2 May 00

From a friend in the Philippines:

“Over here, to get a license to even possess firearms and ammunition, you have to get ‘clearances’ from the local court, the mayor, and the local police. In addition, you need clearance from the Directorate of Intelligence of the National Police. After that, you need proof of having passed a drug test, a neuro-psychological test as well as a gun safety seminar. These requirements must accompany your application along with a certificate of employment and a current income tax return or bank certificate. This process must be done separately for each and every firearm you apply for. It routinely takes months.

If you are applying for a Permit to Carry Firearm Outside Residence, you will have to submit a current clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation, in addition to the aforementioned documents. The Permit specifically mentions which gun (make, model, serial number and caliber) and how much ammo you may have on your person (normally 50 rounds). Permits to Carry are not issued for long guns only handguns. Normally, you may only be issued one permit to carry, unless your ‘position,’ (read that: ‘government connection’) facilitates the issuance of additional PTC’s.

Foreigners may not have guns unless they are members of a diplomatic mission, or are transients in country for competition.”



8 May 00

From a friend in the area:

“A Los Lunas police officer was shot in the leg this morning while serving a search warrant. No criminals were involved. The officer’s own shift commander did the shooting. Officer Paul Gomez was listed in satisfactory condition today after undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound to the left leg. Los Lunas police officers were at local residence executing a drug-related search warrant. A suspect was on the floor being held at gunpoint.

The preliminary investigation indicates the bullet in question (brand and caliber unknown at this time) came from the service revolver of Gomez’s supervisor, Lt JR Wroten. During the arrest, Wroten had his finger on the trigger of his pistol as he was transferring it from his strong hand to his weak hand as he was in the process of retrieving his flashlight when the weapon accidentally discharged.

The errant bullet went all the way though Gomez’s leg, fracturing his femur and ultimately embedding itself into the deck flooring. The range was four feet. Gomez will likely be permanently disabled.”

Lesson: Missing bad guys is not our biggest problem with law enforcement firearms. Shooting ourselves is! Accidents like the one described above are completely preventable. We never seem to have to time or money for training until AFTER something like this happens.



11 May 00

Did you see this on any major network? As with Hillary Clinton, any time Nelson Mandella so much as clears his throat, the American media predictably grovels and slobbers at his feet. Not this time!

“Speaking at a UNICEF function in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandella urged the ‘public’ to ‘Pick up rifles and overthrow tyrants who have amassed vast, personal fortunes while children go hungry.’ ”

The ‘public’ is, of course, his political supporters. The ‘tyrants’ are, of course, his political opponents. Taking his cue from the Clintons, Mandella insists that rounding up and exterminating one’s political opponents is just fine, so long as it is done “for the children.”

Lesson: It’s coming this way



12 May 00

Steyr M9

I finally had the opportunity to examine a copy of the Steyr M9 yesterday. I’ve yet to have a student bring one to a course:

The M9 is a plastic-framed, self-decocking autoloader, with a trigger-tab safety, similar to that found on Glocks. The trigger is light, with very little take up (most of which is provided by the trigger tab itself). The link is shallow and distinct. People who like light triggers will like it. My opinion is that the trigger is too light for general issue.

It features the “trapezoid” sighting system. Curious, but we’ve been all through this before with the “Guttersnipe” sight and others along similar lines. They are all interesting but inferior for defensive shooting to the standard, notch-and-post, pistol sight we’re all used to.

The M9 also “features” a manual, internal lock, which renders the gun sterile until it is manually unlocked. The lock is operated via a special spanner wrench provided with the weapon, but it is difficult to operate the lock without pointing the gun at yourself. One could also (with a little effort) operate it with a paper clip. It’s there primarily as a barrier to children, not determined and resourceful adults.

What concerns me about “internal locks” is that, when they become common, politicians will quickly pass legislation requiring that guns be locked (sterilized) all the time, even when they are needed in a high state of readiness. Politicians will, of course, exempt themselves. The best way to sterilize a gun is to unload it.

The only time I could imagine that I would want such a gun sterilized would be when traveling via air. With the gun in a checked bag, one might want it sterilized since he can’t get to it anyway.

All in all, the M9 looks to be perfectly functional, but inferior to a Glock.



15 May 00

Last weekend I had a student in an Advanced Defensive Handgun Course bring a Colt Python. Like most Pythons I’ve seen, it was delicate and temperamental, but he got through the course with it.

He was using a new speed loader made by Dillon (of reloading machine fame). I had not seen it before. It was compact, yet each cartridge had its own ejection spring, so that it was not possible for a cartridge to hang up in the shell of loader itself. The cases ejected automatically as the loader was pushed forward. “Ejected” is probably not the right word. It was more like a projectile jettison.

In any event, they proved reliable and extremely positive. I consider this design to be significantly superior to either the HKS or the Safariland speedloader.



19 May 00

Last week we had a student use a Para-Ordnance pistol in their new DAO configuration. The pistol’s hammer spur cannot be maintained in the full-cock position, so it is a genuinely self-decocking pistol. It still features a two-position, manual safety in the conventional position.

The designers have managed to decouple the hammer spur from the hammer itself. The hammer itself actually stays cocked, but the hammer spur goes forward, making the pistol look as if the hammer is down. Pressing the trigger draws back the hammer spur, repositions it in full cock, and releases it.

The trigger press is actually similar to that of a Glock. The take up (which draws back the hammer spur) is only four pounds. It then stacks up at the end and breaks at about six pounds. The hammer is actually eighty-five percent loaded when the slide goes forward. Pressing the trigger provides the last fifteen percent.

However, unlike the Glock, the reset (link) is deep, and one must let the trigger all the way back in order to start the next shot.

The pistol performed well, and the student went through 1,200 rounds during the weekend’s exercises without experiencing more that one or two minor stoppages.

The double-column grip on Para-Ordnance pistols is too fat for me, but, for people who don’t like the “cocked-and-locked” appearance endemic to the Colt/Browning design, this pistol may be attractive.



23 May 00

Recoil “buffer pads” on 1911 pistols:

We just completed an Advanced Defensive Handgun Course in Texas. We were, of course, in cocked-and-locked country! Only two kinds of pistols were present, 1911s and Glocks. Even our female students, who, because of their small size, would have been far better off with smaller pistols like Kahr-9s, all had full-sized 1911s. They struggled mightily!

Every one of the 1911s present had a plastic recoil buffer impaled on the recoil spring guide. Many or the buffer pads were brand new, but several were badly worn and already breaking up into pieces. I insisted they all be removed for the duration. Several students were not happy at the notion, but I did insist.

The ostensible benefit of buffer pads is that they prevent direct, metal-to-metal contact upon recoil and thus reduce wear.

Unhappily, recoil buffer pads on 1911 pistols has two inherent problems:

>They rapidly wear, break into pieces, and the pieces migrate about until they jam somewhere and cause the whole gun to seize completely. I’ve seen this happen so often that, as noted above, I insist they be removed at my courses.

>They prevent the operator from being able to close the slide (when it is locked to the rear) by pulling it the rest of the way to the rear and then releasing it. It is thus only possible close the slide by depressing the slide release, and often even this can be done only with great difficulty.

On balance, recoil buffer pads are a can of worms, and I highly recommend against their installation on any serious pistol.



24 May 00

This from a friend who works with the Baltimore, MD PD.

“Two Baltimore police officers, upon searching a man arrested on minor nuisance charges (‘consuming alcohol in public,’ a charge that rarely results in a trial or a jail sentence) last week, failed to find a Taurus 45ACP autoloading pistol in the suspect’s jacket pocket and a second, fully charged magazine for the pistol in his rear pants pocket. The Taurus pistol was fully loaded and ready to fire.

The pistol and magazine were missed a second time when neither were discovered during a standard, entry search when the suspect was delivered to jail personnel by the two arresting officers.

The pistol and magazine were only discovered by internal jail personnel during a third search, this one a standard, strip search after the suspect was inside the jail.

An internal investigation is under way. The suspect incurred a gun charge and was released on $1,500.00 bail. The two arresting officers remain on duty during the investigation.”

Lesson: This kind of nonchalant carelessness is endemic among those individuals and departments who don’t take the job seriously. We must all examine our own attitudes daily to make sure this kind of gaff doesn’t occur on our watch.



26 May 00

The Battle of Monongahela, June 1755

Braddock’s English regulars (supplemented by a few American “provincials”) were the finest soldiers in the World, it was generally assumed. Stunning and splendid in their tight, white trousers, red coats, and powdered, white hair, they walked stiffly, looking like fearsome robots from another planet. In fact, when wounded, instead of crumbling (as one who wore loose clothing would), they stood motionless for a few moments, then toppled like a domino. They were assigned to assault and capture a French outpost, called Ft Duquesne near present-day Pittsburgh, PA.

Of all the European invaders, the local Indians disliked the French the least. The French were interested mostly in trade, but had little interest in establishing permanent colonies. The French also allowed themselves to be absorbed into Indian culture. The English, on the other hand, were interested primarily in the permanent acquisition of real estate and had not the slightest interest in Indian culture, which they looked upon with condescending disdain. Indians thus considered the British, more than any other European immigrants, the principal threat to the continuance of their way of life.

Braddock would teach these impudent Frenchmen, and the mostly-naked savages with whom they had allied themselves, a lesson they wouldn’t forget! In fact, the Indian contingent at the fort was not even counted in Braddock’s intelligence reports. After all, at the first cannon shot, they would panic and flee like mice, surely.

Braddock’s approach had all the stealth of a circus parade! The French and Indians heard their clamorous advance from a long distance away and then waited in ambush along their likely route. When the French forces pounced upon the British formation, the surprise was complete. The flabbergasted British troops tried to form their ranks and return fire, but their numbers were calamitously slashed by French musket fire, not from ranks, but from individual soldiers and Indians firing from covered positions. The unthinkable had happened. Fighting “Indian Style,” uneducated savages had beaten back the finest soldiers in the World!

Braddock himself was mortally wounded during the battle, and his badly mauled army was forced to withdraw. On his deathbed a few days later, Braddock’s last words were, “We shall better know how to deal with them another time.” Prophetic enough as it turns out, but Braddock himself would not live to see it.

The lessons learned at the Monongahela on that summer day in 1755 were not lost on a young American officer by the name of George Washington who was there and who himself had barely escaped with his life. Two decades later, Washington, fighting “Indian Style,” as it came to be known, would engage British regulars on other battlefields, secure in the knowledge that vaunted British regulars could be beaten. The proud-to-a-fault British, still in denial, would have to learn the same lesson all over again!

Lesson: What defeated Braddock and his army at the Monongahela was arrogance. Arrogance and inflexibility have been the undoing of more than one aspiring military commander. An unwillingness to face the truth squarely will undo any of us if we allow it. Denial is for losers!



28 May 00

Some interesting rifle notes from my friend in the Philippines:

“In conversations with several Ranger sergeants over here, I have taken the following notes:

Our Rangers are heavily engaged with local insurgents and are in armed contact with them nearly every day. Casualties (mostly gunshot wounds) are common. They use mostly M-16s as personal arms. They prefer the full-length model over the CAR, and are partial to twenty-round magazines for field use, although thirty-round magazines are considered okay for checkpoint/sentry duty.

With thirty-round magazines, just enough shift can occur to alter the angle of feed and cause malfunctions. This is particularly true when the operator uses the magazine as a forgrip or digs it into the ground when firing from prone. The phenomena is unusual with twenty-round magazines, but common with thirty-rounders.

As noted above, short magazines are much easier to use when firing from prone than are long ones, particularly for thin people.

They say when they establish contact, one can never get to the ground too flat or too fast! None of them use bipods, as they position the body too high.

They all use slings and have their rifles with them, loaded and ready to go, constantly.

I’ve not met a single, seasoned soldier who employs full-automatic fire. All use carefully aimed fire exclusively, and typically comment that it is only the greenhorns who go full auto, usually as part of a panic response. After these new folks had seen their first fight, they quickly learn to seek and identify targets, then take them out with carefully aimed, individual shots. In fact, the experienced guys indicate that they are not too keen on sharing ammo after the noise dies down, and the rookies have discovered that they are already halfway through their last magazine!

I may seem coarse, but it is their way of underscoring the importance of each round issued to each individual. It emphasizes each one’s responsibility for his own survival and his ability to meaningfully contribute to the unit’s survival and ultimate victory.”

Well said!