1 June 04

On “custom” pistols, from an affiliate instructor:

“A student arrived at the range last week, showing off his shinny, new SA ‘Custom Operator’ 1911 pistol w/light rails. He told of the months he had to wait to get it from SA’s custom shop and went on and on as to how it would be carried concealed on a regular basis and used for home defense.

As you could have guessed, the pistol was completely undependable! It was so tight that a chamber check was nearly impossible. When chambering a round, the pistol routinely refused to completely go into battery. Its owner could not get five consecutive rounds through it without a stoppage. Were this pistol to be used against a home intruder, its only reliable function would be as a club!

I have yet to see anyone with one of these ‘custom’ toys outshoot me, using a dull, boring, utility pistol. This was no exception!”

Comment: All the money spent on these expensive prima donnas would be better spent on plain-vanilla models, with the difference being used to purchase ammunition and professional training. Tricks and toys will not substitute for personal competence. Those who think they will are naive fools. With any luck, they will find enlightenment before someone calls their bluff.



3 June 04

Good marks for DSA, from a friend and colleague:

“A student bought Chilean surplus ammo in 308. He was using a DSA/FAL. Second shot blew the gun. The case ruptured, and the FAL blew the problem down through the magazine, as designed. The magazine was heavily bulged and the magazine well slightly bent, NOTHING else! No cracks. No injury to the shooter. The integral rail did not move at all. The rifle is still functional.

I have only good things to say about Dave and his products!

One thing on the DSA: don’t get the ‘enlarged’ manual safety lever. The tab is so big, it breaks off. Not recommended. The original safety lever works just fine.”

Comment: Good show, Dave! Again, most foreign ammunition is crap.



4 June 04

From a LEO friend in WI:

“Our state patrol, after many years, is finally replacing their Ruger autoloading pistols with G22s. WSP was one of the precious few major agencies that ever issued Ruger autoloaders. Now, it appears, our ‘Ruger era’ is finally over.”

Comment: We see Ruger autoloaders in classes from time to time. Functional and reliable, but ‘user hostile.’ No way they can compete with Glock and SIG.



7 June 04

Range Injury:

At a Tactical Treatment of Gunshot Wounds Course late last month, conducted by Doc Gunn and me, a student was injured while opening a folding knife.

Our student was using a Cold Steel Ti-Lite (just like the one I carry). During the course of instruction, each student shoots a scenario with a partner. One partner is “wounded” in the leg (hit with a rag wad) during the exercise. The wounded partner, of course, ignores his wounds and continues to shoot until all threats have been eliminated. Then, the uninjured partner, cuts off the trouser leg on the relevant side and applies a battle dressing to the wound. Instead of cutting and tearing the actual trouser leg, the uninjured shooter deploys his knife and cuts, then tears, a plastic bag we use for just this purpose.

As our student deployed his knife, he used his right thumb to open the blade. His thumb slipped off the stud, and then made direct contact with the cutting edge. The result was that he effortlessly cut a flap of skin off the front of his thumb. Like the trooper he is, this student finished the drill with nary a whimper.

Doc Gunn bandaged the wound, and this student finished the day with us at the range. At the hospital, it took ten stitched to repair the damage. He’ll be fine, but this incident served as an important object lesson:

I don’t know how Cold Steel makes their knives so sharp, but they all come from the factory with a razor edge. They are “high-performance” knives, as advertised! Sometimes we fail to appreciate how sharp they actually are and of what heavy damage they are capable, particularly since we all handle dull, flimsy, and relatively harmless (be comparison) kitchen and dining knives every day. The Cold Steel knives most of us carry routinely are formidable weapons indeed, as we discovered that day, and we need to always handle them with the reverence and respect they merit!



7 June 04

Full Auto?

At an Urban Rifle/Shotgun Course in May, an LEO student brought one of his department’s “AR-15s.” When my instructor examined it prior to the start of the course, it appeared to function normally.

As the student was firing from a prone position, the rifle fired a four-round burst (full auto) before the startled student could get his finger back off the trigger. I was standing right behind him at the time and asked him if the rifle was actually an M-16 with a three-position (safe, semi, full) selector. He replied, “Of course not!” I responded that the weapon may then be defective, as we see on occasion.

When I subsequently examined the weapon, I discovered it was indeed an M-16 with a perfectly functional, three-position selector. My instructor, having never seen one, didn’t notice the “auto” position, as the letters are covered up by the safety tab when the selector is in the “safe” position. The shooter had no idea his rifle was capable of full-auto fire, and he was pretty sure no one else in the department did either! The full-auto feature was presumed to have been “disabled” when the department acquired the weapons from the federal government. In any event, they all know now!

Lesson: Our current gun laws being what they are, most people, most firearms instructors, indeed most police officers, have never seen, much less handled, a full-auto rifle, machine gun, or submachine gun. When I first became a police officer thirty years ago, full-auto weapons (Thompsons, Grease Guns, Reising Guns, MI Carbines, even BARs), while never commonplace, were still found in many police inventories. Officers were familiar with them and actually shot them now and then.

It is my opinion that every police officer should be familiar with common military small arms, including those capable of full-auto fire, and be able to recognize them, handle them safely, and use them effectively. Unfortunately, today we “protect” the public, even police officers, by shielding them from such “dangerous knowledge.” For one, I am not nearly so frightened by “dangerous knowledge” as I am by “dangerous ignorance.” Fear and ignorance are far more hazardous than are knowledge and competence, as we see from the foregoing.



8 June 04

2004 NTI

“There are some things that cannot be imagined, but there is nothing that may not happen!”

Vicki and I just finished the 2004 NTI (National Tactical Invitational) in Harrisburg, PA. Skip, Jim, Hersh, and the NTI Staff put on the best one yet, and we thank them all!

This year, Vicki served as Sheriff of ASTA Village. I shot the event on Wednesday and again on the Saturday Team event with Steve Camp, president of Betterbilt. Also in attendance were such notables as Jeff Gonzales, Tom Givens, George Demetriou from Modern Warrior, as well as Peter Pi and Mike Shovel from Cor-Bon and many other friends and colleagues.

Last two years, I used my G32 in 357SIG caliber. This time, I used my SIG M229/DAK, also in 357SIG in my Comp-Tec IWB, held in by a George Wells gunbelt. I shot all live-fire events with Cor-Bon PowerBall ammunition, which is my current carry round. My backup guns were a G36 (also in a Comp-Tec IWB), slicked up by master gunsmith Jim Garthwaite, and an S&W 340PD (38Spl). My G36 now has a “gold dot” front sight. Jim uses a hemisphere of gold which gathers in even small amounts of light. I can see my front sight clearly in nearly any light. It never corrodes and never fades. Highly recommended! My S&W revolver was carried in a Rusty Sherrick shoulder holster. Rusty’s holster carries the pistol upside down. He is the only one who makes it. Draw is fast and smooth, and the revolver itself is so light, one hardly knows it is there.
In addition, I was armed with a Cold Steel Ti-Lite, Vaquero Grande, and Culloden, Fox OC, and a 6P Surefire. In one scenario, out of ammunition and backup guns, I quickly deployed my Ti-Lite and used it to stab the last attacker in the neck. That Ti-Lite is quick and deadly!

Concealing it all was a Concealed Carry Clothiers vest, which I wear all the time anyway. All pistols and knives worked without a hitch.

As in past years, there were five live-fire exercises on various ranges and five Simmunitions exercises in ASTA Village. In the village, each participant is confronted by actors who simulate varied personal security scenarios. Events are free flowing. Posturing, positioning, and verbal skills are all tested, as well as shooting skills.

Each live-fire drill was, of course, a come-as you-are affair, except for one, where we were required to use an “unfamiliar” weapon (this year, a side-by-side, double-barreled, break-open, 12ga shotgun, with two triggers and external hammers which had to be cocked manually). Most challenges are in building mockups. Some are in low-light. Targets and “non-targets” alike are rubber mannequins or three-dimensional shells. All are dressed. All are responsive, and some are animated. Not all hostiles are in the open. In some cases, only a knee or foot is exposed.

There were, in addition, excellent talks and seminars presented by Tom Givens, Jeff Gonzales, George Demetriou from Modern Warrior, Vicki Farnam, Peter Pi, and me. It is an annual learning opportunity not to be missed!

Lessons from this year’s event:

When the fight for your life has commenced, be:

(1) Highly violent and unrestrained. Make the Doctor-Jeckel-to-Mr-Hide transformation decisively and at once. Shoot threatening individuals repetitively and relentlessly until they no longer represent a threat.

(2) Ready to instantly move off the line of force when a threat is detected. Don’t dither!

(3) Prepared to forcibly disarm threatening individuals when they get within an arm’s reach with pistols. I disarmed robbery suspects on two separate occasions when they stuck guns in my face. Both were so surprised and startled they just gawked at me in disbelief!

(4) Scanning constantly, in all directions

(5) In constant motion

(6) Constantly behind, or moving to, cover

(7) Constantly aware of, and moving to, an exit

(8) Surgically accurate. Keep all hits on the body midline whenever possible. Be prepared to instantly transition to a backup gun or blade, when necessary

(9) Absolutely objective, paying no heed to conventional “Authorized Personnel Only” signs and the like.

Most shooting was close, but not all. Precise trigger control and correct use of sights are more important than body position.

When confronting potentially dangerous people:

(1) Attempt to be invisible and/or deselected. Exit at the first sign of trouble/danger.

(2) Aggressively disengage! Use posturing, movement, distraction, OC spray, and verbiage to separate yourself from threatening individual(s). Don’t get boxed in. Stay in the open where you can move in any direction. Continue to separate from them, even when they chase after you or try to get in front of you. After a while, they will give it up.

(3) Use OC spray at the first sign of physical or verbal aggression on the part of suspect(s). After spraying the individual(s), disengage and separate quickly.

(4) Be fully prepared to draw your pistol promptly when suspect(s) produce a weapon of any kind or otherwise threaten with deadly force. As your pistol is drawn, move to cover immediately.

(5) Don’t allow suspects to engage you in conversation. If you answer their questions, you are allowing them to set the agenda. Instead, politely, but firmly, dismiss them and separate. Be in constant motion. Don’t stand in one place and answer their questions.

(6) When talking with police, be polite but not talkative. Don’t answer questions that weren’t asked. If you’re involved in a violent incident in any capacity, request that no questions be asked before your attorney is personally present. If questions are asked anyway, politely respond that you want to consult with your lawyer before answering.

(7) Don’t be restrained by other peoples’ lack of action. If danger signs are clearly present, get out! Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing.

Interesting facts from presenters:

Most defensive shootings take place in parking lots, driveways.

The way we are living in the USA in the wake of 9/11 is the way we’re going to live from now on. The world situation is not improving, nor is it likely to any time soon.

357SIG caliber is taking off. It has now become a major part of Cor-Bon’s business.

9mm +P ammunition actually creates less chamber pressure than does “NATO” 9mm ammunition. In light of this fact, it is interesting that most pistol manufacturers advise their customers not to shoot +P, but, in the same breath, insist that NATO ammunition is just fine.

In Iraq, a Leatherman tool is essential. Many soldiers are now also carrying tomahawks. Cold Steel makes a wonderful one. They report excellent results!

Benelli shotguns with 00 buckshot have been used to great effect in Iraq. Popular weapon. Effective range is 25m. One shot nearly always ends the fight abruptly.

Being able to shoot a rifle or shotgun from either shoulder is an essential skill. Many “tactical” sling systems don’t allow a quick transition. They are not recommended.

A 10-round, 40S&W XP magazine makes an excellent and reliable 15-round 9mm magazine that works just fine in the 9mm XP.

In the late 1700s, a brash and mouthy young lad named Andrew Jackson found himself in a rowdy bar somewhere on the American frontier. General Andrew Jackson, during the War of 1812, would win a stunning victory over the British during the Battle of New Orleans and go on to become President of the United States. But, at this time, Jackson was barely more than a teenager, and he made the mistake of picking a fight with Simon Kenton. Kenton, then in his forties, was a rugged, hardened frontiersman, a contemporary with Daniel Boone. Kenton had already been captured twice by Indians and had twice escaped. He was as tough as they come!
When Jackson finally pushed the right buttons, Kenton exploded into action. He was all over Jackson and would surely have decapitated him with his knife if other patrons had not pulled him away. In his first display of intelligence that evening, Jackson took advantage of the opportunity and ran out of the building.

Jackson would later make the understatement of the day, “Kenton doesn’t fight for fun!”

Yes, and neither should we.

“An ‘adventure’ is the inevitable result when opportunity and unpreparedness collide!”



9 June 04

Holster Problems:

Fobus is recalling several thousand holsters because of a rash of reholstering ADs involving G17s and G19s equipped with lasers. In all reported ADs, there has been only one documented injury, to a finger, but there has been property damage. No information on the brand of laser.

The problem involves a retention strap that is small enough to insert itself inside the pistol’s trigger guard as the pistol is holstered. Fobus has since redesigned the straps, making them wider, so the problem has been eliminated on new Fobus production.

The lesson here is that kydex holsters are much stiffer and more gun specific than are conventional, leather ones. On a kydex holster (or any holster for that matter), there should be no part (strap, sweat barrier, etc), that could ever come into contact with the trigger guard, that is narrow enough to fit inside. All such noncurrent designs need to be corrected/updated immediately.



15 June 04

At the IALEFI Conference in Dayton, OH, Federal demonstrated their latest iteration of reduced recoil 00 buckshot. At twenty meters range the cluster of pellets was barely more than six inches in diameter. For all practical purposes, this round is a slug! A new wad system is responsible for the extremely tight pattern.

Tight buckshot patterns are desirable to a point, but I believe this goes too far. At twenty meters, I’d like a buckshot spread of twenty-five centimeters (ten inches), much as is routinely yielded using the Wad Wizard and Vang Comp system and standard, 00 buckshot.

The Federal folks indicated that the same wad technology would be available shortly with “standard recoil” shotshells also.



15 June 04

Typical frustration expressed by a student:

“This weekend, I came to the conclusion that going to different firearms instructors, all of whom have different techniques, is causing me to never settle on one way of doing things. It seems, for example, everybody has a different opinion on:

Exactly where the left hand should be when you draw.

Thumbs ‘down’ on the grip (Ayoob), thumbs ‘aggressively forward’ (US Marshals), thumbs ‘high’ (Farnam and Suarez).

Middle of first finger pad for trigger contact, or first digit crease. Both methods are commonly taught.

Stoppage reduction, tilt the pistol upward to ‘analyze’ the situation first. Or, just TRB, and, if necessary, LRWTRB. Both approaches are taught. One can TRB via twisting the weapon first, so that the ejection port is directed downward, but I have been trained by you to TRB without twisting the pistol at all.

You can perform a visual chamber check during daylight, so why not? Of course you can’t do either of the above in darkness.

I have been trained by Farnam and Suarez to be moving off the line of force constantly. Others have told me to do everything while standing in one spot.

I have been trained in gunfighting by people who have never been near one. I have been trained by people who have been in violent infantry combat (Farnam). I have been trained by people who have been in law enforcement street gunfights (Cirillo and Suarez). I have been trained by people who have credentials of surviving a gunfight, but to me it seems a miracle they did.

All these variations are driving me nuts and keeping me from settling into any specific ‘system.’ It is frustrating, and perhaps dangerous, because I no longer am sure exactly what I will do under stress.”

My reply:

“As our friend and colleague, Danny Inosanto, says, ‘Absorb what is useful.’ All instructors try to package the best information and technique routine and present it to the student, but our art is evolving continuously, and I, for one, adopt new techniques and abandon old ones regularly. We all agree on the big stuff, but there is much variation in the details, as you noted. In the end, each of us has to develop his own ‘system’ and stay with it, until something better comes along. When it does, we then have to have the personal courage to abandon the old and embrace the new.
I know it is frustrating, but true, personal growth always is, and we dare not stop!”



18 June 04

Excellent summary from a stock broker and friend:

“We mostly agree on:

Movement. Whether you’re talking, reloading, looking around, picking your nose, drawing, holstering, etc, you’re constantly moving off the line of force, slightly faster than it can be reestablished in the mind of the attacker.

Looking for trouble. It can come from behind as well as in front, and you have to look ALL THE WAY AROUND to protect yourself adequately. Predators see that you know what you’re doing and routinely deselect you.

Tape Loops. Getting in the habit of projecting a clear verbal challenge, not being embarrassed to holler, ‘Can I help you, sir?’ and ‘Police, don’t move; drop your weapon!’ I’ve read a number of testimonials from students telling how that one skill and the willingness to use it has terminated numerous potentially dangerous encounters in dimly-lit parking lots. I think it’s among the most important things DTI teaches, and it’s independent of firing a gun.

Staying alert in the world. Avoiding fights. Not being there.

Staying in the fight, until his will to fight is destroyed, or you’re destroyed. Do what you have to do, including transitioning to a backup gun or blade.

ACT at the critical moment! Have a blueprint, a plan. Tweak it as necessary, but DON’T DITHER! Predators have no interest in dealing with decisive people.

Jettison unnecessary baggage. Unhelpful things and thoughts alike must be cast aside without delay. Fighting is not a good venue for ‘multi-tasking.’

Among investors I run into plenty of people who just wanted to know ‘what to buy now’ and are ‘so confused’ by varying opinions of brokers, financial advisors, et al. They all ‘want answers.’
I refer to such thinking as ‘financial immaturity’ and tell them so. The best financial minds in the country argue with each other all the time. Even Alan Greenspan doesn’t hold the same opinions today that he did ten years ago, five years ago, even one year ago. In the end, its still your money. Only you get to decide what to do with it. Win or lose, you’ve only yourself to blame or credit. No one else cares, nor ever will.

Guru-chasers, like church-switchers, are all the same. It’s a common and natural desire to long for incontrovertible, unalterable remedies for life’s uncertainties. That’s what children see in their parents. Grownups need to ‘grow up.’ “Absolutes’ may exist, and we may know them. We just don’t get to be sure we know them. Welcome to Planet Earth!”



18 June 04

On Fobus Holsters from a friend at Fobus:

“Of the thousands of holsters involved in the recall, a total of eight unintentional discharges have been brought to our attention. These incidents have produced one finger injury, and damage to one pair of pants. No new incidents have been reported this year. A redesigned retention strap is standard on all currently available holsters. It is designed to eliminate this problem.

Instructions for the free replacement of holsters (including all shipping charges) is available by contacting Fobus at 866 508 3997.

Please know that all Fobus holsters are of polymer construction, rather than Kydex.”

Comment: Sooner or later, every manufacturer will have problems like this one, no matter how careful they try to be. The “problem” is not the issue. How the problem is handled by the manufacturer is the issue. Fobus has done the right thing by acknowledging the problem and fixing it.



18 June 04

I conducted a Defensive Shotgun Clinic at the just-completed IALEFI Annual Conference in
Dayton, OH. It is a conference I recommend to all range officers, as one gets the opportunity to mingle and talk with other trainers from around the country and around the world.
In any event, I was surprised at the number of Benelli Super-90 and Beretta 1201 shotguns present. They were the only brands of autoloaders represented. There were no 11-87s. The rest of the shotguns present were Remington 870s and Mossberg 590s.

The Benelli Super-90 and Beretta 1201 are nearly identical and both use an impulse/recoil system of operation. Many operators were unfamiliar with the correct operating procedure for these fine weapons. Both shotguns have a permanent magazine cutoff. With the magazine tube charged, pulling back the bolt handle and releasing it will NOT bring a round into the receiver and subsequently into the chamber.

After charging the magazine tube, the weapon’s chamber must be physically checked and the weapon must then be aimed in a safe direction and dry fired. The hammer dropping will bring a round out of the magazine tube and into the receiver. You’ll see it sitting on top of the shell lifter. The shotgun is now in “carry mode,” and pulling the bolt handle back and releasing it will immediately chamber that round, thus rendering the weapon ready to fire. The manual safety is already “off. Pressing the “shell release” lever will also release the first round from the magazine tube, but I prefer dry firing, because that put the hammer at rest, and it assures that the manual safety is “off.”

Having an empty chamber and, in addition, the manual safety in the “on” position is a pointless redundancy.



21 June 04

From an LEO friend in the Midwest:

“At 4:20am on Monday morning a man attempted to sexually assault a woman in the woman’s apartment. She ran out on the street. He followed and tackled her. A loud fight ensued, and a neighbor called police.

Our officer arrived minutes later. When verbal commands were ignored, she decided to use her Taser. Range was five feet, and both probes made contact. The suspect stiffened as expected, but then came at her, knocking her to the ground. The suspect then stole the officer’s patrol vehicle and attempted to escape in it, but was cut off by another officer. The stolen police car ran into a tree.

A third officer arrived and approached the crashed vehicle. The suspect came flying out and struck that officer with his hands and fists, knocking her to the ground and attempting to disarm her. She elected to shoot and fired three or four rounds (G19). The suspect was hit in both thighs, a wrist, and the abdomen. The shot that struck the wrist may have been the same one that struck the abdomen. Upon being struck, the suspect jumped backwards and ran a short distance before collapsing. He is currently in “fair” condition.

Our PD has had Tasers for less than a year. In that time, we’ve fired it in the field twenty-one times. Three times at least one barb missed, and once the barbs didn’t stick. The other eighteen times, the Taser worked as advertised, and the officer who use it in the foregoing incident had successfully used it before and had great confidence in it.”

Lesson: I recommend the Taser, as I believe it to be a useful piece of police equipment, but the hype surrounding it would have us all believe that it is infallible. Like all equipment, it has weaknesses, and, even when deployed according to instructions, sometimes fails to produce the results we want and expect. We have to be careful not to become a victim of our own prejudice and always be prepared to escalate instantly and vehemently when required. Reality always trumps expectation! Gawking is disbelief customarily ends in a fatality.



23 June 04

I talked with a big gun retailer yesterday, asking him, as is my habit, what is currently a hot seller. He indicated that SA’s “WWII Spec” Government Model 1911 was selling faster than he could get them in, outselling all other 1911s by a wide margin. The only part of the pistol that is not WWII spec is SA’s locking system, which is apparently standard. For the price, it is a good, utility gun.

I’ve been carrying a S&W CS45 for a while now. CS stands for “Chief’s Special.” The pistol is small and light, designed for concealed carry. It is the size of an Officer’s Model. S&W has done a nice job rounding off edges and corners. If one must carry a 45ACP, it is a good way to go. I can’t get it to hiccup.

Of course, I had to remove the magazine safety, but otherwise it is good to go out of the box.



26 June 04

“Competitive” shooting, from a friend and trainer in SA:

“One of my students (first time with me on the range) is an accomplished ‘competitive’ shooter.
Today’s topic was use of cover. The instant this officer took cover, he reverted to ‘sport shooting’ mode. He was far more interested in ‘beating the clock’ than in learning anything about saving his life. In his effort to go through the drill as quickly as possible, all basics were cast aside. Scanning before moving, getting behind cover as opposed to getting into the box and not ‘foot faulting,’ exposing his head above low cover, sticking the gun beyond the cover; etc. All good tactics were forgotten in a mad, preprogrammed rush to get to the end in the shortest time possible.

I explained the difference between sport shooting and serious shooting to the whole class. Our student was in agreement with all that was said and decided to give it another try, using correct tactics this time. His good intentions lasted all of five seconds! Without even realizing it, he resumed shooting against the clock.

We have much ‘unlearning’ to do!

Comment: On balance, “sport” or “competitive” shooting, as commonly practiced, does more harm than good. Most participants don’t even carry a gun and seldom give a conscious thought to serious shooting and personal tactics. What they become “experts” at is whining and rule beating. It is not training.