1 Jan 06
On pistol choices, from an instructor:
“An interesting aspect of current, retail pistol sales is that the people in our favorite gunshop tell me that sales of 1911s have dropped off since the ban lifted. ‘Not enough capacity’ is the reason generally given. Actually that is a good trend, because for those with too little training, which is nearly everybody, certainly all grasseaters, the 1911 pistol is a poor choice.
In the past two months, I have encountered two military guys, both good men, a Marine from Vietnam and an Army kid, just back from the Gulf. Both had 1911s and shot them well. However, neither had ever taken his weapon entirely apart. Neither knew how. Both were used to depending on armorers to do that for them.
Men in the presence of the enemy surely have a lot to do, but a 1911 is no more difficult than that finicky, temperamental M-16/M-4, and it must be taken apart incessantly if it is going to work at all. Interesting dilemma!”
Comment: Glad to see at least some of our military guys are gravitating back to the 1911. Eight solid hits from a 45ACP, regardless of the brand of ammunition, will stop most fights I can imagine.
Incompetence is the real problem, and more rounds won’t “solve” it!
2 Jan 06
Everyone who has taken our Tactical Treatment of Gunshot Wounds Course has asked if anyone produces a TTGSW Kit with all the items that are needed to stabilize GSWs in the field and keep the patient alive long enough to get him to an ER. Finally, these kits are now available from Rich Wright. Rich has put together all the items we suggest into a handy and compact package, and he has them available now. Highly recommended!
Richard O Wright
843 229 2629
2 Jan 06
Fatal shooting overseas, from a friend currently deployed in the Mideast:
“I had just stepped out of the latrine, when a local thug put a pistol in my back and ordered me to go into a small office building nearby. I had no idea whom the guy was. I was carrying an M9, concealed in an IWB, loaded with issue, 9mm hardball.
The thug stated, in broken English, that he wanted access to some papers. I answered that the papers he wanted were in a desk in a corner of the room. We went over there, and, as he reached for the desktop, I saw an opportunity and drew my M9, immediately firing multiple rounds into the thug’s upper torso. Range was only a few feet. The astonished thug stumbled backward and fell, but not before he fired at me, hitting me in the chest, at least once.
The thug was DRT. I was not wearing body armor, but the thug’s pistol was a mouse-gun, 22 caliber, and bullet that hit me struck several pens and assorted other paraphernalia in my pocket. I got a good bruise from it, but little penetration. The next day, I was back at work!”
Lesson: Never give up! Never give in! Stay in control. Find a way to win.
Be prepared! As long as you have weapons with you, there is no such thing as a “hopeless situation.”
Good show, my friend!
2 Jan 06
Mission of the Pistol, from my friend Dave Kahn:
“There is nothing wrong with the dictum ‘Get the biggest pistol you can, with the highest capacity, and carry the biggest caliber you can handle,’ at least as far as it goes. But, it doesn’t go as far as it sometimes appears. There is more:
While we all agree that pistols are for UNEXPECTED threats and are thus, at once, (1) defensive and (2) reactive, there are, in addition, the seldom-discussed, twin issues of MISSION and SETTING. While missions are similar, settings vary.
The first is MILITARY. For Marines and soldiers, the pistol is an emergency tool, defaulted to only when shoulder arms fail or cannot be carried. Soldiers who carry pistols are seldom constrained by bulk and weight. Concealability is a non-issue, except when visible weapons are ostensibly prohibited. High capacity is handy, but, as you’ve pointed out, eight shots should solve most problems when carefully disposed. Rifles are the PRIMARY weapon. Pistols fill the role of emergency backup.
The second is uniformed POLICE. Many conflate civil police and military usages, but that is shortsighted. Police officers are afforded a wider latitude of independent action than are soldiers. Police officers go, usually alone, looking for trouble, from which they are not privileged to retire. While they are allowed, indeed expected, to protect themselves, their job is to solve the problem at the lowest force level practicable. Usually, they must work alone and solely with what is on their belts. Pistols are their PRIMARY, lethal weapon. Rifles and shotguns are backup weapons and are not normally available in the short term. A large-capacity pistol makes sense, as concealment is, once again, a non-issue. Double-column pistols in 45ACP or 45GAP are well suited to the job, but high-capacity pistols in 40S&W, 357SIG, or even 9mm work just fine too.
The last is ARMED CITIZENS, and, to some extent, detectives. Citizens are neither licensed nor tasked to enforce laws. In fact, they go ‘looking for trouble’ at their peril! For armed citizens, the best personal policy with regard to violence is (1) nonattendance, (2) invisibility, (3) de-selection, (4) disengagement, and (5) escape. Thus, a prudent armed citizen is vastly less likely than is a police officer to become involved in a gunfight, wherein the discharge of large numbers of rounds becomes necessary. Indeed, even when the pistol is brandished, firing is still a less likely outcome than it is for police and military personnel. Thus, reasonable effectiveness is still requisite, but ease of carriage and concealment, as well as a forgiving trigger and retainability, are big criteria for selection. Large capacity is less of a factor.
I am straining at distinctions, because I think they’re useful. A ‘general tool’ is good enough for any number of applications, doing all adequately, but none well. However, with a little specialization, one doesn’t narrow the application unreasonably, while utility is greatly enhanced. An armed citizen, for example, doesn’t necessarily need a police officer’s tools. They may be useful, but they shouldn’t be selected simply because they work well for cops. Ditto with military personnel. The 1911 pistol is a wonderful FIGHTING tool, when fighting is all that needs doing. But, in domestic defensive applications, where response is defined and often graduated, the risk of unintended discharge, implicit as ease of shooting increases, can be more of a liability than an asset, particularly for the unpracticed. As you’ve pointed out when you recommend Glock’s NY connector and SIG’s DAK Trigger, for domestic defense, one usually benefits more from a CONTROLLABLE trigger than from an EASY one.
The foregoing may be an example of straining at gnats, but my clientele is exclusively citizen and non-police, many recovering grasseaters. My recommendations to them are colored by the thinking enumerated above. I recommend neither the 1911, nor the M9, nor the G21 to most. Slim, short, single-stack, self-decocking autoloaders top the list, as they are likely to be actually carried concealed, on a regular basis, rather than spending their lives in dresser drawers, in the boxes they came in, because they are too bulky, heavy, and difficult to carry and control for the average user.”
Comment: Dave makes some good points. With all the choices we have, there is no reason to carry a defensive pistol that is an obvious mismatch with your body and your mission/setting.
However, regardless of your selection, willful incompetence is still foolish, and deadly!
3 Jan 06
The Wisdom of James Butler (“Wild Bill’) Hickok:
Hickok is quoted as saying to a friend, Charlie Gross, in 1871:
“Charlie, I hope you never have to shoot any man, but, when you do, shoot him in the guts, near the navel. You may not make a fatal shot, but he will get a shock that will paralyze his brain and arm so much that the fight will be all over.” He added, “… be sure not to shoot too quick. Shoot carefully. I’ve known many a feller to slip up for shooting too fast!”
Comment: Hickok died five years later. He never saw his fortieth birthday. When he died, shot in the back of the head during a poker game by a local miscreant, he was a dilapidated alcoholic. But, in his prime, Wild Bill had no equal. He understood fighting with guns at a higher level than most of his peers. Even Wyatt Earp conceded that.
We’re still learning from him today, as we see!
4 Jan 06
Glock “Pittsburgh” Trigger:
I was informed about a new, even heavier, NY Trigger for Glocks, called the “Pittsburgh Trigger.” Here is the straight information, directly from my friends at Glock:
“Pittsburgh now has the “NY2 (formerly NY+) trigger,” originally developed for the NYPD. It’s orange in color and is designed to operate in conjunction with a standard connector. Several PDs (in addition to Pittsburgh), mostly in the Northeast, use it. It is heavy!”
Comment: I recommend for all Glocks used for serious purposes, the standard (gray) NY Trigger. It makes the trigger crisp and the reset distinct. I have one installed on all my personal Glocks and find my speed essentially unaffected. . However, I do not recommend the heavier (orange) version, mentioned above. It makes the trigger needlessly heavy, and, although useable, it gratuitously slows response time.
4 Jan 06
Sage comments on “trigger control” from my friends at ASTA:
“On the issue of trigger-cocking pistols, ASTA conducted an experiment not long ago. We constructed a darkened alley. At the end we put a group of actors, posing as of noisy, obnoxious, drunken miscreants. They were loud and verbally threatening at times but clumsy and disorganized, and none produced a weapon. All kept their distance. Each practitioner tried to make his way past the reprobates to the end of the alley, and an exit.
During the exercise, most practitioners found it necessary to draw a snubby revolver (loaded with Simmunitions cartridges) and engage perceived threats with verbal challenges. The revolver, issued to each practitioner, had a long trigger pull of fourteen pounds. The inexperienced had their fingers on the trigger immediately and kept it there through the entire confrontation. The sage, of course, kept their fingers in register. Our cadre of actors was instructed to conduct themselves in a way that made it unnecessary for practitioners to actually fire at them, and, in fact, no practitioner ever fired intentionally.
Leaning against a wall was a semi-conscious drunk, wrapped in a tarp, complete with a bottle in his hand. He periodically mumbled to himself but presented no verbal threat and did not make eye contact with practitioners. Our resident ‘bum’ was scarcely noticed by most practitioners, as they were far more interested in what they perceived as active threats. When each practitioner passed the ‘bum,’ without a word, he reached out and grabbed them by the ankle!
During the ‘grabbing’ phase, most practitioners already had the pistol in their hands. Our survey quickly noted that nearly all practitioners who had fingers inside the trigger guard at the moment they were grabbed fired a shot unintentionally as a result. Practitioners who kept their finger in register almost never experienced an ND when grabbed.
What we were trying to evaluate was the premise that long, heavy trigger pulls were, or were not, useful in preventing NDs during pernicious confrontations. The inescapable conclusion to which we all came was that THE ONLY RELIABLE PREVENTOR OF SUCH NDs IS THE PERSONAL DISCIPLINE TO ADHERE TO CORRECT PROCEDURES OF PRIMARY COMPETENCY IN GUN HANDLING. Obviously, triggers that are long and heavy were of little use therein, in and of themselves.
Our dispute with the mistaken premise that long, heavy trigger pull weights meaningfully contributing to the reduction of NDs is that there is little credible evidence to support it. In fact, what believable evidence there is suggests exactly the opposite! It is a false assumption, promoted by big-city police executives and mayors who are motivated neither by officer welfare nor public safety but are desperately motivated by the fearful specter of seeing their own names prominently displayed on case captions!
This situation is likened to the current dispute within the police community over the ‘design flaw’ in the Glock system that does not permit take-down of the pistol without first dry-firing. This ‘flaw,’ so goes the trumped-up argument, results in NDs. Removed from this curious equitation is the conspicuous violation, by the operator who experienced the ND, of primary competency skills, basic gun-handling rules one learns on his first day at the range!
Modern pistols are designed and manufactured so that they are as ‘safe’ as they can be and still reasonably function in the role into which they are cast. As with all ‘nanny-state’ ideology, THE MORE WE EXCUSE BANEFUL, STUPID BEHAVIOR, AND INDEED FUNCTION AS FACILITATORS BY FABRICATING DELUSIONAL, ILLOGICAL ‘CURES,’ THE FASTER WE, AS A CIVILIZATION, DESCEND INTO CHAOS!”
Comment: Any gun that can be made to fire at all can be made to fire (1) at the wrong time, (2) in the wrong place, (3) in the wrong direction, and (4) for the wrong reasons. The fool’s errand of attempting to manufacture ‘safe’ guns invariably results in the creation of impotent guns. It is akin to attempting the manufacture of ‘safe’ rat poison! So long as it is genuinely functional as rat poison, it cannot be made inherently ‘safe.’ Guns are currently as safe as they’re ever going to be! Issuing guns that are unusable, because they are nearly unfireable, may make some police chiefs sleep soundly, but it does nothing to promote officer or public safety. So long as good people have operative guns, bad/stupid people will have them too.
Welcome to Planet Earth!
4 Jan 06
On concealment, from a friend and holster maker:
“Your friend’s comments bring to mind Walt R’s remark about people who ‘talk 45s, shoot 9s, and carry Snubbies.’
The essential choice for an armed citizen is whether he will wear a holster or not. If one decides on a holster at all, I don’t think gun size makes a great deal of difference, within the 1.5 to 4 pound range, loaded, including holster. Pocket guns can be carried more easily, without a holster. The choice here is between the reliable Airweight, or an itty-bitty autoloader with its tiny controls.
In jeans and a parka, you can comfortably carry nearly anything you want. However, many of your students are business professionals who typically wear two-thousand dollar suits. Appearance is important to such people, and gun lumps won’t do. Neither will sagging pants, torn jacket linings, oil stains, etc. I make custom holsters, but they cannot make size and weight go away.
A mutual friend of ours took this challenge to a tailor in Hong Kong, whose solution worked, but the extra material did not allow the display of our friend’s manly form. I took the same problem to the owner of a quality shop in Denver, which specializes in expensive suits for short, athletic men. He fits attorneys and others who are rich and who want to carry, but, not surprisingly his best solutions are built around the smallest, lightest guns.
Bottom line is that I can’t find a way to carry a full-sized autoloader in a belt holster under urban, professional clothes, especially in summer. My solution is to go casual most of the time. When I must dress up, I’m limited to an ankle holster, shoulder holster, or briefcase. However, in the end I always find a way to be armed, wherever I go!”
Comment: Carrying regularly is, at best, a confounded nuisance! When you go armed, you’re not going to be able to wear form-fitting clothing. In fact, even when your garments are “generous,” dare I say “slapdash,” when an observer looks close enough, he’ll still be able to see a lump somewhere.
The commitment to go armed will require uncomfortable compromises in gun/caliber size, clothing type and size, and overall lifestyle. The important step is to think about it, make a choice, and go forward, never looking back. Your ensemble won’t be perfect, and you may change your mind later, but making that firm, irrevocable decision is always the first and most important step. Everything after that is just commentary.
5 Jan 06
Comments on Concealment
“The root of the problem is self-image. The adolescent look upon concealed pistols as add-ons. This incorrect attitude betrays itself when they naively indicate they only carry when they are ‘operational.’ For the sage, transport and concealment systems are (1) continuous, and (2) subservient to the weapons platform. Concealment systems, in the form of clothing, are built AROUND the weapon(s). In the case of custom suits, there can be no mixed signals sent to the tailor. He cannot be told, ‘fit me according to my ego-driven fashion requisite, and, oh yeah, cover my equipment too.’ He must be told plainly that he is to fit everything AROUND the equipment.”
“This is a challenge I’ve faced for years in the real estate business. While it is relatively
simple to conceal a pistol when in casual contact, concealing when you work with the same people day in and day out is a far more vexing challenge. I chose the snubby route and have never been made in fourteen years in my non-permissive environment. However, I recognize the snub’s limitations and work diligently to assure myself that I can access its full potential.”
“When I want something bigger than an Airweight, my solution is off-body (briefcase) carry. I am programmed to keep the briefcase in physical contact with my body, including putting my shoe through the strap when the case is on the floor at a conference table or in the restroom. Nobody should consider off-body carry unless he is persuaded that his personal discipline duplicates the moral equivalent of a belt holster.”
“When you anticipate running fast or kicking someone, an ankle holster is a non-starter. Of course, by the same token, when you anticipated hanging upside down, a shoulder holster is a non-started too!”
“Gentlemen who dress in formal, business attire have to choose full cut, preferably ventless suit jackets. A good tailor can leave the jacket sufficiently full at the waist to drape properly over a hip-worn pistol. Telltale will be the pants leg on the holster side. Invariably, the weight of the firearm will pull down that pant leg by an inch, and it is noticeable. Again, a fitter can compensate for this by adjusting the leg length with the pistol in place. Cuffs are recommended, because they allow the pants leg to drape inconspicuously. If the gentlemen is armed some days and not others, he will have to have two sets of suits. Cost of doing business.
With the oxford-shirt-and-chino ‘business casual’ crowd, off-the-rack pants that are an inch too long will do. Frankly, most men wear poorly fitted chinos, so that an armed man should not look much different from the rest of the crowd. This business casual mode has been my standard dress at NTI for years.”
“Out West, concealed guns are more accepted than is the case in gun-hostile states, such as MD, RI, and MA. In anti-gun states, even permit holders need to be extremely circumspect. However, as Mas Ayoob is fond of saying ‘Cell phones make bulges legal!’”
7 Jan 06
Another concealed-carry option, and one that deserves consideration, from a friend with the Feds:
“A concealed pistol that is slow into action is all but useless. Likewise, a ‘concealed’ pistol that is visible to the casual observer is also of little value. Like you, I need to carry concealed, but, unlike you, I need to do it in a number of different outfits. One day, I’ll have to blend in with regiment of stodgy business executives. The next, I’ll be mixed in with a rambling hoard of half-naked tourists flocking to a beach resort!
Many of my colleagues work around this by adopting a different rig, depending upon the outfit they wear. What concerns me about this strategy is that one may reach for his pistol in a panic, only to discover it is not in the place he has trained himself to find it. I’ve used most combinations of rigs, from belt holster, to shoulder holster, to ankle holster, to the Cramer Confidante shirt. The solution upon which I have settled is a belly-band, concealed under the shirt, with my pistol (SIG 229/DAK) carried in inguinal channel, between the hip and groin.
I wear an undershirt between the rig and my skin and blouse my shirt out from my pants, just enough to camouflage the pistol butt’s outline. The pistol is sandwiched between my T-shirt and dress shirt. I generally get my waist size at least one increment bigger than normal. One can look ‘normal’ and still effectively carry in this manner. The pistol is readily accessible and yet fully concealed. I can wear it with nearly any outfit, so long as my waist isn’t too tight, and I have a shirt on. A belt is not required. My belly-band has a side slit on the opposing side in which I carry a spare magazine and handcuffs.
There are downsides: (1) Reloading is relatively slow, no doubt. (2) The draw requires both hands, one to lift the shirt and the other to draw the gun. I practice one-handed drawing, of course, but it is still slow and involved. (3) Reholstering is also slow, involved, and requires both hands. When I have the pistol in my hand and have to suddenly do something that requires both hands, like crawl through a hatch, the pistol has to quickly go in a pocket, rather than back into the holster. (4) No arguing that this carry method is not as firm and secure as a pistol in a hard holster, affixed to a heavy gunbelt.
However, even with those weak points, I have come to like this carry option. It is an acceptable compromise for me, superior to most others I’ve tried.”
Comment: The inguinal-channel carry is an option that is probably not considered as much as it should be. Many of our students, and not just females, use and prefer it, both with the belly-band and with belt holsters.
8 Jan 06
When it passed in 1919, the Volstead Act (Prohibition), a reaction to rampant alcoholism among ageing Civil War veterans for whom there was scant other pain therapy, instantly converted an entire generation of small-time punks into big-time gangsters. Many were flamboyant and quirky, some even partially likeable. John Dillinger’s father said of him, “…except for the fact that he robs banks, he’s a pretty good guy!” Verne Miller was called the “Gentleman Bandit,” at least until the infamous Fox Valley Massacre of 1930, in which local investigators said of Miller’s victims, “… these guys ran into an army!” In fact, Verne Miller, expert with a Tommy Gun, was a WWI Army veteran and had been a sheriff at one time. His law-enforcement background caused fellow gangsters to look upon him with distrust. Miller was never able to shake the “stigma.” The truth is that all were VCAs (violent criminal actors), and most died violently, either at the hands of the police and federal agents or, more often, at the hands of rival gangsters. The remainder died in prison or shortly after their release. Old-time gangsters, and the era they defined, ultimately faded away, unable to adapt to changing times.
One, however, stands out as a vicious, remorseless, casual sociopath, evil through and through, with little to recommend him. He was Lester Gillis, AKA: George “Baby Face” Nelson. “Nelson” was an alias Gillis adopted well into his criminal career.
On 26 July 1908, the BOI (Bureau of Investigation) was created by the Roosevelt (TR) Administration. It became the DOI (Division of Investigation) in 1933, and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) in 1935. J Edgar Hoover took over in 1924. When Hoover took the helm, BOI agents were not routinely armed, had little access to heavy weapons, and were essentially untrained. The entire agency was unfocused and confused. The Kansas City Massacre of 1933, where gangsters (including Verne Miller), in an attempt to rescue a captured colleague, shot to death Kansas City Police Officers Bill Grooms and Frank Hermanson as well, as McAlester Police Chief Otto Reed, and Kansas City DOI Agent Ray Caffrey, was the last straw! Hoover was incensed and immediately persuaded Congress to grant him and his agency broad new powers. Now, his agents would be continuously armed and have access to heavy weapons. The prestigious FBI Academy was established on the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. The FBI finally had a clearly-defined mission: Go after the Gangsters!
Another turning point was the 1929 stock-market crash. Europe was already in a severe depression, and America could not continue to make an exception of herself. The market for liquor became depressed, like that for all other consumer goods. In 1933 came the repeal of the Volstead Act, a campaign promise of the new Roosevelt (FDR) Administration. Gangsters, who had hitherto become rich marketing illegal alcoholic beverages, now, in desperation, turned to bank robbery and kidnaping, and Hoover was hot on their trail, so much so that the following year signaled the swan song for the entire era. In late 1933, Verne Miller’s body, beaten, stabbed, and strangled, is discovered on a roadside near Detroit. Miller’s demise signaled a trend.
Clyde Barrow’s and Bonnie Parker’s violent criminal careers both come to an abrupt and intense end as the two are ambushed and shot to death in their car by Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, near Shreveport, LA. Hamer carried a 1911 pistol chambered, not for 45ACP, but for 38 Super. He reasoned that the smaller caliber would penetrate the doors of Barrow’s and Parker’s car, as he figured a car would be involved at the final encounter. He was right!
John Dillinger is set up, ambushed, and shot to death near the Biograph Theater in Chicago by DOI Agent Melvin Purvis.
After a long chase, Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd is run down and shot to death near Wellsville, OH, also by Agent Purvis.
Adam Richetti (involved, with Miller, in the Kansas City Massacre) is executed in Missouri’s gas chamber. In those days, executions of convicted criminals were not delayed by thirty years, as they are today!
Al Capone, incarcerated since his conviction in 1931, is reassigned to Alcatraz Prison in CA. Released years later, a broken man in broken health, he dies in obscurity. Cause of death was complications brought on by a life-long case of venereal disease, a souvenir from his early days as a brothel bouncer in New York. He was forty-eight.
Lester Gillis (“Baby Face” Nelson), at the age of twenty-six, dies of wounds received in a gunfight with DOI agents Herman Hollis and Samuel Cowley in Niles Center (now, the Village of Skokie) IL.
Gillis was insulted that John Dillinger rated the #1 spot on J Edgar Hoover’s new “Public Enemy” list and that he (Gilles) was only #2! When in a car with his wife and another gangster, he was spotted by DOI agents who turned around and gave chase. He immediately fired upon them, and a running, gun battle ensued. One federal car was disabled, hit in the radiator, but a second took up the chase, which ended a short time later when Gillis’ car, its fuel pump struck by federal bullets, ran into a ditch. Gillis emerged and, in a suicidal charge, which horrified even his partner, advanced upon the two federal agents, firing his Thompson SMG as he walked toward them. Gillis was fatally wounded as a result, sustaining over a dozen bullet wounds, but not before he murdered both Hollis and Cowley. Evacuated by his partner and wife, Gillis himself died several hours later.
The point of all this is that, at one time, we confronted violent criminals who had both the heart and the stomach to survive and prosper in a violent era, who were, like Gillis and Miller, unafraid to take us on, even with poor odds. Today’s sleazy, ragged, gutless, punks pale by comparison. However, with the dawn of the Terrorist Era, we are back to confronting dedicated, remorseless, committed, and competent VCAs, just like in the old days! Purvis, Hamer, Hollis, Cowley, Grooms, Hermanson, Reed, Caffrey, and a host of others fearlessly stepped up to the plate. Now, it’s our turn!
10 Jan 06
I’m voting, once again, for my long-time friend and colleague , BOB BROWN. All NRA Board members are good people, but Bob is the best! Bob publishes Soldier of Fortune Magazine, of course, and his views on Second Amendment issues are consistent and well known. Bob is my friend, and I support him in his steadfast commitment to the preservation of our birthright as Americans
I’m also voting for AMY HEATH. Grand-daughter of Jeff Cooper, she is a bright and rising star on the political end of our discipline. Her unwavering support of the Second Amendment is also needed on the Board.
12 Jan 06
On ammunition, from a friend with the Feds:
“During the course of the year our special agents will charge hundreds of magazines with thousands of rounds of ammunition, for both rifles and pistols, all while seldom looking at it. The ammunition that we purchase is, of course, of high quality. Yet, sometimes we find defective rounds, usually during firing, as defective rounds get past us, just at they got past the manufacturer.
At a range session recently, we discovered two, defective 223 rounds. One failed to feed, as the brass near the neck was peeled back, making the case neck too big to go into battery. The second fed but refused to fire, because its primer was in backwards. In a real fight, either cartridge would have caused an irritating and inconvenient stoppage.
As a result, we all recommitted ourselves to cast away our sloppy habits and visually inspect all ammunition when it comes out of the box, before it goes anonymously into magazines. We learned our lesson!”
Comment: All ammunition manufacturers will tell you, when you produce several billion copies of a product every year, a few bad ones will get past you. If quality control were so anal that no defective rounds were ever produced, ammunition would be prohibitively expensive. It’s expensive enough as it is! What that means is this: quality control is probably as good as it is ever going to get. EACH ONE OF US MUST FUNCTION AT THE FINAL INSPECTOR, because we are the ones who are ultimately penalized by defective ammunition. The manufacturer will feel bad. We’ll feel worse! Once ammunition is hidden within a magazine, it is too late to look at it. It must be inspected as it comes from the box, without fail.
16 Jan 06
The Problem with Denim:
At a recent pistol course in PA, I witnessed a penetration demonstration in which a variety of pistol rounds were fired into gelatin blocks. In bare gelatin, all high-performance pistol bullets, from virtually every major manufacturer, expanded fully and symmetrically, penetrating between ten and fourteen inches. It all looked good to me!
That is, until we placed four layers of denim on the front surface of the gelatin block, so that bullets fired into gelatin had to pass through the denim first. In nearly every case, the cavity defined by the bullet’s hollow point plugged with fiber from the denim. The result was that most hollow-point bullets failed to expand at all and subsequently passed through the gelatin essentially like hardball. Notable exceptions were Cor-Bon Powerball and Cor-Bon DPX. Both expanded monotonously, no matter what they had to penetrate first. Amazing stuff!
This was an eye opener for all of us. Clothing worn by felons really does make a difference, far more than I would have expected.
18 Jan 06
I’m at the ASLET (American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers) Convention in Albuquerque, NM right now. Some notes:
Dick Davis is now running Armor Express out of Central Lake, MI and is aggressively marketing his kevlar body armor. The first body armor was made by Dick Davis, and he is back in the driver’s seat at his new company. He is making a copy for me right now!
Ka-bar has a new knife mounted in an ankle holster! Slim and slick. I’m getting a copy.
I finally got my hands on S&W’s new M&P pistol. Being produced now in 40S&W, 9mm, 357SIG will follow shortly. I’m sure there will also be compact versions and eventually versions in 45ACP, probably even 45GAP!
I like the gun! The copy I handled was the same size as a 1911 Commander and nearly as slim. Interchangeable grip panels are a wonderful feature. Vicki was able to grasp it and easily reach the trigger, with the smallest grip panel installed. Slide release lever is on both sides. Magazine release button can be switched from one side to the other, without tools and without additional parts. Trigger is short and breaks at seven pounds. Reset is mushy but useable.
Field stripping is similar to Glock’s, but a little tedious. One must push down an internal lever as the slide is locked to the rear. Dry firing the pistol is not necessary.
LE guns will come with, or without, a magazine safety. Commercial guns will all come with a magazine safety, but it can be easily removed. I’ll have a copy for testing shortly. Mine, of course, will not have a magazine safety!
Matt Graham was there with an elaborate display of his three-dimensional ITC targets. Now equipped with foam weapons and non-weapon artifacts and standing at normal height, Matt’s targets come in every imaginable ethnicity, hair style, and gender. These targets lend a degree or realism to training not available before. I like them!
23 Jan 06
The 2006 ASLET Conference in Albuquerque, NM is now over. ASLET has bounced back in spades from its recent internal difficulties. The Conference was well run, extremely well organized, and big!
Too many classes and products to mention each, but here are additional highlights:
Jim Bliehall of ITS (Intelligent Target Systems) gave May Ayoob, Dennis Tueller, and me a personal introduction to his automated targeting system currently installed at the Albuquerque PD outdoor range. It consists of two, tandem, cable-driven, lateral movers, all inserted into a storefront mockup. They are controlled by a deceptively simple console. Animated VCA’s, mixed in with animated non-targets, are the result. Mas, Dennis, and I all shot on it, and we discovered that the system integrates a number of critical skills into a dynamic shooting exercise. Relatively inexpensive, rugged, battery powered, and easy to maintain, this ITS system is impressive. Recommended!
ST Pro, the company that makes the placebo, training rounds we all use, is now making the “Talon,” a small, all-plastic, hand-held impact weapon. I’m carrying a copy in my vest pocket now. This is a clever, low-profile device that can significantly enhance one’s striking power. I like it!
Adi Dhondy of Phoenix International displayed his high-speed-pursuit-ending spike system. It works like most, but Adi uses big, heavy spikes that make short work of most tires. In addition, he makes a pocket model, the size of a wallet. Every beat car should have several of these in the glove compartment! I now have a couple in my car.
A young martial artist, Eddie Ivester, presented a wonderful class on blade defense. This is the first time I’ve seen reasonably teachable techniques on this delicate subject. I learned a lot. This kid knows his stuff!
My long-time friend, Phil Messina, from Modern Warrior was on hand to present a retention and disarms class. Again, I picked up a number of new and useful techniques. Phil has much mud on his shoes, and any class with him and his crew is enlightening, to say the least!
Dr Jim Williams, an emergency-room surgeon, presented a wonderful class on bullet placement. He has done a good deal of work on the subject, and his conclusions were confirmation that we’re teaching this subject correctly. For example, we learned that lower-abdominal wounds result in significantly more fatalities than do penetrating chest wounds! The “zipper” technique that we are currently teaching fits in with what Dr Williams has seen. Lower-abdominal wounds are debilitating and disorienting in the short term and fatal in the long term. Bill Hickok was right all along!
36 Haven Dr
Cedar Crest, NM 87008
505 228 2246
3815 N US Hwy 1, Ste 50
Cocoa, FL 32926
321 632 4111
888 966 0668321 639 2409 (Fax)
20860 Heatherview Dr
Brookfield, WI 53045
888 667 9494
262 784 2732
262 784 7946 (Fax)
PO Bx 67
Tularosa, NM 88352
505 921 3862
711 N Wellwood Av
Lindenhurst, NY 11757
631 226 8383
631 226 5454 (Fax)
23 Jan 06
Garand Clip Belt Holder
After trying to find a suitable belt holder for a charged Garand clip for many years, Gregg Garrett of Comp-Tac has finally made the perfect one, out of Ky-Dex. Secure and fast, this is the ticket. Recommended!
PO Bx 1809
Spring, TX 77383
713 681 6881
24 Jan 06
Slinging the Urban Rifle:
My preference is to sling the rifle muzzle down, and on the strong side. That way, one will not inadvertently point it in an unsafe direction during mounting, and, when assuming the interview stance, both rifle and pistol will be on the same side. On the downside, sometimes the sling gets tangled up with the pistol’s grip during mounting, when using this method. This is less of an issue when the pistol is concealed.
However, one should learn to mount the rifle from both sides, as, during the course of the day, the rifle will have to be moved from one shoulder to the other and back several times, for the sake of comfort, and who knows what shoulder it will be on when it needs to be mounted?
Numerous tactical sling systems are available, all of which make it easy to transition from rifle to pistol, as all one needs to do with the rifle is drop it. On the downside, tactical sling systems must be climbed into and out of, then adjusted. It all takes time. They all render a high weapon profile, and many do not permit shooting from the support-side shoulder. My personal preference is a plain-vanilla, two-point sling, but tactical sling systems do have their place.
When slung, I prefer the rifle right side-up. That is, the muzzle is down, of course, but the rifle itself is slung so that the sights are facing upward. Slung upside-down, the rifle can still be mounted quickly, but a rotation must be added to the procedure. Such a rotation constitutes an extra step. Dave Johnson of Boonie-Packer makes several two-point slings which facilitate the rightside-up sling method. I use them on all my urban rifles. Recommended!
Mounting an urban rifle from the muzzle-down sling position is analogous to drawing a pistol from a holster, and it needs to be done just as fast and as smoothly, while the shooter is in lateral motion.
PO Bx 12517
Salem, OR 97309
800 477 3244
503 581 3191 (Fax)
25 Jan 06
Comments on urban rifle slings from a friend in SA:
“We mostly teach what we call the ‘African Carry’ over here, for both rifles and shotguns. The weapon is carried muzzle-down, on the support-side shoulder. This way, mounting involves only two placements of the hands. Fast and uncomplicated. The rifle banging against a open-holstered handgun is a real problem. As such, support-side shoulder, muzzle down has been adopted by most of us. However, as you pointed out, when slung this way, the gun can easily be within grabbing distance of a belligerent suspect when one assumes the interview stance and confronts him.
We like ‘SpringSlingz.’ These are made of thick, bungee cord and stretch to accommodate nearly any emergency. In addition they tend to roll off metallic rank and ID badges, rather than become snagged on them, nor do they get caught on buttons and snaps.
Like you, we tend to shy away from complicated, harness set ups, unless one is going to live in it all day.
You know our motto: ‘GUNS, AMMO, WATER? LET’S GO!’”
25 Jan 06
We “die in the gaps.”
At the recent ASLET Conference, my esteemed colleague, Phil Messina, in teaching a class on retention and disarms, pointed out to students that techniques often fail, because inadequately trained practitioners “die in the gaps.” That is, when they link together a series of psycho-motor subroutines into a full technique, the seams remain. Their execution is intermittent, hesitant. They dither in the seams and thus give opponents opportunities to exploit delays. Accordingly, Phil stressed the importance of constantly practicing and testing each technique, until the seams all disappear.
A friend on active duty called me today and reported on a recent, mandatory pistol “qualification” he attended. Local instructors encouraged students to use the “Weaver Grip” when shooting their M9 pistols. The “Weaver Grip,” as explained, was unusable; many students couldn’t even get into it. With this technique, the support hand is way too far forward to be useful. After listening patiently for a while, my friend could no longer remain silent! He pulled the “instructors” off to the side and informed them that there was no such thing as a “Weaver Grip!” There is a “correct grip,” which is used in conjunction with the “Weaver Stance.” He then demonstrated it to them.
Upon being thus enlightened, the instructors’ scores immediately went up, and they, along with the rest of the class, were well on their way toward learning and using respectable fighting techniques with the pistol. Sometime in there, they all “qualified” too!
The point in both instances is that poor technique will, of its own accord, quickly become disreputable and fall out of favor when it is regularly exercised, tested, and found wanting. So, how is it that inferior techniques not only refuse to die but, in fact, garner a stubborn, self-righteous following among the uninformed and unsophisticated?
The answer is that too many of us don’t live the Art. We just talk about it. We can talk ourselves into anything, so long as no one calls our bluff! When one does not carry guns (and blades) every day, does not shoot regularly, does not handle loaded guns daily, does not exercise his fighting skills routinely, does not relentlessly improve his routine through his own practical experience, most of his knowledge base is just conjecture, and he will predictably “die in the gaps” during a real fight.
I’m sure those young, military instructors were well meaning, but, with all due respect, they don’t even carry a gun (or a blade) regularly, and they don’t know what they’re talking about! If we are ever going to purge our instructional community of silly twaddle, like the “Weaver Grip,” if we are going to speak with real authority to our students, then we must commit ourselves to personally living the Art every day, not merely performing lip service.
There was a time when American military officers and staff NCOs carried loaded pistols all the time. It was a point of honor! It was the way you honored your rank and your charge. Today, it is an infraction, even for generals! It is a measure of how badly this civilization has deteriorated.
Those of us who teach and enlighten must never become delinquent in this regard. Let it not be said of us, that our students “died in the gaps.”
31 Jan 06
From one of our instructors who has a teen-aged daughter (also one of our students):
“Carol and I were driving through town yesterday. She saw a billboard advertising some action movie. It prominently featured the leading man (the current teenage heart-throb) holding a pistol at his side.
Her comment: ‘What a dork! His trigger finger should be off the trigger and in register.’”
My comment: My faith in American youth has been restored!