Friday, December 30, 2011

Tactical New Year

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

I’d like to wish all of you a Happy and Safe New Year. 

Every year I hope for a better year than the last, but truth be told, I’m often disappointed.  So this year I’m going to work on more shooting, more training and more fun.  Life can be rich and rewarding if we pay attention and learn to make lemonade out of lemons.

I don’t, at least not yet, have a list of tactical New Year’s resolutions.  I do have a couple of ideas.

Have a safe New Year’s Eve!  Don’t drink and drive.  You could stay home and celebrate with your friends.  Have them spend the night so their year starts safe.  Better still, don’t drink to stupidity.  It takes away your tactical edge.  Being drunk is like a giant sign over your head saying VICTIM.

Avoid places you’re not wanted, especially over the holidays when everyone is knocking a few back and inhibitions are crashing to the deck.  And there you are with the flashing victim sign over your head.

Try to get off the roads as soon as possible on New Year’s Eve.  We can’t control the drunks who careen down the streets like a self-activated billiard ball. 
Does this sound like a buzz kill?  I don’t know, maybe. 

The truth of the matter is I want everyone to have a good year in 2012 and starting it in the hospital or morgue doesn’t bode well.

Stay safe, stay tactical in 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Preventable Tragedies

Of all the tragic events that occur daily, can any be more tragic than the death of a child?  There is one.  The death of a child that could have been prevented.

Now I’m not hitting you up for money.  I am hitting you up to think things through a little more carefully, especially if you carry a gun. 

Rachel Yoder was 15 years old and she was driving her buggy home from a Christmas party at the produce shop she worked at.  Her family found her bleeding on the ground outside her house.  First thought to be a victim of a head injury, doctors at Akron City Hospital discovered a gunshot wound.  Rachel died December 16, 2011.

Police followed the blood trail to the intersection of Country Road 229 and Township Road 614.  There were no witnesses, no evidence, just a dead girl in a hospital bed.

By 20 Dec 2011, the police had a suspect.  This wanker apparently pointed his muzzle loader into the air and unloaded it by firing it.  Now firing a muzzle loader to unload it at the end of a day’s hunt prior to cleaning is not unusual.

“I shot a bullet into the air, it fell to earth I knew not where.”  Apologies to H.W. Longfellow. 

Did this wanker think the bullet would just evaporate?  Didn’t he ever hear of the expression what goes up, must come down?

Rachel was almost 1.5 miles away.  One-and-a-half miles.

I don’t know if there will be charges.  I think there should be.  Firing a gun into the air with no apparent safe impact zone is, in my opinion, gross negligence.

This is where you’re going to disagree with me.  

The NRA says a .22 LR will go over 2 miles.  An AD during your survival gun fight may kill someone a distance away.  Killing people you didn't mean to shoot is a good way to get set up for a gang banging in jail.

Pointing a gun up into the air and over the berm during a slide lock reload is almost as negligent as discharging a gun into space with no particular target in mind.

I don’t care what your department says.  I don’t care what the professional trainer says, having an AD during a slide lock reload is more than just possible.  All it takes is a finger in the wrong place, a gun that’s a little worn, a speck of dirt or metal shavings in the wrong place, and an AD will occur.

The odds that a person would be in the wrong place 1.5 miles away and intersect a random discharge are too big to have any meaning, but it happened.

Every professional firearms trainer knows they have to keep up with current thought as well as develop a hook for their continued employment.  It’s a tough business.  Training dollars can be scarce.  Many of our techniques come from the shooting sports and the look-through-the-trigger-guard reload sounds like one of them. 
Yes, you can see where the cardboard targets have moved to during your reload so you know what to shoot.  But in a real fight why would you have your head sticking out from behind cover, rubber necking about during a reload?  No cover?  Why are you standing still, reloading?  MOVE!!  Moving targets are much harder to hit.

During a reload I think your gun should be pointed at the object (person, steel, cardboard) you are trying to shoot.  Bring the gun up to eye level if you need to peek around cover to keep track of people trying to kill you. 

Don’t let someone with a photographer’s vest sell you his newest snake oil.  Let someone else be the poster child for bad ju-ju.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

When More is Nothing

I overheard it at Camp Perry a few weeks ago.  I learned it from my AR instructors.  I’ve even experienced it myself: Most guns don’t like be to loaded with a full magazine against a closed bolt or slide. 

The close tolerance designed into many weapons doesn’t let a completely filled magazine to compress enough to allow the magazine to lock into place when loaded against a closed action.

AR are notorious for this.  A filled thirty-round magazine doesn’t always seat against a closed bolt.  Glocks are famous for this as are Kahrs.  I’ve owned a few 1911 .45 ACPs that would spit out a filled mag loaded against a closed action.

Glock - 9 mm tool - useful but has limitations

The general gun battle assumption is you’ll shoot the gun dry, discover you’re empty and perform a slide-lock reload.  The tactical reload was reserved for game players on the safety of the range. 

But can you really be sure of that?  I can’t predict the future any more than you, so by some remote, improbable, extraordinary circumstance, could you need a tactical reload to save your butt?

I’ll grant you that at best the tactical reload is reserved for the lull in fighting in which a reassessment also takes place to determine if the battle would continue or not.  At worst it’s a tool gamesmen play on the safety of the range to insure that when they reach the next shooting box their blaster will be fully reloaded.

Unless you’re behind sufficiently large cover, you should be making every attempt to shoot people trying to kill you.  But since lulls in a gun battle can be so temporarily transitory, the need to quickly refill your weapon is critical.  Having the gun spit the magazine out after the next shot is a recipe for disaster.

Solution?  Down load your carry magazine by one.

What!  Heresy you say!  I know, yes, you spent extra for high cap magazines and mag extenders to get extra rounds.  But let’s think about this.

Kahr P9 with "glock' sock

Your AR with an administrative (that’s the first magazine you put in the weapon at the beginning of your day) load of 30 rounds and one conservative reload of 28 rounds gives you 58 instead of 60 rounds available to you.  That’s a 3% reduction in potential fire power.  Which odds are best for your survival:  a 3% or a 50% reduction caused by dropping the magazine after one shot?  

With your 1911 and seven round magazines, one reload with six rounds gives you  13 rounds or a 7% reduction.  Compare this value to dropping a filled 7-round magazine after the first shot following a tactical reload.  Again that’s a 50% reduction in fire power.

The message seems clear, if down loading a reload magazine by one round increases your weapon’s reliability and therefore your survival ability, isn’t it worth it?

“But,” you interrupt. “What if I need that extra round?”

If you’re convinced the 14th round of .45 ACP is significant to your survival, carry an extra magazine.  That gives you 19 rounds. 

Carrying a second reload is like inexpensive life insurance.  Even if you’re a high cap Glock shooter, a second reload is a gift from the gods.

But what if someone with authority prevents you from carrying a second magazine?  I don’t have all the answers, heck, I don’t have all the questions, but I would consider a second magazine in my pocket hidden from that authority. 
A second option might be an aftermarket mag extender and fill the magazine to its original capacity using the “add-on” capacity to ensure I can reload against a closed action.  Again the question to answer is how reliable is it?

If you’re of the mindset that since you didn’t get a third magazine when you bought the gun, so you’re not going to pay for a third magazine, buy life insurance ‘cause you’re dead anyway.  The certificate just hasn’t been served.

It’s something to think about.  If your gun and magazines have no problem loading a filled magazine against a closed slide, great.  Fill’em up.

But if your weapon doesn’t like filled magazines, then down loading by one could save your life.