2 July 01
A friend with the NJSP has the latest on the S&W P99 debacle:
“Last week, ALL of our S&W P99s and associated gear was turned in. The latest word is that this time we will not be getting them back. They are gone for good.
Our frustrated ‘leaders’ kept sent samples of the pistol to different groups of ‘independent experts’ (read that: ‘highly-paid yes men’) to get a ‘non-biased opinion’ (read that, ‘confirm the party line’). Even they seemed to have had an unexpected attack of honesty. They’ve all said the pistols are unusable and unsalvageable- little more than scrap metal. So, back to S&W they go. Be careful of S&W bulletins advertising ‘slightly used’ P99s for sale!
We are now back using our ‘unserviceable’ H&K P7s, for which we no longer have any holsters!
Latest rumors are that we’ll be getting G19s. I only hope it happens before I retire!”
Lesson: Politicians never go to jail! One can only guess how many tax-payer dollars were wasted on this latest exercise in stupidity.
3 July 01
From a friend in South Africa:
“Last weekend we hosted a Three-Gun Training Exercise. Some comments:
>One-handed shooting skills were sorely lacking. Quite a few stoppages due to limp-wristing.
>The usual crowd of ‘instinctive shooters’ showed up. The only thing they did consistently was ‘instinctively’ hit everything imaginable, EXCEPT the target! The only way to engage a target successfully is by watching your front sight, settle down, and making each shot hit exactly where you intend it to hit.
>We had fifteen Glocks present. All worked fine except for one, which consistently malfunctioned- mostly failures to eject. When I examined it, I discovered an after-market ‘Lightning Strike Recoil Reducer’ had been installed. I removed the after-market part and instructed the pistol’s owner to pitch it into the nearest garbage can. When we replaced it with the original, Glock recoil rod and spring assembly, the pistol ran fine from that point forward.
We don’t practice shooting one-handed nearly enough. This should be part of every training session.
“Instinct shooting” is rubbish
Stay away from after-market, replacement parts, particularly those made for Glocks.
3 July 01
Last weekend, I was in California presenting an Advanced Defensive Handgun Course. One of my students, a police officer, was using a Glock 23. It blew up as he was shooting!
The magazine shot out of the magazine well, along with several rounds, the base, spring, and follower. The magazine release button and the extractor both blew out and were not recovered. The barrel was split at the chamber, and the crack made it’s way a centimeter up the barrel proper. The slide was bulged. The offending case was all but disintegrated. Only the base was in tact. The primer blew out completely.
The shooter was startled, but not injured. The pistol was toast.
To its credit, the Glock held together sufficiently to protect the shooter and bystanders.
The shooter was using homemade handloads and unjacketed (cast lead) bullets. I’m confident the problem was an overcharged case.
Lesson: Don’t shoot unjacketed bullets through autoloading pistols, particularly Glocks! Overpressures occur when lead fouling builds up in the barrel.
If you’re going to handload, you are going to have to be careful!
5 July 01
Some sage reloading advice from a friend in the ammunition business:
“Advice to your students: If you’re going to bring home-reloaded ammunition to classes, do NOT use Bullseye or any other “fast” pistol powder. In addition to being smokey and dirty, this powder burns extremely rapidly, and it takes a relatively small volume to make it work. Thus, double charges are difficult to detect during visual inspection. For example, a 45ACP case takes only about 4.5 grains of Bullseye to launch a 230 bullet at 850f/s, compared with a significantly greater quantity and weight of Unique which are required to do the same thing. However, if you doubled charge Unique, you can plainly see it. Bullseye powder has been involved with the great majority of pistol blowups, mostly due to undetected double charging.”
5 July 01
I just had my hands on a Taurus PT145. It’s a new, 10+1, compact, 45ACP pistol, designed for concealed carry. It’s a nice size, reminiscent of a G36, only fatter.
What concerns me is its key-locked, conditional sterilization capability and its “loaded chamber indicator.” S&W recently announced that all their new revolvers will have a similar key-locked capability. Springfield Armory advertises a like gadget now installed on their 1911 clones. From now on, all these guns will apparently not be available any other way.
I’ve been involved in several civil cases recently where plaintiff’s attorneys have made an issue of the fact that the pistol in question did not have a “loaded chamber indicator.” I’m assuming manufacturers are now rushing to add this device to their existing guns as a response. In all the cases in which I’ve been involved, we have been able to conclusively demonstrate that a “loaded chamber indicator” would not have affected the outcome one way or another, but that doesn’t seem to matter to plaintiff’s attorneys or panicked PR departments at the front offices of gun manufacturers.
The problem with the PT145 is that the “loaded chamber indicator” significantly weakens the extractor, making the entire pistol far less reliable than it would be without the device. S&W’s “loaded chamber indicator” is a window cut into the top of the chamber. That may not weaken the chamber significantly, but it is, of course, useless in low light.
The key lock is also a great concern. I worry that the pistol might decide to sterilize itself in the middle of a fight! We’ve seen this happen, albeit rarely, with Taurus revolvers.
No thanks to all of it! I’m not about to offer up my body as a “beta test” for these untested “safety” gimmicks. I want only proven and tested guns that always work. I’m surely glad there are still several courageous manufacturers who are not knuckling under to this ill-begotten hysteria.
6 July 01
Pearl Harbor, Singapore, and the Western Pacific, 1941
For most of the Twentieth Century Japanese had suffered the humiliation of not being taken seriously by America, Britain, nor any of the European powers. Like Britain, Japan had built a powerful navy, but no matter how sophisticated and modern they became, they imagined themselves as being regarded as “third world” by racist Europeans. They defeated the Russians in 1905, but still no respect. Only a new round of military imperialism would bring them the world esteem they desperately craved. In 1931, General Hideki Tojo and his military clique, after murdering their way into power, gave legitimacy to this belief by invading China with a large army.
The island of Singapore, at the end of the British-controlled Malay Peninsula, was selected by the British as the home for its Far Eastern Fleet. Unfortunately, the British Navy had no Far Eastern Fleet! Typical of British military planning, its “naval base” at Singapore had no ships. It was a skeleton installation whose main job was waving the flag. Under the best of conditions, it would take months to get a fleet there from England.
Oahu is one of several islands which constitutes Hawaii, but it is unique in that it features the best natural harbor in the Eastern Pacific. That fact was not lost on the US Navy. In 1941, Pearl Harbor on Oahu was home for the entire US Pacific Fleet. Oahu contained several Army bases and airfields as well. The pride of the US Pacific fleet was its contingent of eight battleships. Ever since its stunning success during the Spanish-American War at the turn of the Century, the US Navy had been convinced that the battleship was the key to any successful naval action. Events would prove otherwise. Vulnerable to air attack, battleships were already obsolete. The aircraft carrier had displaced it as the most critical of naval assets, but only a few people realized it. Japanese Admiral Yamamoto was one of them!
The Chinese Army, under its inept dictator, Chiang Kai-shek, was courageous but top-heavy, pathetically out of date, and utterly disorganized. Unlike the case with the Finns and the Greeks, Chinese resistance to invasion forces was largely ineffective. In fact, the rest of world took little note when hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of Chinese were casually massacred by remorseless Japanese troops. It was only in 1937, when the Japanese captured the City of Shanghai, where international business interests were protected by British and American troops, that anyone seemed to notice that the Japanese were up to something. The wake-up call was amplified in 1940 when Japanese forces invaded Burma and French Indochina. The British base at Singapore was suddenly in jeopardy, and Britain had no navy there to protect it.
By late 1939, American and German military ships had already been sporadically trading shots, and Roosevelt knew that America’s involvement in the coming war against Hitler’s Germany was inevitable, although there was little sympathy among the American public for “another European war.” Ironically, America was headed for a war with Germany while Britain was headed for a war with Japan! However, on 3 Sept 1939 Britain declared war on Germany, and cunning Churchill persuaded Roosevelt that it had to be a “Europe first” war. Churchill, in effect, abandoned Singapore and British interests in the entire Western Pacific, although, in public, he declared Singapore a “fortress.”
To his horror, President Roosevelt suddenly saw how truly impotent was British naval power in the Pacific. The entire British Navy was now fully committed against the German, Italian, and (newly captured by the Germans) French Navies. This left only the American Navy to counter Japanese Pacific expansion. Roosevelt’s response was to embargo aviation fuel, and later all fuel and crude oil, as well as steel and iron, destined for Japan. Britain immediately joined in the embargo. In addition, Japanese financial interests in the US were frozen on 25 July 1941, and a squadron of “civilian” pilots were sent to China to help in stemming the Japanese advance (the famed Flying Tigers. FDR was talked out of sending a fleet of American bombers).
Highly dependent upon America for oil, iron, and steel, Tojo now realized that his imperialistic expansion needed to include American soil, and soon! Without fuel and raw materials, Japanese excursions into China, French Indochina, the Malay Peninsula, and the entire Western Pacific would eventually grind to a halt. In Tojo’s mind, an attack on America was an act of self-defense.
It was precisely then that US military intelligence began to pick up information that Japan was planning an attack on US real estate, specifically Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. President Roosevelt was duly briefed on a regular basis. Roosevelt knew that selling the idea of another European war at home would not be easy, but he agreed with Churchill that Europe had to come first. In the interim, he didn’t want to think about Japan. Roosevelt chose to ignore the warnings!
The Naval commander on Oahu in 1941 was Husband E Kimmel. The Army commander was Walter Short. Both had been made aware of the Japanese threat, but the US Army and Navy had a long tradition of non-cooperation. What few conversations that took place between the two were usually on the golf course. Isolation of Hawaii in the Eastern Pacific lulled both into presumptuous complacency. Within the previous twenty-seven months, no fewer than fourteen neutral nations had suffered surprise attacks, but in Hawaii, “Just let them try!” was the prevailing attitude.
The thinking was that any Japanese flotilla would surely be detected long before it got within striking range of Hawaii. In addition, naval intelligence had assured Kimmel that Pearl Harbor was too shallow for Japanese air-dropped torpedoes. When dropped, they would simply detonate harmlessly on the sea bed. Assuming they were correct, Kimmel did not install anti-torpedo netting around his battleships. However, he did order that one forth of the fifty-caliber machine guns aboard ship be manned all the time. All the same, the guns themselves were locked and ammunition was not stored at the gun positions. It was locked away in distant vaults, and only certain officers (all of whom were taking the weekend off) had the keys. So, virtually all AAA on ships was “manned” but in such a low state of readiness that it had no chance of effectively countering any kind of surprise attack. Fearing local Japanese sympathizers, Short ordered all aircraft bunched together on airfields, again with no fuel and no ammunition! The obvious and laughable contradiction of such policies were never discussed out loud. As in more modern times, it would be politically incorrect.
In Singapore, November was bringing with it the rainy season. Any attack the Japanese were planning would surely have to wait until spring. The local British commander, Air Chief Marshall Sir Robert Brook-Popham breathed a sigh of relief! He was further relieved when the British battleship Prince of Wales and the battle cruiser Repulse arrived in Singapore harbor.
Suddenly, a Japanese naval battle group, with no fewer than six aircraft carriers, was spotted assembling in Cam-Ranh Bay in Indo China. The British assumed its target would be Singapore and so informed the Americans. Just as suddenly, the flotilla was reported to have left. On Saturday, 6 December, Kimmel curtailed local reconnaissance flights because of bad weather. His sailors had the weekend off. Thirteen B-17 bombers left California that morning for Oahu on their way to countering the Japanese threat in the Philippines. There was no specific alert, so they carried no ammunition for their defensive machine guns!
Admiral Isoroku Takano-Yamamoto was wounded during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 and later educated in America. Yamamoto was a vocal proponent of carrier-based air power. He cautioned Tojo about moving too aggressively against the Americans. He also cautioned against any alliance with Hitler. He knew American public opinion was keeping America neutral for the moment (at least officially), and he wanted it to stay that way as long as possible. However, he was overruled and told to prepare an attack plan against American naval forces.
Reluctantly, Yamamoto devised a plan to deliver a surprise, knockout blow to the US Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers at Pearl Harbor. American battleships were to be only secondary targets. His weapon of choice was air-dropped torpedoes, which were modified to be effective in shallow water, something not picked up on by American intelligence. Wave after wave of carrier-based aircraft would pommel the parked American fleet, aircraft, hangers, supply and fuel dumps, buildings, etc. The entire island of Oahu would be reduced to a smoldering cinder! A fleet of midget submarines were also part of the plan. Their job was to bottle up the harbor by sinking something at the entrance. Simultaneously, other Japanese forces would attack Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and American garrisons on a number of Pacific islands. He earnestly hoped the Americans would be so overwhelmed, they would not be able to deliver an effective counter for months.
Yamamoto’s plan was criticized as being too optimistic. Fearing the loss of carriers, Tojo ordered him to scale it back. Tojo wanted a lightening strike and a lightening withdrawal. Yamamoto warned him that merely “slapping” the Americans would be a grave error. He was overruled again!
The Japanese attack fleet, encased within a raging storm, silently made their way across the Pacific. There were completely undetected when they arrived at their assigned position north of the Hawaiian Islands. The storm had not relented. It was early Sunday morning, 7 Dec 41.
In Washington, DC, American intelligence partially decoded a message sent to the Japanese embassy from Tokyo. The message was to be delivered to Secretary of State Hull at 1:00pm on Sunday, 7 Dec (7:30am in Hawaii). This was an obvious deadline, and warnings were immediately radioed to Philippines, California, and Panama, but radio messages to Hawaii were curtailed by atmospherics, so Short and Kimmel were sent a telegram. When it arrived on Oahu, it was laid aside, because it was not marked “urgent!” The approaching wave of Japanese aircraft were detected on radar, but they were mistaken for the incoming flight of US B-17s. No warning went out.
The first wave of Japanese Zeros began strafing the Kanoeha Naval Air Station and the Ewa Marine Air Station. Japanese pilots were astonished that they were met with no AAA, and there were no American fighter aircraft anywhere to be seen. They couldn’t believe their luck! Ground AAA crews were, of course, unable to fire back, because their ammunition was locked up, and the officer with the key was no where to be found! US Marines, who did have guns and ammunition, began firing back immediately with rifles and pistols.
Not finding any American carriers in port, Japanese pilots attacked the parked row of battleships. Most of the US battleships were torpedoed and destroyed before anyone knew what was happening. Even after their ships were hit, most sailors still thought the whole thing was a drill! One of the arriving B-17s was shot down, and two crash landed. The rest landed safely, but were badly shot up, unable to return fire at Japanese planes.
It was not until 8:00am that at least some AAA positions began firing. Several Japanese planes were shot down. By that time, many ships, including five of the eight battleships, were already listing and damaged beyond repair. By 9:00am, two American P40s got into the air and immediately shot down several Zeros. Short and Kimmel ran to their headquarters. The enormity of the destruction was just sinking in, and both fully expected a ground invasion to follow on the heels of the bombing.
At 9:26pm, what remained of the first Japanese wave broke off and returned to their carriers. They were all gone as suddenly as they had arrived. Throughout the rest of the day, jittery AAA gunners fired on anything in the air, including friendly aircraft. Several were shot down. Nervous sentries shot at each other.
Elated Japanese pilots returned to their carriers, eager to rearm, refuel, and launch a second wave. However, the task force commander, Chuichi Nagumo, was disturbed to discover that no American aircraft carriers, the prime target of the strike, were sunk or even attacked. Alarmed, he aborted the second wave and prepared to steam back to Japan. Pilots were astonished and disappointed, but Nagumo held firm.
American losses were staggering, but no US aircraft carriers were sunk nor even damaged. The three aircraft carriers assigned to Pearl Harbor were at sea at the time of the attack, delivering aircraft to Pacific island bases. Japanese intelligence had failed to note this. In addition, massive fuel tanks at Pearl Harbor, which were to be destroyed by the second wave of Japanese aircraft, escaped significant damage. Had they been demolished as scheduled, it would have been months before a single American ship could have been put to sea. Yamamoto had failed to deliver the knockout blow for which he was aiming. As soon as he found out that the American carrier fleet had not been sunk, he knew the entire raid had been a disastrous miscalculation. Nonetheless, after the attack the American Navy would not risk a rescue mission to the Philippines. As with the British base at Singapore, General MacArthur and his 130,000 man garrison were abandoned to the Japanese, as was the Marine detachment on Wake Island..
Neither Kimmel nor Short were court-martialed, but they were both immediately retired and never commanded ships nor troops again. Kimmel was extremely bitter for the rest of his life. Of course, it is Roosevelt who should have been court-martialed, but politicians never go to jail.
There were many mistakes. Roosevelt and Churchill were so pathologically secretive that they kept vital information from each other and from their field commanders. Kimmel and Short never received anything close to adequate intelligence, and they made poor use of their own intelligence network. They just couldn’t imagine a surprise attack was possible. Their complacency was based on ignorance, in most cases, willful ignorance!
The US fleet was in Oahu to prepare for war with Japan and Germany. Yet, they behaved as if they were all on vacation! The serious attitude that should have been conveyed to every serviceman there never filtered down. For example, American AAA gunners had been trained to fire at aircraft traveling at only half the speed of Japanese Zeros. No updated training was ever scheduled. And, as noted above, with the nation on the brink of war, an entire squadron of American B-17s were allowed to fly over international airspace, unescorted and unarmed! The result was that few Japanese pilots were killed by American AAA, but several dozen Americans were (nearly including Kimmel himself), via panicked and sloppy shooting and outdated and faulty ammunition.
Americans in 1941 naively thought that they were loved throughout the world! America had been the most generous and forgiving country in history, and the fact that someone could possibly hate us was beyond the comprehension of the average, naive American. Being always prepared for war seemed so “unnecessary.” After the Pearl Harbor attack, the backlash was vehement, as Americans waged a war against the Japanese which bordered on genocide. Yamamoto’s worst fears, as it turns out, came true. In fact, much of Hollywood’s 1950s and 1960s obsession with “invaders from outer space” can be psychologically traced to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The US military is afraid of guns, then and now! True readiness requires loaded guns continuously in the hands of people who know how to use them. Anything less, in the name of “safety” of course, is naive.
“Better to have and train and not require, than to grasp in panic, only to find the scabbard empty!”
8 July 01
This from a friend who is an LEO and trainer in Texas:
“Within the last ninety days, two Harris County (Houston) Deputy Sheriffs have been shot to death in two separate incidents. Both involved the deputies attempting to make arrests of high-risk suspects by themselves. In both cases, only one suspect was involved.
With sidearm drawn, the deputies commanded the suspect to face away and put his hands behind his head. The suspects complied. As the deputies approached, holstered their pistols, and unsnapped their cuff case, the suspects continued to be cooperative.
Both suspects made their move just as the first cuff was snapped onto their wrist. With their free hand they retrieved a pistol, one from his waist band and the other from a back pocket, and immediately fired shots backward, over their shoulder. Both officers suffered fatal neck wounds. Since the suspects didn’t actually turn their bodies to face the officers, their movements were not immediately interpreted as threatening. Both suspects fled the scene with a handcuff still on their wrists.
Both suspects (since arrested) were gang members, and there is considerable speculation here that the shooting technique they employed is being taught within the membership of several local gangs.”
>Don’t make high-risk arrests by yourself! Any high-risk arrest requires at least two officers. When arresting a dangerous suspect, there needs to be at least one gun pointed at him continuously throughout the entire process. If he becomes threatening, at least one officer needs to be able to fire immediately.
>Make judgments based on suspect capabilities, NOT suspect “intent.” Don’t try to guess at what a suspect is thinking or “read” him as fictional detectives do so unerringly. You only have to be wrong once!
10 July 01
On urban rifles from a LEO friend in Wisconsin:
“A couple of our officers recently graduated of the Urban Rifle Course at Thunder Ranch. They both independently made the same observation:
Many of their fellow students showed up with bipods, various battery-operated sights, attached flashlights, lasers, and bewildering sling systems, all attached in miscellaneous ways to their rifles.
WITHOUT EXCEPTION, those people had taken all that junk off their rifle by the morning of the third day. All those gadgets had either broken, fallen off, ran out of juice, or made the rifle so heavy and unwieldily as to render it useless.”
Lesson: Don’t load up your guns with gimmicky junk. Instead, load up yourself with knowledge, righteousness, and experience. The latter will serve you far better than the former.
11 July 01
From a friend, “Why do you dislike assault slings and co-directional flashlights mounted on rifle barrels?”
“Assault” sling systems are fine, if you have time to climb into one and then get it adjusted. Once in it, it’s difficult to assume a low profile and it is also difficult (impossible for most people) to switch shoulders, something I consider to be a fatal shortcoming. I’ve seen people try to put them on fast, and it’s a comedy of errors! They typically feature far too many snaps, buckles, adjustments, releases, etc. The whole concept is not suitable to emergencies. I still prefer a single, nylon strap. I usually don’t get confused when using one.
Co-directional flashlights, mounted parallel with the rifle barrel, are surely an arguable accessory, as there is no good way, that I know of, to hold a longarm and a flashlight simultaneously and make the whole thing work.
However, I can’t tell you how many of them I’ve seen get knocked off the rifle during movement exercises. If they don’t get knocked off the rifle completely, they get knocked off center, so they end up pointing in a useless direction.
Another problem, and this is inherent any time one tries to combine functions. Ie: have a single piece of ostensibly emergency/safety equipment perform multiple functions. In building/movement exercises, I continuously see officers with rifle/fashlight combinations using their rifle as a flashlight! They constantly point it in unsafe directions in an attempt to get some light on something, which often turns out to be another officer!
If we’re going to issue “gun/flashlight combination tools” to officers, we need to be sure they never forget that it’s a gun first. A separate, handheld flashlight is a critical necessity.
I’m waiting for “gun/flashlight/laser/OC dispenser/beanbag launcher combination tools” to be issued. Being easily confused, I, for one, prefer a gun that is just a gun!
13 July 01
From an LEO friend and trainer on the East Coast:
“One of our patrol officers was involved in a fatal shooting last week, his fourth during his fifteen-year career. He did great!
After making a vehicle stop, the driver of the vehicle hangs a Kel-Tec 9mm pistol out the window and fires twice at our officer. Both rounds hit the patrol vehicle, but our officer is not injured. The offending vehicle then sped away, and a high-speed chase ensues.
The offending vehicle crashes a short time later. More police vehicles have been summoned, but none have arrived yet. Our officer exits his vehicle, goes around to the rear, and comes back up on the passenger side moving for cover of a nearby brick wall.
The bad guy, still inside his vehicle with his pistol still in his hand, leans out the passenger window and points his gun at the (now unoccupied) patrol vehicle. Our officer fires several shots at the bad guy. He reports that his night sights were a big help.
The bad guy was hit but still animated. Another officer (rookie) arrives and runs right up to the bad guy’s car, shouting at him to surrender. The bad guy (apparently not impressed) points his gun at the rookie, and the rookie freezes in fear. Our officer then fires two more shots, striking the bad guy in the head and neck. The bad guy slumps, drops his gun, and was dead at the scene.
Neither officer was hurt. Our guy fired ten shots and hit the bad guy with eight! That’s an eighty percent hit ratio. The range was eight to ten meters, and the target was difficult, as the bad guy skillfully used his vehicle for cover.”
Lesson: There is no substitute for good tactics and surgical accuracy. The bad guy was simply out fought by this officer. Good show!
15 July 01
From a LEO and trainer in Michigan:
“I just completed an extensive Simunition workout with the department. The “Zipper” technique works every time! I found if I shot bad guys from the navel up, I consistently got superior results, and it didn’t matter how the bad guy moved. I was able to stay with him.
Another valuable lesson: One-hand shooting, particularly with the weak hand, is an extremely important skill- and sadly deficient with most of our officers. When rounding corners I would switch hands (mirror-image Weaver) to whatever hand was the closest to the door frame. This worked really well for keeping most of me behind cover. The problem was that my weak-side skills were not everything they should have been, and I thus did a lot of missing. I’m correcting that deficiency without delay!”
Lesson: In training, we spend too much time practicing only those skills we’re already good at. Other important skills, such as weak-hand shooting, are often overlooked, because practicing them tends to make us look awkward and clumsy. We need therefore to worry less about how we look to others during training and more about exercising ALL critical skills!
16 July 01
From the Wound Ballistic Review, Fall 2000:
“Compared to a 9mm, the 357SIG has decreased magazine capacity, more recoil, as well as greater muzzle blast and flash. Yet, at best it offers no gain in bullet penetration and expansion characteristics. What it the point of this cartridge?”
In an Editorial Comment section of the same issue:
“Apparently SIG’s point is to sell guns by pandering to the ignorance of those who still believe that bullets with more velocity invariably cause increased incapacitation.”
My comment: The foregoing is written by laboratory bound, jelly ballisticians. I’m astonished that they find the 357Mg revolver cartridge so wonderful and the 357SIG (who ballistics are identical or slightly superior) so “pointless.” This is the same kind of spiteful attack that they leveled at Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow when Evan and Ed had the audacity to disagree with them in print. Apparently, anyone who might have another perspective is “ignorant.” I don’t believe this bunch is doing any good service to our industry.
17 July 01
Limited capacity magazines in Africa. From a friend with the Capetown Traffic Police:
“We have just taken delivery of a new lot of CZs (9mm). As they were being issued to our officers, I noticed that, of the two magazines which came with each gun, one was a standard, fifteen-round magazine. The other was a ten-round magazine, although both were the same external dimensions.
Ten-round (reduced capacity) magazines are only manufactured for the American market, as they are not used in any other part of the world that I know of; certainly not here! This lot of pistols may have been originally destined for the USA. In any event, the ten-rounders cannot be modified back to full capacity, so our officers are discarding them and buying (with their own money) extra, full-capacity magazines. Since we’re carrying hardball on duty, and wimpy hardball at that, the last thing we need is “reduced capacity” magazines! Additional, full-capacity magazines will probably, eventually be supplied by the Department, but we are all painfully familiar with the speed at which things get done around here, so most of us are not waiting.
John, please let your American Congress know how much we appreciate this!”
“And that after this is accomplished, and the Brave New World begins,
When all men are paid for existing, and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as water will wet us, as surely as fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”
18 July 01
Britain’s own “Pearl Harbor,” Singapore and the Malay Peninsula, 1941-1942
Churchill characterized it as, “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.” It is no wonder that virtually every anti-colonial revolt in the postwar era drew its inspiration from the victory by a numerically inferior Japanese force over the vaunted British Army and Navy at Singapore.
In November of 1941, with the monsoon rainy season in full force, no one in Singapore believed the Japanese would or could launch an attack. Singapore, sitting on the southern shore of a tiny island at the very southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, boasted fifteen-inch shore batteries, capable of sinking any kind of ship. They would surely repel an attempted amphibious landing, and the only other conceivable avenue of attack, down the Malay Peninsula, would have to wait until spring. One can imagine everyone’s astonishment when a large Japanese invasion force, under General Tomoyuki Yamashita, oblivious of the rain, landed at Kota Bharu on the Malay Peninsula on 8 December 1941, the very next day after the Japanese air attack at Pearl Harbor!
In his Singapore headquarters, Air Chief Marshall Sir Robert Brook-Popham immediately called a Council of War. The two major players, other than Brook-Popham himself, were Sir Arthur Percival, the ground commander, and Admiral Thomas Phillips, commander of “Force Z,” consisting of two capital ships and four destroyers, which had been sent to Singapore as a deterrent. The British battleship Prince of Wales and the battle cruiser Repulse constituted the centerpiece. Before their meeting was even concluded, Japanese aircraft appeared over the city and started bombing. All of Singapore was stunned and panicked.
An indecisive Phillips, aboard the Prince of Wales, immediately set sail northward for Kota Bharu with his two capital ships, while he left his destroyers in Singapore harbor. Halfway there, he decided to turn back and return to Singapore. No sooner had he turned around, than he decided to turn around again, this time heading for Kuantan, where he had learned of another Japanese landing. He arrived but found nothing, so he ordered his two ships further away from shore while he contemplated the situation. Phillips’ ships were being shadowed by Japanese reconnaissance aircraft the entire time he was at sea, but he never radioed for air cover, which was available at Singapore in the form of a squadron of (obsolete, but still functional) “Buffalo” fighters.
On the morning of 10 December 1941, over eighty Japanese bombers suddenly appeared in the sky above the two British ships and attacked in open water. A fierce battle ensued. Torpedo bombers arrived a short time later. Phillips still did not ask for air support! He apparently thought he could hold them off with indigenous AAA. Only after both ships were grievously damaged were fighter aircraft finally dispatched. By the time British aircraft arrived, both ships had been sunk, and the Japanese planes were long gone. Destroyers, arriving shortly thereafter, picked up survivors in the water. Phillips himself was not among the survivors, and his body was never found.
The entire British admiralty had disdainfully chided the Americans about their unpreparedness at Pearl Harbor. They spoke too soon! Here, only three days later, this time with a British admiral in charge, the British, too, were outsmarted by the Japanese. No one expected Japanese to fly well, sail well, fight well, or plan well. British competence and Japanese incompetence had both been substantially overestimated!
Percival was now worried! In a single battle, Force Z had been largely destroyed, and it was now obvious that the Japanese would not attempt an amphibious landing at Singapore. They would, instead, attack down the Malay Peninsula and hit the city from the north. His worry intensified when he learned that the vaunted, fifteen-inch Singapore shore guns could not be turned around and fired to the north. They were useless!
The Malay Peninsula was the main source of rubber and tin (critical military commodities) for both the British and the Americans. Churchill therefore instructed that Singapore and the entire Peninsula be held (although he knew full well that they couldn’t be). Percival had at his disposal nearly 100,000 soldiers. He was confident that he could hold off the Japanese, trading space for time, until a rescue fleet arrived from Britain. Like MacArthur in the Philippines, Percival was foolish enough to believe his superiors when they “assured” him he would not be abandoned. Like so many field commanders, both Percival and MacArthur had been lied to. No rescue fleet would be sent to either location, by the British or the Americans, nor had either Roosevelt or Churchill ever intended to send one, despite their flowery speeches to the contrary.
General Yamashita’s troops, after fighting in China for ten years and never suffering a significant defeat, were confident. They pushed south with a vengeance, quickly bypassing pockets of resistance and leapfrogging obstacles, via well planned, multiple amphibious landings. Japanese tanks, against which the British had fielded no effective weapons, smashed through strong points unhindered. Japanese aircraft and extremely accurate AAA prevented British aircraft from effectively attacking Japanese ships or ground formations.
British defenders were so overwhelmed that they neglected to destroy critical supplies and facilities before abandoning them. Japanese troops captured storehouses, fuel, and equipment in tact. Worse yet, hastily abandoned airfields were not cratered by exiting British troops, so Japanese planes were able to use them immediately. Bridges were not blown in time, so Japanese soldiers followed right on the heels of retreating British units, capturing many and scattering the rest. In fact, the entire British “defense” was so poorly coordinated that it hastily deteriorated into a full-scale rout. There were some bright spots, and several British and Australian units held out courageously, but dithering and panicked Percival could not get any kind of organized defense synthesized, and the Japanese pushed forward relentlessly, oblivious of losses (which were substantial). Percival had waited too long before organizing, equipping, and training his forces. He and his forces were woefully unprepared, and it showed!
By the end of January, the entire Malay Peninsula had been captured by Japanese forces, leaving only Singapore Island still in British hands. Percival’s retreating forces were badly shot up but still fully capable of putting up a credible fight. Without hesitation, the Japanese invaded the island and pressed their attack on the City of Singapore itself.
Unknown to Percival (due to inadequate intelligence), by now Yamashita’s forces had long since run out of food, were nearly out of ammunition and fuel, and were badly attrited. In fact, Yamashita’s entire offensive had sputtered and stalled! British lines were finally holding firm, and there were even several successful counterattacks. Yamashita had already concluded that he would have to withdraw from the island, regroup, and wait for resupply before continuing. He was therefore understandably (albeit pleasantly) shocked when Percival, on the 15th of February, sheepishly pleaded for a truce. Without even waiting for a reply, Percival ordered a cease fire! Later that day, he met with Yamashita and unilaterally surrendered all his troops and the entire civilian population.
Percival had literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory! His forces had turned the tide of battle (despite his inept leadership), but Percival himself was already defeated in his mind, and no amount of good news could persuade him to think any other way. Years later, Percival would excuse his dismal performance by insisting that the Japanese vastly outnumbered him and, in addition, were expert jungle fighters. Both contentions are nonsense. Japanese soldiers were no more familiar with the Malay jungle than were the British, and Japanese forces were actually outnumbered by British forces! What led to Percival’s ignominious defeat was indecision, poor planning, poor coordination, and arrogant thinking which continuously discounted Japanese capabilities, in spite of obvious and ample evidence to the contrary!
Another notable Japanese capability was brutality! In the wake of the surrender, wounded prisoners (and many others, including women and children) were summarily executed, most by bayoneting and beheading. This pattern would be shortly repeated with MacArthur’s captured forces in the Philippines. Women were brutally raped and then murdered. Universal slave labor and forced prostitution were the realities of Japanese occupation, as the Chinese had discovered earlier and as Filipinos would discover shortly. Slaughter and butchery were everywhere! Prisoners, along with dependents, were herded into makeshift prison camps without food, medicine, or sanitation. They died by the thousands. Native Malayans who had resented British “oppressors,” were soon begging for the British to return!
The twin disasters at Pearl Harbor and Singapore assured that it would be a long war. Eventually, Japanese soldiers and civilians would pay dearly for their brutality, but it would take several years.
“High morale,” is largely meaningless when it has no legitimate foundation and is, in fact, based on fraud and wishful thinking. Under such circumstances, “high morale” is little more than mass self-deception. It will predictably fall apart when the first shots are fired!
Any time politicians “assure” you of something, assume they are lying.
Weapons and other critical equipment must be continuously in the hands of the people who need it, so they can train with it and have it handy when it is required. Percival has ample quantities of antitank mines and antitank guns, but, when they were critically needed, they were still in warehouses, gathering dust. No one had ever used them or trained with them.
No matter how bad things look, it may be even worse for your opponent! Never give up, lest you lose your only opportunity to be victorious.
In warfare, death is usually better than captivity.
19 July 01
Of slug-shooting shotguns and military rifles. Update from my friend in the Philippines:
“Most of us here are not interested in buying a centerfire rifle at the moment. Even if local dealers were allowed to import these into the country legally, for sale to civilians, we lack the facilities needed to practice with this kind of weapon.
One needs connections to shoot on military ranges, and commercial rifle ranges are nearly unheard of. In addition, centerfire rifle ammunition, even the stuff that is locally manufactured, is prohibitively expensive. Even if there were a place to train, few of us could afford the cost of the ammunition.
Given all these limitations, my friends and I are beginning to appreciate slug-shooting shotguns. With few commercial ranges featuring bays longer than fifty meters, a slug gun makes a lot of sense. Nearly everyone has a shotgun already, as the paperwork is not nearly as complicated as is the case for handguns, and shotgun slugs, while not cheap, are still affordable for the majority of middle-class people.
Foster slugs, fired from most shotguns, are reasonably accurate within seventy-five meters, and their terminal effect is surely adequate. Rifles can carry the fight out to several hundred meters, but, for personal self defense, that is rarely necessary.”
My friend makes a good point. Perhaps we all ought to revisit slug-shooting shotguns. When rifles are unavailable, they at least partially fill the gap.
No matter what the circumstances, we must always look for a way to win. Improvise, adapt, overcome!
19 July 01
Slug question from an LEO friend and trainer in California:
“As you know, our department uses slugs exclusively in all our shotguns (twelve-gauge Remington 870s). We qualify three times per year, and qualification requires that each officer fire eight slugs. If a deputy does not qualify, they must take the test again, and they almost always do worse the second time. Three attempts are allowed.
As is the case with most departments, our contingent of small-statured officers (mostly female) have a terrible time getting qualified with our slug-shooting shotguns. It’s traumatic for both them and us.
A successful solution to the shotgun recoil problem you mentioned is issuing small-statured people a Remington 1100 autoloading shotgun in twenty gauge, instead of twelve gauge.
I’m assuming you’re already using “reduced recoil” slugs, and you still have a significant comfort problem. I’ve had any number of female students shoot over a hundred slugs and buckshot rounds out of a Remington 1100 in twenty gauge in a single afternoon, all with very few complaints.
Gas-operated autoloaders, like the Remington 1100 and 11-87, have significantly less recoil than do fixed-breech shotguns, like the 870. They are genuinely useable for many people who cannot use any species of twelve gauge.
Of course, beanbag rounds, etc are only made in twelve gauge, and they won’t cycle an autoloader anyway. However, that is probably a minor-league issue.
The other solution is a “staple gun,” like the H&K MP-5.
I don’t believe the comfort problem is a trifling issue. We need to effectively address it. Otherwise, some officers will be perpetually ineffective with the shotgun.
23 July 01
MI Carbines from Israel are now being selectively reimported into the USA by GFCC (address below). The Carbines themselves are $160.00 each. Magazines (15-round) are $8.00. I have no idea what condition they’re in, but the price is right.
Orders must be on PD stationary, signed by the Chief or his designee, that the purchase is for use in official duties. They will supply a suggested letter format. Shipping takes a several months, as each order must clear ATF and US Customs.
800 704 4867
916 446 0722 (Fax)
25 July 01
Latest on problems with LAPD from a friend of many years on the department:
“LAPD has a grievous personnel recruitment and retention problem. We’re losing all our best people, the ones we can’t afford to lose. They’re leaving in droves to take other jobs. All big departments have this challenge, but here it is critical. We are now down a full ten percent from our authorized staffing level, and the situation continues to deteriorate. Simultaneously, LA County Sheriff’s Dept (whose deputies make substantially less money than LAPD officers) has less than a one percent vacancy rate.
As a stopgap measure, retired officers are now being approached and offered bonuses if they come back on patrol. People from Metro, Narcotics, and even detective trainees have been transferred back to patrol. Our Chief, Bernie (aka Burnie) Parks, calls it, ‘redeployment of resources,’ but this is the FIRST time in the history of the LAPD, officers from these entities have been sent back to patrol.
Seeing the problem, our new mayor, Jim Hahn, has told Parks, in no uncertain terms, to raise department morale and stop the runaway attrition- or find another job. No results yet!
Parks is categorically unwilling to modify any of his decisions, and that has lead to a great deal of heartburn within the department. As an example, his newly instituted “complaint system” is altogether unworkable and has literally paralyzed the Department, but he won’t listen to any suggestions. My guys are now more afraid of the complaint system than they are of getting shot! The immediate result is that arrests, pedestrian and traffic stops, and traffic tickets are all way down. Crime is up, but none of us want to take the risk of getting complaints filed against us under the new system.
Don’t worry John, I still love this department. I’m doing my part to lead my guys through these difficult times and still do the job we all swore to do. Maybe Department History will remember me for that. At least I hope my guys do.”
“The harm done by incompetent people in high places has no end!”
27 July 01
Cor-Bon is currently introducing a new line of pistol ammunition called PowerBall. It is presently available in 45ACP, but it will be made in all the others pistol calibers too, as soon as they can get tooled up to do it.
PowerBall ammunition features a new bullet, which is a standard, wide-mouth hollowpoint, but with a plastic sphere imbedded in the hollow cavity. Externally, it looks like a soft point, except that the nose is plastic and not lead. Its profile is smooth and identical to that of hardball.
Terminally, it performs like the best of controlled-expansion pistol bullets, rendering reliable and uniform expansion. However, the hardball-like bullet profile insures reliable feeding in all pistols, particularly short ones designed for concealed carry.
I think this is a major step forward in ammunition evolution. I’ve use PowerBall in my G36, and it is now my carry round in that gun. PowerBall will breath new life into short, carry guns, like the G36, G30, and the Kimber Minis. It combines worry-free feeding with reliable, controlled expansion upon impact. Heretofore, we’re had one or the other, but seldom both, particularly in the short autoloaders that most of us carry.
Some calibers, most notably 9mm and 357SIG, have a reputation for reliably feeding in nearly any pistol. However, in short guns, the 45ACP, 40 S&W, and 400 Cor-Bon have had occasional feeding problems, particularly when the shooter is using wide-mouth hollowpoint bullets. Eliminating feeding problems, PowerBall will be a great boon to users of these calibers, which includes most of us.
It will also be warmly welcomed by residents of New Jersey and other jurisdictions which prohibit the possession and use of “hollowpoint” pistol ammunition.
At your first opportunity, get your hands on this new round.
27 July 01
On training women, from a friend and trainer on the East Coast:
“I was training two women in defensive handgun technique last week on our indoor range.
One of the women, with long nails, was shooting her new Kahr P9 when she suddenly shrieked that she had broken a fingernail. When I looked at her hand, I could see that her trigger finger was bleeding profusely from the area under the broken nail. I took the gun from her hand and secured it. Then, I looked at her finger. Nothing serious, but there was a lot of blood!
The gun had not malfunctioned. She had just inadvertently tried to pull the trigger with her fingernail instead of the pad of her finger.
We called it a day, but she was back the next day, with a bandaged finger and newly clipped (short!) nails, and we continued.”
For anyone, male or female, who is serious about learning to shoot defensively, long fingernails have to go! We’ve seen this before. If the above incident had happened in the middle of a real fight, it could have cost the woman her life.
30 July 01
On the subject of long hair from a friend in Africa:
“Yesterday morning I went to a local waterfront complex to watch a demonstration being put on by several people from a local ‘adventure school.’
On of them was demonstrating ascending and descending a climbing rope on a prefabricated climbing wall. The male demonstrator was dressed in shorts and climbing shoes as one might expect, but he had a long, braided pony tail that occasionally flopped in his face.
You guessed it! As he was rapidly descending with great flair, his pony tail wrapped around the rope and was subsequently sucked into his Jumar descending device. It quickly became hopelessly entangled. His descent came to a jerking halt as he dangled by his head, thirty feet above the ground! For the next twenty minutes he thrashed and flopped around, alternately cursing and crying, unable to free himself. Finally, someone had to climb up another rope and rescue him.
Of course, this ‘adventurer’ didn’t have a knife with him, which he could have used to remedy the situation.”
>Like long fingernails, long, unrestrained hair can be a fatal liability. It has no place among the prudent.
>Always have a knife on your person that you can get to and (with one hand) deploy quickly!
31 July 01
From a trainer and colleague in Michigan:
“A student showed up yesterday with a Ruger revolver in 357Mg. The front sight was an after-market, bright orange blade and made of nylon. It sat on a base that was anchored into the barrel with an allen screw. I asked this student how sturdy the whole thing was. He indicated confidently that he, ‘had never had a problem with it.’
We started shooting, and his nylon front sight lasted exactly twenty minutes! I’m not sure if it came off during firing or during drawing and reholstering. In any event, he suddenly noticed that it was gone.
The base stayed in place, but the sight itself (which had been glued to the base) was history. We never found it. Older and wiser, he had to borrow a gun in order to complete the course.”
Lesson: DON’T GLUE, SCREW, OR PIN THINGS TO ANY PISTOL UPON WHICH YOUR LIFE MIGHT DEPEND. It will predictably break off at the worst possible moment!