Monday, November 24, 2014

Facing your fears

A quick post for an article I wrote for Shooting Illustrated.

Stay safe. All of you.

shooting illustrated.com face your fear

Monday, October 20, 2014

Taking Stock

As part of the general M.O. here I generally don't do the hyper-link-go-see-this-website but, I thought this was actually worth it. Your mileage may vary of course depending on your nutritional needs....needs...not wants.

Remember something like this can work for the SHTF as much as it can being without work for a long time and needing to feed your family, or even yourself. I say that because my first year of self-employment (back in 2002), this would have been worth doing.

How to create a food storage supply for five dollars a week

Monday, October 13, 2014

Everything you need...



I've loved a lot of guns over the years. More than I've owned. And there have been some regrets of guns not bought. A rack full of pre-64 Winchester Model 94s for $250 back at the start of the century (I was flat broke at the time), an UZI Carbine that came in a suitcase with a .45 ACP conversion, three 9mm mags and three .45 ACP mags.....for $550.00 about year before the '94 Assault Weapons Ban that was going to solve that pesky crime problem.

I passed on a Ruger No. 1 Tropical in .375 H&H. I don't remember the price but, I remember having enough cash in my pocket to buy it. The problem was, that despite my lust and desire it never met my litmus test for a gun. What was I going to do with a .375 H&H at twenty-five years old in the mid-west.

The Gun, atleast for me, have always had to fall within a certain level of working class, so to speak, to me. They have to be able to serve me or atleast be reasonable pressed into service.

Yet despite this, my small collection of firearms is surprisingly not very "tactical", especially given my line of work one could surmise.

For a while my work rifle was a Ruger Mini 14. I liked it. I didn't love it. My plan was always to ship it down to Clark's Custom guns and get a new barrel on it and do a scout mount. It never happened and I eventually sold it (and it's four 30 round steel mags). There is something of a juxtaposition about that rifle. I don't regret selling it. I regret never paying for the custom work I wanted done to it which would have ended up with me keeping the gun I don't regret selling.

Yet the .223 and, the 5.56 have, much like the 9mm, left me very indifferent towards them. I've owned them. Liked them alright but none of them didn't do anything I essentially didn't have another gun capable or more capable of doing just fine. Mind you, I'm not talking about what does or doesn't work for anyone else but me so don't go getting the vapors.

Interestingly enough, when you live and work with your guns on a daily basis you don't put too much thought into them NOT being effective.

After coming off the rifle range last weekend and forced to contend with boxes of spent brass it was time to get back on the loading bench. After a pot of coffee, and a few hours of silent pondering while de-capping round after round (I run a single stage press) I looked at the green and grey RCBS boxes and the gumball red Lee cylinders and realized that the most "modern" cartridge I load for, the .243 Winchester, was invented in 1955, the next most modern, the .357 coming about in the 1930s. Beyond that everything else is over a hundred years old. From the turn of the last century with the .38 Special and .45 ACP to the Indian wars with the .44 WCF, the .45 Colt and the .45-70.

Yet if you read it in that context one would think that they are simply nostalgic "fun" cartridges that do not serve purpose.

I would concede that the .44-40 is most likely the only round that would readily fall into the ranks of entertainment only if it weren't for the fact that I have in fact pressed both the revolver and rifle chambered for this round into service at different times.


When the Ferguson riots broke out in St. Louis over the summer the self-loading rifle I keep lay in pieces on my bench. There were no qualms here keeping a lever gun in the truck and in the house, along with a Remington 870. Dismiss the round that started it all if you want but, but I keep a couple of boxes of factory jacketed soft points solely for defense work.

Light cowboy loads they are not. Out of the rifle they run over 1200 fps with a 200 grain bullet and there are fifteen of them in the magazine tube.

The revolver chambered for the old .44 cartridge, itself was carried more than a few times during my corporate bodyguard career, albeit at Client barbeques and more "relaxed" scenarios but, to claim I was "unarmed" with six 200 grain .44 caliber bullets in a wheel gun at the ready is stupid. I know because a gentleman in similar employ at the time and also in attendance at one of these casual soirees openly mocked me about it.

He himself was carrying a .32 Seacamp.

Atleast one of us was well armed at the party.



My rifle of rifles remains the .30-06.

I've spent too much time on the range and the field in the almost two decades we've been together and have shot my plentiful share of Missouri Whitetails with it.

Since 1906 there have been a mind numbing number of .thirty caliber rifles to come along. Some of them long forgotten, others having marked their place in the queen of weapons ranks. If I were starting out today looking for a bolt gun to do a lot of work from defense to hunting the .308 could quite easily get the nod. I certainly have a liking for the Ruger Scout Rifle and there have been a couple of long barreled sniper rifles that have sung their sirens song to me. But when shove comes to push what does it do that I can't do already and frankly it does it very well.

When the rifle range beckons, or my head gets too fogged up with the world and I need to make calm it's not the lever gun, nor the pistol that I reach for in my quest for zen. It's the 30-06 in a bolt action.

A few, well several years back after being involved in some social situations where more than feelings got hurt I pondered for a few days that maybe I needed to go "talk to someone". Instead I spent fours hours on a rifle range gingerly working my way through a box of hand-loaded 180 grain Matchkings. There was no talking, no dialogue, no "how does that make you feel". My co-pay was primers, powder and thirty caliber copper. And they solved my issued more than a PhD ever could.

Of all center-fire cartridges I run the .243 Winchester holds more merit than I would have really ever thought. It was the rifle I cut my teeth on and in many ways encouraged me to dig into the world of the rifle and find out what makes a rifle tick and what makes it accurate and inaccurate. After a few years of pie plate patterns I still recall the sweet joy of seeing my first MOA group after I sanded the stock down on the Remington 788 so that it's barrel was free floated. A whole new world emerged.

With it's mild recoil and solid velocities it can do everything a .223 or .5.56 can do only better. Yet in the tactical/war fighter community it is laughable to even think of such a notion. After one of my best friend's son received a .243 single shot a few years ago the rifle round came back on my radar (and from it's tucked away corner in the gun safe).

Clearly it's never going to have place of significance in the tactical community, but if you are of the belief that it can not work because it's not on the list of "approved" tactical calibers then you are naive at best and a fool at worst. People with such notions, in my experience, lack any.

Interestingly enough, during the First and Second Ammo droughts of the twenty-first century when the shelves were bare I could always find .243 Winchester. I have no idea why but during those times I was in several states and there it was on the shelves.

If I lived in a gun restrictive area, or was wanting to put together a budget friendly political correct looking bolt action patrol rifle (or both), I'd give it a hard close look.The unforeseen advantage in the .243 is that you get a little thicker barrel because there is less of a hole in what would otherwise be a standard .308 barrel.

Something to think about.

Only a fool would dismiss the .45-70 as not having a solid purpose in this day and age. It has literally become a phoenix rising from the ashes. If you read gun and shooting articles from the 1960s and 70s it was all but written off as dead with some folks with Springfield Trapdoors and Marlin keeping it alive, eeking out sales for the purest of hearts.

That is until someone whacked the barrel off and called it a guide gun and Jeff Cooper declared it holy to the faithful. It's sales have been strong for the last two decades. If you were to have only a few rifles to your name the .45-70 lever gun would not be a mistake. It's a fight stopper against man or beast. On any continent.

And while most "tactically proficient" men of the twenty-first century fall into fits of rage when someone mentions a gun fight from two centuries earlier, a gun fight, dear reader is still a fight and unless I missed something the human has not changed much in any anatomical sense in the last millennium. In 1887 Commodore Perry Owens, the Sheriff of the 21,000 square mile Apache County, Arizona got crossways (literally) while serving a warrant. Perry, on his own with no backup, killed four armed attackers in short order with a .45-70 from what we call "pistol" distance. Perry had not so much as a scratch.

Unlike a vast majority of American shooters who grew up with guns I did not grow up with the .30-30 Winchester. At that time my dad kept a couple of shotguns, a Sears & Roebuck .22 lever action (hammerless....yep), a .22 High Standard revolver and a Smith Model 19 .357. The only two centerfire rifles were a Parker Hale .30-06 and the aforementioned .243.

But I yearned for a "thirty-thirty" for years. When I finally picked up a model 94 for a whopping $275 I didn't regret it. If you've read me very long here on this blog, you'll know that this is the rifle I rely on for work most often or a Marlin in .three fifty seven magnum.

The old .30 WCF (Winchester Center Fire) maybe one of the finest medium powered cartridges we have, especially in this day and age. For the reloader the potential is there to handle everything from squirrels and rabbits to deer more the efficiently and in some of the heavy factory loads, such as from Buffalo Bore, you can hunt North America.

It's not a wonder kid nor a "tactically" fancy round. And door kickers, both real and wannabe, won't be clinging hard to the rifle nor the round ever but, it was in the man stopping business long before anyone ever heard of the .223 or the 7.62x39. I won't keep house without one and it's almost always the most recommended first rifle for anyone who wants an uncomplicated long gun to serve a variety of roles from game getter to home defender, when I am asked.


There has been so much historical content written on the .45 ACP and the 1911 that I refuse to address it. If you don't know and you can't figure out how to find out, you're SOL as the old Man use to say.

No other cartridge has been so near and dear to me in my life nor seen me safely home. It's been in my hand under the gravest of circumstances, been on most every trip where a gun was permissible, or doable. It has ridden in a shoulder rig in the Atlantic, on my hip on the Continental Divide, and delivered the coup de grace on the side of the highway to a back broken doe, when a stranger in a $40,000 truck with thousands of dollars worth of hunting gear wouldn't "waist" the dollar on a bullet and decided to cut her throat until she nailed him with her hooves and he got fish belly white.

Reloading the old war horse, I don't do fancy. I like standard pressures for the rounds in question. I get better accuracy and less wear and tear on my firearms in the process. You can have the hot rodding and the +P. I like one thing and one thing only in the .45 ACP. 230 grains.

Save the preaching. It works just fine for me.

The .45 Colt, came to me late, as in this year. A dual celebration of seeing my first paid article published (it was nice to get a check from the NRA instead of sending one) and my fortieth year on God's favorite blue marble; I purchased a used Ruger flattop in Uncle Sam's old Indian fighter round.

Again, I don't chase the magic bullet. The old timers who came before worked out much of it and there are plenty of others who can push the limits for me to learn on. I'm always amazed at alarmist and neo-shots who have come to the conclusion that six rounds in a single action leave a man essentially unarmed because of the dreaded reload.

Lots of bullets in bad circumstances are a handy thing to have, no doubt, and the citizenry should have all the access desired to thirty round magazines and self-loading whisper quiet rifles. I firmly believe that. But I also believe in a gun fight, regardless of the century, solid center mass hits from a big bore revolver, stop fights. Your junk science and your worst case scenarios be damned. Hits matter.

Yes I know, I know. The caliber debate is over thanks to new and modern ammunition. Except there is one not-so-slight issue with the "Caliber debate". It's not. It is a cartridge debate. It's always the 9mm vs the .45ACP, or the .40 S&W, or any other auto pistol round. It's never the 9mm vs the .45 Colt, or the .44 Magnum. You know why? Because those are two big sons of bitches and the 9mm is not. And a hit from either is far FAR more significant in stopping a fight, not to mention two or three.

If I can not put a B-i-Q (badguy-in-question) down with three .45 Colt rounds to the chest, I'll be shooting him in the hip thank you very much, because he can rage all over the damn ground.

Broke bone don't work.

I know. You're irate. I've angered the 9mm cult with my brazen big bore speech, damn me.

I'm not anti-9mm. Never have been, never will be. I think it's a fine self-defense round and have carried it and depended on it enough to have some semblance of opinion on it. So don't lose your head.

The problem of late is that the emerging shooters (not necessarily fighters) are ageists toward not only men who came before them but cartridges and guns as well. If a rifle doesn't self load or hold more than thirty rounds at the push of a release mag, it is outdated and it's owner a mentally distant.

Part of the reason I have had an on again off again relationship with the 9mm Luger is owed in large part to the .38 Special and .357 Magnums I own. Make no mistake, my favorite platforms for launching the old European bean are the SiG P226 and the Browning Hi-Power. I've routinely told folks who are looking for their first pistol or who are going to be one gun households to look no further than the Glock 19 or the 9mm in general. It's widely available, and easy to shoot.

If you are looking to buy your first gun, or perhaps your only handgun and deeply desire an auto-pistol so the entire family can learn on it and shoot it confidently. The 9mm would be wise and well received.

Yet, here in lies the rub, most post-9/11 shooters, who came to the gun world around the time the Assault Weapons Ban finally died in it's 2004 sunset on a national level fail to realize that the AWB brought a critical eye to the 9mm, which had thrived through the 80s and early 90s in the wondernine era. Suddenly there was this sincere question put forth of bore diameter and that bigger has it's place for reasons. If you were left with ten .35 caliber bullets or eight .45 caliber ones which would you really rather have?

Again that is not to inflame the cartridge debate, that is simply pointing out what happened.

Which bring us to the last of it.

If you were to count the spent brass in boxes on my bench you would see that the lead goes to the .38 Special, followed by the .357 Magnum in close second. There are reasons for this. They are solid and backed up by decades of man fighting, game getting and trophy winning history, for the both of them.

In my small opinion, there is no gun as versatile as one chambered for the .357 Magnum. A bold statement to be sure, and certainly it has a 1960s gun rag ring to it. The moment the chamber is reamed to accept the old 1/10 of an inch longer, 1935 creation the shooter is in possession of a dual caliber gun, if that shooter happens to be a re-loader, then multiplicity occurs. This is because a lightly handloaded .38 Special will do anything a .22 LR or .22 Magnum can do, only better, and since it can do this the shooter/reloader gets, for his trouble, a superior ".22", a .38 Special and a .357 Magnum.

No handgun cartridge has been more reloaded than the .38 Special and the .357 Magnum remains the king of fight stoppers. I understand. For you the modern shooter I sound as if I am lecturing from a rocking chair. Grandad muttering in the corner to himself. Yet this is large part because of an obsession with guns that weigh ounces and not pounds. I've run the cylinders of .357 Magnums in 12 ounce guns and narrow sights. I'll keep my all stainless steel 2 1/2 inch, Smith model 66, weighing in at a couple of pounds and it's big glorious adjustable sights. The ones that the neo-shot will assure you, rips the clothes from your body as you draw only to snag, getting you killed.

The 158 grain bullet in both rounds works tremendously well for most things from targets, to men, to attacking four legged mammalia. Ah yes. The Grizzly Bear dilemma. You see I don't live in Grizzly country. I won't encounter one this deer season nor while taking out the trash this week.

Being in possession of both revolvers and rifle that will shoot these cartridges covers anything I might need to resolve. Want to teach a new shooter how to hit? How to focus on a front sight? How to have a remarkably easy day on the range. Try the lever action rifle in .357 Magnum loaded with .38s or .357s.

If the politics of this country ever went south to the point we were forced to live with a limited number of guns for me the .357 chambered gun would be at the #1 must have spot.

Don't fall trap to this all being a bit of nostalgia or that these are "the only" cartridges I own. They are not. They simply are the ones that I reload for, but and this is the important part that I want to express.

If.....they were the only ones I had. If circumstances changed tomorrow and I had to dwindle the room in the safe down for one reason or another these eight cartridges and the guns chambered for them would remain above all others.

They will do anything that needs done in a shooting environment from self-defense, to hunting game of all sizes, to target and even competitive shooting, or defending a home and family in a city that has suddenly appeared on the international scene for it's rioting as of late.

Our culture, the gun culture, here in the century, has become somewhat obsessed with fashion that is passed off as must-have-tactical-needs. So much so that it has driven an entire market to panic buy and horde more than a couple of times. I can only wonder how many ARs were bought in November of 2008 and never fired.

So in our quest to survive the apocalypse with "the right gun" I pass along a piece of advice the late Bill Jordan (and not the damn camo maker) gave and Jim Wilson graciously passed on to us.

Mr. Jordan, upon being asked what kind of rifle he would "stash" away in case of the feces-hitting-the-empeller replied that he would keep a Model 19 Smith & Wesson in .357 Magnum and a box of ammunition. The man who asked him became a bit perplexed, since he asked specifically "what rifle". To which Jordan expounded further:

"If serious trouble starts and you can shoot at all, you can get whatever kind of little machine gun you’d want to carry. You could even get a little Jeep to drive and maybe even a nice looking uniform to wear… if you can shoot!” (go read the whole thing here).

As for me. One look at my reloading bench tells me I have everything I need and nothing I don't.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Barranti Hip Pocket Holster


You always hate those situations where you know that if it goes bad, it will go bad in a big way, all the while knowing that you have to appear incapable of being able to deal with anything bad, while being completely capable, in a moment's notice, of dealing decisively with the now bad situation.

A couple of winters back like a bad novel I was carrying my .45 in the pocket of my heavy wool pea-coat, a Hissatsu folder in my waistband, a bitty little light in my jeans pocket and that was pretty much it.

Once inside of where I needed to be my jacket had to come off and I was essentially carrying off body. The coat went wherever I went so it was never helpless situation and, the problem really wouldn't exist if it was going to, until I went outside. At which point the coat would be back on. I dutifully left my gloves in the truck so there would be a reason to have my hands in my pocket once out in the 15 degree night air.

The issue was the big Colt flopped and turned around in the coat pocket and while plenty deep as not to fall out, once back on and hand in the pocket, the pistol had rotated and now rode upside down.

Hammer down in condition two or not, it was not ideal. I fumbled around in my pocket saying something about losing the cigarettes I didn't have and don't smoke, until finally the gun was properly aligned in the pocket and hand. A few words were spoken back and forth as I walked outside and the entire ordeal was over having gone smoothly.

On the drive back, with Colt's Commander riding in my waistband I cussed at myself for not being better well suited for big auto pocket carry.

Oddly enough I couldn't help but thinking of Tommy Lee Jones in the movie "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada". Through most of the movie Jones rides horse back with a 1911 shoved into the back pocket of his Wranglers. Over and over I thought that a real basic pinch fit leather holster that could slip into the back pocket, that didn't have any loops or clips attached to it, and carried the gun juuust tight enough as to not come out freely would be a handy thing to have.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Winter became Spring and, finally Summer then late one July night I finally knew what to do. Or rather
who to go to.

Enter Mike Barranti of Barranti holsters.

I emailed him outlining my needs, wants, and desires for such a thing and Mike knew exactly...and I mean exactly what I was talking about. It was an old timers carry, like turn of the last century old timers, and apparently Mike had tooled around with the same thought himself. About eight hours and one sunset and sunrise later he emailed me a photo of the very image in my brain.



Without hesitation I said "I'll take it".

A few days later it arrived by mail.

That was July of 2013. A year and a couple of months later I still love this holster, which is good because it sees daily use.

In our house we have a mental "gun code" as it were. A pistol in a holster is chambered. A pistol not in a holster is not chambered/loaded. It's the rule.

And I never break it.

Ever.

That is not to imply guns lay around the house. They do not. They are all secured after a fashion one way or another, against un-welcomed visitors and toddlers alike.

At the end of the day when the I take off the old Colt, de-cock it, open the box and it is slipped into it's next place of residence. The Hip Pocket Holster.

Lest you are under the impression that this is all the use the holster sees it is not. Some of my time in the field requires prolonged surveillance. Hours and hours...and hours of sitting. Something the introvert in me never minds. That sitting can also mean, laying, sprawled out and waiting at all sorts of angles and positions beyond the driver's seat of my old 4Runner so it's nice to be able to take it off but still have it in a ready position.

With the absence of things like a re-enforced mouth, or clips, or loops the overall width is very minimal and allows the pistol to be wedged perfectly in someplaces. Yet the wet molded, pinch fit is loose enough to allow a draw where the holster does not come with it, while having very reasonable retention in a gun slip like this one.


Mind you. This is not some flimsy suede piece. While the mouth is not re-enforced with a double band of leather or other means of staying open, the molded to perfection gun skin stays open after the pistol has been drawn.

"How well?" you might wonder.

Most nights before turning in, the dog and I walk the acre and a half we live on and more often than not my pistol is slipped into the back pocket of my jeans. If drawn it can be re-holstered without looking, quickly and easily.






Coming around full circle, I like this holster for one more reason. Winter time. Remember where we started. A pea coat pocket full of .forty-five?

One significant disadvantage in conceal carry comes in winter time. Not in the way so much of carrying, but rather getting the gun into action quickly with a heavy buttoned up coat.

Say for example, I'm out at dinner. It's below freezing and the old 4Runner is parked a few blocks away. The evening ends, everyone is putting on coats, saying goodbyes and what not. I take that opportunity to go to the restroom and put my coat on. I'll take my Colt's Commander from it's In-the-Waist-Band holster and slip it into the Hip Pocket Shuck ready and waiting in my coat pocket. I can keep my hand on the gun my entire walk if I so choose and never have to worry about undesired finger-trigger slippage. Yet I can also rest assured that with my hands not in my pocket the big gun isn't sliding all over the place.

Lastly, There are times in my life, for one reason or another, that off body carry bears merit. In such cases the holster works well to keep the gun upright in a bag without any bulk added like a thicker conventional rig simply shoved in to a pack might have.

Just like there is no magic "one gun" solution for all things, there is no "one holster" solutions either. This rig, while very simple fills a lot of roles in my life and it does them very very well.

So what does it cost? The last time I asked Mike about this he said "$40 plus shipping".

$40.00 for a holster that comes from one of America's best leather rig makers. Not much thought need go into that one. Eventually I'll order a couple more of these. Probably for my snub-nosed Smith and one for my Ruger Flattop as well.

A good many shootists carry Mike's rigs and love them dearly. I now know why.

www.barrantileather.com






Thursday, July 31, 2014

In other places..

I do still write. Having picked up the occasional writing gig for the NRA and what seems to be an escalated travel schedule have caused for neglected duties here. Everytime I climb onto a plane I think "this would be a good time to write that new Dark Arts article.." and then I either open my moleskine to see the work ahead and behind me, or I close my eyes until I hear "prepare the cabin for arrival..."

All that said, the link below goes to Shooting Illustrated were we look at staying skilled in the absence of ammo or range time.

Short-on-ammo-long-on-time-part-I

p.s. sharpen that tactical folder in your pocket I can see the lint from here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Rifle over the Hashtag.

Photo: Local Borno village women's group repels Boko Haram attack on their communities - See more at: http://goo.gl/nqbk8n

How the women of Nigeria are beginning to respond to the Boko Haram.

A hashtag hold's no power. It is a sanctimonious chant that words can save people. Yet, as many people around the world, who have been left at the hands of bad men and terrorist know, that "help" is only a bureaucracy and months of paper work away. Therefore the rifle does indeed matter and may still turn the tide in the war against evil.



"the rifle has no moral stature, since it has no will of it's own. Naturally it may be used by evil men with evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."
                                                             -
Jeff Cooper Art of the Rifle.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A return to the dark arts




The mind is a funny place, because rarely are we ever "done" with something like we may imagine.

For all intents and purposes I was done with the Dark Arts for Good Guys series. There were a couple of articles that I had always intended to write, there were two more I wanted to write more than anything but... good judgement won out. Who knows maybe someday in an underground form I will but until then they lay dormant in my mind.

As for the other two I have decided that I would very much like to see them written and for whatever reason where I once struggled to gain a foot hold on the thoughts, that become the words, that end up here have formulated.

They will be in classic fashion I assure you. In all likely hood there will be a gear review first and then the Dark Arts for Good Guys: Just.....

Well.

You'll see.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Practactical 101: Short stroke kit


The worst notions in the modern age are those which are preconceived. Even if some are unspoken.

Those such as, the immediate availability of dozens of rounds of ammunition in one's firearm will guarantee success in a fight. Or that someone is possession of that amount of rounds is destined for evil acts.

Though most of us would agree that the later of the two statements is not unspoken but, rather one spoke with unyielding beratement amongst the hoplophobes. "Educated" or otherwise.

For the better part of twenty years (or more) the personal defense community has said the revolver is dead. One might conclude that it did not "die" but, rather proceeded to excel in the twenty-first century in smaller form.

The small framed .38 Special and .357 Magnum lives well today in light weight frames, though having experienced the titanium-scandium-fun-to-carry-hell-to-shoot recoil of the .357 Magnum from a not quite so two inch barrel I'll keep mine in all steel. Thank-you-very-much.

Of my three normal carry pieces, two of them are revolvers, the Colt's Commander in the large Automatic Colt Pistol cartridge being the first. The other two being both Smith & Wesson's in .38 Special and .357 Magnum. Whenever one (or two) of these are being used the others rest in the gun safe.

However, I tend to keep my normal carry spare reloads all together. Where I keep all the other things that fill up my pants pockets for everyday usage. A few years back I made myself a small front pocket kydex...er..."system" that was designed to hold my flashlight and a 1911 mag. It turns out it does a semi-decent job of holding a speed strip, or five shot speed loader, in their proper place.

All was essentially fine with this "system" until I bought my Smith Model 66 a few years ago. Due to over penetration concerns as a general rule I carry both my revolvers loaded with .38 Special standard loads (my 442 is not +P rated anyway) but, with the Model 66, when I do carry it, I like to have a set of full house .357 Magnum loads as the reload.

Generally I use the speed strip to handle the reload because of the bulk of the cylindrical speed loader. Then one night I came home and took off my Model 442 (in .38 Special) and as I retrieved my reload/flashlight combo from front left pocket something looked off.

And there it was.

I had shoved .357 Magnum spare reloads into my pocket. Which no matter how hard you cram them into a .38 Special cylinder they just aren't going to fit.

So in order to remedy this from happening again I dug out a pair of scissors and cut the "tail" off the speed strip that holds the .38 Special reloads. Now, if I have to, or just so happen to, for one reason or another grab my spare revolver reload from it's place where all of my other EDC gear sits, I can tell by instantaneous feel.




Tail on the Speed Strip = .357 Magnum Loads

No tail on the Speed Strip = .38 Special Loads.

It is a simple and effective way to tell the difference. One could also apply such a tactic to tell the difference between standard and plus P loads if they were so inclined.














Lastly, one who carries the venerable .three fifty seven revolver with a short barrel, and equally short ejector rod, might gain a small advantage in carrying the .38 Special cartridge in the cylinder. In the event that a reload should have to be performed with deftness and social negotiations otherwise having failed, shaving a tenth of an inch off the start of a reload might make a difference in the end.

Firepower is a fine thing to have but, if all you brought to the gun fight is a gun you've already lost.

Fight Smarter.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Carjack Intermezzo

I've long held this fascination with how fast the human brain can process information, especially how fast it can process, threat assess, come to a conclusion and initiate the appropriate response.

Having spent my entire adult life observing people with intent, whether running a surveillance or standing quietly on a protection assignment, you learn to read how the point of a toe can give you direction an aggressor is about to take. The opening of a mouth before taking a step can display personal doubt about a course of action.

On the short journey home last night from my in-laws, The Wife and I were talking about the general stuff of life. The Mouse was asleep in the back and we were just cruising down the second to last stretch of road home. We topped a hill and began a descent towards a stop light a hundred or so yards ahead. Late on Easter night, traffic was almost non-existent and, placed us as first car at the light.

In my time on this blue marble we call earth I have seen what I call one truly classical ambush. It was traveling through India, in Maharashtra I think, with some Clients. Driving down a long stretch of rural road we came to the first intersection that mattered when a Land Rover sped past us, angled in and blocked our driver. It was, despite the threat, beautifully executed. Of course I'm still here so...

The second most truly classical ambush began as we headed for that light last night.

You will have to understand that as you read this (and I write this) there are several long moments from start to finish. Yet as it occurred, it at the most was ten seconds long, with the large and heavy portions lasting about 1 second.

As we approached the light, maybe ten yards out I noticed a young man off the passenger side door, on the corner and two lane widths from me. Back lighting him some sixty yards away perhaps, was a small convenience store that he appeared to be walking from. Yet as the car slowed to a stop his hands were empty.

"No purchase. Interesting" my brain told me.

He stands at the curb. The Car stops.

"White pants, blue polo, black ball cap (flat brim), hipster styled web belt like my old canteen belt with the holes.....shirt partial tuck..noted."

Then it got interesting.

He took a step.

"Left hand goes to belt as if to ensure support, left foot takes step of curb and angles toward passenger side door, followed by a quick step from the right foot, then left....one full fast step. Right hand now goes to center point of waist band where shirt is untucked...felony carry...... (old Jeff Cooper slang) = Gun."

My index finger straightens off the steering wheel to proceed to gun. "If it goes this way, get muzzle to glass".

Finger fully flexed. Memory reminds me that we just came from ****** ******* Illinois.

".357 is locked in rear of vehicle. Drive."

I touch the accelerator and the Family SUV makes a smooth lurch forward. He stops in the intersection. I stop only to make sure I don't get hit going through the intersection. He's now confused and now not so sure of himself.

Grin to self.

Accelerator pressed for controlled departure. The Wife, with her hand on dash because of the stop-start-stop-now-go-while-amid-sentence looks at me confused. "That kid is going to try and car jack us" as we go on through the red light.

We crest a second hill. "There are his friends" I say as we pass a Mitsubishi two door pulled off on to the side of the road. Lights on. Engine running. Chase car.

Wolves travel in packs.

As we sat at the next light, with The Wife on the phone talking with police dispatch, I did what you really do after the fact.

Think about how you damn near screwed up.

Had I not lurched the vehicle in order to check the intersection, which caused a hitch in his giddy up, I would have gotten us into a low speed broadsided accident. That same side where my daughter's car seat is, and where she slept peacefully in it.

The moral of it all.

You can possess the latest in tactical gear, have the best polymer-striker fired-damn-the-1911-pistol on the market, with a bug out bag in the back. But, if you can not....and listen to me because this is the important part.

If you can not, assess and make a straight line decision about what you should, should not, and can not do in the blink of an eye....it's all for naught.

Tactical mag changes are a useful thing. The ability to react to a situation in it's very initial stage is paramount, and may keep you from ever having to execute a mag drop to begin with.

Stay savy my friends.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A quick thank you

So this happened...

The Sound of One Hand Shooting | Shooting Illustrated

Thank you to you all who read my scribbling here on the internet, it encourages me to write more, and apparently now for other people as well.

I've got a new post coming sometime this week for the Practactical 101 series, so stay tuned.

On a side note..

If you happen to be a boy who reads Straight Forward in a Crooked World and you sit everyday in school dreaming about guns, hunting trips, and wild adventures only to hear a teacher tell you to stop "wasting your time day dreaming".

Pay them no mind. And one day prove them wrong.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Practactical 101: Off of body experience


The human is interesting in that amongst God's other creations he is not limited in his means of defense. One could of course argue that a naked human out on the Tundra is as at a clear disadvantage over, say the Polar bear. Of course you could contend that the Polar Bear would be at a far greater disadvantage in Miami. We can concluded with somewhat relative certainty that both situations are almost non-existent.

The old adage of "the greatest weapon is your brain" is remarkably true, followed by your hands.

True we can fight and defend with our feet but beyond heavy boots and hard kicks the feet bear no ability to be weaponized like the hands.

Yet for all of this ability we still must suffer at points in our existence, times of physical vulnerability to an attack. It can be something as simple as when a mother puts her child into a car seat, or having to go someplace while being sick and running a fever. Mentally, in such situations you can be fully aware of potential dangers but from a physical aspect you are weakened or left exposed.

I encounter this very situation three to five times a week when leaving the gym. That the very time I use to invest in the care of my body, to strengthen it in the long run, leaves me somewhat under powered and short of breath in the short term, is not lost on me.

Couple that with on no less than four times this winter did I walk out to the gym's parking lot to find it cloaked in a couple of acres of pitch black because someone on the cleaning crew hit some switch in the process of closing down for the night.

A dark parking will give pause in the realm of one's personal security. Especially when the muscles are shaky.

This is not to say I am unarmed. Far from it in fact.

Every trip to the gym includes the carrying of my smaller "go-bag". Filled with everything from my phone, moleskine, water bottle, pens and sharpies, to a forty-five automatic and a discretely-yet-at-the-ready Cold Steel Brave Heart fixed bladed knife.

Could I carry a mouse gun, like the Beretta Bobcat, on my person as I worked out?

Have done and don't care for the method at the gym, for a few reasons, to be honest. Threat assessing almost everything in life, I have worked out over time and evaluation that the larger concern at this particular place is a mass-shooting scenario, as opposed to a potential street crime scenario in the parking lot.

Don't conclude erroneously here. That possibility is not being dismissed and will bear merit here shortly.

Rather what I see as the larger concern in this environment is potentially larger and more violent in scale, and for that the "mouse" or back-up gun is not a wise choice based upon this perceived possibility.

The gym has multiple levels, and covers almost every demographic in America. Ergo, since spree shootings start with someone with a grudge to bear and there is, at this location, a large potential of people in this immediate area who unbeknownst to me could be under threat of such a grudge (or whatever reason a spree killer has). I do not desire a smaller, close range, short sight radius, poorly sighted defensive handgun.

So my choice is to carry a larger bore, longer barreled, bigger gripped pistol that is capable of delivering accurately placed shots-on-bad-guy-at-potentially-long-distances handgun.

Should things go bad and a bad guy has to be engaged when I am shaky, short breathed and just recently adrenaline dumped from the weight bench, treadmill or pull-up cage, I want a full size pistol I can grab deftly with both hands, look down the barrel and see nice big sights and squeeze-jerk a smooth and appropriate trigger.

In that fight I want a fighting handgun.

Inside the building hallways can run twenty yards long. The main entrance around seventy-five. Add to the mix you have innocent people running around, fleeing and trying to get to cover, this is no place for T.V. Land fiction where a barrage of bullets from the good guy are fired. Instead you are looking to achieve one to five rounds, all on target and, all center mass.

The secondary reason for the big gun, is since it is in a bag, tactical though it maybe, I don't want to have to shove my weak hand (the bag rides on my weak side), in a weakened now amped up state, to dig around to locate some bitty little handgun. I want it in, found, and out.

And let's be honest. If you are carrying off body in a "gun bag" WHY would you carry a small gun?

Thus we come to the crux of this article.

Off body carry is my least favorite way of carrying a defensive weapon of any type. Yes one could argue that a messenger back slung over your body is in effect a closed holstered system on the body. Until placed next to the weight bench or at the feet at a restaurant and is off the body.

I avoid it whereas possible. The gym being the exception and not the rule.


If there is a reasonable amount of distance, time, or cover in which you can activate the deployment process known as "the draw" and, pull the handgun from it's bag, then great!

I'm sure there is some off-body/go-bag carry expert out there who can deploy his handgun faster from the bag than the rest of us can from a conventional In-the-Waistband or hip holster.

As for the rest of us....

There is the problem of a bad-guy-in-question, for one reason or another, being able to close the gap, or worse perform a complete blindside attack, preventing a reasonable and effective draw of the handgun from the bag. Or worse, targets the bag itself for theft. Man-purse snatching as it were.

In the mere blink of an eye you may find yourself in a struggle to maintain control of your precious "go-bag" in order to retain your weapon. The very argument some folks make against open-carry can just readily be applied to any off body carry system because clearly you have something of value in that bag that a bad man could want. Not to mention if you have a gun or tactical wear savvy badman. In which case he decided to target YOU because of the bag.

Hence, fighting to regain control of that bag is just as paramount as any law-enforcement officer fighting on the side of the road to retain his weapon. In such dire circumstances the attention of the fight is centered around the bag and, thus you are going to have almost no possible way to deploy the handgun from the bag. So it is time to restructure your defensive decision making paradigm to a secondary weapon or Plan B.



There are reasons you carry a modernized single bladed "tactical" folder. And at the core of those reasoning is a scenario such as this. We mentally rely on the knife here in the 21st century to be deployed as a weapon only in a last ditch effort when we can not reasonably access a firearm in which to defend our life. But what about unreasonable means?

No doubt there is some diabolical irony in having a handgun with you, while simultaneously being in the dire straits of having to rely upon a weapon from the first century to safe guard it AND you.

But as they say, here you are.

Your response has to be fluid in motion while delivering upon your assailant a barrage of counter attacks. Kicks, punches, and stabs.

I see the wheels turning.

"What if this is a simple snatch and grab?"

It is not.

For starters, in most cases criminals who commit robbery in the form of "purse snatching" with no intent to do physical harm to the victim are men and boys targeting women who pose little physical ability to stop them. Sorry ladies if that offends you. I didn't write the staging for the world's mechanics, I merely live in it.

That said, almost every person I know that carries a firearm let alone a firearm in a modern tactical bag has a certain "death stare" or "I'm tactical" look to them. So if you are a guy and, you get a criminal intent on targeting you and/or your personal belongings rest assured he is not only physically capable of handling himself, he is most likely experienced in doing so. Possibly more so than you.

No criminally minded male targets another male unless he feels assured of a victory and does so knowing a very thorough assault will likely have to be given. Hence, if a man attempts to pull that "go-bag" off your shoulder and, you make your play to stop him, understand that most likely the two of you are going to be within eight to eighteen inches of one another at the start, with a maximum distance of a yard.

How so?

First, he has to make contact with the bag in order to take it from you. This is well withing the eight inch distance. Second, you have the point where he has peeled the bag off you. This will become the length of the strap (provided we are talking about a bag and not a day planner or briefcase type carry). Our potential eighteen inches.

Lastly, we have the movement where his arm is at almost full stretch to pull the bag from you and you at almost full stretch to keep the bag with you. This being the probable yard.

The given in this situation is going to be movement away from you, in true human mind set of possession you will want to pull back to maintain. Instead you need to step with and into his direction. Slack in the line will throw him off balance, even for a split second, next you need to cover that ground and begin a counter strike.

Conventional, law-abiding-hippy wisdom states that "nothing in your bag is worth your life". If your gun is in that bag, it is worth everyone's life and your responsibility, moral or otherwise, to maintain possession of it.

You may find, while rapidly deploying that knife of yours, he may not be 110% committed to the fight & theft after a blade buries into flesh and bone a couple of times.

Lest your desire to know more about the where's and how's of deploying a knife in gruesome and realistic fashion I'll point you back to  here and here to further your education on such matters.

People who sell "things" whether it's a blender, a Smith & Wesson M&P or Ruger LCP want you to believe that they have the corner market on solving the problem that product is tasked with doing.

In the real world, away from slick marketing, there are no "perfect" solutions to life. Simply solutions. Something either works or it does not. The width and breadth of solutions are of course dependent upon the problem in which they resolve.

One who needs to build a fire in order to keep from freezing to death does not much care if that flame comes from road flare or match. The same maybe said about any instrument utilized to save your life or prevent the murder of others.

We all have points and times in life where we are seemingly well armed but, not necessarily well aware or physically well placed to run with our beloved "Plan A" should things go awry. Therefore Plan B is of the same equaled and valued importance lest it be necessary to "go with it".

In some cases that Plan B just maybe a knife.

Train, fight and live accordingly.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Of Crime and Excuse

          As one who is absorbed into the constant study of and hunting of badmen I find some things of particular interest.

The large majority of people who work with criminals do not actually understand how the criminal's mind works and that no matter what, when a crime is committed, society-at-large has been brainwashed into a very clever scheme that the criminal must have had a bad childhood. We give them a pre-disposed excuse.

We should not.

Somewhere in the 1890s "experts" began theorizing that criminal behavior was a result of environment and that ultimately a person turned to crime because they didn't have the same advantages as others. Yet with the national unemployment rate hovering around 7% we don't see that same 7% all become criminals. In fact hardly any of them turn to crime.

We blame the parents, the economy, personal freedom, capitalism and the free market, access to guns as a clear road map to criminal activity. When the Great Depression hit we blamed the rise in crime on poverty. Yet in the 1980s when "Greed was king" we blamed wealth.

For some reason or another we never blame the individual solely and completely themselves. The truth is this crimes are committed based upon choice.

A man chooses to rob a bank, rape a woman, steal a car. A woman chooses to kill her children, embezzle funds, blackmail a former lover.

There is no socio-economical scale for criminals. Everyone will say "yes there is!", yet there are just as many well-to-do Suburban teenagers pushing pills, coke and weed to their confederates as there are in the inner city "bad neighborhoods". And just as there is in rural America as well.

One can point to the most fact proving "statistic" as it were about crime being a choice. And it is provided by the United States Department of Justice.

Crime in the U.S. essential made a steady rise from the 1920s forward. Graphs will show that it "dropped" in the 1950s and 1960s but that is not necessarily true because those rates never fell back to the pre-1920s crime rate. They essentially leveled then began spiking again.

Then something happened that caused crime rates to drop steadily and increasingly across the board.

Individual states began allowing the rank and file citizen to carry a handgun upon their person. The more conceal carry laws spread across the country the lower the crime rate dropped.

The crime rate didn't drop because criminals were being found shot dead in the gutter every morning.

Crime rates dropped because the criminal faced a choice. The choice to try and attack someone who may or may not be able to kill them. When your chosen profession is that of the criminal you look for easy prey. The moment a criminal no longer knows who is and is not easy prey they begin to lose the return in their investment....crime as a job. Getting shot is bad for business since there is no worker-comp insurance.

So the next time you watch the news and see some horrific crime take place don't think "what kind of parents did they have?" .

You choose to wake up everyday and go to work, or better your life.

You choose this.

Crime is a choice made by the criminal. Give them no inherent excuse for their behavior.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stepped off a train


Not all days end well, or for some ever.

Last night, stepping off a train and wrapping up one day's endeavor I was to end up intimately involved in another. Twenty minutes off that Amtrak a colleague and I were in a phone call with a little girl's parents and aunt as they sat some three hours away in a police station, looking for help. Looking for someone to bring their little girl home.

In yesterday's late afternoon a little girl named Hailey Owen, just blocks from her home was snatched off the street and from life by her kidnapper and, ultimately killer.

The Amber Alerts went out as did the BOLOs.

Standing over a phone, talking with her parents I agreed to come down. And in doing so broke one of my rules. I don't break my rules, the real hardline internal ones. I don't break. Last night is a reason why.

I have a lot of scars from doing this job after almost twenty years. Some external, some internal. They are wrapped up in good decisions and bad ones. Victories and losses. But, through it all I have maintained one very solid mandate. Never get involved in any case that leads to finding the body of a child.

It's selfish and unapologetic but, there are somethings that I'd like to, when my time comes to finally lay down to my eternal rest, never see. Perhaps more now than ever as a father. Yet, hearing the family on the other end how do you say no? Because in their minds they are holding out for hope that she is still alive, I should think my colleague was as well.

Yet as I watched the clock make it's final sweep to ten pm, I knew the score.

Ask any doctor, cop, fire fighter...or a fixer like myself, that you have to get pragmatic early on in your career. I've often called it "the coldness". It's how every soldier can cry and kiss his family as he deploys and the moment they are out of sight the job takes over.

"We need to go get on the road".

"We need to wait till morning." I said.

I know, I know what you are thinking. Twelve hours.

Twelve to fifteen hours is the window.

Of which by the time we would have arrived would have closed. Had we left at that moment, her parents would still be at the police station and, cops hate nothing more than guys like me walking into their wheel house. And I don't blame them one small bit.

To be honest, while law enforcement has some public relations issues they need to get on and fix with how they interact with the citizenry there is still no worst enemy for the bad men of the world than the American Cop when the flag goes up.

But I had said I would go.

Keep my word.

So once in the door, after a long ride home in the old 4Runner making a lot of pleas with God and wanting to call in any favors I might have had with Him to let her come home, I went operational. The moleskine was getting bullet pointed with "needs", the bedroll dug out, the Gobag brought down from the closet top.

It didn't matter. I already knew it. I was angry. Just angry.

The phone rang just after 5 this morning. My colleague called to say Hailey's killer, (suspect as everyone else will say) had been arrested but, no body yet recovered.

"There is nothing for us to do. They'll find her within the next couple of hours" I said into the phone. Not alive I couldn't really bring myself to say, so I added "Give the family our condolences".

"They haven't found her yet", "they will".

They did. That text came in at 7:20 something.

I grow weary of the bad men of the world killing children. Everyone's politics be damned, I grow tired of the rapist, the killer, the men who commit themselves to sanely devised evil.

Because it is evil and there is evil in this world. It's not one man's perspective over another or another. Some men just want to do evil and they sleep every night free of guilt from it.

And so it is and was with Craig Michael Wood. Child killer. Innocence thief. Destroyer of small worlds and families.

Years back when I started SFIACW it was an outlet for the writer in me who grew weary of a world of bullshit and double talk. It eventually grew less personal and more....XYZ.

So normally this is the part where I say "fight" give the bad men everything you have and leave them on the floor and not you.

But instead I would rather say "do good."

Do good. Because the world is so absent of it at times. You want to be counter cultural? Do good.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Securing Your Six: Teacher's Edition



Whether it's psychology, sociology, or a culture of deconstruction we fail to address what the actual problem is with the Spree Killer. Because in all frankness it is neither the before, nor the after, but the during we must contend with.

Having spent close to two decades running backgrounds, building profiles, and trying to predict what people will or won't do despite indicators to potential behavior there are no guarantees as to a "when". Let alone an "if ever" that the behavior of a solitary "known" individual will in fact act upon your predictions.

While you may possess a list of "knowns" you also have the "when's" and "where's".  Given this how can we ever expect to stop some "unknown"?

You of course can not.

"You can!" cries the arm chair expert.

Last year I had a brief opportunity to be attached to a case where a woman was murdered in her home. She had been stabbed multiple (multiple) times and then set on fire. As I walked through the burned out house I couldn't help but notice her collection of books on serial killers. She had, on some level, compiled data in her head concerning the matter yet on the night she was killed she did one very basic thing. Answered the door.

Life and death are often balanced by such simplicity.

Our problem in combating the Spree Killer is that we are facing a continual and, always up hill battle by soft handed arm chair neophytes that have embedded themselves into an ideology of self-sustaining ignorance. They are far more interested in hearing about psychological pathology that may have contributed to an incident but, has no benefit in the future to saving a life....or lives.

After the atrocity at Virginia Tech I was asked by several people what would have been a viable solution to stopping Seung Hui Cho. My answer was simple: Killing him early into his attack would have solved it rather well.

Jeff Cooper, who organized, and promoted modern pistol craft once said it best when a reporter asked him, "Mr. Cooper, won't all of this violence beget violence?". In true Cooper fashion he responded "I certainly hope so".

But for every action, there is of course, an equal and opposite reaction. In the context of which we delve here that opposite reaction is to arm everyone, all the time. It will simply never happen. Base it on the given variances of both law and regional political ideals. There is also the consideration that a fighter, the gun does not make.

A statement true for a variety of reasons.

More realistically based is what can one individual, one teacher, one principal, do against a psychopath bent on the killing of as many people and children as possible? While it is quite a noble feat to lay one's body in front of a door to stop a rampaging killer there is a far better solution, even if one appears to be unarmed in the gun sense.

The solution is not in tech but, rather in history.

"History?" you think aloud.

History indeed.

Primary Education


Whether you choose to look at Columbine, Jonesboro or Sandy Hook what you are examining are attackers laying siege to a occupied establishment, both on the large scale (a school) and the small scale (the individual classroom). It is the classroom to which we are looking at defending.

One killer against One room.

Everything begins at the door. The door is a chokepoint. That narrow gap which decreases an aggressor's ability to attack, while increasing your odds for a successful defense. Everything depends upon what does or does not happen here. Therefore THE primary concern is to prevent an active shooter from gaining entry to the room. Locking a door is a problem if the door doesn't have locks. Reasoning as to why they don't is not the objective here. Creating a solution is.

Of course the prevailing thought is to push a desk against the door. A decent piece of advice on the surface, unless the door opens into the hallway instead of the classroom.

Yet access can be denied to a room without ever locking a door, provided the hallway floors are not carpeted. A simple gallon (or two) of cooking oil poured, albeit frantically, into the hallway creates a viscous barrier that denies an attacker the ability to enter.

One need not to complicate the process. Take the lid off, tip the jug over into the hallway, stomp your foot down on to it, cover the floor and shut the door.

The eye brows have raised and now come the hands...

"What about the people down the hall? What if they can't get across?" "How would the police feel about this?" "How do we get out of the room if the hall is covered with oil?"

With all do respect to law enforcement. Their problem is not your problem. Sounds harsh but doing nothing as opposed to oiling up a hallway to prevent the loss of life is far more harsher. Yet the question of getting out of room whose main entrance is now viscous bears merit.

The answer of course is simple.

In the closet where you keep that gallon (or more) of cooking oil should also be a very large bag  (30lbs) of kitty litter and a sizable scoop (2-4 cups). When the time comes that you need to exfil apply with deftness and walk out on it.

Beyond oiling the floor one must how to barricade a door shut when no lock is present. If the door swings inward (into the classroom) something as simple as two or three non skid rubber door stops kicked under the door have essentially locked the door . One by itself might allow for a possible slip, two or three however work as fail safes. A door wedged shut can be kicked and shot with all the fury in the world but, that does not mean it will open.

Faced with a door that swings outward, rather than inward a very simple solution comprised of one or two six foot long 2x4s screwed together, two or three eye bolts inserted into the 2x4s, and three short steel cables looped at the end and secured at the other to the eye bolts is a quick fix.

The 2x4s lay across the bottom of the doorway overlapping each side of the door jamb by one foot or more, the looped end of the steel cables are slipped over the door knob. The key is not having slack in the cables. Something as basic as this can keep a door help shut long enough to buy time and save lives.

I get it. It's undignified. Somewhere in the closet is this six foot 2x4 with cables attached to that may rest there forever and you have to explain why if someone asks. Allow me explain this another way.

What you are doing is barricading. While you may find the idea of raw lumber and cable not exactly technologically advanced in the world of the smart phone, "tech" such as that kept cities, castles, and citadels safe for a few thousand years.While you may snub such a simple idea the question posed to you is this.

What do you have planned right now that prevents a gun man from entering your classroom and murdering everyone in it?

Life and death are just that basic. If an aggressor can not enter he can not win.

School for the blind




The prevailing winds are finally beginning to change in contending with the Spree Shooter. The 90s feel good advice of "hiding & cowering" has proven to be what the rest of us always knew. Fatal.

Much like the concept of  a "lock down" with no locks fails in rather short fashion the legions of ignorant peaceniks and cowards have discovered that desk chairs and hands clasped over the back of heads do not actually stop bullets.

Not long back I spoke with a woman who had been violently abused by an ex-lover and that he kept breaking into her home and assaulting her. This, despite the fact she called the police every-time and had a restraining order. When I asked her what her course of action was when this happened she said "what do you mean?" so in plain English I asked "what-do-you-do-when-he-breaks-in?".

She hid in her bathroom or the bedroom closet. I asked her if those are places she felt most comfortable dying. The doors where cheap, the closet did not lock and she kept no weapon. Her problem was a combination of both fear and willful ignorance. Finally, after much discussion I told her that she should atleast die on her feet with some sense of dignity or... she could engage him. Offering to her that the next time he broke in not to run away from him but TO him or at the very least to the kitchen, open the knife drawer and keep the biggest knife she had in her hand and throw every steak knife, paring knife, lettuce knife and butter knife at him till he fled or died.

The smoking light had been lit so to speak.

Years of fear became a grin. "What do I do if I run out of knives?" I told her to throw pots and if he advanced through the hail of kitchenware to stab him to the point of significant discouragement brought about by pain and blood loss. Of course all of this to say that a handgun would serve her much better.

While it is safe to say that most teacher's desk will never hold a butcher's block full of knives there should be conveniently parked near one of the legs or within easy reach a fire extinguisher. It should be larger enough for the individual to use freely in all manner of speaking.

While the chemistry composition of the fire retardant inside the red can is difficult, the application for our purposes is simple. Use to fire extinguisher to engage an attacker from a distance, blinding him with the foam/powder until empty or sufficiently applied.

Then beat him with the can and take the gun from him.

Lest I depart from this particular means of defense in vague terms allow me to instruct a little more precisely.

A person blinded in any kind of situation whether accidental or intentional will instinctively lower their head and raise their hands towards the face. This is self-protecting posture. When the head lowers the neck becomes exposed, as does the back of the head. Utilizing the nozzle and trigger area of the fire extinguisher as a grip area bring the base of the can down onto the neck in hard fast blows. If the neck is not exposed or the angle is wrong use the can to attack the sides of the head and face, the eyes, the nose, the mouth, etc.

These blows should be delivered repeatedly with as much power as possible. Should the moment present itself in the course of action that the gunman can be disarmed then do so. One of course should scream "DROP THE GUN" as you bludgeon. Or take the weapon from them if the fail to comply. The gun no matter what it is relies on four fingers curled around a grip. Nothing more. If the hand does not open upon request and the weapon dropped...hit with the can.


Force x Velocity

Much like one does not want to rely upon the door wedge alone, the fire extinguisher while making for a sufficient tool to blind and labor an attacker's breathing is really only fair as an impact weapon. Fortunately the world is filled with everyday items that excel as impact weapons while allowing for reasonable excuses to be in a teacher's possession.

Call it applied science, the history of hand tools, or constructive camouflage, but there are innumerable reasons for a teacher to have a short pry bar, a claw hammer, or a two foot piece of re-bar tucked away in a closet or a drawer.

In 1835 Solymon Merrick applied for the first patent on a wrench. The tool changed the course of construction history with it's grip giving mechanical advantage by applying torque in the tightening of bolts and nuts. One combination wrench I have on my work bench measures around fifteen inches long and weighs over a pound. If someone needed to lecture on the history or use of tools, for example, a wrench such as this would be ideal, due to it's size so that people seated in the back could see it easily enough.

From a perspective of defensive use the design makes it available to gain a significant grip on one end to be swung hard and fast, while it's all steel construction ensures that blows will literally crush bone and cut skin.

Much like applying the blunt force from a fire extinguisher a hammer, crow bar, wrench or re-bar does so only better. Such items allow a good purchase on the grip handle as not to be easily taken from you, while light and fast enough to deliver wicked blows in rapid succession. A foot long pry-bar can smash against the fingers wrapped around a gun, or deliver a decisive blow to the head. If the upper arm were the only target available to a teacher defending a classroom of children from a would be mass murderer, one hand is free to fight for control of the gun while the hand gripping the steel bar can crush the humerus and the clavicle in under five seconds. Elbows can be rendered inoperable upon impact.

One must understand that it is not the attacker, the killer, the would be murderer as a whole that must be defeated. A killer is only as dangerous as his hands and brain. If you begin doing systematic damage to one or both he his forced to cease an attack.

One can not will broken bone to work.

Have your cake and eat it to



I know a metal shop teacher who is forbidden by school policy from carrying a pocket knife. He has access to a dizzying array of tools, not to mention the ability to forge a sword if he so desired. Apparently there is substantial hoplophobic fear towards the Case Trapper or Victorinox Spartan that can potentially lock-down an entire school. This despite the fact both designs predate the public school system.

The war on common sense not withstanding, a teacher or parent can walk into school with a birthday cake and twelve inch butcher knife and no one will bat an eye.

Throw a party and leave the knife.

When I wrote about the after math of the Virginia tech massacre I couldn't help but wonder how many young men cowered under a desk with a pocket clip sticking out from their pants pocket. A backpack in the face and a judicious use of blade would have saved countless lives.

I see the over-acted rolling of the eyes and read your mind "You expect me to take on a gunman with a claw hammer and a butcher knife?"

Yes.

Here in the 21st Century where everything is climate controlled, and for many the outdoors is walking on a gravel path as opposed to blacktop; one might be surprised to learn that the North American continent was settled by way of butcher knife and tomahawk as much as it was the flintlock rifle. Modern day New York state with all of it's nannyness was fought and lost, fought and won in hand to hand combat. Because once fired if the attacker was able to close the gap before that musket was reloaded, your great great great great granddad transitioned from gun to knife and war hammer.

A solitary gunman, despite the fact that he may have the appearance of god of war, is no such thing. Incapacitating his view with a cloud of fire retardant, then launching an immediate assault upon him with a butcher knife and claw hammer will yield in lives saved.

It is not only potentially winnable it is probable.

We must remember if these socially inferior cowards like Cho or Lanza wanted a fight they would attack a police station or call 911 and wait. Instead they want helpless victimized, terrorized targets of opportunity.  One should instead inflict a war upon them.

And I mean that quite sincerely.

Problem Solving
A large part of the problem is that we lose lives in these attacks because no one plans to fight.

Lock down is not a plan, and it's not a solution. It is a law enforcement procedure gone mainstream. The idea that a first floor classroom filled with children, with no lock on the door and no reasonable means of defense are simply supposed to wait for death to arrive is barbaric and sadistic.

Were I a teacher looking out at a school's football field, play ground or parking lot that was merely a two foot drop to the ground I would apply a chair to the window and encourage every child able to do so as well, and I would take my students and leave.

Left with no reasonable means of retreat, I would instead prepare to resist any siege and prepare to put my defense plan into action. The ones that were rehearsed at home, after school, and countless times in my head. Knowing it like any fire drill. Should the time arise. Implement it.

Hiding children in a closet, laying down in front of a door have the hallmarks of heroism without a doubt. Yet why no one would think to pile twenty (or more) desks and chairs on top of each other, along with every table available in front of the door is simply beyond me.

I understand. The profession is education not fighting. But there comes a point and time when lay people run out of excuses. Of course always will there be the cry for gun control, the weeping and gnashing of teeth to reduce the capacity of bullets capable of being fired from a gun, yet some of us seem to forget that people murdered each other long before someone thought up the rifle barrel and gun powder.

There is this resounding remark after every atrocity that invariably makes the rounds of "I don't want to live in a world where principals and teachers have to...."

You already do.






Monday, January 6, 2014

Practactical 101: Light it up



For the better part of two decades I've carried a flashlight everyday in my pocket. To the point that I can honestly say that if one where to count the hours in a race per se the flashlight would very well trump both the pistol and knife in my carrying. If only for the sake of being separated from two of those articles due to legal constraints (court rooms and airplanes).

I've walked through burned out buildings, crime scenes, tied flies to a line, read a book, cleared more than a few buildings and done all those "neat" tactical moves like they do on the t.v. , all with a flashlight between my fingers or teeth. Yet it was a power outage a few years back that taught me something really useful to do with a light.

Point it up.

If you're in the dark, inside, and not doing one of those uber cool room clears (you should practice that by the way) but, just trying to maneuver through the dark point your light straight up. This working especially well on ceilings 8-12 ft high.

What does it do that pointing it out in front of me doesn't do?

Well for starters it places your feet inside a ring of light as opposed to a shroud of darkness.

The secondary advantage is given the high lumen output on so many lights one can end up blinding others if you turn without thinking, putting your light on them. When pointed in the traditional method you get light only where the cone goes and how the beam is focused. Bounce it off the ceiling and you get the same effect of a floor lamp....wide spread illumination.

Lastly, it does one other thing. Brings about a calm to other people with you who don't have a light. The guy with the light gets to calm his heighten concerns first because the flashlight goes wherever thought's tell it to, anyone else by default is forced to observe whatever the torch bearer observes leaving them literally in the dark. With the light pointed up and three hundred and sixty degrees of illumination  provided everyone else can look where they so choose.

It may not sound like much, but moving through some dark place with a child clinging to your pant leg crippled with a fear of the dark can be at most a real problem and at the least a frustration. Thus causing your freedom of movement to be semi-impeded.

"Tactical" lights as we call them now days are phenomenal for blinding an aggressor but, day in and day out you are going to be called to use that light in everyday occurrences.

The better the illumination the safer and calmer anyone (and everyone) is going to be in an already trying and tense situation.