5.56 Timeline


By Luis Valdes

The S&W 4566 TSW was the last of the 3rd Gen .45 Autos. Solid hunks of stainless steel with a levem of craftsmanship that rivaled custom guns. The Ruger P345 was the last of the classic P Series guns. Internally, it is a classic P97 .45 ACP with the cluttered sharp ergonomics of a brick removed.

Both had everything that would have been in demand in the 90s. Loaded chamber indicator or witness holes, magazine disconnect, 8rd capacity, slide mounted decocker/safety, accessory rails for weapon mounted lights, slick no snag sights, and stainless components. And of course they were hammer fired DA/SA guns.

In an era of high capacity striker fired 9mms averaging 18rds now. A single stack 8rd .45 ACP with a DA/SA trigger just wouldn’t fly. But in the 90s, they would have been quite popular, especially since the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban was in full force. 1911s regained popularity because of the ban, but some still had an aversion to carrying cocked and locked. So manufacturers like Sig, Colt, Ruger, and S&W all came out with DA/SA .45 ACP guns to replace the 1911. (The Colt was the “Double Eagle” a 1911 converted to DA/SA offered in .45ACP and 10MM-Editor)

The S&W Model 4506 (8 rds & 41.6 oz), Ruger P90 (7 rds & 34 oz), SIG P220 (7 rds & 30.4 oz), and the Colt Double Eagle (8 rds & 41.52 oz).

All were horribly antiquated by their release due to GLOCK. But again, remember the AWB took away from the civilian market one of GLOCK’s biggest strengths. A double stack magazine with a double digit capacity. Suddenly, much like the 1911, the DA/SA Single Stacks were popular.

Ruger continued with the P90 line and made the P97, polymer framed version. Colt shuttered the Double Eagle. S&W took the 4506 and evolved it into the 4506-1 and the ever popular 4566. Sig did well with the P220 and still produce it to this day.

But S&W and Ruger went on different paths with theirs. Ruger streamlined the P97 and made it i to the P345 and gave it everything someone would’ve wanted in 1999 or 2000. The problem is, they instituted these upgrades right before the ban the ended. The P345 suddenly found itself out of place in a world of now legally available Double Stack .45s and Wonder Nines. Production ended in around 2011-2012 time frame.

S&W did something similar. They took the 4566 line and made the Tactical Smith & Wesson line (TSW for short). It too was designed at the tail end of the AWB and faced an uphill battle and clawed a small but loyal market share in law enforcement circles due to older established relationships between S&W and Police Departments. The final iteration shown above was produced in 2011 and that was it. The line was closed after that.

Both guns share similar traits, but on the opposite side. One oozes quality with machining and steel making while the other oozes affordability due to experienced with casting. Both though are the best of their product lines.

But again, the AWB end (thank God) and any market for these guns dried up. They are fantastic shooters and when I have the time, I definitely plan on doing a head to head review of them.

Though neither of these guns are fairly old. The mindset and ideas that led to their developments are rooted in the past. Over 30 years now if we go back to when the DA/SA craze started taking over in the 80s and early 90s. They are guns of a bygone era.

Omaha Beach June 6th 1944

This is a repost from a few years ago that I thought I would re -share. It is part of our growing content that gets buried and lost as time goes on. Since it’s the 75th anniversary in a coupleof days, I thought I would share it again today for those who missed it.

An important anniversary is coming this year.  It is not only an important day for our country, but the entire world. On June 6 1944 the fate of not only the USA , but the rest of the free world hung in the balance.  It was a lot closer to failure than many people think.  As most know, it was D-Day, the beginning of operation Overlord and the allied invasion of Europe. The people and industries of the free world had put their full effort into what was going to happen, The industrial feat that provided equipment and support to the men who would throw themselves at Hitler’s Atlantic wall in an attempt to establish a beach head was staggering.  The men had been trained and sharpened to a fever pitch for this all out effort. It had to work.  This crusade was meant not as a conquering invasion to subdue, pillage, destroy and make slaves, but to free Europe from the Nazi Empire.  It was the largest amphibious invasion in history.

This is not a complete history of Overlord and Neptune, but a focus on on a small portion of the action on and around Omaha beach.Of course a lot more happened that day, but the action on Omaha was unique because of the unimaginable horror and violence the men who assaulted it had to face.

The beach is crescent shaped, about 10 kilometers wide with firm sand at low tide that stretches for about 300-400 meters from the water line.  The only obstacle across the beach as they would move in was a shingle band 1 to 4 meters high that was impassable for vehicles. Beyond the shingle for a large section of beach was a sea wall of wood or masonry. Inland of the sea wall was a flatter area with tank ditches, swampy areas and then the bluff. The bluff was grass covered and offered no way for a vehicle to climb. It looked featureless, but actually had many folds. This would turn out to be very advantageous because a man could still climb the bluff. Cutting the bluff were 5 small draws that went up the bluff to the top with a small paved road leading up the bluff through the exits.  All of it was heavily mined with obstacles. The Germans had strong points, pill boxes, machine gun nests and trenches for firing on the beach in enfilade so as to cover the entire beach in cross fire. In addition there were observation points for artillery from mortars up to the bigger guns further inland as well as artillery that could enfilade the beach.  Ammo and men could be brought up in the trenches to reinforce quickly and form smaller counter attacks. According to Ambrose, “The waters off shore were heavily mined and along with the beaches the promenade, which had concentina wire along its length and the bluff. Rommel had twelve strong points holding 88s, 75s,and mortars. He had dozens of tobruks and machine gun pill boxes supported by an extensive trench system.”

Set to assault the beach were the 1st and 29th infantry division with companies of the rangers attached with assorted smaller units. They faced 3 battalions of the 352 Division.  Intelligence reported a smaller unit of inferior troops that would be knocked out by the air and naval fire.  After the pre invasion prep had let up and the landing craft were about to assault the beach, just before H-Hour, Captain Walker on an LCI took a look as the smoke lifted.  “I took a look toward the shore and my heart took a dive. I could not believe how peaceful, how untouched, and how tranquil the scene was. The terrain was green. All buildings and houses were intact”.

The air bombardment was a failure, nothing on the beach was hit and the fire from the battleships was too short, though firing smoke had obscured the beach for direct fire.

As the first landing craft went in. the defenders opened fire. Mate Sears, an electrician’s mate remembered, “We hit the sandbar and dropped the ramp, and all hell poured loose on us. the soldiers in the boat took a hail of MG fire. The Army LT was immediately killed, shot through the head”  Captain Taylor Fellers and every man in the leading boat of A Company was killed before the ramp even opened. It either hitting a mine or took a hit from an 88.  At any rate, it was there one second and vaporized in an instant.

All along Omaha German machine gunners let loose a withering amount of fire, one German vet reporting firing 12,000 rounds that morning. Because of a strong current and obstacles, the landing craft landed in the wrong spots.  When the skippers saw one LCI make it in, they followed close by leading the men to be bunched up, making easy targets for MG42 gunners.  That is, if they even made it to shore to begin with. Those who did make it to shore in the first wave had to ditch their gear. Sand bars and mines kept many craft from going in closer. The men stepped out into deep water and had to drop gear to keep from drowning. The ones who did drag ashore were tired, and demoralized.  Most also had multiple wounds.

When the ramp let down, the Germans raked the front of the boat with Machine gun and artillery fire. Entire craft of men where killed by machine gun fire or hit with mortars and exploded, killing everyone. The men in the water found that if you stood up, you would get hit, so many floated in with the tide.  Sgt Valance was one such men. “I abandoned my gear which was dragging me down into the water. it became evident rather quickly that we were not going to accomplish much. I remember floundering in the water with my hand up in the air, trying to get my balance, when I was first shot through the palm of my hand, then through the knuckle. PVT Witt was rolling toward me. I remember him saying they were leaving us to die like rats, just die like rats…”  Valance continued, ”…and staggered up against the seawall and sort of collapsed there and spent the whole day in that position. Essentially my part of the invasion had ended by having been wiped out as most of my company was. The bodies of my buddies were washing ashore and I was the one live body in among so many friends, all of whom were dead, many cases very severely blown to pieces.”

On another boat, LT Tidrick was first off. While jumping from the ramp to the water he was shot through the throat. Getting up to the sand he fell and said to a PVT “advance with the wire cutters”  As soon as he said it, a machine gun ripped the LT from groin to the top of his head. On another boat coming in, every man in a thirty person assault team was killed before they could get off.

Survivors huddled together and helped each other up to the sea wall. Medics did what they could with what little was left. Most men had little left from having to ditch earlier. Gear was strewn all over Dog Green sector of the beach. Though the first wave was slaughtered, the gear would be proof they had not died in vain for the follow up waves.

As the men tried to cross the open beach to the single and sea wall, their wet clothes and gear weighed them down and made it seem as if they were running in slow motion.

As SGT Warner Hamlett of F company made his way up the beach, he found the weight of the wet clothes full of water and sand really made it hard to run. He could hear men and officers shouting the only chance to live was to get off the beach.  While he was resting in a shell hole a young private fell in beside him. “I said, Gillingham, lets stay apart, cause the Germans  will fire at two faster than one. He remained silent as I ran forward”. A shell burst between them and he looked back,  “It took Gillingham’s chin off, including the bone, except for a small piece of flesh. He tried to hold his chin in place as he ran toward the shingle. He made it and Bill Hawkes gave him a shot of morphine. We stayed with him for around 30 minutes until he died. The entire time he remained conscious and aware he was dying.”

Private Parley landed a kilometer off target. “As our boat touched sand and the ramp went down, I became a visitor to hell. I shut everything out and concentrated on following the men in front of me down the ramp and into the water.”   Another man reported “Sgt Robertson had a gaping wound in the upper right corner of his forehead. He was walking crazily in the water. Then I saw him get down on his knees and start praying with his rosary beads. At that moment German machine gunners cut him in half with their crossfire.”

The same man then had an 88 go off beside him,hitting him in the cheek. “It felt like being hit by a ball bat. My upper jaw was shattered. The left cheek blown open. My upper lip was cut in half. The roof of my mouth was cut up and teeth and gums were laying all over my mouth.”

Despite all of this, junior officers and NCOs were starting to organize the survivors who made it to the sea wall. They started to make the men believe their best chance to live was off the beach. Men ran back to the beach, stepping over bodies and equipment to get what they needed to work their way up the bluff. All of the armor, truck, jeeps and bulldozers floundered or were being knocked out by 88s. From one end to the other the beach was full of blown up and burning vehicles with only a very few working tanks supporting the infantry. Men had to step over bodies and in some cases walk over them to start to get up the bluff.  The invasion plan and fallen apart. The infantry would be alone with no artillery support on the beach and only a few tanks firing at strong points.  Later in the morning some of the destroyers off shore got dangerously close to the beach to place direct fire at pill boxes to relieve the withering fire.

Sgt John Slaughter relates that the incoming fire was horrible. “this turned the boys into men.”  “Some would be very brave men, others would soon be dead men, but all those who survived would be frightened men.” Some wet their pants, other cried unashamedly, and some had to find it with themselves to get the job done.” When he reached the sea wall. “The first thing I did was take off my assault jacket, and spread my raincoat so I could clean my rifle. It was then I saw bullet holes in my rain coat. I had to rest and compose myself because I had become weak in the knees”  “Colonel Canham come by with his right arm in a sling and a .45 Colt in his left had. He was screaming at the officers to get the men off the beach. ‘Get the hell off this damn beach and go kill some Germans!’ There was an officer taking cover from mortar fire. Colonel Canham screamed, ‘Get your ass out of here and show some leadership!’ To another Lt he roared ‘Get these men off their dead asses and over that wall!’”

This was the battle started to turn as the US Army recovered from the brutal, murderous unrelenting fire.  The men found what it took to start up the bluff. They cleared the wire and went through the thousands of mines and up the bluff taking out enemy pill boxes along the way and taking prisoners that they sent back down the bluff.  When men saw others make it to the top, they thought to themselves ,”Hell if they can do that why can’t we?”

Most of the troops to hit the beach in the first wave had no combat experience, and it was purposefully designed this way. Th commanders knew that experienced troops who knew what high velocity bullets and shrapnel could do to the human body would not be as fast to assault the beach. The 16th Regiment of the 1st Div was an exception in the first wave.  One of those was Pvt Romanaski.  As his boat came in, he looked to his right and saw a boat blow up and then he looked to the left and that boat hit a mine. He saw a man blow about 10 feet into the air, arms and legs covered in flame. The ramp dropped and he was in the water.  “There was already men there, some dead, some wounded. There was wreckage. There was complete confusion. There was a body rolling in the waves. And his leg was holding on by a chunk of meat about the size of your wrist. the body would roll and then the leg would roll. Then the leg would roll back and then the body would roll back.” He joined an unknown officer and started up the bluff.

To the commanders offshore in the invasion armada, it looked like a total disaster. Bradley considered putting follow up waves on the other beaches and suspending the landings until they knew was what going on.  But the men on the beach had made it to the top and were making penetration into and behind the defenders.  As D-Day went on, the infantry were fighting in mixed units. sometimes with Navy beach master, clerks, tank crewmen with no tanks, and HQ soldiers fighting as infantry.  Toward the end of the day, the exits were opened by the engineers and extra paths made, mine field trails cleared and the vehicles stated to get a foot hold inland and into the battle. The men at the top started to encounter the normal hedgerows and the expert defensive line positions the Germans had prepared. All D-Day objectives were not hit, but there was a beachhead and there would be no gap between Utah, Juno and Gold.

It would turn into a long slog in the hedgerows in France, but the Allies had a foot hold. The decisive moment was over and the US Army had assaulted and taken the most effective defenses the German Army and its best General could think up.  It was the US Army’s finest hour.  They accomplished an amazing feat. The cost in terms of men and equipment was appalling, but the USA  flung its best at the Atlantic wall, and they did achieve success.

PVT Wiehe, on his assault had found himself crying for what he thought was hours, before pulling himself together and doing his job perfectly. But on reflecting back on it he said in his oral history. “To this day I have never shed another tear. I would give anything to have one good cry or one good laugh. I hurt inside but I cannot get my emotions out since that day. I have never been able to.”  The people freed by these men, and those of us that live in the world that they secured, can never imagine the cost these men paid to win.

In 1964 while visiting Omaha, Eisenhower told a reporter while looking down on the beach, ”It is a wonderful thing to remember what those fellows twenty years ago were fighting for and sacrificing for, what they did to preserve our way of life. Not to conquer any territory, not for any ambitions of our own. But to make sure Hitler could not destroy freedom in the world.“

“I think it is just overwhelming. To think of the lives that were given for that principle, paying a terrible price on this beach alone, on that day, 2,000 casualties. But they did it so that the world could be free. It just shows what free men will do rather than be slaves.”

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking. — Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Innovative Glock in 1991

Today’s post was written by Miami_JBT from ARFCOM. He was kind enough to let me share it here.

Shooters coming of age today don’t understand how good they have it.

In 1991, the gun industry was to a degree a stagnant, faltering, lethargic beast that it couldn’t innovate its way out of a wet paper bag. Designs were moving forward on a snail’s pace. Yes, there was the jump from Revolvers to Semiautomatics but the layout and designs were still cemented in old ideas.

Metal Framed, DA/SA, Hammer Fired Guns. Sig Sauer, Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, CZ, etc all mirrored each other when it came to 9mm platforms. Make a gun that is basically a Hi-Power in size, with similar capacity, and make it double action capable. Even HK at the time was still pushing their amazingly expensive P7 series.

GLOCK was the outlier. We all know the story by know and why. Lightweight, Polymer Framed, Striker Fired, extremely High Capacity compared to the competitors at the time, etc, etc, etc.

Well, why did I mention 1991? Because in 1991, the .45 ACP was still a popular duty round and a number of agencies wanted it even though .40 S&W was released a year before. But the problem with .45 ACP was capacity. Always was an issue and that is one reason why .40 S&W did so well. Anyways, back to the main topic at hand. .45 ACP prior to 1991 was mostly relegated to single stack guns with 7rd or 8rd capacities. They were big, heavy beasts too.

But in 1991 two guns were released. One that clearly shows you the old mindset and one that showed you the innovation GLOCK had and was.

The Ruger P90 was released in 1991 and was a fine representation of how outdated a number of companies were. Here you have a gun as complicated as a 1911, as large as a 1911, with a 7rd capacity and a weight of 34oz. Yes, the P90 was a reliable gun but it was a beast of a gun. The ergos were shit and the gun was covered in sharp edges. But the most glaring issue is 7rd capacity in 1991. Trigger pull was average for the era, 9lbs to 10lbs in DA and 3lbs to 4lbs in SA.

By 1991, the market was screaming for higher capacity. It was the era of the Cocaine and Crack Epidemic, a rise in perceived violent crime, and a perception that cops were being outgunned by bad guys (which to a degree, they were). And what Ruger released for the .45 ACP duty makret was a 7rd, DA/SA, 1911 sized and weighted gun to compete with the other outdated designs like the S&W 4506, Sig Sauger P220, and of course the 1911 itself.

Amazingly, GLOCK released the G21 the same year.

Here, you have a .45 ACP chambered automatic that held 13rds of ammunition, and weighed 26.0oz. That’s almost a 1/2 pound lighter in weight than the P90. And it basically held twice the amount of ammunition. The gun was smooth for the most part. Not rough or sharp edges. A simplistic constant trigger pull that weighed in at 5.5lbs.

The overall design was simple, reduced in complexity, and worked extremely well. The G21 invalidated every .45 ACP on the market. The S&W 4506, Sig P220, Ruger P90, and especially the 1911 was dinosaur waiting to be killed off by the fallout from the asteroid strike. To put things in perspective, the G21 weighed less than a Beretta 92FS, Sig Sauer P226, S&W 5903, and all of it contemporaries Wonder Nine era guns.

It was that radically different.

Shooters coming of age today have no grasp or understanding how revolutionary this was. Honestly, the arrival of GLOCK in the 80s and early 90s completely changed the design layout and mindset of the handgun industry. New shooters today complain about a G21 being big or heavy. It they only knew…. and I say this as a fan of the DA/SA Wonder Nines and Boat Anchor DA/SA Single Stack .45 ACP guns. They’re all outdated and GLOCK is the reason why.

Whether you like or dislike GLOCK, the market wouldn’t be what it is today without them.

Field Accuracy Of The MK12 (Part 1)

The MK12 Special Purpose Rifle has been around 20 plus years now give or take and has achieved an excellent reputation for accuracy and effectiveness. I won’t go over it’s history and development here except to say it was developed as a light weight sniper rifle for special operations forces. It’s use in the GWOT went on to prove it as an excellent variant of the infinitely adaptable AR15.

Since then civilian buyers have “build” copies and nearly perfect clones of the rifle. It’s been used arguably more in the civilian world than the military world at this point since it is now no longer officially used by the military. It’s proven to be an excellent precision AR15 in every way even if it is “dated” compared to the never ending marketing to selling us lighter and lighter and more and more Gucci new models and variants with debatable improvements.

One thing I have noticed about the MK12 when it comes up in discussion is the same old subject about its effective range when it comes to accuracy. A lot of people seem to think its a 600 yard gun. Of course other people who know better will shoot them further but that doesn’t seem to make much of a dent in the never ending opinions of online commenters. So once again I decided to demonstrate what it can do and push it to its extreme limits. This will be ongoing for the next few months. So let’s get started.

My first thought was to start this off with all the usual sand bags and rests and all the stuff to replicate shooting from a bench on a range to milk accuracy. Then I decided maybe it would be better if I shot the gun at long range just like it would have been used in the field, bipods and laying prone or across a pack. If I couldn’t get results from there for whatever reason I would use a bench , rest and bags.

Shooting from prone using the ATLAS bipod and no rear sand bag, I shot the rifle out to 900 yards. Target used was the official 1,000 BR target with scoring rings. I used this instead of a steel target so we would have something to actually measure by and to show results. Ammo used was the ammo developed for the SPR. The Black hills 5.56MM MK 262 ammo with 77gr. Sierra match king bullet. I cheated a bit with the optic by not using the optic issued with MK12s. In this case to better see the target and make as precise of shots as possible, I used a NightForce 5.5x-22x. This insured enough elevation as well as magnification for long range. I will be using this optic for the further testing or this series. In this first test we are looking at the MOD 1 version of the MK12. Using the KAC fore arm, a douglas barrel in 1/7 twist and the usual ops inc muzzle break. Lower is Colt with SSA trigger. Upper is Colt and Colt BCG with all the correct parts etc. Future articles will hopefully include the MOD 0.

I caught a perfect morning to do this initial testing. It was 65 degrees with no humidity and a 6 o’clock wind that wasn’t even 5mph. After fine tuning the zero, I fired 20 rounds for “record” on a fresh target.

Target above is for final record group. It wasn’t the first attempt as I needed some time to fine tune the zero and settle in after a little practice. Since I am trying to show what it can do at it’s best, I am not bothering to show you my warm up targets since they were not shot with final zero and MK262. It’s expensive so handloads stood in till I was ready.

The group probably looks as crappy to you as it did to me when i first drove down to inspect it. So to put it into perspective I put up a human like target against it since that is what the gun was meant to be used on.

Yep, I had a couple of flyers that I can’t explain. No excuse. I’m not as good as I was a couple years ago. It happens. I’m pretty happy with this. Had my spotter been my preferred partner and I shot from some sandbags I believe I may have been able to tighten this up a bit. Hand loads or the new Federal 73grain Berger gold medal load may have tightened it further. Those will be next time perhaps. I think the Q target demonstrates the ability of the MK12 with its issue ammo in knocking down human bag guys pretty well though.

In part 2 I will take the target out to the full 1,000 yards. This was my intention for part one but I anticipated terrible mirage from heat and wind and set the target up a little short. The temp and wind never did rise to the level I thought it would though and I was trying to shoot in those perfect conditions while I had the chance instead of wasting it driving back to re set the target. Next Time… 1,000 yards and maybe beyond.

CQB: Attitude Beats TTPs

Today we have another post from our friends Kevin aka “hognose” to his many readers and admirers. Kevin passed away too soon in spring of 2017 and we repost some of his work every week to preserve it. 

By Kevin O’Brien


There’s nobody quite as good at CQB/CQC/good-ole-doorkickin’ as the unit known as Delta. Not anybody, not worldwide. The SF teams that are best at CQB are the ones that train to be an interim stopgap, available to theater combatant commanders if Delta’s too far out or too overcommitted for a given tasking.

Delta’s skills came from its origin as a Hostage Rescue / Personnel Recovery unit, and it now has nearly four decades of institutional memory (some of which cycles back around as contract advisors so that old TTPs don’t get lost) to bring skills back up when real-world missions sometimes take off a little bit of the CQB edge.

In a wide-ranging post at the paywalled site SOFREP, fortunately reposted at the unwalled site The Arms Guide, former Delta operator George E. Hand IV discusses how the most important building block of CQB is, absolutely, the guts to actually do it.

Close Quarters Combat (CQC) is to the effect about 75% (maybe higher) testicles, and then 25% technique. I don’t like to over complicate things, especially CQB…. It is the very nature of the degree of difficulty inherent in ‘the act’ of CQB that bids its techniques to remain very simple, lest the mind become incapable of holding the process at all.

… if you can find a person that will take an AR and run into a small room of completely unknown contents, expected deadly threat, then you already have ~75% of what you need to create a successful CQB operator. All that remains, is to teach and train your operator the very few principles, and the very simple techniques, for room combat.


You are ~75% ‘there’ once you have that individual who will storm blindly into a deadly room. Now, it can’t be a person who just says they will do it. It has to be a person that in fact WILL do it, and WILL do it over and over.

See, no matter how high-speed low-drag you are, the enemy gets the proverbial vote, too.

There is a constant that exists, though you may disagree ferociously, it remains nonetheless: “no amount of high-speed training and bravado will ever trump the thug behind the door, pointing his AR at the door, and with finger on trigger.” ….

That’s right, the Chuck Yeager of CQB has a bullet waiting for him; all he has to do is wait long enough, however long that is. I have known a team of Delta men who lost their junior and senior team mates to the same goat-poker in the same small room in Iraq.

Both were head wounds from the same rag-head firing blindly over the top of a covered position. For the senior brother, that room was supposed to be the last room, of the last attack, of the last day, of the last overseas deployment he was ever supposed to make. The wait was over.

via Nobody goes into a room like Delta Force: A CQB attitude primer | The Arms Guide.

That “senior brother” is MSG Bob Horrigan, whose picture (courtesy Hand) graces this post. The new guy was MSG Mike McNulty, whose image is also at the link.

Hand’s entire post is worth reading, studying, and even contemplating. Do you go in, when going in could well get you shot by some “rag-head goat-poker”? (For police, substitute “brain-dead gangbanger” or “booze-drenched wife beater”). Real life for guys in these jobs is a daily reenactment of Kipling’s Arithmetic on the Frontier.

No proposition Euclid wrote
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow.
Strike hard who cares – shoot straight who can
The odds are on the cheaper man.

(Background on the poem. Of all the things I read before going to Afghanistan, Kipling was the best preparation. The Yusufzais he mentions are today still a Pathan (Pushtun) tribal group, frequently in opposition; the Afridis are still dominant in the Khyber Pass area, and some of them still affect green turbans. Only the weapons have improved).

If you have the attitude, and are willing to go into the Valley of the Shadow because you’re not going to be in there with them, instead those poor throgs are going to be in there with you, what are the simple tactics he has in mind?

(Caveat. Your Humble Blogger has never served in Delta. He had a short CQB/HR course called SOT many years ago, the short course which ultimately evolved, in two paths, into SFAUC and SFARTAETC).


You need to have the basics first:

  1. Physical fitness. If you’re not ready to sprint up five flights of stairs you’re definitely not ready to train on this. Bear in mind that actual combat is much more physically exhausting and draining than any quantity of combat training. That may because fear dumps stress hormones that either induce or simulate fatigue. Perhaps there’s some other reason; it’s enough to know that the phenomenon is real.
  2. Marksmanship. This comprises hits on target but also shoot/no-shoot decision-making, malf clearing and primary-secondary transition. In our limited experience, almost no civilian shooters apart from practical-shooting competitors are ready to train on this stuff.
  3. Teamwork. It’s best to train a team that’s already tight. If not, no prob, the training process will tighten you.
  4. Decision Making under Stress. This is vital, because the one thing that you can plan on is your plan going to that which is brown and stinketh.


The military stresses doing complex events (“eating the elephant”) by breaking them down into components (“bite-sized chunks.”) The process we use is lots of rehearsals in which risk and speed are gradually increased. One level is absolutely mastered before reaching for the risk or speed dial. (There are guys who go to SFAUC and are still carrying a blue-barrel Simunitions weapon in the live-fire phase. They’re still learning, but they’re not picking it up at the speed of the other guys. They’ll have to catch up and live fire to graduate).

Numerous rehearsals and practices are done in buildings of previously unknown configurations. A culmination exercise is full-speed, live-fire, breaching doors into an unknown situation. It can be done with dummies playing the hostiles and some hostages, and live people playing some no-shoot targets. (George has a story about this at the link. Not unusual to have a Unit commander or luminary like the late Dick Meadows in the hostage chair on a live-fire; at least once before Desert One, they put a very nervous Secretary of the Army in the chair).

The term the Army uses for this phased training process is widely adaptable to learning or teaching anything:

  1. Crawl
  2. Walk
  3. Run

Most civilian students, trainers and schools go from zero-to-sixty way too fast. To learn effectively, don’t crawl until the training schedule says walk, crawl until you’re ready.

Training should be 10% platform instruction and 90% hands-on. This is a craft, and you’re apprenticing, you’re not studying for an exam.

Tactics on Target

The most important thing you get from all these drills is an instinctive understanding of where the other guys are and where you are at all times, and where you’re personally responsible for the enemy.

Divide the sectors by the clock (degrees are too precise) and have one man responsible for a sector. Don’t shoot outside your sector unless the guy covering that sector is down. Staying on your sector is vital for safety! You should not only own the sector between your left and right limits, but also the vertical aspect of that sector, from beneath you, at your feet, through the horizontal plane to overhead.

Shoot/No-Shoot is vital and the only right way to do it is look at the hands and general gestalt of the individual to assess a threat. Weapon in hand? Nail ’em. Empty hands? Wait and keep assessing. (In this day of suicide vests, any attempt to close with you should probably be treated as a suicide bomb attempt).

If you have the personnel, the shooters do not deal with neutrals or friendlies on the X. There’s a following team that handles them, for several reasons including the shooters being keyed up to a fare-thee-well at the moment of entry.

You can’t learn CQB from a book, or a lecture, or some assclown on YouTube who never suited up and took a door. You have to physically practice, and practice, and practice. Ideally, under the beady eye of someone with a lot of doors in his past, and a skill at setting targets that borders on malicious mischief. (MSG Paul Poole, rest in peace, you old goat).

But first, absolutely first, you need guys with the guts to try. George is absolutely right about that. There is much other good stuff in his post, including a funny history of the term “operator” in the Army. (If you didn’t attend the Operators’ Training Course, it’s not you. Sorry ’bout that). You know what we’re going to say now, right? Damn straight. Read The Whole Thing™.