Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

Guns are Not for Everybody

And we’re not talking, here, about legal strictures. (You could make a colorable case that some of the legal prohibitions sweep too widely, actually). We’re talking about people who, as individuals and not as members of some prohibited category or class, might be safer without a gun.

We realize this is arrant heresy, and fully expect to be burned at the stake forthwith, but if we could ask you to forbear for just a moment, and listen to two case studies.

Case Study 1: Neuro-Atypical Boy

So, he’s a basically good kid, and everybody loves him, but he’s a little… off. He has a high raw IQ but has some of the markers of autism spectrum disorders: very degraded motor skills. Relative absence of empathy. Complete absence of any, there is probably a better word for this, ability to sustain focus on anything or to maintain alertness.

It was once thought that at an appropriate age he’d be introduced to firearms for sport and defense. Question: what’s the right age? The answer in his case, there probably never will be one.

Case Study 2: Scatterbrained Woman

A woman of our acquaintance recently had a fairly terrifying experience — especially considering that she lives in one of the safest towns in the country, where people talking about a murder are  talking about one decades ago, that’s still town gossip. But as she worked in a church, squaring things away late at night, she became aware that she was not alone.

She encountered a woman who should not have been there, and told her to leave immediately. The woman looked at her calmly and walked deeper into the church, into a dark function room. Our heroine executed a sharp exit, stage left and from the safety of the parking lot dialed 911.

The police arrived and cleared the building systematically. A male intruder — not the woman — was found hiding in the choir loft and detained.

The female intruder was not caught, but her identity was later determined. Both of them turn out to be residents of a notorious halfway house/homeless shelter/ drug distribution center in Big City; their objective appears to have been larceny. The priest declined to prosecute the captured male, and without his commitment to prosecution, the cops released him — but this makes the dynamic duo the leading suspects in a string of church burglaries in the neighboring communities. The MO is to enter the church in the evening when it’s open for a meeting, Christian Doctrine or Bible Study lessons, Alcoholics Anonymous, any of the civic groups that meet at church. Then they wait until the group leaves, steal any collection boxes and whatever can be quickly converted to drug money, and let themselves out.

Of course, the churches, all of which support Doper Grand Central Shelter, post their event calendars on the bulletin boards there.

So how do we get to guns? After this incident, she was visiting a couple that she’s friends with, and the guy (a school psychologist) suggested that she get a small pistol for self-defense. She gave it due consideration, and by the time she mentioned it to us, had already rejected the idea. She knows her own limitations: she’s a bit scatterbrained, always forgetting keys, checkbook, sunglasses, you name it. She didn’t think she could shoot anybody, but more than that, she didn’t think she could hang on to the gun.

It was a remarkably frank self-assessment. We concurred, actually.


Our conclusions were that the boy in Case Study 1 should not be brought to the range or indoctrinated into firearms, at any age; and that the women in Case Study 2 should be supported in her decision not to arm herself.

What were your conclusions? Are we right, or wrong?

Because we think that many people would be safer with a gun, but not everybody, and everybody should be considered as an individual.

What Spare Parts do I Need?

In the comments to the recent cleaning post, Sabrina Chase asked what parts to keep on hand for her 1911. Anybody who’s shot 1911 a lot (or maintained ’em) knows the answer: if it’s a GI gun, your potential mission stoppers are springs (especially the recoil spring), extractor, and firing pin. If it’s a custom or accurized gun it would be really nice to keep a spare fitted barrel bushing.


A budget 1911 may have issues with staking of the safety detent plunger tube, or with the slide stop. (If the tube is staked right, it will still be staked when your grandkids’ grandkids inherit the .45).

One reason some people keep slide stops, recoil spring plungers, and barrel bushings as well as a spring kit is: they fear they will have to break down the pistol in the field, in the dark, or on the move. (It’s never a good idea to do that, if you can avoid it). You notice that all those parts are the smallest parts the come loose when your 1911 has been shaken down into field-stripped condition. The old Ranger trick is to put your hat on the ground in front of you, then put each part in your Ranger cap as you take it off the sidearm. This way, you can assemble and disassemble in pitch darkness while maintaining control of all the fiddly bits.

Finally, a pair or two of grip screws belong in your spares kit. They don’t cost much or cube out much of your space, and they have a bad habit of backing out just when you want to impress people with your pistol, your skill, and your sang-froid. 

And that got us thinking. While there is no substitute for learning what a given gun’s Achilles’s Heel is, and the proliferation of brand- and model-specific forums makes us wonder:

Is there a basic, fundamental checklist of needed spare parts that can be applied to anything?

If you look across all firearms types, what are the parts you mght need most?

  1. Firing pins. Crucial to ignition, and by definition they have to have at least one small, cylindrical section.
  2. Springs
  3. Any small parts that come out in normal disassembly. It is very embarrassing to lose such a small part. It is less embarrassing if you have a spare on hand. (Be aware that on some firearms, hand fitting is required for these parts. Apparently Eli Whitney is not followed quite as assiduously as he should be in the global arms industry).

During disassembly, you can minimize parts loss and time wasted recovering them by adaping your environment to firearms disassembly:

  1. Use a nice, fluffy towel as a disassembly mat, not a slick, smooth table. A small part in motion tends to remain in motion, if there’s nothing to arrest its movement.
  2. Do not disassemble firearms in a room with lots of low-slung furniture, stacks of equipment, toolboxes, etc.
  3. Keep a magnetic parts wand on hand. You can get it at any tool supply place: Harbor Freight,  Lowe’s or Home Depot, Menards for you Canuckistanis. This is a tool where a cheap one is about 95% as good as the best one there is, so it’s OK to skimp here. The mag wand — some of them have a trick LED light, which means it’s a handy place to keep a dead AAA or watch battery — fishes those parts out from under the refrigerator/dog bed/workbench.

For TEOTWAWKI, ability to fix bigger things, and remanufacture ammunition, is desirable. One complicated and scary thing that gets easy once you’ve done it a few times is manufacturing springs. It’s part of every gunsmith’s education. (And let this be a lesson to you: having learned how, most smiths buy the springs they need as they go, or lay in a supply if they have repetitive work, for instance, if they do primarily 1911s). You can make any coil spring with the right wire, a suitable diameter mandrel (in this case, a simple rod usually works) and the right size lathe, and in a pinch you can improvise the lathe with another tool. There are plenty of instructions online and YouTube videos… to be watched before TEOTWAWKI, naturally.

Don’t Bring a Gun to a Dogfight

043016- Frankie, a five-year-old Belgian Malinois police dog, helped apprehend a man wanted in Springfield for a hit-and-run. (State police photo) ---------- Forwarded message ----------

043016- Frankie, a five-year-old Belgian Malinois police dog, helped apprehend a man wanted in Springfield for a hit-and-run. (State police photo)
———- Forwarded message ———-

Final score: Frankie 1, Mohammed 0. Mohammed, a career violent criminal and illegal alien who has not been deported because of the Administration’s executive-ordered amnesty for criminal aliens, drew down on Mass State Trooper David Stucenski and Stucenski’s K9, Frankie. Mohammed got one shot off, and before Stucenski could punch Mo’s ticket, Frankie was on him like, well, like a high-energy Belgian Malinois on a felon.

Ever wonder why Mohammedans believe that dogs are unclean?

Mohammed Fofanah Jr., 35, of Hartford, who police say is in the country illegally and has been previously charged with a felony in Connecticut, was wanted for hitting three cars on Interstate 91 south about 12:15 a.m. yesterday when he allegedly fired a single shot from his .357 Magnum at trooper David Stucenski and his canine partner, Frankie, after ditching his damaged vehicle and refusing to surrender.

Neither Stucenski nor the dog was hit, police say.

via Man held for firing at trooper, K-9 | Boston Herald.

Well, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Do we know anything else about Mo? Turns out, we do.

Fofanah — who was wearing an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet at the time of his arrest — is from Sierra Leone and had been charged with a previous felony in Connecticut, Procopio said. He may now be subject to deportation. Upon his 
release from the hospital, Fofanah was transported to sheriff’s lockup and held without bail, Procopio said.

Wait, what? Hospital? Why was he in hospital? Please, tell us that Frankie had his way with ‘im!

After being subdued by Frankie, who jarred the weapon from his hand, Fofanah was placed under arrest and rushed by ambulance to nearby Baystate Medical Center to receive treatment for bite wounds, state police said.

Really, there’s only one possible response to that: GOOD DOG.

Gun Maintenance by Sound Principles

Remember what we’ve said about maintenance before: a gun is a machine, and maintenance is like maintenance of any other machine. Every firearm contains several classes of parts. Some of these parts may be so over-engineered they’ll never fail; other, parts that the manufacturer expects that you will replace (like the battery in your car, or springs in your gun, or wipes in an old-style suppressor); and still other parts can be expected to wear out depending on how hard you use them — parts that will fail due to wear or fatigue if not replaced pre-emptively.

Failure from overstress is another thing entirely. You can blow up any gun with Uncle Bubba’s Dynamite Hot Loads, even a perfectly produced firearm straight out of the box for the first time with the dealer’s hang tag still dangling from the trigger guard.

The parts you need to prepare to replace are the ones subject to physical wear and to fatigue failure. And there are several ways to do it. You can replace parts that are subject to wear and fatigue failure:

  1. When they actually fail. A lot of people do this, and if it’s not a machine that you depend on for life, Replace On Failure works just fine.
  2. When an inspection reveals that the parts are showing signs of imminent failure. At the risk of overstating the obvious, this means you have to conduct inspections on some sort of a schedule timely enough to find bad parts before they fail… or your Replace On Condition plan becomes unplanned Replace On Failure.
  3. When a certain interval has passed, which might be a calendar schedule or might be number of operating hours or cycles. This approach is called Replace On Schedule; and whether it’s a good or a bad plan depends on the devilish details of the case.

Modern firearms are much more reliable than their historical forbears. And modern ammunition is, as well, plus it also tends to be noncorrosive.

Another part of maintenance is cleaning. How frequently should you clean your guns? The answer may surprise you. Given modern designs and materials, noncorrosive ammunition, and reliable modern systems,  the real requirement to clean an AR or a Glock is this: when it absolutely needs to be cleaned because the mung buildup has begun to interfere with the firearms’ functions.

Here’s a picture of Kyle Defoor’s glock, as it came up for on-condition maintenance and was immediately scheduled for a cleaning.

DeFoor Funky Glock


The pistol was essentially never cleaned. You’re looking at 7,500 rounds of baked-on range mung, and it was still working, but the slide had started slowing down.

Many people overclean their weapons, wearing the protective finish off and exposing their guns to the risk of corrosion. How come, when Kyle’s pistol shows it’s not necessary (and many others, Mountain Guerrilla comes to mind, have gone even longer between cleanings on rifle platforms). If it’s designed right, manufactured right and assembled right, it’ll keep rocking, or, as in this case, Glocking.

So why do we overclean? History, and culture. Used to be priming compounds like fulminate of mercury or lead picrate, and some chemicals in propulsive powders, were deadly to firearms. Thorough, frequent cleaning was the last line of defense. Now it’s come full circle — cleaning can actually put fine old firearms at more risk than leaving them alone!

Weapons Training, Special Training School 103, SOE

Fairbairn's early techniques were codified in this book.

Fairbairn’s early techniques were codified in this book.

The following is a description of firearms instruction at STS 103, which author David Stafford describes as, “one of a network of SOE training schools, and the only one in the Western Hemisphere.” (Other schools were in North Africa, Haifa and elsewhere around the Med, and in Singapore for the Far East). It shows that even 75 years ago, even before the word “mindset” was coined, this abstraction was valued far above practical skills.

Weapons training for OSS and SOE would evolve, but it was based, and remained based, on the work of William Ewart Fairbairn, a man who studied fighting with singleminded intensity, and who along with E.A. Sykes trained the Shanghai colonial police, at a time when Shanghai was a arguably the global leader in applied interpersonal violence and a Shanghai cop had to be quick with hands, feet, knives, and firearms.

As well as being suitably trained for silent killing and on armed combat, the recruits might also have occasion to use weapons, so Camp X gave them weapons training. Sharing the language of the OK Corral, SOE was interested in gunfighting. Since an agent’s life might very well depend on how well he had been taught, instructors would not let a bad shot out of the camp. They instilled in the student mind the impression that he was actually killing the target and to shoot as though his life depended on it. “As with every sport, provided that the principles taught are sound, practice makes perfect.” The principles so diligently instilled in practiced had as their goal, within the constraints imposed by time and the supply of ammunition, “to turn out good, fast, plain shots”. Whether in the use of machine carbines like the Tommy gun or in action with a pistol, the principle was the same: “tremendous speed in an attack with sufficient accuracy to hit the vital parts of a man’s body, for killing at close quarters demands aggression and extreme concentration.”

There were certain obstacles in producing these good, fast, and plain shots. One was the recruits’ previous experience. Instructors presumed that many of their students had some “revolver training in the old style” and, while being careful not to denigrate such skills has might have already been acquired in skeet shooting, had to impart the innovative “instinctive method” of firing.

The first point was that a pistol was not a weapon of self-defence but of attack – it was a combat weapon. Armed with the weapon under consideration, usually a .22 Hi-Standard or .32 Colt, the instructor conjured up a dramatic encounter while on a mission:

Picture in your mind the circumstances under which you might be using the pistol. Take as an example a raid on an enemy occupied house in darkness. Firstly consider your approach. You will never walk boldly up to the house and stroll in as though you were paying a social call. On the contrary, your approach will be stealthy. You will be keyed up and excited, nervously alert for danger from whichever direction. You will find yourself instinctively crouching; your body balanced on the balls of your feet in a position from which you can move swiftly in any direction. You make your entry into the house and start searching for the enemy, moving along passages, perhaps up or down stairs, listening and feeling for any signs of danger. Suddenly on turning a corner, you come face-to-face with the enemy. Without a second’s hesitation you must fire and kill him before he has a chance to kill you.

This method of course meant that an agent would never fire standing straight up, nor in any of the “fancy stances” common to competition shooting, and never have time to use the sights. Since recruits under such conditions might be worried about the accuracy of their name game, they practiced “instinctive pointing”,”the natural way that any man points at an object when he is concentrating”. Students stoodt directly in front of each other and pointed, at the instructor’s commands, to such targets is the exact centre of each other’s stomach, or left foot or right eye. When doing so, no one actually looked down his finger. Rather, “instinctively”, the arm, with the finger extended, came in to the center of the body. Here the finger, and of course its extension the gun, was in position right down the line of eyesight. Such pointing gave the shooter a natural control over direction and elevation when firing.

Applegate shootingAfter demonstrations and practice in holding the pistol or crouching in the firing position, the recruits were ready for some of the more elaborate target exercises using live ammunition. For example, using the .22, students were to imagine that they were outside a German beer cellar, automatics loaded and drawn. In the old style of attack, in order to position themselves for firing, they would have to rely on a totally silent approach. This, of course, was not only dangerous but impossible. SOE felt their method was much superior: “you have reached the doorway of the cellar by a stealthy approach, making no sound whatever. Very quietly turn the handle of the door as far as it will go, And then, preparing yourself for the effort, you kick the door open and kill your targets before they have a chance to realize what has happened.”

If this all sounds rather like a B-grade movie, reads like a spy novel, or looks like a TV SWAT team in action, it’s because SLE instinctive firing was so successful that after the war this innovation swept through commando schools, boot camps, and police academies alike, replacing forever the older shooting style.

Indeed, Rex Applegate, an American instructor trained by Sykes and Fairbairn, would adapt his training notes and syllabi into a postwar book, Kill or Get Killed, that was extremely influential. (The picture above is of Applegate, and it is from this book, which stayed in print for decades).

The gunfighting style of 1942 does look extremely dated today. SOE (and later, OSS) training emphasized instinctive, point shooting, without reference to even the limited, low-profile sights of a wartime or prewar pistol. Nowadays much better sights are used much faster, and pistols are routinely shot two-handed. At the start of World War II, the Japanese alone trained for two-handed shooting; this picture shows that by 1944 Jedburgh teams were training to shoot two-handed, but even long after the war Applegate continued to train one-handed point shooting.

Jeds point shooting 1944

One suspects that William Ewart Fairbairn — by all accounts something of a drip while off duty, having no interests broader than instruction in impartial and immediate unchristian mayhem, and means of delivering same — would approve.


Stafford, David: Camp X: OSS, “Intrepid,” and the Allies’ North American Training Camp for Secret Agents, 1941-1945. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1987. (pp. 97-99).

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Max Velocity Tactical

max_velocity_tactical_webpageA long time ago a commenter recommended this site, Max Velocity Tactical, as a Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week. And indeed, we’ve read it from time to time, and it seems to be a pretty good and sensible discussion of fitness, tactics, and so forth. It’s primarily a vehicle for tactical training, both by word and by promoting “Max’s” books and, especially, tactical training classes.

The training classes include people with all levels of training and experience, but they tend to look eerily like military training, because that’s what they are, essentially. Here we have shooting on the move, live-fire. (Note the high instructor-student ratio, a must with live fires, especially with people new to the group and each other).

Max Velocity-CTT-July-Square-Range

The word “tactical” is rather haphazardly strewn about, these days, but in the case of Max Velocity, it fits. If you attend a course, read a book, visit the forum or read the posts on the website you may indeed learn something about tactics — something of some practical use.

Here is another picture that, apart from the mismatched uniforms, might have been snapped at Dahlonega or Camp Mackall (actually, we had mismatched uniforms in Ranger Class 1-83, because Army students had to wear OD green fatigues or OD-107 jungle fatigues, and the other services could wear ERDL camo or the then-new BDUs).


Max encourages students to review and critique training, and these reviews are available on site. There’s also a discussion forum of value.

You never know what gems will show up. For a single current example, this recent report from one of the site’s associates deals with one of the most necessary and, especially when starting out, unpleasant fundamental skills: rucksack marching. Here’s the briefest taste:

[S]tart some run/walks with some added weight.  Don’t start with a full load out.  Just like any other progressive training program, start with 15 lbs and maybe 2-3 miles.  Work up to a goal weight of say 35 lbs.  I would take 4 weeks on this.  Then get off the pavement onto the trails.  This will really start to condition your feet and ankles and lots of other stuff.  At this point you would also switch to your trail runners/light hiking boots (duh) and regular hiking clothes.  Another 4 weeks here.  Then you take it up hill.  This will be  real eye-opener.  You thought you were in shape.  Hell you are in decent shape.  But this is a whole ‘nother level.  Hard to believe you can be breathing hard, close to red-lining when you are just walking up a hill.  But you will.  Another hard 4 weeks (this is based on fitness level, see below).

At each stage, drop the weight, and lower the distance again, and work your way back up to goal load and distance targets.  Speed becomes a relative thing now, because you are moving as fast as you can sustain, for whatever the terrain allows.

I can’t think of any other physical activity that is directly applicable to what we may have to be doing in the future. It is a hell of a lot of work, but it is also immensely satisfying. So get out there and get in touch with your inner Mohican.

The author also makes the point that you should be running. That hits hard here, because Your Humble Bloghost can’t run, and doesn’t even walk so great (when they said don’t turn the MC1-1C below 200 feet, they weren’t just whistling Dixie). Here’s his point:

[M]y running base made a huge difference in being able to switch gears and do serious ruck marching. Your feet, ankles, knees, and other body parts take a serious pounding in this activity. What this tells me is every one who is serious about preparing for uncertain times needs to get out and establish a running-based fitness program. Along with calisthenics, this will prepare you body for the rigors of field work.

If you don’t do this, when it’s go-time, the fitness curve is so steep that your body will inevitably break down, leaving you combat ineffective at the moment you need to be at your best. It’s not just about cardio or muscle strength; it’s also about all that connective tissue being conditioned to take the pounding. Feet, ankles, knees, hips, lower back. This goes double for older folks. All that shit is not as supple as it was before so you have to work harder to make sure you stretch it out and strengthen it to take the load.

Now, that’s all from one post, and that by a guest author (but it got us to figure out where the ALICE is… under a bunch of books in the library… and shake it out and take out some of the weight that was in it for an initial shakedown).

Here’s another guest post: a one-post history of the German invasion of Russia, 1941-44, and its consequences for Germany, which along with the crushing of the Japanese Empire constituted the most complete and thorough defeats of nations since the national exterminations of ancient warfare. (Had Stalin, and some Americans such as Baruch had their way, Germany might have gone the rest of the way to the fate of Carthage and Troy).

Many of the real gems that MVT has to deliver you will have to pay for, like the courses and the training plans. This is how he, and his assistant instructors, pay the bills. It is not very expensive for training that can save your life and that of your family (consider this post on the recurring problem of shooting friendlies, and how to avoid it, complete with video of a real puckerful moment where the camera-equipped shooter ceases fire just for an instant because a teammate runs in front of him, oblivious). Even the free parts of the site are very worthwhile, and that would make their dollar value infinite, wouldn’t it?

There are no great mysteries to combat tactics, now “jaw-dropping shortcut” or “One weird trick,” to use the argot of clickbait. There are fundamental principles, which the tactical training programs of every professional armed service in the world follow, and tactics, techniques and procedures, which are variable so long as they preserve the inviolable principles. If your “militia” shoots now and then on a flat range but can’t organize and conduct a patrol, establish a defensive position, or advance by fire and maneuver, it’s not a militia but a mob. (Call it a “nilitia.”) Max and his guys have been working to close this gap, and they deserve recognition and attention.

Names for Malfunctions

“I’ve never had a malfunction on paper.”

George M. Chinn

On this page at the international website all4shooters, we noted the following paragraph from Andrea Giuntini:

American experts invented names and achronyms for all kind of gun-related malfunctions, yet there isn’t one that suits this. That was definitely not an FTF (“Failure to Feed”), as the round were fed and fired properly, nor an FTE (“Failure to Extract) since, as a matter of fact, the case was extracted and ejected; nor it is a stovepipe malfunction − if it was, the case would be stuck vertically in the ejection window.
May you, ALL4SHOOTERS.COM readers and followers, invent a name for this kind of malfunction? Tell us about it, and about any peculiar kind of malfunction you may have experienced in your everyday shooters’ lives!

The article actually looks into a screwy, one-off malf of a Glock 17, in which a fired casing got turned around backwards and jammed the slide from going into battery on the next round:


We couldn’t duplicate the jam with a G17 and dummy rounds in the office, but Andrea traced it to a piece of metal debris under the extractor (his Glock was brand new).

A gun is a machine, and a machine does the same thing every time, given the same input; therefore, a machine never fails for no reason, and the reason is always discoverable, given the right theory, concept, and inspectional technique. Basic troubleshooting, which worked for Andrea Giuntini and should make a good post here some day. But meanwhile, it got us thinking about what are the types of malfunctions?

Most of what an Internet search will find is the same stuff repeated endlessly, which probably comes, ultimately, from Cooper. We leave finding it in Cooper’s voluminous bibliography as an exercise for the reader; his Commentaries are online, for example.

Cooper, in turn, followed Chinn. But an even earlier taxonomy of malfunctions comes from then-Captain Julian Hatcher and his assistants, Lieutenants H.J. Malony and Glenn P. Wilhelm,  at the Machine Gun School of Instruction at Harlingen, Texas in March, 1917.

Jams, Malfunctions, Stoppages

Distinguish carefully between these terms, and use them correctly. Any accidental cessation of fire is a stoppage. It may be due to a misfire, or to the fact that the magazine has been emptied, etc. In this case it is not a malfunction.

A malfunction is an improper action of some part of the gun, resulting in a stoppage. For example, a failure to extract the empty cartridge case.

A jam is some malfunction which causes the mechanism to stick or bind so that it is difficult to move. Do not use the word “Jam” too much. Most troubles with the guns are merely temporary stoppages due to some malfunction, and real jams are comparatively rare.1

An alternative version comes from the Royal Armouries of England and Great Britain. In the 1960s, its standard report format (which we saw in the Vz 58 report) contained this boilerplate key2 to malfunctions:

1. b.f.c. Breech Block fails to close. The round has been fed into the chamber but breech block not fully home.
2. b. f. r. Breech Block fails to remain to the rear. When the trigger is released the breech block fails to engage on the sear.
3. d.t. Double Tap. When the mechanism of the weapon is set to single shot firing two rounds are fired with one pressure of the trigger.
4. f. e. Failure tc Eject. This occurs when the round is correctly fired and fired case is extracted from chamber but not thrown clear of the weapon.
5. f. e. c. Failure to Extract Fired Case. This occurs when the round is fired correctly but the fired case is left in the chamber when the breech block moves to the rear.
6. f. f. Failure to Feed A conplete failure of the breech block to contact the base of the round and remove it from belt or magazine i.e. breech block closes on empty chamber. Position of round in magazine or belt indicated where possible i.e. 19th
7. hf.      Hangfire This occurs when the time interval between the striking of the cap by the firing pin and the firing of the round is apparent to fixer. Definite time lag in milli seconds is however used by Ammunition personnel.
8. l. s. Light Strike This occurs when the cap of the round receives a slight indentation from the firing pin which is insufficient to ignite the cap composition.
9. p. f. f. Partial Failure to Feed or Malfeed. This is a partial failure in that the round has beer taken partially from the magazine or belt by breech block but has not chambered.

Position of round in magazine or belt indicated where possible, i.e. 19th round etc.

10. mf. Misfire. This occurs when the cap of the round has been correctlv struck but fails to ignite the charge and fire the round.
11.  r. g.  (3),(4),(5), etc. Runaway Gun. No. of rounds in brackets. When the mechanism of the weapon is set either at single shot or auto and continues firing after release of trigger,
12. s. c. Separated Case This occurs when a portion of the fired case is left in the chamber, the remainder being extracted normally. The succeeding round will fail fully to enter the chamber and breech block will fail to close.
13. s. n. r. Snubbed Nose Round. This occurs when the nose of the bullet does not enter the chamber correctly but on striking the barrel face is crushed by the foiward movement of breech block. This snubbing may take place at various points on the barrel face or lead in and where possible, is indicated as SN 3 o’clock SN 9 o’clock etc.
14. t. f. c. Trapped Fired Case. This occurs when the fired case is correctly extracted but on ejection the fired case rebounds into the mechanism and is trapped between some portion of the moving parts (usually the breech block) and the body of the weapon.
15 Failures through Breakages These will obviously cause stoppages and will be described in full.

The fact is, malfunctions are conceptualized differently by the engineer, by the armorer or gunsmith, and by the firearms operator. From the operator’s-eye view, you don’t need to get wrapped around the axle trying to name them al. What you really need to know is what sorts of malfunctions a particular weapon is prone to, and how to correct them. And there is no better way than experience to master the art of malfunction correction.


  1. Hatcher, et. al. p. 1.
  2. UK Ministry of Defence, Inspectorate of Armaments, Woolwich, Small Arms Branch Testing Section, RSAF Enfield Lock, Form 7248/1. Retrieved from:


Hatcher, Julian S., Wilhelm, Glenn P. and Malony, Harry J. Menasha, WI: George Banta Publishing Co., 1917.

UK Ministry of Defence, Inspectorate of Armaments, Woolwich, Small Arms Branch Testing Section, RSAF Enfield Lock, Form 7248/1.

Gun, Copper, Thief

It’s kind of like a game of rock paper scissors, with real-life consequences:

Gun arms cop.
Cop stops thief.
Thief steals gun.

This M16A1, stolen in 2013 from the Philadelphia Police Department (or sold by a crooked cop — the means of its departure is not entirely clear, and it doesn’t seem to have been investigated very hard), remains in criminal hands three years later.

Phillys Missing M16A1

Whistling past the graveyard, neither the FBI nor the ATF makes an effort to collect national statistics on stolen police guns.

This story, from the Philadelphia Inquirer, was occasioned by the critical wounding of Philadelphia patrolman Jesse Hartnett by Islamic terrorist and ISIL volunteer Abdul Shaheed, congregant of the Masjid Mujahideen on S. 60th Street in West Philadelphia, whom the ostriches of the press insist on calling by his prehomicidal name Edward Archer. (Shaheed is the Arabic word for martyr. Mujahideen is the Arabic term for holy warriors — or terrorists, in Islam it’s the same thing).

In the instant story, reporter Stephanie Farr pulls out some recent data, by her own efforts, that the Feds are scrupulously collecting, not. 

  • The Philadelphia PD and its 6100 officers have lost 32 issued firearms in the last five years to theft or loss. (If there’s any attempt to track officers’ personally owned firearms, it’s not mentioned).
  • 9 have been recovered, including Abdul Shaheed’s Glock, which was reported stolen in 2013.
  • LAPD’s 9800 officers have lost 7 firearms in the same period, all to theft.
  • The embattled Baltimore PD’s 2400 officers have lost 7 firearms in the same period, all to theft.
  • Chicago’s 12,000 officers have filed 77 theft and loss reports.

These numbers seem suspect to us, because they appear to be the number of theft and loss incidents, and it seems likely that the number of guns lost is higher. Still, this table reveals some interesting variations. Feel free to check our math.

Police Firearms Lost to Theft

PD Sworn Officers

Thefts (if known) Thefts Per/1000 officers Losses (if known) Losses Per/1000 officers Total Thefts and Losses

Total Per/1000 officers

















Los Angeles
















The original data were in Farr’s article, we just extended her reporting by tabularizing the data and adding the rates for a useful comparison.

Question: Why such stark differences in loss and theft rate? Or, to put it another way, what’s the difference between what LA is doing and the other major urban PDs? Bear in mind that the difference might just be reporting categories or other statistical gamesmanship, something intrinsic to police management in these CompStat days.

All these cities, of course, practice fairly hardcore gun control, making thefts from police an appealing logistical pathway for would-be terrorists like Shaheed seeking arms. One is reminded the Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokar “Flashbang” Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan “Speedbump” Tsarnaev murdered MIT Police Officer Sean Collier to try to steal his service pistol. (A second cop, Boston PD’s DJ Simmons, died a year later from injuries received in  the Watertown shootout, something the press usually forgets in their crush on the surviving murderer).

In totalitarian states, theft from the authorities and the euphemistically named “battlefield recovery” have been instrumental in arming resistance groups, also. (Who are, from the viewpoint of the authorities, naturally, criminals). One set of data that has never been systematized is the photographs of European resistance movements in World War II, but certainly the resisters are usually seen with quantities of Nazi as well as prewar and allied-airdropped arms.

Police are not enthusiastic about more rigid control measures on department firearms, or to be held responsible for losing them, administratively speaking. They certainly feel personal responsibility: retired ATF officer Jay Wachtel admitted to Farr that his own service pistol was stolen from him and was missing for years.

I was on pins and needles for three years because I was afraid it would be used in a homicide. When it got recovered, I just had this huge sense of relief.

It seems to be classified in the Homer Simpson File of Life: “Stuff that just happens.” Jim Burch of the Police Foundation thinks that cops shouldn’t be held responsible for their stolen guns:

Preventing the theft of a firearm can be very difficult, particularly when your car and daily attire or uniform essentially advertises to the criminal element that firearms are likely present in your home

So, Burch believes, cops should get a bye on thefts, although he concedes that they have an issue with losses. In Philadelphia, though, neither seems to have career consequences for a cop.

Philadelphia police would not say how many officers had been disciplined over the issue.


The logical inference of that “refusal to say” is that the number is zero. To put it another way, There is no evidence that careless storage of, careless loss of, or even outright corruption in the unlawful transfer of department or personal firearms is a matter of the least concern to Philadelphia PD managers.

Only now are indictments coming in for crooked Philadelphia cops who were apparently dealing in departmental firearms for years. (It could be worse. In New York, cops exposed for taking bribes to sell pistol permits are still reporting to work and being paid, and only the bribe payer has been charged).

At the time the M16 came up missing, Commissioner Charles H Ramsey cut a bold figure. He made a strong statement.

We will get to the bottom of it one way or another, I guarantee that.

Three years later, all the PD has done is issue that statement. Doesn’t look so strong, does it?

Even with the near-murder of Hartnett,

Cop Shot His Own Partner… No Consequences

We’ve discussed before the problem of cops shooting their own undercovers. Here, a hopped-up officer in Albuquerque shoots his own undercover, that he’s partnering with on this drug bust. The video, from shooter Lt. Greg Brachle’s body cam, is heavily redacted by the Albuquerque PD, but the audio is pretty clear; only Brachle’s (understandable) obscenities are bleeped.

Jacob Grant, one of two undercovers in the car, survived thanks only to blind luck and his own toughness.

Classic moments in police work:
“Are you okay?”
“No.” (Check the tone on that statement).

No kidding, Dick Tracy. Brachle’s marksmanship was as good as his judgment bad, and the story says Grant was shot nine times (however, Brachle only fired eight shots). Supposedly, every organ in his chest had a bullet or a wound channel in it. Only good basic health, superhuman efforts by the emergency room and surgeons, and blind luck kept him from sleeping the long sleep, starting that night.

Brachle seems to have done everything wrong. He skipped the briefing, approached on the opposite side from the other officers, and most seriously, fired without recognizing his target. Then, he broke down on recognizing his error… and then pitched in to run and get a first aid kit, blubbering miserably while still more or less functional. (That he was able to do this, even if it took him two attempts to find the kit, in the emotional state he was in, is better than one would expect. Perhaps it’s a testament to his training).

Ultimate outcome: for the taxpayers of Albuquerque, lifetime responsibility for Grant’s medical care, and a large lump sum ($6.5M) for Grant and his lawyers. For the leadership of the department, no consequences. For Brachle, no consequences, even though it’s his second bad shoot; if he hadn’t been up for retirement, he’d still be out there protecting and serving the living Jesus out of Albuquerque.

ABQ has shelled out $40 million in settlements in the last six years, largely due to police shootings. But they’re not going to fire anybody. Indeed, their list of what they’ve done is a  catalog of organizational eyewash, and pretty much guarantees another bad shoot soon.

And oh, yeah, the drug dealers they were trying to catch? Not wanting to discuss this in a courtroom, the ABQ PD let ’em all go.

Feel protected enough yet?


While this event happens really fast — too fast, after all, for poor Greg Brachle to have any idea who he was shooting until it was too late — that’s typical of real world Use of Force incidents. Check out this post by Murphy’s Law at Lagniappe’s Lair. There are two videos there (officer’s body cam and dashcam of the unit showing up behind him) and the guy really doesn’t have much time to decide at all. Crazy person acting crazy?

We don’t see much need to add to what ML has written there. Just that it is in your best interests to think through uses of force (and armed self-defense) so that observation & orientation don’t take up too much time.

If you encounter a cop in his or her professional capacity, most people know what to do. Freezing, hands up, is pretty safe. Closing the distance to the cop with an axe in your hand? Not safe. Not bright, either. That’s how these angelic souls keep ascending to an astral plane, lighter by the weight of their bodies, but heavier by a few 125 grain JHPs.

Civil Rights Progress 1986-2016

In thirty years in the United States, gun rights, as proxied by right to carry arrangements in the several States, have undergone remarkable levels of liberalization. You have probably seen the famous color-changing state map. While the year to year change is interesting, it’s hard to beat an A-B comparison of thirty-year start and finish lines. Here is the status quo ante of1986.


In the midst of Ronald Reagan’s second term, only one state, Vermont, does not restrict the carry of firearms by peaceable individuals. Conversely, 16 states, including most of the Midwest and Southwest, have no provision for carrying firearms for self-defense. The largest block of states, 25, allow officials to issue licenses, but the licenses are discretionary, which means different things in different places — and may depend on the whim of a single official. (in some jurisdictions in MA, NY and CA, it’s like shall-issue; across a town line, it’s like no-issue. A denied applicant has no resource, but to move).

This map is only one proxy for gun rights. In many states, possession and use of National Firearms Act firearms such as machine guns, short-barreled long guns, and suppressors is verboten. In 1986, no state permits hunters to use suppressors (and officials would look at you funny if you did). It’s “settled law” (thanks to a misreading of Miller) that the right to bear arms applies only to the organized militia, i.e., the National Guard when under Title 32 authority, and the rump State militias in those states that have them. (In fact, the New York State Guard, nominally a backfill for the National Guard if mobilized, has become by 1986 a political thing you tried to get appointed to if you wanted to acquire otherwise nonexistent gun rights).

And here is the situation today:


more states, of every possible demographic, have gone completely unrestricted. The no-issue States, which had shrunk to one (Illinois), DC and the Territories, have had their restrictive laws overturned by the courts. The restrictive may-issue states are down to a handful of high-crime coastal hellholes. It’s still just as bad in CA, MA, NJ and NY as it ever was. (And their cities are soaked in criminal violence. For which they blame other states with looser laws… but that don’t have such high crime locally. Peculiar).

Several other states have passed restriction-removing bills but have failed to get them signed by anti-gun governors. (Even then, an anti-gun governor sometimes loses. This year, WV overrode anti-gun Governor Ray Tomblin’s veto; Idaho’s anti-gun Butch Otter wanted to veto the bill, but faced both a veto-proof margin in the legislature, and an election year, which combined to melt his spine). As Art McGrath noted at Conservative Review,

In each of these states there was nonsense peddled about increased crime, shootouts in the streets and warnings of impending bloodbath if permits were no longer required. These same tired arguments were made as concealed carry permits became more prevalent a few decades ago and no such spike in violent crime was observed.

Oklahoma has a very neighborly law: they not only recognize other states’ permits, but also other states’ lack of permits: if you’re a resident of one of the 9 unrestricted states, you may carry while in Oklahoma.

In addition to the progress shown on the map, the last 30 years have seen progress on NFA measures and on hunting. For example. 42 states now permit ownership of suppressors, and 39 of them allow hunting. (The 8 outright-ban states are exactly the same as the 8 restrictive may-issue states, as this map from the American Silencer Association shows).


Bills to liberalize laws are being considered in at least 2 of the 11 restrictive states (NH, which allows ownership but not hunting, and MA[!], which at present allows neither).

So, while activists may be unhappy, especially the ones in the high-crime anti-self-defense coastal hellholes, the trends are highly positive, they are accelerating, and the momentum may well carry freedoms as far as Boston and Sacramento in the future.

The key inflection points have been, in our opinon, five:

  1. The Florida shall-issue law of 1987. (The media prediction of blood in the streets did not come to pass, Florida Man notwithstanding);
  2. The Texas shall-issue law. Same prediction, same result. With those two populous states having gone shall-issue and seeing crime reductions, the ball was rolling in a big way.
  3. Alaska going unrestricted in 1994. The media again talked up “blood in the streets” like they really wanted to see it, but they were disappointed.
  4. The long, slow slog of legal scholarship through law reviews and legal seminars. While wins in legislatures move the black-letter law forward, the momentum would have been lost but for a parallel axis of advance in the courts
  5. The Heller decision (and its follow-on McDonald) put the stake in the heart of the restrictionist argument for the time being, although you still have some state courts (Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, for one) with reading comprehension issues. These decisions were products of the legal academy advance, but they just as surely were products of the political advance in the state houses and the

Hat tip, Dean Weingarten, whose Gun Watch site should be on your daily schedule. (Dean also notes that at 5 years of age, Wisconsin has issued 300,000 permits and has had one guy convicted of a crime, making WI permit holders literally less murderous than the famously peaceable residents of modern Japan). The famous graphic, known to many through Wikipedia, is the work of Jeff Dege.