3 Mar 03
We just completed a defensive pistol class in Oklahoma City, OK. OKC is “cocked-and-locked country,” as is much of Oklahoma and Texas. Most students had Kimbers, and all worked well. Two had Glocks.
What didn’t work well was the eight-round magazines used by many of the 1911 shooters. There were several different brands, and none worked reliably. Slide lock and failure to feed were seen time and again.
The Colt/Browning 1911 pistol (45ACP) was, at the outset, designed to accept a seven-round magazine, and I strongly recommend serious users stick with the original. They’ve worked well for decades. There is no brand of eight-round magazine I recommend for serious use.
Another excellent way to deadline a 1911 is through the use of extended magazines. They invariably insert too far (because they can) and cause a terminal stoppage. Also not recommended and, in my classes, not allowed.
5 Mar 03
Crusades, then and now.
By the end of the first Millennium, the Great Barbarian Invasions of the last five hundred years were ending in Western Europe. The wild Huns had now become Christians and had settled in Hungary, abandoning their nomadic ways, as had the Gauls, Goths, etc. Western Europe was settling down, setting the stage for technological advancement that had been impossible during continuous displacement and conflict.
On Wednesday, 27 Nov 1095 Pope Urban II made an announcement and challenge in Claremont, France. He said to those gathered to hear him, “… either renounce your knighthood now, or go forward boldly as Knights of Christ and rescue the Eastern Church.” The enthusiastic response was, “God wills it!” The era of the “Crusades” (loosely translated, “Cross Wars”) had begun.
In 330AD, Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Empire from Rome to Byzantium. Not surprisingly, the city was renamed “Constantinople” after him, and also not surprisingly, the Empire split into Eastern and Western Segments in 395AD. The Western portion lasted only until 487AD when the City of Rome finally fell to invading barbarians, and imperial succession came to an end, but the Eastern Roman Empire continued on for many centuries until Ottomans (Turks) conquered Constantinople in 1453 (renaming it “Istanbul”). While it lasted, The Eastern Roman Empire became known as the Byzantine Empire, after Byzantium, the Greek name for a city on the Bosporus (a strait connecting the Black and the Mediterranean Seas). Byzantines were well and truly Romans and Christians.
The Ottomans (from Osman, the first sultan) were nomadic tribes who (like the Huns before them) migrated to the Middle East from central Asia. Ottomans had interbred with Huns to create “Turks.” Turks then assumed the role of the military arm of the Islamic religion. When Byzantine Emperor Romanus Diogenes was ignominiously defeated (and captured) by the Turks at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, his nervous successor, Alexius Comnenus, pleaded with Pope Urban II to rescue the Eastern Empire from the Turkish invaders, and, in the same, breath, offered to reunite the Eastern and Western branches of the Christian Church. The offer was too tempting for Urban to resist. Sending bored barons and knights from Western Europe to the Mideast would put an end to their incessant local, territorial squabbles. It would also have a uniting effect on all of Western/Christian Europe, vastly increasing the power and influence of the Papacy.
The City of Jerusalem had been under the control of Arabs since the Islamic movement had begun in the Seventh Century. However, Christians, Jews, and Islamics all continued to occupy the area and, to a degree, tolerated each other. They had a lot in common. They all venerated the Old Testament and the prophets and progenitors named therein. Christians and Jews just failed to recognize the last great prophet, Muhammad. Christian pilgrims from Europe came to Jerusalem regularly, and, like tourists everywhere, were welcomed and treated well. However, Turks had zero tolerance for anyone outside the Islamic religion, and that was the problem. Their influence gradually made life for local Christians and Jews alike disagreeable and dangerous.
The first rescue effort (called the “Vanguard” or the “Peasants’ Crusade”), poorly organized and more intent in murdering local Jews than saving Jerusalem, arrived in Constantinople in 1096. Anxious to get rid of such an unruly mob, Comnenus delivered them to the Turks who, with their horse-mounted archers, effortlessly wiped them out. As a result, for hundreds of years afterward, the term “Byzantine” was used to describe a devious and untrustworthy ally.
The next year, a more orderly and prepared army arrived and immediately set out, capturing Antioch and ultimately Jerusalem itself (massacring most of its residents in the process). Called the “Barons’ Crusade” or the “First Crusade” (by now, everyone wanted to forget the Peasants’ Crusade), this army featured the vaunted French heavy (armored) cavalry as well as the crossbow. An enduring Christian presence was subsequently established in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. The daunting task of defending these Christian outposts would be the objective of subsequent crusades. All would ultimately fail, and, by 1300, Christian influence in the area ended permanently.
Arrows launched by horse-mounted archers had scant effect on armored French knights and their armored horses. But, bolts launched from crossbows outdistanced arrows and easily penetrated light armor used by Turks. Turks were also plagued by internal squabbles. In Antioch, the spear, said to be the one used to impale Jesus, was found and served as an effective rallying symbol for the crusaders. In fact, the “Battle of the Lance” routed Turks defending the city.
Crusaders received their decisive defeat in 1187 during the Battle of the Horns of Hattin at the hands of Salah ad-din Yusuf ibn-Ayyub. His people knew him as Al Nasir (“The Victorious”). Crusaders knew him simply as “Saladin.” Saladin was devoted to the Islamic faith and absolutely opposed to Christianity in any form. He was also a master strategist. At Hattin, Crusaders, out of water and suffocating within their armor, were first disconnected and then overwhelmed by Saladin’s mounted archers.
Saladin then went on to retake Jerusalem and ultimately dried up all Christian influence in the area. Crusades would go on for several more centuries, but Saladin’s victory at Hattin ultimately sealed the fate of the Holy Land.
Unhappily, Saladin sealed his own fate and that of his people in the process. He and his successors in the Islamic world suffered from “victory disease.” They continue to suffer from it to this day. Their abject hatred of Western/Christian Civilization caused them to unequivocally reject every Western influence. They fell hopelessly in love with their victorious horse-mounted archers, so much so that they resisted all advancements in military science from that point forward.
Following Hattin, Islamic control of land routs in the Mideast forced Western European powers, particularly England and Portugal, to harness wind power and develop a blue-water merchant fleet and navy. Rejecting all this, Arabs and Turks continued to use galleys and slave rowers, which left them out of the New World. Islamics also rejected gun powder and the new weapons it made possible. They became frozen in time, steadily falling behind the technological advancements of the Western World.
They received their first hint on Tuesday, 2 Feb 1509. The Sultan of Egypt dispatched a fleet of galleys to confront Portuguese ships that were sailing around the African Cape and plying the waters of India. Egyptian galleys made contact with Portuguese ships off the tiny island of Diu in the Gulf of Khambhat. Islamic sailors and marines aboard their galleys marveled at the tall-masted sailing ships, but they pressed their attack anyway. Before they got anywhere near the Portuguese, ship-mounted cannon blasted the Egyptian galleys to splinters! As a result of that and several other, similar incidents, the Egyptians were in shock. They finally, and reluctantly, realized that they had allowed themselves to fall hopelessly behind Western/Christian civilization.
Unfortunately, the response of the Islamic world was, and continues to be, more hatred, rejection, and isolation. This attitude has blunted the potential and aspirations of the descendants of Saladin and, in our time, brought about a new confrontation between the Islamic world and Western Civilization.
Lesson: Never be too sure you’re right. Rejecting useful technology on religious/ideological grounds will always lead to isolation and ruin. We must continuously face to the front and never allow ourselves to think that we are perfect and that improvement is thus impossible.
5 Mar 03
Locker room AD:
“Our department (suburban, Chicago) had an AD in our locker room recently. Gun involved was a G22 with 180gr HP (Gold Dot).
The single round went through the sheet metal locker shelf and back panel, three dry-walled walls (total of six layers of drywall), and across two hallways. It continued through an office (narrowly missing an officer sitting therein), ricocheted off the office floor (concrete) and then went up through an open doorway and penetrated a hallway ceiling tile, where it finally came to rest. It traveled a total of thirty feet. There were a few anxious moments but no injuries. The bullet’s hollow point cavity was plugged with drywall, and the only deformation was from its impact into the concrete floor.
The involved officer was not officially disciplined, but he did get a stern talking to by the chief and others. No report was made. Damage was quietly repaired. As far as the department is concerned, it never happened.”
Comment: The above is pretty standard when there is a police AD that does not involve personal injury. True statistics on police ADs can thus only be estimated.
Lesson: Heavy pistol bullets will render substantially more penetration than will light ones. In addition, slow HP pistol bullets will often plug up and subsequently fail to expand. The only way to solve the plugging problem is with increased velocity. Because of the foregoing, I don’t regard 180gr bullets (40S&W) to be the best choice for serious use. In 40S&W, I recommend 135-150gr HP bullets. I carry Cor-Bon 135gr PowerBall. No plugging problem there!
6 Mar 03
From a friend who just returned from Glock Armor’s School:
“The Glock NY2 (twelve-pound) trigger is ridiculous and really impairs good shooting. The standard NY trigger is recommended. The NY2 is not.
In order to pacify grasseaters in Maryland, Glock is redesigning extractors so that they protrude noticeably when there is a round in the chamber, forming, in effect, a ‘loaded-chamber indicator.’ All Glocks will now come this way, not just those sold in Maryland. This may have significant impact on holster design. New Glocks may not fit well in old holsters. Happily, this new, maladroit extractor can be replaced with a conventional one.
I certainly feel much safer now, how about you?”
7 Mar 03
Good comments on police ADs from a friend and well-know trainer:
“From my perspective, it is good that this department did not overreact, by instituting ‘clearing barrels,’ ‘gun-free areas,’ etc. Many state police academies are now ‘weapons free zones’ because of the concern over ADs. One facility (where I do training) now mandates that no firearms are permitted in any building, all because one cop had an AD in the bathroom. It only happened once.
The fact is, people are human, and when we have large numbers of armed individuals, the price we pay is that accidents happen. Through training, we minimize them, but they can never be eliminated completely. We have vehicle accidents too, but we don’t ban vehicles immediately after the first one. We consider them ‘lessons learned’ and then press forward.
In the face of elevated terrorist threats, any concentration of cops who are known to have been disarmed is an enormously desirable target. Such attacks have already happened with unarmed Marines in overseas facilities.
‘Gun-free’ zones are actually ‘criminal empowerment’’ zones, and we are going to pay a dreadful price if we allow them to become a trend.”
7 Mar 03
War in the Mideast:
In the last century, the country has paid a terrible price for failing to finish wars. Most wars don’t end in unconditional surrenders. Most wars fizzle out inclusively (only to resume years or decades later), because both sides get tired of fighting and lose their resolve.
The price paid for unfinished wars is what we now see going on in North Korea and in Iraq. Unfinished wars have to be fought all over again. For sixty years US troops have had to be stationed in Korea, because that war there was never finished. Now, it is rearing its ugly head again and will continue until the war (which started in 1950) is finally completed. Then president Truman said of that war, “Our troops are not there to win anything.” In so doing, he insured their failure and defeat. If we’re not there to “win,” we shouldn’t be there at all!
Thirteen years ago, the Gulf War was also left unfinished. The president and congress lost their collective nerve and stopped just short of victory. Now, we’re having to do it all over again.
Lesson: Don’t adopt the tactics of losers. When the stated goal of any military conflict is merely the preservation of the status quo, there is no possibility of victory. For the sake of those doing the fighting, and for the sake of those who will have to fight the same fight all over again if the issue is not resolved, the goal of all military action must be the unconditional vanquishment of the enemy. Anything less is a recipe for disaster.
12 Mar 03
I’ve been teaching a new gun/blade technique that I learned from some experienced defensive blade instructors in Africa, Mark Human and Kelee Arrowsmith, from the local AMOK system. It integrates well with what we’re doing already and is effective.
We position the blade in the weak-side hand much the same as we position the flashlight in the Harries Technique. The blade becomes, in effect, a bayonet, making it difficult for anyone to grab the gun without getting cut.
The user can thrust forward with the blade in conjunction with a verbal warning in order to keep potential gun snatchers at bay. The blade can also be use in a similar display to keep people from approaching from the sides.
When your blade makes contact with someone who gets too close, the verbal command that works best is, “You’re cut!. You need to go to a hospital.” That gets his mind off of fighting and onto his own situation, turning his thinking inward, rather than outward. A blade that is dead sharp (like those from Cold Steel) will cut grievously with little effort and often little sensation on the part of the recipient. However copious bleeding is easily seen once attention is called to it.
I have become convinced that this is a good technique that we should all have in our repertoire, as we all normally carry both a pistol and a knife. It (1) enables one to remain in control, both of the situation and of his pistol, (2) providing a substantial deterrent to close approach, and (3) effectively preventing anyone from executing a successful gun grab.
Knifes are becoming more useful all the time!
13 Mar 03
From a friend with the 101 ABN. Gun phobia continues on the front lines:
“I have now been here in Kuwait for two weeks, and not once have any of us been allowed to insert a magazine (much less chamber a round) in any of our weapons! We have all been graciously issued a small amount of ammunition (for immediate self defense, we’re told) but we’re prohibited from getting it anywhere near our weapons! Even senior officers are not allowed to have ammunition in their weapons. I use rubber bands to attach a magazine to my rifle. At least it is with the weapon and will be available quickly if needed. Of course, even that practice is frowned upon, but I do my best to make sure no one notices.
Sand blowing into empty magazine wells is also a big issue. We’re told to keep the dust cover closed, but not to put a magazine in the weapon, even an empty one. It makes no sense, of course, but I, for one, am not willing to tape my magazine well shut.”
Comment: If the training these guys have received is so great, why are they not allowed to be armed as front-line soldiers should be? Do we expect to be able to make an appointment for an emergency?
In spite of this universal “empty gun” policy, there have still been a number of injuries caused by negligent discharges in Army units, as well as with the Marines. So, with all these empty guns, accidents are still happening! One can only wonder if there would be any more accidents than there are already if all soldiers were trained, and expected, to carry and maintain loaded weapons all the time, and did so as a routine.
Not all dithering fools are confined to the UN!
19 Mar 03
Layers of response:
Years ago, Jeff Cooper delineated the “Color Code” and the “Principles of Personal Defense” in an effort to provide us with a logical model for one’s thinking on the subject of mental preparedness. I’d like now to go to the next step and apply the same logic to the issue of personal appearance and demeanor, as we all agree that, in the domestic defensive environment, avoiding a fight is preferable to winning one.
Layer One: Nonattendance. The best way to handle any potentially injurious encounter is: Don’t be there. Arrange to be somewhere else. Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t associate with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things. This is the advice I give to all students of defensive firearms. Winning a gunfight, or any other potentially injurious encounter, is financially and emotionally burdensome. The aftermath will become your full-time job for weeks or months afterward, and you will quickly grow weary of writing checks to lawyer(s). It is, of course, better than being dead or suffering a permanently disfiguring or disabling injury, but the “penalty” for successfully fighting for your life is still formidable.
Crowds of any kind, particularly those with an agenda, such as political rallies, demonstrations, picket lines, etc are good examples of “stupid places.” Any crowd with a high collective energy level harbors potential catastrophe. To a lesser degree, bank buildings, hospital emergency rooms, airports, government buildings, and bars (particularly crowded ones) fall into the same category. All should be avoided. When they can’t be avoided, we should make it a practice to spend only the minimum time necessary there and then quickly get out.
“A superior gunman is best defined as one who uses his superior judgment in order to keep himself out of situations that would require the use of his superior skills.”
Layer Two: Functional invisibility. We all need to practice to art of “being invisible.” It is in our best interest to go our way unnoticed, both by potential predators and by the criminal justice system alike.
Whenever I travel, particularly to foreign countries, I endeavor to be the one that no one notices; no one recalls; no one remembers. I silently slip through the radar, leaving no trace, a nameless, faceless tourist. When in any public place, I try to be clean and well groomed, but I never wear bright colors, any kind of jewelry, or anything shiny. I smile a lot, but talk softly and as little as possible. As we say in the law enforcement business, “Courteous to everyone. Friendly to no one.”
Loud talking, bright colors, Rolex watches, etc will consistently accumulate unwanted attention. On the other end of the spectrum, tattoos, poor grooming, loud and offensive language, a slovenly appearance, etc will also garner unwelcome notice.
Layer Three: Deselection. Any successful predator has the ability to quickly screen potential victims, focusing in on the ones who look as if they will make good victims and rejecting those who either (1) look too strong for expedient victimization or (2) don’t conveniently fall into any particular category.
When invisibility fails, we need endeavor to be consistently deselected for victimization. We do this by making it a habit to appear alert, uninviting, self-confident, and strong. At the same time, we never loiter or appear indecisive. We are always in motion.
“Weakness perceived is weakness exploited!”
Layer Four: Disengagement: Our best interests are not served by any kind of engagement with potential predators. Successful disengagement involves posturing, bearing, verbalizations, and movement. It is in our best interest to disengage at the lowest reasonable force level, but we must simultaneously be prepared to instantly respond to unlawful force with superior force.
Potential predators, as they attempt verbal engagement, should be politely dismissed. Bearing and eye contact should always project strength and confidence. We should continuously be moving off the “line of force.” We should be observant in every direction, giving potential predator duos and trios the distinct impression that they will not be able to sneak up on us.
When predators are confused, they are unable to focus sufficiently to carry off their victimization. Therefore, never let a potential predator seize the agenda. Don’t answer his questions, and don’t stay in any one place very long.
Disengagement, separation, and exit are our immediate goals when we have been selected or are being seriously evaluated by predators. However, if there is to be a fight, the best one is a short one. If a predator menaces me with a gun or a knife, I know that, before it is all over, there is a good chance that I will be shot or cut. However, within that prison of circumstance, I also know that the faster I can end the fight, the less hurt I’m going to get! If there must be a fight, I must explode into action, moving smoothly and quickly, in an effort to confuse and overwhelm my opponent before he has a chance to process all the information I’m throwing at him.
Ultimately, we must “have a plan.” Potentially dangerous encounters must be thought about in advance. Decisions must be made. Skills must be practiced. Confusion, hesitation, and vacillation will always attract the attention of predators and simultaneously stimulate predator behavior.
21 Mar 03
At a Women’s Defensive Handgun Course in Las Angeles last weekend, we had two students of exceptionally small stature. Together, they probably didn’t weigh more than 175 lbs, and both were slight of build, short, and had small hands.
Temperature was in the low fifty’s, chilly for LA, and it was raining. The combination of circumstances caused both women to be unable to pull the trigger on their SIG 239s (9mm) unless the hammer was manually cocked first. Using the middle finger as a reinforcement for the trigger ginger helped a little, but accuracy was poor.
Both women were able to pull the trigger on a G19, with much better accuracy, but the fat, double-column Glock grip was clearly too big for either of them.
A Kahr 9mm turned out to be the best compromise. Though not perfectly, both women could acquire an acceptable grip and simultaneously pull the trigger smoothly.
Happy to say that both women made up in resolve what they lacked in size and strength. Both made a good show.
Lesson: None of the foregoing would have come to light had we been shooting in warm temperatures and dry, sunny weather. Emergency equipment has to be suitable for all foreseeable circumstances. Icy determination and/or alternate shooting techniques (such as using two fingers to press the trigger or even manually cocking the hammer) may have to make up the difference when adverse circumstances make doing it the “regular way” impossible. Instructors must be sensitive to the foregoing. The goal of both the student and the instructor is the same: the improvement of the student. Instructors must inspire as well as merely showing the way.
“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
I’d rather you walk with me than merely tell the way
The eye is a better student, and more willing, than the ear
I find your counsel confusing, but your example is always clear!”
25 Mar 03
The Fourth Crusade and the Fall of Constantinople, June, 1205AD.
Crusades from Western Europe to the Mideast continued throughout the 1200s, including a pathetic “Children’s Crusade,” (1212) where thousands of children and gullible teenagers, convinced that the Mediterranean Sea would miraculously part and let them march through it, starved or froze to death before they ever reached the shores of the Mediterranean.
The Fourth Crusade (1202-1205) resulted from the disastrous failure of the Third Crusade to recapture Jerusalem (which had been captured and consolidated by the first Crusade then reconquered by Moslems). Once again, the original intent of the Fourth Crusade was to proceed with a vengeance directly to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. But, global politics got in the way:
By 1200AD, both Saladin (always in poor health) and his nemesis, Richard (“the Lionhearted”), had both died. Their truce had expired, and Moslems had resumed their (re)conquest of Western Christian vestiges in the Holy Land, as noted above. In France, predictably, a new Crusade was proposed, but its leaders decided to attack Moslem Egypt first instead of proceeding directly to Jerusalem. Egypt was fat, slothful, and its military was considered impotent. Much easy booty laid there for the taking. Afterward, of course, off to Jerusalem they would all go!
The autonomous port city of Venice on the Italian Peninsula was selected as the launch point. Crusaders would march from France to Venice, then set sail for Egypt. However, grand political intrigue developed between Enrico Dandolo, the elderly Doge (Duke) of Venice, Pope Innocent III, and the Crusaders themselves. Dandolo saw Venice’s influence expanding throughout Crete, Rhodes, and the entire Aegean Islands. Innocent III saw the Eastern Church finally coming under the influence of the Western Church. And, naive Crusaders saw Jerusalem recaptured and themselves getting rich.
Egypt was a strong trading partner with Venice, and Dandolo did not want to antagonize them, so he told the Egyptians not to worry about Crusaders (which he regarded as just another dreary invasion of barbarians), as he planned to divert them. As usual, Crusaders had arrived depleted in number and broke. In exchange for a fleet of ships and transport to Egypt, Dandolo asked the Crusaders to attack the Hungarian City of Zara. They agreed and besieged Zara, which surrendered and was quickly annexed by Venice.
Unfortunately, Zara was a Christian city. Upon hearing of the attack, Innocent III threatened to excommunicate all Crusaders for attacking other Christians. However, excommunication might be suspended if Crusaders would agree to go to the city of Constantinople, throw out the existing Byzantine rulers, and install a new ruler who would be aligned with the Western Roman Church. Of course, Byzantines were also Christian (albeit Eastern Christian), but Innocent thought that, after all, ultimate Christian consolidation was worth spilling a little Christian blood.
Gullible and confused, Crusaders allowed themselves to be thus used. On 20 Apr 1203 (Easter Sunday), the Fourth Crusade sailed off to Constantinople. Since the ill-fated “Peasants’ Crusade” had been double-crossed by Comnenus in Constantinople in 1096, the term “Byzantine” had been used to describe a devious and untrustworthy ally. These new Crusaders were anxious.
The expedition’s chronicler, Geoffroy de Villehardouin, described Constantinople:
“I can assure you that all those who had never seen Constantinople before gazed intently at the city, having never imagined there could be so fine a place in all the world! There was indeed no man so brave and daring that his flesh did not shudder at the sight.”
Sitting on the dividing line between East and West, Constantinople’s citizens had always considered themselves to be the Eastern Roman/Christian outpost. Since 330AD, Constantinople had been besieged by Goths, Huns, Slavs, Magyars, Arabs, and Russians. To their sorrow, all had found its famous double walls (on the land side) impregnable. In addition, across the harbor Byzantines had stretched a great chain.
The Crusader’s initial show of strength caused the city’s defenders to draw back. Crusader’s ships continually rammed the chain until it finally broke. A fierce struggle subsequently led to the capture of the city. Crusaders installed their new sovereign, but relations quickly soured, and the Crusaders were eventually driven from the city. They then attacked anew, the second attack of Constantinople within two years. This time, just as the attack was failing, a serendipitous gust of wind caused two assault ships to make contact with the city’s (single) defensive wall on the sea side. The wall was breached, and the attack was ultimately successful.
A new Roman-Church-friendly governor was installed in Constantinople. Donaldo was happy, as the Greek Islands were now under his influence. Innocent III was happy, because the Western and Eastern Churches were finally reunited. The Crusaders were happy, because they had a great victory to their credit (as might be expected, the reconquest of Jerusalem was, once more, shelved indefinitely).
However, happiness was short lived. In 1261, Byzantines recaptured Constantinople, permanently ending Latin occupation. Eastern and Western branches of the Christian Church split once more, never to rejoin again. By 1300, the entire Holy Land, including Jerusalem, was back in Moslem hands. In 1453, Moslem Turks captured Constantinople, renaming it “Istanbul.” By 1500, Western Europeans were worried more about keeping Moslems out of Europe than they were about military adventures into the Holy Land. The Age of Crusades had ended.
The big loser was the Roman Catholic Church. It had been lured away from its mission, abandoned its moral authority, and was seduced by wealth, power, and influence- all the worldly effects that seduce the rest of us. From the Fourth Crusade onward, the Roman Church worried more about the size of its armies and bank accounts than it ever had about the number of souls it saved. Like the Moslems it purported to despise, it henceforth enforced its will through violence instead of principled persuasion. The Roman Church fell (only too willingly) from its celestial throne, setting the stage for Martin Luther and the Reformation of 1520, disastrous religious wars that followed and immolated most of Western Europe during the 1500s and 1600s, and ultimately the end of the Holy Roman Empire.
Lesson: It’s easy to get sidetracked. All need a mission. Without one, we drift aimlessly. Treat it casually at your peril!
25 Mar 03
This is from a friend on the subject of the defensive shotgun. Excellent stuff:
What rate of buckshot dispersion is optimal? How fast is too fast (pellets off target)? How slow is too slow?
The prime missions of the shotgun are:
To defend against any EXPECTED, close range attack, and
To defend against moving targets (particularly in low light), within twenty-five meters.
I contend some dispersion is desirable. An excessively small pattern requires the same precision that I would need with a slug. It gives up too much flexibility when the target is moving and I am also moving. I like the classic “2cm/meter of range” dispersion rate of the typical “Police Cylinder” shotgun barrel. It renders a nominal 20cm diameter pattern at ten meters.
At a class last summer, a student was using a comp barrel and low-recoil 00 buckshot. At eight meters his “pattern” was one, ragged hole, too small for our purposes. By contrast, my pattern at the same range was 15cm (6″). Add movement of both your adversary and yourself, and you’ll appreciate the advantage of this dispersion rate.
For precision shots (at any range) or shots at a distances greater than twenty meters, I will opt for a slug anyway.
A screw-in device, called the “Wad Wizard” is becoming popular. Little “feet” catch and retard the plastic wad, so that it does not blow through (and subsequently be overtaken by) the shot pattern in flight. It gets rid of “flyer pellets” and greatly contributes to the homogeneity of the pattern.
Barrel porting is for a “game guns.” Close-in weapon retention firing techniques may require the support hand to grasp the barrel just proximal to the front sight. Porting would expel gasses directly into the hand. In my opinion, there is no place for porting on ANY defensive firearm.
I love shotguns (almost as much as rifles). Shotguns are optimal in the 5-20 meter range and (with slugs) can be pressed into service as a substitute rifle at ranges out to seventy-five meters.
Comment: He lays it out well. As a fight stopper, shotguns have no equal!
27 Mar 03
A student at a recent Defensive Shotgun Course used a Remington 870 in 20ga with a standard, bead front sight and no rear sight. Her technique was good, but she had difficulty striking rotating steel targets with enough force to cause them to rotate. She was using WW 2 3/4″ #3Bk. Range was eight meters. I could see that she was hitting the target, but it was barely moving. I asked to shoot her gun myself, and I easily rotated the target with only two hits. It then (finally) dawned on me what was happening:
Her ear muffs were preventing her from acquiring a correct cheek weld (by forcing her head too far up). In addition, the stock was too long. The combination of circumstances caused her to shoot high, as her eye was too high over the barrel. Even though she put the front bead on the target, she was consistently hitting the top edge of the target with the bottom edge of her pattern.
One of my instructors saw the problem and graciously lent her a set of slim ear muffs. She was then able to get a correct cheek weld (even though the stock was still to long), and she immediately starting rotating targets with the rest of us.
Had her shotgun been equipped with ghost ring or Express sights, or standard pistol sights, she probably would have been able to see and solve the problem herself much earlier.
Lessons: (1) Most shotgun stocks are too long for even an average-sized male. All are too long for the vast majority of females. Women’s shotgun (and rifle) stocks nearly always have to be shortened (sometimes by as much as three inches) in order for the shooter to be able to acquire a correct cheek weld.
(2) Defensive shotguns work best when equipped with Express or ghost ring sights. A front bead (with no rear sight) is surely usable, but it is not the best setup. If you have a shotgun with a bead front sight and no rear sight, as the weapon is mounted, if you can see the barrel at all, you’re going to shoot high. You should see the crown of the receiver and the bead sitting on top of it. You should not see the top of the barrel (or rib) at all.
(3) With the stock length adjusted properly and the gun equipped with reasonable sights, all female shooters I’ve seen are deadly with a shotgun! Twelve-gauge shotguns are unpleasant for shooters weighing less than 160lbs. However, we have had great success with 20ga shotguns in the hands of the most petite of female shooters.
27 Mar 03
Progress of the War in Iraq:
When I was in Africa several weeks ago, the adult daughter of one of my friends asked me, “Do yo really think the USA can defeat Saddam Hussein’s army?” Astonished that the question was even asked, I replied, “We’ll squash him like a bug!”
Weeks later, it is obvious to everyone in the Hussein regime that they are being systematically squashed. They are facing the same problem the North Vietnamese did forty years ago, and they are putting their utmost effort into the same solution. Resigned to the fact that they cannot win militarily, they are actively recruiting allies in the American and European press in an effort to win the battle in the arena of public opinion. They are hoping they can make things so hot for President Bush and PM Blair that they can force a negotiated settlement, which will ultimately leave the Hussein regime in power, just as they did at the (premature) end the First Gulf War a decade ago.
To their everlasting shame, the press is only too happy to oblige! American newspapers, from the LA Times to the NY Times, have become little more than the western extension of El Jazzera. Same with in the BBC in the UK and in much of Europe. Same with American broadcast media, ABC CBS, NBC, NPR, and especially CNN (the Fox Network is the sole exception).
It is painfully obvious that, if Al Gore were president, all the press and media above would think this was the most wonderful war in history! They would all be for it. The press loved Clinton and his gang of sleaze. Without exception, they defended him in every scandal (a nearly daily event during the Clinton years) and in every military adventure. To them, Clinton could do no wrong. The loved Clinton precisely because he was sleazy, and he therefore reminded them of themselves.
President Bush is a decent, truthful, and honest person. His administration has not been plagued by scandal, not one. He attracts decent and dignified people to his staff, not sleazy trash like the former administration. He is not a trashy Marxist, and that is why Marxists in the press hate him so hysterically and so irrationally.
The press is not opposed to this war. They couldn’t care less about the war or our troops. They’re just opposed to Bush. They’ll predictably hate everything he does. They want their sleazy trash friends back in power, and they will even stoop so low as to join hands with the Saddam Hussein in order to make it happen. They are a disgrace to their profession.
Fortunately, the Bush Administration continues to stand tall, because those who would tear it down lack the stature to reach it.
28 Mar 03
A friend e-mailed me today asking for a quotation on the subject of sighting in “black” rifles. He is doing an article for a police magazine. So popular are they, he indicated, among police and non-police alike, that manufacturers can barely keep up with demand. These days, everyone wants one, it seems, even though you’ll never hear about it from the news media.
Since 1994, many wonderful military rifles have been banned from import. Some states and localities have banned nearly all military rifles. However, most jurisdictions have not, and maybe it is time to look over what is available.
Serious calibers I recommend are 30-06, 308Win, 7.62X39Soviet, 30M1Carbine, and 223 Remington. Most black rifles these days are chambered for 223. I’ve editorialized many times on the inadequacy of the 223 as a military round, but for personal defense and domestic law enforcement, it is adequate, as is the 30M1 Carbine.
M1 Garand. M1s have not been banned from anywhere where you can still own any kind of gun. The rifle is big and clumsy, but what a warhorse! Chambered for 30-06, it is the biggest, heaviest, and most powerful individual rifle ever issued to troops, before or since. There are still plenty around, and they are easy to fix and work just fine. There is a learning curve on the reload, but, once one gets the knack of it, M1s reload plenty fast. Not a good choice for a small person, but still highly recommended.
1903 Springfield. Another great warhorse. Not an autoloader, but the bolt can be worked faster than most people think. As with the Garand, it can be owned nearly everywhere. The 30-06 round speaks with authority!
M1 Carbine. In my opinion, an ideal patrol rifle! Light, short, recoilless, has virtually no muzzle flash. Thirty years ago when I was a rookie patrolman, you saw M1 Carbines in many patrol cars. Today, they’re coming back! They are easy to fix, as there is an abundance of spare parts and spare magazines. The 30M1 Carbine round is limited to one hundred meters, but, in most cases, there is plenty of power to stop fights. Like the Garand and the Springfield, M1 Carbines are unregulated in most places. Ideal rifle for a small-statued person.
Kalashnikov. Chambered for 7.62X39 Soviet and made from China to Bulgaria, the Kalashnikov Rifle has marched around the world, and for good reason. Rude and crude by western standards, the Kalashnikov is reliable and supremely usable. Imported ones are full of sharp corners and edges, and, since 1994, they have not been imported. Neither has the Israeli version, the Galil, and the South African version, called the “R.”
SKS. Also chambered for 7.62X39 Soviet, the SKS is also rude and crude but supremely reliable. Also banned from import, although there are still a lot around.
Happily, many wonderful rifles are currently being made in America and are available right now at retail gun shops.
DS Arms: Makes a wonderful FAL. It is my favorite serious rifle. Pricey, but worth it. If you want a 308, this is a great way to go. Normal capacity magazines (20 rnd) are still plentiful and cheap. DSA customer service is second to none.
Springfield Armory: Still makes their M14 copy, called the M1A. Unhappily, normal capacity magazines are scarce and expensive.
Bushmaster, DPMS, Rock River Arms, and others: Make the famous AR-15. Lots of spare parts and normal capacity magazines available. The rifle is hard to beat. If intended for serious use, the extractor needs a “D” ring. The three manufacturers mentioned above are the ones I like. DPMS makes a short-stocked version popular with women.
Robinson Arms: Makes the wonderful RA-96, the most reliable 223 I own! It is my standard travel rifle, I am seldom without it. It takes standard, AR-15 magazines. Robinson Arms also makes the VEPR, which is an American-made (but upgraded) Kalashnikov, chambered for 223 and 7.62X39 Soviet.
Krebs Custom: Takes the Robinson Arms VEPR and essentially converts it into a Galil. Sharp edges and corners are gone. Excellent western sights. Excellent trigger. Everything works smoothly. Nice package.
Every able-bodied American citizen of good character should own a military rifle and keep it in a reasonable state of readiness. With the international situation as exciting as it is, many, it seems, are heeding the call these days!
29 Mar 03
On the M1 Carbine from a friend on active duty overseas:
“A good friend (old at this point), one of Merrill’s Marauders during WWII, dropped at lot of the Emperor’s men with that ‘little’ cartridge. He was one of the first to carry the gun and fought all through Burma with it, the Carbine and a Colt Government Model. For a man who later became a renowned diplomat, he killed a lot of guys.
He used to coach us, and I saw him handle a Carbine many times. Even at his age, he could pump out eight rounds in the blink of an eye and make all hits in the neck and head of an IPSO target. He was faster than any of the rest of us. In addition, he was great at shooting on the move, always in a crouch, either forward or backing up. He said when with the Marauders, you were either chasing Japs or getting chased. I learned a lot from that old man!”
30 Mar 03
The Forgotten Counterattack
The Normandy Invasion of June of 1944 had been a success, and by August the war was going favorably for the Allies. Americans were moving toward Paris. Patton’s Third Army was making headlines with lightning advances across Brittany. Even British General Montgomery was (slowly, as always) beginning to move at Caen. Operation Cobra had succeeded in capturing St Lo, despite two separate instances of miss-bombings by friendly aircraft.
The 30th Infantry Division had then taken the lead at St Lo. On August 6th, they relieved the 1st Division at the small French town of Mortain. The 30th did little more than assume prepared positions.
The 30th had only 57mm cannon and a unit of towed, 75mm rifles for use against tanks. These antitank guns were the last units to emplace. However, many of the prepared gun positions they took over were unsuitable for these low-mounted, towed weapons. Everyone was tired, and scant attempt was made to improve the positions, as all expected to resume the attack momentarily at first light. As exhausted soldiers of the 30th took over defensive positions, they were told by the departing 26th, “There are no Germans here.”
Having failed to stop the Normandy beach landings and Cobra breakout, German commanders were now desperate to halt the Americans, and Patton in particular. They calculated that the key to stopping Patton was to cut his supply lines. Recognizing this, Hitler, taking personal control, ordered a Panzer attack to cut through American supply routes. It was called “Operation Luttich.”
On mostly open ground, the right front of the American line was manned by C Company. August 7th began for the 30th with the sounds of moving vehicles to their foggy front. Out of the fog suddenly appeared a column of Panzers. C Company was quickly overrun.
The 30th reeled in an attempt to absorb and eventually stop the German advance. Their antitank gun in their poor positions were destroyed, one-by-one, while having little effect on invading German tanks. Most German tanks and armored support vehicles were ultimately stopped by artillery, air strikes, and individual soldiers with 2.5″ rocket launchers (Bazookas).
In an erie prototype of the Battle of the Bulge, the German tank advance stalled after only five kilometers. Out of ammunition and out of gas, surviving German tanks ground to a halt. Much time was lost as Hitler personally meddled in the command structure. Seeing an opportunity to exploit this clumsy and ponderous German commitment, Omar Bradley masterminded a successful encirclement. It would be known as the “Falaise Pocket.”
Many have asked why readers of WW II history seldom see or hear accounts of the 30th. The reason is that the division commander, Gen. Leland Hobbs, hated the press. “Heroes,” he said, “don’t need ‘coverage,’ just ammunition.”
Whenever you hear the words, “There is no enemy here,” never believe it! If your position needs improving, do it now, while you still can.
If your survival plan depends on help from others, you might not make it. The help upon which you’re depending may not materialize. Let your motto be, “Prepared for anything. Depending on nothing.”
As in most things, overall victory comes from the heroic efforts of individual patriots, the names of whom have long since been lost in history. “All this by gallant hearts is done. All this by patient hearts is born. And, they by whom the laurel’s won …are seldom they by whom it’s worn.”
31 Mar 03
Air Travel Problems:
I just talked with a friend this morning who has a bad experience at Houston International Airport. He was flying United from Houston to Chicago on Friday of last week. He properly declared his pistol in his checked baggage. He also had two charged magazines (1911, 45ACP). The gun (unloaded) was in a locked box inside the suitcase. The magazines were in a side compartment of the same suitcase.
The United ticket agent was in Nazi mode, and the federal TSA agents were as terrified of her as was everyone else, including her boss. She growled several times that she “just hates guns.” It was painfully obvious that she hates men too! When the gun was inspected, she personally removed all rounds from both magazines and announced (loud enough for everyone to hear) that they would be destroyed. No amount of quoting from the airline’s own regulations would dissuade her.
My friend demanded to see a unformed police officer. An HPD sergeant arrived, agreed with my friend that the ammunition was fine in magazines and that he was doing nothing wrong, but then added, “United owns this airport, and there is nothing I can do.”
My friend is filing a complaint with both United and TSA.
Lesson: This ticket agent, reflecting the antigun attitude of United and most other airlines, brings her gun-hating attitude to work with her. She patently believes gun owners need to be harassed out of existence.
Being in full compliance with all regulations is no guarantee that you will not be harassed and treated like a criminal. Those of us who travel with guns will have to continue to develop imaginative workarounds while Nazis like this woman operate unrestrained.
And United wonders why it is going out of business!
31 Mar 03
Vicki is doing a one-day Women’s Defensive Handgun Course in Pittsburgh, PA on 23 May 03 (Fri). If you know someone who would benefit, please have them get hold of Dr Tony Barrera (address below)
PO Bx 17942
Pittsburgh, PA 15235
412 559 3873