4 Aug 08
When running 22-rimfire conversions, advice from Doc Gunn:
“CCI 40-grain lead, round-nosed ammunition is best. 22/LR conversions require as much recoil energy as possible for consistent functioning, and all-36 grain loads are lacking. And, 40-grainers from Federal and Remington, though functional, are so dirty they gum-up the works in short order.
CCI Mini-Mag ‘Premium’ is best.”
Comment: 22/conversion, both after-market and OEM, have been spotty. Shooting 22RF ammunition surely represents a savings over shooting even ball, but it is not without its hazards, as we see.
5 Aug 08
Comments on 22/LR conversions, from a friend with much experience. He doesn’t mince words:
“22/LR conversions for both 1911s and Glocks, manufactured by Ciener, were utter failures with all ammunition, including recommended brands. Among other difficulties, supplied magazines are too tight to fit into Glock’s magazine well. ‘Customer Service’ is nonexistent, and the website and supplied documentation are so sparse and incomplete as to be useless. Several patient attempts to reach a live person failed, and their correspondence is insulting. No joy there!
Marvel’s unit is not much better, despite friendly, helpful people at the company. It will not feed reliably. They supplied several magazines, but all had tippy followers that caused monotonous nosediving of the first round. I gave up on them too.
Happily, the Advantage Arms conversion is great, but even it needs to be kept clean, shot with a firm hold, and fed exclusively recommended Remington Golden Bullet. Advantage Arms customer service is wonderful – articulate, polite, and competent/informed people. My copy is now well beyond 2K rounds and still running fine with all ten supplied magazines It also takes standard, and aftermarket, Glock sights – a very good thing!”
Comment: Advantage Arms is the way to go!
5 Aug 08
At an Urban Rifle/Shotgun Course in MI last weekend, we had two Ruger Mini-14s, several AR-15s (M4s) , a Kalashnikov, an MI Carbine, and a Garand. All ran fine, aside from an occasional hiccup.
My student with the Garand is a larger-than-average male with much gun experience. He is an seasoned supervisor with a large police department and has attended numerous Courses, with us and other well-known instructors, and he is a superb marksman and Operator.
This is not the first time we’ve seen him with his Garand (a long-ago birthday gift from his parents). He lives within the city limits of Chicago, and thus a Garand is one of the few genuinely capable military rifles that is legally ownable by those so unfortunate. Willfully naive and gun-stupid, City officials classify the Garand as a “relic,” and, unlike “black” rifles, it is thus mostly unregulated.
The Garand is a bruiser! It is the biggest, heaviest, most powerful military rifle ever issued to soldiers anywhere, before or since. When you bring a copy to one of our Courses, it will beat you up far more, and faster, than will lighter, more modern, rifles.
My student did fine for the first five-hundred rounds, but then fatigue set in, and he started pitching shots. Re-stoking it with eight-round clips became arduous and slow.
In any event, after five-hundred rounds, my student finally had enough! He could barely hold it steady. His shoulders (both- we require students to shoot from both left and right shoulders) were sore, and his thumbs were beat-up from constant reloading.
We substituted a Krebs Kalashnikov in 7.62X39, and he finished the Course, including passing his Practical Test, in good order. This Kalashnikov, like all of Mark Krebs’ rifles, ran superbly.
The lesson here is that all of us have limits! And, when you find yourself in “divide-overflow,” you need to make whatever changes are necessary and promptly get back into the fight! No matter what you do, it won’t be perfect, but your mind has to be constantly looking for ways to win! However, the more experience you have with a wide spectrum of guns, the more comfortable and confident you’ll be with whatever you find yourself armed with.
The Garand is a wonderful rifle, as is, for that matter, the ‘03 Springfield! I own several of each, as does every self-respecting American! But, when run hard, it will ware you down a good deal quicker than will a DSA/FAL, PTR-91, or even an SA/M-1A, much less an RA/XCR, M4, SIG/556, Kalashnikov, or Kahr/M1 Carbine.
That Garand is, I’m sure, guarding my student’s house as I write this. However, he now has experience with other, equally wonderful, rifles that are a good deal lighter and handier, at least in our domestic/defensive environment. When the moment of truth comes, he’ll emerge victorious, no matter what he is shooting. I’ve no doubt!
In World History, weapons come, but they never really go. They are all still with us! Over eons, there have been many, and each has a definitive set of skills associated with it. As time marches on, much of that knowledge has regrettably been lost. We none-the-less have great respect for all of them, and honor the mighty warriors who wielded them with such eminent skill and courage, as we are their spiritual descendants. Many of us are literal descendants!
However, in our time we have our own dreadful challenges, and they are ominously rushing upon us! We adore our past, but we don’t live in it!
Cogito, ergo armatum sum
“I think! Therefore, I am armed!”
7 Aug 08
Fear of Failure:
“Fear of failure” is often cited as the reason students sometime decline to take our Practical Test, or, for that matter, even come to one of our Courses. However, in my experience, it is often not fear of failure that paralyzes, but rather “fear of success!”
There is surpassing solace associated with perpetual failure. Expectations are always low, and there is little pressure to perform. That is the place where many are perfectly comfortable, so comfortable, in fact, they never want to be anywhere else! When one is successful, there is a sudden expectation that additional successes will follow. The pressure to produce a positive result is paralyzing, and fraught with fear, for the timorous. They shy away from promising opportunities for that reason, and thus miss out on many an adventure, and much of what life has to offer.
Accordingly, all of us need to boldly claim our inalienable “Freedom to Fail!” We all have the right to be wrong. That, in no way, meliorates the pain inexorably connected with consequences of poor judgement, but there is not, nor should there be, personal shame associated with making dumb mistakes, learning from them, and then promptly going forth to tomorrow’s victories!
Conversely, there is considerable personal shame, as well as psychological pathology, in (1) denying that it was a mistake and stubbornly insisting you’re perfect, (2) Pointing out that others have made the same mistake, so they’re just as guilty as you, and (3) Being too arrogant to humbly learn and repent, so that, as a result, you continue to blindly make the same mistake over and over.
“It’s nothing against you to be knocked down flat, but, to lie there, that’s a disgrace!”
Aspiring Operators must lose their fear of success, just as they must lose their fear of failure, even of death and dying. We fearlessly confront triumph and disaster, and “treat those two imposters just the same!”
Success comes from good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment. Logic is a cruel critic!
An Operator is one who makes decisions, some of which are right!
We learn from mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make them, but don’t keep making the same one. Learn and move on, assuming you’re still alive to do so (death is a wonderful learning experience, but you only get to do it once!). Experience is a hard teacher, because she first administers the Test. The lesson comes afterward!
Be aware that accidental “good results” (often through no fault of your own) often reinforce bad judgement.
Never give in to adversity. Never trust prosperity. And, never fail to take full note of Fortune’s irritating habit of doing exactly as she pleases, casually dismissing any “plan” of yours!
Chance favors the prepared.
Fortune, the bold.
Providence, the audacious!
8 Aug 08
Marc Richard, 1975-2008
Marc Richard, one of our Senior Instructors, died here in CO on 30 July 08, after being struck by lightning. He was only thirty-three, but wise for his age and invaluable on the gun-range. His gentle, but definitive, teaching style brought True Enlightenment to countless students. We miss him dearly!
Marc and his father, Jack (also one of our Instructors), came to us in WY in 1993, anxious to learn about serious shooting. Marc was the kind of person for whom nearly anyone would develop an instant liking. More than most, he approached True Goodness. We’ve been doing Classes together ever since!
Marc never asked for guarantees, nor did he ever give less than 100%. He was someone upon whom I could always count. He lived a full life, though cut short, and I am honored to have been part of it.
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
“Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul, rain or shine,
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself, upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.”
Rest in peace, Partner! Rest in Peace.
13 Aug 08
Springfield Armory XD/M
I’ve been carrying and using an SA/XD in 40S&W for a number of months now, and I have no complaints. Even with minimal maintenance, I can’t get it not to run, and it effortlessly digests DPX and Gold-Dot, as well as all varieties of garbage-ammunition I’ve fed it during Courses. It is a thirteen-shooter (twelve, plus one), so, with a single spare magazine, I routinely carry twenty-five rounds. I now rank it in the same league with Glock, SIG, Beretta, S&W, and H&K, and I have no compunction about carrying it for personal protection.
Now, I have a copy of SA’s new XD/M! It is a half-inch longer than my XD, but all other dimensions are essentially the same. It is smoother and less cluttered than the XD, as sharp corners and edges have been essentially eliminated. The slide is no longer blocky. It is now nicely rounded. The XD/M’s slotted rail easily accommodates my Safariland Rapid-Light and my Surefire Weaponlight.
Other new features include variable grip-geometry. This feature, pioneered by S&W with their M&P pistol, is extremely popular with chiefs of police, as the pistol can be instantly “customized” with regard to hand-size. The XD/M comes with three inserts. I have the smallest of the three installed on my copy.
Trigger take-up is slightly stiffer than on the XD. Break is the same, but the XD/M’s link is less deep, allowing for a quicker reset.
The most significant improvement, in my opinion, is capacity. The XD/M is no wider than the XD, and the grip is the same length, but the XD/M is a seventeen-shooter (sixteen, plus one)! With the pistol and one spare magazine, I’m now carrying thirty-three rounds of 40S&W/DPX, rather than twenty-five. That represents a thirty-two percent increase in capacity over the conventional XD and most other double-column 40S&W pistols, a substantial advance!
The XD/M’s magazines are slightly wider than the XD’s, and the two, although they look similar, are not interchangeable.
The XD/M comes apart the same way. No dry-fire required.
The XD/M is comfortable, smooth, slick, and high-capacity. SA deserves a lot of credit for making all these improvements and boldly introducing this new pistol. I’m now comfortably carrying it concealed in a Comp-Tac Minotaur Holster. I’ll be giving it a thorough workout at a Course in WA this weekend.
More to follow.
14 Aug 08
Second Battle of Adobe Walls, Texas Panhandle, 27 June 1874 (Saturday)
By the 1870s, commercial buffalo hunters were invading Oklahoma and Texas as once-massive buffalo herds in Kansas and Colorado gradually thinned out. Buffalo robes continued in high demand on the East Coast and in northern Europe, still in the grip of the “Mini-Ice-Age.”
Area Indians, mostly Comanche, correctly looked upon the arrival of buffalo hunters in Texas as the beginning of the end of their free-roaming existence. There had heretofore been scant accommodation between Comanches and stubborn Texas settlers, and, after countless violent encounters, there was no chance for any species of “peaceful co-existence.” Armed conflict was inevitable, unavoidable, and relentless until one side or the other was defeated decisively. Sometimes, that is just the way it is!
In 1864, Colonel Kit Carson had led a small contingent into the area and had fought an inconclusive battle with Comanches at an abandoned trading post near present-day Borger, TX, called Adobe Walls. That was the “First Battle of Adobe Walls.” Adobe Walls had been an on-again/off-again commercial settlement since 1845, and Comanche Indian attacks had been more or less continuous ever since. As a result, the outpost had been abandoned and resettled numerous times.
Since then, a charismatic Comanche warrior (actually a half-breed), named Quana Parker (“Parker” was his White mother’s maiden name, she having been captured by Comanche as a child) emerged at a powerful chief. Like Little Turtle, Pontiac, and Tecumseh before him, Parker possessed eminent diplomatic acumen, a rare talent among Indians. He had decided to forcefully oppose further incursions of his territory, but in an organized way. His persuasive powers, along with those of his spiritual councilor Isa-tai, insured that various sub-tribes were all on-board.
By the 1870s, Adobe Walls was serving as an intermittent rendevous point, and supply base, for itinerant buffalo hunters and their entourages. In the summer of 1874, persistent rumors of yet another Indian attack had caused most Adobe Walls’ residents to flee. On Saturday, 27 June 1874, there were only twenty-eight occupants, nearly all of them heavily-armed, hard-bitten, individual hunters, including a young Bartholomew (“Bat”) Masterson and crack-shot, Billy Dixon.
Parker descended upon Adobe Walls at dawn on Saturday with several hundred mounted warriors. Their sincere intent was to wipe out the post and massacre everyone in it. The siege lasted four days, but the heavily-armed buffalo hunters, with plenty of ammunition, held out the entire first day, inflicting hefty casualties on the Indian force with their Sharps Buffalo Rifles (50-70, 50-90, 44-77). Because of their exceptional accuracy, the hunters were able to establish an expansive “stand-off” zone that Indians were unable to successfully penetrate. Thus prevented from getting close enough to inflict damage, the Comanche were slowly defeated in detail. Comanche warriors quickly learned, to their dismay, that, once in the sights of a buffalo-rifle, they were as good as dead!
A common Comanche tactic was for the individual warrior to gallop parallel with the buffalo-hunter’s defensive line, firing his rifle from behind his horse, using the horse’s neck for cover. Mongolian and Hun warriors did the same thing, with bows and arrows, centuries earlier. But, naive Comanche had little experience with big buffalo-guns and the crack-shot hunters who carried them. Heavy Sharps calibers were powerful enough to shoot through both horse rider! In any event, rider and horse were inevitably sent sprawling onto the ground. The horse nearly always died, and the dazed Indian rider was instantly gunned down the moment he stied to stand up.
By the end of the second day, due to critical loss of warriors and horses, the assault was substantially crippled. By the forth day, with reinforcements arriving at the post, a dejected and despondent Parker abandoned the siege.
The contingent of beleaguered hunters suffered four fatalities, one the result of an AD! Indian fatalities probably totaled fewer than one-hundred, but many irreplaceable horses were also killed.
The Battle is most famous for a single, long-range shot made by a young buffalo hunter, named Billy Dixon. Using his 50-90 Sharps Rifle, Dixon fired the shot at a group of Indians on horseback on a distant hill. The Indians, naively confident they were well out of range, were stationary. The single bullet literally fell from the sky and struck one of the warriors, knocking him off his horse, probably fatally injuring him. His comrades were dumbfounded and horrified! They dragged his body off and withdrew. The range was in excess of one-thousand meters, and even Dixon himself later admitted it was a “lucky shot.” However, added to the rest of the deadly-accurate fire unrelentingly emanating from the post, this event broke the spirit of the attackers.
Three years later, Parker surrendered what remained of his Tribe to the US Army. The continuing threat to settlers that he represented, ended forever. However, Parker himself, adopting well to his new circumstances, became a financially successful “reservation Indian” and, like Sitting Bull of the Little Big Horn, a successful politician. He died in of natural causes in 1911.
Bat Masterson would go on to gain notoriety in Kansas as a lawman, and later, in New York, as a newspaper sports-writer!
On 12 Sept 1874, less than two months after the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, an ever-heroic Billy Dixon, along with five others, held off yet another Indian attack, this one at the famous “Buffalo-Wallow,” for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Buffalo-Wallow Fight was later immortalized in a famous Frederick Remington painting.
Billy returned to Adobe Walls years later, by then a bustling town, and settled down, becoming Postmaster and eventually Sheriff. He died in Oklahoma in 1913.
The foregoing heroic deeds, along with many others from the era, are mostly forgotten today. It was a wild time indeed, and the dauntless heroes of that age remind us all today (at least some of us) of our wondrous warrior heritage, and of the unpredictable course of world history!
Lessons: Accurate, individual rifle fire is absolutely indispensable, irreplaceable! There is no substitute for it, and, without it, wars cannot be won. In order to win decisively, enemy soldiers must be gunned-down, one at a time, by courageous and superlatively competent marksmen, who are up front, using real rifles. Accomplished and supremely confident individual riflemen thus represent the cornerstone of all victorious armies, and always will!
As a civilization, we de-emphasize their importance, and the importance of the Art of the Rifle, at our peril!
19 Aug 08
I now have copy of Robinson Arms’ XCR, in 7.62X39. Thirty-round magazines that go with it are manufactured by C-Products and are in good supply. As is my preference, mine is set up with LaRue BUIS, front and rear, and a Micro Aimpoint just behind the front sight, on LaRue’s famous Quick-Detach mount. I also equipped it with an excellent Vickers two-point sling from Blue-Force Gear, making good use of Blue Force Gear’s famous Wire-Loops to suspend the sling from the top of butt and from the left rail. Finally, I have a Safariland Rapid-Light affixed to the right rail, near the front. This XCR is eminently ready for serious service!
I ran one-hundred rounds of Cor-Bon 123gr DPX (7.62X39 DPX is now available from Cor-Bon) through it last weekend, and, as expected, the rifle functioned perfectly, much like my other XCRs in 6.8mm SPC and 223.
Light, reliable, handy, deadly accurate, and fast, this rifle is hard to beat as a travel gun. In fact, I just flew with it on a commercial flight to and from the West Coast, so I could have it with me while away from home. With its folding stock, it travels by air just fine, and I was delighted to have it close by! Combined with my Springfield Armory XD/M, Kahr PM45 (both in Comp-Tac holsters), and several Cold Steel and Emerson blades, it put me in a good position to take care of myself!
This is a serious, 300m rifle, with substantial penetration! With DPX ammunition, it make a formidable weapon. I’ll be hunting with it this fall.
19 Aug 08
A good friend will soon be publishing a book on shooting schools, and he has asked many of us currently teaching this Art to write a few paragraphs on what one should expect from such instruction. Here is my contribution:
“With regard to shooting/tactics instruction , at the top fo the list of “advice” is this: Don’t put it off! We are plummeting headlong into some exciting World History, and the Art that we teach, like so many other critical life-skills, defines the thin membrane the separates the Quick from the Dead!
When you walk into Class, leave your ego outside. Come to learn. Come to work. Neither your instructor, nor your fellow students, are interested in how wonderful you are, nor in the fact that you think it should be you who is teaching the Class! Not everyone in the Class will start at the same level, but all need to have a healthy, discerning, and enthusiastic learning attitude.
Don’t come with the expectation of being entertained, nor to have “fun,” nor to relax. Competent instruction is never relaxing. It is hard, grueling work, and the purpose is not to make you look good. That is of interest only to the shallow and self-centered. Competent instruction is always a tempestuous mixture of success and failure. Real learning takes place when you fail! Little is ever learned from success, but there needs to be enough of it to keep students motivated and moving forward. When success is always easily attained, you are simply striving toward the insignificant!
Your instructor should always lead the way, live-demonstrating every drill. You need to see it done, and know it can be done, before starting to learn how to do it yourself. Instructors who hesitate to boldly step forward and lead/show/demonstrate the way are always suspect!
Understand that some of the instruction will be dry. We try to make it as interesting and exciting as we can, but, in order for you to be a well-rounded and competent Operator, you need to be intimately acquainted with a wide spectrum of subjects and skills. Some are more interesting than others, but all are important.
Finally, expose yourself to as many good instructors as you can. None of us are perfect, nor does any one of us have a complete understanding of the True Way. We are students too!”
20 Aug 08
Flying with guns:
Many have asked me about flying with guns via commercial airlines. They want to be armed after they arrive at their destination.
I do it a lot! Yes, tin helps, but not as much as you might think. Neither airline clerks, nor TSA employees, have any particular regard for local, peon police officers.
Here are my recommendations:
Most of us know that guns must be unloaded and packed in a hard case that is individually locked, in order to satisfy TSA regulations for air-transport in checked baggage. The hard, plastic case that your pistol came in will probably suffice, as most are now lockable. Trigger locks are not required, nor are they recommended.
Pistols locked in the box need to be unloaded (no round chambered), dry-fired, and with magazines removed and placed elsewhere in your luggage. Even empty magazines, when inserted into unloaded pistols, have been known to “confuse” TSA inspectors. And, when you’re in a place where high-capacity magazines may be an issue, removing them from pistols and putting them elsewhere in your luggage is a good idea. TSA may look at your guns. They rarely look at magazines. TSA doesn’t care about state and local restrictions, but when local police become involved, problems could develop. Best that you not attract their attention!
SIG makes a superior air-transport box, and it is the one I use, no matter what pistols I’m traveling with. It can be locked so that it cannot be opened even a crack without first undoing the locks. To lock it up, I use cable locks that now come with most new guns. SIG’s shipping container is compact, yet big enough to hold two pistols in foam-padded comfort. I don’t recommend traveling with just one gun. Guns break unexpectedly sometimes, and, when they do, you’ll be glad you have two!
The locked box then goes inside your ordinary-looking luggage, so there is no external suggestion that there are guns inside. Your luggage should then also be locked. Best locks to use are “TSA locks” to which TSA has access via special keys. Using them makes it unnecessary for TSA to cut locks off your luggage, which they will do without much ceremony!
I usually travel with three, twenty-round boxes of high-performance pistol ammunition. Unlike guns, it does not need to be in a locked box. Ammunition in factory (cardboard or plastic) boxes (so long as cartridges are individually contained) works just fine. Quantity is supposedly restricted, usually by weight, so there is a limit, but sixty rounds is no problem. Ammunition may also be transported in charged pistol and rifle magazines, so long as the top, exposed round is covered. I transport charged magazines (both pistol and rifle) fully inserted in their Comp-Tac belt carriers and then tucked into a padded case.
Every airport is different! After declaration, sometimes the airline clerk wants to see your guns. However, they mostly have no interest and just ask you to sign the tag, put it in your luggage, and then send you to off TSA. Sometimes, they want the tag inside the gun-box itself. Most of the time, they don’t care where you put it! TSA will then x-ray your luggage and may want to physically look inside the gun box itself.
When flying with a large carrier, like United, it is best to go to the “Odd-Size” luggage counter. The folks there are used to checking-in guns. When “declaring,” I matter-of-factly (but softly) say, “I have unloaded guns in my checked baggage.” In airports like DIA, where they do it a lot, it is no particular event. In airports like Newark, JFK, et al, reaction may be more animated. Folding knives and sheath-knives (secured in sheaths), expandible batons, saps, etc are best put in a padded gun-rag, inside checked luggage. No need to mention them.
When dealing with TSA, and bureaucrats in general, the secret is, “Don’t-fail-the-attitude-test!” You will come out on the losing end of any power struggle, so don’t even go there! So long as you’re civil, non-threatening, and refrain from whining, TSA folks will actually try to help you. However, don’t be chatty, and don’t answer questions that weren’t asked. Be polite, but exceedingly boring. Be clean, reasonably well-groomed, and have an otherwise “normal” appearance. They’ll quickly lose interest in you! “Standing-out,” for any reason, is the last thing you want to do when traveling!
You won’t be able to carry guns nor ammunition onto the passenger area of the plane, of course, but there are other useful items you might want in your carry-on bag:
A small flashlight. I travel with my Firstlight Tomahawk all the time, also my Blackhawk Gladius, and various Surefires. Sharing space in my carry-on, I also have an electric toothbrush and an electric shaver. When my checked bags don’t make it to my destination, I can at least shave and brush my teeth! TSA has never expressed concern with, nor interest in, any of the above.
When flying, I wear steel-toed safety boots. They are formidable weapons! With a single kick, I can effortlessly break a shin or an ankle, essentially immobilizing my opponent, all with no risk to my own foot. Nevertheless, my boots have been x-rayed hundreds of times, and TSA thinks they’re just fine! My Cold Steel City Stick also travels with me, and it, too, has been x-rayed more time than I can count. No prescription is needed for a cane. I also have a Cold-Steel Sharkie in my carry-on, along with an ST ActionPro Talon. Both have been with me on dozens of flights, and, since there is no metal in either, TSA has never even looked at them.
My concern is, of course, being able to effectively defend myself between when the plane arrives and when I can reclaim my checked luggage, and then find a private place to re-arm myself. Airport parking lots, at night, are fraught with danger! Mugging suspects like them, because they believe all their potential victims there are unarmed. It’s a lot safer than mugging people downtown!
Columbia makes an upscale 36-inch “Wheeled-Duffel” that is perfect for transporting rifles. An M4 with the stock telescoped all the way in, and nearly any folding-stock military rifle with the stock folded, can be accommodated. The rifle is locked inside a 32-inch hard case, and the case then goes inside the duffel. In addition, I carry a soft-fabric viola case for low-profile rifle transport after I arrive at my destination and subsequently need to go about without the hard case.
The foregoing applies to domestic air-travel. Flying internationally is a different subject. When I travel overseas, my local friends see that I am well-armed after I arrive. Accordingly, I don’t transport guns on international flights.
There is, of course, a risk that checked baggage will be pilfered or lost. It has surely happened. You can purchase insurance for the trip, but I usually don’t bother, as it takes a lot of time, and such risks are something that, in the end, we all have to accept.
I usually arrive at the airport a minimum of two hours before flight-time. With that buffer, I’ve never been rushed.
After 9/11, I made a change in my personal philosophy. I decided that I’m not going to travel without a rifle! I’ve always traveled with pistols, but I’m now concerned about being stranded in a strange place with only pistols for personal protection.
When you fly with guns, the System will grudgingly accommodate you. You just have to do the best you can to make it work. Of course, there are risks inherent to traveling with guns. On the other hand, there are risks associated with traveling without guns too!
22 Aug 08
Near-incident, from a friend and Instructor in the Midwest:
“Last week, I pulled into our Gun-Club Range entrance in order to unlock the gate. It’s a remote gun-range, with only one road leading to it. There is a farmhouse nearby, so, unless you’re going to the range, to the farmhouse, or are lost, there’s no reason to be on that road.
I was meeting a student there, but she hadn’t arrived yet. Suddenly a red sports-car appeared on the road and drove past me. As it did, the driver looked over and gave me what I can only describe as a ‘dirty-look,’ as if he knew me. But, he was a complete stranger to me, and I surely didn’t recognize him.
I went over to the gate to unlock it. The red sports-car, instead of driving on down the road, stopped, turned around, and pulled up to my car, bumper to bumper. The driver got out and faced me. He was a white male, wearing a dingy T-shirt that had what looked like a badge pinned to it. He immediately started talking, saying his ‘uncle’ was meeting him at the range. I asked what his uncle’s name was, as, if he is a member, I probably know him.
He abruptly changed the subject, saying that, since he was ‘military and law-enforcement,’ he didn’t think anyone would mind if he used the range. I didn’t see a gun on him, nor could I see one in his car, but his sleazy appearance and disquieting demeanor put me on alert. Assuming an interview-stance, I said, ‘What police department are you with, Bud?’ Not answering, he looked around nervously, then hurriedly returned to his car and drove off!
A half-hour later, the people who live at the farmhouse, whom I’ve met and recognized, ran over in a panic, saying that someone had just shot one of their horses! Police were soon there, and I gave them a description of the red sports-car and driver, who was, as it turns out, the chief suspect.
Monday, this very person I had encountered that evening was confronted and arrested by our SO’s Tactical Team. He confessed to shooting the horse and to a number of other misdeeds. As it turns out, he was not (and had never been) a police officer. Quite the contrary! He has an extensive, violent, criminal record and, in fact, had several active, felony warrants when he was taken into custody. Wanted posters described him as ‘armed and extremely dangerous.’
He had attempted to extort money from the farming family who live near the range, and had apparently shot their horse in order to punctuate his demands for cash!
Of course, I knew nothing of this when I confronted him that evening on the range road. However, his behavior did set off my internal alarm. At the time, I was carrying my SA/XD (concealed) in my lightening-fast Kytac/BraveHeart holster. Being one of your students, I practice with both regularly. Had he tried to harm me, he would have found himself in the fight of his life!
I never go unarmed, but this incident reminded my of why. If this person had produced a gun or knife in a threatening manner, a gun in my car, even as close as five feet, would not have been in a high-enough state of readiness to save my life!”
Lesson: Yet another excellent illustration of the tactical principle:
There will be no time to “get ready.”
You have to “be ready,” or be prepared to accept murder/mayhem at the hands of VCAs who will sometimes cross paths with you, no matter how careful and foresighted you try to be!
23 Aug 08
On the 6.5 Grendel rifle cartridge, from an instructor and small-arms design engineer:
“In testing the 6.5 Grendel round though the existing AR-15 platform, we’ve discovered that the two don’t mix! I wrecked our test copy within just a few hundred rounds, disintegrating the two locking-lugs on either side of the extractor, and this was all with the manufacturer’s recommended ammunition. The 6.5 Grendel is just too much for the AR!
When you open-up the AR’s bolt-face in order to accept the 7.62×39 case-head, the process weakens already delicate locking lugs to the point of impotence. I know you, and most others, have also had poor experience with AR-15s chambered for 30/Soviet (7.62X39). It’s the same problem!
Ballistically, the 6.5 Grendel is an impressive round, to be sure. It will probably run fine in an XCR or some other, more robust, rifle. However, with the existing AR-15 platform, the biggest thing we’re going to be able to shove through it is the 6.8/SPC, and even that cartridge pushes the System’s limits.”
Comment: The entire Stoner Rifle was designed around the 223 cartridge, and that is the one with which it runs best, the way Eugene Stoner, and (apparently) God, intended! AR-15s in any other caliber are fraught with problems, as we see, and are thus not recommended!
25 Aug 08
Shooting details (223) from an LEO friend on the West Coast:
“A shooting incident occurred here at 4:00pm yesterday afternoon. Two of our local gang-members were standing at an ice-cream truck, when a vehicle, containing two rival gang-members, pulled up. During the standard insult-exchange, a rifle barrel precipitously appeared in the passenger window. We believe a total of four rounds were fired from the rifle at the two victims. In any event, we found four 223 casings at the scene. The offenders immediately drove away at the requiem ‘high-rate-of-speed.’
The two victims were both struck. One was hit once. The other, twice. Range was close. We still don’t know what became of the forth bullet. Both shoot-ees will apparently live through it, but their wounds were grievous and will likely result in permanent disability, and, without a doubt, permanent disfigurement!
One suffered a hip and leg wound. The other a single wound in the lower leg. All but one of the bullets went through-and-through. The first victim had already been transported by paramedics prior to my arrival, but he was conscious and talking clearly when my guys first arrived.
When I got there, the second victim was still at the scene. The single round entered the inside of his lower, left leg, midway between ankle and knee. The exit wound was of particular interest. Yes, it will leave one hell of a scar, and crater! The length of the exit wound was as long as my stretched-out hand. I would use the term, “gaping” to describe it. That bullet removed/vaporized a sizeable chunk of tissue, as well as pulverizing several inches of leg bone! I was told the first victim also had a big chunk of meat missing in the area of the exit wound!
Both victims were conscious and clear (though in pain) for ten minutes, which is the time it took for our first patrol units to arrive at the scene. In fact, both were still animated and talking a half-hour later when they were transported.
At our local general hospital, both victims were immediately ushered into surgery. The one bullet in the first victim that did not exit showed up clearly, in profile, in an X-ray. Looks like 55gr hardball to me! Our hospital is the place you want to go when you’re shot or stabbed. They have a wealth of experience! Unfortunately, when all you have a broken leg, expect a 24-hour wait!
The two shooting suspects are still at large, but we have good information, and we will likely be arresting both today.
Neither of the two victims were armed at the time, so neither returned fire. It was a one-way fight!”
Lessons: (1) Unless vital organs are struck, even rifle wounds are not immediately debilitating. When you want the fight to be short and decisive, you must hit the body midline, above the navel, or hit the cranium.
(2) When it is you who has been hit, it is going to hurt, but keep fighting. In fact, it is going to hurt no matter what you do, so focus on decisive victory and get back in the fight!
(3) When people are engaged in an aggressive, verbal confrontation, get out of there fast! Gunshots are often heard in the midst of such arguments, as we see.
(4) Go armed! When someone shoots at you, be in a position to return fire instantly. Yes, also move and take cover, but get deadly-accurate return-fire on the threat without delay. That is what will ultimately save your life!
25 Aug 08
In their enthusiasm for capitalizing on what they sincerely hope will be the successor to the military 5.56X45 cartridge, Remington went through several consecutive updates of original 6.8/SPC chamber specifications before submitting the final (and current) specifications for the new cartridge to SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) for its official acceptance and induction. Without a blessing from SAAMI, any new cartridge will quickly become an orphan, and this fact is well known by all ammunition manufacturers.
The process for the 6.8/SPC took over a year. During that time, other ammunition manufacturers, not willing to wait, started making 6.8/SPC, and much of it does not conform to the final set of specifications for the cartridge. Likewise, some gun companies made rifles chambered for this new cartridge, but on a stale set of specifications. These developments are not atypical for a new cartridge, but, as a result, some ammunition will render poor accuracy in some rifles, and, more of a concern, some rifles may experience pressure spikes with some ammunition, resulting in split cases and blown primers.
By now, all manufacturers of rifles chambered for 6.8/SCP should be using Remington’s final, and official, set of specifications. Likewise, ammunition manufacturers. Accordingly, all currently-produced rifles will run with acceptable accuracy and chamber-pressure with all currently-produced ammunition.
The 6.8/SCP case was specifically designed to feed reliably in automatic, military weapons and, unlike the 5.56X45 it is anticipated to displace, it is big enough, and has the adequate range and penetration, to function as a legitimate main-battle cartridge. It is just what we’ve been needing for forty years!
The 6.8/SPC will adapt to the current AR-15 platform more readily, with fewer modifications, and with fewer durability issues than any other eligible cartridge. The issue with the Stoner System is, and always will be, tiny, inherently weak locking lugs and a weak cam-pin. Both crack and eventually break more often than is the case with most other military rifles. By contrast, the XCR’s and Kalashnikov’s bolt and bolt-carrier are much stronger and vastly superior.
Since 5.56X45 represents a military adaptation of the previously-existing, civilian 223/Remington, we’re permanently stuck with two sets of chamber specifications that are similar, but not identical. However, the 6.8/SPC began life as a strictly military round. Thus, a “civilian version” of the 6.8/SPC, and all the toxic issues that invariably attach, should never see the light of day!
I’ve hunted pigs, deer and other animals with my XCR (Cor-Bon DPX), chambered in 6.8/SPC, and I really like the cartridge. It has a bright future if someone at the Pentagon will move forward with it.
I like Cor-Bon, mostly because they do not, in a cynical attempt to attract the patronage of non-serious shooters, make wimpy ammunition, in any caliber. When you use Cor-Bon ammunition, it is always going to be hot, high-performance stuff. Not recommended for use in “play” guns! The president of Cor-Bon is a voting member of SAAMI, so he is always current. There are many other fine domestic ammunition manufacturers, but Cor-Bon is solidly, consistently at the top of the list.
I also like courageous American gun-makers, like Robinson Arms, DSA, SabreTech, Krebs (and others with whom I am less familiar), who don’t apologize for making legitimate, military rifles. DSA, RA, SabreTech, and Krebs rifles are all designed from the beginning as serious, rugged, battle weapons, the only kind I want when I’m fighting for my life, an activity in which we may all be participating sooner than we think!
When the Test comes, pray you and your Crew have robust, reliable weapons and effective ammunition, not glib, impotent toys that were never designed to do the Job, nor bear the strain!
25 Aug 08
Rifle-Sling Issues, from an LEO friend in the Mid-West:
“We were called to a ‘shooting-in-progress’ at a local, sleazy bar last week. I was patrolling on a motorcycle, and I was the first officer on the scene. As I dismounted, I retrieved my Kel-Tec SU-16, 223 Rifle (the only rifle I’ve found that is small enough to fit in my saddle-bag), extended the stock, chambered a round, and entered the bar. I had to fight my way through the stream of people trying to get out!
I could smell the gunpowder, and I saw one victim laying on the floor, bleeding, and several other bar patrons standing over him. I didn’t see any guns, but I pointed my rifle at the first one I encountered in the vicinity of the victim and ordered him to get down on the floor. He complied immediately. I then turned my attention to the second one and issued the same order. He said nothing, but it was obvious from his body language that he had no intention of complying. So, I grabbed his collar with my left hand and jerked him off his feet, forward and down.
It all worked fine, until, in a panic, he extended both his arms in order to break his fall. One of his arms threaded its way through my rifle sling, and, as he fell forward, he jerked my rifle, and me, toward him. He hit the floor, and I fell right on top of him, with my rifle sandwiched between the two of us!
It consumed most of the following minute, and the concerted assistance of several other officers, to disentangle me, and the suspect, from the sling, and recover control of my weapon.
We made our arrests without further incident, but the whole episode was surprising and embarrassing to me! I never thought that sling loop dangling under the barrel would ever cause difficulty. How wrong I was!”
Lesson: When transiting a rifle from a carry (slung, two-point sling) position to a confrontational position (depressed-ready), we need to make it a habit of “arresting-the-sling,” that is, pulling the forward portion of the sling under our support-side hand as our hand grasps the rifle’s forend. This practice eliminates the dangling loop of sling under the forend. The dangling loop is, of course, an inherent issue with the two-point sling. Thus, “arresting-the-sling” needs to become a habit with all rifles so equipped.
Of course, since the officer’s left hand was otherwise involved, having the sling arrested may not have made much difference in the instance, but it is still good practice.
The foregoing also argues for the one-point sling, that, by its very nature, has no dangling loop.
26 Aug 08
Another “Sling Story:”
“Earlier this year, another patrol officer and I responded to an armed-robbery call. The single suspect had fled, first on foot, and then in a vehicle. We spotted a vehicle matching the description and, between the two of us, performed a classic, high-risk traffic stop.
My M4 was in a copy of the ever-popular Big Sky, overhead rack. The sling was wadded up alongside the rifle. I unlocked the rifle and pulled it down on my lap. The sling, of course, came down with it. As the suspect vehicle pulled over, I grabbed the microphone to update dispatch. In the process, I inadvertently pulled the microphone cord up through the sling, and then, not realizing what I had just done, put the microphone back in its holder.
As I then exited my beat-car, the sling, now tangled in the microphone cord, refused to permit the rifle to come out of the car with me! I tugged frantically before I finally figured out what was hanging it up. In the process, of course, I wasn’t much help to my partner! In frustration, I finally dropped the rifle and defaulted to my pistol.
Happily, the driver was not our suspect, so the whole incident ended quickly, and without incident.
However, I learned a critical lesson about not permitting a loose sling to become ensnared in the furniture, at inconvenient moments! I now keep the sling neatly folded, and taped to the rifle stock. That way, it will rapidly deploy when I need it, and not when I don’t!”
Comment: Some eventualities are foreseeable, but many are not. Mostly, we learn our, often painful, lessons from operational experience. I thank this officer and colleague, and the one who volunteered the information for the last Quip, for sharing these valuable, sometimes embarrassing, lessons with all of us.
Let’s not keep making the same mistakes!
Remember: “There are things that you cannot imagine, but there is nothing that may not
27 Aug 08
Rifle comparison, from a friend and Instructor:
“I have now run 2,000 rounds of Wolf and Chinese steel-case 223 through my SIG/556. Not a single hiccup! I mostly use MagPul’s P-Mags. Utterly reliable. My 556 is equipped with Samson BUIS, as iron sights that come on the rifle are poor. Like you, I have removed the right-side lever of the ambidextrous manual safety.
This is a great rifle, but pricy. Total retail for rifle and accessories was $2,000.00, and, unlike you, I don’t have an expensive optic, like a Micro-Aimpoint nor EOTech!
For comparison, I purchased a Romanian Kalashnikov (7.62X39) with a half-dozen Chinese magazines. So far, I have 1,500 rounds of assorted, foreign, trash ammunition through it. The rifle effortlessly digested it all with no burps. It came with an sling that is not fancy, but surely adequate.
Rifle, plus magazines, cost $500.00!”
Comment: There are many wonderful choices in serious rifles, from relatively inexpensive to really expensive! Stick with good equipment, take reasonable care of it, and it will serve you well, even the lowly Kalashnikov!
Nearly every American can have a legitimate, functional, and reliable, fighting rifle. No reason not to!
27 Aug 08
“Less-Lethal” options, from an LEO friend and Instructor in NM:
“Last week, I Tased a domestic-abuse suspect when he declined to ‘play-nicely-with-others.’ We were confronting him in his girlfriend’s house. Yes, he went to jail that night, but not before he stampeded me into some closet doors, while my Taser was connected to him, and running! The darts were anchored to his torso and separated by ten inches.
Sometime during his second, five-second ride, he finally concluded that being Tased was sufficiently disagreeable to precipitate a surpassing behavioral change on his part. My partner and I then got him hooked up and transported without additional impedance.
As a result of his attempt to tackle me, I had to go in for a chest x-ray that evening. He was a beefy guy, and it felt like a truck when he hit me! As it turns out, nothing on me was broken; just a few bruises.
No doubt that, had I not used my Taser, we would have had to subdue this suspect with OC, baton strikes, or some combination thereof. It would likely have been much more unhappy, for all concerned. So, I’m not complaining about Tasers.
However, I discovered that night, that no ‘less-lethal’ weapon constitutes a miracle-cure! I was unprepared to believe that this suspect would be able to charge me while being Tased. Of course, even multiple impacts from handgun bullets often don’t stop fights instantly either!
Most likely, a violent suspect will continue to do whatever he was doing prior to being Tased/shot/OC’d/batoned/bean-baged, et al, until his mind finally catches up with what his body is experiencing! Sometimes the process takes longer, much longer, than promotional videos/literature would have us believe!”
Comment: Tasers work great, far better than most other less-lethal options. But, all of us who are armed with them need to avoid/shun naively unrealistic expectations! We need to use stand-off distance to our maximum advantage and be fully prepared to escalate to lethal back-up instantly, when required.
Violent suspects aren’t scripted, and this isn’t Disneyland!
29 Aug 08
Comments on slings and rifle handling, from my Professional Hunter in Africa:
“Optical sights simplify the sighting process, but they break, and despite claims by manufacturers, fog-up as well. The same dilemma applies to slings. The are handy, but they get in the way, sometimes afflictively!
From years of hunting dangerous, African game, I’ve learned:
Over here, when in the bush you use a sling to carry your rifle when in condition-yellow. When you move into condition-orange, you remove the sling, pocket it, and thereafter carry the rifle in high-ready. The low-ready position you like is seldom used in African bush, since forcible disarms are not normally a concern, and your main occupation is keeping the front sight at eye level and the muzzle away from anything that might snag/clog it, like tall grass, termite heaps, spider webs (African spider-silk is akin to cable!), etc.
You must be prepared to get on target quickly, while in lateral motion! When Cape Buffalo, Lion, Rhinoceros, and Elephant decide to charge, moving off the line of force while simultaneously mounting and picking up your front sight is a skill that had better be well practiced, as charging, albeit dead, animals kill hunters here every year!”
And, these sage comments from master holster-maker and Instructor, Brian Hoffner:
“I recommend single-point slings for my Urban Operators. They are clean, simple, and disinclined to snag, nor hinder a reload. You wear the single-point sling as part of your tactical uniform. Time to deploy the rifle? Grab it, and hook it up. Done!
Next time you take a commercial fight, count how many times the carrying strap from someone’s bag gets hung-up on an arm-rest. Now imagine a forced entry, and all the door-knobs, hand-rails, window-cranks, et al. Next thing you know, you’re pulled to the floor, and your entire team is falling on top of you! A rather inauspicious way to begin a raid, I think you’ll agree!”
Comment: Among my friends, I count advocates for two-point slings, one-point slings, and no sling. Interesting that I’ve found no one to speak, at least in favorable terms, about three-point slings!
30 Aug 08
Update on weapons training in the nuclear-power industry, from a friend in the System:
“We just completed a competitive shooting event for our Region. One of the host-plant’s sister facilities experienced an ND the day before we arrived. Because of this, all ranges, at all facilities in the Region, were shut down, and, not surprisingly, there was talk of cancelling the entire event.
The ND in question resulted in no injury, nor significant property damage, but, in our industry, much as is the case in the active military, we have the ubiquitous, dreaded ‘Range-Nazis,’ otherwise known as the ‘Training-Prevention Department,’ who tirelessly seek out pretexts, no matter how absurd, to shut down ranges and forestall training. Their unwearying motto: ‘The less shooting, the better!’
Our event finally wobbled forward, but endless hours were squandered, more even than usual, in ‘safety briefings’ on top still more ‘safety briefings,’ to the point where actual shooting time was inadequate to complete the event. We patiently sat through innumerable admonitions, by trepid snivelers who don’t even carry guns, to ‘go-slow,’ ‘be-safe,’ ‘loaded-guns-are-dangerous,’ ad nauseam.
Our course, my guys and I are continuously armed (no matter where we are), results-oriented, and victory-focused, so we contemptuously disregarded all that timorous trumpery, went boldly forward as fast as we could hit, and aced the match. We dared, and we won!
Those running the event were, as always, incompetent. Most had never even seen a PACT Timer! But, we ignored them and did what we needed to do.
Comment: Audacious enterprise is irrepressible, no matter how sincerely the fearful and cowardly try to suffocate it, bore it to death, and eventually stamp it out completely.
Thank God for Cowboys!
31 Aug 08
From my friend and colleague, Dave Spaulding, as only he can put it:
“I don’t know how many times, over my thirty-plus-year LE career, I’ve seen some company conjure-up ‘Karate-in-a-Can,’ be it the PR-24, Handler-12, ASP baton, OC-spray/foam/squirt, and now the Taser. All were touted as the answer to our challenges with dangerously violent suspects.
No longer would we need hands-on training in genuine fighting with one’s own hands and other body parts, which has now been watered-down to ‘Response-to-Resistance’ (I’m still not sure how some industrial-sized VCA, who is doing his level-best to throttle the life out of your scrawny neck, can be accurately referred to as is ‘resisting’)
Many administrators, buying into the manufacturers’s own promotional literature, now call for ‘minimal-force,’ on the assumption, of course, that all this great stuff is going to work as advertised. In all fairness, most of the time, it does, but…
This caveat: In thirty years of careful observation, the one ‘constant’ I observed is that all these wonder-gadgets work infinitely better on cops in training than they ever did on real suspects in the street. In other words, they work best on the one class of people upon which they’ll never be used! All of which makes me wonder if we, as trainers, were, and are, providing young cops with (1) too much confidence in gadgets and (2) insufficient training on what to do when the machines die!”
Comment: “Smooth seas do not good sailors make!”