Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

A Cop Flop

This cellphone video shows the arrest of a noncompliant, unarmed suspect. He’s either doped-up or nuts, and he’s strong;  the cops trying to arrest him flail and flop, and make half-assed deployments of Taser and baton and OC spray and more Tasers…

You may want to mute the audio the first time through, because the voice-over (by well known trainer Rener Gracie) is loud and grating. However, it’s worth watching at least the first half with the VO because the guy, an instructor who teaches defensive tactics to cops (but self-evidently not these cops) makes excellent points about why the gear didn’t work, what effect this has on community-cop relations, and why cops like these need a course like his — none of which we’d quibble with, and we bet the cops wouldn’t, either.

As he stresses, this kind of Keystone display is not the fault of the original cops. You can’t control a stronger-than-you, wriggling and noncompliant arrestee if you’ve never been taught how.

The cops were not in the physical condition of the suspect, so they needed to rely on superior skills, but that pocket of their toolbag seems to have come up empty.

As the situation gets worse, the cops’ confidence, which never seems to have been strong, is badly shaken by the suspect’s seeming immunity to their control measures.At several points, this looked like it might escalate to deadly force; had they shot the guy, the cops would not have faced any consequences, absent a Marilyn Mosby hungry for a scalp meal, but it could have poisoned the relations between the department and the public for decades, if not generations (as the voice-over points out). And in this particular situation, all the players (cops, suspect) were white.

Imagine what The Rev’rends® would be saying if the suspect was a black man.

As it is, the suspect went to the can, or the drunk tank, or the 30-day-evaluation — wherever he was headed. (This is one more reminder that, from the suspect’s point of view, resistance is, as the saying goes, futile. If they’ve decided you’re going downtown, you might as well go peaceably, because in the end, you’re going). The cops had a report to write. And the department has to deal with this video going viral.

Don’t know who these guys were, although the VO says they were in Maryland (Maryland plates on the vehicles, too). Doesn’t narrow it down much as that place has got to have the highest cop-to-citizen ratio this side of Pyongyang.

Jeff Cooper on Small Caliber Guns

Jeff Cooper and 45Col. Jeff Cooper was known as someone who believed that there was no point in a handgun whose caliber did not begin with .4. (Had he lived to see it, he’d probably warm up to the .500 S&W). He was very influential in the late-century police adoption of 10mm and .40 caliber pistols, and had nothing good to say about smaller rounds.

Of course, Cooper is an interesting cat. He was an entertaining gunwriter, an excellent shot and competitor, and an instructor with a massive and sometimes slavish following. He insisted on the title Colonel, and made broad hints about being some kind of secret squirrel, but as far as we know he was a reserve ordnance officer without combat service, let alone command. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; somebody had better be running the depots and making sure the gunplumbers stay organized and get paid.

While working up the book on Czech and Czechoslovak guns, it seemed like an amusing idea, given the European penchant for .25 (6.35 mm) or .32 (7.65 x 17SR) pistols as military and police sidearms, to contrast European, particularly Czechoslovakian, midcentury practice with Cooper’s preferences. We hit several varieties of pay dirt, in an excerpt below from an early draft of the book. And then, in this post, we move on to another famous fictional secret squirrel! But first, Cooper:

American pistolero and writer Jeff Cooper, Col., USMC (Ret.), once had occasion to meet Hans-Ulrich Rudel, a famous German Stuka pilot, best known for destroying over 500 Soviet tanks with a version of the  dive-bomber armed with two Rheinmettal-Borsig . Naturally, Cooper, a strong proponent of .45 and 10mm pistols, wanted to know what sort of pistol Rudel, a man facing a high risk of capture by what would certainly have been a furious enemy, carried on his combat flights. Cooper remembers:

I asked Rudel about this and he told me personally that he packed one of those miniature 25 caliber automatics on his antitank missions. When asked why, he replied, “Because I have never been a pessimist.”[1]

What Cooper said to Rudel on this occasion, he did not bother to record; but he’s on record at other times as referring to, the “25 ACP, which everyone knows is not sufficient to clear sinuses,”[2] and this aphorism in-the-round:

[C]arry a 25 if it makes you feel good, but do not ever load it. If you load it you may shoot it. If you shoot it you may hit somebody, and if you hit somebody – and he finds out about it – he may be very angry with you.[3]

Bear in mind that the “anemic” .38 special of Cooper’s day was once the “hot” round, replacing even lighter loads such as the .32 Colt and .32 S&W (interchangeable cartridges, the different names were marketing eyewash) and the .38 S&W, a round the Brits happily issued to soldiers as the .38/200 in World War II! He lived in a period of great firepower expansion, even before he gave it a push, but the old, small-caliber guns died hard, both in police agencies — NYPD stuck to the .38 special until they finally went to automatics, far behind other departments — and in the popular culture.

Ian Fleming wrote without irony, in Dr. No in 1956, and after consulting with a Scots expert in firearms, that the .32 ACP PPK with which Major Boothroyd — named after the expert — replaced James Bond’s preferred .25 Beretta, had “a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window.” Geoffrey Boothroyd had written to Ian Fleming:

I dislike a man who comes into contact with all sorts of formidable people using a .25 Beretta. This sort of gun is really a lady’s gun, and not a really nice lady at that.[4]

Boothroyd (as has been recorded elsewhere in these pages) suggested several upgrades for Bond, including a Smith & Wesson Chief’s Special, but the book, Dr. No, and the film, set him up with the .32 PPK instead. Boothroyd’s lines:

Walther PPK. 7.65mm, with a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window. Takes a Brausch silencer with very little reduction in muzzle velocity. The American CIA swears by them.[5]

Bond and BoothroydIn the movie, Dr. No, Hollywood quotes the scene verbatim, but the producers and property master/armorer botch it by using a .380 Beretta 1934 — a more powerful pistol than the .32 PPK — as a stand-in for the .25 Beretta of the novel.

In both versions of Dr. No, at the end of the discussion, Bond attempts to leave with both pistols. But as Jeff Cooper might have told him, .32 + .25 does not equal .45.

Notes

[1] Cooper, John Dean “Jeff”. Cooper’s Commentaries, Vol. 14, No. 5, June-September 2006. Retrieved from: http://www.molonlabe.net/Commentaries/jeff14_5.html

[2] Cooper, John Dean “Jeff”. Cooper’s Commentaries, Vol. 2, No. 2, 31 January 1994. Retrieved from: https://www.molonlabe.net/Commentaries/jeff2_2.html The whole comment is brief and is worth reproducing here:

We hear of an unfortunate woman who, during an nighttime asthma attack, confused the small handgun she kept under her pillow with an asthma inhaler and proceeded to relieve her symptoms. It was not a fatal mistake, partly because she used a 25 ACP, which everyone knows is not sufficient to clear sinuses.

[3] Cooper, John Dean “Jeff”. Cooper’s Commentaries, Vol. 4, No. 14, December 1996. Retrieved from: https://www.molonlabe.net/Commentaries/jeff4_14.html Again, the whole exchange is worth reproducing, although a bit longer than the last:

Our old buddy Gene Harshbarger from Guatemala reports a recent episode with the 25 ACP pistol cartridge. It seems that Gene’s cousin was set upon by a trio of car thieves who shot him once almost dead center with that dinky little pistol. The bullet entered at a very flat angle, however, proceeded laterally just inside the pectoral muscle, and exited after about 5 inches of traverse, continuing on into the target’s left arm.

The cousin hit the deck and started shooting back, whereupon the assailants split. When he stood up the bullet slid out of his left sleeve and bounced on the pavement. It penetrated the jacket, but not the skin of his left arm.

As we used to teach in the spook business, carry a 25 if it makes you feel good, but do not ever load it. If you load it you may shoot it. If you shoot it you may hit somebody, and if you hit somebody – and he finds out about it – he may be very angry with you.

[4] Packard, Scott. Inside Bond’s Weapon of Choice, the Walther PPK. Gear Patrol, 9 November 2012. Retrieved from: http://gearpatrol.com/2012/11/09/defense-journal-bonds-gun/

[5] ibid.

Who Steals Guns? Violent Criminals. Duh.

This is not news to anybody, except, it turns out, the news media. This year the New Orleans Times-Picayune discovered that, to their shock and horror, criminals steal guns. 

No $#!+, Sherlock. Criminals steal stuff. It’s what they do. 

But it seems to have really blown the NOLA reporters away that such a things happen. It seems to have twaumatized their ban-the-guns-end-crime simplistic, childish worldview. They are shocked that criminals in the Crescent City have made off with 2,100 plus guns, the theft of which was reported to the NOPD, between 2012 and 2015.

Graphic © 2016 New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Graphic © 2016 New Orleans Times-Picayune.

No reporter writes a story to inform his readers any more; it’s always a crusade to Change the World. The paper’s agenda in this case is to help their party’s politicians push a proposed mandatory-reporting law. But in support of that push, they gathered some interesting interviews and statistics.

Here are the Times-Picayune stories:

‘I put guns out on the street’: Gun theft victims speak outThe paper notes that some owners are careless, leaving guns in unlocked homes or in cars. But others get ripped off despite using safes. Best you can do is have a list of your serial numbers — and not just in your laptop that the same thieves will bug out with.

5 tips to prevent your guns from being stolen. These are pretty much standard, and won’t stop a determined thief. Still, not all thieves are determined, and not all gun owners take these precautions.

Video: Stolen Weapons Fuel Street Violence. (It doesn’t seem to occur to them that violent criminals either seek to steal weapons, or seek to buy them from thieves).

3 stolen guns, 3 New Orleans violent crime scenes: How stolen guns fuel crime. Three case studies of guns used in robberies and murders (twice, wrested away from the criminals, and once, used to shoot the bastard stone cold graveyard dead. Woot).

An interactive-map sidebar to that article shows that 10 NOLA stolen guns didn’t leave town, but were used by local robbers and murderers. Another interactive tells us that:

  1. Stolen guns are used in crime (they keep harping on this, but it’s not an Einstein level insight).
  2. 3 guns a day are stolen in the NOLA metro area of the city and adjacent Jefferson Parish.
  3. The thousands of guns stolen in the metro area are used in shootings that kill innocents (they cite an example where 17 and 19 year old gangbangers missed each other but nailed an uninvolved 15-year-old girl inside a nearby home.
  4. In 2015, NOLAs theft total of 582 breaks down as
    1. 203 vehicle break-in
    2. 149 theft or auto theft (not burglary)
    3. 106 residential burglary
    4. 64 all others (lost, armed robberies, etc).
  5. The reporters interviewed some gun-theft victims. Of 44 guns these 11 victims lost to theft in 2015-16, only 2 have been recovered. The other 42 presumably still circulate in criminal channels.
  6. Almost half the time, the owners had no record of their stolen firearms’ serial numbers.
  7. Most NOLA murders are shootings (149 of 164 in 2015, 91%). To this we’d add, that’s pretty normal for North American major cities.
  8. ATF estimates that 60+% of gun thefts are never reported. (What percentage of those is various criminal underclass members stealing from one another is not clear). The latest number the ATF has (based on actual theft reports) is 190k, but they think 500k is more reasonable, to account for those theft victims who do not report guns stolen.

Lessons Learned

If there’s one lesson in the whole thing it’s don’t leave your gun in the jeezly car. If there’s two lessons, the second one is take a picture of the GD serial number and store it in the cloud. You might even get your gun back, after the cops pry it out of some worthless gangbanger’s cold dead hands.

Expanding Beyond NOLA

The ATF has released a study on calendar 2015’s gun thefts. The data are a little more solid, and the writing not nearly as breathless as the Times-Picayune’s, but it’s not constrained to any one city, either.

Because, naturally, New Orleans’ criminal element is not the only one awash in stolen guns these days. In Phoenix, an open-carrier found his gun grabbed by a lightfingered crook, and then used to discourage him from pursuing. Open carry is tactically inferior to concealed carry, folks. Even when you’re not getting your guns stolen and used aginst you. And open carry in a non-retention holster? Sheesh. Watch the video at that link. Don’t be that guy.

In Cleveland, gun show thefts led cops to a thief who was also a suspect in violent crimes. (Well, duh. What sort of person would steal guns, except a violent criminal?)

In Philadelphia, Officer Josh Hartnett was shot by a convert named Abdul Shaheed, whom the Philadelphia press continues to call by the non-jihadi name he had rejected, Edward Archer, perhaps to distract people away from questions about motive. Shaheed attacked Hartnett with a stolen gun. The gun was a Glock from Hartnett’s own department. It was one of a couple dozen department firearms that are missing at any given time.

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.

Conclusions

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.

Expl-1911A1_CompAssy

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.

Sources

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).

MVT-Training-1

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:

Glock-jamming

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:

ABBREVIATION STOPPAGE OR MALFUNCTION DESCRIPTION
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.

Notes

  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: http://weaponsman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/RSAF-SATB-Small-Arms-Trial-Report-Vz58-1966.pdf

Sources

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.