19 July 16

“With only a little practice, and some intelligent instruction, the pistol (at the time, the 1911 45ACP) can be mastered well enough to be an effective short-range weapon.

But as a rule, the soldier does not get enough practice. Shooting in the Army is discouraged. Too much bother handling the range; use too much expensive ammunition; dangerous anyhow – may shoot somebody!”

Roy F Dunlap, from his 1948 classic, “Ordnance Went Up Front,” “… some observations and experiences of a Sergeant of Ordnance, who served throughout World War II with the United States Army in Egypt, the Philippines and Japan.”

Military small-arms training has improved since Dunlap wrote about it decades ago, but not nearly as much as it needs to, and practical pistol training within the military has seen scant betterment since the end of WWII.

As Dunlap notes, risk-averse senior officers are still “afraid of guns,” particularly pistols. Everyone is too timid to carry the pistol with a round chambered, so there is virtually no training within our military system on how to do it correctly.

In the 1960s, it took Jeff Cooper (then a civilian) to show us how to carry a 1911 pistol! Prior to the “Cooper Era,” few had the slightest idea. Army manuals comically avoided the subject.

They still do!

With the Pentagon’s selection (in 1985) of the Beretta 92F (M9) pistol to replace ageing 1911s, the rest of us went in another direction, to the wonderful, new Glock Pistol.

Many regard the Beretta M9 pistol, reliable as it is, a maladroit, user-hostile clunk, particularly with its two-stage manual decocking lever, which the Army never learned how to use anyway.

Today, manual decocking levers are a thing of the past, and everyone is gravitating toward the Glock, and now a host of Glock-like competitors, including the XD, M&P, SIG320, FNS, Walther PPQ, Ruger All American, H&K VP9, et al. All are attractive due to their light weight, high capacity, ergonomic design, integral safety features, reliability, and simplicity of operation.

I’m not going to say that the 1911 is “obsolete,” but I will say that most of us have moved on!

Back to Dunlap’s comments:

An “effective short-range weapon” must be able to be safely carried routinely, in a high state of readiness. Since it is designed to provide its user/carrier with the capability to effectively respond to UNEXPECTED threats, it must continuously have a round in the chamber and thus be ready to be presented and fired more or less instantly.

Yet, it needs to be “drop-safe,” easily mastered, and convenient enough to be carried safely, concealed or openly, for long periods.

In today’s terrorist environment, I’m no longer comfortable carrying a six-shooter, nor even an eight-shooter. I like a fourteen-shooter, at a minimum! Low-capacity pistols I now regard mostly as back-ups.

For many in our military, a pistol is still little more than an expensive rank insignia. Even today, and even in forward areas, few carry their pistol with a round chambered. Most don’t even have a magazine inserted. They are still “afraid of guns.” For us to really advance the Art is, even today, as it was in Dunlap’s time, just too much trouble, too expensive, and too risky. “Dangerous anyhow- may shoot somebody!”

The few I’ve trained are the exceptions!

I believe, for most of us, your pistol is still your most important weapon, because it is the first one your hand will touch in a sudden emergency. We have to be competent, professional gunmen. That is our heritage and our duty!

Our loaded pistols are our constant companions. We are comfortable and confident. We don’t have accidents, and we don’t miss, even at relatively long ranges.

That’s the difference between a live professional, and a dead amateur!

Pistols are important, and always will be!