4 May 01

Latest on the situation in the Philippines, from my friend there:

“Our government is actively pursuing people it believes are behind inciting crowds to storm the palace in Manilla. They declared a ‘State of Rebellion’ (whatever that is), which they say will be lifted on the seventh of this month. Between then and now, they can justify the deployment of army troops in the metropolis as well as unlimited warrantless arrests and searches. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that they are arresting and searching only their political opponents!

They’ve raided and trashed many private houses already. It’s their way of letting people know that political opposition is not cool. Most of the ‘suspects’ have surrendered peacefully. One of those wanted is the former Chief of the National Police. This is the same man who sought to deny law abiding citizens legitimate access to firearms. I bet he wishes he had one now! Can’t say I feel sorry for him.

Just another beautiful day in the tropics!”



7 May 01

We ran a Woman’s Class last weekend in the Midwest. Vicki and several other female instructors had ten female students ranging in age from a teenager to several women in their fifties.

Vicki has been carrying an H&K USP Compact in 40S&W for the last two years. She likes it, as it fits her (relatively small) hand well. Vicki has heretofore not liked Glocks, because the grip has always been such that she was unable to achieve adequate contact with the trigger without distorting her grasp.

Last weekend, she used a Glock 23 with the ROBAR grip reduction treatment. What a surprise! The shape of the grip now permits correct placement of her trigger finger on the trigger while maintaining a proper, master grip. Nearly all the women in her class tried and liked the treatment too. Most of our male students preferred the original shape of the Glock grip, but women and men with small hands genuinely benefit from the grip reduction treatment.

If you have a female or a male student with small hands, the ROBAR grip reduction treatment is something which may be of real benefit. In Vicki’s case, it makes the difference between the pistol being useable and unusable.



7 May 01

On iron rifle sights from a friend and colleague in Texas. He makes a good point!

“I just taught an urban rifle course in East Texas last weekend. I used my AR-15, which, like most, is equipped with a flip-up rear sight. The rear sight got inadvertently knocked to a halfway position three times in the course of the day. It was the result of the rifle being slung in the muzzle-down position. I was, unaware, bumping the sight against my pistol magazine as the rifle was carried (left side).

As a result, on those three occasions, as I mounted my rifle I discovered, to my surprise and irritation, that I could not use either aperture of my rear sight! I will thus be immediately replacing the rear sight with a fixed rear sight that does not fold down.

I have changed my opinion of flip-up sights on a defensive rifle. They are a can of worms! I want a sight that is always there. In the middle of a fight, I don’t need that kind of aggravation.”



10 May 01

From a friend and trainer in Africa:

“I don’t know how it is in the States, but, around here, ten rounds of pistol ammunition go very quickly. The guys shooting low-capacity handguns seem to be doing an exercise in little more than emergency reloading! Around here, a fighting pistol needs to have at least thirteen rounds available without reloading. This gives that shooter a genuine opportunity to get multiple hits on at least four attackers before being forced to reload. With our frequent farm attacks, the armed farmer will typically have to take out four raiders in a single ‘event,’ sometimes more. It’s never just one or two.

The past weekend I ran an Advanced Handgun course. A police officer student, shooting a Z88 (Beretta 92F), proved accurate. However, he had a terrible time making the adjustment from the first to the second shot, and he kept forgetting to decock prior to moving Pistols that ‘feature’ manually decocking seem to do that to people. But, you already know the story ‘bout levers. With any defensive pistol, the fewer levers, the better!

Ruger Mini 14s are not bad guns, and we have lots of them here. However, the flimsy rear sight often breaks or flies off the rifle during our training courses. Stoner-system rifles work well most of the time, but are quickly rendered inoperable by blowing dust and sand. By contrast, the Rs (South African copy of the Israeli Galil) are tough as nails and keep running in nearly any environment.”

Lesson: All good advice. Africa is an excellent testing ground for both equipment and technique. Much of the time, they have all the excitement they can handle!



18 May 01

From a trainer in South Africa:

“A student had a monumental challenge in reducing a stoppage on a Franchi SPAS12 shotgun. The gun is so full of sharp edges he nearly managed to cut off two of his fingers in the process. They were bleeding profusely. Also, the excessive number of switches and buttons had him hopelessly confused. He now intends to junk the SPAS and buy a Remington 870!

Lesson: Emergency, safety equipment should not be complicated and difficult to operate. This student is lucky he learned his lesson during a training exercise. He’ll now live to benefit from it.



18 May 01


“The sale was financed by a single investor, who is so far anonymous. Saf-T-Hammer started out with a replacement revolver hammer, made so that the striking portion of the hammer could be removed via a set screw and dovetail, rendering the revolver ‘safe.’ They make a couple other firearms ‘safety’ gimmicks, all dubious and untested and marketed mostly to gullible geeks who should not own firearms (or anything else dangerous) in the first place.

At this point, we don’t even know if S&W will continue to produce guns.”



21 May 01

We conducted a Rifle/Shotgun Course in the Midwest last weekend. Each student fired a minimum of 500 rounds. Of the rifles used:

Two AR-15s by Colt: Both had innumerable functional problems, mostly failure to extract and failure to eject. One student limped along with his. The other was pulled from service.

Several AR-15s by Bushmaster: Worked fine all weekend. No problems.

Two DSA FALs, both brand new: One worked fine displaying only one failure to feed. The other consistently failed to chamber rounds, and, even with the help of the resident gunsmith, could not be returned to service. The owner had to substitute a Ruger Mini-14 in order to complete the course. The Ruger worked fine.

One Robinson Arms RA96: Not one hiccup all weekend. Flawless functioning.

One Springfield Armory M1-A: Worked fine until the bolt dissembled itself on the second day spewing parts in every direction. The resident gunsmith fixed the bolt, and the rifle was returned to service. No further problems.

One Soviet SKS: Flawless functioning, except that the muzzle break, which was affixed via a single roll pin, blew completely off the rifle during the first day of shooting. The rifle itself continued to work as if nothing had happened, and the student finished the course. The muzzle break was recovered from a clump of grass.

Some functioning problems can be attributed to S&B ammunition. I know it is cheap, but it is erratic and filthy. I have decided to advise students not to bring any caliber of S&B ammunition to our courses. Whatever is saved in purchase price is more than counterbalanced in wasted time.

Lesson: I don’t presently recommend anything made by Colt. Robinson Arms is a good way to go if one want a reliable rifle in 223 caliber. Bushmaster is also very good, if one wants to stick with the AR-15 platform. DSA FALs have been pretty good, but we surely saw a bad one last weekend.



22 May 01

Comments on rifles from my African friends:

“The only rifles that work well here are the Kalashnikovs ( Rs, AKs, Galils) and the SKS. They are not as ‘tight’ (or as accurate) as M16s and FALs, but they keep going through all kinds of conditions.

When we were supplying an ‘army’ in Angola, they wanted to see American M-16s, South African Rs, the French FAMAS, the English Bullpup, and the Austrian Steyr AUG. All worked fine in standard tests, except, of course, the British gun which summarily fell apart. However, the last ‘test’ was unique. They asked that we drive a tank over each rifle, one at a time! We did, and only the FAMAS and our R survived. Both were badly scuffed and bent, but both continued to function normally. They selected the R.

On another subject, our local African arms producer, Vektor, has now been ordered by our government to stop all production and marketing of all pistols and autoloading and pump rifles for local, civilian consumption. For the moment, their line of bolt-action, hunting rifles will stay in production, and they will still produce Rs for our military and overseas sales. They obviously want to make defensive firearms unavailable to all us civilian pond scum.

Another subject: You can add Norinco ammunition to your not-recommended list. My students, like yours, typically buy the cheapest ammunition upon which they can get their hands. After innumerable stoppages and other ammunition-related problems, they moan and whine, distracting the rest of the class. We have had a number of slam-fires and innumerable other ammunition-related difficulties with Norinco ammunition, particularly 223. I no longer allow it here.”



23 May 01

At a defensive pistol course we were conducting in Michigan several weeks ago, one of my instructors was having to correct a student, a local police officer, repeatedly about getting his finger off the trigger and into the strong, register position that we teach prior to moving and particularly when he reloaded and reduced stoppages.

The officer took the correction well for a while, but kept making the same mistake. Then, in an expression of exasperation, he turned his head to my instructor (as he was performing a reload) and said, “I think you’re getting more than a little nit-picking about all this finger-on-the-trigger business.” As he said it, he completed his reload (Glock) and struck the magazine with the heel of his weak hand. As fate would have it, his finger was inside the trigger guard, and, the moment he completed his sentence, his pistol fired unintentionally. Fortunately, his shot went harmlessly downrange.

The officer looked for long moments at his pistol, in total disbelief. He then looked at my instructor and said, “I now see what you mean.” Amen!

Lesson: As Benjamin Franklin put it, “Experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other.”



25 May 01

This from a friend who is a range officer with an SO in the Midwest:

“The chief Jail administrator for our county showed up at the range today for his annual qualification. Our Sheriff’s Department issues Glocks to road deputies, but jailers are responsible for their own firearms.

In any event, he brought an HS-2000 from some company in Croatia. I’ve never even seen one until now. When he attempted to fire his first stage, the gun was silent. He tried and tried but couldn’t get it to fire. None of us could fix it. The gun was fatally defective, right out of the box.

He has been carrying the gun, on duty, for six weeks! When I asked him if he had actually fired it before carrying it, he replied, ‘No. I didn’t think it was important.'”

Lesson: In training, we often concentrate on the mechanics of operating machines and forget to nurture the warrior spirit in our students. The latter is far more important than the former. Chimpanzees can be trained to shoot. “Nice guys” are a dime a dozen, but a genuine warrior, with the heart of a lion, is priceless!



28 May 01

Gun accident during police training, from a LEO friend and trainer in the Midwest:

“During a training session last week, one of our road officers mistakenly put a 40S&W round into the magazine of his Kimber 45ACP. During the next live-fire exercise, I heard an exceptionally loud detonation. I turned just in time to see this officer turning in circles and stumbling backward off the line, gun still in his hand.

One of my range officers was right on it and immediately grabbed the officer’s gun hand and got the weapon pointed in a safe direction. The slide was out of battery but not locked to the rear. I arrived to hear the officer, obviously frightened, exclaiming, ‘I’ve been hit!’ His left hand was covering his face.

We separated him from his pistol and then examined his face. He was okay. The rush of gas was sufficiently severe to cause him to think he had been struck by a missile, but there was no wound. He and the rest of us were relieved, to say the least!

Examination of his pistol revealed that the 40S&W round fed, ‘chambered,’ and discharged, as the extractor held it in contact with the bolt face. The bullet went downrange, but the (now deformed) case did not eject. The next live round (in 45ACP caliber) fed but failed to chamber, as the 40S&W case was in the way. When the officer attempted to fire that round, of course, nothing happened. As he had been trained, the officer then tapped, racked, and immediately attempted to fire. That is when we all heard the loud bang.

The deformed 40S&W case had been pushed far enough into the barrel, via the officer’s tap and rack, for a 45ACP round to chamber behind it. When that round fired, the bullet impacted the 40S&W case and pushed it most of the way down the barrel. The bullet and the case were found, smashed together, within a quarter inch of the muzzle. The barrel was bulged, and the barrel bushing on the slide was wedged over the bulged section. That is why the slide appeared to be neither all the way back nor all the way forward. The pistol is out of action. The barrel will have to be replaced, of course, and maybe the slide too.

It was raining all that day and we were on an outdoor range. Moments before this incident occurred, this same officer had removed his shooting glasses. When I subsequently spotted him without his glasses, I ordered him to put them back on. He complained they fogged up and that he couldn’t see to shoot. I told him he had two choices: (1) put them back on immediately, or (2) leave the range. He mumbled and huffed off, returning several minutes later with his glasses on again. The incident occurred within a minute of his return! I shudder to think what may have occurred if he had not been wearing glasses.”


With today’s range sessions typically involving 9mm, 40S&W, 357SIG, 45ACP, and often other popular, but confusingly similar, defensive calibers, such as 380Auto and 400Cor-Bon, systems must be in place to insure that different calibers do not get inadvertently mixed together. The same dangerous condition will exist when twelve and twenty gauge shotguns are present on the same range. It is common for shooters, upon completing their range sessions to simply throw all their unfired rounds in a box. When they don’t look carefully enough, they typically mix their rounds in with another caliber. It is thus best to have separate areas or even separate tables for each caliber. Even then, range staff must make it a point to emphasized the danger of caliber mixing to all students and thereafter must watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t happen.

The importance of safety equipment, such as safety glasses and baseball caps, cannot be overemphasized. As with wearing a seat belt in a car, putting it on AFTER the accident makes a moot point! Range staff must be vigilant and insure that everyone is properly equipped all the time they are on the range.