North Hollywood Shootout


A few years ago, I ran across this image .  It is a display  of the weapons and gear the two bank robbers from the North Hollywood shoot out used.     It is interesting to think back on how things changed   because of this.

I remember a lot of talk after it about how the CA cop’s 9mm and 38 spl   handguns and 12 ga shotguns, weren’t effective against the robber’s boy armor.    A fact that makes me wonder why, decades later  the 9mm has  become the  miracle baby of LEO once again.



Approximately 650 rounds were fired by police at the two robbers.  No doubt mostly from their service handguns.  Once officers armed with rifles showed up , the fire fight was over  one way or another.

That  estimated 650 rounds though.  That is something to think about.   While the robbers were heavily armored, their heads were not.      I have over the years wondered  about how none of the officers on scene  made a head shot.   Did they not have the skill? Or was it lack of confidence in their ability ? Maybe they assumed  they had some kind of armor on their heads? You can see they  made many center mass hits.   Of course having two guys hosing you down with .30cal  is not the best time to try to take a head shot.

But the fact is, you may some day very well need to take a head shot. Either because it is the only target you got or because it is the only thing vulnerable.

It is pretty clear the police officers on scene were rattled and demoralized by being vastly undergunned.

An officer was heard on the LAPD police frequency approximately 10-15 minutes into the shootout, warning other officers that they should “not stop [the getaway vehicle], they’ve got automatic weapons, there’s nothing we have that can stop them.”


You can listen to the audio from the fire fight here.

The firefight ended the only way it could.  Both of the dirt bags Tango Uniform.    One suck started his M92 and the other one taken down by leg shots and bleeding out before an EMT could get to him.   Too bad for him.   Now a days I am sure the state of CA would lock up the officers for not doing more to save the animal’s life.


After this shoot out we read about how things changed in the police departments across the country. This was one of the factors that led to the  police starting to look more and more and act more and more like the military.   And with that the more tax payer money spent on paying for it all.     Then we see the recent FL  school  attack were the police were close to useless. I see police who can barely qualify with their handguns.

Again, you have to be ready to take care of yourself in an event like this.    You have to  have the skill to make a fight ending shot.  Or   you need to be able to  realize that even with great skill. you may not do any good in an event like this.    If a customer was in that bank after the robbers went outside and started up the TET offensive would it had been a good idea to come out behind them and  try to take a shot, even a perfect shot, once the police were there and not knowing who was who?   Yes if you wanted to avoid ever having to worry about anything ever again.

There are a lot of things that can be learned from the North Hollywood  Shootout.  Not just for the police but for military and the rest of us lowly peons who simply  do not rely on the state for our safety.

You can read a mountain of info on this famous,  world changing event.    I am not going to try my hand at any kind of in depth reporting on the event but you can read more here at this link.

Figures of the North Hollywood shoot out suspects, Larry Phillips, Jr., and Emil Matasareanu as they were dressed on the day of the Bank of America robbery at the Los Angeles Police museum in Highland Park. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)



  1. So to add to your post:

    1. I wonder if they have the traffic ticket these guys received from the California Highway Patrol on the way to Los Angeles. The CHP only cares about revenue and doesn’t run people for wants and warrants, as that doesn’t help traffic ticket revenue. Besides, having to arrest people and take them to jail, then go to court, etc. takes offices away from important tasks, like writing tickets. The ticket was found in the glovebox, after the incident and yes at least one of them had an outstanding warrant.

    2. Is there a “Good Citizen” plaque on display for the owner of B&B Sales, a gun store who gave LAPD officers AR15’s and Ammo immediately when they came in and asked, so they could confront the suspects with better weapons than pistols and 12 gauge shotguns. He did so with no BS, no paperwork, etc. to save the lives of police and the community at large. After the incident, the City, State and Feds generously decided not to prosecute the owner for his good deeds and the City of Los Angeles eventually ran him and most of the gun shops out of the city later on in any case.

    History is written by the victors and also to protect the mistakes of the guilty and incompetent.

  2. Spot on Shawn. It drives me crazy to see guys who say they only practice at 7 yards because all gunfights are close range.

    You get the fight you’re given, not the one you want. And if you practice at 25 yards or more then the 7 yard shots become easier.

    And with jihadis wearing bomb vests, the head shot may be your only option to avoid being killed when they detonate.

    Sorry for the rant…and Cheers from Australia

  3. I used to work in Studio City, on Ventura Blvd. I know, pretty well, where this shootout happened and the BofA where it happened. It was only about seven blocks from where I used to work.

    Interesting aside: the FFL (B&B) who gave the LEO’s the AR’s they used to ultimately take these clowns down was the FFL from whom I bought my first Glock in 1987. B&B went out of business by the late 90’s, owing mostly to an acrimonious split between the two men who owned B&B, which cost them millions in legal fees. They filed for Chap 11 by the late 90’s, then LA piled on the anti-gun regs, and they filed Chap 7 and liquidated by the early 2000’s.

    After talking with some LAPD officers before this firefight (in 1993/1994), I gained some perspective on why the LAPD (and other law enforcement orgs) get into tight spots in situations like this. It comes down to this: Most cops claim far, far greater knowledge of guns than they actually possess. Matter of fact, I would say that most cops have a combination of apathy, ignorance and contempt about firearms. On ranges where I’ve been one of the few “civilians”[1] alongside lots of LEO’s from various agencies on the firing line, most of the LEO’s have mediocre marksmanship skills. The guys who have impressed me the most were rural LEO’s, and they were usually shooting 1911’s or revolvers (often .357’s and .44’s), not plastic wundernines. They knew they had a small round count, so they make their shots matter.

    What was needed early on in this fight was someone with something as absurdly simple as a M1 Carbine. Even a Ruger 10/22 could have made these headshots. The distances were not great; a headshot would have been possible with a long(er) barrel revolver or a small carbine. The AR’s and ammo the LAPD was given by B&B were nothing special; they probably weren’t even sighted in – that gives you an idea how close the range was in this firefight. The central problem was that, even as early as 1993/1994, when I was on ranges with a bunch of LEO’s from SoCal, it was apparent that the “new new” tactics were going towards fusillades instead of aimed fire. I’d see LEO’s during the “draw, two headshots, holster” drills keep putting rounds into center-mass on the B-27 – because that’s all they had been taught, and that’s all they ever practiced, and they needed to be coached/yelled-at to get them to listen to the instructions and aim for the head.

    It was eye-opening, I assure you. Today, when I meet LEO’s who claim to be great shots, I do my very best to keep a straight face and not smirk. The difference between now and then is that back then, they claimed knowledge far beyond their competence about handguns. Today, they claim knowledge far beyond competence in AR-15’s – and handguns. Thanks to cops quoted in the press, the AR-15 is shooting some absurdly high-powered round – which most “civilian” shooters know to be a round we use on nothing larger than a coyote, but more frequently on prairie dogs and ground squirrels.

    [1] I like telling cops that they’re civilians too. When they claim otherwise, I ask if they’re bound by UCMJ or are members of the NG or reserves – if not, they’re ‘civilian’ just as I am. Oh, the spluttering that ensues… NB I also resist this term being used by firefighters and/or EMT’s as well.

    • Your comment about cops claiming more knowledge than they have. JUst a couple weeks ago I was discussing this same thing with one of my oldest and best friends who is state trooper. He is one of thestate EOD guys anda Sniper on their swat teams and over their sniper training and I occasionally help him out with it. He had recently conducted an active shooter type training event with scenarios for the other state LE agencies. As you said the all came in “knowing it all” and the dumb things they did during the class would have been funny if not deadly series. After about an hour I mentioned to him that I ahve always wondered if the boys just think they know a lot about guns, or put on that they do because of the typical ME GOD complex or ego so many of them have. He said in his experience once they got in private and talked to a fellow cop like he who does know more, they admit they have no idea. Some of course think they know it all, especially the ones who..SWOOOOOn, came from the military!! The others put on a facade so as to not look bad in front of the lowly “civilians” so as to save face or to not induce a total loss of confidence in the police that are supposed to be protecting them. I could tell you a hundred stories about the “snipers” he works with and the bone headed things they do and say and just how useless most of them are.

  4. Good Comments.

    When I lived in California, we used go to Angeles Shooting Range in the Valley, of the 210 fwy. One day, during the week, my buddy and I were on the rifle range and we got kicked off and had to move to the pistol side.

    We were shooting various centerfire rifles at the 200 yard paper target line. We were also shooting at the metal plate targets that went from 400, out to 675 yards. Sometimes for fun, we would shoot our old Swiss and Swedish bolt actions with irons at the far targets…hit, hit, miss, miss…hit, etc. with the irons. The 675 yard target was a challenge with irons and we missed more than we hit, but it was fun. We did O.K., but weren’t even close to awesome shooters as far as I was concerned.

    The reason we were kicked off was simple, the vaunted LAPD SWAT Team was shooting/sighting in their very expensive sniper rifles. They had all the high-speed gear and what looked like McMillian rifles and Mark IV Leupold Scopes, etc. No expense was spared as the taxpayers were buying.

    My Buddy and I asked the Range Master why, with what seemed like a 100 benches, why we couldn’t just move down away from the police shooters and continue shooting our rifles in peace.

    He quietly explained that the LAPD rented the entire side of the range, several times a month to practice long range shooting. He also stated that most of them sucked and having civilians outshoot them, would be bad for morale. I asked him if he was kidding and and he smiled and said, “Nope”.

    So my $125 (back in the day) surplus rifles were more than a match for the pinnacle of police marksmen that day. I had to laugh, but really it’s kinda sad and concerning.

    Bottom line is you can’t buy skills, it takes real work and practice. Arrogance and hubris are counterproductive in just about any profession.

    • I’ve had conversations with a SWAT sniper back in the early 90’s who seemed to have his head on straight, and while he might have practiced occasionally at 300+ yards, most of the practice he did was at 150 yards and under. He explained that police snipers aren’t typically engaging targets at “hundreds of yards” – most of their target ranges are under 100 yards. He said that his goal wasn’t to make 600 yard shots on “center mass;” instead his goal was to be able put a bullet precisely into someone’s skull through their upper lip or behind their ear. ie, he was worried about putting his round perfectly into a perp’s brain stem at 75 yards instead of a target zone of 8″ in someone’s chest at 600 yards. That sounded like a much more realistic appraisal of LEO situations.

      Today… heh. Absurdity abounds. I’ve been kicked off the Washoe County (Reno, NV) range for the exact same issues you outlined there – the SWAT team wanted to play. I was there the day the rangemaster (a county employee) tossed some of the cops off the range for failures of gun handling and safety… that was an interesting situation.

  5. “A fact that makes me wonder why, decades later the 9mm has become the miracle baby of LEO once again.”

    In fairness, even type IIA armor (the second lowest class) will stop 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. Type II adds .357 magnum to the “will stop” list, and even a .44 magnum is insufficient to penetrate type IIIA armor.

    In other words, if you’re facing a threat wearing soft armor, you should have brought a rifle. (Or, as you point out, be able to make head shots–hey, no pressure–in which case your 9mm or .38 Spl will do you just fine.)

    -John M.

    • The point I poorly was making is after all those cops failed to so much as scratch those two guys with their 9mms, you would have though that would have put a real bad taste in their mouth for it going forward. Now that being said, I am not a fan of the 9mm. I dont have it, or think it is useless but I would not choose it if I had a choice in the matter

  6. LAPD now fields the H&K MP-7A1, mostly for motorcycle officers (and females). Unfortunately it is hobbled to semi-auto only, which significantly impacts its lethality when dealing with pain immune individuals on narcotics. These people must be stopped/killed with Central Nervous System hits or simply bleed out. The more bullets down range quickly, the better.

    This P.C. policing will get someone killed and it will be the guns fault, not the cowardly administrators who removed the full auto feature and put their officers at increased risk.

    The good news, is they are using the EoTech EXPS-3 Holographic sights which should improve hit probability, again provided the officers are properly trained, which I doubt.

    I know that the FN 5.7x28mm will penetrate soft Level III body armor and actually go through 2 of these vest at the same time. I would imagine, the MP-7A1, 4.6×30 ammo has similar performance.

    This is important, as the North Hollywood criminals wore two soft vests each, one over the other. So this has been done already and is not theoretical.

    Obviously, 9mm AP ammo exists that can go through soft armor. Not sure if it can penetrate as well as the PDW calibers.

    • I should have looked more into it as now its become a topic. I was under the understanding that the two robbers not only used soft armor but also used metal plates in their home made body armor, One of them having covered nearly his entire body and the other one too lazy to do finish his full body armor


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