3 Aug 04

Good marks for Kel-Tec:

I acquired a Kel-Tec 380Auto pistol several weeks ago. Gregg Garrett at Comp-Tac make a wonderful neck holster for me and has since added it to his standard line.

The pistol had an extraction problem, however, and I ultimately had to return it to the manufacturer. Kel-Tec turned it around in three days, and it now works perfectly. I carry it with Cor-Bon 90grHP, and it cycles it without a problem.

As a backup gun, the little Kel-Tec has a lot going for it. I carry it routinely, and, as I discovered for myself, Kel-Tec’s customer service is wonderful.

I don’t care how good a gun is, if the manufacturer doesn’t take care of its customers, I, for one, have no interest in it.

Good show, Kel-Tec!



3 Aug 04

A friend recently did penetration tests of pistol, shotgun, and rifle rounds at an old school that was being demolished. Construction dated from the 1960s. Exterior walls were twelve-inch cinderblock. Interior walls were eight-inch cinderblock.

We’ve all seen demonstrations where the demonstrator places a single cinderblock on a stump and than shoots through it with 308 rifle rounds and 12ga slugs. The result is a good deal different when the cinderblock being shot is cemented into a wall.

We discovered that 12ga slugs, both standard (Foster) and reduced-recoil, failed to penetrate even the eight-inch wall. Standard 223 failed to penetrate too, as would be expected, but 308 and 7.62X39 didn’t penetrate either!

Cinderblock walls, so common in institutional construction, provide a more robust barrier than any of us thought. We have nothing in our standard inventory that will reliably shoot through one.



3 Aug 04

Enlightenment on the subject of penetration, from a mechanical engineer:

“Your penetration test results are not surprising. ‘Penetration’ of a single, unsupported cinderblock via a rifle round is actually a fracture failure, followed by ‘penetration.’ Conversely, built and cemented into a wall, each block reinforces the next, and blocks under compression are much stronger that a single block sitting by itself. Under such conditions, blocks are exceptionally resistant to fracture and resultant penetration, as you discovered.

Your quip is an excellent illustration of the axiom: ‘Test procedure defines the result.’ If one doesn’t anticipate attempting penetration of a single block, sitting by itself on a stump, then such a test or ‘demonstration’ would appear to be irrelevant. The closer to reality the test, the more legitimate the results.”

Comment: My friend is right. We must be careful not to be deceived by tests and demonstrations that are designed merely to impress, rather than inform.



5 Aug 04

One of my students who works at a well known law firm recently sent me this:

“John, one of our longtime real estate clients just came to us with a self-inflicted bullet wound to his hand. He shot himself, by accident, while administratively handing his new Daewoo DP51 ‘fast-action’ pistol. He carelessly had the gun pointed at his own hand as he was dithering with it. With this pistol, after chambering a round and thus cocking the hammer, the hammer spur can be disconnected from the hammer itself and manually pushed forward, giving the appearance to the casual observer that it is at rest, when it is, in fact, fully cocked. Pressing the trigger instantly reconnects the spur to the hammer. The hammer falls and causes the pistol to discharge. This client has asked us to sue Daewoo on his behalf, because he has convinced himself that this ‘fast action’ system employed by Daewoo is ‘inherently unsafe,” and thus ‘inherently defective.’”

My reply:

“I haven’t seen a DP51 in a course yet, but there are several other pistols that also use the ‘fast-action’ system you described. It’s a way of carrying ‘cocked & locked’ while conveying the impression to observers (and yourself) that the hammer is all the way forward. It has never garnered much popularity in this country, but the system is available on a number of pistols to those who think they want it.

For a serious pistol, it is nothing I recommend. Self-deception is never healthy. As you know, for most gun carriers, I recommend trigger-cocking pistols. However, in the incident you described it strikes me that the person who shot himself would have done so, in a similar manner, with any pistol. People who routinely point guns at their own bodies eventually shoot themselves, and the particular type of gun rarely makes any difference.

You also know my opinion on suits against gun companies, particularly as a result of careless, self-inflicted injuries, which could have easily been prevented by even the slightest application of correct gun-handling principles that both you and I routinely teach. People who shoot themselves through personal carelessness deserve nothing, save a stern admonition to be more careful.

In summary, the ‘fast-action’ system you described is not found on ‘mainstream’ pistols, but it is still perfectly functional and probably perfectly legitimate, even if it would not be my personal first choice. My non-lawyer advice is to tell this person to be more careful around guns and stop asking the rest of us to pay for his own stupidity.”

I just received this reply:

“John, per your advice, we gave our client back his pistol and diplomatically told him that he really needed to be more careful. There will be no litigation.”

Comment: Thank God for honest lawyers!



7 Aug 04

An unhappy note from a friend and trainer in the federal system:

“In my office there are currently 250 special agents. Most carry when they are not working, but the typical attitude toward off-duty carrying is casual and nonchalant. Most who do carry off duty do not carry extra magazines, blades, a second gun, a flashlight, handcuffs, or OC. There is a persistent attitude that carrying a firearm is an occupational requirement for duty only. Indeed, most applicants I see coming into the system have had no exposure to real fighting. This is a tough group to convince that it is likely they will some time have to aggressively defend their own life, but will be unable to, because it was ‘a pain in the ass’ to carry off-duty.”

Comment: As the world continues to deteriorate, attitudes among cops, all cops, need to toughen. We all need to carry guns (and necessary accouterments), all the time. We police need to get serious about our charge and our place in history, or find something else to do!

“If you are unwilling to defend even your own lives, then you are like mice trying to ‘negotiate’ with owls. You regard their ways as ‘wrong.’ They regard you as dinner.”



7 Aug 04

Comments on “Dinner,” from one of my instructors:

“It is natural for young people to think well of themselves, but they are too often tempted into the false belief that a high level of ‘show’ performance in training or competition makes them ‘tough,’ whatever they perceive that term to mean. What can we do to make them really ready?

Years in the martial arts form my frame of reference, and ten years of intense focus on shooting skills have not altered my opinion. Almost all instruction, training, and practice should be on basics. I think elaborate training scenarios and competition such as IPSC and IDPA are much like ‘tournament’ karate. They are not completely irrelevant, but they attract shallow, self-centered individuals who lack the character and seriousness of purpose to practice basic drills diligently. Most are far more interested in gadgets than in personal enlightenment.

I think people are better trained to win fights when someone says, ‘Go practice one thousand draws.’ Mine is, like yours, a minority view, of course.”

Comment: Some sage advice from Attila the Hun:

“If victory is always easily gained, you must reconsider the worthiness of your ambitions.”



7 Aug 04

Nicephorus and the Kahn:

Romans lumped all eastern Europeans into one category and called them Slavs. The term means “slaves.” When the Roman Empire split into Eastern and Western components in 395AD, the Western half failed to survive another hundred years, but the Eastern Empire (Byzantium), with its capitol at Constantinople, stayed intact well into the Second Millennium.

Wiley Emperor Nicephorus I had his hands full in the year 811AD. A muscular and well organized Slavic tribe, the notorious Bulgars, under Kahn (king) Krum, were constantly, and successfully, raiding his territory. Like Vikings further north, Bulgar warriors were skillful and cunning, and the entire Bulgarian “economy” depended upon them successfully raiding their upscale neighbors to the southeast. Slavs weren’t “Christianized” until the tenth century. In 811 they were pagan and thus considered barbarians by Nicephorus and his Byzantines, who were Roman and Christian.

Nicephorus decided that, in a single stroke, he would solve two of his biggest problems. He would personally lead an army into Bulgar territory confronting and defeating Krum in his own land. In the process, he would take all his nobles of dubious loyalty with him, insuring that they would not engineer an overthrow during his absence.

Nicephorus’ army was large and imposing. It included great strength in all categories, including a complement of siege engines, capable of breaching any fortification. Krum was completely outclassed, and he knew it. Nonetheless, he looked for a way defeat Nicephorus. Ultimately, he found it!

But, he didn’t find it before Nicephorus sacked and burned the Bulgarian capitol city of Pliska in July of 811. Pliska was so completely demolished, to this day it has never been rebuilt. However, Krum’s army was still mostly intact, and Nicephorus knew his mission was still unfulfilled. However, Nicephorus’ uneasiness was not shared by his commanders who thought the war was all but over. They were persuaded that their columns could now casually march through the remainder of Bulgaria as a signal to the defeated Bulgars that they better not cause any more trouble for their neighbors. As a result, normal military precautions, like thorough reconnaissance, were neglected. Krum thus succeeded in luring a foolish and overconfident Nicephorus into a trap, a trap where both his numerical and technical superiority would be neutralized.

Nicephorus suddenly found himself in a steep-sided valley, with no exit, save where he entered. Just as suddenly, he discovered his only exit blocked by a hastily constructed log barrier. Nicephorus and his entire staff were astonished to realize their entire army was trapped, and their only chance was to reverse direction and break through the log barrier. Now Nicephorus’ true weakness and incompetence as a commander became evident to all. Fearful of failure and the resultant loss of personal prestige, Nicephorus dithered, unable and unwilling to give the decisive order. His commanders implored him to make a decision, but he was so griped by fear that he became giddy, incoherent, and hopelessly despondent. Their siege engines could have easily broken down the barrier, but the order never came.

Krum gave Nicephorus several days, then he suddenly swept down upon the Byzantines from the surrounding hills. Lacking decisive leadership, the entire Byzantine army was overwhelmed and destroyed. Only a few escaped. Nicephorus himself was killed, the first Roman emperor to be killed in battle since Valens, who was killed at the disastrous Battle of Adrianople in 378AD.
Nicephorus’ son, Stauricius, also at the battle, escaped, only to die from his wounds several months later. Stauricius’ successor, Michael, suffered a similar defeat at the hands of Krum the following year. Indecisive leadership and political intrigue had proved disastrous, twice within a twelve months.

Lessons: Who just “lets things happen,” because he is afraid of making a mistake, is almost certainly making one. Who incessantly “fears to fail” will, in the end, fail without even trying.

Boldness and daring are traits found in every true leader, but rarely found in a typical “manager.” One can’t manufacture loyalty. It must be earned. You can’t “manage” men into battle. You have to lead them!



9 Aug 04

TSA, at your service:

An LEO friend submitted to TSA the obvious suggestion that sworn police officers be allowed to carry on all domestic, commercial flights. He pointed out that training and certification needed to carry on an airplane could easily be made available, and the policy would put good, armed men and women aboard many more flights than are currently being covered by federal sky martials. All of this would make another successful domestic skyjacking a good deal less likely.

Their “response”

“You can now obtain information about submitting your idea or product via our website at … and click on … ad nauseum”

Loosely translated:

“We don’t care. We don’t have to.”

Bureaucracies are all alike!



10 Aug 04

On serious shooting vs “play” shooting, from one of my instructors:

“I exposed a new student to the Rotator and the our method of movement, precision shooting, and situational awareness last week. Mike is no novice. He is a competitive marksmen of many years and is able routinely to shoot ragged, one-hole groups with his Glock 30 during PPC and other competitions. But, he doesn’t habitually carry a pistol for self-protection, and, up until now, has regarded pistols solely as instruments or recreation.

I ran him through the verbal challenge, draw, movement, immediate action drill, and then turned him lose on the Rotator. His hit ratio was less then sixty percent, and he would often miss the first two or three shots after moving. Like many beginners in our Art, he had trouble with multitasking. After several more cheerless attempts, I pulled him off the line for a chat. He was clearly frustrated and embarrassed. “Wow, this is a lot to think about,” he said. “When you demonstrated, it looked so easy.”

In order to make it manageable, I broke the routine (kata) up into several, more easily digested segments. We started with the draw in motion and then added a piece at a time. It took far longer than Mike thought is would or should, but he gradually put it together and started moving smoothly. Indecisive dithering and twitching incrementally gave way to seamless flowing.
Mike’s conversion from marksman to gunmen has started, and he is an enthusiastic convert. You’ll see him in a class soon”

Comment: Many competitive shooters naively believe that the transition to “gunman” is effortless. As we see, the road is considerably more bumpy that most think. But the main point is this: the process starts with repentance. One must repent of his old ways and see that he needs to take a new direction before any progress will be made. Without repentance, no true learning will happen. Without repentance, we are merely rearranging deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. Repentance involves jumping into the cold water and swimming to a new ship. It is frightening, but it is the only way. Those so gripped by fear and pride that they cannot make the jump will stay with the Titanic.



10 Aug 04

Serious vs competition shooting, view from another of my instructors:

“I concur with your assessment of competition shooters and the painful frustration of trying to train them to become competent gunmen. It is a matter/antimatter mixture. They are mostly incompatible.

There are many principles in direct conflict. Here are the most noteworthy:

We don’t put empty guns in holsters. On cold ranges they do, as a matter course. In running a cold range, the instructor is saying to his students, ‘I don’t trust you with guns and never will.’ If people are ever to learn how to carry loaded guns regularly, they need to do it in training.

You are not going to be shooting someone every time you draw your gun. We thus keep the trigger finger in register during the draw until sights are on target and we have made the decision to shoot, and we draw from concealment. Trigger fingers prematurely placed on triggers, in order to get a ‘fast shot,’ are an invitation to an ND and a constitute bad habit, yet competitive shooters do it all the time, because they carry pistols in plain view and shoot every time they draw. Pistols used are typically temperamental monstrosities with no practical use outside competition. ‘Prepping of the trigger,’ as taught in some venues, is a virtual guarantee of an ND. It is one of the most difficult habits we have to break.

Any time that you place an automatic ‘faster is better’ imperative into ‘tactical’ exercises, you customarily defeat the premise the exercise is designed to point out to you.

Anyone employing sound tactics and gun handling skills is thus assured of not ‘winning’ any of the vast majority of shooting competitions as the are currently practiced.”

Comment: I have no issue with competitive shooting and competitive shooters, any more than I have an issue with “dojo dancers” who flit around dojos while wearing shiny pajamas. If that does it for you, you’ll hear nothing but silence from this quarter.

However, it is amazing to me that anyone would want to learn serious skills from a person who doesn’t carry a gun and doesn’t even own a gun suitable for carrying. When it comes to serious training for serious shooting. I would rather learn from someone who has mud on his shoes, someone who is less concerned with looking pretty and more concerned with objective problem solving, someone who inspires his students rather than trying to impress them.



16 Aug 04

Police in Australia, from a friend living there:

“A common saying among the senior officers here is, ‘We don’t want to become like you Americans.’ That means they naively believe all the rubbish, circulated my America haters, about America being a violent and terrible place, and their ‘solution’ is to remain majestically ignorant of guns and utterly incompetent in their use. ‘Let no one be more incapable than us,’ is their real motto! It was leaked recently that ‘armed’ police, assigned to protect international VIPs visiting Queensland were mostly deployed without ammunition! Local bureaucrats ascribed the whole sad affair to an ‘administrative mix-up,’ as if that automatically excuses their bungling, uncaring imbecility.

Since Glocks have been issued, numerous NDs have occurred, mainly during cleaning and reholstering. Although all such incidents have been the direct result of poor training, stupidity, and ignorance, senior officers in Queensland have publicly condemned Glock pistols, calling them ‘accident prone.’ One of the ‘solutions’ proposed is to train officers to holster their weapons after first regripping them, so that all fingers are on the grip, underneath the trigger guard.

The blind leading the blind here!”

Lesson: When a nation exterminates its gun culture and its warrior spirit with it, even police officers are left with no legitimate knowledge base to consult in formulating training doctrine. They flounder in ignorance, trying desperately to pretend they have a clue. Inability to effectively deal with criminals and NDs abound as a result.



16 Aug 04

On “compensated” pistols, from a friend in SA:

“I presented an Instructor’s Course in Eastern Cape this past weekend. We had one Taurus PT945 (integrally compensated). It made it through all of two hundred rounds before malfunctioning so badly that its owner had to replace it with another gun. When we pulled it off the line, it was a gummy, sooty mess!

Its owner also discovered, to his displeasure, that the compensator made it extremely painful to shoot this gun from close-retention and insufferable to shoot in the dark.”

Lesson: Compensators and barrel cuts have no legitimate place on serious pistols. Such guns need to be labeled, “for unimportant purposes only.”



16 Aug 04


A major retailer in TX tells me that the S&W CS9 (Chief’s Special 9mm) is going out the door as fast as they can get them in! Not so with the CS40 and CS45. Customers, mostly women, tell him that the CS9 is “the right size.” “They work just fine, and they don’t come back,” I’m told.

Comment: S&W may have a winner here. They’re making something their customers just have to have. Sounds like a formula for success to me!



19 Aug 04

On 1911s, from a master pistol smith and one of my instructors:

“The 1911 (‘O’ frame) customarily has few problems with parts breakage unless ‘worked on’ by an amateur. When I do a complete job, I furnish the customer with an extra tool steel, fitted extractor, properly tensioned. Improperly tensioned extractors, and those made of inferior metal cause all manner of problems for 1911 owners.

During cleaning/inspection I always examine the recoil and firing-pin springs. I usually replace them every 3000 rounds on a five-inch, more often on the Commander. Short-barreled 1911s (Officers Model) go through springs much faster, and, for that and other reasons, I don’t recommend building a serious carry pistol on that platform.

One other area that will often cause problems is the firing pin stop. Again, this part needs to be made of quality tool steel.

The O-frame is still a great platform. Advise your students to have their pistol inspected/modified by a truly competent pistol smith, who specializes in serious, concealed-carry pistols, not recreational ones.”

Comment: Jim knows what he is talking about. He builds my carry guns and carry guns for many other professional gunmen. He doesn’t build kiddy guns. I like that about him!



19 Aug 04

Additional on serious shooting from a well known trainer and friend. He puts it well:

“When I first address a new class of police recruits, I tell them the following:

‘Due to our limited time together, I have only one goal, and that is to prompt you to acquire an adequate mastery of the firearms and tactical skills you will require to insure that, at the end of every shift, you will go home to your family in one piece.

If, in addition to that, you want to pursue recreational/competition shooting, you, of course, surely may, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to teach you that skill set instead of legitimate survival skills. Competition shooters work at a level of stress that will not push their heart rates over 145b/m, and therefore they will have fine and complex motor skills reasonably functioning during the competitive event. Conversely, when you are thrust into a spontaneous, deadly, violent event, your body’s endocrine system will instantly dump hormones and other chemicals that will raise your heart rate well above 145bpm and into a range where fine motor skills fail and only gross motor will be available to you. In addition, we will train you to make the best possible use of cover. This will, with any luck, allow you time to think clearly and then act, rather than spontaneously charging forward pell mell, in a mad rush to beat the clock.’”

Comment: My friend correctly identifies another two areas where serious training and recreational shooting are in direct conflict.

Roman Legionaries commented on this many centuries ago. Gladiators, trained (like modern-day television wrestlers) to make an overly dramatized spectacle of “combat” in an arena, were always the first to break and run during real battle with real enemies. It was well known that gladiators made poor soldiers, and their highly stylized, flashy, glamorous arena techniques, designed mostly to impress and entertain, were of little value in the face of a determined and seasoned foe who knew how to fight and win the old-fashioned way. An interesting exception to this rule was seen during the short-lived Spartacan Rebellion in 72BC. Spartacus’ ragtag group of former gladiators and slaves made a respectable accounting of themselves when fighting AGAINST Roman Legions, because they had experienced a change of heart during there conversion from slave to free warrior, and, in the process, quickly abandoned flashy stuff in favor of the practical stuff.



22 Aug 04

Training in SA. The same problems exist everywhere:

“I Just finished a three-day course with officers from other precincts. As usual, most arrived with leather holsters that were so worn out as to be nonfunctional. The cut on some exposed the trigger completely. I know you would stop a course right there and get this kind of inexcusable junk replaced on the spot, but here we just have to soldier on or get no training done at all.

Two officers arrived with the Taurus PT99 (Beretta clone). As you know, these firearms are fitted with a three-position safety/decocking lever, about which you have written many ill opinions. It functions as a manual safety when pushed up and as decocker when pressed down. Neither of these two officers, who had been carrying this pistol for several years, knew it was fitted with a decocker. They had never received training and had been decocking manually all this time! They had both had several NDs during the process but didn’t know how to do it any differently.

Another officer arrived with an old, eight-shot Star that he had been carrying for quite some time. When we started live fire, this weapon refused to fire. Closer inspection revealed that it was minus the front half of its firing pin!

There were numerous, similar gaffs that I won’t bore you with. The crux of the matter is the lack of concern shown towards these problems, by the officers themselves or their departments. When training civilians, I find them arriving with the best they can afford and, if not, they go out and buy what is needed. Not so with law enforcement officers here. The old, ‘If management won’t supply, why should we bother?’ attitude is so prevailing, I have great difficulty convincing them that they need to take direct, personal responsibility for their own safety.”

Comment: It is the height of naivete for anyone to believe that someone else cares about them more than they care about themselves. Prudent people never wait for someone else to supply them with what they need.



22 Aug 04

On motorcycling and gun carrying:

David Hough is an authority on motorcycle riding. He persuaded the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to hold a conference of motorcycling veterans in an effort to codify the secrets of riding safely. He concludes:

“The MSF tried to focus on maneuver skills such as swerving and braking, but veterans kept suggesting that such evasive actions are largely unimportant and usually unsuccessful. Instead, they kept insisting that the key is to avoid riding blindly into dangerous situations.

They brought up a mystical ‘sixth sense’ that warns them of an impending accident. It really isn’t mysterious. The pearl of wisdom hidden in all those discussions is that motorcycling requires continuous observing and analyzing. Veteran riders are seldom compelled to execute sudden, evasive maneuvers, because they recognize ‘trouble in the making.’ They are able to see trouble in its formative stages and then make small adjustments in order to stay out of harm’s way.

The ‘sixth sense’ is not magic at all but simply being aware of clues that less experienced riders see but don’t recognize.”

Comment: Identical to our first rule of potential lethal encounters: “Arrange to be somewhere else.”



24 Aug 04

Lessons from catastrophe:

In a single incident last week, five officers suffered gunshot wounds in a Midwest city. One officer died at the scene. The other four are expected to recover completely. The single suspect was DRT.

The mentally ill suspect spontaneously shot his mother (with whom he was living) to death one afternoon and left her body in the living room where it fell. He used an SKS (7.62X39 Soviet), modified to accept Kalashnikov magazines. His brother, not hearing from his mother for several days, came over to check on her. The suspect told his brother as he arrived that he had shot their mother and that he was going to shoot him too. The brother immediately fled to his car and drove away, calling police as soon as he could.

As police were responding, the suspect went on a shooting rampage through his neighborhood, shooting at cars and houses. He used the SKS but also carried a revolver in his belt. The dispatch center was so flooded with calls, supervisors surmised there might be a gang war in progress or even an organized terrorist attack.

One responding officer was shot through a car door he was using as cover. The bullet struck his collarbone and was deflected downward. It perforated his heart and ultimately lodged in his abdomen. He died almost immediately. Over the next few minutes, three other officers suffered peripheral wounds. No nonparticipants were injured.

The suspect displayed an ability to use movement and cover to his advantage, and showed no interest in running away. He was clearly there to fight! His marksmanship was poor, and most of his shooting was just spraying. Responding patrol officers were armed only with G22s and shotguns with buckshot. However, a SWAT officer, coming to work, happened to hear the call and showed up with his AR-15. He aggressively closed with the suspect and exchanged a number of shots with him.

The suspect and the SWAT officer ran dry simultaneously! The suspect struggled unsuccessfully to exchange magazines on his SKS. The officer elected to charge. He closed with the suspect and buttstroked him with his AR. The suspect dropped his SKS but then went for his revolver. The officer immediately drew his G22 and, at range of ten feet, shot him once through the temple. The 165gr Federal bullet did not exit. Suspect was DRT. The SWAT officer sustained a single bullet wound to his leg.

Lessons: The best people, using the best equipment, with the best training should always be our goal. But, there are no guarantees in this life! When lots of bullets are flying around, people are going to get hit. Good training and equipment stacks the odds in our favor, but does not assure a happy result. However, poor training and equipment virtually promises an unhappy result.

We in American law enforcement are too oriented toward taking people into custody rather than ending their lives on the spot. In this day and age, we must remind ourselves that people posing a direct, credible threat need to be shot to death without hesitation, just as it is done in warfare. A lethal threat is a lethal threat.

We need to get rifles into patrol cars, all patrol cars, even in town! We need something with more magazine capacity and more range than shotguns. Our guys need this capability without delay. It can’t happen too soon.

Remember the four Fs:

Find them
Fix them in position
Fight them
Finish them



25 Aug 04

I spent the morning at the Harvey, IL PD Range, attending friend Jeff Chudwin’s wonderful Patrol Rifle Instructors’ Class. Jeff has students flock to him from all over the country. Nearly all were using AR-15s, RRA, DPMS, and DSA.

This morning’s curriculum included a ballistic gelatin demonstration. A number of pistol and rifle rounds were fired into gelatin blocks, after penetrating clothing, wall board, car glass, car doors, and soft body armor. My observations:

Soviet and Chinese 7.62X39 ammunition uses bullets with a lot of steel in them. Penetration is astounding! Typically goes through a car door, wall board, and Level II vest, and still penetrates twenty inches of gelatin.

55gr hardball in 223 will penetrate some homogeneous barriers, but does poorly on layered barriers, as the bullet progressively destabilizes and disintegrates as successive layers are encountered.

Federal Tactical in 223 has impressive penetration, even with layered barriers, but, at over one dollar/round, no one is going to be able to buy very much of it. Based on my experience, I’m confident Cor-Bon DPX would render similar, or even better, performance.

Bonded core pistol bullets did best. Without a bonded core, pistol bullets tend to shed their jackets. Pistol bullets do best when they stay together and don’t break up.

A Cor-Bon 357 PowerBall (100gr) bullet penetrated clothing and still yielded eleven inches of penetration in gelatin, doing massive damage between three and six inches. It’s the round I carry in my SIG229/DAK and my G32.


In the domestic police business, plan on having to penetrate parts of cars. 223 55gr hardball does poorly on cars. Federal Tactical and Cor-Bon DPX will do much better.

The human body can absorb an astounding amount of ballistic trauma and still remain fully functional. We have to train ourselves to strike the target multiple times along the body midline while protecting ourselves via cover and/or movement. Finish the fight!



28 Aug 04

News from a friend in Country:

“None of us are thrilled with the situation politicians been handed us. We want to finish it, once and for all, so insurgents will be unable to break their word, again.

We were involved in the action near the cemetery, outside the mosque. Insurgents charged us in full, Banzai fashion. It was a big mistake! You’ve heard about Marines and their rifles? Well, it’s true. My unit killed over three hundred of them. Flanking unites annihilated many more. I saw them laying in heaps. Then, the word came to ‘push them all the way back.’ We gingerly advanced through the cemetery, pushing the remnants back to the mosque. There is an open area between the cemetery and the mosque. The Air Force dropped about a half dozen five-hundred pounders on them. What few survived became disoriented and moved right back at us. None survived. We wiped them out!

Toward the end of the third day, my M4 jammed (double feed) twice. I was not happy. Fortunately, by buds covered. We devote a lot of time toward keeping weapons clean, not enough apparently! In any event, we took on the best they had and handed them a decisive defeat. We had several wounded, but they refused to go to the rear. All stayed in the fight. They are now all patched up and back with us.

Bottom line: insurgents know they can’t beat us. Heaven knows they tried! The only way they can win is through propaganda.”

Lessons: Mass charges will never be successful against American firepower. Japanese, NVA (in my day), and now Islamic extremists have all learned that painful lesson. Competent and courageous riflemen, machine gunners, and even pistoleros well dependably annihilate disjointed stampedes every time.

Radical Islamic extremists are now facing the same dilemma that was faced by the Viet Cong and NVA a generation ago. What can’t be won on the battlefield can be won on the cutting-room floors of CBS, ABC, NBC, and CNN. The bastards did it to us before!

The Stoner System, as manifested in the M-16/M-4, does not do well in airborne grit. Constant maintenance is required of any rifle in a military situation, but, for the Stoner, it is particularly critical. The other big issue is the extractor spring. It breaks frequently and must be inspected constantly. The D-ring really helps in this regard. Highly recommended!



30 Aug 04

Hot Ranges

We’ve been running hot pistol ranges for many years now, and the concept is widely accepted among professional trainers. Most domestic police departments now accept hot ranges as standard, and, as I’ve mentioned in the past, hot pistol ranges are now even making their way into military training, at least within the USMC. But, what about rifle training? Should we be running hot rifle ranges too? I’ve been doing it for the last ten years, but many trainers are reluctant. Here are the issues:

Pistols are carried in holsters. Modern holsters, both duty and concealed, are designed so that the trigger, indeed the entire trigger guard, is continuously protected as the gun is carried. In addition, the direction of the muzzle is also controlled, as the pistol is held rigidly in place. Most of us agree that a holstered pistol is a “safe” pistol. Magazines can even be exchanged, in relative safety, so long as the pistol remains holstered.

Secondly, most pistols don’t have manual safety levers or buttons, because “safety” is built into the trigger itself. Trigger-cocking pistols have triggers that must be moved rearward at least a half inch under at least six pounds of continuous pressure in order for the weapon to discharge. With that kind of trigger, most of us think that the addition of a manual safety would constitute a pointless redundancy, particularly on a weapon that is supposed to be carried in a high state of readiness. Only pistols that have short, light triggers, such as the 1911, need a manual safety.

Rifles, on the other hand, are not carried rigidly in holsters. Rather, they are slung over the shoulder or neck (muzzle down), with the muzzle under some, but far from absolute, control. As the weapon is thus carried, triggers and trigger guards are not covered or protected in any particular way, and rifle triggers are light and short. Generally, rearward movement of only a few millimeters and pressure of no more that five pounds is necessary for a discharge. Accordingly, all rifles have manual safety levers or buttons. Military rifles have manual safety levers designed to be operated quickly. As rifles are slung and carried, it is surely possible for buttons, snaps, and other articles of clothing to inadvertently enter the trigger guard and put rearward pressure on the trigger, all without knowledge, much less the intent, of the operator

So, can we safely carry loaded rifles during training sessions, slung, with the manual safety “on?” I believe we can, but, a better answer is that we really have no choice. If we expect soldiers and Marines to do this when they are deployed, we must do it in training. I strongly believe that Students must be acclimated BEFORE they deploy!

I train my students to keep the manual safety “on,” checking it frequently, any time the weapon is slung. When the weapon is mounted, the manual safety is pushed “off” as soon as the stock touches the shoulder. So long as the weapon is being held and in a firing position, the safety remains “off,” even when the student is moving. Trigger finger, of course, remains in register until sights on target, and the shooter has decided to fire. During breaks, all rifles (and pistols) remain loaded.

I know everyone is afraid of training accidents, but look. We’re having accidents now, on “cold” ranges. We’re also having accidents in Country, among soldiers and Marines who have never been taught how to handle, much less LIVE WITH, continuously loaded guns!

In any event, we’re now here at Camp Pendleton, CA, and tomorrow we’re starting an Urban Rifle Program, here with young Marines about to deploy, and we’re going to run the range hot. Ought to be interesting!



30 Aug 04

Cannon Fodder!

“Things are going from bad to worse here in California. We have gotten word that the guard force is standardizing on Sig Pistols, but the Army and the civilian contractor are only going to buy six. They can never leave the post and are going to be handed from guard to guard at shift change. There will be no opportunity to practice or qualify with these weapons. No single person is going to be responsible for maintenance. When I asked how they were going to transition officers that have been carrying Glocks or Berettas, the Army officer looked puzzled and replied, ‘a pistol is a pistol.’ If we go up to threat level bravo, and increase the amount of guards on duty, we won’t have enough guns. Pistols are going to be carried with empty chambers. The load is 9mm ball.

Never fear, however, if the bad guys attack we will be able to drive across the base, find a supervisor, sign out a shotgun, go to a different location, sign out ammunition, and then return to the fight. We also had an ‘orientation to action’ meeting and discussed the best method of stopping a truck with a handgun. I’m not making this up!”

Comment: My advice to this person is to quit his job immediately. He and his colleagues are obviously little more than cannon fodder in the eyes of the Army and the contractor. This really stinks, but it is all too common.