Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

Tracking Tease

Got a phone call yesterday from a friend at a range in West Virginia. Three guys including a former SF man, a former SEAL (range officer), and a dealer/gunsmith/armorer without military service cracked the box on a new TrackingPoint .300 WM rifle on a long range.

This is file photo a standard TP XS3 rifle. Don't know yet what exact model our guys had.

This is file photo a standard TP XS3 rifle. Don’t know yet what exact model our guys had.

Quick take-aways:

  • Best packaged gun any of them had ever seen. In the gunsmith’s experience, that’s out of thousands of new guns.
  • Favorably impressed with the quality of the gun and the optic. It “feels” robust.
  • It’s premium priced, but with premium quality. Rifle resembles a Surgeon rifle. “The whole thing is top quality all the way, no corners cut, no expense spared.” They throw in an iPad. The scope itself serves its images up as wifi.
  • First shot, cold bore, no attempt to zero, 350 meters, IPSC sized metal silhouette: “ding!” They all laughed like maniacs. It does what the ads say.
  • Here’s how the zero-zero capability works:  they zero at the factory, no $#!+, and use a laser barrel reference system to make automatic, no-man-in-the-loop, corrections. Slick.
  • The gun did a much better job of absorbing .300WM recoil than any 300WM any of them have shot. With painful memories of developmental .300WM M24 variants, that was interesting. “Seriously, it’s like shooting my .308.”
  • By the day’s end, the least experienced long-range shooter, who’d never fired a round at over 200 meters, was hitting moving silhouettes at 850 yards. In the world of fiction where all snipers take head shots at 2000m with a .308, that’s nothing, but in the world of real lead on target, it’s huge. 
  • It requires you to unlearn some processes and learn some new ones, particularly with respect to trigger control. But that’s not impossible, or even very hard.
  • They didn’t put wind speed into the system, and used Kentucky windage while placing the “tag.” This worked perfectly well.
  • An experienced sniper or long range match shooter, once he gets over the muscle memory differences, will get even more out of the TrackingPoint system than a novice, but
  • A novice can be made very effective, very fast, at ranges outside of the engagement norm, with this system.

As Porky Pig says, for now, “Ib-a-dee-ib-a-dee-ib-a-dee-That’s all, folks!” But we’re promised more, soon.

Everybody is really impressed with the Tracking Point system. No TP representative was there and as far as we know this is the first report on a customer gun in the field, not some massaged handpicked gunwriter version. And as far as we know this is the first report on a customer’s experience with both experienced school-trained snipers and an inexperienced long-range shooter. The key take-away is the novice’s ringing of the 850m bell on moving targets. That’s Hollywood results without the special effects budget, and with real lead on real target. No marketing, no bullshit, just hits.

We asked about robustness. This isn’t like the ACOG you can use as a toboggan on an Afghan stairway and hold zero (don’t ask us how we know that one). But it seemed robust to the pretty critical gang shooting it Friday.

We wish Chris Kyle were here to see this. Maybe he already has!

Stand by for more on TrackingPoint, and on more on this range complex when the principals are willing to have some publicity.

Stephen Hunter on the Ferguson Shooting

A lot of media and a lot of the public have talked about the shooting of suspect Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson. Stephen Hunter (yes, the movie critic turned sniper novelist) has a post at Powerline that, as he puts it, tries “something new… look at the shooting as a shooting.” And he does just that. His conclusions:

Finally, I note that much has been made of the fact that Brown was shot six times, as if that’s somehow relevant. A man shooting in defense of his life, police officer, soldier, or citizen, will shoot until his adversary is down. Many–but not Officer Wilson–will then shoot him a couple of more times on the ground, to make certain. People who think six is “a lot” are not familiar with the speed at which a reasonably trained shooter can fire six times with a semi-automatic pistol. The answer is less than two seconds. I bet I could do it in less than one.

Thus any insistence that Michael Brown was shot with his hands up or an inordinate number of times is simply unsupportable by the known facts. It should not be assumed or repeated in any journalism that considers itself informed and unbiased. One of the saddest aspects of contemporary journalism–I worked on great newspapers for 38 years–is that almost no one on staff knows a single fact about things that go bang in the night. Some can’t tell an earplug from a rubber bullet or a semi-automatic from a full-automatic. Thus reportage on shooting incidents is always woefully flawed by ignorance and the public is ill-served, as in this disgraceful case.

This is one where you want to Read The Whole Thing™: Stephen Hunter: Thoughts on Ferguson | Power Line.

We have not previously opined on this case, for a number of reasons, one of which is the paucity of evidence at hand. Hunter does about as well as can be done with the available evidence.

In our view, two common errors by police management contributed to the chaos in Ferguson. The first is the customary lack of an immediate, sworn statement by the officer(s) on the scene. This is usually a part of police union contracts, to give a shooter a chance to lawyer up and coordinate his story with everybody.

The second is the failure to release information rapidly and transparently. No, keeping what you’ve learned secret is not going to appease the mob. Are you nuts? It will, rather predictably, inflame the mob. Anybody who’s worked in an environment where there’s a disconnect between mainstream society and the street, whether it’s as an urban cop or in foreign lands, knows the blind power of rumor: the jungle telegraph. A conspiracy theory can flash over a mob a lot quicker than the facts in an official release will — and it’s guaranteed to do so if the official release is late, skimpy, or absent.

In the Ferguson case, the police even kept the name of the shooter secret for more than a week. Why? This is the United States. There are not supposed to be any secret police.

“Never Give Up Your Gun.” Case in Point.

Map of pre-surrender UNDOF positions. Click to embiggen, or select scalable .pdf.

Map of pre-surrender UNDOF positions. Click to embiggen, or select scalable .pdf.

A few days ago, last Friday actually, we posted The Five NEVERs of Self Defense, in which one of the eponymous NEVERs was: Never Give Up Your Gun.

The UN, which sent a hapless group of Fijian “peacekeepers” into captivity and possible future stardom in an al-Jazeera beheading video, tried to do the same with a Filipino contingent, ordering them to surrender to ISIL. The Fijian and Filipino forces alike were members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force, present between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights since May or June (UN documents on the web contradict themselves), 1974.

The surrounded Filipino platoon-sized element asked for guidance through Filipino channels, and Filipino General Gregorio Pio Catapang, told them what you might expect: never give up their guns.

Filipinos, you see, have a national, institutional memory of the bitter tang of surrender. Commanded to surrender by Douglas MacArthur, they tasted three years of bitterest enslavement in World War II. Reassured by Gen. Catapang’s bold words, the surrounded Filipinos told UNDOF Commander Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha to conduct an anatomical impossibility — and they escaped instead, against the explicit orders of UNDOF command.

It is possible that Lt. Gen. Singha’s orders were for public consumption only, and the troops were meant to address a Nelsonian eye to them; Singha’s a canny veteran of India’s fight against Islamist extremists, and there’s nothing coming from ISIL that Lashkar-e Taiba hasn’t tried already.

But Catapang also instructed a Filipino officer to resign from the staff of UNDOF. Singha refused to allow the officer to do so. The Phillipines will not be renewing their participation in UNDOF when these peacekeepers return to their island home.

The UN contingent holds (perhaps we should say, “used to hold”) a narrow area between a line facing Israeli forces (line “Alpha”) and one facing Syrian forces (“Bravo”), separating the two October 1973 combatants, who technically remain at war, on a corner of Syrian soil held by Israel (Syrians having previously used it as a launchpad for artillery and terror attacks). The line extends from the Lebanese border in the north to the Jordanian one in the south. Recently, the peacekeepers, who didn’t sign up for fighting, have been threatened by ISIL forces who have defeated Syrian forces and moved on the peacekeepers’ camps. Fijian troops have been deployed along the northern sector of the line and the Filipinos along the southern sector. India and Ireland also contribute to the force.

From its inception, the strongest contingent of UNDOF was a strong Austrian battalion-plus, but the Austrians withdrew a year ago after 39 years in view of the deteriorating situation in Syria.

It is unclear where the peacekeepers were surrounded. One UNDOF camp is not within its contiguous AO, but their map shows that the troops at Camop Faouar do not include Filipinos, but a Fijian battalion, an Irish company designated “Force Reserve Company” .

This is not the first time the Syrian civil war has spilled over into threats to the UNDOF peacekeepers. Last May, four peacekeepers were briefly held by the Syrian rebel group Al-Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, and released unharmed.

Hat tip Glenn Reynolds, who writes:

THE U.N. IS PATHETIC. IF I RAN IT, NOBODY WOULD FUCK WITH MY PEACEKEEPERS, OR THEY’D FIND THEIR PEACE KEPT FOR GOOD.

Never give them your guns. Your bullets, on the other hand, you can send.

via Instapundit » Blog Archive » THE U.N. IS PATHETIC. IF I RAN IT, NOBODY WOULD FUCK WITH MY PEACEKEEPERS, OR THEY’D FIND THEIR PEA….

Reynolds also quotes from this ABC story.

Hey, Dude, Where’s My Glock?

"The game is afoot, Watson!"

“The game is afoot, Watson!”

Court opened at 0900. At 1030, a veteran court officer noticed something was missing — his sidearm. With a sinking feeling, he realized he’d last been certain he it in the restroom — one used by various suspicious types such as suspects, other cops, and even the worst of the worst: attorneys.

Naturally, when he rushed to the restroom and re-examined his stall, it was gone. The court officers helped search. The town cops helped search. State troopers helped search. But no trace of the Glock was found. The ABA Journal (see, we told you it was the lawyers):

A pistol forgotten in the men’s room of a Derry, New Hampshire, circuit courthouse has gone missing.

Officials say an unidentified security officer put his Glock handgun down there Monday and didn’t remember to pick it up, reports WMUR. Soon it was gone.

State police searched the area with a K-9 unit, to no avail.

An investigation is ongoing, although the incident is considered to be an accident.

via Glock pistol forgotten by security officer in courthouse men’s room is missing.

The officer in question is suspended, with pay.

For years we thought the little drill Army MPs went through at guard mount, checking their nine sensitive items, was silly. But somebody who’d internalized that culture wouldn’t walk out of the crapper, leaving a present behind for any of the local gangbangers. Would he?

In related news, the ATF M4 that was stolen while two married (to other people) officers had a tryst is still missing. And they didn’t even get suspended!

Moral of story, if you think it’s too much effort to keep track of your firearms, get a job as a Fed. No one will expect it of you.

In all seriousness, this is one reason why belt loops beat a belt clip on your holster.

Experience Comes from Bad Judgment, or “Don’t be That Guy

Law-ScaleAndHammerFrom the local paper, we have a list of indictments, and it’s surprising how many of them reflect bad judgment with firearms. Not as many as the drug cases, another form of bad judgment that we’re not going to bother with. (We’ll let some retired medic write that blog).

But enough that it struck us as if there was a theme in this week’s indictments. And that theme is bad judgment and firearms. Let’s see if we can learn from these guys’ experience, so we don’t have to have the traumatic experience of learning from our own.

Good Judgment Comes From Experience

A friend of ours who teaches airline pilots for a living has a saying that applies to flying, but also to any other knowledge domain where the exercise of good judgment is salutary and beneficial:

Good judgment comes from experience.

Experience comes from bad judgment.

Let’s explore some of these cases of bad judgment and apply our own good judgment to them.

Bad Judgment Gets Men Indicted for Criminal Threatening

This might be another charge in another state, involving weapons charges or assault. Some states have a “brandishing” statute. But whatever the charge, these cases reflect the reality that if you introduce a firearm into a dispute where deadly force was not previously in the offing, the courts are going to see you as the bad guy.

Indicted for a charge alleging criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon was Souriya Nachampassak, 39, of 140 Cottage St., Portsmouth. Police allege he held an AR-15 during a dispute about a car blocking his driveway while telling an alleged victim, “This isn’t over.”

We agree with Mr Nachampassak that it’s nice to have an AR-15, and that it’s annoying to have some self-absorbed asshat block your driveway. However, the AR-15 does not apply to the situation at hand. He went pretty instantaneously from the victim of a very minor misdeed to the perpetrator of a much larger one. “This isn’t over,” all right, but for him. 

Proportion, people. You have to keep your sense of proportion about you, and it’s more important to do it when you have a weapon. It’s more important to restrain yourself when you’re carrying or have a firearm nearby. Every State has some sort of rules that constrain the use of deadly force. As deadly force scholar Andrew Branca reports in his book, The Law of Self-Defense, while these rules vary widely from state to state there are certain things they have in common.

One is that deadly force is only a response to a credible and reasonable belief that deadly force is arrayed against you. Not that some briefstain has blocked your driveway. Because urban dwellers have more neighbors, (Portsmouth is a big and dense city by NH standards, population 28k or so), the odds of them getting a crummy neighbor are elevated. You can shoot someone for threatening your life or health, or those of your family. You can’t shoot him for annoying you. And hear this:

If you can’t shoot the guy legally, don’t display the gun. Why not? Well, we bet Mr Nachampassak has calmed down enough that he can tell you, now. If not, his lawyer can. He has a very serious legal problem that began when someone else wronged him, all because he reacted mistakenly. His reaction now threatens his firearms rights and his very liberty.

Let’s move on to the very next case on the docket:

Also indicted for criminal threatening with a weapon was Derrick Mello, 26, of 2 Mariette Drive, Portsmouth. Newington police allege Mello confronted an alleged victim with a pistol, which he loaded and chambered a round during a confrontation.

Here’s another case where nobody got shot, no shots were fired, but the guy with the gun wound up going downtown anyway. And being charged with a serious felony. Even though he probably thought all along he was in the right. We somehow doubt that the dispute, whatever it was, was worth it. What were we just saying?

If you can’t shoot the guy legally, don’t display the gun.

Yeah. That.

Just to make it crystal clear to all of you, the two young men in the next set of indictments are clearly career criminals. They were caught red-handed breaking into a house; one of them had a pistol previously stolen elsewhere. They’re not even legally old enough to buy a gun, but as character runs true, we’re pretty confident in predicting that by the time they’re social security age, they’ll have spent half their adult lives in the slam. But not for this case; right now, their charges are not as serious as the two guys above, and they’ll probably wind up with some combination of time served and probation, this time.

Twins Nicholas and Nathan Harnden, 20, of 978 Maplewood Ave., Portsmouth, were both indicted for charges alleging attempted burglary. Police allege that on March 24 one twin helped the other up to a residential window during an attempt to burglarize a Leslie Road home that was occupied by a woman home alone at the time.

Nathan Harnden was also indicted for a charge alleging receiving stolen property. That charge alleges his possession of a stolen 9mm pistol.

Obviously these guys have seen no detective shows, or they’d know that one twin does the crime while the other establishes the alibi. Maybe these are the kind of twins that separate late in the womb, leaving each with only half a brain (in our experience, undiagnosed semicephalics crowd court dockets everywhere).

The Harnden twins will never amount to anything but prison cell filler, but they’re not in trouble as big as the two guys, Mr Nachampassak and Mr Mello, who introduced guns into routine arguments and instantly became, in the eyes of John Law, the Real Bad Guys™. While the Harndens’ lives continue on their pre-established low trajectory, our two gun-displayers have introduced an inflection point into their lives, from which their lives will never be the same — even if they triumph in court.

You really, really don’t want to be that guy.

Let’s close with another aphorism from the world of aviation:

A superior pilot uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which require the use of his superior skill. – often attributed to test pilot and Gemini and Apollo astronaut Frank Borman. 

Stag Arms Introduces 9mm Carbines

A few days ago, Stag introduced a series of 9mm carbines that have some similarities to the Colt workhorse of DOE and police fame, and have a few new features. The Model 9 is available in right or left-handed, and in Tactical or (we guess, to steal from David Ogilvy, “diffident about tactical”) regular trim. This is a regular, RH-oriented Stag Model 9:

Stag Model 9

That’s the factory photo. It does embiggen with a click. The Stag 9 upper is much like the Colt’s, with no ejector port door and a polymer ejected-case bumper, as is the blowback, non-locking bolt/carrier unit. Unlike Colt, which uses an insert in an ordinary AR lower, the Stag has a dedicated lower, that’s broached (or more likely, wire-EDM’d) only for the 9mm mag, same mag as Colt’s. Here’s the Tactical version in left hand, with the mag in:

Stag Model 9TL

The rounded rectangular protrusion on the upper forging that, on a locked-bolt rifle, gives the cam pin a place to rest, serves no purpose on the 9mm AR, but it’s there because the gun is only economical because the same forging is used for the 9mm upper, and the one for other, more usual AR calibers.

As you can see, “tactical” gets you a free-floating handguard and pop-up sights. Both handguards take Diamondhead rails; the non-“tactical” version has a conventional “gas block” although it taps no gas from the non-ported barrel, and it comes without sights (or, in marketing-speak, “optics ready.”

On the principle than only a fool invents a new feed system when he doesn’t have to, the Colt mag is based on the venerable Uzi mag, and is available in 20- and 32-round lengths (as opposed to the Uzi’s 25 and 32). Of course, no one has tried Uzi mags in the introduced-last-week Stag 9mm yet, but people have had mixed, mostly bad, luck with Uzi mags in Colts, and people have had all kinds of bad luck with just about everything in non-Colt 9mm ARs — making a 9mm AR that runs is harder than it looks. Making a 9mm that runs on a wide range of ammo is really hard, because the recoil impulse varies so widely, and any blowback system is optimized for a specific recoil impulse. That was one advantage of HK’s old MP5 and its roller-locking system. Even though the MP5 could be fussy about hollow points, it didn’t sweat bullet weight and powder charge changes too much.

A 9mm AR is always a bit homely, if not deformed, looking, but they shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. The pistol caliber submachine gun or carbine has always had a niche, and that niche is, mostly, indoors. So the optimum 9mm AR (assuming, ceteris paribus, the thing works) might actually be a small SMG or SBR, much like the special Colt Model 633 that was used by DOE. The 633 had a controllable rate of fire by using a special hydraulic buffer, different from that in other Colt 9mms. Stag’s press release has no details of their 9mm buffer, except that it is different from that in their other rifles. At the reasonable, sub-$1k list of the basic 9mm, a hydraulic buffer is unlikely.

 

The 9mm SMG had a run in the conventional military from 1918 to circa 1965-70, when assault rifles replaced most of them. It had a second lease on life in the 70s and 80s as a special operations CQB weapon. It was replaced by the 5.56mm carbine in military special operations for specific reasons, having to do with the 9mm’s range envelope. There have always been problems transitioning from the 9mm’s close-combat sweet spot to engage targets further out. A specific combat operation in Grenada in 1982 where American SOF found themselves outranged by meatheads with assault rifles was, if not the cause, the catalyst for the change.

But the police don’t have that reason to move to the 5.56 and they’re doing it, as far as we can tell, both because reliable 5.56 carbines are far easier to come by, and, perhaps, because of a certain “operator” cachet. They may be making an error. A 115 grain 9mm JHP will still overpenetrate in an indoor setting, but not like an M855A1 round will, and the 9mm (with modern defensive ammo) will do a decent job of putting an armed and hostile Wealth Redistribution Engineer down. It’s a tough call for the cops, though, because their rifle-engagement callouts are so rare, you can’t really say what the “usual” one is like. You can make some statistical inferences, but every new call is a roll of the dice, and it may turn out the capability needed is the barrier-blind penetration that a 9mm leaves on the table.

Having a 9 with the same manual of arms of the 5.56 is a plus. The Stag and Colt keep most of the key muscle memory points the same as on the rifle-cartridge AR. Even the very different, non-AR SIG MPX sought this same positive training transfer by keeping key fingerings (trigger, safety, mag release) identical to the AR.

If the Stag runs reliably, and there’s no reason to expect it not to, it gives 9mm carbine users another option besides trying to wring another year out of vintage and weary MP5s, going to the SIG MPX, going Colt or ditching the pistol round for 5.56. And on stuff like this, it’s good to have choices.

The technical stuff rom the Press Release:

Both the Model 9 & 9T series boast a 1/10 twist 16” heavy barrel, blowback action, a 6-position adjustable buttstock, and as always they are available in right & left hand configurations. The safety, charging handle, and magazine release function the same as any AR-15. However we have designed the actions of the rifles from the ground up. The rifles accept standard Colt style 9mm AR magazines which insert into the integrated magazine well in the lower receiver. The integrated magazine well won’t come loose or have feeding issues accompanied with drop in magazine blocks. Differences from a standard AR-15 can also be found in the lower receiver with a specially designed hammer, magazine catch, and buffer. In the Upper half, the bolt and carrier are one piece with a modified ejection port cover and brass deflector.

The Model 9 and 9T have different configurations. The Model 9 has a railed gas block and drop in Diamondhead VRS-T modular handguard with no sights. The Model 9T is the tactical version with a free floating 13.5” Diamondhead VRS-T modular handguard and aluminum Diamondhead flip up sights for faster target acquisitions. Both rifles will accept the Diamondhead rail sections for extreme customization.

For more information, and for the specs on each model, Read The Whole Thing™.

Training Smarter: Low Ready on Army BCT Ranges!

e-type_silhouetteApparently we got out ahead of our knowledge recently when we said that the conventional Army maintained cold range practices, and only some ARSOF were using hot range practices.

We thought we said that in answer to a comment on this blog, and now we think we might just have done it on another blog (’cause we can’t find the sucker), maybe Tam’s. Tam is on record that she thinks requiring extraneous manipulation of weapons on the range, creating the false idea that the weapons are now “safe,” and making people fear a loaded gun (even his or her own!), is a bad idea. We couldn’t agree more, but pointed out — to someone, somewhere — that such extraneous gunhandling, mythical “safe gun,” and situational hoplophobia, is how Big Green did it. Turns out, we was wrong.

This was, indeed, the “Way it Used to Be,” but over the last dozen-plus years of war, the Army’s gotten smarter (admittedly, they’re rising up from a low baseline here). There have been a large number of training changes, even in Basic Rifle Marksmanship, which are oriented towards the idea that the end product is not hitting targets on a range, but being able to “fight with a rifle.” That’s a quantum improvement, and it appears to have changed some of the Army’s excessive safety orientation. Here’s a chart of some of the differences:

army_bct_changes_2008

It’s taken from this PEO Soldier document from 2011. To break out some of the acronyms, BRM is Basic Rifle Marksmanship, taught to all soldiers in initial entry training. ARM is part of Advanced Individual Training for infantrymen. “Up and Downrange” referred to the way weapons had to be carried on the range: muzzle up, and pointed in towards the impact area at all times. The Army still clears weapons at the end of a firing evolution, but the trainees continue to handle their weapons as if they were hot, in the expectation that soon enough they will have to go about their business, confidently and safely, with a hot weapon.

The first bullet point in the comparison chart is the reason that we hot range advocates are hot range advocates: Students are trained to be comfortable with a rifle, not to fear it. You train as you fight, or should fight.

The Trainfire range system was a sort of physical world video game, in which any hit on the E-type silhouettes (used from 100 to 300 meters range) of F-type partial silouettes (for targets inside 100m) caused the silhouette to drop. These were used in field firing practice and for rifle qualification. The Trainfire system could also be cheated or gamed in several ways, for instance, a shot short of the target would often throw enough rocks, dirt, or debris onto the target as to make it drop.

The Army has finally woken up to what everyone else (including many armies) knew decades ago: optical sighting systems are superior, period. Ten years ago, using an optic was “cheating.” Now they understand it’s “training.” (The Army’s standard optic is the M68 Close-Combat Optic or CCO. The same designator is used for the Aimpoint Comp M2 and Comp M4. In the conventional Army, certain specific troops also get an ACOG M150, but that’s not used in basic combat training). Train as you fight.

Even ten years ago, range firing, even for qualification, was “admin”: if your weapon failed or jammed, you got a mulligan, called in Army range fire an “alibi.” Stages were designed to use the rounds you had in a given magazine, so that your mag change was never on the clock. Now, the qual fire is more releastic. If you have a jam, you have to conduct immediate action and reengage your targets — just like in combat. If you run out of ammo, well, they taught you how to reload an M4, do it and drive on. Just like in combat. And some of the e-hadjis (or enemy of your choice) out there in the target array will take multiple hits to be incapacitated — just like in combat.

As noted on the slide the minimum qualification (“Marksman”) on Trainfire or reduced-distance ranges was (and is) 23 hits out of 40. (Bear in mind, this might be done in any weather, so it’s not a completely unrealistic evolution — just mostly unrealistic). The max qualification, Expert, required and requires 36 hits.

In the long run, these training changes will produce soldiers who are more confident and more effective with their individual weapon, especially if in-unit sustainment training also makes similar advances.

This cultural change won’t happen overnight. It needs to have sustained command emphasis, and we need to have young people come up, especially in the NCO ranks, who trained like this, to replace those sergeants and sergeants major who aren’t bright enough to follow the reasoning of the policy, and can only do what they saw others do before them. So firming up this policy may require 25 or 30 years of emphasis and effort, but it will produce more lethal combat units, and support and service-support units far more capable of self-defense, one soldier at a time.

The biggest threat to this change is, indeed, personnel policy. Currently, the Army gives little weight to combat experience and is throwing experienced combat leaders out, while promoting combat-shy ticket-punch collectors, who rode to the sound of their careers while the Army was off fighting a war (the current Sergeant Major of the Army, who spent most of the war hiding out in Army schools and did one, late, tour as a sergeant major on a FOB, exemplifies this perfectly). But the same current Army leadership doing that are the guys who signed off on this, which illustrates, perhaps, that the leaders are doing the best as they see it.

A Doctor on Dr Silverman’s Self Defense

strait_jacket_obliqueWe often comment on the hazards of the mentally ill, but medical professionals who treat the mentally ill come face to face with those hazards daily. Recently, Philadelphia psychiatrist Dr Lee Silverman cured what was ailing a violent patient, one Richard Plotts, with a couple of 65-grain pills delivered interthoracically — at high velocity. Plotts, armed with a .32 revolver, had already killed his caseworker, Theresa Hunt; he meant to kill his psychiatrist, too. Instead, he is expected to recover from his wounds to stand trial for multiple offenses, including poor Hunt’s murder; and Dr Silverman, and everyone else threatened by Plotts, survived.

Another psychiatrist, Dr Robert B Young, says that you have to consider Lee Silverman’s decision to go armed in the light of what life is like for people in his profession, and their support staffers. Dr Young:

In deciding to carry a loaded handgun at his workplace, Dr. Silverman judged that he would be wise to ignore the hospital’s no-guns policy. No one should fault him for this. Perhaps he recognized that it was more important to protect lives than to trust in the false promises of safety offered by “gun-free zones.” Every year mental-health professionals are assaulted by clients, and some are killed. Psychiatrists are the physicians most likely to encounter unpredictably dangerous patients. With the exception of threats and one knock-down, I have been spared so far. But I do know a colleague whose patient shot himself dead in the psychiatrist’s office, and a patient of mine slashed her throat in the waiting room of my clinic. Contrast Dr. Silverman’s experience with that of Kathryn Faughey and Kent Shinbach, two doctors who were unarmed when attacked by a delusional schizophrenic patient in 2008. In that assault, Dr. Faughey was killed and Dr. Shinbech was injured.

The media lost interest in the story when it became clear that the criminal was not the gap-toothed guntoting yokel of their imagination, but not without running the stereotype up the flagpole at the beginning of the story. Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan and Philadelphia Daily News reporter Stephanie Farr, both happy volunteers in the war on gun owners, reported at the time that, as Farr wrote, the “Gunman was offended by hospital’s ‘gun-free’ policy.”  Whelan’s statement supporting that conclusion:

There’s evidence that he took offense to the issue that there were signs posted at Mercy Fitzgerald Health System indicating that it was a gun-free zone. That’s the only motive we have been able to determine at this point in time . . . he was upset about that policy.

Other media took this up and took it further, claiming that Plotts was a “concealed carry activist.” But if you look carefully at what Whelan said, it’s all speculation: it’s Whelan’s, and Farr’s, prejudices being projected onto the bat-guano-crazy Plotts. Whelan has no idea what Plotts was thinking (he was unconscious when taken into custody and thereafter), and unless Whelan is also insane, he probably can’t even imagine what Plotts’s deranged mind was experiencing.

And far from being involved in gun-rights activism, Plotts was a career violent criminal who had no gun rights, something Farr buried in the past-the-jump depths of her story. Dr Young gave it a little more prominence:

Plotts had a previous record of violence, including suicide attempts, and he has been involuntarily committed twice to psychiatric care, most recently last year. He was a convicted felon, with two gun-related convictions, and he had served time in prison for bank robbery. His violent behavior had led a local homeless shelter to ban him, and he had caused previous trouble at the hospital. In another article, Plotts’s ex-wife described him as abusive and violent, and she also has said that she remains afraid of him 15 years after their divorce. What was he doing with a firearm? Oh, of course: It was illegal. Convicted felons are prohibited by law from owning a weapon.

So, far from a gun-nut wigging out, we have a nutcase who was also a career violent criminal (with many convictions including assault, bank robbery, and gun charges).

Dr Young concludes:

Responsible people do right by themselves and, especially, others. Is it possible that we are finally coming to understand that doing right can include using guns, too?

We recommend that you Read The Whole Thing™.

1000m shot with 9mm S&W 929 Revolver

“Ah, Banzai, ha hah! Nothing to it, man, a good day on the range.”

“I dunno what you think, but a 9mm at 1000 yards is a hard shot.” With a revolver, his own reloads with Hornady 147 grain XTP bullets, and a red-dot sight. “Hard shot?” Yeah, you could say that.

How’d he do it? We’d guess hold-over (he says, 75-80 yards worth at one point, and at another he says 150 feet, so were’s guessing he’s using the uncalibrated eyeball of experience) and lots of practice.

We were impressed as hell, back in the day, with Paul Poole’s 100-meter shots with a tuned 1911 out at the Mott Lake Compound range. Poole’s secret was the same: he learned how much drop that issue .45 ball had through long experience, and he learned to pick a holdover point.

The thing is, the normal “effective” range of a pistol or rifle is no such thing. It’s a somewhat arbitrary figure. Some ordnance bureaucrat sets it based on an average shooter with an average weapon on a sort of best-three-of-five basis. Or it gets handed down in a firearm specification, and never tested. The US Army, for instance, records the effective range of every one of the world’s pistols as 50m, and every rifle as 480m (which originally was supposed to be a conversion from the old every-rifle-effective-range of 500 yards). This is probably a mistake, because using high-angle firing techniques you can score hits far beyond the book-value “effective” range.

The real problem with the issue 5.56 rounds at ranges over 500 yards is weak terminal ballistics, not accuracy. While the Army’s accuracy standards for accepting a rifle are pretty low (and the standards for keeping one in service are even lower, 7 MOA!), most service rifles are well made and will far outperform the minimum military specification.

We doubt that Jerry Miculek ever had a chance to meet Paul Poole, who has long been feasting with the other heroes at the long tables in the halls of Valhalla. And that’s a crying shame, because who knows what those two good ol’ boys would have gotten up to together?

Update:

Several of you have pointed out that Jerry undoubtedly burned a lot of rounds before hitting the  plate (since the hit in the plate, which he shows, was not in line with the location of the balloon, it was probably jacket spalling that popped the balloon. Still, it was a pistol shot at sniper rifle range).

It really set off the IDPA gameshooters at Triangle Tactical. They vented a little intramural spleen (post 1; post 2; post 3) at Miculek and one another, and refer you to, of all things, some reality show on TV for “real” shooting. (Really?)  One of them does admit:

It shows that guns aren’t scary, we aren’t all tacticool nut jobs, and that shooting is fun. I like the videos, even if they are cut to only show the entertaining parts.

And even the most critical of the posts includes this bit, that one hopes we can all agree on:

Long-range shooting is also an exercise in consistency. Sight the target the same way, hold your breath the same way, pull the trigger the same way, follow through the same way. Assess the result and adjust your point of aim and try again. I actually agree that a decent shooter could probably hit that shot as well.

Jerry Miculek is not Superman. He’s simply a guy who’s dedicated himself to a craft — and found a talent for entertaining as well as instructing. There’s a reason we feature Jerry’s videos, and not the ones by boring windbags who spend a half hour conveying 30 seconds’ worth of information, or the ones by “tacticool” beardos who parlayed zero days in service and a single bad tour as a contractor into YouTube stardom.

Situational Awareness Example

Caleb at Gun Nuts Media recounts a close encounter of the “homeless” (i.e. smelly bum) kind, and rounds it off with some general advice about situational awareness when exercising:

But my self-defense plan for when I’m running is pretty simple: I don’t run at night, and I don’t run in shady places. Yes, I know that no man knows the day or hour when the balloon will go up while they see the elephant, but I reckon I can minimize my chances by not going to places where that sort of thing happens. It’s why I run in the nice park, and not in Van Epps Park, aka Stabbing Time Station.

That’s the most effective self-defense tool of them all. Don’t go to stupid places at stupid times, and even if you’re in a nice place, keep your head up. Stay alert. Don’t be afraid to cross the street to get away from shady mofos

via Almost had a dynamic critical incident the other day | Gun Nuts Media.

Yep. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Decline stupid game, and you might not have the Greatest War Story Evah™, or any War Story at all, but you also don’t wind up on the evening news, with some Ron Burgundy clucking over you in the past tense. Do Read The Whole Thing™ because he also ruminates on what and how to carry when exercising.

We don’t run any more (you kind of need two working legs for that), but when we did we simply downsized our usual arms, if need be all the way down to a not-entirely-armed-feeling .25 Auto.