2 Dec 03
This is a portion of note sent by an active-duty friend to his junior officers. They will be deploying shortly:
“For those ‘who don’t know what they don’t know,’ I offer the following explanation: 55gr FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) is the old M193 ball ammunition that we used to issue before the new, 62gr FMJ (M855) was issued with M16A2 rifles. The M855, 62gr bullet has a steel core ‘penetrator’ (a hard dart imbedded in the middle of the bullet) and is boat tailed at the base to provide maximum stability in flight. The 1:7″ twist (or, one complete revolution in seven inches of travel down the barrel) of the M16A2 barrel is severe, by any standard. The bullet revolves nearly three times before departing the barrel of an M16A2 (20″ barrel), and two complete revolutions from an M4 (16″ barrel).
This provides great stability for the bullet during flight, too much as it turns out, because the bullet uniformly fails to subsequently destabilize and tumble upon impact with living issue, as did the old, M193 bullet. It is basically a fast-moving ice pick. While it will make them bleed, it fails to generate a large, permanent wound cavity.
While the M855 bullet (with its imbedded penetrator) will penetrate some solid barriers that will not be penetrated by the M193 bullet, it consistently fails to penetrate most layered barriers (car doors, cinder block, etc) at any range.
Since, when we’re deployed to Iraq, we probably won’t be able to get sufficient quantities of the old M193 ammunition, and the M193 bullet renders poor accuracy (and sometimes self-destructs) from a 1:7″ barrel anyway, we will be using the M855 round for the foreseeable future. We will therefore have to train our men to plan on hitting bad guys multiple times and not to expect much in the penetration department. That will be the case until we’re issued the new caliber (or reissued M14s), which may be months (or years) away.
I can go into another diatribe about our 9X19mm FMJ pistol ammunition and its notoriously poor terminal performance also, and, yes, we’re looking forward to improvements there too. In the interim, constantly remind your men and yourselves that the Marine is the weapon. The rifle or pistol are merely tools. The poorest performing bullet in the world, when it hits, will render infinitely better results than will ‘wonder bullets’ that miss! ”
Comment: My heroic friend is trying to make the best of an unhappy situation. We were told that the new M855 bullet would solve both the range and penetration limitations of the M193. As was the case with the Patriot Missile in 1991, we were (knowingly) lied to!
The Patriot Missile didn’t work back in 1991, but, generals and presidents alike spent too much time reading their own press releases! It was only when Patriot batteries failed utterly to protect Tel Aviv from Scud missiles that the lie began to unravel. We later learned, to our horror, that the success rate of the Patriot system in intercepting and destroying incoming Scud missiles was, in truth, close to zero!
By the same token, the hardened penetrating dart, imbedded within each M855 bullet, weighs only ten grains. There is no way a ten-grain projectile is going to penetrate anything! The truth is, neither range nor penetration limitations have been adequately addressed by M855 ammunition. It is woefully inadequate on both counts and vastly inferior to the M193 round it replaced.
I’m not sure I’m the world’s expert on ballistics, but I have been an infantry officer involved in significant and continuous fighting, and I know that rifles carried by infantrymen need ammunition that will shoot through things! Even in the USA, there still no species of political alchemy that will render “golden” performance from “leaden” ballistics!
2 Dec 03
Sage advice from a good friend:
“I know you don’t like Wolf ammunition, and I discovered why last weekend. I was shooting it through my G36 at a local range, and, sure enough, I got to practice a lot of stoppage reduction drills!
A sobering bit of reality hit home during one of the many stoppage exercises: an empty case first stove piped, and then somehow got completely turned around and forthwith went into the chamber backwards. The slide immediately went forward striking the case mouth, thus wedging the entire case tightly into the chamber. Of course, the extractor was incapable of pulling it back out, and I was left with a pistol that would not shoot and could not be restored to action quickly.
This somber event reminded me (luckily on the range) that perfectly good pistols can be rendered useless by this phenomenon in the blink of an eye. I, then and there:
(1) promised myself always to carry a backup gun! I will no longer walk around with just one gun.
(2) ordered a Dejammer from Mas Ayoob, which I will carry faithfully, as you do. I once wondered why. Not any more!
(3) decided I’ve used Wolf ammunition for the last time!
Lesson: Pistol cases wedging into the chamber backward (as described above) is something we see all the time. If you routinely carry a range rod (I like Mas Ayoob’s Dejammer), knocking the stuck case out from the front is easily and quickly done. If you don’t, you’ll have to locate one before your pistol can be returned to action. Thus, routinely carrying a range rod makes a lot of sense.
Backup guns are a really good idea, as we can see. NYPD guys taught us long ago that the fastest reload and also the fastest stoppage reduction is smoothly producing a second pistol!
3 Dec 03
I have new Mossberg 590A1 pump shotgun (12ga) that I have been using for the last several weeks. It makes a nice package!
It came with an 18″ barrel, speed-feed stock (four extra rounds in the stock itself), and large, rugged, ghost ring sights. Rear sight is well protected, and the front sight is beefy and easy to see. Magazine tube holds five rounds. I surely like the Remington 870 also, but Remington doesn’t offer such a complete package from the factory.
There is a slight learning curve with the speed-feed stock, but it is plenty fast and extremely convenient. It doesn’t modify the gun’s outline or create a snag as does a sidesaddle.
In some states and jurisdictions, military rifles are aggressively regulated. In most of those same areas, shotguns are essentially unregulated. Indeed, the demand for Urban Rifle training in those areas is low (outside the law enforcement community), but the demand for defensive shotgun training remains high, and probably will for the foreseeable future.
As a patrol shotgun, it is hard to beat. Also makes a nice “bedroom gun.” Highly recommended!
5 Dec 03
Comments on the Mossberg 590A1 from users:
“We have several Mossberg 590s here at the police range with over 100,000 rounds through them, mostly slugs. They have all had minimal maintenance and are still perfectly serviceable.
Some important notes on the Mossberg:
For some reason, the guns are shipped from the factory with a coating of grease on the internal fire control mechanism. This sometimes causes sluggish operation. A detailed disassembly of new guns is recommended to remove the grease and restore full reliability. This degree of disassembly should only be performed an armorer. It’s standard procedure with new 590s here.
The red insert on the front sight is sometimes loose. We’ve had and a number of them fall out. When it gets loose, it needs to be re-staked and epoxyed back in place. Of course, without it, the gun is still functional. I don’t consider colored sight inserts particularly important..
The springs in speed-feed stocks will sometimes take a set, causing the second shell to fail to come all the way forward. One can still get it out. It’s just sluggish. I usually just stretch the spring, and that lasts six months or so.
The 590’s manual safety lever is plastic and breaks now and then. Brownells makes a metal replacement, and I recommend it.
By the way, the Mossberg is the only shotgun that has a military-specification manual safety. With the manual safety “on,” the gun is genuinely drop safe. No so with most other shotguns.”
6 Dec 03
From a friend and student:
“The recent abduction/disappearance of a North Dakota college student and the murder of a federal prosecutor illustrates, once again, the three deadly omissions:
Inattentiveness: If you are routinely unaware, you can take steps to make yourself even more so by talking on a cell phone as you walk in dark parking lots. How common, and how foolish!
Unpreparedness: Perceiving, in time, a set of circumstances that are suspicious is always the first step. Failing to have a plan makes it all for naught! In the absence of a plan of action, most people, when confronted with criminal violence, panic and lapse into a state of mental paralysis. While they dither, the predator makes his move,
Defenselessness: When a physical fight is unavoidable, you need to be able to fight effectively. The unwillingness or inability to fight effectively is a virtual death sentence when criminal violence comes your way. If you allow yourself to be tied up, taken by force to a remote location, etc, your chances of survival are essentially zero. You need to be prepared, equipped, and willing to ‘make your move,’ when making your move still has some likelihood of success.
All of us, even those of us who don’t routinely carry concealed guns, can have OC spray with them most of the time. All of us, in most places, can carry a serious blade. Not having such easily carried defensive instrumentalities on your person all the time is silly.
Most people’s ONLY ‘defense’ against criminal attack is the perpetual hope they will not be selected as prey by a predator. Deselection strategies are surely an important part of any plan, but effective fighting is a part of every legitimate plan too, and most of us do not think about such things nearly enough. Like discussions of smoking, drugs and AIDS, such topics are uncomfortable. But ‘thinking about the unthinkable’ is a lot less uncomfortable than what these two most recent victims went through.”
8 Dec 03
More Mossberg 590 comments from a friend on active duty:
“We used 590s in Panama and they proved themselves both reliable and durable. We put 10,000 rounds per year through each of them with minimal armorer maintenance. Concur with your advice on replacing the plastic manual safety lever. It doesn’t last long under field conditions.
When I arrived in Panama and took command of a security platoon. Two of our site posts used 590s, modified with after-market pistol grips and no shoulder stock (about as useless a contraption as can be imagined!). Upon touring the posts the first day I asked the Marines if they had ever trained with shotguns in that configuration. To my surprise, they had not.
I insisted that the pistol-grip-equipped shotguns brought to the range for our weekly ‘port and starboard’ firearms training. Sure enough, the Marines had little problem handling the shotguns when shooting light (birdshot), training rounds. However, when 00 Buck and slugs were fired, the guns were utterly uncontrollable and completely inaccurate, no matter how they were held. The pistol grips all promptly cracked as well.
My Marines quietly approached me afterward and asked that the pistol grips be discarded and that factory stocks be reinstalled. That very day, they were!”
Lesson: Emergency equipment should never be fielded without adequate testing. What looks sexy and shiny in the showroom often disappoints in the field. How many times we’ve seen it!
8 Dec 03
Readiness comments from another friend and student on active duty:
“I spent last week training and evaluating DOD Security Police at a major military installation here in CONUS. What a contrast! Attitudes of all the participants were excellent. They were all eager to learn and willing to listen. Unfortunately, gun-handling skills, marksmanship, and tactical skills ranged from marginal to abysmal. They have the hearts of warriors, but not the skills.
These kids are required to carry their M9 pistols with an empty chamber and the manual safety/decocking lever down. Many don’t even have a magazine inserted. They are issued Level III retention holsters, and are required to carry only hardball ammunition. They are given no training in drawing the pistol from the holster, reloading, or stoppage reduction. The only range time they get is for ‘qualification,’ which is, of course, a joke.
I observed that most of them are so unfamiliar with their equipment that, upon drawing the pistol from the holster (those that can actually figure the holster out), they fail to chamber a round, fail to take the safety off, and routinely point the muzzle at their own hand. Grip, stance, movement, verbal commands, and administrative skills have obviously never been practiced or even discussed.
These kids have no access to rifles or machine guns. The pistol is all they have. Senior NCOs and officers here readily recognize the glaring deficiencies, but none of them have the necessary skills either, and they don’t know where to go to get them. Bureaucratic inertia, of course, encourages them to do nothing. Few are willing to ‘rock the boat.'”
Lesson: The blind are trying to lead the blind. Competent training in critical weapons skills is available, but the blind are too proud to ask.
8 Dec 03
From a female friend in SA:
“Just to let you know what happened to me on the weekend. I was robbed, sitting in my car, window down (it’s summer here), waiting for the light to change. This is in downtown Capetown.
I was on the phone, talking to my husband. A person came to my window distributing pamphlets. I mumbled that I wasn’t interested. Next thing, I see a person (same one? I don’t know!) at my window, bending down and grabbing the gold chain from around my neck. I grabbed hold of it with my left hand and tried to yank it back. Last thing I saw was my chain going out the window!
I yelled that I am being robbed, but no one paid much attention. I then went to the Waterfront, where I approached a security guard, who was helpful. He took me to their headquarters, took a makeshift statement, and called the police. An hour later, Sgt Adams of the Table View Police arrived, casually took my statement and gave me the case number, so I could make an insurance claim. There was no attempt to actually investigate the incident or identify and arrest the robber.
I had to confront to fact that, until now, I’ve been living in a dream world. I am responsible for my own safety? I always thought the police did that!
What have I learned? That I have been foolishly naive. I need to make significant changes in my routine, indeed in my entire personal philosophy. I really am ‘on my own.’ Aren’t I?”
Comment: My friend learned an important lesson cheaply. All she lost was a piece of jewelry. She is lucky to be alive! Yes, we are all “on our own!”
13 Dec 03
Teutoburger Wald (loosely translated, “Battle in the Forest Near the German Village”), Germanica, east of the Rhine, fall of 9AD.
Roman general, Germanicus Caesar, put it this way:
“Iberians (Spaniards) can be impressed by the courtesy of their conquerors; Gauls (French) by his riches; Greeks by his respect for the arts; Jews by his moral integrity; Nubians (Sub-Saharan Africans) by his calm and authoritative bearing.
But, Goths (Germans) are impressed by none of this! They must be struck into the dust; struck down again as they rise; struck again while they lie groaning.
Only so long as their wounds still pain them, will they respect the hand that dealt them!”
Echoed by Heinrich Heine in the Nineteenth Century AD:
“Christianity has occasionally calmed the brutal German lust for battle, but it cannot destroy that savage ecstasy. When once that restraining talisman, the cross, is broken, the old stone gods will leap to life once more.”
Germans have “enjoyed” quite a reputation all these years!
After being conquered by Assyrians in 800BC, Babylonians returned the favor, and, in alliance with Medes, invaded the Assyrian capitol, Nineveh, in 600BC and burned it to the ground. In 538BC, Persians, under Cyrus the Great, overthrew Nebuchandnezzar’s Babylonian Empire and rushed onto history’s center stage. Between 492BC and 479BC, Persians, under Darius and Xerxes, tried their level best to stamp out the tiny flame of Western Civilization in Greece, but the valiant Greeks held them off. One hundred and fifty years later, Greeks, under Alexander the Great, turned the tables, conquering all of Persia. When Alexander died (at the age of thirty-two), his vast kingdom was ultimately split up among his squabbling generals.
Under the daring military genius, Judas Maccabeus (called “The Hammerer,” he was the author of the famous Maccabian Rebellion, celebrated to this day as Hanukkah), the world witnessed (for the first time since Southern Israel had been conquered by Babylonians in 586BC) an independent Jewish State emerge in Palestine and exist there for seventy-nine years, between 142BC and 63BC. In 63BC, Judea, and all of Palestine, became a vassal state under Imperial Rome, as did all other regions in the vicinity of the Mediterranean. In fact, the entire Mediterranean became a Roman lake! A politically autonomous Jewish state would not reemerge for another 2011 years, when, in 1948AD, the modern State of Israel boldly claimed its independence.
By the year “Zero,” the entire Roman world had settled down. Romans kept a tight lid on their expanding Empire, tolerating some political autonomy in vassal states (like Judea), but having no tolerance for open rebellion. Spartacus and his rebel gladiators displayed dazzling success against Roman legions for a time, but even that rebellion was finally put down for good in 71BC. Relative peace would prevail for the next two hundred years, punctuated only by a few famous battles. By far, the most famous was the debacle at Teutoburger Wald in 9AD.
Many tribes and peoples chafed under the Roman yoke, but some chafed more enthusiastically than others! Heretofore, land battles had been disorganized brawls. Romans (learning from the Greeks) brought precise organization to land warfare. So long as Roman Legions could preserve their precise organization and fight on firm ground, they were unbeatable. However, in thick, wet forests or among steep hills, where Roman commanders could not maintain visual contact with their units, they often did poorly. For example, In Britain, the southern portion was well pacified (with the exception of the short-lived Boadicean Rebellion in 60AD), but, in the hilly and rocky north (Scotland), wily Scots proved themselves so troublesome that the Romans simply built a stone wall (Hadrian’s Wall), from sea to sea, all across Britain, in an effort to isolate them. Hadrian’s wall, built around100AD, was tangible evidence that there were acknowledged limits to Rome’s ability to extend her influence.
Another fractious area was Germanica. At the turn of the Millennium, southern Germanica was pacified west of the Rhine. However, the further north one went, the less “pacified” the territory became. East of the Rhine was the frontier, “barbarian county,” and the Rhine River made a convenient dividing line. Germanica was heavily forested and occupied by Cherusci and other Gothic tribes, known for their savagery and brutality, if not their military organization. They were every bit as warlike and cruel as had been the Assyrians (to whom they were probably largely related).
In 7AD, a lawyer, Publius Quintilius Varus, due mostly to the fact that he married a grand niece of Emperor Augustus, found himself appointed governor of this ill-defined area known as Germanica. Varus had a good deal of governing experience, but scant military acumen. He had come north from comfortable and well-pacified Syria with three legions, the 17th, 18th, and 19th under his command. He grossly and foolishly underestimated the danger he and his legions were in.
By fall of 9AD, eager to establish himself, Varus decided to march his legions through contested real estate, east of the Rhine, between the Rivers Ems and Weser. It was his intention to build a fort and set up a winter camp in the area as well as establish protected supply lines back to the Rhine, laying the groundwork for a conspicuous and unmistakable Roman presence. There were reports of sporadic, local disturbances, but Varus was confident he could indiscreetly restore order.
Varus was befriended by Arminius of the Cherusci. Arminius (son of a local nobleman), with his entourage, agreed to serve as guides, scouts, and translators for the expedition. Arminius had been educated in Rome as a captive, was clever, poised, well mannered, spoke fluent Latin, and was intimately familiar with Roman military protocol and tactical doctrine. However, like Dragutin Dimitrijevic, who centuries later would engineer the start of WWI, Arminius was a cunning and duplicitous con man. He nursed a bitter, seething hatred for Romans, but was outwardly congenial and accommodating. While appearing to assist Varus, in reality Arminius had a hidden agenda. He was plotting the destruction of Varus and his entire army. “Arminius” was his adopted Latin name. His family knew him as “Hermann.”
Curiously, owing to his Roman upbringing, Arminius’ loyalty was never questioned. Varus was completely taken in. He was convinced by Arminius that this expedition would be a cake walk. Accordingly, Varus failed to put his legions on full, or even active, war footing and even allowed officers to bring their families along! Like naive Americans at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, they were in hostile territory that was on the brink of open warfare, and yet they all acted as if they were on vacation! The complacency of Varus and his staff was inexcusable, and they would all pay a terrible price.
Arminius had engineered an enormous, U-shaped ambush, deep in the thick and swampy forest, deep enough so that a Roman relief column could not arrive in time. He knew an overconfident Varus would not deploy flanking units nor dispatch scouting parties. Attackers could thus get close to Roman columns undetected. He also knew that a noisy and disorganized mobile city of camp followers, consisting of hoards of dependents, servants, caterers, tailors, service people of all kinds, baggage wagons, and prostitutes would follow in the column’s train, slowing it to a snail’s pace. Amazingly, Varus was urgently warned of the ambush by none other than Arminius’ own father-in-law, who despised his underhanded son-in-law for taking his daughter. Incredibly, Varus failed to investigate the claim, casually dismissing it as nothing more than a family squabble.
Deep into the German forest, the going had been uneventful, except for a few harassing attacks by local tribesmen. Then, Varus and his staff suddenly noticed that Arminius and his entire cortege had inexplicably vanished. A short time later, lead elements of the Roman column ran into felled trees and simultaneously came under heavy attack, halting the entire formation (which was several miles long). To make matters worse, a sudden storm deluged them with heavy rain and wind, bogging down chariots and wagons alike. Without warning, the entire column was then assaulted from both sides, along its entire length. Screaming tribesmen, hurling javelins, rushed upon startled and unprepared Romans. The thick forest and mud made it impossible for Roman units to form up into their usual fighting layouts. The whole thing quickly disintegrated into a disorganized brawl, a German specialty!
A remnant of Varus’ men valiantly rallied, congregating in a hastily built fort. There, they gallantly held out for two days, but, in the end, were overwhelmed. Varus himself, embarrassed and disgraced, committed suicide, along with most of his staff. Only a handful of mounted cavalrymen escaped on horseback to tell the story. Everyone else, including all dependents and camp followers were annihilated. A few who were taken captive were later used as pitiable human sacrifices to German gods. The death toll was in excess of 25,000!
Back on the Italian peninsula, Augustus was badly shaken by the news, and all of Rome with him! He had been told just weeks earlier that everything was well in hand. He was understandably shocked to discover that he had been lied to by his (now deceased) relative. New legions were dispatched to the area, and fighting continued. As the Empire imploded in the later years, Germanica was among the first areas to fall from Roman control, although persistent internal squabbling prevented any effective strategic unity of Germanic tribes against the Romans.
The Teutoburger Wald battlefield laid undisturbed for six years. When Roman units finally found it in 15AD, they discovered only skeletal remains of their comrades. They paused long enough to provide all the could find with a decent burial. Shortly thereafter, the Roman Commander, Germanicus Caesar, nearly suffered the same fate as had Varus! Another ambush, again engineered by the same Arminius, was almost successful. This time, Germanicus was better prepared than had been Varus. He successfully withdrew, salvaging most of his force.
Arminius continued his impassioned (and ultimately doomed) defense of his homeland for another five years, only to be murdered by kinsmen as a result of internal, political intrigue. He never saw his fortieth birthday. His son grew up in Rome, having never known his father. Like Scotland, Germanica was never completely pacified.
Any commander can be forgiven for being defeated. No commander will ever be forgiven for being surprised. Complacency is the deadly enemy of all warriors. The worst attack is always a surprise attack. Be taken in at your peril!
Historians in the next century may say of our time that the greatest mistake made in the wake of WWII was allowing Germany to reunite. Even today, a reunited Germany is surrounded by seven, nervous neighbors! The “old stone gods” may indeed leap to life once more.
Passionate ideologues rarely die of old age!
14 Dec 03
From a friend in WY:
“The Evansville Police Chief had his pistol stolen out of his unoccupied car yesterday while he was in a restaurant in Casper. He told investigators that the pistol was between the driver’s seat and the radio console and was ‘slightly visible.’ It is unclear whether the car was locked or not, but there are no signs of forced entry, no witnesses, and no suspects. The embarrassed chief, of course, ‘could not be reached for comment.'”
Comment: If a gun belonging to you falls into unauthorized hands and is subsequently involved in an accident or a crime, and it is determined that your gun had been “inadequately secured” (whatever that means), a legal shit storm will predictably fall right on your head! Leaving “slightly visible” guns in unoccupied cars in restaurant parking lots surely falls into the “inadequately secured” category!
For those of us who carry pistols, it is a much better plan to carry the gun on our person than it is to leave it in cars. The best place for your pistol is on your person where it will actually be of some use to you in an emergency and where you always have direct control over it.
16 Dec 03
Excellent comments on women’s holsters from my friend, Doc Gunn:
“Holsters for Women: Holster used by females must take the shape of the female hip into consideration, as well as the fact that the female torso is shorter than that of a male of equal height, allowing less room to draw.
Holsters designed for male hips allow the bottom of the holster to protrude too far, so that the mouth of the holster will press into the female waist, preventing easy access and reholstering. Belt holsters with jacket slots are better, as they hold the pistol out more, and the loop may be shaped to fit the female hip. While these holsters are well-suited for range work or uniformed belt carry, they are not very concealable and therefore not our first choice for concealment or general use.
While IWB (Inside the Waistband) holsters are generally the preferred male mode of carry, they may be problematic for the female hip, and the shorter female torso makes drawing a handgun from an IWB difficult.
The “Appendix Carry” is therefore recommended for females for concealment and general purpose carrying. This positions the handgun muzzle down and forward and permits the draw back and upwards. It is comfortable and concealable for most women. Holsters designed as “right-handed, cross-draw” work well in this appendix position for right-handed women.
When concealment at the waist is not possible, because of attire, off-body carry is an option. There are a number of purses specifically designed for concealed carry such as those by Guardian Leather and Coronado Leather. The difficulty with any off-body carry is that the weapon is not always readily available.
For the purposes of our courses, we want you to carry the pistol on your waist. We recommend a kydex or leather holster in the “Appendix Carry” position. If you are a uniformed officer or want a holster only for range work, a good choice is the DOH, or ‘Dropped and Offset Holster’ by Blade Tech or a Level II or III retention duty holster from one of the police suppliers such as Uncle Mike’s, G&G or Safariland.
I prefer a double-thickness leather belt between 1.25″ and 1.5″ wide. A width of 1.25″ is recommended for women. and some belts are available that taper to 1″ in the front. Non-tapering 1.25″ belts are available relatively inexpensively from Dillon Precision. Dillon belts tend to run on the short side, so add an inch or two to your desired length.
I also recommend the Blade Tech ‘Combo Pouch’ for a Surefire G2 and a single magazine. This will be carried on your support side. Get the Tech-lock fastener. Get the Tech-lock fastener on the holster too, if it is offered that way.
The holster recommended for females is the kydex “Settable Cant Holster” by Gregg Garrett at Comp-Tac in Houston. This holster may be worn in the appendix carry position at an adjustable angle from fifteen to forty-five degrees, using the belt loop appliance. It is available in various colors. You may wish to contact Gregg and discuss your needs with him.”
17 Dec 03
Comments to his own friends on my last quip, from a friend and colleagues in SA:
“Have a look at this! Does your wife’s kit measure up? If your lady does not carry all the time, shame on you. She needs a good pistol, good accessories, and good training.
Women are extremely exposed here in South Africa. Those who do not carry regularly are all raped and/or murdered, sooner or later. It happens hundreds of times every day here.
Don’t be so foolishly naive as to think this doesn’t apply to you. In my trade I see people daily with ‘sad stories.’
She needs true freedom. Only armed and trained women can be genuinely free.”
17 Dec 03
Our naive new mayor in Denver has allowed himself to be pressured by local newspapers on the subject of officer-involved shootings. He is particularly upset when people with knives threaten officers and then get themselves shot. He has decided that nearly all deadly force is unnecessary, and that it can be eliminated with enough application of trendy new equipment and negotiation acumen.
He wants to inundate the department with pepper-ball guns, Tasers, beanbag guns, green strobe lights, OC, sticky stuff, slippery stuff, smelly stuff, stringy stuff, foggy stuff, projectile nets, ad nauseam, all in an effort to eliminate the police use firearms. I wonder how close the mayor wants cops to allow a knife-wielding felon to get before applying an emergency treatment.
Of course, I’m in favor of providing cops with options, but too many options are as bad as too few. Trying even to recall, much less fumble with, a bewildering assortment of possible options to which he may have access slows an officer’s response and makes him vulnerable is a violent circumstance. It also makes him vulnerable to predictable accusations that he failed to select the best possible alternative. And, politicians will be unhappy with anyone who tells them that their pet, new gadget didn’t work!
Unfortunately, the public is being told, by naive politicians and journalists alike, that non-lethal/less-lethal alternatives can be used successfully in any confrontation, no matter how violent. Anyone with half a brain knows this is an absurd exaggeration, and bandying it about is a disservice to the community.
18 Dec 03
Firearms Illiteracy in the Press:
In a recent editorial (masquerading as news article) entitled Top Police Gun Prone to Accidental Firing, appearing in the Detroit News, a fearful author, Melvin Claxton, pontificates about the malignant dangers of Glock pistols. It is painfully obvious that Melvin wouldn’t be able to distinguish a Glock from a waffle iron if the two were sitting in front of him, but, as is the case with most of the self-important, leftist press, that doesn’t hinder him from presuming to tell us all what to do.
With hands wringing, the author laments, “Glock pistols… have earned a reputation among some gun experts as a firearm with too few safety features and that is too quick to fire. Its reputation is directly linked to its design, which ignores important safety features… forces the user to handle the gun with extreme caution.”
Well, duh! He fails to name any pistols which can be safely handled carelessly.
He goes on, “The gun’s safety features, extremely effective in preventing discharges if the gun is dropped or hit, automatically are turned off every time the trigger is depressed.”
Well, duh! I don’t know about ya’ll, but I want the pistol I carry for security emergencies to actually discharge when the trigger is depressed. What a radical notion!
“‘What you have is a gun that is almost too eager to fire,’ said Carter Lord (never heard of him), a national firearms and ballistics consultant. ‘I think it may be an appropriate weapon for highly trained paramilitary officers in a SWAT team, but not for most police officers and certainly not for civilians.'”
Apparently, no one ever told Mr Lord or Mr Claxton that, in America, ALL police are civilians. I’m not sure what country they live in, but in America the police are not a branch of the military. We have civilian police officers here. Additionally, I personally resent the insinuation that all we “most police” are just too stupid to handle a Glock. I wonder what kind of pistol Mr Lord and Mr Claxton think we’re smart enough to handle!
“Experienced gun handlers, people like former US Border Patrol agent Michael Roth, 66, a small-town sheriff and marksman with extensive gun training” apparently also fell victim to the iniquitous Glock, “In March 1996, Roth was tightening his belt in a mall restroom in Buffalo, NY, when the Glock TUCKED IN HIS WAISTBAND accidentally discharged, striking him in the leg.”
Well, duh! With “experts” like this, we surely don’t need amateurs.
As if that weren’t enough rubbish for one day, we see this headline at the end of the article:
“Weapon easily converted into full automatic mode” “One of the Glock’s most frightening attributes is its ability to easily be converted into a full automatic weapon capable of firing at the rate of 1,000 rounds a minute.”
Of course, Mr Claxton has never himself even touched, much less fired, any gun in full auto. If he had, he would know how utterly useless a fully-automatic pistol is. Indeed, we should pray that all criminals carry full-automatic pistols and use them exclusively in that mode! They would hit nothing and run out of ammunition in less than a second.
The fact is Glocks are no more “easily convertible” to full-auto fire than is any other autoloading pistol. Mr Claxton himself, of course, has not the foggiest idea of how such a “conversion” could be accomplished, yet he is convinced that the process is “easy.”
Where do these self-righteous cretins come from? The author obviously finds the idea that American police are equipped with modern weapons frightening. He apparently would rather us all be equipped with obsolete weapons.
The willful firearms illiteracy of the leftist press is indeed disturbing, almost as much as their arrogance.
18 Dec 03
Comments on less-lethal force:
“Since your mayor is such an expert on less-lethal force, maybe he should personally train the entire department, even provide leadership and become the Designated LL Response Officer. Yes, I’d like to see him confronting an aggressive knife wielder with anything less than a firearm. I’m sure he would teach us all a thing or two, about getting killed!
What we have today in police use-of-force situations is rarely “excessive force,” but rather EXCESSIVELY REPEATED APPLICATIONS OF LESS-THAN-ADEQUATE FORCE by timid and indecisive police officers, allowing a potentially violent situation to spiral out of control.”
We cripple our officers with impossible expectations and then naively believe they will be able to protect us. We geld them, and then demand they be fruitful!”
Comment: Chicago PD used to put it this way: “When officers are confronted with unlawful force, they will respond with superior force, until the situation is under control.” This seems to have been replace with, “… officers, fearful of making the ‘wrong’ choice, will dither around until the situation is out of control.” If this is the overall effect of less-lethal equipment, we would be better off with none of it.
We surely need less-lethal options, combined with reasonable expectations. Mayors need to worry less about getting reelected and more about the welfare of their officers and the citizenry.
19 Dec 03
More information on The Detroit Press’ “expert” consultant from a friend who does a lot more expert legal consulting than I do:
“Carter Lord bills himself as a gunsmith and firearms consultant. He was my opposing expert a year ago in the Grunow Case (involving a Raven pistol in 25auto) in Florida, which we won and they lost.
The case was a civil suit, brought by the wife of Mr Grunow, against the pistol distributor and others (the actual manufacturer, Raven, has been out of business for years). Carter Lord’s position was that the diminutive Raven 25, which had been manufactured in the early 1980s, should, by everything that is right and just, have incorporated a built-in locking device. This, despite the fact that there were only two firearms they could name that had ever been made with any kind of built-in lock, both virtually unknown and both long-since out of production, the defunct Fox/Demro 45ACP carbine, and an obscure revolver, at one time made by H&R.
Lord’s position was, nonetheless, that a built-in, internal lock could ‘easily’ have been incorporated in the Raven, and that the pistol was ‘inherently defective’ for not having such a gizmo. Our position was: ‘Oh really! If that’s the case, why don’t you ‘easily’ make one yourself, and then bring it here, so we can all examine it?’
He took the challenge, and, over the course of the following year, cobbled together four, successive prototypes of Raven pistols with built-in locks. The sequence of prototypes was necessary, because each, in turn, was shown to have fatal ‘problems,’ which Lord himself admitted (or, which we pointed out, and he then grudgingly acknowledged). This painful and expensive charade served only to discredit Lord himself and his dubious position that the manufacturer could ‘easily’ have incorporated an effective, built-in lock in the (retail $50.00) pistol. Maybe it wasn’t so ‘easy,’ after all!
At long last, the culmination of Lord’s efforts, the final and really ‘improved’ version of Raven-with-lock, was proudly presented to me at my deposition. I took the contraption, which I had never seen before, and promptly unlocked it using only a paperclip, rather than with Lord’s artistically crafted, ‘special,’ key, which was, no doubt, intended to impress a jury (something anyone would be proud to carry on their keyring, to unlock their pistol, in case they suddenly needed to shoot someone!) After unlocking the thing with a paperclip, I locked it again and then unlocked it multiple times, using several universally available tools, including a screwdriver. So much for ‘high security.’ Needless to say, they lost the case!”
Comment: These are the kinds of charlatans who make their living in suits against gun manufacturers, distributors and retailers. We are in desperate need of tort reform in this country!
19 Dec 03
On the new military rifle caliber, from a friend close to the issue:
“The 5.56 NATO round is so entrenched, it is difficult to make changes. The Army knows full well it cannot do the job, yet they don’t want to redo rifles. The Navy and Marines are Gung Ho for the new round, but they don’t have enough pull by themselves. It looks to be a long time before anyone except special teams has it. Even special teams will be lucky to get it!”
Comment: There were indications that the new, 6.8mm round was on the fast track. Now, it is looking as if the whole project has stalled. “Nothing is too good for our men!”
20 Dec 03
Comments on current history from a friend in the Philippines:
“Recent history has proven once again that, despite the advent of cutting-edge, siege weaponry, like bombers, missiles, and unmanned drones, rigorous ground campaigns are still nonnegotiable requirements. Rough men still have to physically assault physical objectives, and these men still have to be skilled, armed, and personally committed if they are to seize, maintain, and hold this ground. The desperate, continuing armed conflict in ‘Postwar’ Iraq should shock this ‘revelation’ into our veins.”
Comment: The veins of those who naively think there is a technological substitute for personal tenacity and icy determination, engendered by personal patriotism, should be particularly shocked.
“With a ghastly casualness, we remove the organ and then demand the function. We make men without integrity, and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor, and are then shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate, and bid the geldings be fruitful.” CS Lewis
20 Dec 03
On fashion, from a female LEO and colleague:
“John, I can remain silent no longer! Fashion doesn’t dictate readiness. Readiness dictates fashion.
As you well know, for us, the ability to respond with deadly force is a continuous requirement, not an ‘option.’ I have to be heavily armed all the time. My ‘work dress’ ranges from jeans, T-shirt, and a cover garment, to business suits for staff meetings, to dresses for court appearances. For me, concealment is critical, because I don’t have the option of leaving my gun(s) behind.
No circumstance will preclude me from carrying! Choose the handgun, then the holster, access the circumstances, and lastly select the clothing. Make it work!”
Comment: I dare not!
21 Dec 03
On shooting skills, from a friend and student:
“Today, Carol and I went to a local bowling alley to pick up our daughter from a birthday party. While we were waiting, Carol suggested we play one of the shooting games in the arcade.
We engaged in a duel match. Both of us had to fight off the thundering hordes of invading monsters. Funny, she beat me badly! Why? I haven’t shot in a bit (a sore point with me) and got sloppy immediately. I didn’t use the weapon’s sights. I just pointed and yanked the trigger, assuming, hell, its just a game. After all, I’m a ‘good shot.’ I’ve been shooting for years. How can I fail?
I failed! Carol, on the other hand, lacked my arrogance and overconfidence. She only had the frame of reference from Vicki’s instruction. Thus, while she was slower to engage, she used her sights, pressed the trigger carefully, tracked the target, and hit consistently.
Ultimately, the electronic score keeper revealed that I had engaged more targets, shot more bullets, but had far fewer hits than her. She fired slower and more deliberately, but didn’t miss at all. Appalled, I immediately challenged her to a rematch. She reminded me, ‘Had this been a real fight, you wouldn’t get a second chance!
It’s ‘back to the basics’ for me.”
Lesson: It can’t be said too often: Accurate shooting wins fights. Sloppy shooting is for losers.
“Never do your enemy a minor injury.”
27 Dec 03
Important lesson from Bob Ruark in Use Enough Gun:
“… I put the bead somewhere on his neck behind the ear and squeezed. The big Wesley-Richards, which I trusted so much, roared and possibly kicked, but I never felt it.
The tiger never left his crouch over the dead buffalo. He never moved his head. His chin dropped an inch and came to rest on the buffalo’s flank. He did not flex his forearms. He did not kick. He was stone-dead on the body of his victim; his eyes closed in the strong light of the torch.
I raised the gun again to give him the other half, the finisher, the tenderizer.
‘No, sahib,’ Khan Sahib said. ‘Don’t shoot again. He is dead… Do not spoil the hide. Nobody ever killed a tiger any more dead.’
… Kahn Sahib shook me by the hand and beat me on the back and danced up and down… I took the little flask of emergency ointment and had a long pull at it. I toasted the tiger. I toasted Kahn Sahib, and I toasted me… One-shot Bob. Some people miss ‘em. Some people wound ‘em. Not the Boy Genius. He shoots them in the neck.
I had just run for president and been elected. I had just been reelected to a second term and had won the water-boiling contest at the Campfire Club when I heard an awful roar. Kahn… flicked on the light just in time to see my dead tiger’s tail disappear.
… the tiger had got up and gone away. I knew right then that I would never see that tiger again, although all common sense told me that this was a death flurry… We looked him high , and we looked him low for two days… No tiger. One-Bullet Bob… the new president of the jerk factory.
I could hear Harry’s English Schoolboy voice saying, ‘When it’s big, and it’s dangerous, shoot it once and shoot it twice, and, when you’re absolutely certain it’s dead, shoot it again. It’s the dead ones that get up and kill you.'”
Comment: Bob Ruark died in London in 1965. He hunted during the golden days, and his lessons, which he shares with us in his own inimitable style, are timeless.
My experience with the oryx in the Karoo Desert in South Africa in 1999 was similar, and I’m lucky the beast chose to run away from us rather than at us. My oryx dropped with a single shot from my borrowed 270. He dropped as if he had been struck by lightening. Nary a flinch nor a shudder.
Like Ruark, I thought I was hot stuff and had splendidly succeeded in impressing my African hosts. Unfortunately, I had failed to impress the oryx, who miraculously sprang back to life twenty minutes later, long after my guide had insisted in unloading the 270. As I watched him casually lope away, displaying little discomfort, I, too, felt like the new president of the jerk factory!
Like Bob, I learned my lesson that day. In retrospect, it was a cheap one. Only my inflated ego was wounded.
“Experience never errors; what alone may error is our judgment.”
Leonardo da Vince
27 Dec 03
I visited a large, local retailer today. I asked him about Kel-Tec pistols, specifically their compact 32 and 380 autos. He indicated that he was unable to keep the 380 in stock and that both had shown themselves to be reliable and easy to use. He went on to say that these small Kel-Tec pistols sell better and have far fewer problems than the Beretta Tomcat, the Taurus equivalent, or the NAA equivalent, combined. In addition, the Kel-Tec is thinner and lighter than any of them.
I’ve seen several of these small pistols in courses, and all have worked just fine, but I have been doubtful with regard to their actual usefulness. However, I have to admit that everyone who owns one thinks they’re great. One can surely carry one in many places where most other pistols would not fit. I may start carrying the 380 auto version as a backup!
28 Dec 03
Comments on Kel-Tec pistols:
“The pistol is reliable, far superior in that regard to the PPK or TPH. The slide is difficult to cycle, and I wish it had better sights, but understand why things are the way they are.”
“The trigger reset on these little guns requires travel back past two ‘clicks.’ If you only release the trigger past the first ‘click’ you will cause a failure-to-fire malfunction, requiring a tap-rack-bang drill to remedy.”
“The ejector throws cases directly at your face.”
“Kel-Tec is an innovative company, and their customer service is second to none.”
“I have carried my Kel-Tec P32 for over three years as a backup pistol. It is so small and light as to be unnoticeable.”
“A problem with the trigger bar caused me to return my pistol to the factory, where it was totally rebuilt: new slide, barrel and internals, and a new magazine. It has not malfunctioned since. NO COST, and they even sent me a check to cover the cost of sending the pistol FEDEX overnight. Kel-Tec’s customer service is top drawer!”
“They rarely last more than a few hundred rounds without needing repairs. As with most guns, a typical retail purchaser never shoots more than one magazine through it during the entire time he owns the gun anyway.”
“I’ve never had a single purchaser unhappy with a Kel-Tec pistol. They have all functioned flawlessly.”
“My Kahr P9 Covert in a Ky-Tac Pockit Lockit will fit in the same space as a Kel-Tec 380, but offers 9mm Parabelum power, the ‘minimum acceptable’ level.”
“Kel-Tecs are known here as ‘Jam-Tecs.’ They are ammunition sensitive, and are notorious for breaking triggers and extractors. I realize some people love them. I don’t.”
“At 750 rds, the trigger stopped actuating the striker. I returned the pistol to the company. They repaired and returned it to me, all in four days, and at no cost. I now have an additional 1000 rds through the gun without any failures.”
My comments: Mixed reviews, but there is a consensus on Kel-Tec’s Customer service. It is good. After I’ve had a chance to carry and use mine for a while, I’ll have more.
29 Dec 03
Sage comments from Joe DaSilva, my friend and guide in Africa. Joe has kept me from being injured more than once. I owe him a lot. He knows what he is talking about:
“I have been hunting and guiding in Africa for thirty years, and I need to comment on your Ruark posting:
Firstly, the biggest mistake first-time African hunters make is failing to study the anatomy and habits of our game animals here. Time and effort in reading and speaking with people who know game in Africa will pay big dividends. Hunting here is serious business. Hunters are grievously injured here every year. Some are killed. Many more are unsuccessful and frustrated. The more you know, the luckier you get!
Secondly, Correctly choosing the rifle, caliber, mounts, and scope for the type of animals that you are going to hunt. Again, you need to listen to experienced people and take their advice seriously. Over the years I’ve seen many guys and gals with ill-selected equipment either (1) lose game, or (2) damage the animal so badly that the taxidermist is unable to create a suitable mount.
Thirdly, You need to study the terrain where you will be hunting. For example, if you are hunting antelope in heavy bush, you will be shooting at ranges that will not exceed one hundred meters. You may have shots as close as twenty meters! For this, you don’t need a 7mmRmag. A 270, 308, or 30-06 will do the job very well.
Finally, Most hunters who come to Africa are not accomplished riflemen and have not practiced nearly enough. Worse yet, they don’t want to listen to advice from those of us who live here. They invariably bring rifles in an inappropriate caliber. The routine result is that they become gun shy and miss their shots. They miss consistently, because they have created a huge flinch, a poor and inconsistent cheek weld, and are thus scared to take a second shot. I seen many guys with half moon (scope) cuts above their eye, and, oh boy, do they bleed! After such an experience, most hunters are finished for the day, maybe even their entire trip.
The two rifles we like most here are the 300H&H and the 458WinMag. Doubles are glamorous, but I like bolt guns. I have killed twenty-four cape buffalo and, in all that time, have been charged twice. I can tell you confidently that the 458WM is more than enough. Controlled, accurate shooting is the key! You cannot allow yourself to panic. Understand that you’ll have to hit the beast more than once. Most guys with 378s, 470s, 450s, and 500s cannot even make a viable second shot because of recoil. As a result, the wounded animal trots away, or charges! What’s the use of having it?”