Category Archives: Weapons Usage and Employment

Two Interesting Pistol Jams

Tam at A View from the Porch, who, thank a merciful God, is back posting (albeit with comments muzzled, which in her circumstances is understandable), earlier this month finally experienced some jams with her well-shot (and thoroughly documented) 9mm Walther PPX. Two jams in one session, actually, and both of them have some lessons for us, even though all our Walthers are so old they were made when lots of people still thought Hitler had some good ideas.

It confused us a bit because she listed the second, more interesting, jam first. We’re going to turn her order around and list them in chronological order, which is also the way they appear if you go to her blog and scroll down (way down, now, as these were posted 7 Sep 14). Our main points are: what are the causes, how do you ID and reduce the stoppage when it occurs, and what preventive methods are possible.

Jam #1: Magazine Jam-Up

Here’s Tam’s post. She notes that:

[One round in the mag] had enough friction with the side of the magazine that it bound up, and the spring and follower tried to force the bottom round past it, They were wedged tight enough that they needed to be poked out with some vigor.

ppx mag malf 2

She notes that she’s also seen a similar jam in a S&W M&P. We’ve seen this jam in a lot of double-stack mags, mostly but not all pistol mags, mostly but not all double-stack, single-feed mags. We’ve seen this a lot with M9 mags, especially el cheapo no-name aftermarket mags, but also with some issue mags. (We have not had trouble with Mec-Gar or Beretta factory mags, which we think are also Italian Mec-Gar mags produced for Beretta).

How do you recognize it?

It shows up, from behind the gun, as a stovepipe or as slide closed on an empty chamber. (Tam’s pistol stovepiped, and it was immediately obvious to her).

ppx mag malf 1As you can see, a couple of rounds have jammed in her mag, and all the rounds above that are not being fed. The “slide closed on an empty chamber” variant is particularly insidious; it’s a rare shooter who’s so attuned to the gun as to pick up a loaded chamber indicator’s failure to, well, indicate a loaded chamber. So you get click when you expect boom; an irritant at the range, but more serious if you, in the immortal phrase of unfortunately mortal, late Paul Poole, “dry fire in a firefight, mwah-hah-HAH!”

If you shoot enough to see this failure, you will come to recognize it with a glance in the magwell (neither rounds nor follower showing up between the mag’s feed lips is a dead giveaway). Note that while this exact problem is, by definition, restricted to double-stack mags, single-stack mags can have a similar problem when a round tilts “just right” and jams inside the magazine.

A loaded or partly loaded magazine in which the top round is not retained by friction, and just falls out, is also an indicator of this problem. The rounds above the jam can be easily shaken out of the mag; the rounds below are trapped behind the jam.

Immediate Action?

Recycling the slide doesn’t help, as the mag is not feeding rounds. Sometimes the jam will respond to a sharp blow on the mag base or pistol butt, but the sure-fire (no pun intended) immediate-action drill is to dump the jammed mag, check the gun is clear of loose rounds, and load a fresh mag.

Causes?

The causes can be: oversized rounds, mung (especially gritty mung) in the magazine, and bad mags. Mis-sized ammo and mung are normally hadmaidens of bottom-feeding at the ammo counter, but not always (as we’ll see).

Magazines themselves have lots of failure modes. Mags can have dents or deformities that you can’t see with the naked eye but that can be measured — and that can cause this problem. They can also have surface issues: rust and pitting on the inside of the mag can create enough friction to encourage rounds to hang up. There are things you can do to repair mags, although most smiths don’t have the tools on hand.

With magazine issues, “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action,” as our hero Auric Goldfinger amiably pointed out to his guest. For the average trigger-and-hammer-applicator, the right thing is to expend the mag as a target (so that no one can ever rely on it) and replace it with a new one, if it has done this to you three times. Untold mischief is caused in military units and police departments (especially academies or other training facilities) from bad mags that are turned back in to supply and keep circulating. Supply hates to face the fact that mags are an expendable item; every dollar spent on mags from the supply account is one that can’t be spent on other equipment. But don’t let their economy leave you with the dreaded “Dry fire in a firefight!” Poole is laughing, wherever he is, but that ain’t funny.

The feed system is a very critical part of any autoloading or automatic firearm and the best preventive measures are (1) to clean and maintain your magazines, (2) to use only high-quality mags, and (3) to weed out ruthlessly all substandard mags.

Jam #2: Magazine Jam-Up

Here’s Tam’s post. And here’s what she says about it (at somewhat greater length):

The second one was the more interesting because in the middle of a rapid-fire string, I got a dead trigger.

The slide was too far out of battery to fire, fortunately. A smart rap on the rear of the slide only succeeded in getting the case stuck further. With the assistance of an RO, the round was extracted and a quick examination of the breechface, extractor claw, feed ramp, and chamber mouth showed nothing obviously out of the ordinary.

As she quickly figured out, being a sensible and systematic troubleshooter, the trouble wasn’t the gun. Here’s what it was:

overlength_winchester_9mmSing with us, kiddies: “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong….”

The culprit is the round on the right, with a random exemplar round from the same box on the left. Now I need a good caliper to measure it. It appears almost to be roll-crimped rather than taper-crimped.

I can’t count this malfunction against the PPX, since the round was subsequently tested in my Gen 3 Glock 19 and one of my M&Ps and wouldn’t fully chamber in either.

We can’t judge it with the Mark I eyeball on that photo, although we could probably use the photogrammetry tools in photoshop or GIMP to have a hack at it. But several dimensional failures could have caused this: bad taper on the case, case length too long, bullet badly seated. Most pistol rounds headspace on the case mouth, including the 9 x 19, so odds are the case length was too long or the taper insufficient (probably the former, given the thing imitating a no-go gage in three different brands of 9mm pistol).

As a side note, this malfunction tied the gun up hard; if somebody had been shooting at me, I’d have been hosed.

This wasn’t with Acme imported-from-Bufugliland steelcase crap; it was economy bulk Winchester, but still, Winchester ammo. Name brand ammo has fewer brand rounds than budget stuff, but not zero. An occasional bad round is kind of inevitable when you produce ammo in great bulk: you can’t measure every case and every round, so you rely on statistical quality control. SQC is great stuff, but just because you have got your standard quality out to four nines to the right of the decimal point, your error rate is still nonzero. Somebody’s going to get the turkey round, and this time, it was Tam. 

How do you recognize it?

It shows up as a failure to chamber. Trying to force the slide or bolt home will either succeed in chambering the round (in effect, the gun becomes a resizing tool) or, more likely, lock the gun up tighter than the action’s ever been. (This is part of why the forward assist on the M16A1 and its successors was always a bad idea.

Immediate Action?

Recycling the slide or bolt is the only possibility, but it might require force and/or tools, especially if the gun has been forced towards battery. Take great care to prevent a negligent discharge when clearing the gun. (Be cognizant of the rules if you’re at a range, and make sure the RO knows you’re having a problem. They may have a policy you need to follow). Save the stuck round for examination. Note the lot number of the failed ammo (if it’s available) and contact the ammo manufacturer.

Causes?

This is pretty much a bad ammo thing. Relegate that lot of ammo to training only. It probably does not make sense to change ammo brands, unless your brand is “Uncle Bubba’s no-name mixed-brass reloads). Preventive measures include careful ammo selection, and, if you’re seriously expecting combat, ammo inspection (World War I fighter pilots used to do this to prevent jams of their MGs due to slapdash ammo quality). We should probably do a post on bench and field-expedient ammo inspection sometime.

“Non-Traditional Legal Analysis” of Self-Defense Case

Law-ScaleAndHammerSurely you remember the George Zimmerman trial? We mean the one in the courtroom where he was acquitted in about the length of time it took the jury to choose a foreman. But we understand if you may be thinking of the much louder one that took place in the media, where the President and the press sentenced him to be hung, drawn and quartered, salted, boiled and eaten, with the trial to follow, in no particular rush since the outcome was already res judicata and known far and wide.

Well, the University of Miami law school has decided that its assembly line for unemployed JDs would not be complete without a course on the case, to be taught by a lawyer from the firm that managed the other trial (the media-circus variety). Andrew Branca, who tweeted the bulk of the trial from a live TV feed, and wrote extensively about it, brings the snark:

A short-course on the Zimmerman trial could, of course, be utterly fascinating, if taught by the attorneys actually involved: Angela Corey, Bernie de la Rionda, and John Guy for the State, and Mark O’Mara and Don West for the defense. The trial strategies and tactics involved, the various decision-points and choices made, how set-backs were overcome, or not overcome, would all be vastly insightful.

Alas, that is not what this course is to offer. Its focus will instead be far less substantive: social justice, generally, and a great many specifics never actually relevant to the trial. Among these are:

  • “federal civil rights violations”–none were ever found, despite tremendous resources devoted by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • “Stand Your Ground”–never at any point relevant in either the physical confrontation nor the criminal trial
  • “international human rights standards”–oofah

At its heart, of course, the Zimmerman trial was simply a very straightforward and traditional case of an aggressor committing a vicious aggravated assault upon an entirely innocent victim, that victim lawfully defending themselves with a legally carried pistol, and the aggressor dying as a result of that lawful act of self-defense.

There’s not much room for “social justice” there, however, so instead in this course  “…students will engage in non-traditional legal analysis, exploring the literature on the sociological intersection of race and the law, and examine and reflect on complementary forms of advocacy, such as the use of the media as a tool of advocacy….” (emphasis added)

“Non-traditional legal analysis”? “Sociological intersection of race and the law”? “Use of the media as a tool of advocacy”? Yeah, that sounds like Crump & Park, alright.

Question: How’d that work out for them in the Zimmerman trial?

But wait, there’s more: “The course will highlight . . . the ability of music to communicate messages that impact legal reform.”

Music.  Oofah.

via Trayvon Martin | George Zimmerman | University of Miami.

We think “oofah” is Andrew’s version of “Lord Love a Duck.”

Look, Zimmerman is a poor candidate for sainthood, but he didn’t murder anybody. And when “social justice” comes to conclusions diametrically opposed to the actual justice system with courts and everything, it earns its scare quotes.

It’s worth going to the original post at Legal Insurrection to see one of Andrew’s finds — the same airheaded attorney that will teach this “class” in a four minute snit (stet) on the Greta Van Susteren show after Zimmerman was acquitted. You will be amused to learn, having seen her struggle to match wits with Van Susteren, that her undergrad minors at Georgia were Political Science and African American Studies, both of which require a student to fog a mirror for an
“A”; and her law degree is from Florida State University Law, another assembly line for unemployed JDs which places about two-thirds of graduates in law positions. The single biggest employer of FSU Law graduates is government.

ISIL VBIED with American Suicide Operator

aby_hurayra_moner_abu_salahMeet al-Hurayra al-Amriki, the last bit of which means “the American.” He blew himself up in an attack on the Syrian Army in Jebel al-Arba’een in Idlib Province on 25 May 14. (Al-Hurayra, “The one with the kitten,” was one of the companions of Mohammed; al-Qaeda’s glamor shot of his suicidal namesake shows him holding a kitten, presumably his love interest).

This long video, captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute, is his “martyrdom video,” the crude mohammedan imitation of the genteel Shinto tea and saki ceremony that saw the kamikazes off. The parallels are remarkable, notably the shallowness of awareness of the propaganda-soaked suicides. Our interest is not in his reasons, nor in his message — the first is shallow, juvenile angst and gang-identification, the death-seeking of a 22-year-old going on 16; the latter the empty boasting of a child-man about to die in futile service to a lost cause and cynical leaders — but in his means. If you skip ahead to about three minutes from the end, you’ll see what’s purported to be the VBIED that he used to make an attack on Syrian government forces, and film that purports to be the explosion that may or may not have injured the Syrians, but presumably was, as SVBIEDs always are, 100% effective in punching “Abu’s” ticket. Did he see the “smile of allah” he so wished for? We’re doubtful.

An ideology that tells you, “Blowing yourself to smithereens in the hopes you indiscriminately kill somebody, practically anybody, is the path to salvation,” may be bearing a message from a supernatural being, but it ain’t God.

As he tells us, he’s the spawn of an Arab palestinian man and an Italian-American woman. Well, this neckbearded numbskull is not the worst result ever of an airheaded broad getting her multiculti mandingo on; he’ll be a forgotten footnote to these decades of barbarism.

As he doesn’t tell us, his real name was Moner Mohammed Abu-Salha. He was from Vero Beach, Florida. His father carried a Jordanian passport; his mother converted to the religion of death and barbarism, and they raised their children — including two other boys and a girl — in the ways of Mohammedanism. The father was a grocer, but the family was improvident with money and lost their home to foreclosure. Yet they managed to find money for visits to the middle east.

Moner was a loser, suspended from high school for fighting, then dropping out. He obtained a ticket-punch GED from a “school” that specializes in that kind of thing, then stumbled through three different colleges, dropping out of each without measurable achievement.

The jihadis who launched this not-so-smart bomb were smart enough to avoid any opsec violations that tell us much about the bomb and its triggering device(s). It is customary to have multiple initiators: a command initiator for the splodydope himself to pull, a remote initiator for the commanders to use if the splodydope loses his nerve or is disabled, and a dead-man switch. Judging from the fireball, there was a lot of low-grade explosive in the truck, probably a mix of ANFO and fillings melted out of ordnance (or complete shells if they were in a hurry). Other jihadi social media postings have suggested that the truck contained 17 tons of explosive, primarily artillery shells.

svbied_truck_01

The vehicle is a commercial dump truck, crudely armored. It’s a good choice as it has plenty of power and a very strong frame, just the ticket for carrying the explosives and the armor. The armor appears to be mild steel plate, little respected by armor buffs, but wait… what are the steel targets at your range made out of? Exactly. This thing isn’t a tank designed to go into combat, fight, disengage and then go back later, keeping the crew safe: it’s designed to go into combat and keep the crewman alive long enough for him to trip the bang switch, or to get close enough to the enemy for his ever-helpful masters to trip the switch for him.

(These masters are surely going to shaheed themselves, surely, one of these days, just not right now).

svbied_truck_03

The armor, then, is meant merely to delay the vehicle’s penetration. In front of the main front armor plate, there is an additional flat front plate, and a sort of cow-catcher plow to remove road obstacles. The heavy armor on the front indicates that they intended a straight, direct assault against their objective.

svbied_truck_06

This second shot of the cow-catcher was taken as the vehicle drove off to perdition. The bags may contain explosives. The cow-catcher was rather high, probably in order to clear the unimproved roads where the vehicle started out. It appears to be welded in place. The cow-catcher also adds to the protection of the vehicle’s powerplant; a mobility kill is a mission kill against a VBIED.

The flags are those of the al-Nusra Front, one of the al-Qaeda-associated jihadi groups fighting against Bashar al-Assad. After literally years of American dithering, there are no significant anti-Assad groups left that are not also anti-American. Arming Syrian rebels now means arming American enemies. Naturally, Washington is all for it.

svbied_truck_02

Visibility from inside the vehicle was poor straight ahead. The driver had a small window in the armor plate in front of him, and an even smaller one in the vertical armor plate in front of that. Standoff between the two plates provides some protection from RPGs as well. Jihadi slogans and Koran quotes painted in the cab bolster his will.

svbied_truck_01

There was no armor visible on the side of the cab.

svbied_truck_04

The nose was not the only vital part of the VBIED to be armored. Jihadi welders added plate to the rear wheel area and the fuel tanks, and armored the tires with big disks attached to the lug nuts. It’s impossible to tell if the steel plate alongside the nose end of the dump body is armor or trim. (The part that is forward of the slanted front of the dump body).

svbied_truck_05

We are not sure what make of truck this is. We have ruled out most of the Japanese brands, Mercedes, Magirus, Renault, and Kamaz. Any ideas?

The armor shows that the enemy is a learning enemy, even if his splodydopes themselves can’t pass on their lessons learned. It’s a far cry from the SVBIED of ten years ago, which was a couple of 155 rounds in the trunk of a taxi driven by some martyrdom wannabe. But it’s not invulnerable.

Vulnerabilities of this kind of SVBIED include antitank weapons and enfilading fire. Accurate .50 M2HB or DShK fire would also be effective, even from dead ahead. If you’re operating in SVBIED country, you want to have flanking outposts on your high-speed avenues of approach, able to light up the cab of your would-be al-Jazeera star from the side. You need them on both sides, and they need aiming stakes so that they know to check fire when their fire would otherwise fall on the opposite outpost. (The enemy will be trying hard enough to kill you. Don’t do his work for him).

That an attack like this is still effective over 30 years after they did it to the USMC in Beirut shows that the attack, while easily frustrated by effective fire, can often be executed in the time it takes defenders to shake off the cobwebs. Also, too many gate posts are expected to stop an attack with a rifle or a rifle-caliber light machine gun; what happens when the attack looks like this? We’ll tell you what: your gate can’t stop the attack, not in time.  Give them something that can hit a moving tank and turn it to slag… and give them no-hesitation ROE. (The enemy will probe your ROE with unarmed civilian vehicles, and then go all lawfare on you if you smoke ‘em. Smoke ‘em anyway. You’ll have sent some jihadi impersonating a civilian to the martyrdom he seeks, and your guys will not go to the martyrdom they most definitely aren’t seeking — win all round.

More on Moner al-Deadmeat:

Tracking Tease

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

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

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

Quick take-aways:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Hunter on the Ferguson Shooting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hat tip Glenn Reynolds, who writes:

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

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

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

Reynolds also quotes from this ABC story.

Hey, Dude, Where’s My Glock?

"The game is afoot, Watson!"

“The game is afoot, Watson!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The officer in question is suspended, with pay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Judgment Comes From Experience

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

Good judgment comes from experience.

Experience comes from bad judgment.

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

Bad Judgment Gets Men Indicted for Criminal Threatening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah. That.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stag Arms Introduces 9mm Carbines

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

Stag Model 9

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

Stag Model 9TL

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The technical stuff rom the Press Release:

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

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

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

Training Smarter: Low Ready on Army BCT Ranges!

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

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

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

army_bct_changes_2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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