Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

Armed Self Defense in Wisconsin

Here’s a video from John Correia over at Armed Self Defense (they have a new website, so new it still has greeked text in places! No doubt they’ll fix it. On the downside, the new site has broken all the old ASP links). John talks not about the legalities of the situation, but about the tactical decision making by the defender. Most of the decisions are good, in that the defender and the bystanders didn’t get shot or dead, but as always there are lessons to be learnt from what he did wrong as well as what he did right.

Note that he got something tyro hunters are warned against: “buck fever!” In this case he didn’t have a nice eight-pointer in his sights (they always grow a few points when you miss or don’t get the shot off, don’t they?) but a guy who could have actually killed him. John has other videos where things don’t end well for the licensee or undercover cop when the criminal has the drop on him.

We never draw a pistol without hearing Paul Poole’s voice: “Bwaw-haw-haw! Dumbass dry-fired in a firefight! Bwaw-haw-haw, you’re daid!” This guy didn’t end up “daid,” but if the criminal had been less of a bozo than the usual run of his ilk, he might have been. One begins to see the appeal of safetyless Glocks. (Well, we’re on the side of the angels with a decocker-only DA/SA. And yeah, that means doing lots of controlled pair drills DA first).

At 3:28 in the video, John is explaining that Our Hero is monkeying with his safety, but also, look where he is, where his attention is, and where the robber is. Are there two robbers?! He’s face down in the mechanics of the gun — people, that old military thing of handling the gun blindfolded, assembling it inside a laundry bag, etc. is not hazing but valuable training — while the guy who pushed up the adjacent aisle is behind him at his approximate 7 o’clock. Meanwhile, one guy is in front of him, off camera to our right (defender’s left). It was a near run thing. 

He did well to holster his sidearm after firing (no doubt, police are responding, and you do not want to have it in your hand when they arrive). His decision to follow the criminal towards the door was arguable, but we call it a mistake. A robber, confronted by armed force, is not coming back. He’s running, and probably in soiled pants. Remember, chasing these guys is not your problem. It’s why Officer Friendly gets the big bucks (hah). When the bad guy bolts, your mission, to protect your, your family’s and (maybe) others’ lives, is complete.

The criminal here made some really bad decisions (apart from the obvious one of being a criminal). The first is trying to take on, solo, a group of people in a broken-up space, with multiple entrances, exits, and points of cover and concealment. Probably not the first time this Wealth Redistribution Technician has done that. (In our limited experience, robbers tend to pick one kind of venue to rob — banks, groceries, sandwich shops, small-time dope dealers, convenience stores — and stick to it until their Robin Hood life gets harshed by the agents of the Sheriff of Nottingham, or wherever). Every time this brain-dead robs a place like this he’s rolling the dice that there won’t be a guy like this carrier in here — math that was encouraged by Wisconsin’s former no-carry laws — and this time the dice came up snake eyes.

This case is also interesting because this was the first defensive gun use by a licensed carrier since Wisconsin left the dwindling ranks of no-carry states a couple of years ago. (It was the last holdout, apart from Illinois (since issuing) and DC, although there are still states like New Jersey and some jurisdictions in New York, California and Massachusetts that treat may-issue as de facto no-issue).

Run, Hide, Fight… and You

osu-good-somali-2In the recent Ohio State terrorist incident (you know, the one for which the press is still assiduously trying to unlock the mystery within an enigma of the attacker’s motive), campus public safety officials sent a message to all hands: Active Shooter, Run Hide Fight.

We know now that the “Active Shooter” was an error, an error that, predictably, spawned giddy glee in the gun control camp. The jihadi had a car and a machete, and followed an ISIL attack protocol we’ve seen several times in Europe this year already, but he wasn’t a shooter. However, we think that (1) the campus cops were right to send that message and (2) run, hide, fight, is good advice, and it’s probably better advice for us (licensed or authorized gun carriers) than it is for the usual defenseless collegiate population.

Let’s take those two assertions one at a time.

The Campus Cops were Right to Send, “Active Shooter, Run Hide Fight”

“But Hognose,” we can practically hear you as we write this. “There was no active shooter.” We know now that there was not, and the cops may even have had a hint that there was not. (Or not; next paragraph we’ll explain). But even if they didn’t think there was an active shooter, it was a good call for several reasons.

  1. It helps produce the desired defensive behavior (run, hide, fight);
  2. It’s a lot easier to assume that there is a shooter than to know that there is not;
  3. Historically, jihadi attacks have often involved coordinated attacks, whether it’s bombings or small arms attacks. The first thing to look for when you have one attacker is his confederates! If he hasn’t got any, you’re not as badly off for your false reaction than you would be if you didn’t do anything, and he was one of a cell of ten like we’ve seen in some attacks, or even a pair, a more common thing.
  4. And they might have thought there was an active shooter.

Why would they think that there were more shooters at large? Well, they had, apart from the room-temperature suspect, an innocent person with a gunshot wound. (This was apparently a lost round from the policeman who neutralized the suspect).

Could the campus have done some things better? Sure. But they were right to warn the campus.

“Run, Hide, Fight” is Actually a Good Protocol

A lot of armed self-defenders see themselves rushing across campus to confront an attacker in a scenario like this. We think it’s a bad idea. Better to run if you are in “escaping distance” from the threat, hide if you are invisible and unknown to the threat, and only fight if you must.

Why run? If he can already see you, moving targets are harder to hit than stationary ones. Targets further away are harder to hit than nearby ones. Opening the distance may not bring you to cover, but it does improve your odds, as does giving your assailant a target that is in relative motion, especially laterally.

Why hide? If you can access a hiding place where you are invisible and unknown to the assailant(s), you don’t ever come up in his target array.

Why fight? There’s really one best reason: if you’re cornered and must defend yourself or others’ lives. Don’t go hunting the guy; first, you moving lets him ambush you. Second, if police or a hostage rescue force strike, and you’re on the X with a gun in your hand, guess what prize you just won? Finally, if you must (or get the opportunity to) pop the guy, one of the key questions prosecutors will ask as they review the case is, “Who was the aggressor?” Don’t be that guy. It’s potentially not self-defense if you’re the one attacking.

Mental Rehearsals and “Run, Hide, Fight”

It’s important to form a mental picture of what each of these steps would look like in any place where you could potentially be attacked. We have found the drill of “mental rehearsal” worthwhile. Consider, as you go about your daily business, what would you do if this place turned into the San Berdoo social services office, or the Bataclan venue in Paris. Which way would you run? Where might you hide? Where would be the most effective place to fight?

So, as you can see, the “Run, Hide, Fight” mantra also provides you a handy mnemonic for worst-case-scenario planning and preparation, or for your “mental rehearsal.”

It’s likely that you will never face such a serious incident as the faculty, staff and students of OSU did. If you do not, the time and effort spent on preparation is a sunk cost. But if you do, nothing but time and effort spent now on preparation can avail you anything at all.

Take care out there.

Vintage Self-Defense

colt-self-defense-gunThis vintage Colt Pocket Hammerless, made before the US entered WWI, by the serial number, and definitely over 100 years old, is still doing what it was designed to do: keeping the good safe from the world’s evildoers.

Evildoer Dejuan McCraney, 38, is a career criminal who caught the usual short sentence after a 2001 attempted aggravated murder conviction, and returned to his life of crime thereafter.

One Saturday in October, McCraney armed himself with a 9 mm pistol (believed to be stolen in an earlier burglary) and kicked in the door of an occupied home on Cordova Avenue in Akron, OH. His intent, while committing this violent home invasion, has not been clarified: was he intent on homicide, or simply planning armed robbery, with homicide reserved in case he met resistance? But he wasn’t expecting armed resistance.

The 61-year-old homeowner surprised McCraney with this gun, and held him at gunpoint while his wife dialed 911, and got her gun, a modern 9 mm.

The  cops came quickly, by modern American urban police standards — eight minutes. Imagine what a violent criminal like Dejuan McCraney could have made happen in those eight minutes, if he wasn’t being held at the point of two guns, neatly gift-wrapped for five-oh?

McCraney has a new zip code for the time being, at least, until the Ohio courts tap his wrist again and send him forth to commit more crimes.  He’s charged with aggravated burglary (the “aggravated” presumably being “armed,” in this case) and “weapons under disablity,” which is the OH state charge for Felon In Possession. Technically, he’s a violator of 18 USC § 922(g) and probably 18 USC § 924(e) (Armed Career Criminal Act) also, and the prosecution is a slam-dunk (all the elements of the crime are in the police report), but the ATF doesn’t think the easy stat is worth the paperwork, in part because they know the AUSAs can’t be bothered with these cases, and even when they are, they do such a listless job that the average sentence for these convictions is below Federal guidelines’ minimum! (.pdf)

Now, we don’t recommend vintage or heirloom guns for self defense, even though those early John Browning designs like these Colts and the FN M1910 that’s a kissing cousin are really excellent firearms — for their day. But the bullets of the day were roundnose, and these oldsters may not feed modern defensive loads well. Still, you cannot deny that this homeowner got the job done and did what the State of Ohio seems to be unable to do: interrupt Dejuan McCraney’s life of crime. For now. No doubt he’ll be out in a few years, and will keep it up until he commits a crime like murder for which he’ll finally go away for good, or until a cop or citizen pops him in commission thereof, and provides society with a Final Solution to the Dejuan McCraney problem.

Pro Tips on Zeroing a Carbine

Here’s a video from Travis Haley (hat tip, Herschel Smith). In this video, Haley applies the basic steady hold factors (the Army teaches 8, which are a little different from Haley’s) and some excellent TTPs on holding the carbine and zeroing the firearm with both iron and optical sights. (Irons first).

Here’s the next chapter of his video, where he talks about longer range zeroes. The 25/250 meter battlesight zero is falling into eclipse among gunfighters, and 200 and even 300 m zeroes are becoming more common. Haley’s preference is (given his background, not surprising) a 36m battlesight zero confirmed at 300, as is preferred in the USMC. The 25/250 and 36/300 zeroes depend on the fact that the bullet at the shorter distance is passing through the line of sight, rising relative  to the LOS, and at the longer distance passing through the LOS, descending relative to it.

Here’s the Army issue “8 Steady Hold Factors” from the M16A1 era, circa 1970. Our comments in Italic type.

  1. LEFT ARM AND HAND: Rest rifle in “V” formed by thumb and fore- finger. Relax grip, left elbow directly under the rifle. Nowadays, we can shoot lefthanded, so today we talk about “weak” and “strong” hand, not left and right. Travis shows a more modern method of using the weak hand with the thumb over. Also, nowadays, your weak hand pulls the rifle back into the shoulder pocket to avoid putting wayward stresses on your trigger finger.
  2. BUTT OF STOCK IN POCKET OF SHOULDER: Place the butt of stock firmly into the pocket of the shoulder.
  3. GRIP OF THE RIGHT HAND:. Grip weapon firmly but not rigidly. Exert a firm rearward pressure to keep butt of stock in proper position. Clenching the strong hand hard is not necessary, because the weak hand now provides the rearward pressure.
  4. RIGHT ELBOW: The exact position of the right elbow varies from position to position. The right elbow is important to the maintenance of a good pocket for butt of stock.
  5. STOCK WELD: To obtain stock weld, lower head so that cheek contacts the same place on the stock each time you fire. If you have to “lower” your head to get a good cheek weld, your sight is mounted too low; the more common problem with AR platform rifles is that the sight is too high and it’s hard to get a consistent cheek weld. Hence all the aftermarket stocks and cheekpieces, etc. But the Steady Hold Factor’s point is solid: your connection of face to rifle stock needs to be solid, and most of all consistent: same cheek weld, exactly, every time.
  6. BREATHING: Take a normal breath, let part of it out, then hold remainder by locking throat. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HOLD BREATH FOR MORE THAN TEN SECONDS. It seems to help beginners to tell them, take a breath and let it half way out. 
  7. RELAXATION: Learn to relax as much as possible in any firing position. If a firer finds that he cannot relax, the whole position should be adjusted. “Relax” isn’t really the way we’d put it. You want to be loose and not tense, but not sloppy or slow. Too much tension does make your body (and rifle) shake. A sure sign of a novice is a tightly clenched jaw or grinding teeth!
  8. TRIGGER CONTROL: Press the trigger straight to the rear with a uniform motion so that the sights are not disarranged. The trigger finger should be placed on the trigger so that there is no contact between the finger and the side of the pistol grip. Smoothness on the trigger press is devoutly to be wished. Ideally, you want to tighten the trigger when the sights are on target, stop pressing and hold if they move, and tighten again. If the firing of the weapon surprises you, that’s okay, and a lot better than a jerked trigger.

Some points on zeroes:

  1. You absolutely must be able to fire the rifle consistently to zero it. Lots of trouble is caused by “social promotion” of guys that haven’t zeroed from the zero range to the rifle qualification range. Resist that promotion; master the tight group first, and the rest all falls into line.
  2. The Army love to have you take your previous zero off and start with a “mechanical zero.” This is stupid; don’t do it. Mechanical zero, which centers the sights, is like boresighting an optic; you use it when your old zero is lost or the specific serial number gun is new to you.
  3. If you confirm a zero, you’re done zeroing.
  4. The Army zeroes with a three round group. This is… you guessed it… stupid. Five rounds, please.
  5. Most Army units have “that guy” who can’t zero, or several of ’em, and often the problem is “those guys” who are coaching “that guy” can’t teach, can’t coach, and usually can’t shoot either.
  6. Shooting is not rocket surgery. Get good instruction and follow it and you will get better. Most people who suck at shooting assume they know it all. In the Army, it’s a truism that women learn to shoot better in basic than men do. Why? Our guess is that they don’t come all bound up with a male ego that already “knows it all” with respect to shooting.
  7. We have learned something from every instructor who’s ever taught us.

 

Marines Experiment with M27 IAR, Suppressor

The US Marine Corps has established one battalion (3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Mar Div) as an experimental, testbed unit, and that unit is looking at some possible new small arms approaches. The first of these is a more general issue of the M27, currently used as the Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) with one per Marine infantry fire team.

m27_hk_defense

The concept under test would replace all the M4s in the rifle squad with the M27, which is a version of the HK 416 with a couple of USMC-requested mods, like a bayonet lug. Military.com reports:

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, the gunner, or infantry weapons officer, for 2nd Marine Division, told Military.com the M27 costs about $3,000 apiece, without the sight. Because the Marine Corps is still grappling with budget cutbacks, he said he was skeptical that the service could find enough in the budget to equip all battalions with the weapons. He said a smaller rollout might be more feasible.

“To give everyone in a Marine rifle squad [the IAR], that might be worth it,” he said.

usmc_m27_iar

[Commander of 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Daniel] O’Donohue said feedback would be collected on an ongoing basis from the Marines in 3/5 as they continued workup exercises and deployed next year. Decisions on whether to field a new service weapon or reorganize the rifle squad would be made by the commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, when he felt he had collected enough information, ODonohue said.

If the Marine Corps can sort out the logistics of fielding, Wade said he would welcome the change.

“It is the best infantry rifle in the world, hands down,” Wade said of the IAR. “Better than anything Russia has, its better than anything we have, its better than anything China has. Its world-class.”

If there’s an obstacle, it’s cost-effectiveness. The best is the enemy of the good, and the M4 delivers a good 95% of what the M27 can offer. But the Marines seem certain that they can exploit the incremental improvement in accuracy that comes with the free-floated barrel and

There’s much more to it than that, so do Read The Whole Thing™.

Meanwhile, another test unit (B/1/2nd Marines) is going to go 100% suppressed, from carbines to heavy MGs, to see how that works. Also Military.com:

“What we’ve found so far is it revolutionizes the way we fight,” [commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, Maj. Gen. John] Love told Military.com. “It used to be a squad would be dispersed out over maybe 100 yards, so the squad leader couldn’t really communicate with the members at the far end because of all the noise of the weapons. Now they can actually just communicate, and be able to command and control and effectively direct those fires.”

A Marine from B/1/2 Marines fires an M4 with a Knight's Armament Company suppressor attached.

A Marine from B/1/2 Marines fires an M4 with a Knight’s Armament Company suppressor attached.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, the division’s gunner, or infantry weapons officer, said the Lima companies in two other battalions — 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, and 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines — now had silencers, or suppressors, on all their rifles, including the M27 infantry automatic rifles. All units are set to deploy in coming months. The combat engineer platoons that are attached to these units and will deploy with them will also carry suppressed weapons, he said.

The Marines are discovering, as SOF (including Marine SOF) discovered some time ago, that the benefits from going quiet are not just the obvious ones.

“It increases their ability to command and control, to coordinate with each other,” Wade told Military.com. “They shoot better, because they can focus more, and they get more discipline with their fire.”

The noise of gunfire can create an artificial stimulus that gives the illusion of effectiveness, he said. When it’s taken away, he explained, Marines pay more attention to their shooting and its effect on target.

“They’ve got to get up and look, see what effect they’re having on the enemy because you can’t hear it,” he said.

He added that suppressors were already in common use by near-peer militaries, including those of Russia and China.

Wade said he is working on putting suppressors on the Marines’ M249 light machine gun and M240G medium machine gun, using equipment from Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. The third and final objective will be the suppression of the .50 caliber heavy machine gun, he said.

The Marines are showing, in this as in the IAR experiment, a real commitment to experiment-driven (and therefore, data-driven) procurement decisions, which is an interesting contrast to the other services’ way of doing things. Rather than hire a Federally Funded Research and Development Center like the Rand Corporation or Institute for Defense Analyses to write a jeezly white paper, they put the stuff in the hands of real mud Marines and see what use they make of it.

And then they write the report.

As the units conduct training and exercises with suppressors, 2nd Marine Division is collaborating with the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab to collect and aggregate data. Weapons with suppressors require additional maintenance and cleaning to prevent fouling, and the cost, nearly $700,000 to outfit an infantry battalion, might give planners pause.

But Wade said he will continue to gather data for the next year-and-a-half, following the units as they deploy. And he expects the idea to have gained significant traction among Marine Corps leadership by then, he said.

“When I show how much overmatch we gain … it will have sold itself,” he said.

$700,000 sounds like a lot of money, until you put it on the scale against the cost of losing one lousy fight.

“Confiscate This!”

papers-please-2What is it like to live in a nation that grants citizens no rights, only such privileges as it feels like, until such time as it feels like revoking them? Kind of like being a German. The time comes when the authorities decide you’re not a Good German any more, and they come to confiscate your guns.

One guy said, “No,” kinetically; paradoxically, he’s probably in better shape in the German courts after having opened up on the cops. Because now, you see, he’s a violent criminal, something German officialdom has immer und überall privileged over political criminals.

BERLIN — An anti-government extremist opened fire on police in southern Germany during a raid Wednesday in which they had planned to confiscate his weapons, and four officers were wounded, authorities said.

So why were they confiscating his weapons? Not, apparently, because he was a nutball per se; but because he was “politically unreliable.”

The 49-year-old German man, named Wolfgang P., had legally possessed more than 30 weapons for hunting, but local authorities had revoked his license because he appeared increasingly unreliable, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said.

Now you see the benefits of a registration and “background check” regime — if you’re Joachim Herrmann Göring. (Sorry, we always run those two German police officials together). Turns out, it was the second attempted confiscation. The first time he just said no.

He had previously refused to allow officials access to check his arsenal and take away the firearms.

This time, ol’ Wolfgang was still saying no, and Joachim Herrmann Göring was not taking no for an answer.

The suspect opened fire on police as they entered the house in the Bavarian town of Georgensgmuend early Wednesday morning, Herrmann said. Two officers suffered gunshot wounds — one was in life-threatening condition and the other was shot in the arm. The other two were hit by flying glass.

The shooter was overwhelmed by other officers and arrested. He was lightly injured. According to Johann Rast, the chief of Central Franconia Police, the extremist was shot when he was hiding behind a closed door.

Now, here’s where the nutballery comes in:

Authorities said the man, who calls himself a ‘Reichsbürger,’ was a supporter of the Reich Citizens’ Movement, an extremist group that refuses to acknowledge the authority of the post-war Federal Republic of Germany. The group has been compared to the U.S. sovereign citizen movement.

via Germany police raid on ‘Reichsbürger’ extremist goes awry when he opens fire, wounding four officers.

You probably don’t think you’re like that guy. You, work, take care of your family, pay your taxes and vote for members of a regular political party that’s been around for centuries. You don’t experience paranoid fixations or suicidal ideations. You can’t imagine shooting anybody, let alone cops.

It doesn’t matter. If you own guns, training materials being used now by the FBI, DOJ and DHS and all their alphabet soup of agencies define you as that guy. And a number of them itch to confiscate your guns. Those ones are destined for promotion. A number of them are opposed to confiscation, but they keep it to themselves. The greatest majority aren’t comfortable with it, but will do whatever they’re told. That is a characteristic of policemen worldwide and throughout time — they follow orders.

Unlike the Germans with Wolfgang P., they won’t make any effort to take you alive. Once you’re dead, they can tell your story, and use it as a wedge to line up their next target. And they do this because they can do it, because there is no price attached.

Food for thought:

Shooting the just-following-orders Untersturmführer when he comes to your door is too little, too late. You accomplish nothing by reminding policemen that taking doors is dangerous. They were certainly thinking about that even as they swung the ram.

You do not stop bleeding by applying pressure distal to the wound. You find a suitable pressure point. In the case of Germany, the Rights of Man were lost in the culture, more than a century ago, long before they could have been lost to the successive “good intentions” of the Bismarckian, Weimar, National Socialist, and Federal states. The rare German who insists on his rights is likely to be, and certain to be labeled, a dangerous crank.

We leave the identification and wargaming of pressure application as an exercise for the reader.

Update:

The seriously wounded policeman has died. (German-language link). But it’s still a win for Joachim Herrmann Göring, because they did confiscate the guns. They don’t care how many Untersturmführers get capped in the process.

Armed Self Defense Gone Bad

law_of_self_defense_branca_standard_editionWhen we hear of Armed Self Defense Gone Bad, we think of those incidents Andrew Branca tries to educate people out of having — incidents wherein a would-be defender loses the mantle of lawful self-defense, and survives the gunfight only to end up on the muzzle end of the criminal justice system. But there are worse outcomes than that.

José Rodriguez was a good guy with a gun. He perished coming to a neighbor’s aid.

His neighbors across the street were subjected to a brutal home invasion by a gang of young black career criminals. (The robbery victims were black too). The cons had gotten the idea that the home was a drug house, and they burst in, armed with short and long guns, screaming at a young woman they found inside. “Get in the $@#^&ing closet! Shut the &%#&$ up!” As it turned out, the criminals were wrong about the house being a drug house (criminals wrong, imagine that!), there were neither drugs nor money within, and the cursing criminals had to settle for stealing the TVs and PlayStations.

José stepped out of his own home, with his .45, and commanded the home invaders to put down their guns. They didn’t. They lit him up instead. He desperately returned fire. “He was way outgunned,” one of the investigating officers determined. They found brass from an AR-15 and a 9mm pistol (when recovered, it seemed to be something like a TEC-9), and shotgun shells (12-gauge buckshot). Rodriguez was hit by all three calibers, at what was essentially point-blank range; he did not hit any of his assailants. He did not survive.

The investigation into José’s murder was featured in Season 10 (2010), Episode 18 of the long-running TV documentary, The First 48. In due course, all five members of the rip crew would receive long sentences for armed robbery or murder. The sheer typicality of the criminals was depressing. You know the type: slack-jawed, dull-eyed, greedy and idle; seemingly missing some of the forebrain functions and empathetic emotions common to the general run of human beings. Even though most of them were quite young, they all had criminal records. Not an Eagle Scout among ’em. Of course.

The three murder weapons were all recovered. The shooters bailed out of the getaway truck; two guns were left behind, and the AR-15 was found under a nearby house — alongside its erstwhile operator. Other perps’ prints were on the stolen goods in the truck bed. The truck was owned by and registered to one of them. They were rounded up, routinely; one was plucked off a jetliner as he tried to skip town, without as much as a change of socks. Each of the three shooters tried to claim that he personally was not one of the shooters, but gave up the other two. The major elements of the crime were solved in hours, and all five perps remain behind bars at this writing.

None of the cops had a word of criticism of José Rodriguez, who so looked out for his neighbors that they called him, affectionately, the “Neighborhood Sheriff”. He did not, after all, kill himself; he was murdered by these thugs, his life cut short at 49. It is a hard thing to criticize a dead man, but that’s not what we’re trying to do here. Instead, we’re trying to learn from his example.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Cover Counts. When you engage an armed enemy, or approach a possibly-armed enemy, protect yourself. Had José called them out from the minimal protection of his door frame, instead of advanced towards them across his front lawn, he might have lived. 
  2. You are not the cavalry. If your and your family’s lives are not in imminent danger, call the cavalry. They have the tools, the tactics, and above all, the experience to take armed criminals into custody safely. (Indeed, the Sheriff’s Office and other LE would bag the whole crew, one at a time, without another shot fired).
  3. Criminals are more gunned-up than ever, and all guns are lethal (it was the 9mm and buckshot rounds that killed José. His 5.56mm wounds were survivable). Understand the balance of forces before engaging.
  4. Don’t buy someone else’s fight. Maybe you have to, if someone’s being murdered. Absent that, not your circus, not your monkeys.
  5. Proportion in all thingsNot only did five worthless skells lose large chunks of their worthless lives for a couple of $200 TVs and consoles that they didn’t even get away with, José, who unlike the criminals was a productive member of society, got himself killed over those same stupid TVs.
  6. Don’t engage multiple assailants unless you can fire first. (And you can only fire first if the conditions for the lawful use of force are fulfilled). Get in the best ambush position in case you have to defend yourself, but observe and be prepared to be a witness.
  7. Don’t overestimate your shooting skill. Everybody’s shooting gets worse on the two-way range. The range of this engagement was 2-10 meters, and none of José’s shots connected with the bad guys. This is more common than you might think.
  8. Don’t be a hero. Heroes are dead. Like brave, doomed José Rodriguez.

One of the major problems involved in engaging with criminals is that your life matters to you, and their lives don’t — not even to them. If you kill one, you can expect to be the chew toy of the media, the press, and any prosecutor looking to level up in politics (damn near every prosecutor). Consider the case of George Zimmerman, who was absolutely justified in his shooting of an inexperienced but developing career violent criminal, but whose reputation is forever tainted by a political prosecution and a corrupt media. What would have happened to Rodriguez if his shots had connected and he had killed two or three black “children”?

Once you fire that first shot your life will never be the same. Even if you live. There will never be a greater need for you to be sure of what you are doing.

Join a Minority (Pistol) Group

join-a-minority-groupOK, so “It’s Over. And Glock Won,” as we posted a while back. But as we never really warmed up to the G17, we went back to a CZ.

Like we did when we filled out the first of many sheaves of volunteer paperwork, we Joined a Minority Group.

When you join a minority group, you can find yourself, well, not fitting in. You’re different. People look at you funny. You might be feared, shunned, even hated. You tend to band together with people like yourself.

There’s probably something about it in the Bible, or maybe the Book of Mormon (in the Book of John Moses?), that says that the bearers of the 1911 shall cleave to one another, and not suffer the bearers of the unclean European wondernine to pass among them; and the Pharisees of the K-Frame and Python listened not to the gospel of the autopistol, but gathered among themselves and called for the stoning of the autopistoleros, especially those whose frames were cast of polymer, which is unclean.

Well, there’s a certain sense to that. With your only six rounds gone, aren’t fist-sized stones the handiest Plan B?

The cultural Siberia to which the odd-brand pistol-packer exiles himself is not the whole problem, or even the largest part. More practically, changing pistols is a royal pain in the part where Glock operators occasionally puncture themselves. If the pistol were the be-all and end-all of your self-defense, that’d be one thing, but think of all the other parts of the self-defense handgun ecosystem:

  1. ammunition;
  2. spare magazines;
  3. sights (factory sights peak at “fair,” and some are horrible. And they are usually day-only. Take a look at what side of the clock defensive gun units happen on);
  4. holsters, and magazine carriers.

beretta_m9_kyle_defoorThen, there’s training. Some trainers will expect you to run what you brung and will work to make you better with it (here’s Kyle Defoor discussing training a Beretta-using entity). Other trainers will use a training class as a platform to disparage your selection (or worse, your agency’s or service’s selection, as if you, a gravel-agitating bullet-launch technician, could influence it), and promote their own 99% solution.

(But we do agree with Defoor’s aside — if you’re going to carry the Beretta, or any safety-equipped DA/SA auto, carry it hammer down on a loaded chamber, safety off. We also agree that even better than the 92F/M9 is the decocker-only 92G).

Fortunately, most trainers can teach you something that will make your shooting better. If you’re already really good, there are specific trainers that specialize in wringing the last 4% of potential out of any given platform. (So maybe it’s necessary to change trainer when you change gat).

It’s wonderful that those guys can make a living, but the fact is, you probably don’t need that kind of specific training. You might still seek those trainers out — because they’re probably pretty darn good, overall. (If you’re going to do heavy maintenance on your pistol, of course, you’re well advised to attend the factory or importer armorer course, if you can. But operation, many experienced trainers can help you with).

Some of those things often aren’t that big a change. If your old and new guns are in the same caliber, and the new gun will feed your old ammo, there’s one change you don’t have to make or consider. Your mag carriers often will take any other mag in the same caliber. And sights? You’ll be at the mercy of the aftermarket, and your pistol’s standard or not-so-much sight dovetails.

With all that out of the way, the real thing that’s a problem is a holster. These don’t interchange among pistols, much. (Unless they’re crappy holsters that “fit” many pistols because they don’t actually fit anything). So we went to the holster maker that skinned our Glock, Raven Concealment, only to find out our CZ was not on their supported list.

D’oh.

The P-01 didn’t really fit in the concealment holsters we had for the old CZ-75 Pre-B. It has a squared off “chin” with a light rail, and a larger trigger guard.

We heard that Black Storm Defense in Tennessee made a decent holster, so we went on line and ordered one each of their Signature and Pancake holsters for the P-01.

And waited.

And waited.

D’oh. This is what happens when you join a minority group, kids. We could get forty-eleven holsters for a Glock 17 within twenty miles of Hog Manor, nearly as many for a SIG, and even a few for an M9. CZ-75 P-01? Not so much.

Welcome to the minority group. But then, in the process of rounding up some stray tax paperwork in the pile of untended paper on the breakfast table, we discovered (along with a pile of unread magazines, a $355 rebate check from our health insurer, apparently for not having another myocardial infarction in the last twelve moths, and a box of hollow points) a holster we’d bought on a whim on eBay of all places, for the old CZ, months or maybe years ago.

And never taken out of the bag, because were were rockin’ the Glock when it came.

cz-75p-01-3

It was a very inexpensive, an “Anatolia” brand from the Turkish company Anatolia Hunting & Nature Sports, Leather Products Company, which is quite a mouthful in English, and must be a remarkable jawbreaker in its native Turkish. The holster seems well-made, it’s made of solid leather and appears to be hand-stitched. Will it hold up?

And… will the P-01 fit? It just might, because the holster’s a simple slide-in job, with a free muzzle. It might not care about the P-01’s prognathous jaw, and it looks like it’s shaped to take a protruding or squared-off trigger guard, and not just the rounded one of the Pre-B.

And it did fit.

cz-75p-01-4

And with delight, we started carrying the P-01, finally.

The next day, we got an email from Black Storm that our holsters had shipped. The wait wasn’t even that bad (three weeks from order to ship) but we’d gotten impatient. Now the Black Storms will have to play King of the Hill with this $15 Turkish special — which starts out at the top of the hill.

That, too, is life in a pistol minority group. The delights, as well as the sickeners, come in clusters.

When You Don’t Bubba a Mosin…

…You can actually hit stuff with it… if it’s a right one.

Bog standard 91/30. Good iron sights, approved by ordnance officers of late Tsar and Lenin and Stalin (who were, not to put too fine a point on it, the same ordnance officers). Field rest. The original poster of the video writes (we have only added paragraph breaks):

The M91/30 Mosin Nagant with 7N1 ammo is a formidable long range rifle system. In this video (made available to you by popular demand) Rex Reviews demonstrates just how effective an unmodified military rifle can be in experienced hands.

This rifle is in 100% original military configuration and had NOT been equipped with any optical sights, yet it slams steel at 944 yards as easy as anything else on the shelf.

Many assume these rifle like this (purchased for under $100) must need modification to shoot well… but what many fail to realize is that these rifles were not designed by sporting companies for recreational activities, they were designed by teams of engineers with massive government resources for life-and-death purposes.

These rifles were designed to be harmonically balanced and were inspected to meet serious military manufacturing and design specifications. In a nutshell, they are ready to roll off of the shelf! Ask Simo Häyhä (the White Death) if I’m telling the truth…

It rings the bell at more meters than you’d give it credit for (and more meters that lots of people can see a man-sized target without optical aids). Lots and lots of meters. (944 yd. is 893 meters).

Why did Russia and its Soviet successor empire stick with this 19th-Century bangstick for so very long? Because it was good, in all that word means in reference to a military arm: it was simple, dependable, low-maintenance, hard-hitting, and more accurate than any but a tiny percentage of the men who carried it.

Nothing that Bubba can do to a Mosin (except, we’ll grant, scope it, where the common Soviet solution was sub-optimal) will do anything much to improve the work of those long-dead Russian designers, engineers, and craftsmen.

Fun Facts about Boston SWAT and the “gun trucks.”

Mostly from Boston and area cops. Mostly second-hand. But this is some good context for this morning’s post on the cop shooting in East Boston.

You Gotta Ride

boston-police-motorcycle-patrolIf you get off active duty as a Seal Team Subzero assault team leader and join the Boston PD, you’re probably not going to be on Special Operations (the local flavor of SWAT). That’s not just because there’s an in-crowd that you’re probably not “in,” but also because it’s a love child of the motorcycle platoon. The official party line about the outfit glosses over that …

The Boston Police Special Operations Unit is a specialized unit within the Boston Police Department responsible for combined duties involving Highway Patrol and traffic enforcement, crowd control, and special weapons and tactics (SWAT) services within the city.

 One unique feature of the unit is that the Special Operations Unit primarily relies on the use of Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors and Harley-Davidsons in their daily patrols. The use of motorcycles allows the unit to perform routine traffic enforcement; accompany parades, crowds, and visiting dignitaries; and to quickly travel to situations wherein the unit’s SWAT skills are requested. Specialized trucks and support vehicles are also used to transport equipment and officers when needed.

 The Canine unit with twenty seven patrol/narcotics, and EOD dogs, and Bomb (EOD) squad are also under the Special Operations Division.

… but the deal is, you gotta ride if you want to kick doors with the nation’s oldest police department. You gotta check out in the motorcycle platoon, first.

And yes, you have a ticket… please don’t call it a quota… we believe the current term is objective.

It’s All on the Buddy System

Getting into a military special operations element usually requires some kind of selection, qualification or standards-setting rite of passage. Getting into Boston PD Motorcycle and Special Operations? If the unit’s managers think you’re a good guy, you’re in. It helps if you have other coppers in the family, or course. (Well, that’s everywhere. You’ll never stamp it out, and you might not want to, because for every nephew-they-wish-wasn’t, there’s usually three good cops in a cop family).

This has been a shock to some guys who come from military special operations, or from other departments that have high standards for their entry squads, like LAPD’s SWAT or NYPD’s ESD.

There is NO Physical Requirement or PT test

This guy isn't a Boston cop, but you could say he fits the profile.

This guy isn’t a Boston cop, but you could say he fits the profile.

Not for the PD, nor for Special Operations. The unions have fought any attempt to impose such a requirement so long and so vigorously that nobody even brings it up any more.

On the plus side, if you want to get in shape, nobody in the department leadership is going to stop you. More donuts for them!

It’s far from the only police department in this position. One of Boston’s many colleges has a large and generally switched-on police department, where they’re actually taking measures that may be effective should, God forbid, they face an active shooter some day. That department has a physical fitness test. It’s optional. If you opt to take it, and pass — it’s not a high standard — you receive a $2,000 cash bonus. If you fail? You get $150, to apply to a gym membership. An interesting way of motivating cops, to be sure. And more than BPD does.

The Whole City PD has 8 Carbines. Total.

What's in their gun rack? Less than you'd expect.

What’s in their gun rack? Less than you’d expect.

Remember the “gun trucks?” If you built a gun truck, it would probably have rifle racks in it, an ammo locker, and maybe some trained officers, and you’d have them prepositioned for quick access to likely trouble spots.

 

The Boston Police Department runs two “gun trucks,” with two trained officers in each, per shift. And they just drive around, unless dispatched. And the guns? They have shotguns. And carbines — two each. And their sidearms. And that’s it.

The four carbines in the two gun trucks on the street are it for a city of about three quarters of a million (when the city’s many colleges are in session. The population drops in the summertime).

Four guns, four officers. That’s cosi fan tutte in a city where even the local FBI got turned by organized crime, the Irish Republican Army and its spinoff terrorists find their entire basis of logistical support, bank-armored-truck crews are practically the fifth pro sports team after the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox, and the Islamic Center of Boston is still preaching the gospel that energized the Tsarnaev brothers. Four guns.

Unless a truck is down for maintenance, or an officer is sick. Then you have one truck, and two guns. Thank both Gods that the IRA and the Islamic Center don’t coordinate much.

Bear in Mind

While Boston Police Department’s Special Operations may not be on the cutting edge of organizational effectiveness, and may not be armed and equipped like other major police departments are, bear in mind what happened when two fellow cops were down:

They hooked up and went in to the gunfire, beat the bad guy, and saved their own guys’ lives.

This all seems to have been spontaneous action from guys from the level of sergeant on down. Imagine what they could do with some better gear — and leadership.