Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Tactics

Christmas time is a unique holiday in western civilization.  It has both religious and materialistic components that we celebrate.  Most people find balance or at least some degree of harmony between what appears to be conflicting values.

This Christmas time, like so many past ones and ones to come, we remain at war.  It may not be a classic shooting war or even a cold war eyeball-to-eyeball brinkmanship contest, but we are at war.  Extremists of all ilk remain dedicated to the success of their chosen path and we remain their target, but not their sole target.

Often our news media down play acts of terrorism overseas, as not important, wrong end of the news cycle or not in their interest to cover.  One such story barely covered was the killing of 7 and wounding of another 20 by a suicide bomber at a Christian Church in Pakistan Dec 17 2017.  ISIS claims to be responsible, but ISIS is a known limelight hog.

Don’t believe the targets are only Christians or Jews.  Earlier this month another suicide bomber killed 18 people at a Muslim Sufi shrine.

ISIS Propaganda aimed at England.  How many weak mind people will fall for this dreek?
The NY pipe bomber claimed he was motivated by the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and our celebration of Christmas.

The holidays are no excuse to become complacent. 

No, I don’t want you look for ninjas under tables or organizing evening sentries in your neighborhood.  Nor do I want you to skip religious celebrations or secular festivities. I would suggest you continue to take what I would consider normal precautions.

Stay armed.  Even at church people don’t have to know you have a sidearm and a reload.

Inquire and suggest that your temple, church, shrine, festivity consider extra security.  Almost every organization knows an off-duty cop or two who would like to earn a holiday bonus.
Keep your cell phone on and charged, just silence the ringer. 

Carry a knife, small flashlight, an emergency first aid kit as well as car keys, cash, credit card and licenses.  Dress for the weather, not the car trip over.  You might have to hoof it a block or four with what you’re wearing in any weather.

Keep your eyes open and watch for the ‘odd sock’ or thing that doesn’t belong.

If you see something not right, act.  No, I don’t mean draw your weapon (but that could be the proper response), but bail out, withdraw, retreat.  Make sure everyone in your party knows what’s expected of them and where to meet if they are separated.  It could be the car, the gate or a traffic light a block away.

Ignore authority’s orders to remain in place.  Their concerns are about order, containment, procedures and authority, not your safety.  The first minute of confusion may be your best chance to escape.  Make use of it.

Limit your alcohol consumption.  Have a beer, wine or mixed drink and then make the next two non-alcoholic.

Being tactical doesn’t always mean selecting a position where you can see both doors (although it would help) or pre-identifying what’s cover and what’s concealment (but that’s not a bad idea).  Sometimes your best tactical moves are simply to recognize the limitations of what you are doing and having a plan and back-up plan.

Have a Merry Christmas, no matter how you celebrate it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today's Lesson

It’s not often I find an article that nails several concepts at once.
Binh Thai Luc was recently convicted in the 2012 hammer-killing of a family of five after losing money at a casino earlier in the evening.  Dickless has a violent criminal history and spent almost a decade in prison for robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for a 1996 armed robbery of a Chinese restaurant in San Jose.
He was ordered to be deported to his native Vietnam upon his release, but the Vietnamese government didn’t provide the documents needed to process his removal from the U.S.  ICE officials released him into the community in 2006.
His lawyer proposed a TODDI defense, despite finding and identifying the victim’s blood on his pants and the presence of Dickless’s blood on a pack of cigarettes, a receipt and a cabinet drawer.
Here’s my first take away.  Lawyers will present in court a version of reality and it doesn’t have to have any relationship to what we commonly call reality.  It’s up to the jury to decide who has the story that best fits their version of reality.  It could be up to you, the defendant in a self-defense shooting, to help them expand their version of self-defense reality.  You may not be able to hire experts, but you can always testify.  Are you up to it?
TODDI? Oh, that’s the defense which claims “Those Other Dudes Done It.”  In this case the lawyer blamed it on the Chinese Mob or a unnamed boyfriend.
Second take away.  Dickless used a hammer.  No waiting period, no background check, can be bought anywhere and it has multiple purposes other than killing people.  Hopefully it is clear that objects in themselves have no intrinsic good or bad nature.  People do wicked and bad things.
Third take away,  Dickless’s victims were unable or unwilling to defend themselves effectively.  Dickless had a disparity of force the victims were unable to match and exceed.  Of course that is the nature of all attacks.  Few armies would survive by attacking a larger, better armed and prepared enemy in a superior position.  Criminals are the same.  The armed citizen should have both a tool and mental toughness.
Fourth takeaway.  The victims were known to keep a reservoir of cash.  Clearly, your business should remain your business and kept among adults who know how to keep information confidential.
The last take away is political preaching.  Dickless should have been expatriated to Vietnam in 2006 following his incarceration for the 1996 armed robbery of a Chinese restaurant.  It appears Vietnam didn’t want him back either.  Let’s stop focusing on illegal aliens who want to be law-abiding and contributing members of our society and worry about the violent felons, drug dealers, and gangsters who are tearing down our society.
There’s a line in the sand we need to find. I don’t care about an illegal with 3 parking tickets and not paying his income tax.  I care about the illegal or citizen on this third drunk driving conviction in a year, the guy selling dope to your kids and guys driving or yanking the trigger in a drive-by.  Let’s put them on a plane and send them back home and keep the people (from wherever they come and however they arrive) who want to be part of the solution.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Basics 7

Shot placement or caliber?  Which side of the argument do you come down on?  It’s a variation of the ice breaking question, “What’s the best caliber for self-defense?” 

Stripped of arguments about how we measure power, what is the primary target, bullet performance and what is stopping power, it’s really about your ability.  And ability changes over time, doesn’t it.

Bub starts shooting with a 22 pistol and after a reasonable period he’s pretty good with it, but not so hot with the 1911 .45 ACP.  With time Bub masters that skill and becomes proficient with the .500 S&W.  Later as the effects of age and injury rob him, Bub finds he can’t control the recoil of the big bores and no longer has the tack driving accuracy he once had.  Shooting anything larger than a .380 ACP is no longer fun.

So what’s Bub to do?  I see shooters dealing with all points in this story and I expect this to happen to me and you.

Let’s ignore the silly solutions: air soft, BB guns, .22 CB cap, or rubber band guns shooting paper clips dipped in nitroglycerin.

Likewise, how many of us will find, realistically, a raging stoned, meth head in our kitchen?  And as much as I follow the religion of the one shot stop, I know that’s a largely impotent god.  (Sorry Evan Marshall!)

Even shot placement, where I genuflect, how many times do you think you’ll be able to consciously aim at the heart’s right atrium or the brain’s medulla oblongata?

I was going to post an image of someone else’s idea of priority targets on a person, but instead look at the angle views and you decide where to aim.  Now  put a shirt and pants over him and pick your aiming points.  2-D flat targets are so much easier…

Massad Ayoob use to tell his LFI classes, as I remember, to shoot the most powerful gun you can control in rapid fire.

The words control and rapid are the key to unraveling this discussion.  Your ability to control in rapid fire any caliber gun is the important factor.  Hitting a violent criminal offender in the chest 3 times with a .22 LR in 1 second counts more to your survival than 2 misses in the same time with a .45 ACP

So the answer to the ice breaking question, “Which is more important, shot placement or caliber?” is neither.  Your ability to rapidly and accuracy hit with the gun you’re holding is the answer and one of the keys to survival.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Teach Your Daughters To Hit

Teach Your Daughters To Hit Someone Who Touches Them

It’s one of my favorite blog/websites.  I’m reposting because I believe in what it says and I feel it has value to the community.  I do have a few remarks and here they are:
Many of the readers responded that in many school systems it’s a felony to use violence, even in self-defense.  That this record could follow you and prevent you from joining the military, getting clearance or a job.  Others point out that jobs and some schools have policies that require your immediate dismissal.

I believe this is empowers the creeps who know the treat of dismissal or a felony charge will make their victim complacent.  One only has to look at the Hollywood-Harvey Weinstein scandal to understand this.  I can’t change the world, but we can by insisting our schools and place of employment treat self-defense is a right and not an option to be conveniently discarded.

I’m clearly on the kick ‘em in the nuts and break their fingers side and I if I had a daughter  (or son for that matter) I’d tell her what David says and that’s we’ll find a solution for the aftermath later.

David Reeder:
“Teach your daughters, goddaughters, and nieces to fight. If you can’t, then pay someone to, and teach them that violence is acceptable. Teach them to hit people who touch them. Not tell the teacher, not complain to the Human Resources department, to hit them, as viciously as possible, immediately and publicly.

Testicles, throats, eyes — they’re all vulnerable.

Violence may not always be the answer, but when it is the answer, it’s usually the only answer. Including when, perhaps especially when, someone touches them without permission.

Speaking strictly to my nieces and goddaughters, I say: you bring me the scrotum of some dude who grabbed your boob or your butt, girls. I’ll reward you and turn it into a tobacco pouch.  I’d hold forth and talk more about this, but Jeff Rouner of the Houston Press already has, and he did a great job of it.

Jeff Rouner:
“I’ve started telling my daughter that if someone touches her chest, her ass or between her legs without her permission, to punch them in the goddamn face. Aim for the nose, Sweetheart. You don’t want to catch their teeth and get a cut. That’s a good way to get an infection. You want nose or eyes, and maybe use that front choke Daddy taught you. Turn your forearms so the bone goes against their carotid and jugular. That’s what makes them pass out.

Can she get in trouble for violence at school? Yes, she can, and should. Violence is illegal. Note: I didn’t say wrong. I said illegal. The two are not synonyms.
Is violence the ideal answer to sexual harassment? Of course it isn’t. The ideal answer is living in a world where this sort of thing is swiftly dealt with at all levels of authority with a zero-tolerance policy. Anytime y’all want to make that happen, you let me know. Until then, I’m teaching my daughter the proper way to throw a punch, and if you don’t like it, teach your kids the proper way to act.

Answering physical assault with physical assault is perfectly appropriate, and I have long since stopped caring about the concept of polite when it comes to those who feel boundaries are optional….”

David Reeder:
“Fuckin’ A.”

So there you have it.  Personally I suspect that no school or business wants the publicity what would come from institutionalizing sexual violence by prohibiting self-defense.  My experience is organizations suddenly go silent when you offer to take it to the press.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Restraining Orders

I often find myself imitating Brother Juniper (The Bridge Over San Luis Rey) a lot.   He attempted to determine what shortcoming, what sin, led to the death of several people when the aforementioned bridge collapses.

I’m drawn to a dissection of newspaper articles on self-defense related tragedies and successes.  Unfortunately tragedies are news, not successes.

Laura Fruscella (age 64) was by any account a resource in her community.  She spoke several languages, worked with many charities, was a productive member of her community.

Her flaw was two-fold:  she had bad taste in men and was incapable of realizing that some people refuse to follow the same rules of civilization the rest of us do.   Dale Peters (who she had been dating for 9 years) had no trouble coloring outside the lines when he wanted to.

Peters (age 65) had a long history of abusing her physically and verbally but she never reported it because she was afraid of him.  Finally she attempted to leave him last August 26, but was apparently unable to make a clean separation.

Through a domestic violence pilot program assessment, authorities determined at that time (Aug 2017) that Fruscella was at “high risk” of becoming a homicide victim!  Peters was charged with domestic violence and taken into custody. He posted 10 percent of his $5,000 bond on Aug. 28 and was released.

We’re rounding the corner on Laura’s timeline, unfortunately she had no idea.  On Sept. 25, she said he sent her 6 text messages.  Five days after Fruscella reported Peters had violated the protection order, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Peters did not appear in court on Oct 17 to answer the charges of violating a protection order and a warrant was issued Oct 17

On Oct 29, around 8:40am Peters went to Laura’s home, broke in and cut her throat, killing her.

Following her death, Megan Gergen with the Domestic Violence and Children’s Advocacy Center indicated while a protection order is essentially a piece of paper, it puts the burden on the abuser to stay away and is hopefully just one part of a bigger safety plan.  “A shelter is certainly always an option. Therapy is always an option. Just calling our helpline is always an option. Reaching out to family, friends, letting them know what’s going on,” she said.

Really?  A man breaks into your house and Megan hopes calling the help line and letting your friends know will prevent your death?  Would Megan do that?  Not if Megan has any sense at all.
Here’s a few more concrete suggestions to deal with a violent abuser.

Top of the list: Never get a protection order until you own a gun and have started to training with it.

Change the locks.

Buy a burner phone and stop using your old phone number and social apps.  Don’t give your abuser the chance to find you.

Give that number to only people you trust with your life, because you are.  The fewer the better and instruct them not to give out the new number to anyone.  Never give your number to any of the abuser’s relatives.  If Grandma Abuser can’t call her grandkids, tough!  

You have to explain to your younger children they have to move out of the Internet and back into the physical world.

Stop using all social media and tell your friends not to post, snap, chat anything about you or your activities.  Ask them to wait to the next day to post if the social media addiction is too strong.

Change your routines.  Drive to work a different way.  Change you schedule.  Keep your eyes open for anyone following you.  Every abuser has friends who think you’re the bad person and they just want to help the abuser out.

Report every incident of attempted or actual contact to the police.  You need to establish a paper trail indicating what you have done to avoid any conflict.  Juries like knowing you tried to de-escalate.

Remember that gun?  Find an instructor that understands the complications of lethal self-defense and how to survive.  What do you need SWAT team or commando tactics for?  You’re going to wait for the abuser to come to you.

Did I suggest a blade?  Carry a knife and the gun so you can get to it right away, not at the bottom of a purse or buried in a briefcase.

Practice the way you carry.

Carry the gun and a cell phone everywhere.  Don’t tell your boss, your best friend, your stylist or anyone else.  They don’t need to know.  Certainly don’t tell your abuser.  Let it come as a surprise.

Decide in advance you deserve to live and anyone who attempts to kill or harm you deserves to be stopped.  Tell yourself you will shoot in defense of yourself.  Your instructor will help you with the specifics.

Now, after you’ve started training, have the gun, bought a burner phone, changed the locks, THEN get the restraining order. 

Like Megan says, it’s just a piece of paper.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I Got My Eye On You....

Druids believed spirits lived in objects, especially oak trees.  That gives rise to the pundit’s remark: “We grew up as reformed druids.  We worshiped at oak furniture.”  You can see why that joke has been official banned from the stand-up lexicon.

Still, I found myself driven to get my Beretta 92F repaired when the 20 year old rear sight failed much for the same reason.  Over 20 years ago I replaced the rear block of metal that Beretta called a rear sight with a low profile adjustable sight.  This sight drove a screw in the metal of the frame tilling the rear sight slightly to the right.  I was used to shooting it that way and it shot quite well, but metal fatigue took its toll.

My fixed Beretta 92F with new rear sights
I got the two dot rear sight that lines up with the the dot on the front sight.

The Beretta has been a good gun and never let me down.  It fed everything, including fired 9mm cases used in jam clearance drills.  It is the gun I put on my waist when I feel there may be trouble.  And now my loyal and trusty gun needed repair.  I always felt that there is bond between user and equipment that goes beyond rational explanation.  Of all the inanimate objects in my life, the only one I feel that way about is, yeah you guessed it, my Beretta.  Maybe I’m an a druid after all.

I took it to Dave at Defensive Creations.  I’ve known Dave for years and I’ve shot with him as long as I have known him and I wouldn’t take my Beretta to anyone else.  Dave found a rear LPA sight for me and installed it. 

Later that evening I roughly zeroed the rear sight at 20 feet.  I need to get it on a rest and zero it at about 25 feet and see where it hits at other distances, but right now it does the job.
Thanks Dave!!!

While I was there Dave showed me a handgun he was installing a small reflex or dot sight on.  I have only limited experience with these pistol sights.  The dot is great news for old eyes or eyes with serious distance corrections.  The dot is focused on the same focal plane as your target.  So instead of trying to focus on the front sight, you focus on the object.  We do this automatically.  The mind wants to pay attention to what is dangerous to us. 

What I have experienced and read is the dot is faster than iron sights to about 20 feet.  Beyond that it slows down, chiefly because it takes a little time to find the dot.  This reminds me of the problems I and most people have when we started shooting.  The problem can be summarized as “Where the hell is that front sight?” 

Reflex rear sight
These small reflex sights (mini-reflex) sip electrons from batteries and can have a two year life span, so you just leave them on all the time.  This way they are always ready!

With enough practice we overcome this problem.  I suspect the same is true with the reflex sight.

Dave is adding a rear and front sight that’s the right height so the dot is co-axial to them.  Now when your gun pops up you have a rear and front sight as well as barrel to help you get the dot on target. 

With the long battery life and improved electrical connections these small reflex sights are very dependable.  I think you will see more of these in the future.  Shooters spend over two thousand for Wilson Combat, close to a thousand for a Sig, so why not spend a little more to insure you’ll find your dot before someone else finds their front sight?

Give Defensive Creations a go.  You will not be displeased.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


I attended a local cartridge show and had a chance to visit a small but fiercely loyal group of collectors.  It was fun.

Some cartridges have only tiny differences so that the rounds are interchangeable.

Other examples of different names for the exact same cartridge include the .244 Rem. and 6mm Rem., .25-20 Win. and .25 WCF, .250 Savage and .250/3000 Savage, .32-20 Win. and .32 WCF, and .44-40 Win. and .44 WCF. Many other cartridges have two or more names.

Others can be interchanged only in one direction.  A perfect example is the .38 Special and .357 Magnum.  Revolvers sized for .357 magnum will safely fire both the magnum load and .38spl load.  The .38spl revolver cylinder will not close if it’s loaded with a .357 magnum.  Easy –Peasy.

Many rifle cartridges have double names and more than a few spread confusion with similar names, like the 7mm.  In short order we have :

7-30 Water,
7mm Mauser aka 7X57mm,
.280 Remington 7mm Express Remington,
.280 Ackley Improved,
7mm Remington Magnum,
7 mm Remington Short Action Ultra Mag,
7mm Winchester Short Magnum aka 7mm WSM,
7mm Weatherby Magnum,
7mm Shooting Times Western aka 7mm STW (did you expect something else?),
7mm Remington Ultra Mag.

And I/n will not diving into the family of military 7mm.

So you can see there is a lot of material to collect and sort and at a reasonable price.  I might hazard a guess and suggest you might own one of each of those for $150 total if you shop carefully.

It’s also a lesson that if the rifle says 7mm, it may not be what you think. So be careful.

I bought a 7mm-08 round mostly because of the bullet.  The end of the bullet had little checks that suggested the round was designed to mushroom on impact.  The bullet had a funny look to it.  The seller muttered about different bullets for improved performance, ion hardened and so forth.  I just thought it was interesting.

Moly disulfide coated bullet
The seller had me with the little indents at the tip.

Back at work, I took a photo of the bullet and while examining the round the bullet just reminded me of something.  I took a little piece of paper and rubbed the bullet on it and was rewarded with a black smear.  Lead, perhaps?

Luckily I have analytical equipment that I can use and quickly determined the smudge was molybdenum disulfide.  How about that!

Maybe 20 years ago moly disulfide was the hot ticket.  This slippery solid material is used as a dry lubricant.  Somebody reasoned if they imbedded moly disulfide on the surface of copper or lead bullet it would slip out of the barrel cleaner and easier.  Cleaner results in less fowling which would give better accuracy longer.  (I just shot a box of 69 gr. .223 rem from Black hills that was treated with moly. Can’t say I noticed better performance on steel plates.)

Every bullet or cartridge modification seems to be driven by improved accuracy, followed by improved stopping power.  What other reason would you have?  Well there are a few, but that’s another time.

I do remember trying custom loads for 9mm with a moly coating.  It seems, I was told later, the friction between the bullet and barrel’s lands and grooves helps retain the bullet in the gun barrel.  This time allows for sufficient combustion of the gun power to build up the required pressure needed to propel the bullet at expected velocities.

Moly coatings were allowing the bullet to slip out too soon as demonstrated by lower muzzle velocities.  So that meant more and faster burning gunpowder was required, which caused more barrel fouling.  That affected accuracy sooner and the whole concept of moly coated bullets was a wash.  I really don’t remember seeing any for sale now-a-days.

The 7mm-08 in itself is an interesting cartridge.  The cartridge is derived from a wildcat cartridge known as the 7mm/308 popular round 1958. 

Wildcatters are funny birds.  They will try all kinds of sizes, combinations and barrels in an attempt to improve performance and answer the question “What If?”  Some may gain some level of fame for the uniqueness of their round, like the semi-mythical 22-50 BMG, a round comprised of a .223 diameter bullet on a necked down .50 BMG case.  

Others become an accepted by the shooting population and manufactured by big name companies.  7mm-08 is one of these.  The name doesn’t suggest it was a 7mm modified in 2008, but a .308 Winchester case necked down to accept 7 mm (.284) bullets.

Cartridges on display
Thank you Internet!  Here's the 7mm-08 and it's brother .308 win.   

It’s a well-established round with good performance and through the combination of high ballistic coefficient and velocity produces the desirable “flat trajectory.”  The round has found favor with metallic silhouette and long range shooters as well as hunters and fun shooters.

Shooters like the reduced recoil and accuracy and find the slightly reduced range very livable.  I have to agree, I can live very comfortably with a 300 yard rifle instead of a 400 yard rifle.  In my neck of the woods, 300 yards is plenty.

It’s reported Jeff Cooper preferred this round in his Scout Rifle and this round has been found suitable for most North American game (with the right bullet!) with the exception of the apex predators, polar, brown and grizzly bears.

I got all this for a little computer time, a couple of books I already had, and a buck and a half purchase.  It’s a good deal!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Don't Be A Number

There are a lot of numbers floating around from the tragedy at the Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas.

59 dead (so far),
more than 500 injured,
15 minutes of lead rain,
22,000 attendees in the open air arena,
32nd second floor of Mandalay Bay,
2 windows broken out of suite 32135,
64 year old shooter, aka Dickless Wonder,
33 weapons found in the hotel room,
distance from window to concert:  400 yards downhill,
time of flight for a 55gr .223 rem bullet:  1/5 to 1/8 of a second,
bullet drop for that round: 32 inches.
Speed of sound that distance:  1/3 second,

Dead among the debris 

 Will this force promoters to cover outdoor venues to protect against snipers?  Maybe, but what good would it do?  Dickless wasn’t aiming at individual people; he was just throwing rounds in to the crowd.  An opaque plastic sheet or canvas cover would have made no difference.

Having a handgun at the event would have made no difference.  I don’t think anyone could have lobbed any handgun round 400 yards uphill and gotten them into the window, much less into Dickless.  Oh, you meant a rifle! 

Really, you were going to walk around at an event with a scoped rifle and ammo.  Hell man, I’d be writing about you in jail right now!  400 yards at night?  I don’t think you could have made a hit. 

I’ll buy a box of .223 ammo or 5.56X45 for anyone who can send me a certified video of a self-supporting, cold bore shot with an AR type rifle hitting a 2 by 4 foot sheet of plywood 400 yards away and elevated 250 ft up on the first shot, at night. 

No, you would have been another Dickless Wonder throwing rounds at helpless people.

So what do we do?  Answer: Escape, evade, preserve.

Carry an emergency first aid kit:  combat gauze, tourniquet, tape. You may need it for yourself or the person next to you.  Can you stuff a wound?  Do you know how to use that tourniquet?  There are classes and people who can help.

Know where the emergency exits are.  Especially pay attention to the doors marked “Staff Only,”  “No Admittance,” “Authorized Personal Only,” and “Kitchen.”   Even the ones that say “Entrance only” “Alarm will Sound,”and” Reserved for Handicap” can serve as an escape.

Do you have a flashlight?  Not your cell phone screen, but a real honest-to-God flashlight that can illuminate a door or hallway 40 feet way?  You could see what everyone else is missing and get out.

Of course you should be armed.  You never know what you’ll run into outside.  Make sure you have a blade.

Carry a phone, credit card, cash and driver’s license as well as your CCW permit.  You might need to rent another room, pay a cab driver, or communicate with friends and family.

Arrange to meet at a major landmark, should your party become separated.  That’s damn easy in Vegas; the town is full of them.

Dress to blend in at the event.  Long pants, shirt with sleeves (yeah, you can roll them up), shoes that protect the feet and allow you to walk a mile to safety over broken glass and metal. 

Stay sober!

Act immediately.

Keep your wits about you.  When you arrive anywhere, identify what is bulletproof and what is just invisibility.  Locate the nearest exits and make a plan.

You get the message, I hope.  You’re responsible for your own immediate salvation.  Don’t be a number.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

More Lessons from the Damned

 Akron Beacon Journal ran an article Sept 19, 2017 by Stephanie Warsmith that I found interesting.  It’s sort of a modern parable for our times.  Dexter Brooks was unloading his handgun and thinking the gun was unloaded, pulled the trigger.  It wasn’t

The bullet is reported to have gone through wooden stairs and into a lower level bathroom where it struck his two-year-old daughter.  The last I could find out was the child was still in critical condition.

This is another needless tragedy that a little training could have prevented.

I’m unable to find the details of the shooting, but let’s start at the beginning and walk through the sequence.  It sounds like he was walking up the stairs and unloading his semi-auto.

Two of the most dangerous operations with any gun is drawing and holstering.  The possibilities of negligent discharge are very large.  Stand still during these operations unless you’re forced to move.  99.9% of the time (and I speak from many years of firearms training and practice), there is no need to move when drawing and holstering.

Oh, you don’t use a holster!  Just drop it in your pocket or tuck it into your belt.  Dude, that’s just so wrong on so many different levels.

So, you’ve drawn the weapon and now you need to unload it.  Let’s assume you know your operating controls.  Right?  You’ve read the book that came with it or read the online version the manufacturer provides.  Of course, it’s finger off trigger until you’ve made the decision to shoot.  And this is not a shooting situation, that’s why you are unloading. 

Guns are designed to let you comfortably place your finger on the trigger.  Keeping your finger off the trigger can be difficult.  This tragedy is just one example of why we say finger off trigger.

Revolvers:  rotate the cylinder out of the frame and press the ejector rod to remove the rounds from the chambers.  Then take your finger and feel each open chamber.  Did you get the right number?  Do it again anyway.  Compulsive concern about safety is the hallmark of the professional.  You want to be professional, don’t you?

If you didn’t get the right number it means there’s still a round in a chamber.  Depress the ejector rod again.   Repeat the finger check.  Sure, you can use your eyes if it’s light enough to see or if you can turn on a light, but using your sense of touch as well as vision is just a double check.  Especially when you don’t want to wake your sleeping spouse.

Now you can close the cylinder and put it away.

Semi-autos:  There’s a reason I don’t use semi-autos in the introduction classes I teach.  Simply put, they are complex and the manual of arms can be difficult.  Let’s try it anyway.

The first step is to remove the magazine, sometimes erroneously called a clip.  Put it in a pocket or on a shelf.  Your gun isn’t unloaded yet.  With your finger off the trigger, pull the slide back several times.  This should eject the round from the chamber.  Maybe.

Now lock the slide back, and visually check that the magazine is removed (yes, I know you’ve removed it earlier.  Do it anyway.) and the round is out of the chamber.  Use your little finger and reach in and check by feel that the magazine is out and the chamber is cleared.

Now, since you’re letting what was a loaded firearm out of your control, you have one more check and it’s a big one.  Pick a direction and object where a bullet fired from your gun would be safely contained without harming anyone.  Let the slide go forward, point the gun in that direction and pull the trigger. 

If you’ve done everything right in the order I’ve given, you should get a click and not a bang.  That gun is unloaded!

Complications arise in that not every auto locks back.  Some guns need an empty magazine, so there is a real temptation to quickly empty the filled one and re-insert it.  That path leads to disaster and you need to get off it right away.  Other people leave an empty magazine, preferably one that can’t be filled with ammo.  Worse case, I’d use an empty chamber indicator (ECI) to confirm the gun is empty.

And I haven’t even talked about magazine safeties that prevent the trigger from being pulled until a magazine is in the gun.

I’m sorry for Mr. Brooks’s daughter.  I’m also sorry for Mr. Brooks and the girl’s mother.  But I’m angry that nobody insisted that Dexter take the time to learn how to safely operate his gun.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gun Alterations

I found a video blog by Dave Spaulding.  The core of his message seems to be don’t worry about alteration to guns, especially cosmetic ones.  While acknowledging that lawyers will attempt to use any flea bag excuse … I’m off on the wrong foot, let’s start over.

In court each lawyer presents to the jury their version of reality and the jury votes on which version they think represents reality.  Will a silk screened image of a zombie having its brains blown out on your AR dust cover be a focal point of contention?  Sure.

But any alteration can be used to support some outrageous claim.  Red bumper pad?  So you can find that ‘special, more punishing’ ammo quickly.  Light on gun?  So you can momentarily freeze him like a deer in the headlights to shoot him easier. 

I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to come up with five more examples.

Dave’s point is don’t be afraid of making alterations to your gun, because the lawyers are going to screw with it anyway.  At least I believe that is an accurate representation of the message.

My scoop is a little different.  Make any alteration that you can explain as a safety feature.

The grip reduction?  So you have better control and can shoot more accurately without endangering bystanders.  The gun light?  So you can clearly identify the threat you must stop to preserve you own life.  I think you can see what I’m suggesting.

Stupid gun ideas
Really?!?  This is what you send your disposable income on?

You want a punisher skull on your gun?  Sure, just be prepared to explain it’s a sporting range gun that was the only weapon available when you were attacked.  Engraved barrel with “Wait for Flash”?  Same as before.  It’s a special purpose gun and you had no other choice but to use it.

You may need to explain that a criminal finds his potential victim as he is and the victim may not have the opportunity to select the optimal defensive weapon.

Of course you can simplify the problem by avoiding gun alterations that can’t be easily explained as enhancing the safety or reliability of the weapon. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bouncing Bullets

The concept of frangible bullets is probably older than we think, much older.  Imagine the Roman Soldier with his sling realizing that every stone he flings at the enemy is ammo they can fling back at him.  But what if the stone broke when it hit a man, or the ground?  That would turn ammo into scrap.  Google ‘frangible.’  I googled frangible ammo and got 37,200 hits.  Certainly suggests interest out there in cyber space. 

Glaser Safety Slugs wasn’t the first to worry about collateral damage, but it was the first one I’m familiar with. They were introduced in 1975 and used by Federal Air Marshals in the 70s and 80s over concern of excessive damage to an aircraft in flight.  Over the years Air Marshals have attempted to walk a fine line between stopping power, over penetration and ricochet hazards.

The problem is Glasers can expend most of their energy destroying a heavy winter coat, a bicep or some non-critical area leaving a violent criminal offender (VCO) still functioning.  They do work well for training close to steel targets.  I use them to demonstrate penetration through plaster board walls to highlight concerns about invisible bystanders in other rooms.

Since then, frangible has taken on a second marketing meaning: lead free.  Only a fool would refuse to admit that there is a potential hazard of lead inhalation and digestion at ranges.

I am aware of at least one trap club closed down because of potential lead hazard to their impact zone (a shallow swamp) used by migrating water fowl.  This new aspect of frangible creates a market and opportunities for lead free rounds.  Most of the frangible rounds are lead free.  I have a box of Remington’s Disintegrator cartridges.  The bullet is a skin of brass holding a core of “compressed” iron.  The rounds I have are partially scored at the tip to increase the frangible nature.

Winchester Ranger frangible takes a different approach.  They use a nylon matrix filled with copper and tungsten powders to reduce lead and reduce ricochet hazards.

Both of these look like the traditional bullets we know, but ARX by Polycase breaks that mold.  The shape of the bullet looks like something out of science fiction.  The idea, I’m guessing is to cause more tissue damage while retaining the more frangible nature of the bullet.

So why aren’t we using these?  Fired rounds that don’t ricochet, or at least loss enough mass to become harmless would eliminate a major concern and legal nightmare.  To my knowledge or at least to my google search, the military uses frangible rounds in training, but not combat.  It appears that not a single police department issues them to their officers as a duty round.

There are some concerns. Are they effective in stopping a VCO?  Neither police nor the armed civilian wants to end up in court because we had to shoot someone 8 times to stop them.  It seems excessive.  The opposing lawyers would point out to the jury that you used frangible rounds because you want to punish the person you shot, otherwise why would you not use a simple hollow point that so humanely stops people?

There is some possibility these rounds would strike a bone, disintegrate and result in years of painful surgery and costly medical complications.  Yeah, the lawyers and media would love that.

Other than training, are there any good points?  Frangible rounds are often used where potential combat and the resulting physical damage would be disastrous, like an airplane at 40,000 ft. or inside a petrochemical plant.

My own crude experiments indicate that frangible rounds will pass through at least one sheetrock wall and be able to endanger people in that room.  Many pass through a second wall where my experiment ends.

I remember when gun writers promoted .223 Remington as the perfect round for no-knock raids and home self-defense.  Supposedly, the round would tumble as soon as it struck wall board and this violent, chaotic tumbling would exceed the bullet’s tensile strength causing the bullet to fragment on the wall board on the back of the wall.

penetration of bullets
The holes on right are from .38 spl rounds, the two marked 223 are .223 rem rounds from an AR.

Only it didn’t.  55gr .223 FMJ punches holes in plaster board walls like it was designed to do so.

Recently I got my hands on Federal 5.56X45mm frangible rounds.  The round is an open tip 43 grain bullet and is reported to be all copper.  Let’s shoot a few.

I had two plaster board walls set up to demonstrate penetration of pistol rounds, but there was enough room for two rounds of 5.56 rounds.
shooting holes in plaster board
This is the front of the second wall.  It would be one room over from the room were guns were fired.  Again the holes on right are .38spl rounds  The other two are ..223 rem and the frangible round made the WTAF hole.  (I'm improperly using .223 rem for both 5.56X45mm and .223 rem as a short cut)

If each wall represented a partition of one room into another, this little demo represents three room in your home or perhaps work place.  The larger hole is the frangible round.

The full metal jacket was like a drill.  The round went in one surface and out the 4th wall board with complete impunity, just leaving round holes.  The Federal frangible went in smoothly enough, but blew a poker chip size hole of wall board out of the 4th wall board.

This is the back of the second wall or the 4th wall board.  There is a smaller hole below it, perhaps the bullet is fragmenting.

The first wall entry and egress looked normal, so I’ll speculate the frangible round experienced wobble around its spinning axis.   

The third wall board was enough to push it complete off axis.  I assume it hit the last plaster board sideways.  In any case, you wouldn’t want to be in its path beyond the 4th wall board.

Well, the dream of reduced penetration is scrapped.  What about fragmentation on steel for up close training.

I had access to some damaged pistol grade steel, backed off about 20 yards and left two rounds fly.  The results were impressive.

Hollow point all copper rounds and the damage

The rounds gouged out a pit in the half inch thick AR300 steel.  The copper was pressure welded with raised ridges like some lunar crater.

shooting pistol steel with .223 rem.
Yeah, I'd call that damage.

Let’s rule out in close training, unless your steel replacement budget is huge, I mean really huge. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017


It’s hard for me to watch police camera videos of car chases and shootings.  You want to root for the police, but still the understanding that someone ends up dead, even if it is at his own instigation, is disturbing.

It was first brought to my attention at http://www.breachbangclear.com/atlantic-city-pursuit-gunfight/.  It’s mostly about the car chase, but even here, the armed citizen can scrape up a little knowledge.  Get out of the way.  Get off the street if possible as soon as possible or at least pull over and stay there until the parade is over.

The excitement of the chase, the adrenaline dump will cause even the most trained driver to drive reckless.  At about 9:50 our car takes a shortcut on the wrong side of the road around a monument so he can get in front of 4 other police cars.  Do you think there’s potential for tragedy here?  You see the flashing lights, get off the road!  You don’t want to be a bumper in this game of dodge ‘em.

At 10:52 something goes out the window.  What it is isn’t made clear, but I suspect drugs.

At about 11:06 the fleeing car attempts to cross an intersection against the light.  A black SUV neatly clips the fleeing car and spins it out of control.  It has been a called an almost perfect PIT maneuver.

The car rolls to a stop and at 11:18 we see our first police officer, out in the open, essentially naked to incoming rounds.  I hope he was wearing his vest.  As the armed citizen involved in a road rage or spree shooting, we don’t have to take a person into custody.  We can and should stay behind cover and concealment.

The suspect starts to leave the car, the officer fires at least two rounds and realizes he and Gypse Rose Lee have something in common and retreats.  The next second the suspect, a big man, leaves the car and the gun in his right hand is apparent, but he’s holding something in his left hand too.  It looks like he’s fired a gun before.  He’s got the gun in line with his eye, so I suspect he has a flash sight picture.  The time is 11.25.

It looks like the gun is recoiling in his hand.  He doesn’t care about the backstop, whoever that might be.  It appears the police don’t either.  Take this as a reminder on several levels.

  •                 Incoming rounds have right of way. Use cover when possible
  •                 Rounds from the police don’t care who you are either.  Get behind cover.
  •                 Big fat people can be dangerous and quick on their feet
  •                 Criminals use quality, reliable handguns just as we do
  •                 While it may be difficult for a criminal to practice, they can and some do.
  •                 Don’t assume that seeing one gun means only one gun.

Our suspect has maybe a minute to live.  It’s hard to think about that.   In under a minute a life will expire.  What must that do to the police officers and witnesses?  Somebody cared for, maybe loved that big guy and now he’s gone.  There’s another message for the armed citizen.  Don’t let the finger on the trigger become a self-fulfilling prophesy.  We are never required to shoot.

He goes down around 11:27, almost at the same time a puff of smoke appears rising from the street behind him.  It doesn’t matter who fired that shot, him or a police officer.  It’s going down range looking for a resting place.

After that time your guess is a good as mine.  You still see puffs of smoke on the payment suggesting the police are still shooting. He’s still moving and what’s in his left hand is still unclear to us.  Occasionally the body jerks, was that another round or a death spasm? 

I’m willing to give the police the benefit of doubt.  I wasn’t there and we have only one video to look at.  My dialog might be significantly different from another point of view. 

The armed citizen faced with a lethal force encounter must be aware of the backstop, options available to them, and the constantly changing escalation and descalation.  Remember that down is not the same as out.  Immobile is not the same as helpless. 

If this had been a road rage confrontation starting at 11:06 and the shooter just popped out of his car and started shooting at you, the driver behind him, would you have shot him after he was down?  The answer depends on the totality of the situation.

I like watching these police videos, until I realize they are not actors.  They’re men and women who have to live and die with their actions and results.  Spend a little time thinking about what you, the armed citizen, would have done in that conflict.  Then say a prayer it never happens.