18 Oct 16
“It’s not occasional ‘great shots’ that save you. It’s persistent ‘little mistakes’ that kill you!”
At our Urban Rifle (Carbine) Courses, most students bring ARs, as you might imagine, but we see dozens of other types/brands, some of which I was heretofore only marginally aware, so many are the companies, worldwide, making small arms today.
But my colleagues and I, Dave Spaulding, Tom Givens, Mas Ayoob, James Yeager, Frank Sharpe, Manny Kapelsohn, Jeff Chudwin, Clint Smith, Freddie Blish, et al continue to see repeated handling errors, which during a genuine encounter for which we train, will be fatal!
Some students pick it up right away. Others fumble repeatedly. Most “get it” eventually!
1) Magazines falling out of the rifle at “inconvenient” moments.
We instruct students to grab the 30-round magazine (which most use) with the support-side hand as they would a pop-can and smartly insert it into the magazine well. Then, strike the bottom of the newly-inserted magazine. Then, grab it and tug downward, trying to pull it back out.
When the magazine stays in place, it’s good to go.
Conversely, when it comes right back out again, it was never locked in place correctly! Left that way, it will probably fall out on its own. But even when it remains in place, it will still not feed rounds, and the shooter may thus be able to fire the round that was already in the chamber, but when the bolt subsequently cycles, he will unhappily discover that he has succeeded in re-chambering only thin air!
The most common cause of this annoying phenomenon is one too many rounds in the magazine.
Many “30-round” AR magazines are, in fact, “28-round” magazines!
I recommend to students that they put no more than twenty-eight rounds in most “30-round” magazines. In any event, when fully-charged (no matter the magazine’s ostensible, listed capacity), there needs to be at least two-centimeters of free depression on the top round. When you can’t push the top round down at least two centimeters, remove one round, and do it again!
2) Attempting to fire the rifle when the manual safety lever is in the “on” position.
We see this over and over. That manual safety lever works just great!
The “Western” style manual safety (selector) lever found on left side of the AR’s lower receiver is now universal among most currently-manufactured military rifles and carbines. The Kalashnikov is, of course, the chief exception, but there are others.
Protocol for personal management of the safety lever is far from being in “universal agreement!” Some of us, I for one, advocate the lever being in the “off” position whenever the rifle is mounted. Others want the manual safety lever to remain “on” until the trigger is actually in the process of being intentionally pressed.
However, there is no disagreement that the manual safety needs to be deliberately placed in the “off” position at some time prior to the rifle being intentionally fired!
The problem is that some shooters forget the manual safety is “on.” Then, when they want to fire and thus press the trigger, nothing happens. They then grind their teeth, utter a few foul words, aggressively slap the manual safety lever to the “off” position, and attempt to fire once more, having squandered at least a couple of precious seconds. Of course, that shot usually misses!
The solution is simple:
However you decide to personally manage your rifle’s manual safety lever, make certain it is “off” at the instant you need to fire in order to safe your life!
3) Middle, ring, and little fingers of the strong-side hand being allowed to creep too high and into the area of the trigger-guard, ultimately causing a UD.
For most of us, our strong-side index finger is our “trigger-finger.” When handling guns, most students quickly learn to keep their trigger fingers in a strong, “register” position any time they don’t want their weapons to fire immediately.
They, and sometimes we, forget to emphasize that the other three fingers need to know their places too!
More than once, I’ve witnessed middle fingers find their way to triggers, even when trigger-fingers are in their proper places.
Finger-position errors thus need to be corrected immediately, no matter which fingers are involved!
We’re doing many Urban Rifle/Patrol Rifle Courses today. Manufacturers are making these wonderful weapons as fast as they can, and selling them even faster! We trainers need to get to these new owners, in and out of uniform, and help them understand what they’re holding and how to keep and use these modern weapons correctly and effectively.
It can’t happen fast enough!