6 Oct 98

Preliminary IALEFI convention report:

The IALEFI Convention this year is in West Palm Beach, FL, and Vicki and I are both here right now. Both of us are presenting classes this year. The Conference is well organized, competently administered, and very well attended.

Here is what I think has been most interesting:

>There was a display of shotguns equipped with the Patternmaster choke device. The amount of the reduction in the normal rate of spread of 00 buckshot was significant. At the twenty-meter line, buckshot diameters were consistently within twenty centimeters, for a spread rate of one centimeter per meter in range. That is roughly half what is considered normal for twelve-gauge police shotguns. The homogeneity of the patterns was consistently satisfactory also. The Patternmaster looks like a very good device.

The owner of the company explained to me that the device works by snagging the wadding as it and the shot column are about to exit the muzzle. By slightly retarding the wad(s), the device prevents the wadding material from blowing through the shot cluster (after exit), striking individual pellets and thus altering their trajectories. It works! I’m going to have the device installed on several of our defensive shotguns.

>I had the opportunity to fired several silenced H&K USP. The suppressor can is about eight inches long and about an inch and a half in diameter, so the whole affair is a good twenty inches long. Very clunky. However, the pistol is exceedingly quiet, and it functions normally. Many silenced autoloaders are single-shot pistols, and thus much be cycled manually. I was able fire this one about as fast as would have been the case without the silencer attached.

>I had a chance to fire the Beretta Cougar in 40S&W and 45ACP calibers. This is Beretta’s new, compact series of pistols with the rotating-barrel system. I like the size of the gun. It is compact, albeit significantly heaver than the Glock-30. Several friends who work in departments where they have some experience with the gun indicated that the front sights fall off habitually, and the 45ACP model seizes closed with some regularity. I think it is an inherently sound design, but the growing pains are obviously not over yet.

>The Israeli-manufactured Range 2000 was on display. It a video simulator, similar to the FATS System, but significantly more sophisticated. It is very compact, and the programs run on JAZ disks, rather than optical disks. Image resolution is much improved over older systems. Most of the branching is now all but completely seamless. In addition to guns, flashlights, batons, and chemical aerosols have now all been integrated into the system. I like it, however it still suffers from all the ills inherent to video simulators:

(1) All action is confined to a relatively small screen, which is always in the same place. One can watch all the action without ever moving his head. Thus, students don’t get into the habit of looking all around. An IMAX format may eventually solve this thorny problem, but these systems are already very expensive, and that particular enhancement would likely make them utterly cost prohibitive, and they already are for all but very big agencies.

(2) Autoloading pistols used must be either (a) non-functional props, (b) tethered to a stationary source of compressed air, so that the slide can be made to cycle normally, (c) tethered to a smaller source of compressed air, carried on the belt of the student, or (c) loaded with Aair cartridges which function the slide as does live ammunition but fire no projectile. The final solution is obviously the best, but the Aair cartridges, although rechargeable, have a shelf life of less than a single day and cost around $50.00, EACH! I fired several, and they do work and function well within the System.

(3) The projected image of bad guys always provides the student with a clear sight picture, even if the target itself is wearing dark clothing or the scene itself is dark. There is always enough light to clearly make out one’s sights against the projected image. There is no real solution to this bit of unreality, because, if the lights in the room are turned up, the projected image becomes difficult to see.

>Several electric-powered optical sighting devices were on display. As most of you know, I prefer a standard, optical scope to any of these, but one mounted on an AR-15, the one that I am told had been adopted by the US Army, is particularly silly! The optical device is forward mounted via a cantilevered affair which has the scope suspended at the end of a long crane, anchored by a single screw in the rifle’s carrying handle. I was able to move the entire optical sight an eighth of an inch left and right with just finger pressure! There is no way such a mount will ever stay zeroed. But, apparently some people just can’t live without their little, red dots!

>A friend from the Detroit PD indicated that his department is now issuing HARDBALL AMMUNITION to all officers. The reason: Their pistol is the Glock 22. Heavy clothing worn by suspects most of the year has lead to a number of shootings where officers’s 40S&W hollow-point pistol bullets (180gr), though fired with acceptable accuracy, after impact displayed no expansion and, in some cases, broke up in the clothing, particularly after hitting buttons, zippers, etc. The only way to solve the plug-up problem when hollow points must penetrate heavy clothing is with adequate velocity. Any hollow-point bullet traveling at less than 1,100 f/s, will likely plug up in heavy clothing and subsequently fail to expand when it finally hits flesh. Bullets driven at velocities in excess of 1,100 f/s will reliable expand even if heavy clothing must be penetrated first. For Detroit, a better solution that reverting to hardball might be for them to look into Cor-Bon’s 135gr 40S&W round. It’s what I carry!

>European rifles, like the Steyr, SIG, H&K, etc typically come to the consumer already zeroed, usually at 200m or so. Subsequent adjustment of sights is rarely necessary. American-made rifles typically do NOT come to the consumer sighted in in any useful way. The sights are there, to be sure, but they are only Ainstalled. The consumer must take the rifle to the range and adjust them to suit his situation. We surely see this phenomenon all the time. Never assume a new rifle’s sights are already adjusted the way you need them. You must promptly get to the range and get the rifle set up before it will be useful for any defensive purpose, except for extremely close-range shooting.

>Finally, a number of companies are here displaying bean-bag-firing 37mm and 40mm launchers. The accuracy of the 40mm launchers is significantly superior to that of the 37mm, by the way. The bean-bag concept has become very popular, and we see them now launched from 12ga shotguns and the bigger launchers mentioned above. Several companies now also feature both hard and soft Abaton rounds. I think all these less lethal response options are great and surely should be acquired and used when appropriate. What concerns me is that we may be getting to the point where we foolishly believe that, if we just have enough of these gadgets, actually shooting someone with a firearm will never be necessary. WE MUST NEVER ALLOW OUR OFFICERS OR ADMINISTRATORS TO CONCLUDE THAT TECHNOLOGY HAS NOW RELIEVED US OF THE DUTY TO EVER MAKE A DEADLY-FORCE DECISION. As warriors and professional gunmen, we must always be fully prepared to employ deadly violence in the defense of our own life and do quickly, ruthlessly, and, most of all, without apology . We must never be put into a position where we are compelled to apologize for wanting to stay alive! Waiting for the gadgets to arrive may be practical and it may not be. As Jesus of Nazareth once said, when speaking of civil authority, “They do not bear the sword in vain!”

More later…