Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sometimes New is Better....

It’s easy to find yourself chasing technology in an effort to have the latest tacti-cool accessory.  This is very apparent with bulls-eye shooters with their constant search for the dot, muzzle brake, oil, barrel, trigger job, or special start up ritual that will shrink their group and add 15 points to their average score.

Nor are IDPA or other action shooting games immune from tungsten guide rods, special sights, dot optics and the rest, all of which are attempting to reduce time and improve score.  Many pistol smiths make a good living selling superior performance.

Step out of the game world and into practical self defense and we’ll find these gismos waiting for us as well.  Some are potentially dangerous.  Trigger jobs that reduce the trigger weight to values not defensible in court, for example.  Some are just misleading like dry oils or dirt repellent lubrication.  Others actually improve your shooting ability and increase your survivability.

Accommodations must be made to age.  I just put Truglo TFX sights on my Glock 17.  The sights glow in the dark thanks to tritium, a slightly radioactive isotope of hydrogen.  The use of plastic light pipes that seem to suck up every extra photon helps me see them at dusk or in dimly lit surroundings.  The increase contrast is just what my old, hard to focus eyes need.

For gun games I wear special glasses, cheaters if you will, that help my eyes focus on my front sight.  Everyone shoots better when they focus on their front sight.  But I can’t really wear them for everyday wear.  Too many things, like traffic control signs, are out of focus.  It is very likely I’ll be wearing my normal prescription glasses when I’m forced to defend myself. 

Therefore, I want sights that will help me line front and rear sights up properly.  Truglo TFX does this for me.  As a chemist I like to test my assumptions, so I shot the Dot Torture target with my normal glasses.  It was noticeably easier to see my sights using the Truglo TFX.  I scored 50 out of 50.  Yes, the sights were a little out of focus, but these were easy to quickly line up.  I recommend them to you.  I have them on my glock .380 too!  They aren’t cheap, but missing or shooting the wrong person in self defense to too expensive not to invest in Truglow TFX sights.

No, it's not a very long slide, it's a function of the closeup camera lens.  Still, rear sights slightly fuzzy and front sight crisp and sharp that's perfection.




The other thing I changed was my Streamlight gun light.

My new Streamlight TLR-1s and my older M-3
This is one time newer is better due to upgraded technology.


Years ago I purchased an M-3 tactical gun light for that same Glock.  It was great.  Press down on the momentary switch with my left thumb and darkness would retreat from me.  I’ve used all the flashlight techniques with different degrees of success and a gun light beats them all.

Even with a gun light you need small tactical flashlight.  Use a hand-held light to illuminate areas you don’t want to point a gun at, but need to see.  I would suggest a light with a lanyard you can slip over the wrist.  You just drop the hand held light and grasp your weapon when you need more grip.
But technology has changed.  LEDs (light emitting diodes) have a higher efficiency and produce more light.  They also sip electricity.

Let’s go head to head:
Property
M-3 Illuminator
TLR-1s Illuminator
Output
80 lumens
300 lumens
Run time
???
2.5 hours
Battery
2 – 3 volt CR123
2 – 3 volt CR123
Focusable lamp
a little
No
Light source
Incandescent bulb
LED
Illumination modes
Locked on and momentary contact
Locked on momentary contact and strobe
Housing
Plastic
Aluminum
Weight
3.1 oz
4.1 oz

With the exception of the focusable lamp and weight, the TLR-is wins hands down. 
I recently was out on the range about an hour before sunset and noticed a clump of trees and bushes.  This little cluster of forest created complete and total darkness beneath it.  Several people could have easily hidden in the shadows.  The M-3 wasn’t bright enough 20 yards from the brush to illuminate shadowy undergrowth.  The TRL-1s did a great job!

My next step is to get a carry holster to fit the Glock and TRL-1s mounted.





Monday, August 22, 2016

Internet Training

At the heart of shooting, You'll find trigger control


The above is Dot Torture by Todd Louis Green.

Dot Torture is designed to help develop trigger control.  You can find many variations of trigger control exercises online.  Google Dot Torture and you will find it.

The instructions are simple.  Stand three yards away from the target and follow the instructions printed on the target.  If you’re paying attention you’ll realize there are no time constraints, just shooting requirements.  I modified dots 6 and 7 from 16 rounds to 8.

Internet rumor has it nobody has shot a perfect score at seven yards.

I’m happy with my results, especially dot 8, weak hand.

Training takes many forms.  Some of the better ones don’t look like training, just fun with your friends.  Almost all training takes 500 rounds.  Well, dry firing takes none, but most do.  You don’t need to fire 500 rounds in one session.  That could be actually counterproductive.  What is usually needed is repetition.  Whether it’s a three note riff or brain surgery, it takes repetition, especially for perishable skills.

Sometime you just have to go out and do the boring activities.  It’s an investment in yourself.  The advantages are obvious.  Reaching levels of unconscious competency frees your mind to deal with the unexpected and the unknowable.  In matches, it lets you concentrate on the stage and not on reloading skills or sight alignment.  In self defense, you can concentrate on the event and not get side-tracked by obtaining proper grip for recoil control.

Using a firearm for self defense will look nothing like an IDPA match.  People will move into and out of your field of vision.  You probably will not be standing still nor will your targets.  There will not be a perfect backstop for errant rounds.  You may not know when it actually starts, putting you behind the curve and you may not know when it ends.  The arrival of the police signals the start of a new phase of fighting for your life.

So go out and practice the boring shit once and a while.  Shoot Dot Torture at four yards when three seems easy.  Try taking a step left or right before each firing each dot.  Look up other drills and spend 15 minutes practicing them.

It’s a truism that there will always be someone better at anything you do on any day.  With practice you could find there are only seven million people better than you.  Or would you rather find out there are seven billion people with better skills?

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Trigger Weight and the Courts

This what they use to measure trigger weight

One topic always in vogue is trigger weight.  Every armchair commando, range rat and lying blogger has not only an opinion, but suspects you are a dupe and a drone if you don’t agree with him.  However, every once and awhile, somebody asks an intelligent question: “How light can a trigger be and still avoid the legal problems that are certain to be present in a self-defense shooting?” 

You know my standard warning.  This is not legal advice, just my limited understanding.

First realize that our legal system resembles theater.  Each attorney presents their view of what reality is.  If it is the prosecutor, the view will oppose the defendant.  If the attorney is representing the defendant, the view will support the defendant.  The judge’s job is to ensure both attorneys follow specific rules and but not to ensure the views reflect reality.

The jury finds which reality is most persuasive with their vote of guilty or not.

In 2014, Massad Ayoob wrote a column and an article for American Handgunner, I’m using this for source material and these are my opinions only. (American Handgunner Sept/Oct 2014, you can read it on line.)

The political and social repercussions of a shooting, especially by the police, are manifold.  Such shootings often erase the fragile truce between the police and the criminal subclass.  The police are required to protect members of this sub-class from each other with their powers to arrest.  Often an officer involved in a shooting will be used as a sacrifice by aspiring politicians attempting to restore that fragile truce and promote themselves.

One case was Florida v. Luis Alvarez, in which prosecutor Janet Reno alleged Officer Alvarez, thumb-cocked his .38 spl service revolver creating a “hair trigger” and was responsible by a predictable and negligent accident for the death of Neville Johnson.  While Alvarez was cleared of these charges, the LAPD of the 1970s, in response to both real unintended discharges as well as falsely alleged claims, altered all their service revolvers to double-action-only (DAO).

Seeing the storm Florida v. Luis Alvarez was about to create, the Miami PD altered all their revolvers to double-action-only in the time between the actual shooting and the beginning of the trial.  Clearly Miami PD wanted to get ahead of the legal storm on the horizon.  It cannot be doubted that cocked “hair trigger” issues had a serious impact on two major American police departments.

Transitioning to semi-autos doesn’t solve the problem, either.  Miami PD only transitioned to the much needed Glock after BATF defined the Glock as a DAO semi-auto.  Like NYPD, they insisted on a heaver than factory trigger, an 8 pound trigger.  NY, as many of you know, worked all the way to the NY-2 trigger, topping out at almost 12 pounds of force needed to discharge the weapon.  In other words, at least two national police departments felt legal ramifications required an officer’s gun to be the equivalent of a heavy, DOA revolver.

In the case of Eddy Satibanes v. City of Tomball, TX a great many things went wrong, but it was the installation of a 3.5 pound trigger connector in the privately-owned, but department-approved Glock 21 that caused Judge Holt to send the case to trial.  At that point Chief Rob Hauck, seeing the handwriting on the wall, settled out of court.  It is estimated the city of Tomball spent over a half million on the 3.5 pound Glock connector.  I suspect the Tomball City now required all officers’ firearms to be at or exceed factory specifications.

So does that mean you must only have factory settings in your defensive weapon set?  If only it was that simple.  In NY v. Magliato, the armed citizen was found guilty of manslaughter when his cocked colt revolver with a 4.5 pound trigger went off unintentionally.  The minority opinion of the judges ruling on this case point out that a gun with a trigger that light constitutes depraved indifference to human life.  Pay attention to the fact that 4.5 pounds was the measured trigger pull on the Glock 21 in the Santibanes case.  A 4.5 pound trigger is considered within the normal range of triggers weigh specified by manufacturers and common custom and practice for 1911s.

In the Magliato case, I suspect the judge felt that cocking the weapon, regardless of trigger pull was unnecessary and contributed to his outrage.   Clearly, location of the incident (anti-gun NY) and the gun (single or double action revolver) involved alter the legal outcome.

So yes, there are criminal cases that turn on the weight of the trigger pull.  I can only imagine the problems the armed citizen would face with his or her limited resources. 

Your claim that you kept your finger along the frame until you were forced to shoot will be countered with the claim that you unknowingly, under severe stress and fear for your life, put your finger in the trigger guard.  Your claim you were forced to shoot will be met with disbelief.  The counterclaim will be offered that if the trigger was just a little heavier, you would not have bumped the trigger and caused the gun to fire.  Your claim that you lightened the trigger so you could shoot more accurately and delay pulling the trigger until the last possible moment will be countered that you put a light trigger in so you could shoot faster and fire more rounds to inflict maximum pain before death.

Which of these realities will the jury believe?

Do I have a recommendation?  Hell, yes.

Stay with factory specifications.  Purchase the tactical/combat model and not the target model if you have the option.

FINGER OFF TRIGGER until you must shoot.  Leave the safety on until your finger enters the trigger guard.  ALWAYS IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET.

If you gun has a decocker, use it.

Don’t muck with the springs.  Have a professional gun smith smooth the action, not lighten the trigger.

Look, as a chemist, I know you can do everything right and still have a negative outcome.  Be careful.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Random reflections

I recently spent a few fun hours re-checking my zero with a newish load for my AR.  I also took the time to set up my chronograph.  While I wish I had the ability to shoot targets at 50, 100, 150 and 200 yards, it isn’t very feasible.  The next best option is ballistic software.  If I have all the important parameters, the software can calculate my impact displacement at different distances.  Since the majority of times I’m interested in hitting a 12x12 inch plate no farther than 200 yards the important parameters are, bullet weight, muzzle velocity (hence the chronograph), Ballistic Coefficient (manufacturer’s website) and distanced zeroed as well as scope height over the center of the bore.  These are all pretty easy to get.

I didn’t really expect anything to change much.  I altered my windage slightly and was good to go.  The really important things I got out of checking my zero was time practicing the perfect trigger pull and confirmation nothing was loose on my rifle.  I know and believe that if I do my part, the rifle would live up to its side of the partnership.  You can’t buy confidence like that.


There’s a good reason to shoot matches on sunny, sweat-dropping, hot, windless days.  It has to do with discipline.   No, no, not Madame Fifi’s discipline, but the ability to stay focused on the task at hand.

There is a cycle of discipline with matches.  In a good club level match, all the shooters take turns, shooting, scoring, patching, running the stage and acting as safety officer for each other.  Some portions of the stage are very important, like shooting the weapon.  Some are extremely critical like assuring nobody is downrange at the beginning of the stage.  Others are less important and of no critical nature like patching the target.
 
Mastering the ability to change your focus and concentration will benefit you in many ways.  Changing focus quickly as conditions change is a useful skill.  Knowing you have these abilities is a large percentage of accomplishing this.


There is still a lot of excitement over the mass shooting at the Orlando nightclub, Pulse.  Unless you live on your very own cloud nine world, you know that a Dickless Wonder shot up a gay nightclub, killing 49 and wounding 53.  The police arrive on the scene and attempt to negotiate with Dickless who, now that he has an audience, pledges allegiance to ISIS and talks about putting hostages into bomb vests.  It’s hard to criticize the police under those circumstances, but I will anyway.  They appear to have fallen into the trap of believing Dickless Wonder wanted to survive the event.  That’s the old hostage model. 

In the old model, the guy with the gun wants something, maybe to shoot his ex-wife, or maybe he wants a good ham sandwich and media attention.  But above all he wants to live through it and get away or at least become the darling of the media.  This wasn’t always true, but the old model worked well enough most of the time.

The new model appears to be way different.  Dickless wants to kill enough people to get a seat on the national media stage and set a new record.  He wants people to say “Not since Dickless, has anyone achieved higher level of mayhem and violence.”  He’s not especially interested in surviving, as long as he can continue to kill at his leisure.

What this means for us is that we can’t depend on the police to rescue us.  It’s up to us to know where are the exits, both the official and unofficial (like the kitchen’s back door).  In Ohio, I can carry into an establishment serving alcohol if I don’t drink.  That’s a small price to pay.  It doesn’t take advanced legal training to know if someone is killing random, unarmed individuals, the law allows you to stop him anyway you can.  Your humanity demands it.


One of my favorite websites kind of suggested that having a low capacity, hard to shoot, small caliber handgun is pretty useless in these circumstances.

as well as the video tape of the execution of Paris police officer Ahmed Merabet following the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the security tape from a bar during the November 2015 attack in Paris have lead me to a different conclusion.

What’s the worst that could happen if you emptied your 5 shot airweight revolver at any of these criminals?

Imagine you leaned out your window and fire two rounds at one of Officer Merabet killers and three at the other before they executed him.  I think they would have thought “Damn, someone is trying to kill me, we better beat feet!”

The guy with the AK in the bar and grill during the Nov 15 Paris terrorist attack, what do you think would have happened if the guy hiding behind the bar dumped three rounds at him and maybe even skipped one off of him?  The terrorist may have opened up on the empty bar, but he might have also thought “Damn they’re shooting back.  Nobody said they would shoot back.  Do I still get 72 virgins if I'm wounded and my leader shoots me instead of patching and packing me out?”

Dickless in Orlando wasn’t a very good shot.  One survivor reported on NPR he was shot twice in the leg, played dead and was later shot two more time in the arm and hand by Dickless who was aiming for his victim’s head.  I have to think if some popped off with a little .22 caliber semi auto with five rounds in it and managed to scare Dickless, Orlando would have turned out with fewer deaths.

What am I saying?  When someone is killing people around you, don’t wait for your turn.  Take the initiative and fight back!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Sock

“All right class, who knows what this is?”  Ms. Fishburn said while holding up a single sock. 


Not holster
Class?  Who knows what this is and when it was washed last?

“It’s a foot holster, Ms. Fishburn.”  Susy said.

“Okay… anyone else?  Jimmy?” 

“It’s what misers keep money in.  I know because momma said my dad has some money socked away that nobody knows about.” 

Ms. Fishburn decided she wasn’t going to explore that.  Then she saw Billy trying to flag her down.  With a certain amount of hesitation she said, “Yes Billy?”

“My grandfather says he used to put a condom in that to make an emergency water carrier when he was in the army.”  That was the reason for Fishburn’s hesitation.

“But what else is it?  Anyone?”

“It’s for feet, Ms. Fishburn,”  said Jilly Ann.  “It’s a sock, they usually come in pairs and you put a foot in each.  Not a gun like that moron in Augusta, Kansas.”

“That pretty observant, Jilly.  Where do you put gun when you’re carrying it?”

“In a holster!”  Jimmy butted in before Jilly Ann could answer.  “Everyone knows that!”  The rest of the class made agreement noises.

Ms. Fishburn looked around the class room and nodded in satisfaction.  “You kids are going to do all right.”  Then to herself, “Now if we can just do something about the morons who get all their training from TV….”

Just to be clear, some dickless wonder, jammed a Kel-Tec .380 semi-auto in his sock and went to the high school graduation in Augusta, Kansas.  At some point he decided to readjust the gun and managed to pull the trigger.  He takes a little skin off his foot, but the ricochet manages to find an innocent bystander and injures her.  Fortunately for her, she isn’t injured too bad and is released from the hospital.

The gun went off because DW manages to pull the trigger.  A carry gun should never be just dumped in a pocket, purse or sock.  Why?  Because these things happen.  Stuff, your stuff to be accurate, manages to find triggers or lodges in the barrel and this happens.

Carry guns belong in holsters, or safely secured off your person.

In review:
This is a foot in a sock.

Can I make it any clearer?

This is a gun in a holster made for that specific gun.  It’s secured on the ankle and covered by the sock.  It is not a gun in a sock.
The sock is pulled down a little so you can see the holster.

Now I know you saw Clint Eastwood in the first Dirty Harry movie.  And I know many of you figure you have the man gene that Dirty Harry had and all your training and ideas come from that movie.  You even know his trade mark phrase.

Now Harry Callahan doesn’t jam a gun in his sock.  No, he tapes a switchblade to his ankle and covers it with his sock.
That’s the movies and not real life.  Use a holster.  

Don’t be a genitalia diminished wonder. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

tools

Tactics involves the study of conflicts and outcomes.  From these outcomes new doctrines arise in the effort to avoid the original outcome.  While we may never be faced with ten thousand sword-bearing warriors charging up a narrow valley at us, the doctrine of controlling pinch points remains valid.

Here a case brought to us from http://www.breachbangclear.com/.


Last Sunday (April 24 2016) in Pennsylvania, 46 year old Mark Storms shot and killed a 27 year old man over a dispute about a seat. Earlier this week, Storms was charged with voluntary manslaughter.
Summary from the above link:
Witnesses remember Braxton arriving at church irritated and cursing at an usher in the back of the church, court documents show. Church staff members tried to quiet Braxton, but he refused before heading to a pew that was reserved for two other church members, according to prosecutors.

A church member sitting behind Braxton tapped him on the shoulder to let him know the seats were reserved. Another couple put down two Bibles to save their spots before walking away. Braxton retorted the tap and starting yelling “Don’t f—— touch me!” an affidavit reads.

An assistant pastor and ushers came over to try and calm Braxton, but he continued to yell, records show.

In interviews with police, witnesses watched Storms walk over to Braxton, show him a badge and motion to a handgun under his shirt. The badge, police said, was for his concealed carry permit. Braxton exchanged words with Storms before punching him in the jaw. Storms then pulled out his gun and fired two shots, according to witnesses.
.
One person said Braxton lunged at Storms before the shooting. Another recalled hearing Braxton ask Storms “What are you going to do, shoot me?” before punching him, court documents show.
Storms, in an interview with police, said he opened fire on Braxton because he felt his “person was in great danger” and that he was worried other people in the church, including the elderly and children, were going to be hurt. Storms told police he showed off the concealed carry badge with hopes of defusing the situation.  He said, according to court documents, he had done that in the past and that man “walked away.



Let me add a little background before I jump into it.  It’s legal in Pennsylvania to carry a firearm in a church with a CCW license.  A concealed carry badge is not part of the law or a requirement.   Mark Storms does not have a law enforcement connection, such as deputy, game warden or dog catcher.  Nor does he have any official capacity with the church.

First…I don’t even write radio commercials for lawyers….  I am a student of the gun and teach CCW as well as firearms self-defense.

I associate civilians carrying and flashing badges, shields and buzzers with child molesters.  So do many police.  So it’s stupid to have one.  Period.  I don’t even like the SASS stars cowboy shooters like to wear….

Having a CCW license doesn’t give you police-like responsibilities or authority.  When Storms approached, flashed his badge and brandished his weapon he escalated what was at the time a minor conflict.  This conflict could have been handled much better if anyone had pulled out their cell phone and called the trained professionals, the police.

While Braxton threw the first punch, it hardly fits the parameter of deadly force.  Braxton’s punching Storms was a direct result of the escalation caused by Storms.  The fight seems to have stopped and Storms still had the option to back away.  Instead, he produced the weapon he had previously brandished and shot Braxton.

Part of Storms justification was that he was “worried other people in the church, including the elderly and children, were going to be hurt.”  The article does not mention Braxton having any other weapon other than his body.  Additional follow up indicated that he was unarmed.  One should never confuse unarmed with not dangerous.  I assume other adult men were present and so it doesn’t seem likely that Braxton could have hurt anyone before being restrained or at that point engaged by Storms.  Storms’ story sounds like bullshit to me.

He later confided to the police that he had done this before and had gotten away with it.  This paints Storms as a bully and a wanna-be police officer, interested in the power, but not the responsibility.  Neither of which will engender him to the police.  Nor should it to the civilian (AKA jury pool) population.

This is another story of having only one tool to solve problems.  Not having verbal skills, Storms attempted to bully Braton with a phony badge and concealed weapon.  Not having a less lethal option (OC spray, open/closed hand skills), Storms fell back on the only skill he had, trigger pulls.

Voluntary manslaughter sounds fair….Storms is the perfect poster child for stupid.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Random BS

A discussion with an LEO about the job came around to militias.  One only has to look at the upper Michigan peninsula and Idaho to realize there are a lot of serious people meeting, training and stockpiling.   I understand some of what motivates them. 

People are concerned about the well being of America.  Some feel the government isn’t leading and isn’t protecting the interests of the ordinary citizen.  So, into that vacuum you have people and organizations advocating a spectrum of self reliance and preparation.  Even some of the fun shoots I attend are structured to give the self-reliant shooter a chance to try different rifle positions, practice different tactics, or polish skills.  There are a lot of good people just want to do something to help.


One not uncommon topic in the blog-o-sphere is your role during a violent terrorist attack.  It’s an open sore I can’t resist picking at.

In this vein I ran across the term ‘citizen defender’.  You may be one of many wondering “what-the-fuck-is-going-on” or less friendly “I-better-get-my-head-down” during an attack.  Now what should you do?    I don’t think anyone has all the answers.  Not me, not Massad Ayoob, not the guy or gal running a training class at your range.  The best I can suggest is practice often, give some thought to how you want to react in the attacks we read about, and have the equipment you need on hand.


I overheard the open-carry crowd talking among themselves.  It was interesting.  Open carry might be the poster child for “Things that are legal, but shouldn’t be done.”  With the advent of CCW in Ohio, I see no reason to invoke a law designed to allow hunters to walk down the road to the next field.

What struck me as interesting is they remind me of high school boys keeping score of who got to what base with which girl.  Is there any significance to open carrying in a Wal-Mart?  What about the 23rd First National Bank of Butkiss?  How does that strike a blow for freedom and justice?  It’s not like you just depth charged a Sinaloa Cartel submarine filled with drugs.

One of the better responses to negating open carry is the question “In the split second you open carry into a building, how does the police or other CCWers know you are not a terrorist who need to be DRT?”  I don’t have an answer.  More poster children for STUPID.


My last soapbox is personal first aid kits.   Read Samuel Hayes at http://www.breachbangclear.com/sudden-shooter-events-lessons-from-the-hood/.

I’m big on personal blow-out kits.  The product from Dark Angel Medical looks interesting, but you can make your own.  Quik-clot, combat tourniquets, compression bandages and disposable gloves are available and can be assembled into zip lock bags and with home vacuum sealers you can custom fit the package.  There are some great 4 hour courses that will teach you the basics of stopping bleeding and keeping an airway open.

If you subscribe to the citizen defender concept then you must also accept your role as the citizen responder as well.