used to take months and years, now took only days. Sieges, not of cities, but siege for the sake of siege itself, for the sake of demoralizing entire populations. Linear, TRENCH WARFARE was speedily giving way to MANEUVER WARFARE, and a swift, humiliating rout awaited all who failed to take notice.
Like Napoleon before him, Hitler’s grand vision for a New European Age was inexorably materializing, this time with modern tools. The rest of Europe, wallowing in denial and cowardice, was, as usual, unprepared. The collapse and subsequent absorption of Czechoslovakia into Germany in 1938 had been accomplished via political maneuvering with hardly a shot being fired, but, in their wildest imagination, no one thought a nation like Poland, which boasted a three-million man army, could be overwhelmed and overrun in a mere thirty days. When it happened, the world went into shock. They called it BLITZKRIEG. Welcome to the Twentieth Century!
Poles were an ancient people occupying a beautiful land, albeit continuously hounded by bad luck and bad positioning. Poland had been successively invaded and cut up by Austrians, Germans, and Russians. By the beginning of the Twentieth Century, significant Polish populations resided inside all three empires. With British and French support, Poland declared independence when World War I ended. However, there was much contention with regard to what the new nation’s borders actually were. Accordingly, for the next six years, Poland was continuously at war with all its neighbors over the exact location of borders. Peace finally came in 1923, with the new nation of Poland “stabilized” but containing within its borders large populations of ethnic Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Germans, Austrians, Lithuanians, Kashubians, and Jews. To make matters worse, significant populations of ethnic Poles still lived outside Poland’s borders. It was an unworkable situation that was destined to fall apart.
By 1939, fifty-two-year-old Martial Edward Rydz had emerged as the central personality in Poland. He was a virtual dictator, although that is not what he called himself. Rydz had been a fighter during World War I and during all the border clashes since. His code name had been “Smigly,” which meant “lightning,” and he was subsequently known as Smigly-Rydz.
Fully aware of his unstable borders, Smigly-Rydz maintained a large, standing army and an even larger body of reservists. He had some tanks and armored cars, a few aircraft, and conventional infantry and artillery, but his army was hopelessly obsolete, both in its equipment and in its thinking. It was mostly dependent upon foot and horse transportation. All cavalry units were horse mounted. Supplies were transported mostly by horse-drawn cart. Infantry was foot mobile.
Basil H Liddell-Hart was the leading exponent of maneuver warfare in the 1930s. However, he was largely ignored by his British colleagues, who, like everyone else, were all still fighting World War I. Indeed, he was ignored by military thinkers in nearly all of Europe and America too. Unhappily, he was not ignored by the Germans! In fact, General Heinz Guderian vindicated Liddell-Hart’s theories during the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s. Fresh from their success in Spain, Germans were ready to try the new tactics on a grand scale!
On 23 Aug 1939, Hitler and Stalin unexpectedly signed a nonaggression pact! Germany no longer had to fear interference from Russia. The French and British were shocked into indecision. With the signing of the pact and the fall of Czechoslovakia, an armed, German invasion of Poland was regarded as inevitable. Hitler was already ranting about “oppressed” German-speaking populations within Polish borders. That was a hint! However, Smigly-Rydz was confident he could bog down, with a World War I-style, linear defense, any German invasion long enough for French and British forces to invade Germany proper and take pressure off him. German forces would then be handily ejected from his country. His biggest mistake was believing the French or the British would honor their words!
By late 1939, with the fall rainy season fast approaching, Smigly-Rydz should have known that Hitler would have to invade in September at the latest, or be forced to postpone his invasion until spring. Incredibly, Smigly-Rydz delayed full mobilization until after the invasion started. His foolish procrastination was fatal!
In the early morning hours of 1 September 1939, German artillery began an intense bombardment of Poland’s border defenses, supply dumps, and airfields. German aircraft coincidentally attacked bridges, communication centers, and Polish aircraft still on the ground. German electronic warfare specialists simultaneously jammed all Polish radio frequencies. Shortly thereafter, German tanks and reconnaissance vehicles smashed through Polish border defenses. The invasion had come!
Smigly-Rydz went into a panic. He tried to communicate directly with eleven, separate army groups. However, radio communication was all but impossible, and virtual rivers of panicked refugees, along with intermittent strafing by German fighter aircraft, prevented his units from moving to the front. Few of his regular units were even able to reach their assigned defensive positions before they were outflanked, bypassed, and isolated by rapidly moving, mechanized German divisions. His reserve forces never congealed.
Some Polish aircraft did make it into the air, but, when they returned, they had no place to land, because their airstrips had been cratered. There was no way for them to refuel and rearm. Individual Polish units fought bravely, but their lack of mobility make them easy pickings for the highly mobile and mechanized Germans. Entire Polish divisions, isolated and surrounded, surrendered. The Polish could not retreat fast enough!
On the seventeenth day of the German invasion, the Russians invaded Poland from the East! Whatever chance Poland may have had, disappeared! Hitler and Stalin had obviously agreed to divide Poland when they signed their pact a month earlier. Thirteen days later, Poland’s defeat was complete. It’s brief and painful twenty-one year history as a sovereign nation was at an end.
Defeated and humiliated, Smigly-Rydz went into exile in France. He shortly returned to German-occupied Poland to fight as a guerrilla and was killed in 1943. For every Polish soldier who died in battle in the fall of 1939, one hundred Polish civilians would be massacred by the invading Germans over the next five years. Germans regarded Poles as little more than vermin.
With Germany’s defeat at the end of World War II, Poland was, once more, sold down the river, this time by Harry Truman, who gave it to Stalin as an appeasement. Only recently, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, has Poland reemerged as a sovereign nation. Poland’s run of bad luck has finally ended!
Lesson: Five million years ago our ancestors shared a jungle environment in what is today South Africa with a number of other species of the genus, Homo. Our nearest living relative today is the chimpanzee, with whom we have a 97% DNA similarity. That was 200,000 generations ago.
An ice age started drying out the African Continent, and tropical jungle started giving way to savanna. Our ancestors adapted to the change. They become bipedal and, 120,000 years ago, the first Homo Sapiens emerged. Five thousand generations later, here we all are.
The point: Successful species adapt to change. Those who don’t become marginalized and eventually extinct. Chimpanzees stayed in the jungle, and that is today the only place where they are still found.
Eisenhower once pointed out that plans are folly, but preparation is critical. Change is relentless. We must all see it coming and adapt. Those who, like chimpanzees, “stay in the jungle,” do so at their peril!
26 Mar 01
This from a recent student:
“While driving west along I-70 last weekend I stopped for fuel at a truck stop in western Kansas. As I returned to my vehicle from the building, I was aggressively approached by a large man. He was heavily bearded, slovenly, and looks like a typical transient. His walk was exaggerated and abnormal.
As I concluded I had been selected and stalked by this individual, I immediately made eye contact and assumed an interview stance. I had my right hand in my vest pocket where I quickly located my canister of Fox OC. He asked me if I was headed to Florida. My reply of, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you,’ was delivered in a loud, command voice that caused heads to turn in the parking lot.
The man became angry and started waving his arms and repeatedly yelling that I was not very nice. He danced around but got no closer. My strong hand came out of my vest pocket wrapped around the new FOX OC spray that you recommended. Before the canister had cleared my pocket by six inches, the man took off at a dead run.
A state trooper, who had apparently watched the whole thing, came over to me and asked me several questions. He wanted to know if I knew the man. I told him I have never seen him before in my life. He then went across the parking lot to interview the man in question.
Since the Trooper had not instructed me to wait around, I took your advice and left immediately.
This stuff really works!”
Lesson: Have a plan. Know what you’re going to say, what you’re going to do. You’ll be consistently deselected for victimization.
28 Mar 01
We conducted a training course at an outdoor range near Los Angles last weekend. The manager of the range described two injury ADs that had occurred at his range in the early part of this month within two days of each other.
Both cases involved accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the foot. In one case, an SKS rifle in 7.62X39 caliber was involved. In the other, it was a Remington 870 Shotgun loaded with slugs. In both cases (one involving a serviceman, the other involving a local police officer) the shooter was leaning over his longarm and attempting to load it.
In both cases, the shooter had the muzzle of his weapon resting on his foot, a common practice, particularly among skeet and trap shooters. Like so many other unsafe gun-handling procedures, this is widespread and tolerated on many ranges.
In both cases, the longarm discharged unexpectedly, and the shooter’s foot was badly injured.
Lesson: The best “safety procedure” is good tactical procedure. Professional gunmen rarely have accidents, because we own guns for serious purposes and we are serious any time we are handling guns. We make no differentiation between “safe” guns and “dangerous” guns. For us, guns are not owned or born for recreation or play.
Muzzle consciousness an inexorable component of safe gun handling. Naive and overly casual gun owners point guns in unsafe directions all too often, because they are and not serious about what they’re doing. Pointing the gun at one’s own foot is just one example.
29 Mar 01
This from an LEO friend in the Northeast:
“A Beretta pistol (model/caliber unknown) was stolen from the recent SHOT Show. It had been on display at the Beretta booth, and, like all display guns at SHOT Shows, it had been ‘deactivated.’ Such deactivation is usually accomplished by installing a shortened firing pin or by removing the firing pin all together.
In any event, it showed up a week later in the Northeast and was used by an armed robbery suspect. The suspect shoved it into the face of a store clerk and demanded money. The clerk complied. The suspect then said, ‘I’m going to shoot you, just for fun,’ or words to that effect, whereupon he attempted to fire at the clerk. Only several deafening ‘clicks’ were heard!
Without further invitation, the clerk took advantage of the unscheduled pause, retrieved his own pistol, and fired into the now astonished suspect several times. The clerk’s pistol worked just fine! The suspect was fatally wounded as a result and died at the scene.”
Lesson: Check your lifesaving equipment before you carry it! Don’t naively assume that your carry pistol is going to work, just because it looks “normal.” Check it regularly. Shoot it often.
29 Mar 01
A friend with the LAPD just related this incident:
“Yesterday (28 Mar 01), one of our officers suffered a shooting injury as a result of an unusual ‘accident’ at our outdoor range in North Hollywood.
He was in the range parking lot and was changing out the service ammunition in his magazines prior to reporting to the line. As he manually stripped service rounds out of one of his magazines (Beretta M92F), at least one round slipped between his fingers and fell to the pavement below. Noticing that he had dropped the round, the officer stooped over to pick it up. Just as his hand touched it, it went off. I was standing a short distance away, and it sounded like a gunshot to me!
So far, the cartridge case has not been recovered, but the bullet has. It was not deformed and could probably be reloaded. The officer suffered minor cuts on his hand, but a large chunk of something (probably the bullet itself) struck him in the forehead. It bounced off without penetrating anything more than the skin, but it caused a nasty cut that required several stitches to close.
There was quite a bit of blood at the scene, but, as it turns out, the officer’s injures were not serious. He may end up with a noticeable scar on his forehead.
There was a delay, probably a second or two, between when the round hit the ground and when it went off. I’ve been a patrol officer for twenty years, and this is the first time I’ve seen anything like that!”
Lesson: It will probably be another twenty years or longer before you see it again. As with being struck by lightening, some ‘accidents’ occur so seldom that they are not usually even mentioned in safety lectures. However, for this and many other reasons, we must all wear glasses any time we are on a range, even if no scheduled firing is currently taking place.
Small arms ammunition is extremely stable, and, although rounds can go off when dropped, such an occurrence is exceptionally rare. However, it does happen now and then, as we can see.
29 Mar 01
Latest from the NJSP. It just gets worse:
“Last week, we were told we were getting our old HK P7s back for an indefinite period. Some of us had them back already. Suddenly, that got canceled. Then, the exchange was scheduled again, and we were told to turn in all new equipment issued to us (along with the S&W P99 pistol itself), including holsters, all magazines, magazine holders, trigger locks, extra backstraps, etc.
As a result of all the high-level indecision mentioned previously, most of us had in our possession two issue pistols, our old H&K P7 and the new S&W P99, which we were told not to use anymore. However, one of our gaggle of management geniuses had already shredded all the P7 holsters and accessory leather. So, we now theoretically have our P7s back, but we no longer have any holsters in which to put them!
S&W had been given two weeks to fix the highly publicized P99 reliability problems. The deadline is tomorrow, 30 Mar 01. We see no chance of the deadline being met.
In the interim, we’re all wondering how we’re supposed to work with a pistol and no holster. Our colonel assures us he is ‘working on the problem.’ However, he doesn’t have to pull a shift.”