1 Apr 08

Illinois Politics, from a friend there:

“Here in IL, we have legendary anti-gun politicians, particularly in Chicago and Cook County. The rest of the State is relatively conservative and pro-2nd Amendment. As with the State of NY, one metro area dominates politics state-wide. In fact, when you live in IL, but don’t live in Chicago, you are essentially unrepresented!

We’ve started a state-wide movement, The Pro-Second-Amendment Resolution, www.pro2aresolution.com Since 2003, it has passed unanimously in 71 IL counties. It will likely pass with some work in the balance. Cook County, and maybe a few others in the Chicago area, represent the tough fight!

In those recalcitrant counties, we have active petition drives. If you can help, get hold of me directly at jsei@att.net

Jim Stewart”



1 Apr 08

2008 ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators’ and Trainers’ Association) Conference, Wheeling, IL

Today was the first day of our 2008 Conference. It was Vendors’ Day. Here are some of the products of note:

The “Rapid Rotation Baton” is an interesting integration of the straight and side-handle batons. It permits a host of effective close-in control and protective moves, and it is light and compact. Innovative!

Crown Gym Mats, known for padded mats and training pads, is now making “nerf” furniture! They had an entire office, complete with realistic-looking desks, computers, file cabinets, chairs, lamps, et al- all made of nerf material! They even had nerf airline seats, chunks of concrete, bricks, broken bottles, etc. One can conduct force-on-force, contact drills in the “nerf “ room with little danger of injuring anyone. Clever!

Lasermax is now producing an attachable rifle forend, with built-in laser! The whole thing is self-contained! Called the CGL, this device offers a quick-attach Laser capability to nearly any rifle.

My old friend, Bill Mathes, of 21st Tactical, famous for air-soft equipment, is now making wonderful trauma kits, along the lines of what we recommend in our Tactical Treatment of Gunshot Wounds Course. Small and well-organized, they are ideal for range bags and briefcases!

Taser’s new self-contained shotgun round, effective out to 20m, and priced at around $100.00/copy, will finally hit the market in early 2009. Launchable from any 12ga shotgun, this innovative device provides considerable stand-off capability, with all the stopping effect for which Tasers are currently famous!

SIG’s new P250 ships with a “medium” frame. “Small” or “large” frames can be ordered from SIG for $30.00/copy. I really like the “small” frame, and that is the one I would use. Swapping the trigger/firing module consumes all of thirty seconds!

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, once again, put on their wonderful program wherein various video simulators, including CAPS, Milo, and Prism, are integrated with hands-on scenarios. This innovative Program allows us to get the most out of video simulators. The whole thing is accessible on-line. Highly recommended!

All police trainers need to be members of ILEETA.

More tomorrow!



3 Apr 08

More interesting tidbits from the ILEETA Conference.

I’ve been attending as many presentations as I can. All instructors are at the top of their Game and make this Conference eminently worthwhile:

LED bulbs have substantially superceded xenon bulbs in police flashlights, for any number of good reasons. Xenon produces warm, yellow light. LEDs produce cold, grey light. However, although LEDs are generally brighter, their ability to penetrate fog and smoke is substantially less. Fog and smoke are thus effective barriers to LED light!

At the SIG and Glock Armorer’s Classes, both instructors were united in urging shooters to replace recoil springs once a year, more often under heavy use. SIG and Glock Armorer instructors both cited numerous reliability and durability issues directly attributable to worn-out recoil springs.

At the AR-15 Armorer’s Class, I learned the same issue is common with the Stoner System. Worn recoil springs engender extraction failures and a host of other unpleasantries!

RRA offers an optional “two-stage” trigger on their version of the AR-15. It is liked by some recreational shooters for its enhanced creep. However, it’s installation on any serious rifle is highly not recommended. Two-stage triggers are insubstantial and commonly break under heavy use. In fact, any rifle that comes with the title “Match,” “Target, ”or “Competition” will invariably be delicate and temperamental and should never see the light of day in a beat-car! Only ‘Mil-Spec” parts should ever find their way into a serious rifle.

At the Glock Armorer’s Class, I learned something I never realized: Glock’s trigger-return spring is unnecessary for normal functioning of the pistol and is included by the manufacturer only as an aid for those who don’t know how to shoot! Even with the trigger-return spring removed altogether, the pistol will run normally, so long as the shooter, practicing continuous trigger contact, correctly catches the link (“resets” the trigger) between shots. It is only when shooters incorrectly “slap” the trigger that it will “go dead” between shots. In fact, deliberating removing the trigger-return spring from the pistol and then inviting the student to continue shooting is a range training method that can be used to effectively cure trigger-slapping!

Of course, all Glocks should have trigger-return springs. Indeed, I recommend replacing the trigger-return spring with Glock’s NY Trigger, as it greatly enhances responsiveness and crispness.

Several Classes dealt with modern, violent criminals, particularly those in street-gangs. Watching videos of jail-house interviews with these sociopaths made my blood run cold! Several decades ago, they would be called “criminally insane.” Today, in our upside-down world, armies of sociopaths are organized into gangs who, whenever they take a brief break from raping, murdering, maiming, and torturing, lobby politicians (who are only to anxious to cater to them!), and set fashion trends!

At the Taser Instructor Class, I watched at close range as several dozen aspiring instructors were tased! Reaction was universal. Upon being tased, everyone fell down. No one was able to remain standing! Everyone audibly, and loudly, groaned. I asked them afterward if their groaning was intentional or spontaneous. All indicated the latter. Effect was significant, even with separation of the darts of as little as eight inches!

The tactic is rolling on the ground while being tased, in an effort to break the wires is now commonly taught to, and by, gang-members in prisons. Most students I saw were unable to do it, and, even with those who could (at least a little), there was sufficient slack in the wires so as to render the tactic unsuccessful.

More tomorrow!



4 Apr 08

More from the ILEETA Conference:

Today, I attended the excellent FAL Armorer’s Course put on by my friend and colleague, John Krupa, of the Spartan Group.

I own several DSA/FALs, and I asked John what issues are of the most concern in keeping the rifle running. The FAL is a rugged, robust, military weapon, and, in my experience, nearly indestructible. However, John indicated that three screws, (1) the joint pin, (2) the rear-sight base-screw, and (3) the handguard screw, all need to be secured with blue Locktight. The issue is, as with most military rifles, recoil-impulse vibration. With target rifles that spend their lives in padded cases in gun vaults, loose screws may never become a issue. But, with serious rifles that may see heavy, sustained, field use, these screws will vibrate loose when not Locktighted down.

On another subject, John is left-handed, and he pointed out that a vertical forend is a handy feature for left-handed shooters on any military rifle, as its regular use prevents the left forearm and hand from inadvertently blocking the ejection port. Being right handed, that never occurred to me until I saw John demonstrate the problem.

My old friend, Bert Duvernay, in his wonderful Class on Emergency Planning, pointed out that advocating for “Anti-terrorism” training and equipment will predictably glaze over the eyes of most politicians, simply because the subject has been beaten to death, and politicians no longer want to hear about it. Changing the wording to “All-Hazards” planning and training is likely to get a more sympathetic audience (although the two are essentially identical).

He also pointed out the crop-duster aircraft are of particular interest to terrorists, because they are extremely maneuverable and have a heavy-lift capacity. Thus, once airborne, they are difficult to follow, and they can carry a heavy load of explosives. Homeland Security is far more concerned with these particular planes than they are with most other private aircraft.

Tomorrow is the last day.



5 Apr 08

ILEETA, last day:

Today, we had a Panel Discussion, featuring a number of working trainers, including Vicki and me.

My friend and colleague, Ed Sanow, active trainer and editor of L&O Magazine, told us all that the four-man, “diamond” formation that is currently being promulgated as the local PD’s standard response to “active-shooter” calls is indeed an effective and powerful, tactical tool. It is also mostly wishful thinking!

By the time we get four, plain-vanilla patrolmen, let alone four SWAT-team members, to the scene and ready to make entry, nearly a half hour will have elapsed since the first 911 call. By then, there is every chance the entire event will be long-since over! Ed suggests we need to be training with two-man teams, even one-man entry, if we expect to act in time to save any lives. Even then, he tells his school administrators that they will be on their own for at least the first six minutes. There is virtually no possibility even the first beat-car will get there any sooner than that.

In the majority of recent school shootings, perpetrators have committed suicide when they first saw officers approaching. We should provide them with every opportunity to do so, assisting them when necessary, as soon as we can!

Dr Jim Williams, also our old friend, in his wonderful Class on Tactical Anatomy, talked about an interesting, recent phenomenon that is now being reflected in shooting statistics. American police have been trained to use their sights and engage bad guys as close to the body midline as possible, firing multiple times. The result: a sharp increase in bad-guy fatalities, combined with a parallel increase in acute spinal injuries, with the upshot that many bad-guys, who do survive police gunfire, are permanently paralyzed. Nothing not to like!

My friend and colleague, Vince O’Neil, like all of us, uses the term “trigger control,” but he also uses the term, “front-sight control” to describe to necessity of training shooters to aggressively drive their front sights to the target. I’m going to steal it from him!

My friend of many years, Dennis Tueller, reminded all of us that “fair” is a word used almost exclusively by children and Democrats!

There were many other wonderful Classes that I didn’t get a chance even to look in on. A virtual cornucopia of subjects, all being expertly taught by veterans who know of what they speak! Next year’s Conference will be at the same time and, again, at the wonderful Westin Hotel in Wheeling, IL. All serious Operators and trainers need to attend!



10 Apr 08

Incompetence by choice. This from an LEO friend in the UK:

“In the UK, when an officer displays the slightest interest in firearms, he is automatically disqualified from all armed assignments. In addition, his career is toast at that point, as knowledge of firearms, let alone shooting and gun-handling skills, constitutes a permanent bar to promotion.

One of our officers, who was armed, was subsequently disarmed (removed from our Armed-Police Group) because of his ‘unhealthy interest’ in developing individual skill with weapons!

Over here, the more competent you aspire to be, the less suitable you are to be armed. Only dithering buffoons need apply!”

Comment: During the decline of any civilization, we have the requiem “Incompetence-as-a-Virtue” stage, where the skilled, dedicated, and heroic are habitually punished and marginalized, while unqualified, incapable, pandering pretenders unfailingly ascend to high positions.

The British proudly remind us that their Island has not been successfully invaded since 1066. They better pray the next invaders are imbeciles, because they’ll have only blundering bunglers
standing in their way!



10 Apr 08

A note on the fabled Kalashnikov Rifle, from a friend currently in Afghanistan:

“Close examination of chronically malfunctioning rifles invariably reveals that they are filthy. Even the legendary Kalashnikov has its limits! Carbon from Russian ammunition builds up behind, and under, the extractor, making it progressively more difficult for the extractor claw to properly grab cartridge rims. This leads to ‘soft-extraction,’ which is manifested by empty cases remaining in the receiver instead of being ejected. M-4s with broken extractor springs routinely display the same symptom.

Our rifles see much rough treatment and heavy use, and, if they are to run when we need them, they have to be continuously, rigorously maintained. Of course, the foregoing is no great revelation, but, when in active, continuous fighting, having reliable equipment is far more than just a casual request. Over here, one can get hurt for all kinds of reasons, sometimes no reason at all, but getting hurt on account of faulty emergency equipment is stupid, and something of which I, for one, never intend to be guilty!

We’ve used Kalashnikovs manufactured in Russia, any number of Eastern European countries, China, even Egypt. All run well, except those manufactured in Pakistan. Pakistani AKs are trash. I’ve seen no exceptions!”

Comment: In most parts of the world, for most of recorded history, human life has been, and continues to be, amazingly cheap! All who intend to live through the coming chapter of world history need to have good equipment and be dedicated to its maintenance. Even the best weapons don’t clean themselves!



10 Apr 08

Firstlight Tomahawk LE:

I first saw the Tomahawk flashlight at the SHOT Show earlier this year. I liked it immediately for its compactness and the logic and convenience of controls, a Firstlight hallmark. I’ve used Firstlight’s Liberator for some time. I like it too, but carrying it, along with all my other concealed equipment, is inconvenient.

The Tomahawk, due to its compactness, solves the carrying issue, as it conveniently clips on to its belt carrier. I’ve been carrying my copy for two weeks. With the Tomahawk secured in the belt clip, I’m able to illuminate the area in front of me, without tying up my hands. The LE version is loaded with features, all easily accessible via only one hand.

The 120-lumen light is extremely bright. It also has red and blue LEDs that can be set to flash much like a beat-car overhead. Intensity is adjustable, and a strobe feature is built in. I can use it to illuminate, disorient, or signal. I can conveniently use it in conjunction with my pistol and rifle, without physically attaching it to the gun

I’m carrying it constantly now, as it is a consummate personal-security tool. Recommended!



11 Apr 08

Not just in the UK! This is from a friend with a large federal agency:

“The ‘incompetence-by-choice’ mantra is not confined to the UK! In our Agency, it is okay when special agents achieve high scores during qualification with ‘standard’ weapons. But, when any of us acquirers, and trains with, personal, military rifles, or attends private-sector instruction on his own dime, we are instantly marginalized and sternly told that such ‘dangerous knowledge’ is not conducive to our next promotion!

Those punching a ticket, rather than training for a fight (which constitutes the bulk of our upper ‘management’) will predictably retort, ‘Only counter-assault-team members need to know how to operate rifles and SMGs,’ or “Only counter-snipers need to learn how to shoot at long range.’
Thus, those of us who consider ourselves true Operators keep our interests and skills to ourselves when we’re at the office. This is not good for the Agency nor individual agents, but it is necessitated by the enforced ignorance that always attaches to anti-gun politics.

The enthusiastic, unapologetic assertion that all Agents need to thoroughly learn any weapon system they can and to operate it with technical/tactical proficiency should be our creed. But, it’s an election year, and predictably, “Don’t give up the ship” has been replaced with “Don’t rock the boat!”

Comment: Once again, “dangerous ignorance” will deal a death blow to any organization much faster than will “dangerous knowledge.” When, within an agency, (1) truth is confined to nervous whispers, when (2) truth is so corrosive and frightening that it cannot be discussed openly, and when (3) we are supposed to solve a “problem,” but the “problem” can never be mentioned openly, then the agency in question is doing little more than running in place.

Heroic Operators, like my friend in the foregoing, are making a bold comeback, and none too soon! But, we will always make frightened mice, in high positions, nervous. Expect it. Don’t become a victim of it. When your actions and ambitions threaten them not, you are simply striving after the insignificant!



11 Apr 08

America’s future, from a friend and Operator in PA:

“What we often refer to as ‘anti-gun sentiment’ is actually just a symptom of the real disease. The real malady is personal cowardice, manifested in ‘anti-fighting,’ the (Woodrow) Wilson view that the unilateral decision to fight, to confront evil with righteous force, is the worst of all possible eventualities, far worse than even violent death of the innocent. This Wilsonian thinking made its debut in American jurisprudence in the mid-20th Century, having been written by timid souls in America’s ‘halls of ivy,’ never places known as ‘home of the brave.’

Thus, the currently-discredited concept of ‘fleeing-to-the-wall’ was deliberately designed, not for anyone’s protection, but for the convenience of politicians and bureaucrats. When decent, law-abiding citizens are mandated to meekly accept violent death at the hands of VCAs, never forcefully resisting, there will surely be murders, but there will not be any ‘fights.’ Murders are easy for government to deal with, and, in fact, give them ‘something to do.’ Fighting, on the other hand, is unthinkable! Cowards were thus granted the patently fraudulent view of themselves as ‘morally superior’ to those who would boldly defend their own magnificence.

Many politicians have not yet noticed, but America’s populace has made it well known that we do
not abide such tripe. State legislatures are responding with citizen CCW laws, inter-state reciprocity, and re-instatement of ‘no-duty-to-retreat.’ Much to the dismay of tyrant wannabes, adscripted cowardice has an unhappy future in the USA!

The police community too has largely cast aside institutionalized impotence. Trainers of principle now prepare officers to do their sworn duty to protect the weak and helpless by fearlessly entering the mayhem without delay, even when alone. This, despite nauseating, disdainful references to ‘Wild West,’ ‘John Wayne’ and ‘taking-the-law-into-your-own-hands’ which are designed to mask the arrogant snobbery entrenched within academia, the news media, and elected officialdom.

America is boldly passing through this imposed period of the Franco-German political model, and the true nature of the American Spirit is now ineluctably re-emerging!”

Comment: When it comes to a choice between a war and a massacre, cowards will always choose massacre. To them, death is preferable to repentance. For too long, emasculates in officialdom have insisted that everyone be legally compelled to be as pusillanimous as they are. As my friend says, real Americans consistently reject such rubbish every time they’re given a chance.

Justice has been rerouted
From present to future tense;
The law is so in love with the law
It’s forgotten common sense!

Does man now serve the law, I ask,
When law was made by man?
Or, law still serve its rightful task:
protecting men from Man?

Ogden Nash



14 Apr 08

Again, from my friend in PA:

“The percentage of truly Honorable Men within any civilization has always been small, compared with the general populace, which is by comparison, shallow, self-centered, fearful, and morally confused/ambivalent. Paradoxically, it is always Men of Honor, audaciously assuming the leadership role, who are tasked with, and responsible for, the defense of Civilization.

Washington never commanded more that 25,000 troops at any one time. Most of time, his command consisted of a good deal fewer. The population of the Colonies was three million, only thirty percent of whom were Patriot sympathizers. If only twenty-five percent of that pool of one million, claiming to believe in the Cause, were able-bodied males, capable of military service, Washington could still only find a single-digit-percentage of men who were willing to wager their lives on the Cause to which they all professed to be devoted.

What did (and still does) exist in the general populace was the concept of Personal Honor, to which all claim to aspire, but most fall short. Violations of Honor were, and still are, regarded as shameful. Indeed, ‘Shame’ stands guard over all civilizations! For example, abandonment of obligation/duty, whether to family or creditors, is correctly regarded as shameful. Likewise, lying, cheating, deceitfulness, cowardice, and personal sleaziness are shameful, and those who engage in such conduct, be they rich or poor, and regardless of their laughable rationalizations, are rightfully referred to as ‘low-life,’ and ‘trash.’

Succeeding generations of Men of Honor are thus prepared by this ever-small group of mature Masters. Likewise, we need to have this discussion among ourselves and in the presence of sons, daughters, and students. Words have meaning. We must reclaim the Language of Honor and reject the language of equivalency and rationalization. We need to make clear that heroes are just ordinary men, who, in full awareness of the inherent danger, boldly step forward and place their very lives at risk for the benefit of a worthy Cause. ‘Heroes’ are not pathetic victims of violent crime who took no action nor preparation to protect themselves, no matter how well they are dealing with their current afflictions. Heroes are gallant nineteen-year-olds bearing Purple-Hearts, who earned them as a result of fearless combat action!

For example, we reject terms like ‘violence-of-action,’ no matter how clever-sounding, to describe our own righteous response to bona-fide violence, offered by VCAs. Men of Honor are not ‘vile!’ Men of Honor may be compelled to use force during encounters with VCAs, but they do so while ever abiding by established rules of conduct required of Honorable Men. With all due respect, we also disdain expressions like, ‘always cheat.’ It may sound clever, and even appeal to a naughty-boy image, but it is not the Language of Honor. We can convey the value of pressing an advantage without intimating personal sleaziness.

When my sons deployed to Iraq, I attended their departure. I watched, as they and other marvelous young men, about to deploy, spent last moments with their families. I could not stop watching those young fathers, Men of Honor, as they held their children and looked into their eyes. Thus, I gained an understanding of a line of fathers that stretches to antiquity, as they too watched their sons go off to war.

My sons and students, and yours, in the years to come, will assume the responsibility of conveying the Honor Concept to the next generation. Those of us with graying hair and declining visual-acuity must continue to help them see clearly that language is as important as the actions tied to the Concept. Students, sons, and daughters, who have absorbed the Honor Concept, need to be encouraged to assume the leadership role, and competently, fearlessly defend it against those failed, shameful souls who reject and contort.”

Comment: We can bet our lives on it. Indeed, we have!



14 Apr 08

Safariland’s Double-Holder for AR-15 Magazines:

Safariland is currently marketing a double-magazine-holder. It’s brand new and not on their Web Page yet, but I’ve been using a copy for several weeks. I had a chance several days ago to give it a thorough workout during an Urban Rifle Course we conducted with Homeland Security.

It is superior to any of the others I’ve used! Magazines are correctly offset and staggered, so that an exchange can be accomplished quickly and deftly. Magazines are held securely, and the device works equally well for right-handers and left-handers. It is compact, and it protects the top round on both magazines, all without physically attaching to the rifle nor requiring special brackets/attachments.

There is a separate magazine “cap” that goes atop the exposed magazine. It protects the top round, and also prevents the top round from creeping forward (making subsequent rapid reloading difficult) as the rifle is fired via the other magazine. This feature solves the main issue with most of the rest of the double-magazine holders I’ve used. The cap is instantly removed via striking a projection in its rear, and is tethered via a rubber-band to prevent loss.

There is little not to like! Safariland’s double-magazine holder provides a significant “grab-and-go” enhancement, which I like! I’ve used it on my excellent Sabretech M-4, but I’ve not tried it on other rifles that accept AR-15 magazines, like the RA/XCR and SIG 556.




16 Apr 08

The “Redoubtable McC”

“… they always get this exaggerated notion of their own importance. Down in Cuba, I heard a colonel inform a group of brother officers that a Spanish field piece had marked him for its own. For an hour, it had pumped shrapnel at him and no one else. The only interesting part of his otherwise boring and absurd story was that he actually believed it himself!”

Richard H Davis, War Correspondent (1864-1916)

It is easy to see how Union General George B McClellan’s career took on meteoric proportions, at both ends! Dashing, engaging, clever, always well-dressed, good-looking , George fit the image of the modern Army Officer, favorably impressing everyone, particularly newly-elected President Lincoln. And, at war-games, no one could beat him! So expert at winning paper battles was he, that his unofficial nickname, “Young Napoleon,” stuck with him for the duration.

Unhappily, George was dreadfully apprehensive of risking his war-game reputation in real battle, and that was his undoing! Lincoln naively put him in charge of a vast army and, in the wake of Irwin McDowell’s embarrassing trouncing at Bull Run, instructed him to go after the Confederacy and get this distasteful war over with quickly.

Predictably, McClellan’s subsequent “Peninsular Campaign” hopelessly bogged down, almost immediately, with no measurable results for months at a time. In fact, the entire “Army of the Potomac” functioned as little more than McClellan’s personal bodyguard! He consistently overestimated Confederate strength and used this faulty intelligence as a rationalization for engaging in every imaginable activity, except advancing on the enemy. Lincoln sarcastically referred to him (at least in private) as “The Virginia Creeper.”

Pinkerton’s Detective Agency was finally engaged to accurately access Confederate strength, but Pinkerton himself quickly learned that, if he wanted to get paid promptly, he told George only what George wanted to hear! And, the only news George wanted was confirmation that he was hopelessly outnumbered and outclassed, which served as an uninterrupted pretext for his glacial progress. In fact, the exact opposite was true! Confederate General Robert E Lee’s opposing forces were extremely modest, ill-supplied, stretched-thin, mostly-starving, and profoundly vulnerable during the entire duration of the Campaign.

In nearly every communication to Lincoln, McClellan insisted that he needed more troops. Lincoln had no more to send. In fact, in one letter, an exasperated Lincoln said, “George, as long as you’re not using my Army anyway, do you mind if I borrow it for a while?”

In the end, it took only a few militarily insignificant attacks by Lee on McClellan’s forward units to unnerve McClellan completely. In a panic, he hurriedly withdrew his entire army back to Washington DC, full of excuses for having accomplished nothing during the five-month Campaign (March-July of 1862).

McClelland was subsequently replaced by John Pope, who promptly handed Lincoln a new military disaster at the Second Battle of Bull Run!

Lincoln was persuaded to give McClellan a second chance at Antietam in MD, two months later. As before, McClellan’s excessive caution allowed Lee to avoid a war-ending defeat, and worse, escape with his Army intact. Lincoln would see the War, which could have been concluded decisively at Antietam, drag on for another three, bloody years! In fact, Gettysburg, a year later, was to be an eerie replay of Antietam, with then Union General George Meade repeating McClellan’s mistakes, and achieving substantially the same result!

It was too much! McClelland was relieved of command a second time, this time for good. He was succeeded this time by a shaky and unwilling Ambrose Burnside, who would speedily provide Lincoln with a brand-new debacle, this time at Fredericksburg!

George McClellan never really recovered. Ever justifying himself to anyone who would listen, he published “McClellan’s Own Story” shortly before his death. Few were interested in reading it! He never saw his sixtieth birthday, dying of a sudden heart-attack in 1885, at the age of fifty-eight.

Probably George’s best-known legacy, and far from what he would have predicted, is the “McClellan Cavalry Saddle,” officially adopted by the US Army in 1859. Inspired by European cavalry, McClellan was able to sell the Army on his innovative design. The McClellan Saddle subsequently saw extensive service well in to the Twentieth Century, both in and out of the Army.

Like so many colorful characters of the era, “General McC,” as his men called him, spent too much time reading his own press releases! He was famous for equipping and supplying his troops, but reluctant to ruin all of that hard work by actually deploying them in real battle. Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Lee, and Jackson, on the other hand, fully grasped the idea that training and logistics are merely a means to an end, and that the real (and only!) purpose of an army is to fight and win wars!

But, armies are always filled with “McClellans,” generals who believe that the purpose of the army is to stay fully-supplied, equipped, and looking good, rather than to actually accomplishing anything.

“One day you will come to a fork in the road, and you’re going to have to make a decision about what direction you want to go.

When you go that way, you can ‘be somebody.’ You will make compromises, and you will turn your back on friends, but you will be a member of ‘The Club.’ You will get good assignments, and you will get promoted.

When you go this way, you can ‘do something,’ for your Country, your Air Force, and yourself. When you decide to ‘do something,’ you may not get promoted, and you may not get good assignments, and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But, you won’t have to compromise, and you will be true to your friends and to yourself. And, your work might truly advance the Art.

To ‘be somebody,’ or to ‘do something.’ You will have to make a decision: ‘To be,’ or ‘To do?’

Which way do you go, Mister?”

Col John Boyd, USAF



17 Apr 08

Comment on campus “security” from one of our students attending a state university in the Southwest:

“Yesterday, we had yet another ‘Campus Lock-Down.’ I’m a ‘Resident-Advisor’ in one of our dormitories, and I was advised, via cell-hone, that ‘a-man-with-a-gun’ was seen on campus. No details, of course, and I was ordered not to breath a word of it to anyone!

Under, ‘lock-down,’ no one is supposed to go in or out of our dorms, but, of course, there is no way to enforce that. And, students are told nothing aside from that fact that there is a lock-down in place. As you can imagine, with so many false alarms, such ‘lock-downs’ have long-since become a local joke here and are now largely ignored by the student population! While campus bureaucrats scurry about in a desperate attempt to justify their existence, students, and faculty, nonchalantly continue to come and go as if nothing were happening! We were never given any additional information, via e-mal nor cell phone, and the ‘lock-down,’ that no one paid any attention to anyway, eventually faded away.

Yes, we have ‘security’ cameras, but none are actually monitored in real time! Videos are only viewed after the fact. Big help! We do have a campus PD, but they are all unarmed! I’m not sure what they are supposed to do. I’m fairly sure they don’t know what they’re supposed to do! Most students didn’t even know about the lock-down until their parents, watching it all on TV, called to advise them!

Since the VA Tech shootings, the foregoing is apparently the best we can do.

So, those of us who actually live here naturally consider the whole ‘system’ a conspicuous fraud! We know that no one in the Administration gives a damn about us, and that we are thus ‘on our own.’

Accordingly, several friends and I have put together an informal arrangement between ourselves, whereby, when the next lock-down occurs, we will all assemble at a pre-arranged location, pile into one of our cars, and then drive across town to the home of one of our parents. We’ve decided that ‘escape-and-evade’ is going to be the best tactic.

Failing that, I’m armed, and, as your student, I know how to take care of myself. Of course, this is in contemptuous violation of campus ‘rules, but I’ve already decided that my name will not be appearing on any ‘victim list!’”

Comment: “The proposition at debate is a socio-political one: it is possible and practicable to maintain a comfortable and reasonably secure social order with lethal weapons not only ubiquitously present, but in a high state of readiness? Naive VBCs can’t imagine how it can be so, never mind how they could be capable of doing it. Yet, Operators do it routinely.”

D Kahn

Yes, we do!



22 Apr 08

Full-auto 1911!

Last weekend, at a Pistol Course we were doing in KS, a student brought an expensive 1911 pistol from a well-known, custom pistolsmith. These monstrosities go for between two and three thousand dollars/copy. Its trigger was between two and three pounds, much too light for a serious gun.

I allowed him to use it, after explaining that, in my opinion, such a light trigger was unsuitable for a concealed-carry pistol.

It was a mistake! His pistol started doubling. Normally, when that happens, I let it go the first time, thinking it might just be a quirk. When it happened for the third time with this pistol (the second time I was unaware of), I pulled the pistol out of the Course! The student used a borrowed 1911 for the duration, which ran fine.

I know I keep bringing this subject up, but it is difficult to me to say enough unkind things about the vast majority of the hyper-expensive, custom 1911s we see in our Courses! They are, nearly without exception, tight, temperamental, unreliable, maladroit clunks. For all that money, one gets a pistol that is a good deal less reliable, and less practical, than plain-vanilla ones costing a third as much!

Two-pound 1911 triggers are way too light for any down-to-earth purpose. In addition, they are inherently unsafe, as we can see.

Highly not recommended!



22 Apr 08

Kahr (Auto-Ordnance) M1 Carbine

I finally got the opportunity to wring-out Kahr’s M1 Carbine last weekend. It is hard to beat!
It comes with fixed, flip-up sights, and it is dead-on, right out of the box. It gobbled up several different brands of ammunition, and it was popular with everyone who shot it.

It is a 100m rifle that is light, short, and easy to carry. My copy is equipped with a Vickers sling from Blue Force Gear. As a car-gun, it is second to none.

Whatever start-up problems Kahr may have had with this weapon are now long gone. For M1Carbine-O-Philes, this one is an excellent choice.




22 Apr 08


This observation from a friend in the Philippines:

“The.45ACP is a desirable personal-defense, pistol cartridge, and, when one is limited to hardball (as we are much of the time), it makes great sense! While we may live in a 9mm world, dare I say a Glock-9mm world, the .45ACP refuses to die.

For a long while, when one wanted the terminal effect of the 45ACP, only the 1911 pistol was versatile enough to fit a wide variety of hand sizes and still provide good usability and handling. We’ve tried 45ACP double-columns, the G21/30 for examples, but only those with large hands can run these pistols well.

Enter the ‘new’ 45s!

The XD45 looks like a clunk from the outside, but it is sleek where it counts. The grip is genuinely usable for small-handed folks. Durability has been excellent.

S&W’s M&P45 is another slick piece of kit. Grip circumference and trigger reach can be adjusted to accommodate just about any hand size. Accuracy and reliability are exceptionally good.

Both the XD and the M&P hold a few more rounds than your standard single-stack, yet remain concealable and legitimately operational.

Where I live, these pistols are breathing new life and interest into the 45ACP cartridge. I am not surprised to see many die-hard 1911 folks retire their steel pistols and invested in these new handguns.”

Comment: Over here, we also see 45-O-Philes taking a significant interest in these pistols. The 1911 will be around for the foreseeable future, but one can’t ignore the genuine advancement these two new pistols represent.



23 Apr 08

Good advice, from a friend in SA:

“We all teach our students to scan constantly, looking for potential threats, but also for cover and disengagement/exit routes. At the risk of contributing to ‘scan-overload,’ I suggest adding one item, and dropping another:

To add: When you shoot an attacker, and he subsequently turns into a body by falling down, his involuntary assumption of the horizontal is actually excellent therapy for the blood-pressure loss that caused him to fall down in the first place! And, his weapon probably fell not far from him. We thus need to emphasize to our students to include in their scan a continuous sweep across the ‘body,’ lest the ‘body,’ unnoticed, becomes reanimated and passionately re-enters the fray!

To delete: When shooting cardboard targets, students quickly, unconsciously acquire the habit of lowering their firearm and scanning the paper target to see where the last round hit. The habit is a poor one that results in inconsistent, slow shooting. In a real fight, of course, those nice, neat holes that our student is accustomed to seeing on paper will be invisible amongst various layers of clothing worn by the VCA. And, we can expect resultant double-take/hesitation on the part of our student when what he expected to happen is not happening.

All Operators know: To hesitate is to die.

Accordingly, we need to teach our students NOT to scan for bullet holes. Rather, they need to assess, while moving laterally, behavioral changes on the part of the VCA which will indicate whether on not additional shooting is necessary. This is the best strategy for ending the fight quickly and simultaneously keeping entry wounds out of ‘Sunday-School-Johnny’s’ back!”

Comment: Adding steel targets, such as Safe-Direction’s wonderful “Rotators,” to your training program is excellent therapy for the annoying “shoot-and-gawk” syndrome, described above. Another good solution is to “dress” cardboard targets with old T-shirts and sweat-shirts.



24 Apr 08

Rifle Quirks:

During our Urban Rifle Courses, I advise students that, as they are shooting, nothing should actually touch their rifles except the shooter’s own hands, face, and shoulder. The rifle is zeroed assuming it is touching only the shooter’s body. Allowing any part of the rifle to rest directly upon a fixed object will affect the bullet’s trajectory, sometimes severely.

Of course, resting or bracing the rifle against a fixed object may be unavoidable in certain circumstances, so we all need to test this theory with our own rifles in order to see for ourselves what effect, if any, we can detect.

This report from a friend on the East Coast:

“Shooting my M1 Carbine at 100m resulted in consistent, three-inch groups, exactly at the point of aim, which is very acceptable for a car-gun like this. I fired from a braced, sitting position, but only my hands, face, and shoulder actually touched the rifle. Repeated iterations of this test produced identical results.

Then, I conducted the same test, this time with the rifle’s forend resting directly upon a sandbag. Resultant groups expanded to six inches in diameter and were inconsistently centered eighteen inches above the point of aim! This, of course, represented an insufferable degradation in accuracy.

When I, once more, held the rifle so that only my face, shoulder, and hands touched it, groups tightened back up and returned to the point of aim. I was astonished at the difference resting this rifle directly against a solid object made.”

Comment: Some rifles are affected more than others by this phenomenon, and, at ranges we shoot, such an effect is often minimal and of scant concern, but it can be substantial, as illustrated above.

“When shooting, don’t let anything but your own body make contact with your rifle” is still good, general advice with regard to a genuine, fighting rifle!



25 Apr 08


A courageous jury acquitted three NYPD Detectives this morning of all criminal charges stemming from the notorious “Bell Shooting” over a year ago.

The United States is the only nation left that still uses a jury system, a system that is available to everyone. Here, any accused can demand a “trial by jury.” In nearly every other country, juries have been long-since eliminated, leaving the entire process exclusively in the hands of lawyers.

Our system surely worked this morning!

Of course, that’s not the end of it. As we learned in the “Rodney King” incident in CA, the Constitutional prohibition against double-jeopardy doesn’t seem to apply to police officers, particularly when a sleazy degenerate, then occupying the White House and lusting after minority votes, decides to re-charge already-acquitted officers, this time on thumped-up “Federal” charges, in which the same incident, same set of facts, and the same witnesses were rehashed all over again. Every chance we’ll see an attempt to regurgitate that travesty here, particular in a election year!

The careers of the Officers involved are, of course, toast, and there will be civil actions that will probably last for the remainder of their lifetimes. So, the “happy ending” is tempered, to be sure.

The prosecution’s case fell apart, almost from the beginning. None of its witnesses were credible. Under cross-examination, the believability of every prosecution witness was demolished. Everyone in the courthouse, including the jury, came to the inescapable conclusion that the decedent (Bell), and all those with him on the night in question, were sleazy criminals, and that the police officers acted properly that night as they, while doing the job they’re sworn to do, gallantly endeavored to prevent themselves from being murdered.

Read it carefully! The United States Constitution doesn’t guarantee innocent people a fair trial. It guarantees EVERYONE a fair trial. Yes, even police officers! In most countries, politicians, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers in general have it all their way.

NOT HERE! Not even in New York. Thank God!



26 Apr 08

When the Bell case acquittals were first reported on the news, they were reported as jury verdicts. In my customary enthusiasm to, as always, make an important philosophical point, and in my haste to get the Quip written, I neglected to listen not the entire report.

The trails was before a judge, not a jury.

I trust the philosophical point is still valid. I apologize for my factual error.

Yes, I need to be more careful!



29 Apr 08

Good observations on weapon modifications, from a colleague:

“I am amazed at the number of students who show up at Classes with ‘modifications’ to their rifles and shotguns, the same weapons they keep for serious purposes, but which they haven’t tested since these modifications were made!


>A good shooter and ‘amateur-gunsmith’ showed up with his ‘old-reliable’ AR15, on which he’d installed a new barrel. He experienced monotonous malfunctions with every type of ammo and every magazine he had. The rifle had been ‘converted’ to little more than scrap metal!

>Another ‘good shooter’ mounted a bi-pod on the forend of his AR15. He couldn’t figure out why he was unable to hit even easy targets with his rifle solidly resting on the bi-pod. When, in exasperation, he checked his rifle on paper, he unhappily discovered that the installation of the bi-pod had shifted his POI over a foot north and opened his groups from MOA to ‘MOC” (Minute of County)!

>Yet another ‘good shooter’ mounted a Sidesaddle on his Remington 11-87 and, several weeks later, brought it to a class. He was astonished and dismayed to discover that the action wouldn’t cycle at all, as mounting screws protruded too deeply into the receiver. This was his ‘home-defense’ shotgun, and had been resting in his closet in this inoperable state, unbeknownst to him.

The foregoing are only a few examples. I’ve personally witnessed countless other rifles, shotguns, and pistols undergo similar, mysterious ‘personality-changes’ when their naive owners hung new equipment on them.”

Comment: The only way to be confident that your serious arms will genuinely function, on demand, is to run them regularly and under the conditions you expect to use them. Particularly now, when nearly all rifles and pistols come with rails. Well, when there is a rail on my gun, I have to hang something on it, don’t I? Heaven forbid my gun would have a naked rail!”

This, of course, includes shooting your rifles from a solid rest. When your support arm/hand is inoperable, you will probably have to rest the rifle on something solid in order to shoot. Knowing, in advance, what effect this will have on your POI will then become life-saving information!



29 Apr 08

Lasers on Pistols:

I’ve been a non-fan on lasers on pistols, and have said so on a number of occasions, but my patient friends at Lasermax finally persuaded me to honestly evaluate a copy of their product on my SA/XD/40S&W that I’m currently carrying as my main-gun.

Well, I gave the Lasermax a honest workout at a Pistol Course last weekend. I have to say, it is really fast, a good deal faster, with no compromise in accuracy, than without it! Here are my comments:

>A pulsating laser is superior to a “constant” laser, because your eye picks it up faster. Lasermax makes them both ways, but my preference is definitely for the pulsating variation.

>Concerns about durability have been largely eliminated. Lasermax’s unit fits completely inside of the pistol. It comes as the laser unit itself and the captured recoil spring already assembled, and it is very rugged!

>Concerns about alignment have also been largely eliminated. The unit is pre-aligned, and my copy is dead on!

>The activation buttons are on both sides and are easily operated, yet are completely shielded as the pistol is holstered.

>When I use the laser, I don’t used sights at all! Keeping both eyes open, I drive the dot to the target, looking over the sights, and immediately run the trigger. As I said, it is fast, and accuracy is superb at any range you can use it!

>The system is most useful in conjunction with typical indoor lighting conditions. Outdoors, it is most effective for a two-hour period at dawn and dusk. In bright sunlight, one cannot see the aiming point, and in darkness, the aiming point is visible, but one cannot tell what it is being projected upon. It is just a dancing, red dot!

However, indoors one can nearly always see both the dot and the target, and there is sufficient ambient light to evaluate the target for threats. Outdoors, at dusk and dawn, and on heavily overcast days, one can do the same thing.

When used in conjunction with a Surefire Weapon light or a Safariland RLS, the Lasermax is effective in even very low light, because there is now enough light to locate and evaluate the target, and the Operator can still see the laser aiming point within the corona of white light.

I am starting to come around to lasers on pistols! I thought I’d never say that, and how I hate to admit I’ve been wrong, but my personal experience has been extremely favorable with the Lasermax product. Crimson Trace also makes an excellent unit, but I have not yet tested it extensively.

We live and learn!



29 Apr 08

Marines go in the wrong direction:

The Marine Corps has decided to change the personal weapon issued to nearly all officers and S/NCOs from the M9 pistol to the M4 rifle. This change will consume several years in order to fully implement.

This change is a bad idea! The carrying of pistol, distinguishes and, even more importantly, separates officers from enlisted. Yes, it is a rather bulky and expensive rank insignia, but it conveys a sense of nobility and purpose to the Officer Corps, and even junior officers, particularly junior officers, are thus made continually aware of their unique and vital position and function within their Regiment and Corps.

Giving them a rifle instead instantly converts them into just “one of the boys.” Again, a bad idea and a symptom of the downward slide of our civilization. I expected better from the current Commandant. The Marine Corps should be leading, not following, the Army!

In Vietnam, as a young, Second Lieutenant/Platoon Commander, I proudly carried a WWII-vintage 1911. I knew what it meant to be thus armed. My men, of course, carried rifles, but I was an Officer, and that pistol continually reminded me or my special position, duty, and charge.



30 Apr 08

Marine Officers and Pistols:

I harbor no illusions with regard to my small influence, and I readily concede that there are viable arguments on both sides of this issue. And, when expressing opinions, one should expect to hear legitimate counter-arguments from those on the other side. Indeed, I have!

My interest in this subject is not just the immediate welfare of individual Marines. It is also in the welfare and longevity of our Civilization, which is absolutely dependant upon our ability to continue to field legitimate fighting forces that are eminently capable of achieving victory

A friend puts it this way:

“Officers, by the very nature of our position and job description, are NOT supposed to be occupied with the same immediate concerns as our troopers. In the field, we officers had best be paying attention to our surroundings, to be sure. But, beyond its being a mere designator of command, the pistol is issued to officers, I was taught, because we ARE officers! As such, we will be consulting with and using maps, communications gear, optical devices, portable computers and all manner of other putatively important things that require two hands and demand unencumbered freedom of movement.

I contend that it is thus a poor decision to take officers’ pistols away and replace them with rifles. For me, the objection is psycho-dynamic and personal. When the unit leader carries a rifle, he is continually radiating the subtle message that carrying a rifle is at the core of the his duties. Indeed, the central philosophical tenet of the USMC is that each individual Marine is a competent riflist first, whose primary tactico-strategic job is to effectively engage enemy soldiers, one at a time, with aimed fire, under direction from NCOs and officers.

That’s fine; it works! In fact, it’s the central idea at the core of any legitimate military organization, reduced to a single sentence. Officers are, naturally, still Marines. But, I was taught, on my first day at OCS, we’re something more. Officers’ tactico-strategic job is to effectively deploy and use Marine riflists in order to achieve the Objective, which is passed down the chain of command, and to keep them organized, inspired, and responsive. The two jobs are mutually exclusive!

Enlisted personnel think like enlisted personnel: (1) Find the enemy, (2) Close with the enemy, and (3) Destroy the enemy by fire and close combat, one at a time. Good for them; that’s their job! They need shoulder-fired long arms, because they’re the most apt tools currently available for the successful completion of that mission. For them, a pistol may be a nice accessory, but it doesn’t fit their job description and is reserved only for personal disaster.

Officers have bigger fish to fry. In real time, we have to understand and deal with collections and masses of opponents, tactics, identify and respond to spot trends and flows, and continuously direct and inspire our troops, things a riflist can’t, and shouldn’t, see while concentrating on rifle sights!

Accordingly, mandating the M4 carbine for officers creates a conflicting, contradictory mindset. The lieutenant shouldn’t be first through the door. That is not his job! He’s got too much additional training, too much additional data-processing power, too much money and time invested in him, and too much big-picture knowledge, to become a casualty in place of a cheaper, less versatile tool whose existence and utility depends on external direction.

That’s tough and cold, but it’s the nature of this business, and we had all better get over it! When an officer has a rifle as his only gun, he’ll begin thinking like an enlisted man, and that will be a disaster, both tactically and strategically.”

Comment: When I arrived in Vietnam in 1968, a young, Marine Second Lieutenant/Platoon Leader, I, too, naively wanted a rifle, and I got one! But, I soon got rid of it, because, as an officer, I had more important duties than shooting at enemy soldiers. I had to direct the actions of fifty guys! My rifle just got in the way, and I quickly discarded it, but continued to carry my 1911.

In military fighting, there are things more important even than the immediately safety of this or that individual. Fighting forces need legitimate integrity if they are to achieve victory! Leaders need to lead, even at great personal risk. Otherwise, the “army” devolves, by a short route, to little more than a hoard of tourists!