NOVEMBER 18, 2014

Much Ado

I'm no Shakespearean scholar, but the title of the play Much Ado About Nothing implies a lot of disturbance about something of little consequence. As examples of these disturbances over trivia, see just about anything on the internet that has to do with the defensive use of firearms. Aside from the political diatribes, which are enough to make one queasy, the people on our own side seem to crave controversy about very little. Recently, this gem of wisdom appeared (paraphrased here): "Stoner/AR system is junk, it craps where it eats, ammo-sensitive, maintenance sensitive." On the whole, no. This call comes from a fan of the classic firearm: the M1 Garand, the M1903A3, Enfield, M1 Carbine, M92/M94/M336 lever guns. In spite of that predilection, my first choice for defense/LE/mil-type applications is one or another variation of Stoner's AR. It's the most common rifle in CONUS, with widely available parts and ammunition -- ammunition that's current is loaded primarily for that application (Stoner-type guns). It's light, more accurate than it needs to be, has superior ergonomics to any other rifle in history, the recoil is very light, and it hits as hard as it needs to especially in the US-domestic arena. As to maintenance, Pat Rogers has run various make ARs in his schools, kept good round counts, with no cleaning. Lubrication is a must. Guns are routinely going over 20,000 rounds while in the rotation. And he's not the only one keeping track of such things. The AR will do just fine.
While we're at it: "The Weaver stance is obsolete, no one uses it -just look at dash cams. If you use it, you'll die." The facts don't bear that out. Ask guys like Larry Mudgett (LAPD), don't believe me. As to the dash cams, look at the large number of shooters going one-handed while their training is overwhelmingly two-handed shooting. Also, let's score those living, moving targets they engaged in the fight. Let's examine hit ratios. Just because it's what someone does while surprised, it doesn't mean that it's what their training was -- more like it's what they failed to take away from their training. While we're about it though, most people don't grasp Weaver. It's that whole reading comprehension thing. I've fallen victim to it as well, modeling the photos I'd seen of Jeff Cooper's variant back when I was in my teens. The crux of Weaver is the grip and isometric pressure. You'll find shooters who appear to be isosceles-shooters who will tell you they're pressing out with the gun hand while pulling back with the poorly-named "support" hand. (It doesn't offer "support," it offers rigidity - but that's another faux-controversy.)
No one is insisting you carry a .22 but some people will use a .22 rimfire for self-protection. I've seen them do it. It beats the hell out of no gun at all.
"The 9mm (.40, .45 - fill in the blank) is stupid and will get you killed." The Caliber Commandos love this one. Various gun magazines (entertainment publications) used freight cars full of paper and drums of ink - making fistfuls of money - with this old theme. Now, "click rates" and "metrics" go through the roof with this inanity. Which cartridge is the widow-maker seems to still be order of the day - as it was fifty years ago. How about making best use of what you have and getting down to business? I guess we've hit the stage anti-gunners warned about: we have too many selections. For every non-stop horror story, there's an equal and opposite non-stop horror story. A good plan would involve learning how to shoot with precision while under stress and stop obsessing about nonsense. There are people who've made careers of this stuff. Ask around, as we do. We have Chuck Haggard, Claude Werner, Darryl Bolke just for openers. Claude has studied reports of non-sworn shootings (and non-shooting uses of firearms) and found caliber of small moment. Chuck and Darryl have spent years in a business where coroners and trauma centers score the targets. It doesn't get more real than that.
Little guns aren't the best for fighting but they are superior to the cannon you left at home.
"Low-capacity auto pistols and revolvers are a bad idea." Maybe. We could get snarky and say "if you intend to miss a lot," but I've been known to carry 15-shot autos for defense (backed up by a 10-shot analog as a backup) - with spare ammo on board. Again, playing keyboard games won't get the deal done. Get the gear that fits you and your lifestyle, learn how to use it and practice those skills with it. Make it work as best you can. Sometimes, the small revolver or auto is the right thing. In any event, having more gun is no suggestion you should travel in bad areas with bad company. Remember the "stupid" rules. ""Slow is smooth and smooth is fast" is just a stupid saying." Outside its context, sure. Within its context, it makes sense. You need to start somewhere and it's slow and sure. Like "practice makes perfect" -- except it doesn't unless what you practice is perfect. I have a lot of experience with that. When I get a new holster, for example, or move to an operating system I haven't used for some time (from modern striker-fired to double-action auto, for example), I start slow to build good habits. I try to minimize unnecessary movement in gun handling and examine how others do it -- Dave Spaulding is one of the best at cutting out extraneous movement in gunhandling protocols. As you become more familiar and comfortable, pick up the pace. Use a timer. When the misses start, back off and get it right before moving on. Just because someone says something's wrong doesn't mean it is; sometimes the writer needs to fill space or drive traffic. Finally we have a real concern: "reholstering without looking." Or maybe not. The poster even said it was no big deal, just something to think about. It was pointed out that, for peace officers, it's a needed skill. I know people who'd disagree: non-police who've been in shootings and still had the gun in their hands when the gendarmerie arrived were in a bad place. This can lead to a mistaken identity shooting at worst and to hard feelings at best. Letting the piece go to the ground is likewise a bad idea. If there was a reason to shoot, we may have more hostiles nearby. A holster is a great place to carry a handgun. Keeping situational awareness while holstering is likewise a good thing. Let's put it in the context of many of our new (and some of our older) gun handlers. We are past the period where it was very common to buy a 1903 Pocket Model, a Savage Model 1907, S&W Hand Ejector or some such, fire a few rounds to ensure it goes "BANG," then throw it in the sock drawer. It still happens, but most people fire more than a few rounds and an increasing number of new shooters want to shoot their guns even more. Even at that, they're not all spending a like amount on holsters and they're not all carrying all the time. (They must have a crystal ball to know when it's 'necessary' to carry.) It comes down to this: the most draw-and-holster work the majority will ever get is in a training class. Putting it in the grand scheme of things: it's more important you know when to shoot and when not to; it's more important to be able to make the high value hit under some pressure. It's important to know there will likely be people ahead of your muzzle who you don't want to shoot. Holstering one-handed by feel when you have a holster that collapses when you draw, has intruding straps or when you insist on wearing jackets with draw-string waists - probably not the first priority. Put the gun away, without shooting yourself please, in the best way you can. While the arguments can be fun, when approached in the right way, some folks seem to get bent out of shape. If you're enraged over internet shenanigans, how will you take it when someone tries to murder you? I hope you never find out. -- Rich Grassi