1 Mar 10

Lost Flower Children?

“Washington Ceasefire,” another dreary anti-gun group, has stated publically that allowing guns (open carry) in coffeehouses robs local residents of “societal-sanctuaries.”

“People go to Starbucks for an escape, so they can get peace, but people walk in with openly-carried guns, and tranquility is destroyed,” say them.

I wonder if openly-armed police officers, who also frequent Starbucks, “destroy tranquility” in the same way!

Apparently, concealed guns are not the issue here. These detached neurotics seemingly have no trouble with guns being present, so long as they don’t see them, and can thus serenely pretend they are not there.

The real question is: Do coffee-house customers have the right to insist that everyone around them cooperate in the maintenance of their self-manufactured fantasies?

Put another way: Is there a Constitutional Right to enforced “Myth-Maintenance?”

Heaven forbid anyone would ever get upset!



1 Mar 10

Nuclear Power No More? This from a friend and student in the System:

“Last week, the BHO Administration announced that the USA will begin retiring our fleet of nuclear-armed cruise missiles, because ‘… we don’t need them anymore.’

Let me translate that into plain English:

‘We are retiring our nuclear-armed cruise missiles… only because we have no reliable warheads left to put on them! All are badly outdated, and we are currently unable to make new ones.’”

Comment: It can’t be called an “Arms-Race,” when only one side is racing! As we foolishly allow our nuclear technology to waste away, other nations are enthusiastically surging forward!

I still have not heard the news that North Korea and Islamic terrorists (apparently just a figment of GWB’s imagination) have suddenly decided to love us.

Imagine that!



2 Mar 10

Get Ready!

These comments from a friend and strategic planner:

“For one, I’m extremely concerned with Israel’s potential preemptive attack on Iran, mentioned in your last Quip.

Western Civilization literally runs on petroleum, and surely will, well past the middle of this Century. Europe, Japan, and the UK are slightly more vulnerable to flow-disruptions than is the USA, but we all know and understand that ‘oil must flow,’ mostly from the Mideast, if Western Civilization is to continue in any kind of recognizable form.

When there is a nuclear ‘incident’ anywhere, but most likely the Mideast, the flow of oil from that part of the world will, beyond doubt, be critically disrupted… and who knows for how long? And, there is no predicting the way other nuclear powers will react. Even a significant, but non-nuclear (at least initially), military event in the region, crossing international borders, will precipitate major, unpredictable consequences.

At the very least, on this side of the world, commercial transportation, in all forms, will slow and eventually stop. Goods will not move. Domestic oil production, so long asphyxiated by liberal politicians, will not be able to expand fast enough to keep up, even when finally allowed to. And, life, as we know it, will start to change forever. Most grocery-stores stock only a 48-hour inventory!

In the short term, general chaos will be unavoidable. That juicy burger, currently so smugly denigrated by self-conceited Food-Nazis (endlessly interviewed on TV) will be but a distant, fading, and fond memory for most of us. ‘Obesity’ will suddenly disappear as a source of concern, as will ‘global-warming,’ health-care reform, the sex-life of movie stars, and a host of other trivial non-issues currently consuming the naive.

At least half our population, unaccustomed to any species of self-reliance, will do nothing, will have made no preparations, and will thus wait around with their collective hands out for the government to ‘do something.’ Meanwhile, government will be consumed only with protecting and preserving itself. Who thus dither will perish first!

Large, metro areas will be affected immediately and most severely.

Expect stringent martial law, curfews, rationing, and attempted gun confiscation. None of the foregoing is unprecedented. When the flow of oil is not aggressively restored, internment camps and starvation are next. In our state of weakness, invasion by foreign countries is probable. History has shown us many times that, when goods don’t move across international borders, armies do!

No assistance will be forthcoming from Western Europe, nor the UK, as they will be worse off than we are.

Maybe another world conflagration. Maybe eventual world domination by a single nation or culture/religion. It is anyone’s guess what shape the world will take when the historical dust settles, but it is probably a safe bet that it will not resemble anything we’re accustomed to in our age.

These days, most planners are extremely nervous! We all agree that we are currently living through some profoundly dangerous history.”

Comment: I don’t claim the gift of prophecy, nor do I have much influence up the food-chain. But, at our level, what we can do is individually prepare, in depth. Food, medicine, arms, ammunition, thorough emergency planning, and competent training will all be critically essential.

And, when given the chance, we can precipitously vote out of office smug, oblivious flower-children who think a nation’s wealth comes from a printing press, a nation’s strength comes from “central-planning” by career politicians, and good times will last forever, because we deserve them!



4 Mar 10

Emergency tip from a friend in Chile:

“We’ve all came through the event okay, and we’re fine for now.

Our only immediate issue is a shortage of cash!

The earthquake instantly converted all of Chile to a ‘cash-only’ society! Checks, and even credit cards, are currently worthless here and of absolutely no use. Some items can be bartered, but, right now, cash is king!”

Comment: Something to keep in mind!

Most of us, myself included, are way too dependant on credit cards. A reserve of cash is an important component of all emergency plans.

I’m fully aware of our inflationary issues in the Country, but, in any emergency, an adequate supply of Greenbacks will come in mighty handy, at least in the short term!



5 Mar 10

More on Cash:

Friends have pointed out:

Items normally used for “investment,” because of their potential for growth in value, are usually poor for barter. “Future value” is of little meaning, when no one thinks there is going to be any kind of “future” that anyone is going to recognize! Thus gems, gold, real estate, stocks and bonds, et al may represent great investments, but they make poor barter.

Conversely, toilet paper, ammunition, medicine (particularly prescription, oral antibiotics), batteries, food, fuel, half-pints of whiskey, and cash, while currently poor “investments,” become extremely valuable for barter when disaster strikes. Good barter must be perceived as valuable, indeed essential, by the majority of people you’re going to run into and thus needs to be (1) immediately useful, (2) immediately recognizable, and (3) immediately verifiable.

Of course, paper currency can become worthless script, and has many times in the past. But, in the short term, it is going to be invaluable for Barter, Bribes, and Bail-money, the three “Bs” of disaster planning!



9 Mar 10

Ballistic narrative, from a friend in SC:

“Last Friday, I shot a wild hog, using my S&W Commander 1911/45ACP and Cor-Bon, 185gr/hp ammunition. The hog was a two-hundred pound male. I shot him from the front. The bullet impacted two inches below his right eye. Range was fifteen meters.

He collapsed instantaneously, as if I had hit a circuit-breaker! A second shot through his heart (from the side) ended festivities for good.

Back at the farm, during butchering, I found the second bullet. It lodged just under the skin in the front shoulder, after penetrating side-to-side, 25cm (ten inches). Perfectly symmetrical mushroom! Core and jacket still firmly bonded together.

The skull is now at the taxidermist being cleaned. We’re hoping to recover the first bullet as well.

It was not my intent that day to ‘hunt’ with my 1911. We inadvertently stumbled upon this hog while scouting the area, but it surely worked well, at least in this case!”

Comment: I don’t recommend deliberately hunting any kind of big game, surely not wild hogs, with a 1911 pistol in 45ACP (nor any other pistol caliber). The 1911/45ACP is a “people-gun.” Like most pistol rounds, it lacks adequate penetration for big-game hunting.

However, the foregoing (though just one incident, and anecdotal at that) is still an example of the good results we often get when careful aim and a steady hand, combined with high-performance ammunition, come together.

Who train so that they hit consistently, and consistently insist upon good equipment, always have a significant advantage over the slovenly and clueless!



14 Mar 10

XD Popularity!

We just completed a Pistol Course in TX. Out of eighteen students, fourteen brought SA/XDs and XD/Ms! Most were 9mm. The remaining four pistols were two Glocks, a SIG/229/DAK, and a Kimber 1911.

We were surprised so many, both men and women, preferred XDs. Reasons included price, reliability, excellent customer service, ergonomics, and nice accessories supplied with the pistol.

All ran fine for the entire weekend.

The XD, particularly the XD/M, is coming on strong!




17 Mar 10

A company called DSM is making a quick-deploy, high-visibility banner that officers who are not in uniform, but who have guns in their hands, can place on themselves so that they are not mistaken for armed suspects by other officers who may not recognize them.

The product is inexpensive and easy to use.

Cheap insurance!

Get hold of:

Mike Lessman
DSM Safety Products
775 250 5523



18 Mar 10

9mm resurgence?

I’ve noticed, this year particularly, a clear majority of students coming to our Courses with pistols chambered for 9X19. Formally, it looked as if the 40S&W was taking over American Pistoldom, and it largely did, at least in the police market, but now cruel economics, along with other factors, is causing many to reconsider!

We’re currently also seeing a surge in sales of “AR-15s,” chambered for 22LR, for the same reason.

There is little debate that acceptable skills maintenance requires shooting on a regular basis. All pistol ammunition is up in price from a year ago, including 9mm. But, shooting 40S&W, 357SIG, 45ACP, and 45GAP has become prohibitively expensive for many.

So, in the near term at least, 9mm in king once more! Happily, ammunition manufacturers have provided us with high-performance ammunition in that caliber that is vastly superior to what was available only a few years ago.



18 Mar 10

… while we’re on the subject of ammunition costs:

FN’s little P90 is a rifle I didn’t want to like. I’m still not sure I like it, but I have to say:

It runs! We can’t get them to hiccup. You can clean it if you want, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. It runs just fine, either way.

Fifty-round magazines are handy! Having that much ammunition at your disposal without having to reload surely expands opportunities. The durability of the P90’s magazines still concerns me, but we haven’t managed to break any yet. Their shape is inconvenient for carrying, but that may just be a function of the current generation of accessories.

Accuracy is acceptable, and point of impact doesn’t vary in the slightest when brands and types of ammunition are changed. They all shoot to exactly the same point!

Recoil is non-existent! For some students with shoulder injuries and other issues, even a short AR is too heavy and too unpleasant to shoot. Those same people have no problem shooting the P90.

The 5.7X28 round is, of course, way too lilliputian to qualify as a main-battle rifle cartridge, but it may suffice for domestic and rear-area defense. Maximum range is 100M, and, naturally, the little bullet won’t penetrate much.

When I first saw this “rifle,” I said to myself, “On no, not another needle-shooting toy!” However, I’ve since had the occasion to soften my opinion. The rifle is short, light, handy, reliable, and deadly accurate (within the 100M it commands). One can carry it in a small, nondescript bag, and rarely draw any attention to himself.

With all its limitations, the P90 still may be an acceptable choice for city-dwellers and others for whom profile is a sensitive issue, as well as the infirm and short-statured.

One final comment: Currently, 5.7X28 ammunition is available at $0.35/round, significantly less expensive than 223 and 7.62X39, and vastly less expensive than 308.

Economics makes hypocrites of us all!



19 Mar 10

The Second Anglo-Boer War in South Africa, and the advent of the Boy Scouts:

As the British Expeditionary Force in South Africa engaged feisty, heavily-armed, ever-contentious, and fiercely-independent Dutch settlers (Boers) between 1899 and 1902 (with only limited success), many British commanders, but most particularly General Robert Baden-Powell, observed that young British soldiers, recruited from industrialized England, were insubstantial, profoundly unfit, lacking in stamina and resolve, bewildered, and utterly ignorant of field-craft and firearms.

By contrast, native Boer youth, sons of stalwart farmers and pioneer/frontiersmen, were healthy and stout, resistant to native diseases, accomplished in field-craft, expert marksmen, hunters, and gun-handlers, competent horsemen, and rigorously certain of the absolute righteousness of their Cause.

British soldiers were no match for them!

While Boer riflemen definitively picked off hapless British at “impossible” ranges with near-impunity, British officers forbid their men from firing until the range was close. Even then, the command was “Level your rifles,” not “Aim your rifles.” In addition, and not surprisingly, accidental shootings among gun-ignorant British recruits were rampant!

British soldiers also lacked skills necessary to feed and sustain themselves in the wild. They had to be taught field-sanitation, how to pitch tents, even how to gather wood and build a fire.

The British were off to a slow start!

Boer strategy was to initially go on the offensive before the British could get organized and before reinforcements arrived, handing the British a series of stunning and embarrassing reversals, indeed debacles, making British commanders look like bumbling nincompoops. The lopsided military situation would attract attention and sympathy, and eventual military intervention, from the Boer’s genetic and linguistic kinsmen in Western Europe, most notably Germans and Dutch, even Americans of German/Dutch descent.

Ultimately, the British would be driven to the bargaining table and compelled to negotiate a treaty favoring the Boers.

The first part of the Boer Plan succeeded splendidly!

The second never materialized. European Germans and Dutch, along with the rest of the world, scarcely noticed what was going on in South Africa, their attention being ever-diverted by the nearly simultaneous Spanish-American War, Boxer Rebellion, and Russo-Japanese War. And, the British, despite innumerable embarrassing reversals, proved more dogged and determined than Boers expected. South-African Boers thus found themselves relentlessly attrited, as well as isolated and forgotten, as they have largely been ever since!

The Anglo-Boer War was officially declared “over” on 31 May 1902 with the Treaty of Vereeniging. In order to get the distasteful and progressively unpopular affair over with, the British were forced to make a number of embarrassing concessions. Even so, sporadic resistance continued for several more years, and, off-and-on, for decades thereafter.

A positive and direct result of this largely-forgotten conflict was the creation of the Boy Scouts by General Baden-Powell. He decided British youth should henceforth have to opportunity to get outdoors and learn about hiking, camping, horsemanship, physical fitness, personal preparedness, marksmanship, hunting, fishing, field-craft, and other outdoor skills, as well as personal responsibility and independent problem-solving. They would thus make far better soldiers than those who were recruited in the late 1800s!

Baden-Powell’s far-sightedness was to manifest itself during the next two world conflagrations, and even to this day!



20 Mar 10

Happy ending, from a student in PA:

“I was confronted yesterday by an aggressive panhandler, in my own neighborhood, while out walking my dog!

I live in a classic ‘low-crime’ area. City Hall, and our main police-station, are ten blocks to the west. Pennsylvania State Police Barracks is just five blocks to the north. A good, working-class neighborhood borders on the south. There is a subsidized-housing area five blocks to the east.

Yesterday morning was sunny, but cool. I put a pistol in my jacket pocket, and out the door I went, clad in sweat-pants, with my dog on a leash.

I immediately noticed a slovenly young man, in his twenties, across the street. No one I knew, nor had ever seen before. He was walking slowly, holding a pop-can. He wore only a grimy T-shirt and ragged jeans, and I remember thinking that he must be chilled. Upon making eye-contact, he immediately changed directions and walked across the street toward my position, clearly trying to get in front of me.

He then said, actually yelled (way too loud for the distance between us), ‘Ah, Sir… I need to find an ATM… Is there a convenience store around here?… I really need to find one… Do you live around here?…’

I remember thinking that there were too many things ‘not right’ about this guy: dressed inappropriately for the weather, talking way too loud, asking too many questions of someone he didn’t even know, trying to get too close, and blocking my path.

I switched the dog’s leash to my left hand.

‘No!’ I responded.

‘… but I just need to find a convenience store.’ He was now only ten feet away.

I assumed an interview-stance and thrust my right hand into my jacket-pocket, obtaining a grip on my pistol (which remained in the pocket and out of sight).

He was now only five feet away, still jabbering a never-ending string of questions, and trying to get even closer. Way too close! Only friends and family get that close.

‘I’m sorry sir. I can’t help you’ I shouted in my best command voice while moving laterally, off the line of force.

At once, his eyes went to my right hand. He precipitously went silent, turned, and abruptly walked away, never saying another word.

I immediately put distance between us. When I looked back, I saw him, once more walking down the sidewalk slowly, aimlessly. Apparently, he didn’t need an ATM very badly!

Was he dangerous? Harmless? Disoriented? Lost? Mentally ill? I’ll never know, nor do I care!

Lessons learned/relearned/confirmed:

(1) A ‘bad neighborhood’ is coming to a place near you! Violent predators are everywhere. Bad things can happen anywhere.

(2) Stay alert and keep your head up, no matter where you are. Don’t allow trivial distractions to inordinately command your attention.

(3) Be immediately suspicions of incongruent circumstances. When something is ‘not right,’ straightaway look for more things that are ‘not right.’ You’ll likely find them!

(4) Get off the ‘X!’ Disrupt his plan. Don’t stand flat-footed in one place.

(5) Don’t answer questions! Even saying, ‘No,’ will be interpreted as an invitation to more questions. Abruptly (but politely) dismiss him and his unwanted queries with, ‘I’m sorry Sir. I can’t help you,’ no matter what he says or asks. Repeat as necessary.

(6) Don’t wait for him to complete his sentence, pause, change subjects, nor stop talking. Break right in with the above tape-loop.

(7) Speak authoritatively, clearly, and with an uncluttered command-voice, loud enough to be heard by witnesses.

(8) Take advantage of his hesitation. Disengage and separate without delay, while he dithers.

(9) Finally, be prepared to instantly escalate, going ‘all-the-way’ when necessary!”

Comment: My student made good use of his training. He was alert and prepared. As such, he avoided victimization.

Pay close attention to his conclusions. He really “gets it.” You should too!



20 Mar 10

Fratracide! From an Instructor in SC:

“In training the security detail at our church, I discovered a defect last weekend that surprised even me:

After a session of standard, live-fire, square-range exercises, I individually put each of our agents (most of whom are themselves police officers, and also members of our church) through a live-fire, scenario drill, similar to what we do at the NTI. A single agent is summoned to a classroom. All he knows is that an unspecified life-threatening situation has developed, and that he will have to respond immediately, by himself. No additional details.

We use a building mock-up on the range, and targets, along with non-targets, are all three-dimensional mannequins, all dressed (Good Will is always glad to see me!) I explain to each agent that there are no ‘trick questions.’ Everything is exactly as it appears.

When our agent arrives at the classroom doorway, gun drawn, scanning reveals a person to the right who is holding a pistol in one hand and pointing it at the far opposite corner of the room, which cannot be seen from where our agent is standing. The person holding the pistol is wearing a police badge around his neck. I arranged it so that the badge is clearly visible.

On the far corner of the classroom is a VCA holding a teacher at gunpoint and using her as a shield. However, as noted, the entire hostage situation cannot be seen until our agent actually enters the room.

In the briefing beforehand, I remind all agents that other police may be present, and therefore, when they see a badge, they may assume it is genuine.

To my unhappy surprise, and in spite of all my careful briefing, my agents arrived at the doorway, saw the man holding a gun, and fired at him without delay! Afterward, they indicated that they never saw the badge nor once even considered that he might be another police officer.

So, I repeated the scenario with the next group, this time with the badge of the cop’s belt, again conspicuously visible. Same result! When I equipped the cop with even bigger badges, I got the same result!

No one used verbal commands. They just saw the gun and fired immediately!

Of course, the second and third times through, my guys did much better. But, we were all disappointed with my first-responders’ ‘first response!’”

Comment: At the NTI, I have personally committed this same blunder, more than once!

For one, I become overloaded, and my body’s ability to respond with deadly force quickly outruns my brain’s ability to process information!

I remember vividly in 2009’s event finally recognizing the word “security” (in large letters) on the uniform shirt of the person into whom I’d just put four or five well-placed bullets! In the debrief, I, too, was astonished at the fact that it took so long for me to really “see” what was going on.

Risk-exposure, and the requirement for precise information-processing, will always be mutually antagonistic. No solution is ever “perfectly right” nor “perfectly wrong.” There will always be things you could have done better, and things you could have done worse, times you should have acted faster, and times you acted too fast!

In the end, it is your call. There is never going to be a risk-free solution, and we had better all resign ourselves to the fact that there will never be a “happy ending” either! Even “doing nothing” is far from risk-free.

That is why we need to train constantly, always exposing ourselves to increasingly-difficult challenges.

And, when the Moment comes, adhere to “Farnam’s First Rule of Tactics:”

(1) Do the best you can!



21 Mar 10

From a friend and colleague. Advice with regard to selecting shooting instruction/schools/seminars:

“(1) Be suspicions of flashy, tacky marketing and ‘super-secret’ techniques (gimmicks), ‘known to only the select few.’ There are no ‘secrets’ in what we teach. Quality training always focuses on acquiring and mastering fundamentals. There is precious little ‘glamour’ to any of it! Come to work and learn, or don’t bother. Nothing worthwhile may be had without effort, and personal devotion. Belief in ‘magic’ is for children!

(2) By the same token, be suspicions of schools that surround themselves in a cult of personality. Yes, beware of ‘Grand Masters,’ ‘Imperial Wizards,’ ad nauseam. Most of these guys don’t even carry a gun, and they too often forget who is working for whom! When someone finds it necessary to endlessly recite his entire resume, it always makes me wonder why I never heard of him! True Masters relentlessly present themselves merely as devoted servants, just humble fellow-students, dedicated to the advancement of the Art and the improvement of their students. The best instructors inspire, rather than ‘impress.’ That pompous ‘messiah’ had better live up to his own press releases, as his students will likely need his powers of resurrection!

(3) Beware of schools that exhibit an overwhelming preference for a particular brand/type/caliber of gun. No one pistol, rifle, nor shotgun is perfect for everyone in every circumstance, and legitimate instructors have enough respect for their students to keep personal preferences hidden. Good instructors provide students with honest advice, but not wearisome dogma. There are many legitimate choices, and, while we all have personal preferences, students must be allowed the freedom to make their own decisions. Again, the goal of the instructor and the student is always the same: the improvement of the student!

(4) Take note of schools that are ‘circumstance-specific.’ A school devoted to training individual contractors how to fight effectively in Afghanistan, or one that teaches SWAT-team members the fine points of conducting drug-raids in the inner-city, or another that teaches aspiring competitors secrets of winning acheronian pistol matches, should all be of scant interest to non-police gun-owners who desperately need to know how to correctly handle, store, carry, and employ guns within a domestic, civilian environment and a civilian criminal-justice system. Good instructors have a sufficient depth of knowledge, experience, and empathy so as to understand and sympathize with all students who come to them, not just the young, strong, and fit.

(5) A high round-count does not necessarily equate to superior training. Excessive consumption of ammunition, for its own sake, is pointless. In fact, there reaches a juncture where the student becomes so fatigued, he begins merely going through the motions, just to get the exercise over with! Good instructors never allow fatigue to supersede the student’s focusing on understanding and learning the point of the exercise.

(6) The best schools are well-rounded. Our Art embraces an extensive repertoire of psycho-motor skills, verbal skills, and disengagement skills, along with a sound philosophical overlay, all of which must to carefully integrated. Some of the material is dry, but it is still important and must be included. Beware of justification models lifted solely from police sources. Police have a mandate to act, so their justification models are written with an assumption of that duty. Conversely, the appropriate model for armed, non-police citizens stems from an assumption of ‘necessity.’

(7) Select a school that is unique in the same way you are unique! Remain unbiasedly objective. Remember your mission. When you live in a ‘shall-issue’ state, and intend to carry outside your home, your mission will be different from someone who cannot. When you carry as a duty, your mission will be different from either. As noted above, the best high-risk Contractor-Course might be appropriate for a certain group, while being mismatched to most others

(8) Finally, attend many different schools! None are perfect, and none are ‘all-wrong.’ You’ll learn something worthwhile in each, and you’ll become well-connected within our Art. All instructors have something important to offer, and all are wretchedly flawed in some way.”

Comment: Excellent advice! The only thing I will add is, “Don’t put it off!” Acquire these critical skills while you can. You don’t get to know when you will be tested, only that you will be!



23 Mar 10

It comes down to Rifles:

Our spiritual ancestors, the Ancient Greeks, fostered the notion of the warrior/citizen, and the duty of each free citizen to always be armed, trained, and ever-prepared to defend the Land. Individual weapons of war then were sword and spear, and they represented the essence of the Warrior. And, it was (then as now) the specter of facing a entire nation of perpetually armed patriots, that sends a bolt of terror through the hearts of despots, petty potentates, and other would-be invaders.

Today, it is the Rifle. Marines have known and talked of it unapologetically for decades, that every Marine is a Rifleman first, no matter what other piece of high-tech machinery he is trained to run.

When all machines have died, it is the audacious citizen/soldier, armed with a rifle, who will decide the day, and thus settle the fate of his civilization.

I believe it no coincidence that so many courageous Americans are currently coming to us for competent rifle training, bringing their personally-owned rifles, eager to learn and exercise, critical skills that every free citizen should master, eager to earn the title of “Rifleman,” no matter what other titles they may have.

In this world, civilizations come and go. All foolishly believe they will endure forever. None do. The Test comes for us all, as nations and as individuals, the prepared and the unprepared. Some triumph. Some perish.

History displays no bias!

In 1907, the winds of war (WWI) were already whispering in Europe, and all with ears could hear them. The foolish and naive, of course, ignored them, as they do today. In England that year, Henry Lawson wrote this:

“So I sit and write and ponder, while the house is deaf and dumb,
Seeing visions ‘over yonder’ of a War I know must come
In the corner- not a vision- but a sign of coming days
Stands a box of ammunition, and a rifle in green baize*
And in this, the living present, let this Word go through the Land,
Every tradesman, clerk, and peasant should have these two things at hand.

No ranting song is needed, and no meeting, flag, nor fuss-
In the future, still unheeded, shall the Spirit come to us.
Without feathers, drum, nor riot on the day that is to be,
We shall march down, very quiet, to our stations by the sea.
While the bitter parties stifle every voice that warns of war,
Every man should own a rifle and have cartridges in store!”

* “Baize” describes a coarse, cloth wrapping, napped to look like felt, that was frequently used to pack rifles for long-term storage

Today, without “meeting, flag, nor fuss,” real Americans are also instinctively sensing the need to have these two items, and the need to know how to use them. Thanks to our far-sighted Founders, and the Second Amendment, we can… and do!

Just as personal liberty and freedom are the birthright of every American, so honor, fitness, and readiness are ever our individual responsibility.

Never doubt it!



24 Mar 10

“Stockless” Rifles?

After my recent Quip with regard to FN’s diminutive P90 rifle, several have asked about the viability of short-barreled ARs, and some other rifles, that are actually sold as “pistols.”

Under federal regulations, “rifles” must be equipped with a shoulder-stock, in addition to a barrel of at least sixteen inches. However, when a firearm is marketed as a “pistol,” there is no lower limit on barrel length, but the weapon may not have a shoulder-stock! For better or worse, that is the law, at least for now.

Hence, some manufacturers are currently marketing “pistols,” which are simply short-barreled ARs, without a shoulder-stock! In our experience, these guns are not as reliable as the rifle-model from whence they came (owing to their excessively short barrels), but, to one degree or another, they run, and they have succeeded in attracting the attention of some dewy-eyed consumers.

The question comes: “What are they for?”

And, that is the question for which I’ve yet to discover a particularly viable answer!

These “pistols” are way too big to be carried concealed, as least routinely. And, without a shoulder-stock, upon which to establish a solid cheek-weld, their useful range is not much greater than that of most pistols. Rifles have four points of support: (1) strong hand, (2) support hand, (3) cheek, and (4) shoulder. These “pistols” have only two!

Granted, they boast a magazine-capacity far in excess of most pistols, and fire a cartridge more powerful than any in common use by pistols. But, for routine, concealed carrying, they won’t do, as noted above. And, as a “car-gun” or “house-gun,” a standard AR, XCR, DSA/FAL, M1A, PTR-91/32, SIG/556, AK, M1 Carbine, AUG, Beretta CX4, or even an FN/P90 represents a vastly superior choice for most.

When compactness is an issue, for air-travel or low-profile surface-transport, get one of the above with a folding or telescoping stock and the shortest (sixteen-inch) barrel available. So equipped, your rifle, with stock folded and high-capacity magazine inserted, will easily fit within a innocuous tennis-racket, viola, or guitar case. In addition, locked within a hard-case, it will fit completely inside your Columbia Wheeled Duffle and will be routinely accepted by TSA, as checked-baggage, on domestic flights. I do it all the time!

The same issue arises with shotguns. Yes, some shotgun manufacturers market “stockless” shotguns, in a similar vein to the foregoing. They are all so unpleasant to shoot, it is difficult to imagine anyone “liking” them, other than to look at. And once more, without shoulder-support, their usefulness is minimal!

Of course, in our capitalistic society, manufacturers produce products that consumers think they want, and are willing to part with hard-earned money to acquire. In fact, the pesky “… yes, but what is it for?” argument is one I get into with CEOs and marketing vice-presidents all the time!

My personal interests are strictly serious and utility-oriented. I thus have scant use for silly toys, trinkets, and gimmicks, designed mostly to impress the shallow and naive, rather than perform any genuinely useful function. Nor do I have any interest in most shooting competitions. But, I realize lots of people buy guns for lots of different reasons, not just the ones I consider legitimate.

In summary, I can say that students have brought these “pistols” to our Classes (despite our admonitions not to), and all have amply proven inadequate to the task. The same cheerless indictment applies to “stockless” shotguns.

In a word, they’re silly! None are recommended.



25 Mar 10

Western Civilization, finally getting really tough!

In the UK these days, they’re really getting serious about recent terrorist threats, so they’ve now raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, security levels may be raised yet again, this time to “Irritated,” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the Blitz in 1940, when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorist organizations have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning was during the Great Fire of 1666.

Meanwhile, Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards”. Scots don’t have any other levels, which is why they have been used on the front lines in the
British Army for the last 300 years!

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide”. The only two higher levels in France are “Surrender” and “Collaborate.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France’s white-flag factory, effectively paralyzing the nation’s entire military capability.

Italy has increased its alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Only two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They have only one higher level: “Torpedo an American Cruise Ship.”

Belgians, meanwhile, show no fear, except that NATO may pull its headquarters out of Brussels!

Not to be outdone, the Spanish are excited to see their new fleet of submarines ready to deploy.
These beautifully-designed subs all have glass bottoms, so the new Spanish Navy can get a really good view of the old Spanish Navy.

Americans, meanwhile, and are carrying out pre-emptive strikes on all our allies, just in case!

New Zealand has raised its security level, from “baaa” to “BAAAA!” Due to continuing defense cutbacks, New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, “Shit, I Sure Hope Australia Comes and Rescues Us”.

And Australia has raised its security level from “No Worries” to “She’ll be Right, Mate” One more level remains: “I Think We’ll Need to Cancel the Barbie this Weekend,” So far, no situation has ever warranted issuance of this final escalation.



26 Mar 10

Get your personal rifle, and get it set up, while you still can!

I’ve been asked about the “ideal rifle set-up.”

I like a rifle that can be called upon to perform nearly any task a serious rifle can be expected to do, reasonably well, but that can’t do any specific task perfectly. Rifles that are set up to do a single task perfectly, usually do all other tasks poorly. You can’t have it both ways!

I like universal tools, not speciality tools, but that is just my opinion and personal preference.

So, here goes:

Caliber: It makes a lot of sense to have at least one rifle cambered for 223 (5.56×45). Far from the ideal, fighting caliber, but universally available (both in, and out, of the military supply system), and likely will be so for the foreseeable future.

Soviet/30 (7.62×39) and 6.8mmSPC both represent superlative choices. Much extended range and enhanced penetration when compared with the 223. For now, both are unavailable within the military supply system. However, both are generally available commercially, particularly 7.62×39.

308 (7.62×51) and 30-06 (7.62×63). These are the heavyweights, but they require big, heavy rifles, and the weight and bulk of the ammunition itself means that you’ll be able to comfortably carry a good deal less of it than would be the case with any of the foregoing. Both calibers are generally available, albeit relatively expensive. When you weigh in, in excess of 165lbs, a rifle in one of these calibers may be just your ticket!

Other choices: Soviet/22 (5.54×39). Superior to the 223, but availability is a concern. Nearly all of it currently on-sale is imported. M1Carbine: Range-limited, but still a good choice. Readily available. FN’s little 5.7X28 is also range-limited, but may represent a good choice for some. It is reasonably available, at least for now.

Rifle: We should all probably own at least one copy of the Stoner/AR. Maintenance-sensitive and generally inferior to most others listed below, still there are lots of spare parts available and lots of folks who can fix them. Best candidates are RRA, DSA, S&W, Sabre-Tech, LMT, Double-Star, Daniel Defense, Bravo Arms, Noveske, NGA.

Other choices: Gas-piston rifles are superior to the Stoner System, for a host of reasons. For one, all are a good deal less maintenance-sensitive. Best candidates are RA/XCR, Berrett REC-7, SA/M1A, FA/M14, PTR-91, Garand, AUG, DSA/FAL, Krebs/Kalashnikov, Arsenal/Kalashnikov, SIG/556. For all, I recommend a folding or telescoping stock (when available), in order to facilitate low-profile transport.

The M1 Carbine is not exactly a “gas-piston” rifle, but it runs well. Short and handy, the best are available from Kahr and Fulton Armory. Since it uses a low-pressure round, flash-hiders are unnecessary. Likewise, Beretta’s excellent CX4 Carbine, chambered for 9mm and 40S&W, is range and penetration-limited, but short, easy to use, and features low-recoil/noise/launch-signature, and, as with the M1 Carbine, does not require a flash-hider. Good choice for the small-statured.

Your fighting rifle needs to be short, slick, and handy. Things to be avoided include excessive length, snags, sharp corners and edges, and maladroit controls. Generally, extended/enlarged/ambidextrous controls create more problems than they “solve.”

Rifles marked and marketed as “match” or “target” should be shunned like the plague! Military rifles need relatively loose chambers and other intentionally generous clearances, so they will tolerate grit, dirt, and continuous neglect and lack of maintenance. Tightly tuned, target rifles will predictably go down in short order when exposed to “exigent” conditions. For our needs a general, utility, battle-rifle serves best. Accuracy, in relative terms, will never be better than mediocre.

Sights: The best set-up for your rifle is a full-length, top-rail, with side and bottom rails forward. Your rifle needs iron-sights, no matter what else you have! Best are Western-style, peep rear and front post. Yankee Hill, GG&G, Troy, and LaRue all make excellent examples, and all “fold-down” and out of the way when not needed. Those with good eyes may be able to use Soviet-style “pistol” sights, but these are generally inferior to peep sights.

Optics greatly improve speed and accuracy for many, but at the expense of extra bulk and battery issues in the case of some. Magnification is handy when one needs to make out downrange detail, but too much (more than 2.5X) leads to confusion and slow reactivity. Zero-magnification, “red-dots” generally represent the best combination of features. Aimpoint’s T1 tops the list!

Aimpoints, Z-points, EOTechs, and others can be combined with a swing-out “magnifier,” mounted, in tandem, on the top rail, behind the optic. This set-up provides optional magnification when required, but, again, at the expense of even additional bulk, four lenses to keep clean instead of two, and “… yet another ‘option’ to clutter your mind!”

The Achilles’ heel of all rifle-optics is frost! Most modern optics, even with cracked glass, still function normally. Fog can be quickly wiped away. But, a thick layer of frost on lenses, which often forms instantaneously and without warning, renders the optic temporarily useless, and frost cannot be wiped away readily. In addition, a frosted optic will simultaneously render back-up, iron sights (when mounted in-line) also unusable!

So, all rifle-optics need to be attached to the top-rail via a quick-release mount that will allow the Operator to instantly take the frosted optic off his rifle, deploy his iron sights, and get back into the fight without delay. When the emergency subsides, the (now clean) optic can be quickly re-mounted, and iron sights re-folded. With modern rails and mounts, re-zeroing is unnecessary. Best quick-release mounts are made by LaRue.

Optics need to be forward-mounted, away from the Operator’s face. That way, the Operator can easily look around the optic, as well as through it. Most red-dots and scout-scopes are not eye-relief-critical, so they can be mounted virtually anywhere on the top rail.

Slings: To be truly useful, your fighting rifle must be equipped with a sling! One-point slings are currently the rage, but, for all-day carry, a two-point sling is hard to beat. Blue-Force Gear’s Vicker’s Sling tops the list.

Finally, your rifle needs a co-axial flashlight, forward-mounted on the right, forward rail (for right-handers). Surefire, Insight, and Laser-Devices all make excellent candidates. Minimum strength is 120 lumens. A co-axial flashlight will make your sights (optical and iron) useable in low-light and instantly provide you with critical information you will need in order to make well-grounded decisions with regard to the use of deadly-force. Indispensable on a serious rifle!

Other options, like vertical forends, must always be evaluated balancing tangible benefits (not just, “… it looks sexy”) versus concrete liabilities, mostly additional bulk/weight, fragility, the likelihood of it coming loose, and its potential to interfere with vital tasks/procedures.

Your rifle, even when properly equipped, is still mostly useless until it is sighted in! You must have complete faith in your sight settings, and in your ability to precisely apply them to the challenge at hand, or your next fight will doubtless go badly! Most rifles enumerated above should be set so that they are dead-on at forty meters. So zeroed, your rifle will be, for all practical purposes, dead-on for any target between twenty-five and seventy-five meters, and within two inches all the way out past two-hundred meters.

Once zeroed, re-zero every chance you get! Constantly re-confirm your zero, particularly when traveling with the weapon and after changing brands of ammunition or bullet weights. When the Test comes, you don’t want to be wondering about the validity of your zero. By the same token, don’t “lend” your rifle to other people. They may decide to “adjust” your sights without telling you!

With regard to your rifle’s zero, “When there is doubt, there is no doubt!”

This represents a real problem for many police departments, in that it is ever-convenient for officers to “share” rifles. It may be convenient, but it is a can of worms! Individual rifles need to be issued to individual officers, and an officer’s individual rifle needs to ever-remain with him, and he needs to take, and accept, complete responsibility for it, and for his competence with it. Anything less invites disaster!

Shoot your rifle! Get rounds downrange every chance you get, in order to confirm your zero (as noted above) and also to confirm that the weapon is running normally. Field-strip, clean, inspect, and lubricate it. Then, reassemble it and shoot it again!

When the Test comes, you’ll be supremely confident, and ready!



28 Mar 10

When to act?

During early-morning hours, in a hotel lobby in TN last week, a police officer who was armed, but not in uniform, was confronted by three masked, armed, robbery suspects.

The robbery was already in progress when the unsuspecting officer walked in on the scene!

At gunpoint, the officer was confronted and ordered to prone-out on the floor. All three suspects, although only in their 20s, were already multiply-convicted, violent, career criminals.

The officer, started to comply, but then suddenly drew his own pistol and fired, striking all three astonished suspects. The injured trio immediately fled, but were apprehended shortly thereafter. Two are ‘critical,” one “stable.” The officer was not injured, nor were any other innocent parties at the scene. Not one of the suspects ever fired a shot!

This question comes up often: “When thus confronted at gunpoint, or, when a VCA is in the process of taking a family-member hostage, how long do I wait before taking unilateral action?”

The answer is, as always: “It’s your call!”

But, here are some things to consider:

Your attackers are at their weakest and most disorganized at the beginning of the ordeal. As the confrontation goes on, they will increase their control, as your options dry up, one by one. When you assume the posture they demand, allow them to search you, allow them to tie you up, et al, in the end you’ll have no options. Likewise, when you allow them to escape with a family member under their control, you’ll likely never see that family member alive again!

A student says, “… when someone has me at gunpoint, if I move, they’ll likely shoot!”

There is no satisfactory, nor comfortable answer to that. All I can say in reply is, “You’re probably dead anyway!”

When you act with precise, but overwhelming, force, you may yet prevail. When you dither, there is little hope for your survival.

Everyone wants the “no-risk” solution. This is fantasy! There is no such thing. “Doing nothing” is never risk-free, nor is any other solution you’re contemplating.

The officer in the case dared boldly, and he snatched a stunning victory from the jaws of certain death.

Good show!

The rest of us need to think about it. As I’ve made it a habit of saying, “…your Test is coming!”

Who are not armed, trained, ready, and courageously prepared to act decisively, right now, have surrendered most of their options before the fight even starts!



29 Mar 10

Excellent comments, from friends and colleagues:

“…established street veterans, tend to shy away from the scenario-based training, with Airsoft or marking cartridges, because they’re deathly afraid looking foolish in front of peers and instructors alike.

The reply is, “… would you rather be murdered by strangers, or embarrassed in front of friends?”

True Warriors always embrace profitable training, accepting all risk and pain that invariably attach. When errors are not instantly painful/embarrassing, the lesson isn’t driven home. No one likes to “fail,” but it is through failure, even in front of our peers, that real learning takes place.

Don’t let something as petty and superficial as personal vanity keep you from exposing yourself to training you desperately need!”

In the words of colleague, Ron Avery:

“When you are not prepared to confront your own death (with a grim smile) and chose to fight courageously, and die when that is the final outcome, for values and beliefs that are more important to you than life itself, then you are, in truth, unprepared and should never consider yourself ‘well trained.’”



30 Mar 10

State of Iowa going “Shall Issue.”

This from friend there:

“‘Shall Issue’ bill Passed both the Iowa House (80-15) and Senate (44-4), as you can see, by large margins.

The Governor is expected to sign, and it will become law on 1 January 2011.

Among other things, Iowa will go from recognizing no out-of-state CCW permits to recognizing all!”

Comment: We’re on a roll!



31 Mar 10

Rifle Magazines:

Many have requested that I comment on the complement of magazines that should go with each serious rifle. I should have addressed this subject before:

My opinion is that you should have twenty magazines for each rifle. Magazines should all be ready to go. That is, they should be “fully-charged,” but with a half-inch of free depression on the top round. When you can’t push the top round down a full half-inch, your magazine is over-charged and will likely not run. Over-charged magazines typically give rise to “bolt over-ride” when the Operator attempts to reload with them. That is, the bolt, as it moves forward, hits the top round and then rides over it, instead of stripping it forward. The bolt ends up short of full battery, with lugs firmly dug into the top of the recalcitrant case, and subsequently cannot be forced in either direction. A high price to pay for “one extra round,” I’m sure most of us will agree!

Thus, most “thirty-round” 223 (5.56×45) magazines legitimately hold only twenty-eight rounds, and most “twenty-round” magazines only hold eighteen.

For rifles chambered for 223 (5.56×45), I prefer thirty-round magazines over conventional twenty-rounders for three reasons: (1) More shooting before being compelled to reload (2) The magazine’s integral curve makes it easy to tell front from back in low-light or when wearing gloves, and (3) Even when fully inserted into the rifle, there is still enough magazine sticking out the bottom to be grasped firmly with a strong, forward-grip. Shorter, twenty-round magazines necessitate a weak, “cup” grip when reloading.

Comp-Tac and Hoffners makes excellent quick-attach, single-magazine, belt holders that I use regularly when teaching. However, a multiple-magazine holder that you can quickly throw over your shoulder is going to also be necessary in order for you to have an adequate “grab-and-go” capability. James Yeager at Tactical Response makes the best ones I’ve used.

Double-magazine holders work, but add a lot of weight and bulk to your rifle, and the top round of the exposed magazine sometimes shakes forward during firing, making subsequent reloading difficult. Safariland’s version addresses this problem with a quick-release cap that fits over the top round in the exposed magazine, holding it securely in place. Redi-Mag’s system also adequately addresses the issue.

In my experience, 223 and 6.8mmSPC magazines by Pmag, C-Products, USGI, TangoDown, and MagPul have all worked well. There are doubtless other good brands with which I just have not had personal experience. Generally, steel magazines are better than aluminum. However, even old, aluminum magazines work well, and most reported problems with them have been a direct result of poor springs and old-style followers. MagPul makes an excellent follower/spring kit that will upgrade nearly any serviceable magazine-body to full-functionality, even old, Vietnam-era ones.

Some new magazines require break-in, and others need light lubrication (particularly 7.62×39), in order to be fully-functional.

During range sessions, rotate all magazines! Don’t just use one or two, keeping the balance “in reserve.” That is a poor plan! Use them all. Make sure they all run! Magazines should be numbered (via Magic Marker), so that troublesome ones can be readily identified and either fixed or discarded.

How long will a magazine remain functional when fully-charged? I don’t know, but I’ve personally used magazines that have been sitting around, fully-charged, in excess of fifty years. They ran just fine! The trick is to use all your equipment regularly. Run your System hard!

When your rifle, with all accessories, ran fine last week, it will probably run equally well today. On the other hand, when you haven’t shot your rifle in twenty years, it will still probably run, but you’re not going to be nearly as confident, eh?