Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

Weapons Usage: The False Lure of Symmetry

Like the proud hammer owner who saw each problem as a nail, we tend to project our own tactical equipment, skills and training on to potential adversaries. Symmetry. But tactically, symmetry is a false pursuit.

Some examples of symmetry as practiced in training and planning:

  1. Fighter pilots train extensively as if their primary mission is to fight other fighters;
  2. Tankers expect to fight tank-on-tank;
  3. Any sniper will tell you the best way to disrupt an enemy sniper is to countersnipe him;
  4. Most armed self-defenders train for the one v one encounter.

But these things “everybody knows” are not necessarily true. For example, fighter-on-fighter combat started because the fighters of each side in WWI wanted to scratch their enemy’s eyes out — in the form of his reconnaissance planes. The canny fighter pilot declines combat with enemy fighters to go after those aircraft that are actually enabling the enemy’s overall war aims. Or as the leaders of The Few insisted, “Go after the bombers!” While tank-v-tank makes a great sporting event, tanks win battles and wars when they blast through the enemy’s armored carapace and run rampant in his innards, or rear area: Patton, Guderian, and Zhukov all instinctively grasped this, as did many others.

Take countersniping. As the Australian Army battled the Japs for the archipelagos north of Australia, their arsenal at Lithgow struggled to make the sniper rifles they needed to countersnipe the Japanese soldiers — who were, the Aussies grimly admitted, pretty good at sniping. Lacking the patience to await Lithgow filling their open orders, the Australians improvised countersniper teams with what they had. One man would use a helmet or other item as a decoy, to induce the sons of Nippon to fire. Rather than plunk a .303 slug into the Japanese sniper’s braincase through his lens set, as Hollywood would have it, they’d simply fill his leafy perch with lead from a BREN Gun. The lack of precise address for their poison-pen letter would be overcome by junk-mailing the entire block, in other words.

If it’s crude and it works, is it really crude? The BREN magdump approach usually resulted in a surprised oriental gentleman tumbling dead from his tree.

Sure, setting a sniper against a sniper can work, but the BREN Gun works even if you only get an approximate idea of where the enemy sniper is hiding.

But people still want symmetry — to match like to like. In the real world, you want to exploit asymmetry, not try to merely match what the enemy is doing. You want to overmatch him. You want to tumble him, deader’n disco, from his tree.

This works at strategic as well as tactical level. Little Japan wasn’t permitted (by interwar arms-reduction treaties) to build as many battleships as England or the USA. So the Japanese went all-in for naval aviation, and surprised not only slumbering America but also the world.

So why do we still match like to like? A lot of this flows from Hollywood single-combat mythos. You know, the way every action movie from before the talkies to the ones in the cinema now, ends just the same way — with the hero squaring off in mortal single combat with the villain. Sometimes, the hero theatrically discards a weapon to put himself on the same level as his opponent — to fight fair.

In the real world, nobody with half a lick of sense fights fair. Or, as the instructors at SF school were inclined to say, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.” This pithy folk wisdom has an important corollary: “If you get caught, you’re tryin’ too hard.”

If you’re ever brainstorming out a combat or self-defense approach, it’s a useful brain housing group exercise to work it out both symmetrically and asymmetrically, and see which one more nearly meets your objectives.

Most of the time, it will be the asymmetric approach — if you dare to use it.

Syrian Sarin Update: Khan Shaykhun à son goût

Here’s the telegraphic version, from PJ Media’s Bridget Johnson. It should answer some of your questions after Friday’s cruise-missile attack.

A “background briefing” is one in which the reporters can use the information but not attribute it by name to the individuals providing it. (There’s often a generic “source” specified, like this report’s “NSC Officials.” For those interested in the mechanics, there are several variations of source/reporter interaction, explained from the j-school point of view here).  In the instant case, Johnson reports..

An American View

NEWS: National Security Council officials just held a background briefing with reporters on the declassified intel assessment of last week’s chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, Syria. Full story coming soon, but a few takeaways:

  • Sarin confirmed as the nerve agent used via testing on victims as well as symptoms. Secondary responders also suffered exposure symptoms.
  • Su-22s from Shayrat airfield dropped the sarin on Khan Shaykhun; conventional weapons were dropped about six hours later on hospital treating sarin victims – “no comment” from officials on if Russia did latter.
  • No ISIS or other terrorists in area have sarin (just mustard gas) – attack was “not a terrorist holding of sarin or a terrorist use of sarin”
  • WH official on if Russia, present at airfield, knew of sarin attack: “We don’t have information on that per se… still looking into that.” Adding: “We do think that it is a question worth asking” Russians how they were with Syrian forces at airfield “and did not have knowledge” of the attack in planning/prep stages.
  • “Leakage inconsistent” with Russians saying sarin came from opposition stocks on ground – “we don’t see a building with that chemical residue”
  • On Syria hoax conspiracy theories: Body of evidence “too massive” for anyone to fabricate. Official added that videos released of attack did correspond with that date, time, location.

A Russian View

So that’s the American spin. Opposed to that, we have the Russian propaganda outlet Anna News getting the Syrian spin on things, on the target airfield. Much of what reporter Sergei Bayduk has to say is bullshit, but the images are interesting. He identifies the same two a/c hulks we have seen as a MiG-23 (presumably the “monkey model” the Soviets furnished to allies) and an Su-22. Swing-wing jets of the 60s and 70s.

Bayduk makes the valid point that the attack did not close the airfield for long. The attack kicked off at oh-dark-thirty, lasted about a half an hour, and after the all clear they quickly repaired the airfield and were flying by daybreak. (Here, the rugged design of Soviet / Russian landing gear pays big dividends, as the planes are designed to land on completely unimproved surfaces, so there’s no problem landing and taking off on a runway that’s only had hasty repairs).

You have to wonder what the old Soviet authorities were thinking (back in the Brezhnev days) to transfer biological and chemical weapons to guys like Khadafy, Saddam Hussein and Assad père. They do realize that if these guys used these weapons on their enemy, Israel, the Israelis would most probably respond with their only WMD: nukes. But then again, in Brezhnev’s day they built the reactor at Chernobyl (he was dead and gone when it went FOOM).

We spent some time at a base in Uzbekistan that was, we discovered, contaminated with just about everything imaginable, including chemical weapons, biological toxins and spores, and ionizing radiation from two HASes in which aircraft had been blown up about like the ones you see here. There was a story the Uzbek AF officers told, but we didn’t know whether to credit it or not. There were also Soviet era crash sites all over the field… the first years of jet fighters look like they were just as unsafe in the Soviet Air Force as in its American counterpart.

Of course, Uzbekistan is a different matter, perhaps, as it was one of 15 Republics of the USSR, sovereign Soviet territory, when the A-VMF stockpiled WMDs there.

While the USSR sponsored some real bastards, the US in turn sponsored plenty of bastards of our own. Some of the places that were once dictatorships aren’t, now.

Returning to Syria, it sounds as if President Trump does not want to engage against Assad or make regime change his objective — the purpose of the strike was to send a message: chemical weapons are not OK.

We have our qualms about using the military for message-sending.

An Australian View

Every major nation has its own defense intellectuals, if not its own think tanks, and they often come at problems from new directions. For example, the Lowy Institute for International Policy (Sydney, Australia) has an interesting and deep analysis of the Khan Shaykhoun attack, which it calls out as very different from the attacks which have gone before. Here’s a taste:

Although chemical attacks against the Syrian population have continued over the past four years the Khan Sheikhoun attack is significantly different. After the August 2013 sarin attacks, Syria was compelled to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, declare all its chemical weapons and disarm. Chlorine barrel bombs were used after that, but their manufacture seemed makeshift and they were clearly not part of Syria’s former military chemical arsenal. Chlorine barrel bombs are a violation of the CWC but their possession does not indicate that Syria’s 2013 declaration of its chemical weapons was incorrect. Chlorine, if used for industrial reasons, is excluded.

Over the past few years CWC member states have expressed concern that Syria’s chemical declaration is inaccurate and incomplete. Indeed over the past two years the OPCW has held continuing discussions with Syria to resolve discrepancies, so far without success. Although the nature of these discussions is confidential, statements made by various delegates to the OPCW suggest that although the majority of Syria’s chemical holdings were disclosed, details are missing on a broad range of issues, including on munitions and manufacture.

The Khan Sheikhoun attack now appears to be demonstrable proof that Syria’s CWC declaration, the basis for its chemical disarmament, is inaccurate. At the very least, Syria has retained undeclared stocks of a nerve agent, possibly sarin in binary form, and the munitions to deliver it. What other chemical weapons may be undeclared can only be speculated on, but given the recent event it is reasonable to assume that some exist.

We strongly recommend anyone interested Read The Whole Thing™.  We can’t disagree with author Rod Barton’s conclusions:

[I]t is difficult to envisage what measures, political or military, the US could realistically take to bring Syria to account. In all probability, the abhorrent Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack is likely to be lost in the wider Syrian crisis, with its almost 5 million external refugees, its growing internal humanitarian needs and its political complexity.

As depressing and alarming as it is, the world may therefore expect that Syria will continue to use its remaining chemical weapons against its populace, whenever it chooses and with relative impunity.

Broken Arrow Update: “Clear cut” Self-Defense, No Charges for Defender

Zach Peters used this AR15A2 or clone rifle to defend himself, his father and their home from three armed home invaders, in the unincorporated outskirts of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (a Tulsa suburb), on 27 March.

(Previous WeaponsMan coverage: They Brought Brass Knuckles, Knife to a Gun Fight (28 Mar 17); Broken Arrow OK Follow-up: Home Invasion as “Bad Decision.” (31 Mar 17).)

After an investigation, county police and prosecutors have termed it a good shoot, and announced that Peters will face no charges. The robbers’ accomplice, Elizabeth “Liz” Rodriguez, will still face a half-dozen charges including three counts of felony murder for the foreseeable deaths of her partners in their mutual criminal enterprise.

The Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office held a joint press conference on Monday and updated the press about the investigation and pending charges stemming from the deadly home invasion that happened in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma last week that left three teenage suspects dead and one in custody.

“We support of our citizens… the right to bear arms, and to defend their homes in this county. And in this such case, we feel strongly that that’s what took place here.” Sheriff Elliot said.

The shooting left three young men dead. The men had broken into a home outside of Tulsa on Monday March 27. They first burglarized the home on that morning, and then returned to the home a second time. The second break in ended when they woke up the homeowner, 23-year-old son, Zach Peters.

This is a new version of the story of the crime, but it was the story that Sheriff Chris Elliot told at the press conference, based on his department’s information. Rodriguez has said that they loaded up loot from the garage after breaking in there, and then the men went around to break in the sliding patio door in back.

Rodriguez believed that there were expensive items in the house, according to a witness Elliot chose not to name “because of an ongoing investigation.”

The intruders have been identified as Maxwell Cook, 19, Jacob Redfern, 17, and Jaykob Woodriff, 16. The intruders were wearing masks, and one was armed with a knife and another was carrying brass knuckles.

These names have been spelled several different ways. Two of them were shot dead in the kitchen, and one was shot there and one, believed to be Jacob Redfern or Redfearn,  collapsed on his accomplice’s getaway car and died.





Four minutes after Zachary Peters’s 911 call, the Wagoner County SD was on the scene; Broken Arrow city police responded at the same time and assisted. The three criminals were beyond medical intervention.

“It is the opinion of this office that Zachary Peters acted justifiably and in accordance with his rights as an Oklahoma citizen when he used deadly force to defend his home from the … burglary perpetrated by (the three decedents), and allegedly by Elizabeth Rodriguez,” First DA Jack Thorpe said. Thorpe also expressed the condolences of the DA’s office and law enforcement to the families of the dead, stressing that his sympathy was for the criminals’ families, not the late unlamenteds themselves.

We note that one of our readers, an attorney, reviewed OK’s felony murder jury instructions and thinks that these murder charges might not stick. It may be that Thorpe and Elliot are overcharging Rodriguez a bit. If so, they’re sending a message to the Tulsa criminal community.

Rodriguez has also admitted that the four had robbed many other homes — and expressed anger that Peters dared to be home, and was such a bum as to shoot her friends rather, apparently, than letting them beat or kill him. 

Not how the world works, kid.

“I won’t take responsibility for the murders, I won’t. I feel guilty, but I don’t feel responsible,” Rodriguez said in an interview with ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir.”

This appears to have been a local TV interview that was then “nationalized” by dubbing Muir’s studio questions over the no-name local reporter’s on the scene.

“I know what we did was stupid and wrong,” she said. “I don’t blame him… I understand why he did what he did. I mean, I do to an extent.”

Police say that Rodriguez planned the burglary, drove the three men to the house, and waited outside to drive them away. Rodriguez is believed to have made deliveries to the house, and knew the homeowner by name.

Deliveries of what, they don’t say.

District Attorney Jack Thorpe intends to see that Rodriguez does take responsibility for the deaths of the three men. And his office will not press charges against Zach Peters. When asked if that decision not to prosecute Peters was difficult, he said no. He described it as clear cut.

via Police Announce Fate Of Homeowner’s Son Who Killed 3 Home Invaders With AR-15 | Tribunist.

The press, who appear to sympathize entirely with the late unlamented Wealth Redistribution Technicians, don’t seem to grasp that an OK county is not going to back the criminals and charge the victims like a New York City DA would.

Andrew Branca would advise a potential self defender to “know the law so you’re hard to convict.” As Andrew explains it, the law comprises the black-letter statutes, but also court decisions and model jury instructions; over time, these always introduce subtle changes, and sometimes gross ones: they can even twist the law as practiced to the polar opposite of what the plain wording of the law says. We would add to his three legs of the pedestal that holds up the Scales of Justice for a home or self defender a fourth: the political. The political climate of a jurisdiction (NYC versus exurban Tulsa), and even the political ambitions of a given prosecutor (does the name Angela Corey ring any bells?) can give an extralegal twist to a legal proceeding.

Andrew, a lawyer who, in our opinion, loves the orderly and just administration of the law, may not incline to recognize these randomizing factors (after all, they take control out of the hands of a lawyer and client). But we’re not really free men until a Zach Peters can save his life in New York (or Newark, or Boston, or…) as readily as he can in freedom-loving Oklahoma.

Broken Arrow OK Follow-up: Home Invasion as “Bad Decision.” (Long)

In the recent incident in Broken Arrow in which three young home invaders saw their dreams of stolen gold turn to a fusillade of hot lead, we’ve seen a common (but unknown to many) phenomenon come to the fore: criminals and their families feel terribly put-upon, and have an undeserved but telling contempt for their victims.

We’re going to look at three stories from the same Oklahoma City television station, first telling the story through the 911 call, then invoking the opinions of one deceased criminal’s family, and finally, the surviving accomplice.

We suspect that these links have autoplay video, but have discovered, to our delight, that by not updating Adobe’s horrible Flash software, we can skip the blaring videos and go right to the transcripts. Wonderful! We’ll never update that piece of crap again.

First: “I shot two of them, now I’m barricaded in my bedroom.”

This link goes to a complete transcript of the 911 call. Here’s a few highlights:

Peters: “I’ve just been broken into. Two men, two I’ve shot in my house (address).”

Dispatcher: “Was one of them shot?”

Peters: “Yes, two of them.”

Dispatcher: “Are they bleeding?”

Peters: “Yes. I believe one… one’s down, one’s still talking here with me now.”

Dispatcher: “And they broke into your home?”

Peters: “Yes.”

Dispatcher: “What’s your name, sir?”

Peters: “Zach Peters.”

The Dispatcher elicited information that would be useful to the responding deputy, and Peters continued to keep his wits about him. But the Dispatcher also had a script to run.

Dispatcher: “OK, are they white males?”

Peters: “Um, I didn’t get a good look.”

Like, who gives a hairy rat’s what color the guys who busted down your door are? Well, of course, government agencies. By the way, Peters’s response is the only thing you should ever say to this question, especially if you and the crumb exsanguinating in your kitchen are nor the same skin tone.

Dispatcher: “OK, can you see them right now?”

Peters: “No, I’m, uh, I shot two of them, now I’m barricaded in my bedroom.”

Dispatcher: “You’re barricaded in your, in your bedroom? OK.”

Peters: “Correct. Southeast corner. They broke in a back door. I can hear one of them talking.”

Dispatcher: “OK, what are they saying?”

Peters: “I can’t hear them.”

Dispatcher: “OK, where were they shot?”

Peters: “Um, upper body.”

Dispatcher: “Upper body?”

Dispatcher: “Are you hurt, sir?”

Peters: “No.”

Dispatcher: “OK.”

Note that he withdrew, stayed safe, and stayed in communication with the dispatcher about his location and situation. At this time, there’s a real hazard of friendly fire, something that both Peters and the dispatcher were eager to avoid.

Dispatcher: “OK, what did you shoot them with?”

Peters: “My AR-15.”

Dispatcher: “OK.”

Peters: “I’m still armed in the southeast corner of my house.”

Dispatcher: “OK.”

Dispatcher: “OK, sir, my deputy wants in, I need you to go ahead and un-arm yourself and put the gun away.”

Peters: “OK. It’ll be unloaded on my bed, I’ll still be in my bedroom.”

Dispatcher: “OK, the gun’s going to be unloaded on his bed.”

Peters: “You said he’s on scene?”

Dispatcher: “Yes, sir, my…my deputy should be on scene.”

Peters: “OK.”

This kind of thing was repeated as everyone wanted to make sure that Peters was both safe from further threat from the criminals, and that he and the responding deputy were no threat to each other. Time to check on the whereabouts of the skells!

Dispatcher: “Do you know where they both are, sir?”

Peters: “It’s between the back door. One is in the kitchen. One crawled into the northeast corner bedroom.”

Dispatcher: “OK.”

Dispatcher: “OK, one’s in the kitchen, one’s in the northeast corner bedroom, and you’re in the southeast corner bedroom, is that correct?”

Peters: “Correct, and the third one, I did not shoot. He ran outside.”

Dispatcher: “The third one he did not shoot ran outside. OK.”

It sounds like the Dispatcher is repeating to the responding officers over the trunk, while handling the call with Peters. Cool heads all around. Peters was mistaken about the third guy, whom we now believe to be the late, unlamented Jake Redfearn — it’s possible a through-and-through of one of the other burglars nailed him.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes, right?

Dispatcher: “Do you know if he ran out the front or the back?”

Peters: “Um, he ran out the back door. The door they broke into.”

Dispatcher: “OK. The third, subject stated, he ran out the back door.”

Deputy needs to know that. As far as Peters knew, one or more criminals were still on scene!

And now Peters really displays clear thinking:

Peters: “Um, there should be two dogs out, around the house. They’re friendly.”

Peters: “And you guys need to start EMS, I believe one of them is shot bad.”

Dispatcher: “OK, sir, EMS is en route, OK?”

He’s safe, if he can avoid startling the law. The first Deputy is approaching the house, and Peters remembers to (1) alert the officers that there are dogs on the premises, and that the dogs are not a threat, and (2) express concern for the life of the threat guys, who are no longer a threat.

While it was undoubtedly a harrowing day for Zach Peters, there’s really not much fault to find with his response to a home invasion. He met violent crime with overwhelming force, neutralized the threat, retreated to relative safety, and called for help. He even remembered to be concerned for the lives of the dogs and the criminals (and, appropriately, in that order).

It will be interesting to see if Andrew Branca has a comment, because if Peters did this in some jurisdictions (CA, CT, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI) a prosecutor would be measuring him for striped pajamas; but in free America, it’s hard to see anything he did wrong.

Of course, not everybody sees it that way. Let’s get some criminals-and-associates’ viewpoints! (After the jump).

Continue reading

They Brought Brass Knuckles, Knife to a Gun Fight

“Who needs it?” Wrong question. Right question? “How many?”

Midday. Your dad’s house. You and Dad are home.

A tremendous crash comes from the glass back door of your home, and you arm yourself. The AR should back them down, but when you meet, there are three of them, in black hoodies and masks, and they threaten you. They’re only armed with tools brass knucks, and knives, but your life just became a real-life Tueller Drill in your own damn kitchen.

That appears to be what actually happened. Four youthful career criminals from Owasso, OK, went to a neighborhood in Broken Arrow, OK, in which they’d been finding easy pickings. They had burglar tools and contact weapons. The 21-year-old woman who drove the getaway car, Elizabeth Rodriguez, supposedly organized the whole thing — she knew the young man in the house, and knew what property he and his father had for stealing. Like guns.

She waited in the getaway car with her three young children while her three pals went a-viking.

The three bold youths, Max Cook, Jacob Redfearn and Jake Woodruff, were ready for resistance — they would beat it down, or stab it. They didn’t know anyone was home, or, more likely, they didn’t care.

Now, they’re beyond caring. The three young criminals are at ambient temperature — two were DRT in the kitchen, and one made it to the driveway before collapsing. The last thing he saw in his worthless thieving life was probably his getaway driver (and the three kids comprising her next generation of idiots) running away on him. Not that it did her any good. As you’ll read below, she’s in the bag and will answer for her fellow criminals’ deaths in their mutual felony enterprise.

Of course, there’s another way of looking at it. A well-off young woman in the Blogbrother’s Facebook timeline sent this:

Three CHILDREN who made a bad decision were murdered, local people rejoice. Comments on the Facebook post for this story are seriously disturbing. This state is legit Fucked up.

Blogbro’s unsympathetic comment (to us, not to his FB friend):

She’s talking about the cooling slabs of meat who pulled that home invasion in Tulsa.

Those poor children.

I think I’d piss her off if I used the expression “evolution in action.”

We’ll say this: going out on a day rain is forecast without a jacket, is a “bad decision.” Picking up a Steven Seagal film from the $5 bin is a bad decision. Conducting a violent home invasion is not remotely a bad decision: it’s an invitation to be culled. An attempted suicide. Voting yourself off the island.

Only two things happen with a home invasion: you get stopped — shot or arrested — or you get away with it — stealing somebody’s stuff, maybe hurting ’em.

One of the children was 18 or 19, so he wasn’t a “children.” Likewise, the getaway driver was a fat, stupid-looking woman of 21, Elizabeth Rodriguez. She’s not very grown-up, but she’s nominally an adult anywhere in the world. As for the rest of them, old enough to attempt the crime is old enough to pay the piper.

Rodriguez fled the scene but later showed up at the police station to demand the cops arrest the murderer of her friends.

It doesn’t work that way. She’s charged with three counts of felony murder. As well as a bunch of stuff related to the burglary.

As of this writing, neither the homeowner nor his 23-year-old son who took out the trash has been charged.

Court documents indicate the homeowner who fired the shots is Zachary Peters, 23, and that Rodriguez knew him by name. The documents note Rodriguez planned the burglary, took the three boys to the house, and was waiting in the driveway until she heard shots and left.

Wagoner County deputies said she turned herself in to give officers the names of the dead so their parents could be notified.

These four slugs were just going to keep on doing this until someone put ’em down. They were armed home invaders.

Had Peters not been home, they could well have been armed with his rifle and any other guns in the house, next time. They didn’t respect anyone else’s life, and there’s no reason anyone else should respect theirs. Blogbro was right: think of it as evolution in action. (Just a bit late in the case of Elizabeth Rodriguez, unfortunately).

Some people say — no doubt the Blogbro’s fine young friend would say — nobody needs an AR-15, nobody needs a standard-capacity magazine, why would you ever need such a thing.

We dunno. How about — three young, violent home invaders?

Slo-Mo Mayhem

We’re not really feeling it for a technical post this morning, so instead let’s introduce Andrew, a self-described “gun nut” and the personable host of the one-year-old GY6 Slo Mo video channel. Here is a loooong burst with a gun that solves a problem nobody has, a belt-fed full-auto AR in 9 x 19 mm.

This isn’t especially practical. If there’s something that needs a whole belt of 9mm at point-blank range, you fight it, we’re backing off and calling a fire mission. But it looks like fun and that’s reason enough to own a gun.

Actually, if you are interested in the Freedom Arms FM-9 belt-fed upper, he has a 20 minute full review, that answers pretty well “what it is,” without going deep into “what it’s for.” The quick-change barrel system (enabled by the gun being a simple mass-locked blowback) is clever and good.

We don’t think we want one, but we do think we understand it after Andrew’s video.

The feed mechanism is the now-customary MG-42 based design. Our guess, without examining the weapon, is that the reason that Freedom Ordnance wants you to load the belt with the feed tray cover down, and not up (mentioned at about 6:45 and 8:45), is because closing the feed tray with the bolt forward can damage the mechanism. It’s possible to design a feed system that can be safely close bolt-forward or -back — FN’s world-market machine guns are designed that way, by having a spring-loaded roller. 

And here’s the promised first of a series of ballistic videos.

These videos are quite unscientific, but they’re entertaining. Entertainment is an interesting use for high-speed photography that was developed for scientific and industrial purposes. (And, he makes it clear, he’s not trying to be scientific).

Don’t expect any great revelations from the shot-in-the-head videos. A 9mm kills Casualty Carl dead. Supersonic rifle rounds will usually produce an avulsed (evulsed?) cerebrum in Homo sapiens and will probably result in the catastrophic structural failure of Casualty Carl’s coconut skull… killing him dead. A .22 LR from a pocket pistol will break up the skull less, but will probably still kill Casualty Carl dead. In real life, humans have survived and recovered (more or less) from gruesome, close-range cranial wounds with all these weapons, but the odds are a head shot that’s a square hit has taken the recipient out of the fight for the immediate future.

Hat tip, The Gun Feed.

CQB: Attitude Beats TTPs

There’s nobody quite as good at CQB/CQC/good-ole-doorkickin’ as the unit known as Delta. Not anybody, not worldwide. The SF teams that are best at CQB are the ones that train to be an interim stopgap, available to theater combatant commanders if Delta’s too far out or too overcommitted for a given tasking.

Delta’s skills came from its origin as a Hostage Rescue / Personnel Recovery unit, and it now has nearly four decades of institutional memory (some of which cycles back around as contract advisors so that old TTPs don’t get lost) to bring skills back up when real-world missions sometimes take off a little bit of the CQB edge.

In a wide-ranging post at the paywalled site SOFREP, fortunately reposted at the unwalled site The Arms Guide, former Delta operator George E. Hand IV discusses how the most important building block of CQB is, absolutely, the guts to actually do it.

Close Quarters Combat (CQC) is to the effect about 75% (maybe higher) testicles, and then 25% technique. I don’t like to over complicate things, especially CQB…. It is the very nature of the degree of difficulty inherent in ‘the act’ of CQB that bids its techniques to remain very simple, lest the mind become incapable of holding the process at all.

… if you can find a person that will take an AR and run into a small room of completely unknown contents, expected deadly threat, then you already have ~75% of what you need to create a successful CQB operator. All that remains, is to teach and train your operator the very few principles, and the very simple techniques, for room combat.


You are ~75% ‘there’ once you have that individual who will storm blindly into a deadly room. Now, it can’t be a person who just says they will do it. It has to be a person that in fact WILL do it, and WILL do it over and over.

See, no matter how high-speed low-drag you are, the enemy gets the proverbial vote, too.

There is a constant that exists, though you may disagree ferociously, it remains nonetheless: “no amount of high-speed training and bravado will ever trump the thug behind the door, pointing his AR at the door, and with finger on trigger.” ….

That’s right, the Chuck Yeager of CQB has a bullet waiting for him; all he has to do is wait long enough, however long that is. I have known a team of Delta men who lost their junior and senior team mates to the same goat-poker in the same small room in Iraq.

Both were head wounds from the same rag-head firing blindly over the top of a covered position. For the senior brother, that room was supposed to be the last room, of the last attack, of the last day, of the last overseas deployment he was ever supposed to make. The wait was over.

via Nobody goes into a room like Delta Force: A CQB attitude primer | The Arms Guide.

That “senior brother” is MSG Bob Horrigan, whose picture (courtesy Hand) graces this post. The new guy was MSG Mike McNulty, whose image is also at the link.

Hand’s entire post is worth reading, studying, and even contemplating. Do you go in, when going in could well get you shot by some “rag-head goat-poker”? (For police, substitute “brain-dead gangbanger” or “booze-drenched wife beater”). Real life for guys in these jobs is a daily reenactment of Kipling’s Arithmetic on the Frontier.

No proposition Euclid wrote
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow.
Strike hard who cares – shoot straight who can
The odds are on the cheaper man.

(Background on the poem. Of all the things I read before going to Afghanistan, Kipling was the best preparation. The Yusufzais he mentions are today still a Pathan (Pushtun) tribal group, frequently in opposition; the Afridis are still dominant in the Khyber Pass area, and some of them still affect green turbans. Only the weapons have improved).

If you have the attitude, and are willing to go into the Valley of the Shadow because you’re not going to be in there with them, instead those poor throgs are going to be in there with you, what are the simple tactics he has in mind?

(Caveat. Your Humble Blogger has never served in Delta. He had a short CQB/HR course called SOT many years ago, the short course which ultimately evolved, in two paths, into SFAUC and SFARTAETC).


You need to have the basics first:

  1. Physical fitness. If you’re not ready to sprint up five flights of stairs you’re definitely not ready to train on this. Bear in mind that actual combat is much more physically exhausting and draining than any quantity of combat training. That may because fear dumps stress hormones that either induce or simulate fatigue. Perhaps there’s some other reason; it’s enough to know that the phenomenon is real.
  2. Marksmanship. This comprises hits on target but also shoot/no-shoot decision-making, malf clearing and primary-secondary transition. In our limited experience, almost no civilian shooters apart from practical-shooting competitors are ready to train on this stuff.
  3. Teamwork. It’s best to train a team that’s already tight. If not, no prob, the training process will tighten you.
  4. Decision Making under Stress. This is vital, because the one thing that you can plan on is your plan going to that which is brown and stinketh.


The military stresses doing complex events (“eating the elephant”) by breaking them down into components (“bite-sized chunks.”) The process we use is lots of rehearsals in which risk and speed are gradually increased. One level is absolutely mastered before reaching for the risk or speed dial. (There are guys who go to SFAUC and are still carrying a blue-barrel Simunitions weapon in the live-fire phase. They’re still learning, but they’re not picking it up at the speed of the other guys. They’ll have to catch up and live fire to graduate).

Numerous rehearsals and practices are done in buildings of previously unknown configurations. A culmination exercise is full-speed, live-fire, breaching doors into an unknown situation. It can be done with dummies playing the hostiles and some hostages, and live people playing some no-shoot targets. (George has a story about this at the link. Not unusual to have a Unit commander or luminary like the late Dick Meadows in the hostage chair on a live-fire; at least once before Desert One, they put a very nervous Secretary of the Army in the chair).

The term the Army uses for this phased training process is widely adaptable to learning or teaching anything:

  1. Crawl
  2. Walk
  3. Run

Most civilian students, trainers and schools go from zero-to-sixty way too fast. To learn effectively, don’t crawl until the training schedule says walk, crawl until you’re ready.

Training should be 10% platform instruction and 90% hands-on. This is a craft, and you’re apprenticing, you’re not studying for an exam.

Tactics on Target

The most important thing you get from all these drills is an instinctive understanding of where the other guys are and where you are at all times, and where you’re personally responsible for the enemy.

Divide the sectors by the clock (degrees are too precise) and have one man responsible for a sector. Don’t shoot outside your sector unless the guy covering that sector is down. Staying on your sector is vital for safety! You should not only own the sector between your left and right limits, but also the vertical aspect of that sector, from beneath you, at your feet, through the horizontal plane to overhead.

Shoot/No-Shoot is vital and the only right way to do it is look at the hands and general gestalt of the individual to assess a threat. Weapon in hand? Nail ’em. Empty hands? Wait and keep assessing. (In this day of suicide vests, any attempt to close with you should probably be treated as a suicide bomb attempt).

If you have the personnel, the shooters do not deal with neutrals or friendlies on the X. There’s a following team that handles them, for several reasons including the shooters being keyed up to a fare-thee-well at the moment of entry.

You can’t learn CQB from a book, or a lecture, or some assclown on YouTube who never suited up and took a door. You have to physically practice, and practice, and practice. Ideally, under the beady eye of someone with a lot of doors in his past, and a skill at setting targets that borders on malicious mischief. (MSG Paul Poole, rest in peace, you old goat).

But first, absolutely first, you need guys with the guts to try. George is absolutely right about that. There is much other good stuff in his post, including a funny history of the term “operator” in the Army. (If you didn’t attend the Operators’ Training Course, it’s not you. Sorry ’bout that). You know what we’re going to say now, right? Damn straight. Read The Whole Thing™.

A Shocking Update in Florida “Citizens Police Academy” Shooting

Moment of horror: 9 Aug 2016, then-Officer Lee Coel, left, role-playing as a criminal, has just mortally wounded Mary Knowlton, right, role-playing as a cop. Knowlton had a Simunitions-modified Glock; Coel, a personal Smith & Wesson Airweight with live wadcutters. PGPD/FDLE photo.

Lee Williams has an update on the Punta Gorda, FL, shooting death of 73-year-old retiree Mary Knowlton. The police officer who killed her, Lee Coel, has been fired and charged with manslaughter, and the police chief, Tom Lewis, has also been charged with some trivial misdemeanor (although he clings to his job) in what has turned out to be the most incredible and horrifying bad shoot in this young century.

Hey, at least when NYPD shoots nine bystanders, they’re trying to shoot a criminal, and they know they’re firing live ammo. This cockeyed Keystone incompetence has no such excuse.

According to investigative reports and crime scene photos released Wednesday, former Punta Gorda Police Officer Lee Coel loaded Blazer .38 Special hollow-base wadcutters into his Smith & Wesson .38 Special  Airweight revolver, instead of Winchester blank rounds.

ATF traced the murder weapon to Officer Coel… just in case he was inclined to lie about that, too.

Coel then pointed his revolver at 73-year-old retired librarian Mary Knowlton and pulled the trigger four times.

Knowlton was hit twice.

“Mrs. Knowlton was struck by two of the four bullets that were fired. One bullet ricocheted off the engine hood of the parked car and struck Mrs. Knowlton in the abdomen, where it remained. Another bullet ricocheted off the engine hood and struck her in the inside of her left elbow, where it remained. A third bullet ricocheted off the engine hood and came to rest at an unknown location. The fourth bullet entered and lodged in the driver’s side door of the parked vehicle,” the FDLE report states.

An autopsy later showed that the fatal round perforated Knowlton’s aorta.

The next line is one that always makes us lose focus for a minute, because it’s the classically mealy-mouthed passive voice of responsibility shirkers.

The FDLE report indicates that mistakes were made.

“Mistakes were made,” my ever-lovin’ eye.

The mistakes “were made” by somebody, or several somebodies: Coel and the Punta Gorda police chief, to be sure, but also, as an outraged Williams points out, by every officer who attended this kind of half-assed “training,” and didn’t speak up.

Do Read The Whole Thing™, as Williams extracts a whole litany of lessons from these morons, but the fact is, somebody chose the easy wrong (“Hey, a revolver works great with blanks,” over the hard right, “How do we do this without pointing a live weapon at anybody?”).

.38 blank, left. .38 Hollow Base WadCutter practice ammo, right. FDLE photo.

Lee is not buying the idea that the superficial similarity of the rounds somehow excuses the shoot.

Anyone who has ever taken even the most basic firearm safety course will see that a plethora of mistakes — an entire chain of mistakes — occurred long before Coel was unable to distinguish wadcutters from blanks, and then loaded the fatal rounds.

I’m sure there may be some who say — because the wadcutters and blanks look somewhat alike — that they now understand how this could have happened.

That’s bunk.

This never should have happened.

Adherence to even the most basic fundamentals of firearms safety would have prevented this needless, tragic death.

Lee Williams has written an update, calling for the resignation or firing of Lewis. Apart from Lee’s points, just the hiring of Coel, who had failed at other police departments, calls into question Lewis’s judgment — and makes one wonder whether other clockwork bombs are ticking away in the Punta Gorda PD.

One gets the impression that Coel is that rare thing, the sort of cop who always wanted to shoot somebody. Now that he’s done it, maybe he understands why all the other cops aren’t like that. In partial defense of Lewis, he seems to have cooperated with the investigation.

The same cannot be said of Coel. He lawyered up and shut up, getting a privilege you would not, and he and his lawyer lied in a statement submitted by letter, claiming that he had called out to test fire the blanks while on duty. This was contradicted by the recollections of the dispatchers and the radio logs and tapes.

Only four fired casings from Coel’s revolver were recovered, but the revolver has five chambers, and the partial box of live .38 ammo in his car contained 35 rounds — 50 minus three revolver loads. That suggests that Coel pocketed or otherwise disposed of the one remaining live round in an attempt to evade responsibility (witnesses agree that he fired four shots, and traces, at least, of four shots were found). The manufacturer of the casings from the firearm and the matching box of live ammo in the car, CCI, does not manufacture centerfire blanks, and confirmed that to the investigation.

The FDLE investigation’s complete report is being trickled out only to friendly reporters. A partial textual report is here: FDLE Report on Punta Gorda Shooting.pdf

Another news story based on access to the full report contains this chilling note:

Punta Gorda police Lt. Katie Heck said she “probably” gave Coel a box of live ammunition, thinking they were blanks, the report said.


It’s beginning to look like Coel was just the tip of the incompetence iceberg, and nobody in that department knew what he or she was doing.

Lewis, meanwhile is on “paid administrative leave.” Yep, he’s been vacationing on his failure for seven months and counting. Maybe someone should give him his incompetent officer’s revolver, and a box of what his incompetent lieutenant thinks are blanks, and urge him to do the right thing.

Any Gun > Endless Fussing About Guns > No Gun

Read the mathematical expression in the title of this post. Any questions?

Of course, there are questions. After all, what is a gun (mostly) blog but “endless fussing about guns,” eh? But what we mean is this: too much fiddling with what you carry actually detracts from your ability to get proficient with what you carry. But even fussing and fiddling with guns, holsters, etc., is better than not carrying, so it’s most important that you carry.

If you got the impression that we’re about to beat our favorite “satisficing vs. optimizing” dead horse again, you’re half right: we’re certainly not averse to giving Deceased Dobbin a few good licks with Louisville’s finestkind equine motivator. But really, to say that the endless fanboy debates about this pistol vs. that pistol miss the point is like saying that Colin Krapernick and the San Francisco 49ers missed the Super Bowl — true, but understated to the point where one’s sanity comes into question. About 99 repeating 9 percent of the stuff written on the Internet (or in print) about self-defensive pistols is nonsense, compared to the overriding primacy of following Rule Number One of Gunfights: BRING A GUN.

Note that it’s not, “Bring a Glock,” or, “Bring a pistol whose caliber begins with point-four,” or, “Bring a pistol designed by John Moses Browning because he was the last firearms designer who was not a drooling, inbred retard.” A gun. Gun, generic, one each, color optional, caliber optional, maker optional.

Pure gun-counter heresy, that.

Are some choices better than others? Yes, but mostly in the edge cases. As much as it may tempt some people (Ian?), and as brilliant as Karel Krnka was, a Roth-Steyr Repetierpistole M.07 is probably not a good choice (for one thing, rotsa ruck finding a Kydex holster). Likewise, an old Jurras Auto Mag looks totally cool, but only a fictional movie character who was six-feet-many-inches tall would actually carry one; another not-a-good-choice. Nor are many cheap pistols, although you would learn a little about firearms lethality from the following exercise:

  1. Buddy up to a homicide detective in your town (or nearest equivalent, for those of us in too small/peaceful villages to have one).
  2. Get him or her to give you the caliber, and if known, make and model of the last 10 homicide guns; 100 in Chicago, as you want a whole month’s data. (Wouldn’t work for our town; to get to 10 homicides you have to go back to the Indian massacre of sixteen-fifty-something).
  3. Our guess is that the distribution will be, in order: 9mm, .22, .380, .32, .25 .40. And the brands will include approximately zero that have fanboys.

Yet people keep asking “is this one better than that one?” Eh. Fact is, it’s not 1910 any more. Most defensive autopistols and revolvers are pretty good. Even the cheap ones are safe to shoot and usually work. Tam summed this up recently in a really good post:

“So, which do you like better? The Glock or the M&P? Which one should I buy?”

Okay, first, I don’t know that I would say I really like either of them. The Glock is a lot easier to mess around in the guts of, if that’s the sort of thing that appeals to you. As far as shooting goes, they’re pretty much of a muchness. All these plastic cop guns are, really.

“Much of a muchness”? We’ll assume she did that for effect. Still, her basic point is there, and deserves to be belabored, like the rib cage of our expired equine, pining for the corrals:

If one really sings to you, buy it, but you’re kidding yourself if you think there are vast differences in performance waiting to be unlocked in one versus another.

This is the sort of stuff that matters when you add up hundredths and tenths over the course of a ten stage match and probably doesn’t matter dick across a convenience store counter or across fifteen feet of rainy midnight parking lot.

Ding, ding, ding. Do Read The Whole Thing™; this lady shoots more pistol rounds in a year than the average infantry platoon, and between her native curiosity and magazine work shoots a very wide range of good-quality pistols. She knows whereof she speaks; respect that.

And before anyone starts talking about this military unit uses this and that agency is known to carry that, there are two or three facts about military and governmental pistol purchases to bear in mind:

  1. Other things besides raw performance matter. Costs count. Maintenance counts. Compatibility with other kit and allies’ forces counts. (Will you ever fire your pistol whilst wearing a gas mask? Or need to use some foreign nation’s ammunition because that’s all there is? One hopes not). Manufacturing offsets count. And the performance criteria are weighted by somebody and his weights he puts on the various performance measures may not be yours. 
  2. Performance results between pistols on a given test are usually very close: the SIG and Beretta entries were tied in the M9 testing; Beretta’s lower price broke the tie. FN and SIG were very close in recent testing for a Federal agency. Around 15-20 years ago, a special mission unit adopted .40 Glocks, but they only just edged out .40 Smiths, and both of those beat STI 1911s primarily on maintenance, not performance, grounds.
  3. In the military and even as a criminal investigator, your pistol is secondary to almost everything else in your job. If you’re plugging people with Ole Reliable, something has gone seriously awry with Plan A.

For a personal carry pistol, you might want to make a short list, and adopt the first gun you find that checks the few boxes, and carry it with confidence. For instance:

  1. Can I shoot it okay, and will I practice with it?
  2. Can I carry it safely and securely while wearing the clothes I usually wear, and doing the activities I usually do?
  3. Do I like it and feel good about carrying it?

If you like, we can go into the importance of each of those three points. Notice exactly zero of the have anything to do with the sorts of things that fill the pages of gun magazines, the pixels of blogs, or the vast featureless tundra of the gun webs.

See, it’s all about reflexive obedience to Rule Number One.

How Many Guns In Your “Arsenal”?

We get the impression from you guys in the comments that gun ownership among the readership ranges from zero to hundreds of firearms.

Since we’ve seen that the media counts anything more than a couple firearms as an “arsenal,” we assume most of you have an arsenal at home. But how big?  So it’s time for a poll.

How many guns have you got? free polls

You can vote with confidence, as even Super Administrator Powers can’t tell us who said what. Of course, if you spill your collection size in the comments, then everyone can see. We can’t see how that would harm you, but it’s a free country and you can keep your secrets if you like.

This should be an excellent opportunity for smart-ass comments, from those of you who are so inclined. Tomorrow sometime we’ll tell you what bracket Your Humble Blogger falls into.

Update 1 @ Midnight 15 Mar

We’ve seen some interesting comments, and over 350 poll-takers, with some in each bin but the tails having the lowest numbers. Having just found some deficiencies in the inventory, Your Humble Blogger is pretty sure he falls in right around the midpoint of the 51-100 bracket, maybe 8 or 10 above midpoint if incomplete retro AR receivers count.

Lots of respect for all — doesn’t matter how many guns you have, what matters is having the right to make the decision for yourself. Mad props to the people who keep the light burning in the jurisdictions experiencing firearms Dark Ages.

Update 2 @ Noon 16 Mar

Over 600 poll takers so far. 70-something comments, plus another handful over at the poll site. If we ever do this again, we’ll have to include Boating Mishap among the choices.