3 Oct 05

Scandium S&W 1911 Commander:

I’ve received my Scandium 1911 back from master pistolsmith, Jim Garthwaite. It subsequently received a thorough workout at long-time friend, Tom Given’s, excellent range in Memphis, TN where Tom and I put on an Advanced Defensive Pistol Class last weekend.

I had a long conversion with Jim about my compunction with S&W’s version of the Swartz grip-safety/firing-pin-interlock. Due to the problems we had with it (described in my Quip of 14 Sept 05), I was considering removing all Swartz parts, thus having the grip safety function only in the conventional sense. Jim indicated to me that it was just a matter of timing and fitting of parts. He believes the S&W, as it comes from the factory, is inherently sound. He adjusted the existing system, and slicked up the entire pistol. In two days of shooting, we were unable to get it to fail.

Any pistol one carries in Memphis had better reliable! Based on my experience on the range, I carried it without hesitation. It really likes heavy-hitting ammunition like Cor-Bon 185gr DPX, and it is flat, slick, and light, the way a concealment pistol ought to be.

For a concealed-carry 1911, the Scandium Commander, and the Detonics Combat Master, are hard to beat. In both cases however, attention by masters, the likes of Jim Garthwaite, was necessary to get them to the point where I was comfortable carrying them.



4 Oct 05

American Women as Defensive Shooting Students, from one of our Instructors:

“When I ask our female students if they have ever thought seriously about employing gunfire to abruptly end the life of a criminal attacker, a common response is to dodge the question with something like, ‘I don’t want to hurt anyone.’ Conversely, male students usually go right to the heart of the matter with an answer like, ‘No problem.’

Of course, we can build weapons skills in our female students to the point where they and I both know they have the ability to cause bullets to land exactly where they want them to, but the deeper issue of the willingness to commit a homicide, when necessary, in order to preserve their own lives is something we often neglect to address adequately. In fact, we often just dance around the subject!

As Dave Grossman points out, it goes against a built-in, genetic, human vector to kill other humans, but what I’m talking about here is specific to American women. Many women are still averse to claiming their own magnificence and have thus failed to assess the inherent value of their own lives. This trait particularly manifests itself in women who:

1) are involved in an abusive relationship.

2) imagine they live in the ‘traditional’ female role

Even today, there are many women who have been told (first by their parents, then by their spouse) that they are valueless. Not being a mental-health professional, I’m not sure how helpful I can be with women in this category, but I do know, from much experience, that the notion of taking decisive, violent action to protect themselves is as foreign to them as running for president! This philosophical issue may not even rear its ugly head until the second or third trip to the range. Shooting metal plates may be looked upon as pure and irrelevant recreation, but, when you start talking about VCAs and violent resistance, she may suddenly lose all interest and just want to go home.

Until the start of last century, a proper woman’s ‘career’ in this civilization was to get married, have children, and manage her husband’s household. Her husband was expected to provide for and defend her. Those traditional roles have changed a great deal in intervening decades! Women now drive, vote, go to college, hold public office, serve on juries, own businesses, et al. They move out of their parent’s house at an early age, without being married. Educators have addressed every conceivable aspect of this expanded female role, except personal protection. In fact, effective personal protection is contemptuously ignored or trivialized by most educators and even the “Women’s Movement’ itself.

That is why confused and frustrated women ultimately come to us! We are the ones who have to explain to her that she is worth defending, even when it means that a VCA gets to die violently as a result, and that she dare not depend upon anyone but herself. She needs to accept and understand that she cannot be helpful to anyone when she is dead! It may take a while to sink in, but sink in it must, lest everything else we say sound like a distant and irrelevant whisper.”

Comment: We are either going to be effective with our female students, or we are going to lose them as allies in preserving our rights! We need to enthusiastically welcome them into our fraternity, as commensurate colleagues. They need us, and we need them!



5 Oct 05

The Word on firing-pin locking systems on 1911 pistols, from Master Pistolsmith, Jim

“Firing-pin locking systems on autoloading pistols are designed to prevent firing-pin-inertia-engendered, unintentional discharges as the result of three circumstances:

1) The pistol falls on a hard surface, striking directly on the muzzle

2) The pistol is loaded normally, and the slide springs forward, chambering a round

3) The pistol goes full-auto during normal firing

In the early 1900s, it was the opinion of Browning himself that all of the foregoing events were so unlikely that the addition of a firing-pin-arrest system on his new pistol was unnecessary. However, in the intervening decades, trigger-deactivated, firing-pin-arrest systems have become standard on nearly all other reputable, modern, serious pistols. Some current makers of 1911 pistols have also decided to add such a system. Others have not. Some, like Colt, make the pistol both ways!

Among current manufacturers, two firing-pin-arrest systems are employed, one trigger-deactivated (Colt System) and one grip-safety-deactivated (Swartz System). The Colt System addresses all three circumstances listed above. The Swartz System address only the first, as the grip safety is normally depressed when the pistol is loaded and when it is fired. In addition, the Swartz System will only work on 1911 slides with an external extractor.

The Colt System employs two, trigger-activated levers that lift a spring-loaded, firing-pin block, thus allowing the firing pin to move forward. Problems with this system abound with the addition of an after-market, over-travel limiter that limits the rearward movement of the trigger. This can allow the hammer/sear to disengage (allowing the hammer to fall forward) but fail to provide enough lift to raise the block and release the firing pin. The effect is that the trigger is pulled; the hammer falls normally, but the pistol fails to discharge. Trigger over-travel limiters, of any kind, are thus not recommended on any 1911 pistol that is used for serious purposes.

Another shortcoming of this system is the location of the hole in the slide that accommodates the firing-pin block. It is located beside and to the rear of the disconnector hole and can allow the slide to peen from contact with the hammer. This is especially true in 9mm/.38 Super/9X23 slides that use a wide cut for the added width of the ejector.

The version of the Swartz System employed by S&W is less complicated. It features only one lever in the frame. Pressure from the grip safety unlocks (lifts) the firing-pin-block in the slide, deactivating it. Kimber’s version uses a plunger in the frame and a collar that fits around the firing pin.

The most common problem with the Swartz System is the fitting of the parts from the factory. Timing must be such that the firing-pin-block is deactivated BEFORE the grip safety releases the trigger bar, allowing the hammer/sear to disengage. If that sequence is reversed, the hammer may fall before the block is deactivated. The result is that, when the trigger is pressed, the hammer falls normally, but the pistol fails to fire.

Both systems have obvious shortcomings. Many believe neither contributes positively to the original Browning design. However, I recommend, if you own a Kimber, S&W, or a Colt Series 80 1911 pistol, that you don’t remove the firing-pin-block. Both the Colt and the Swartz Systems can be made reliable, when they are not that way already, with attention from a competent pistolsmith. Owning a pistol which is absolutely drop-safe is important to many gun carriers. When you want a drop-safe 1911 pistol, you have your choice!”

Comment: Additional “features” invariably involve additional moving parts and other engineering compromises. All who carry the 1911 need to decide how important absolute drop-safety is to them.



5 Oct 05

Reply with regard to training American Women, from one of our female instructors:

“Like you, I have been plagued with the frustration of how to ‘fix’ things, so that our female students can think in terms of being warriors, or to at least develop a determined resolve to protect themselves. Are we successful? Sometimes, but not always. All we can do is guide them to the knowledge. We cannot force them to become part of the fabric of knowledge unless they want to be.

Most men operate from a position of logic. Most women operate from a position of emotion. Neither operating system is right or wrong. Emotion, such as the fear of personal attack, must provide the positive motivation to advance and learn. However, if there is only fear, but no emotional involvement in preserving her own life, she is not motivated. She doesn’t have an emotional interest in preserving her life, only an emotional involvement in fearing for her life. You can’t force a change. She has to want to change. Your logic is not lost on her. What is missing is the emotional involvement in herself. We have often heard women say, ‘I’ll put up a good fight, but its okay if they kill me.’ That makes no sense to you, but it does to her. And, there is no way you will ever see it as she does.

I try to separate the physical skills of learning to operate a handgun from the philosophical discipline of using a handgun for self-defense. I see women struggling, unsuccessfully, to do both simultaneously. Their minds flounder, not focusing on either.

Women come to me for different reasons. Some are highly motivated. Some are there only because someone else brought them. Some are terrified. We reach some and see blossoming warriors. We plant seeds for thought in others. We enlighten some to things that have never entered their minds before. We watch some merely go, half-heartedly, through the motions, and we fail completely with others.

You remember the nurse, who was so frightened on Friday night, yet by Sunday was thinking of what new gun she would buy. That was one of those wonderful moments of enlightenment. But, she had to first lose her fear of guns and firmly believe that she was capable of handling them correctly before she could think of using one to save her life. She was accustomed to saving lives, but not of thinking of her own as being important. She had a tool in her possession but was so frightened of it that she couldn’t think of using it.

This is the key: We took away fear of the tool first. Then, she was able, for the first time in her life, to look at her options rationally. Finally, she was ready to invest her emotions in the concept of defending her own life. We woman can’t understand how you guys are able to casually quarantine emotions and rarely talk about them, Our emotions are with us all the time and color everything in our lives. We can’t isolate them as you do. We are not emotional because we are weak. Weak people don’t bear children! Modern women have to mentally adjust to becoming their own protectors, as well as their own providers.

Its okay that it doesn’t all make sense to you. It may never make sense. Its okay that you can’t fix it all. You are the needle; they are the thread.”



5 Oct 05

Don’t wait. Don’t hesitate. Always call their bluff.

Bad calls are as important as good calls. Decisiveness and audacity always come with risk attached, but there is always greater risk attached to hesitation and vacillation.

Mike Caro, AKA “The Mad Genius of Poker,” makes an interesting point in a recent lecture:
“If you don’t lose most of the time when you call, you’re actually costing yourself money! Anybody can win most of the time they call. If fact, if you want to be really choosy, wait until you have perfect hands. Then, you’ll nearly always win. But, think of all the money you’ll be losing by not calling with hands that would win often enough to be profitable… The pot is usually much bigger than the cost of the call, so you don’t have to win anywhere near half the time to make a profit by calling… There is nothing that sticks in the mind of an opponent as much as getting caught bluffing… There is money in making your opponents believe you can’t be bluffed!”

When you’re in life, as in poker, for the adventure and achievement, not just the money, you’ll develop an audacious, daring, fearless demeanor. When confronted, allies and opponents alike will sit back and let you take control.

Happy is the army where even ill-timed boldness occurs frequently. Blunders are annoying weeds, but their occasional eruption indicates richness in the soil. Even foolhardiness is not always to be despised, for it stems from daring.



6 Oct 05

More comments, this from an instructor with a large, state agency:

“I see this as a growing, cultural disorder, absent of gender. Women’s issues may garner our attention currently, but mostly simply because they are a minority.

As little as a single generation ago, women who would take a stand, struggle, fight, and kill (with relish) were common. Now they are rare, as you pointed out, but do we not see the same warrior spirit conspicuously absent in the greater number of men as well? Do any of us call a class to a line expecting males to show us their fighting spirit? Rather, I find myself wondering if there is a single, red corpuscle in the entire group, regardless of plumbing!

As a civilization, we are currently raising wimps, men and women alike. Afraid of guns, disdaining pain, lacking the ability for personal assertion (unless to whine), fearful, indecisive, both genders lack basic elements necessary to build the spirit they need for personal victory. Integrity, personal responsibility, self reliance, et al are no longer taught nor expected. Violence, adversity, and struggle are absent from their lives. Spanking unruly children now gets well-meaning parents thrown in jail. Fighting, even to defend oneself, is absolutely forbidden. Only feminine behavior is allowed in schools. Any species of masculine behavior is unthinkable. “Being a good victim” is considered one’s social responsibility.

On the other side of the ledger, physicians are now encouraging parents to let children play in the dirt! In medicine, it appears we have finally come full circle. At one time, we were so anal-hygienic and afraid of germs that children were actually too protected, and, as a result, never developed a strong immune system. The medical community finally, and reluctantly, came to the obvious conclusion that, since we are going to be under chemical and biological attack all our lives, we need to learn to deal with it at an early time in our lives. We need to similarly reverse the current trend toward the feminization of children, boys and girls alike.”

Comment: Lived correctly, life is a daring adventure, filled to the brim with dashing disappointments and stunning victories. It is intended to be neither relaxing, nor stress-free, nor pain-free. In the end, we’re all dead anyway. Pity the poor, timid soul who never experiences either victory or defeat. Germs are part of the landscape. Get used to them. Lose you fear of them!



6 Oct 05

More excellent comments: these from a female student who has subsequently been involved in a fatal shooting:

“My comment to men having difficulty reaching female students is this: Speaking as a woman who started with a morbid fear of guns and now will not be caught without one, I think you have to see not just that the forest has trees, but that trees make up the forest!

You have identified the problem, but you are unable to persuade women students to embrace the truth. Your premise is good, however it may not work with many women. To illustrate, I am going to relate a true story:

Last week, a female friend and I were shopping together. Out of the blue, she said, ‘Why do you carry a gun?’ Said in an incredulous tone that only a liberal can manage, I was indeed surprised, as I did not even realize that she knew I carried. Instead of dealing with that revelation, I came back with, ‘How else am I suppose to protect myself, as most attackers are going to be male and thus larger and stronger than me?’

Obviously missing my point, she retorted with, ‘But, you couldn’t really shoot someone, could you?’ I responded (and, this is the important part of the story), ‘Yes, I can! My life, and its uninterrupted continuation, is important to me.’ No response. I went on, ‘Let me put it this way: I have your two boys (five and two) with me at the mall parking lot, and, while I am strapping one into his car seat, someone attempts to abduct the other. What would you have me do? I could beg the thug not to take him. How effective do you think that would be?’

Suddenly, the light went on! ‘I never thought of it that way,’ she said hesitantly. I replied, ‘If you’ve never thought about it THAT WAY, you’ve never thought about it at all!’ Silence.

With the point driven home in personal terms she could not avoid confronting, an epiphany occurred, an irreversible change in her character. She has been pestering me with questions about guns ever since. She wants to buy one for herself. She is well on her way to being one of us now!

Traditional logic was not the way to get to her. The point had to be made to apply to her personally and in terms of people and things that she holds dear.”



6 Oct 05

Comments on audacity from a surgeon friend:

“This Quip reminds me of a familiar saying about surgeons: ‘Often wrong, but never in doubt.’ It’s rarely used as a complement: ‘Those dumb surgeons. All they do is cut. They never think. It’s we internists who do all the thinking, and we aren’t paid nearly as well.’

Bullshit! Internists have the luxury of time and complete information. Sure, there is some routine in surgery, but, when the spaghetti hits the fan, the belly is opened up while data is insufficient (though plaintiff’s lawyers will have complete data eighteen months later!), and the surgeon must simply move forward boldly, believing in himself, his experience, and his judgment, a seamless whirlwind of motion. He CANNOT AFFORD to doubt, else his patient will die, and he may die anyway. Yes, he knows he may be wrong, but he can’t let that clutter his mind or cause him to hesitate. As in battle, in surgery, hesitation is fatal. Like commanding men in battle, surgery is a heroic, dauntless, and often heart-breaking profession. Who can’t take the heat need to stay out of the kitchen.

I think Mike Caro would understand, it’s DITHERING that gets you killed, and its mushin that keeps you on your feet, in action, and out of a body bag! Hesitation is fatal; fearless decisiveness turns the tide, as the hundreds of testimonials from your students illustrate.

‘Police! Don’t move! Drop your weapon!’ How few times has a hairy situation advanced beyond this? Rarely, I would say.”

Comment: I know little about the profession of medicine, but I have often wondered if I would have had to courage to be a surgeon. I’ll never know, of course, but my young son is one, and he assures me he comes from good stock!



10 Oct 05

One of our students, a rancher in Colorado, gives this account of a shooting incident in which he was involved last week:

“Per your recommendation, I’ve been carrying a S&W M57 revolver in 41mg caliber while going about my duties on our ranch. Glad I had it!

Last week, a belligerent cow charged me as I was riding a four-wheeler. She hit me broadside, toppling the vehicle and sending me sprawling on the ground. As I looked up, she was coming at me.

My training kicked in! I drew, found the front sight, and fired without hesitation. The single round struck her in the head, several inches below the eye line. She immediately broke off the attack and stumbled backward. One shot was all that was necessary. She expired a short time later.

I don’t like to have to shoot livestock, but, in this case, it was necessary. Glad I was armed, trained, and wiling to do what was necessary to keep from getting hurt. I never anticipated anything like this would ever happen to me!”

Comment: “Readiness” is a term that embraces many aspects of personal commitment to victorious living. Being “ready” involves personal preparedness, training, and a mental commitment to boldly confront any threat with decisiveness and a willingness to commit to action. Good show, my friend!



12 Oct 05

Tough times require tough attitudes, from I WAS A SOVIET GUERRILLA, by Leo Heiman:

“After showing us how to strip the rifle and reassemble it after cleaning, a Russian, named Lionka, declared that a rifle was a partisan’s best friend and, indeed, his whole family: ‘You sleep with your rifle,’ he said, ‘as you sleep with your wife. You treat it with respect, as you treat your parents, and you care for it, as you care for your children. In return, you get all the service you need.

Try to put a rifle aside when you sleep, and you’ll wake up only to find it stolen. Try to handle it without respect, and it will shoot yourself accidentally! Fail to clean it, and it will jam at a critical moment when only shooting can save your life.

Remember lads, never eat or sleep without your rifle at your side!’”

Comment: The world is cascading, headlong, toward exciting times, once more. Tough men, with the correct attitude toward their weapons and other critical gear, will live through it. Grasseaters will not!

Tough attitudes must be acquired during training. Soft, sterile, “let’s pretend” training will not produce tough people who know how to use, and live with, deadly weapons. What is “too dangerous” to do routinely during training, is indeed too dangerous to do at all!



13 Oct 05

On Competition Shooting, from an Instructor:

“John, you’re quoted a couple of times in an article by Barrett Tillman, ‘Can IPSC Get You Killed?’ in the current edition of American Handgunner Tactical Annual. Interesting, but it carefully avoids the essential issue, that of the shallow, self-consumed personality that lives only for games, scores, points, times, trophies, and assorted other juvenile twaddle.

Nobody wants to come out and say that IPSC, and most other shooting competition, attracts lightweight dingleberries, just as nobody wants to say that most ‘qualification’ exercises are little more than group masturbation with guns. Mass pretending is destructive, but we go on pretending, so politicians can continue to attract votes from grasseaters.”

Comment: Problems arise when gear, attitudes, and methods of competitors get mixed in with what is supposed to be legitimate “training” that is supposed to be preparing real people for genuine, lethal encounters with VCAs who are unfamiliar with the “rules!”

All training, worthy of the name, produces tough, hard, heavy-hitters, both in attitude and method. Who care only about scores and personal aggrandizement rarely fill then bill.



14 Oct 05

Comments on competition shooting from friends and colleagues:


“Competition shooting does things for a practitioner that ‘training’ can’t; ie: tests oneself against others. To learn to deal with emotions, to conquer fear of failure, to develop self-control. I agree that, when one sees competition as merely ‘entertainment,’ he is not fully ‘engaged’ and will continue to lack the will to be successful in a real fight. I personally see competition as one way to keep my martial spirit in tune and not allow myself to ‘cruise’ in training. When one trains to defeat all comers, he doesn’t get lazy.”

“I only wish more cops would come to matches and work on their weapons skills.”

“IPSC and IDPA would more resemble useful training if, as is the practice at the NTI, all matches were unscored, or, if scores were not posted but only conveyed privately to individual participants. Take away self-glorification, and most dingleberries would quickly find something else to do. At the NTI, this is exactly what has happened.”

“We explain to the Safety Officer that we will end each exercise with a holstered, loaded pistol, and subsequently redraw and ‘show clear,’ as required. Of course, we never mention the always-loaded, back-up guns that we unfailingly carry concealed, and no one ever asks!”


“One reason I’m still alive and free is that I have most often handled serious events alone. On rare occasions, when I took somebody along, they had to be determined and competent. I looked especially for the ability to see things through when plans went in the toilet. With all due respect, nobody I have met in the world of competition, either karate or shooting, is anyone I would ever want with me.”

My comments: Those who enjoy competing and breathe life into various competitive shooting disciplines render to history a great service when they relentlessly call back their heedless colleagues from the brink of irrelevance, when they remember the reason their discipline was started in the first place! Shooting disciplines which have already been lost to irrelevance, like PPC, have allowed themselves to become a little more than a grotesque, disconnected diversion. That same sad fate awaits IPSC and IDPA if those immersed in them think only in terms of short-term, personal glorification and fail to grasp their place in history.



15 Oct 05

Three-Dimensional Targets:

A new company, ITC, is now producing wonderful three-dimensional, plastic targets. I’ve used them, and they are most enlightening! Easily mounted on target frames (no more difficult than paper targets), ITC figures can be engaged from the front and the sides. They can also be dressed with normal clothing.

I like my students to have the opportunity in training, to drop the hammer on something that looks like a real, human being representing a deadly threat. ITC three-dimensional targets are much more realistic looking that are flat paper. Get hold of Matt Graham. Highly recommended!

Matt Graham
ITC, inc
PO Bx 369
Laporte, IN 46352
219 608 1441



15 Oct 05

Surefire’s and Blackhawk’s latest:

Surefire is now producing handheld ‘LumaMax’ flashlights. They have a high-output, LED rather than a xenon/gas filament. The LumaMax L2 has a single, LED that generates fifteen lumens on low output and one hundred on high output. The L2 is longer than the Z2, but is still thin and light.

With the LED, there is no central, bright area. The light field is evenly spread over a large field. As a result, you can see a good deal of lateral space without having to point the light. However, while it illuminates a large field, it does not project as far as filament lamps. If you want
to see what is going on behind a tree fifty yards away, the LED light is inferior the xenon lamp.

With regard to ‘blinding capacity,’ xenon lamps have an advantage, but only when they are pointed precisely into the suspect’s eyes. The LED, while less ‘blinding,’ can produce night vision disruption from wider angles of aim. It is thus easier for a suspect, using lateral movement, to ‘get out of’ the intense light of a xenon lamp than is the case with an LED.

Blackhawk’s ‘Gladius’ flashlight also uses an LED, and it features an extremely useful ‘strobe’ option, where the light flashes on and off rapidly. I’ve found it to be extremely disorienting, in addition to blinding, for anyone at whom it is pointed. This is a great feature. Highly recommended!



16 Oct 05

State Patrol Qualification, from a friend and SP Trooper:

‘Yesterday, I went to our range in order to meet with others on our instructor staff. We were preparing for our upcoming, bi-annual pistol training and qualification. I had been told that our range masters had just been to a big meeting and that lots of new, beneficial changes would be forthcoming. Silly me for allowing myself to believe anything ‘good’ might come from this incognizant group!

Off to the range we went, with everyone (except me) carrying an empty gun. That was the first clue! We started with ‘speed drills.’ Draw and fire as fast as you can at a ten-inch circle at five meters. I looked at targets to my right and left. Most hits were not within two feet of the circle. Many missed the cardboard entirely! The phrase I kept hearing was , ‘Speed to Accuracy.’ I was told, ‘Just shoot as fast as you can. Accuracy will come. The most important thing is to get your rounds off fast!’

Well, accuracy didn’t come! Accuracy never arrived for any of them. When I asked about it, I was told that several of our folks recently attended a course where this motto is taught. When I asked who put on this ‘course,’ everyone suddenly suffered from amnesia.

What consumed most of the day was instructors competing against one another. On my first bout, I put two hits, dead-center in the circle. My challenger got off his second round an instant faster than mine, but he completely missed the circle, by over a foot, with both rounds. The winner? He was, for being ‘faster!’ I commented that I was under the impression that ‘winning’ had something to do with hitting the target. ‘That’s old-fashioned,’ was the reply.

Of course, during the entire day of ‘training,’ there was not even mention of such subjects as movement, use of cover, tactical communication, reloading, stoppage reduction, patrol rifle, rifle/pistol transition, et al. It was the ubiquitous ‘match mentality’ that, as always, dominated what is supposed to be a day of teaching and learning life-saving skills.

John, I, for one, am weary of spending valuable time in the company of people who have ‘display-orientated’ personalities (to phrase it politely). Their shallow superficiality invariably leaks into the broader context of the event, degrading courses of fire and curriculum. I ask myself, is any benefit I may glean from this fiasco worth the revolting moral cost of keeping company with such clueless lightweights?”

Comment: Rubbish like, “speed to accuracy” rears its ugly head every few years. It lasts only as long as it takes for its promoters to amply demonstrate that even they themselves can’t hit anything, nor can they train anybody to hit anything! They cling to the political notion, popular among the current generation of neo-Marxists, that “results” are unimportant. Only “intent” counts! As long as your intent was “good,” your miserable failures are forgiven. Clueless lightweights? The terms hardly does them justice!



22 Oct 05

Feedback from the Front:

We’ve been working at a large military base all last week, and I had several discussions with people who are processing and collating feedback on equipment and training doctrine from the current war zone. What I find most interesting is:

Current M9 pistol (Beretta 92/F): Dissatisfaction with the M9 is unanimous. The M9 may end up with the dubious distinction of having the shortest tenure of any issued pistol in the history of American military service. We’ll see a successor shortly. Issues are:

Caliber: All pistol rounds are poor fight stoppers, but 9mm hardball is near the bottom of the list, the worst of the worst. If high-performance bullets are off the table, larger calibers are the only solution. When pistols are used for close-in protection, 9mm hardball fails consistently.

Magazines: M9 magazines, supplied by a number of aftermarket vendors, are, and continue to be, incompetent. Feeding problems abound. Beretta OEM magazines work well, but they are in the minority. Admonitions from those up the food chain to “solve” the problem by, for example: charging magazines with only ten rounds, are seen as trite and thoughtless by those who are forced to actually use the pistol.

Durability: Keeping M9s running is a problem. Constant breakage of critical parts keeps a large number sidelined.

Size and shape: The M9 is wide, long, and clunky. Concealment is difficult. Draw is slow. Grip is too fat for those with small hands.

Operating system: The last thing Marines need on a pistol is a two-stage decocking lever! Valuable training time that is currently consumed with teaching students how and when to manually decock could be better spent teaching them how to draw quickly and hit precisely.

M4: The M4 is popular because it is light, short, and handy, a good rifle for the confined nature of fighting in built-up places. With anal maintenance, it works reliably. It may not be the best system in the world, but it is far from the worst. A conventional, gas-piston rifle would probably work better and will probably supercede the AR-15 system some day. The more immediate issue is caliber.

The 223 round has been pushed as far as it can go, and it is still inadequate, any way one looks at it. With any bullet, from 55gr to 77gr, range and penetration are still unsatisfactory. Bullets may go 500m, but there is nothing there when they arrive. Even at close range, 223 bullets will not penetrate most layered barriers the enemy uses for cover.

The 223 lacks penetration for combat, and every attempt to remedy that has fallen short. We’re wasting our valuable time trying to make believe this round can be magically converted into anything but what it is. We need to stop kidding ourselves. A heavier rifle and caliber are desperately needed. Infantry rifles need the power to shoot THROUGH things! When did we forget that essential axiom?



23 Oct 05

The Competent among the Incompetent, from one of our young students who is currently attending Basic Infantry Officer’s Training at Ft Benning, GA:

“Last week, we were on an automated rifle range, designed to accommodate platoon-sized, live-fire, infantry exercises. I was assigned the role of platoon commander, so most of the others were deployed ahead of me. We were assaulting a squad-sized group of hostiles, represented by automated, pop-up targets that go down immediately when hit.

The whole exercise went south when one of my squad leaders got lost and positioned his men where they couldn’t see the targets. Others in the same squad could not figure out how to get their SAW running. The few who were actually firing were utterly unable to hit anything they wanted to hit, although they did succeed in unproductively peppering the landscape!

Realizing that our time was just about up, in disgust and frustration I raised my own rifle and shot down all hostiles, one at a time, left to right. Each went down with a single hit. I then lowered my rifle and said nothing. Everyone else, seeing all targets down, declared themselves heroes and ended the exercise.

I am astonished that basic rifle skills I picked up at the NTI are nearly unknown here. Individual weapons skill is becoming a lost art. By contrast, ‘sensitivity training,’ gets more than its share of attention from management!”

Comment: Thank heaven our guy is there to show these grasseaters the True Way! One can only imagine what their pistol training is like!



23 Oct 05

Victorious story from one of our instructors in SA, amid all the bad news there:

“I had a run-in with the local ‘building manager’ of the building where the City of Capetown is currently renting space for the police department’s head office. I am a frequent visitor, as my official duties take me there every day. Thursday, I walked in as usual, with my duty pistol clearly visible, and reported to the security office. The security guy knows me already and buzzed me through, as always.

However, as I left the building a short time later, I was angrily confronted by a man who introduced himself as ‘head of building security.’ The building manager, it seems, had decided to impose her personal hatred of guns upon the whole world! She had arbitrarily declared that all officers, not permanently assigned to work in the building, will henceforth have to hand in their firearms before entering.

I do not, I am sure, have to share my thoughts with you on this particular subject. In any event, I marched directly to her office, head of security nervously tagging along. I confronted her and proceeded to explain, clearly, slowly, loudly, the legal concepts, policies and precedents that made her ‘new policy’ absurd and illegal. I then explained that I would return the following morning to conduct further business and that, if any security guard attempted to interrupt me in the normal conduct of my duties, he would be summarily arrested and charged. The next to be arrested would be head of security, and then the building manager herself!

On my return the next day, I was buzzed through the security door with a friendly smile and the curious news that the building manager had, ‘upon further reflection’ decided to rescind her previous decision.”

Comment: Like my friend, we all need to stand up to these cowardly, grasseating, twits. Marxists are bullies by nature, but they are all revert to the nauseating cowards they really are when confronted by the righteous. Good show, my friend!



23 Oct 05

Vicki and I, along with a complement of our senior instructors, just spent a week with the firearms instructor cadre of a large, federal agency. We had the honor of working with all of them. Some observations:

Once again, I am persuaded that the only reason anything works at the federal level is the tireless, unselfish efforts of those at the bottom of the food chain. These guys and gals beat themselves nearly to death providing valuable training during the inadequate amount of time they have to spend with agent trainees.

Once again, I am pleasantly impressed with the quality of agent trainees. I had a chance to speak with several groups of them, and I am exhilarated that this nation can still produce such fine, young people. God bless them!

We tried to emphasize the importance of integrated movement, integrated verbalization, retention awareness, and accurate shooting at all ranges. Betterbilt’s Rotator targets were extremely popular, as always.

There was great interest in Vicki’s presentation of techniques to improve the interaction of male instructors with female students.

This agency has been influenced by competitive shooters, not all of which is negative, but most pistol competitors like the isosceles stance. We tried to point out that, while conducive to accuracy, the isosceles stance is not particularly conducive to weapon retention, nor does is permit one to effectively confront threats from multiple directions.

I observed that trainees spend far too much time carrying empty weapons. Hot ranges, and the continuous carrying of loaded weapons that they require, carries with it risk. We all know and accept that, but I tried to make the case that we must never lost sight of the purpose of training. We are preparing these young folks to be victorious in a dangerous world, not just preparing them to be “safe” on a range!

In any event, we were treated with the utmost grace and hospitality, and we’re looking forward to the next time. As is the case when we train Marines, it is a great honor to be able to, in some small way, influence this next generation of instructors at the federal level.



24 Oct 05

On serious gun handling, from a friend and one of our instructors recently returned from New Orleans:

“In New Orleans, it was hot rifles the entire time, both in the field and in garrison. Rifles and pistols were constantly carried and were never unloaded. We had to be in a high state of readiness all the time. Most of those in my crew had never worked for an extended time as such (at least with rifles), nor had we worked around so many loaded long guns in the hands of people we did not know.

I, of course, enforced correct gun handling among my guys. The worst examples of poor gun handling were associated with those carrying rifles without pistol grips, like the M14. We work muzzle depressed (low/ready), always. Non-pistol grip rifles encourage a high/ready carry, or a horizontal carry. Both are unsatisfactory, as the rifle ends up pointed in unsafe directions constantly, and both postures are an invitation to a forcible disarm. Muzzle-up sling carry is also unsatisfactory, as there is no way to get the rifle off one’s shoulder without pointing it in multiple, unsafe directions. Muzzle-down sling carry is much better. Tactical slings are superior to both.

We rode many places in military, five-ton trucks. Our protocol for entrucking was to unsling, hold the rifle (muzzle down), and call to the man above that ‘Passing a hot rifle.” The man above confirms he is taking a hot rifle, and the transfer is made. After climbing up, the rifle once more is handed off, with, “Transferring a hot rifle.” Wherever used, this system worked. Clear communications reminded us that we were continually ‘in the war.’ Entrucking or detrucking with rifles slung doesn’t work. Too many muzzles get pointed in unsafe directions.”

Comment: The lesson is clear. The forgoing is precisely what we need to be doing in training. “Let’s Pretend” training, where students have few opportunities to handle loaded rifles (and, what opportunities there are, are sterile and mute), fails to prepare them for those situations we’re purporting to train them for. Many claiming to be “trainers” are only concerned with preventing mishaps during training. Those same students getting needlessly killed in the field, because they’ve been ill prepared, doesn’t seem to concern anyone!

Recently, I saw a sign posted on an indoor climbing wall. It said simply, “Climb safely.” What a ridiculous, inherent contradiction, and so typical of today’s self-deceptive society. Climbing is inherently unsafe. The only way to ‘climb safely” is not to climb at all! Likewise, true and relevant firearms training is also inherently dangerous. We are dangerous people, and, when we train correctly, we engage in an inherently dangerous activity. The more realistic our training, the fewer of our number will die needlessly in the field. But, it requires both fearless trainers and fearless students, who are dedicated to advancing the Art, not merely going through the motions and getting their tickets punched.



27 Oct 05

Caught in the nick of time:

“Our department recently purchased G22s. Today, I received from Glock NY1 Trigger inserts with instruction from our chief to install them on all department pistols. One of our deputies dutifully came into the armory in order to have the part installed. She was in uniform and in the middle of her shift. I asked her to remove her pistol from its holster and hand it to me. As I ‘unloaded’ it, I discovered it was already unloaded!

She then informed me, ‘Oh, the pistol isn’t loaded. I shot all my bullets up last week during training.’ Trying to retain my composure, I asked her if she saw a problem with this! She sheepishly told me that she was too ’embarrassed’ to ask for replacement, duty ammunition!

As supervisors, with all our coaching and directing, we obviously sometimes fail to note philosophical gulfs in our charges. What followed was yet another half-hour lecture on the nature of police work and this young officer’s role and responsibilities in it. I sincerely hope I ‘got to’ her this time, albeit late!”

Comment: Supervisors have to be watching all the time, as many of our young officers are naive and, dare I say, adolescent. We need to see to it that they live long enough to be able to laugh someday about their youthful ignorance!



27 Oct 05

Ancient Greeks called it “Nomina,” the inherent knowledge of the difference between right and wrong that dwells in the heart of every good man, and is absent from the hearts of most bad ones.
Socrates put it,

“Do we really need all these laws to show us the right way? Don’t we, as men of honor, just KNOW these things?”

Euripides chimed in,

“Nomina’s proper observance holds together all human communities.”

The decline of every civilization is associated with the fading of Nomina from the hearts of citizens. This is why Seneca, centuries after Socrates, was compelled to write,

“The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”

He saw the handwriting on the wall. Good and honorable men have no need of a superfluity of dreary laws to define the obvious.

The “cultural conflict” we observe today in Western Civilization is not a “war on custom” or even a “war on poverty.” It is a war on decency, decency that stems from human dignity. It is not just that fact that evil men exist and delight in making a mockery of every form of decency. The troubling sign is that such men are considered “cute” and “trendy,” that their disgusting behavior is not only tolerated but naively integrated into the fabric of mainstream society. These days, such men even win national elections and are influential in mainstream, political parties.

Thoughts translate into action. Actions become habits. Habits delineate character. Character defines a destiny. While it exists, Nomina protects us all. We abandon it at our peril!



31 Oct 05

“Both confronted the same day. This died. That went his way:”

“Not long ago, we had an officer murdered here. The culprits were quickly captured, and later interviewed about the incident. They were in a car and were stopped by two different officers, less than a hour apart. They gave the first officer no problem. They murdered the second!

When asked why they did not assault the first officer, they all replied they knew right away he was ‘a professional.’ Alert, focused, clear, sharp. Everything about him, from his exit from the patrol car, to his sharp personal appearance, to his eventual disengagement, suggested authority, strength, and competence. ‘We all figured he was a tough customer, a dangerous dude,’ they echoed in unison. ‘It was our immediate and unanimous decision not to mess with him.’

Conversely, when the group was contacted by the second officer, they described him as confused, distracted, and sloppy, both in appearance and demeanor. They decided he would be an easy mark and would not react to their attack quickly nor with sufficient violence. Unfortunately, they were right!”

Lessons: Half of being good is looking good. The best way to win a war is by reputation!
All uniformed officers should carry at least two pistols. One they see. One they don’t. Backup guns need to be out of sight and accessible to either hand. Concealed blades are an integral part of the uniform too.

Check your gear, particularly emergency equipment, regularly and without fail. Make sure it is present and in the condition it needs to be. Don’t “assume,” and don’t depend on others. Test; don’t guess.

Train for life-threatening emergencies regularly and intensely. “Let’s pretend” training is largely a waste of time. Don’t be afraid to spend your own money on legitimate training.

Many officers are alive today only because they were lucky. Never give into adversity. Never trust prosperity. And, never fail to take full note of fortune’s irritating habit of doing exactly as she pleases!