1 May 03

From a friend in AZ:

“Today’s front-page lead, Gone Without a Trace. Eight hundred registered sex offenders in Arizona have ‘disappeared.’ That is, they failed to check in as they’re supposed to, so nobody knows where they are or what they’re doing.

When questioned about this ‘problem,’ Val Biebrich, supervisor of the Sex Offender Compliance Unit, Department of Public Safety said, ‘We try to keep them in compliance, but you’re always going to have a portion of the population that doesn’t want to be tracked.’ Well, that kind of feeble excuse sure builds my confidence in the ‘justice’ system. How about you?

It gets worse. Incredibly, the State of Arizona is relatively good at this, sixth best in the nation in fact, with (only) six percent unaccounted for! California is missing 33%. Nevada 26%. Worst are Tennessee and Oklahoma at 50%! Combined, 77,000 of these convicted perverts are thumbing their collective noses at the ‘system,’ and, with virtually all state governments broke several times over, we all know that nothing is going to be done to improve the situation any time soon.

In years past, perverts were castrated or hanged. Today, they’re slapped on the hand and then forgotten by politicians far more concerned with the next election than they ever will be about the safety of citizens. Val and his colleagues have all the credibility of ‘Baghdad Bob.’‘

Comment: But, we’re all assured that the ‘system’ is not broken and than none of us need to own a gun. The painful truth is that we are all on our own. No one is going to rescue us. No one ‘cares’ about us, and the cavalry isn’t going to arrive in the nick of time. Individually, we have to be prepared to take care of business- any time, any place. Depending upon ‘justice system’ for any species of ‘protection’ is (obviously) delusional.



5 May 03

Of XDs and magazine funnels:

We just completed a defensive pistol course in Souix Falls, SD. One of our students works at a local gun shop and brought a SA XD pistol (compact) in 9mm. We’ll seen a lot of XDs in classes, and they’ve all worked well, but they’re clunky and, in my opinion, too big for concealed carry. This is the first compact model I’ve seen. It worked well, and now I really like to size. It will make a suitable concealed carry gun. Of course, normal capacity magazines are not available, but, with this compact model, one doesn’t give up much capacity, since the magazine wouldn’t be able to hold many more than ten rounds anyway. The compact model is now available only in 9mm, but a 40S&W version will surely follow shortly.

XD pistols “feature” a grip safety. Unhappily, unless fully depressed, the grip safety prevents the slide from moving. It is a confounded nuisance during loading and unloading, particularly for students with small hands. It is not a deal buster, but I surely wish it were not there. If I owned one, I’d have my gunsmith fix it, so it didn’t prevent movement of the slide.

Several female students remarked that the XD trigger reach is considerably less than on the Glock. I had not fully appreciated this before, but they were right. It is, thus, a good choice for those with small hands, since the trigger can be accessed normally without having to compromise the master grip (nearly always necessary with Glocks). In addition, “finger drag” on the pistol’s frame is eliminated.

XDs are also a good deal less expensive than Glocks, and I believe this compact model will thus provide Glock with significant competition in the carry-gun market.

In our class, we also had several 1911s equipped with aftermarket magazine funnels. I wish I had a dime for every failed reload caused directly by this abominable gadget. Time after time, these students would complete a reload, only to discover that they had chambered thin air instead of a live round!

I have scant regard for most aftermarket add-ons, but this ill-conceived contrivance is particularly vexatious. It adds bulk and weight as well as several exposed sharp edges, all in addition to promoting failed reloads. Not recommended for any serious pistol.



5 May 03

After action report from a friend in the theater:

“Most of the killing of Iraqis on the ground was done with 50 and 7.62 machineguns. Marine Corps employment of CAS and maneuver warfare proved so lethal and (and thus so intimidating) that the will of the enemy was nearly always broken before any significant ground engagement. F18 Hornets and AV-8 Harriers pounded them relentlessly, and then AH-1 Cobras annihilated what was left so completely that most engagements on the ground were simply mopping up, with the exception of several occasions where we were charged by literal human waves of Jihadists. However, machineguns and rifle fire quickly wiped them out. Charging our kind of firepower with foot infantry over open ground has no chance of success, no matter what the numbers. A lesson they learned the hard way!

There was some tough street fighting in Basra, Nasiriyah, and the outskirts of Baghdad, but once more AH-1 Cobras for CAS significantly reduced our casualties. I talked with one Cobra pilot. He indicated that flechette rockets worked superbly on Jihadists in the open and on rooftops. Jihadists using building, rubble, and vehicles for cover were easily eliminated with 20mm cannon.”



7 May 03

“Normal Capacity” magazines not available for the XD Pistol:

A friend in the magazine business just informed me that normal-capacity Beretta magazines have been modified to fit in the XD pistol, but that they don’t work well and are not recommended. Since the XD came onto the market after 1994, no non-restricted “normal capacity” magazines have ever been available from the factory. All magazines are reduced capacity.

As I mentioned before, this is not a big issue with the compact models, but it is with the full-sized ones. Normal capacity, factory Glock magazines, in both 40S&W and 9mm, are still commonly available in the aftermarket, and I don’t think the XD will ever be able to compete effectively for the business of serious students of defensive pistolcraft when all they can offer them is an eleven-shooter. Glock users, in the interim, will carry thirteen (40S&W) and seventeen (9mm) shooters.

This may all change next year when the 1994 Crime Bill sunsets, assuming our president is able to find his backbone and allow it to do so.



8 May 03

Problems with Fobus Holsters:

For the third time over the past twelve months, I had today a student unable to get his Fobus paddle holster to release his G19/23/32. This student is an LEO of many years and is a competent shooter. In fact, he is one of my instructors.

He was carrying his G23 in a Fobus paddle on his strong side. When he attempted to draw (from concealment), all the pulling and yanking he could muster did not suffice to persuade the holster to release his pistol. I was unable to pull it out either.

The problem is the dimple that locks into the trigger guard. The material is so stiff, the front of the trigger guard would not move past the dimple. When we took the whole thing off his belt and manually spread the halves of the holster, we were finally able to get the gun out.

I’ve seen this twice before, and I have thus decided that this is one holster I am no longer recommending for any serious use.



10 May 03

Small arms feedback from the Gulf War from a SpecOps friend in the area. This is confirmation from the First Gulf War:

“The M855, steel penetrator, 62grain 223 round, combined with the short, M4 rifle has, once again, established a poor reputation. Most of our opponents were skinny and lightly clothed. None wore body armor. At close range, our rounds easily penetrated through and through, but cases of immediate incapacitation were rare, even when they were hit several times in rapid succession. Many complaints on this issue. The M855 does penetrate solid barriers, but no better than the Soviet 7.62X39.

At long ranges, the M855 round does not have enough power. At those ranges solid hits did not take people down quickly. Damage was disappointing. Again, there were many complaints.

Our soldiers and Marines did their job. They hit, and hit consistently. The M855 ammunition failed, and failed consistently. An upgrade is long overdue.

With this experience, we now all have a strong opinion that a better caliber is needed, before the next war! Right now, there is a movement underway within US Army Special Operations Command to develop a SOF Combat Rifle (our next individual rifle) for Special Forces. When asked, we all expressed the opinion that we need better terminal performance on people, at all ranges, right out to five hundred meters.”

Comment: In Vietnam, our opponents were also skinny and lightly clothed, but a single hit from an M16 shooting 55gr hardball almost always took them down in short order. The 55gr hardball round we used then was limited to 150m in range and didn’t penetrate well at any range, but it did a nice job otherwise.

Evidence suggests that the new, short M4 rifle, combined with the 62gr “penetrator” round fuses the worst of both worlds! Penetration is nothing special, and terminal performance is poor at any range. Let us pray that bureaucrats stop dithering and correct this obvious deficiency before the start of the next war!



10 May 03

From a student:

“I am entering the Cook County (IL) Sheriff’s Police Academy. I planned on buying and using a G23 (40S&W). I have been informed that Glocks and H&K USPs are not allowed, only S&W, SIG, Beretta, and Ruger. Only calibers allowed are 9mm and 45ACP; no 40S&W and no 357SIG.”

Comment: Some police officials bring their personal political agendas to the job and see nothing wrong with imposing them on everyone else. Someone entrenched at the Cook County SO “just doesn’t like Glocks,” and it will be that way until he leaves or is (finally) overruled.

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.”

Winston Churchill



11 May 03

“Hunches,” “Feelings,” “Lucky Charms,” “Intuition,” “ESP”? It’s all crap!

Both our lives and our craft are ruthlessly fact-oriented. Indeed, so ruthless and unfair does life often seem, that many of us unwisely surrender to beliefs in ESP and the like, in an effort to cushion the impact of stark reality. When we do, we are immersed in an ocean of self-deception and ultimately do ourselves no good service! In simplest terms, sincere belief in ESP is a form of mental illness.

Casino games are literal manifestations of statical probability. However, gamblers love to talk about “lucky cards,” “lucky dice,” “winning streaks,” “losing streaks,” and the like. The casino business is profitable just because customers play “hunches,” while the casino itself plays the odds! The fact is, low-probability events do occur. When they do, someone will always claim to have “seen it coming.” Curiously, that claim always comes right after the event!

If you really believe “streaks” have any predictive value, look at the roulette wheel. Most casinos post the last ten results on an electronic bulletin board that is conspicuously situated above the wheel. Naive players are forever looking for “patterns” on the display. Unhappily, the only “pattern” you’ll ever see is a classic bell curve! Indeed, casinos often keep records for months even years, just to make sure the wheel is “regular.” They track millions, indeed billions, of spins. Their data shows exactly what any intelligent and rational person would expect: if red has come up eight times in a row, the ninth spin will come up red exactly as often as after any other sequence. At the craps table, I’ve seen the dice come up seven, five times in a row. The chances that the sixth throw will be a seven is still one in six. There is no voodoo operating here, just statical probability in its purest form. If a seven is thrown when you have money on a number, you lose. You lose, no matter how “unfair” it seems, no matter what your “feelings” were, no matter how fervently you pray!

The laws of randomness, like to law of gravity, apply to everyone equally. We all need to stop “feeling” and start thinking. Your can “feel” any way you want. It will change nothing. “Feeling” is for losers! You can’t predict the cards you’re going to be delt. Stop imagining that you can. Start concentrating on the one thing you can control: the way you play them. Victory dwells in the heart of the warrior, not in circumstances.



13 May 03

New Rifles from RA:

Alex Robinson of Robinson Arms in Salt Lake City informs me that they will be manufacturing two new rifles before the end of the year. Neither will be on a Kalashnikov , Garand, or FAL model.

One will be chambered for 7.62X39 Soviet and will use AK47 magazines. The other will be chambered for 308 and will use either FAL and/or M14 magazines.

These rifles, if the prove to be as reliable at the existing RA-96, will be a great boon to mankind, and I’ll report on them just as soon as I get my hands on one.



13 May 03

Eighty-seven years before the current Gulf War: British Soldiers in Basra and Kut, April 1916

In 1915, there was no nation of Iraq. Iraq did not become a sovereign nation until 1932. All of Mesopotamia was then part of Turkey, and its inhabitants were all “Turks.” Turkey had allied itself with Germany after the Great War broke out, and England suddenly had a direct interest in oil and oil pipelines in what was now enemy territory. All the real action was, of course, in France and other parts of Western Europe, but military backwater campaigns, such as this one in Mesopotamia and the ill-fated and simultaneous Gallipoli Invasion (also against the Turks) were seen as critical to the success of overall war effort. Unfortunately, as with most military sideshows, both campaigns proved disastrous debacles.

Sir Charles Townshend had gained minor notoriety in 1895 when his command held out for two months against native tribesman at Chitral on the western Indian frontier. Despite his personal ambition (noted by all who knew him), his reputation still did not suffice to get him assigned to a line unit in the main battle area in Europe with the onset of the War. In fact, his disappointment at being shunted off to a military backwater like Mesopotamia was the subject of many bitter conversations with contemporaries.

However, trying to make the best of a disappointing assignment, Townshend, with his British 17th Infantry Brigade, charged northward from Basra, up the Tigris River. Turkish resistance was weak and disorganized. Turkish units mostly retreated without firing a shot. Within a month, Townshend was already halfway to his goal, Baghdad, with only light casualties. In mid-1915 British victories elsewhere were scarce, so, when the news reached England, Townshend became an instant hero.

Noting Townshend’s success, the German Kaiser sent Field Marshall Colmar van der Goltz to organize the Turkish resistance and defend Baghdad. Van der Goltz was no amateur! Immediately, and for the first time, Townshend encountered effective resistance at Kut as he resumed his march north. He also started taking significant casualties. Kut was finally taken, but at a heavy price.

Townshend’s superior, General Nixon (back in Basra) apparently jealous of Townshend’s success, did little to support the advance. He obviously did not want to see the arrogant Townshend promoted. Fresh troops and supplies were thus not moving north.

Townshend continued pushing north anyway, as far as the ancient Persian battlefield of Ctesiphon, affectionately called “pissed upon” by his troops. Ctesiphon (twenty miles southeast of Baghdad, called “Al-Madain” today and largely a ghost town, then and now) had marked the southern limit of the ancient Roman Empire (under General Belisarius) many centuries before. Ctesiphon, as fate would have it, was also to mark the northern extreme of the British advance. Turkish resistance was now so heavy, that for Townshend to continue on to Baghdad without substantial reinforcements, was out of the question. Townshend had no choice but to fall back.

At this point, Townshend’s contemporaries note that he began to suffer a nervous breakdown. With a great “Victory at Baghdad” now a rapidly fading fiction, Townshend’s hoped-for “place in history” began fading away too. His overblown personal vanity couldn’t handle it. As a result, Townshend began to fall apart mentally.

The smart thing to do would have been to retreat all the way back to Basra, which could be accomplished in relative safety and with comparative ease. Once there, Townshend could consolidate, reinforce and resupply, get competent medical care for his many casualties, and confront Nixon face to face. However, Townshend’s faltering ego wouldn’t allow such an ignominious retrace of his once-glorious advance. He unwisely decided to dig in at Kut, where he was quickly surrounded by Turkish forces. The possibility of significant resupply and reinforcement was expeditiously eliminated by the Turks. Townshend naively thought he could hold out at Kut until he was relieved by a column coming north from Basra. Salvaging his personal reputation now occupied him completely. Perhaps the newspapers in London would make him a hero after all, comparing him to Gordon at Khartoum.

No such luck! Adopting the tactic of slow strangulation, the Turks brought in German artillery and began what they calculated would be a long siege. Townshend’s sanity deteriorated rapidly. He became giddy and whimsical, secluding himself most of the time and issuing conflicting and illogical orders on the rare occasions when he came out. He should have been relieved. He made no effort to break out from Kut, and an overdue relief column from Basra, despite heavy casualties, was unable to break through from the other direction.

On Saturday, 29 April 1916, Townshend surrendered his entire command at Kut to the Turks. Townshend’s men subsequently endured a brutal captivity in Turkish POW camps. Most, succumbing to starvation, disease, and murder at the hands of Turks, did not survive to return to England. Townshend himself was meanwhile wined and dined in Constantinople as a guest of the Turkish government (who apparently regarded him an intriguing curiosity), all the while caring nothing for the lot of his men.

Townshend was eventually returned to England where he vainly attempted, for the rest of his life, to justify his conduct. His attempts fell on deaf ears, particularly those of the few survivors of his ill-fated command.

Lesson: Personal vanity has ultimately disgraced the careers and reputations of more than one commander. Custer, Townshend, and Percival all suffered from “delusions of grandeur” so burdensome that they literally lost their minds when they saw it fading away. A sound mind carefully combines humility and audacity. Tilt too far in either direction, and disaster awaits, as we see from the foregoing.



14 May 03

Dear Diane

Here is a short article for the next issue of the Newsletter. This has not been circulated anywhere else:

Excellent analysis of our Practical Test from a recent student at a basic Defensive Handgun Course:

“I wanted to share an interesting insight with you. The most profound point of learning for me came when I took five tries to pass the Test. Each try was exponentially more difficult than the one before it. This was because I knew I had the skills and background (I passed on the second try a year ago) to pass without much effort. Failing two, three, and four times in a row contradicted that knowledge and forced me to dig deep within myself to hit with all seven shots.

Requiring a perfect score as opposed to, say, six out of seven shots, amounts to much more than the mere difference of a single miss. It’s the difference between night and day! A perfect performance, and a NOT-perfect performance. It invites in all those voices that you taught us to push aside. I had to put all you teaching from the previous two days into practice in order to see the target clearly and press the trigger without a care for when the explosion might occur. Your words came rushing back, and I was faced with a choice: I had to ignore the clutter or give into the many loser thoughts in my head, such as: ‘Wouldn’t it be devastating if I didn’t pass this when my brother and dad did?’, and ‘I can see myself standing here in the dark, still trying to hit the target and still failing,’ and ‘Theoretically, it could take me one hundred tries to pass this test,’ and ‘That time, I did everything right but still missed. This is so unfair!’ and ‘Those other guys, including an old man, actually passed before me. If the boy now passes, I’ll be the only one left,’ and ‘Maybe I’m fundamentally flawed…’

Having failed the first four times gave me the opportunity for a much greater victory. It was far more gratifying than when I passed on the first attempt the previous year. And, I was appreciative when you leaned over before my fifth try and told me (almost in confidence), ‘Just hit the first one, and you WILL get the rest.'”

Lesson: Proficiency tests should (1) always be short, (2) always be in public, and (3) always require a perfect score. “Good enough” never is!



15 May 03

From a friend in Capetown, SA:

“I just got off the phone with an attorney friend. He was accosted today by two armed-robbery suspects. They barged in to his office, grabbed him, and threw him to the floor. He drew his G23 as he went down and fired as soon as he got his front sight on the nearest one.

Both suspects were hit once. One was then hit a second time. The nearest one was shot once in the face. He collapsed immediately but was still breathing when my friend last saw him. The other was hit twice in the trunk. He fled the office stumbling and bent over.

Police were called two hours ago from the office next door and still have not arrived.

My friend carries his G23 in a Fobus paddle. This one apparently worked fine. His G23 was loaded with Speer Gold Dots.

My friend is shaken but otherwise okay.”

Lesson: When it’s least expected, you’re elected! This lawyer was armed and ready. Most importantly, he had thought all this through in advance. He had a plan. At the moment of truth, he did what he had to do to keep himself from getting hurt. Good show!



19 May 03

Of Reloads and Glocks…

At a course in Michigan last weekend, we had a case rupture in a Glock 22. Gas pressure blew out the slide-lock lever and half the trigger. The shooter received a gas cut on his hand but was not otherwise seriously injured. With the addition of some Band-Aids, he continued with the course. With the replacement of the trigger and slide-lock lever, the pistol can probably be returned to service.

In my judgment, the case in question had been reloaded one time too many. It blew out at the unsupported portion, just as one would expect. I believe that progressive brass flow toward the front had thinned out the rear of the case, to the point that it could no longer contain the pressure.

Reloading 40S&W cases, even ones that have only been fired once, may be a bad idea. Nine millimeter and 45ACP cases can be reloaded, it seems, numerous times with little concern. Not so with the 40S&W, and particularly not so with the 357SIG. I don’t recommend reloading either. Better that fired cases be discarded (and you thus shoot only new, factory ammunition) than you see you pistol ruined.



22 May 03

Last night I had a conversation with the head trainer of a large state agency in the Midwest. Our discussion was about service handguns. When I first started working with this agency a number of years ago, their agents (all plain clothes) carried S&W 4516s. The act of manual decocking was, of course, included in the training curriculum, and was accepted by all. In recent years, the agency, once independent, has come under the patronization of the State Police.

State police officers here, nearly all uniformed, carry SIG 229s (40 S&W), in SIG’s current self-decocking (DAO) configuration. The head of the State Police insisted that this smaller agency get rid of all other handguns and also adopt the SIG pistol. They duly obeyed the edict, and they all now have SIG pistols in 40S&W. My friend was able to successfully lobby for the smaller M239, but the self-decocking configuration was declared “not negotiable.”

S&W, Beretta, and SIG all offer self-decocking versions of their autoloading pistols. Glock was, of course, the first self-decocking pistol, and, with no manual safety levers, or decocking levers, and no safety/decocking levers, its popularity in the law enforcement business speaks for itself. The Glock trigger features the best of both worlds: it provides the shooter with a shallow reset for fast and accurate follow-up shots, but it still decocks itself as soon as the trigger is released completely. Manual decocking is eliminated. S&W’s, Berettas, and SIG’s self-decocking versions have, until recently, provided only a long, heavy pull and a subsequent long reset for all shots. In fact, agents superciliously refer to SIG’s version as merely a “flat revolver,” which is actually an accurate description.

Enter H&K’s new LEM (Law Enforcement Module) trigger! H&K’s USP pistol, which heretofore had a manual decocking lever, recently became available with their version of Glock’s trigger. There is an exposed hammer, but the trigger features a take-up at only four pounds. Then, it hits the sear and builds up to eight pounds. Overtravel after release is only a millimeter or two. Reset is short (hammer stays cocked), and subsequent shots are all from a cocked hammer. When the trigger is released completely, the hammer returns to its forward, rest position. Manual decocking is eliminated (along with the lever), and the trigger is easily manipulated, even by relatively weak fingers. H&K has now incorporated the LEM trigger in its new pistol (successor to the USP), and with it they will be directly assaulting Glock’s market.

Back to our story: SIG has now developed a similar, “Glock-like” trigger, but they have not yet marketed it. My friend is trying his best to persuade SIG to make this new system available to his agency. It is an obvious quantum improvement over the current “flat revolver.”

Manual decocking and manual safety levers have become unpopular among police executives. I do not see that trend reversing any time soon. We surely hope SIG takes the hint and gets their version of the Glock trigger on the market right away. It will be a great boon to mankind, not to mention my dedicated friend here in the Midwest trying his best to keep his guys from getting hurt.



23 May 03

More about the performance of the M16/62gr “penetrator” round:

“After-action interviews with infantry Marines indicate that most small-arms engagements occurred within 100m, many within 25m, even in this desert environment. Jihadists tried to abrogate our artillery, helicopters, and CAS by hiding until we were nearly on top of them and then attempting to ambush our lead elements. However, their individual marksmanship was poor and their movements sluggish. Our response was aggressive and rapid. They were, in every case, summarily outflanked and destroyed.

Inadequacy of our 5.56 ammunition is well known among the troops. This is evidenced by the large number of head shots, at all ranges. Our Marines can shoot and hit, but many decided not to take chances and opted for a head shot.

That is, of course, well and good, but many of us are still pushing for a rifle round with improved penetration, range, and terminal effect. As you said, we want it all in place before the next war!”



27 May 03

Of CETME rifles:

“At a recent Urban Rifle Course, two students brought Spanish CETME rifles. You see them advertised extensively. They are similar to the H&K G3 (91). However, their owners had to lubricate them constantly. They used both gun oil and bearing grease. As long as the guns were greased up heavily, they worked fine. As soon as the grease cooked out, they began malfunctioning.”

Comment: We have the same situation with the H&K MP5. Heavily lubricated, they work best. Trouble begins when they dry out. It goes with the species.