We have seen a lot of change in firearms advancement and their use. Even the owners of this website have seen major changes in firearms and their application for sporting and war in our relatively short times. Keeping that in mind, it is always worth a look back at the rich past of our favorite tools.
Testing of one of the early “bullet proof ” vests.
US Special Forces vet helping Rhodesia fight off the communists.
A picture of some very, very famous men who would greatly influence rifle development. Among these worthies are Harvey Donaldson and John Unertl.
NRA marksmanship badges.
Famous barrel making genius, Harry Pope’s gun collection.
Women practices running to her fighting position during the Rhodesian Bush war.
US Green Beret adviser in South Vietnam in the very early years.
S&W Heavy duty.
Indig troop sets watch against the communists with his child in his lap.
An advertisement for the old excellent Marble cleaning rod.
ARVN troops learning how to use the M16 at the firing range.
Back in the good old days, when gun stores had all manner of exotic foreign weapons.
All of the guns or a true genius and a gift to us all.
The Block I SOPMOD kit. that was the start of a giant industry that continues.
Over 100 years and still serving perfectly.
And a reminder. Facts that should always be handy for those who try to rob of such an important history and right.
Article by Mark Hatfield.
I was the first to shoot a hostage.
Not that I shot at the wrong person, it was that I hit the hostage while attempting to hit only the hostage taker behind him/her. It was probably a survivable wound but would have been crippling. Thankfully these were only cardboard targets.
A few other things happened during these sessions. I had emptied my handgun and reloaded with a fresh magazine. As I removed my support hand I saw the new magazine fall out of the gun. I simply grabbed another spare mag and loaded the gun, that was much better than getting on the ground to get the fallen mag. The fallen mag might have been irretrievable for a number of reasons, falling into water, an unreachable space, be unseen, or even come apart upon impact. Much better to have more than one spare mag.
On another drill we shot one handed until the handgun was empty, reloaded, transferred the gun to the other hand and again fired until empty, reloaded again then moved to the next station. After emptying the gun the second time, I transferred it back to my dominant hand, or rather I attempted to, I dropped it. When I realized the gun was going, I, for only a fragment of a second, thought of going to the ground after it but instead my other hand drew my other identical gun and had it pointed downrange, possibly by the time the other gun hit the ground. It would not be correct to say that I was glad I had the second gun and more so that I had trained with it, I really didn’t have any such feeling. It was rather that there had been a problem and I had successfully resolved it.
Some people, even rather experienced shooters, when under pressure often forgot to operate the safety before they attempted to fire their rifles. Some, though experienced, had never fired their rifles from the ‘wrong’ shoulder, many had never before fired their rifles using only one arm. Often there were multiple targets, the defender had to move between different locations of cover, to find the right angle or height for which to engage any one or two targets then change to do the others. Defenders would forget that there were multiple targets which were threatening them from different angles. When trying to find the best position from which to shoot one particular target while staying behind cover from that attacker, the defenders forgot about keeping cover between themselves and the other attackers.
Physical fitness matters. Too many people want to ignore that. This was not a physical course, not physically demanding, especially compared to some. But, for best ‘results’, one needs to be able to move short distances quickly, to be able to get up and down, change positions, and adapt as needed. Never forget that a fight, any fight, will not be compatible with whatever skills you practice, what you train for, or what you predict might likely happen. The fight will be what ever it is and you don’t get to choose how it will start or under what conditions. Even a modest amount of physical fitness training can make a huge difference over doing no training at all.
One man, a Federal ‘First Responder’, wore not just his complete gear and equipment but body armor, this significant amount of kit was what he wore daily on his job. Despite the heat and activity he trained in and with the equipment he would most likely be wearing if he needed to do what he was hired to do. This is a sign of a wise man.
Doing anything under stress, even just a little pressure, and your performance can change, it can be very different from just casual practice. The stressors of such drills or even competition is much less than that of an actual event of deadly force. However, after learning a skill, practicing it under stress helps to ‘inoculate’ one to better perform when the stress is not artificial. This includes decision making under pressure, an attribute which is even more important than just skills.
Even a little practice of something, a little preparation makes a huge improvement on how a person can handle stressors and problems of many types. ‘Make your mistakes here’, Do something here now for the first time rather than trying to figure it out for the first time when life depends on it, was the theme of this course. This anti-terrorism aspect of this offering by John Farnam was not about shooting. One could not just shoot fast and accurately, one had to think, decide, adapt, and act, and do it quickly.
John Farnam is known and teaches internationally, his Defense Training International webpage can be easily found. I recommend you sign up to receive his random ‘quips’.
In the first part of the series, I quoted from the study on infantry weapons in the Korean war and some of the lessons learned and other points of interest. Leaving off at the point of the rifleman holding his fire until the enemy was within a range the rifleman felt he could hit the target due to either lack of confidence in his marksmanship skills, enemy exposure or weapons type. This will pick up from there.
“this; the one point which seems deserving of particular emphasis is that the BAR greatly compounds the stopping effect of rifle fire at ranges considerably in excess of those at which unaided rifle fire is potent. It has long been prized as a mop-up agent, for depressing final resistance in a conquered area, or liquidating tenacious elements infesting the rear. There is perhaps need to emphasize that it adds body to the rifle volume at any range”
“What is said here is meant to reflect in no degree whatever on the accuracy of the standard rifle; the men who use it in battle swear by it. Junior officers frequently said that they had seen it do decisive work in excess of 250 yards range. When the question was raised whether this was in combination with heavier fires from other weapons, the answer was invariably yes”.
“Rifle practice at the longer ranges is still desirable. But the rifleman needs about five times the amount of practice now given him with live ammunition if the weapon’s potential is to be fully exploited in combat.”
Once again the Army was told the more training for longer ranges by rifleman was needed with more time devoted to it. It seems the average unit may have felt that longer range shooting at the enemy was to be left to the heavy and light LMGs with them adding their rifle fire, either from lack of confidence in themselves of the rifle. Though officers noted that the rifle was effective at longer ranges but seemed to not have given it much thought.
“The Korean experience proves substantially that the fighting posture of the line is most sound when automatic fire is combined with slow fire in its weapons complex.This subject will be treated more extensively in the data bearing on evaluation of the various weapons. Suffice to say now that any trend toward eliminating the semi-automatic, hand-carried weapons in favor of full-automatic weapons in the hands of all infantrymen should be vigorously combated. In perimeter defense, the time almost invariably comes when the automatic weapons run short of ammunition, with the local issue still to be decided. This is the crisis of the contest, when decision may swing either way, depending on which side is most capable of delivering the last few volleys”
Once again we see this debate pop up in history. It is interesting to see the military go from the M1 to the M14 on full auto, learning it was ineffective, then going to the controllable M16, then the pointless 3 round burst, and now back around to the general issue of the M4A1. It seems the military can not get a handle on full auto weapons for the rifleman, No doubt because of the fear of the cost of training a man to use.
“In the infantry company data from Korean operations there are numerous examples wherein the retention of the position depended finally on fire from the M1, and rifle fire finally decided the issue. The troops who carry the weapon almost unanimously recognize the vital importance of this factor. On the basis of their experience, they would not concur in any suggestion that the line could be strengthened by fitting it exclusively with full-automatic power.”
The effectiveness of accurate, effective semi auto fire by a rifleman has been proven over and over. In a time when it is so popular to place so much importance on the hyper violent rapid firing and weapons manipulation for close range because it is so sexy, it is always worth pointing out the past experiences learned that the individual marksman who can make effective hits at long range will always be able to make a difference. The skill should constantly be kept up for the serious shooter and rifleman.
“the rate of ammunition expenditure in night engagement will be from two to four times as rapid as during day-light fighting, depending upon the extent of battle seasoning of the ranks and other variable factors such as the degree of control exercised by junior leaders. There area number of reasons for this, most of which are rooted in psychological rather than material factors. When men see targets in the clear light of day, or at least sense the general area from which they are drawing enemy fire, they tend to be more conservative of ammunition than when, under darkness, they are brought under a general fire but cannot identify its source. In daytime, the men who are carrying flat trajectory weapons,and are on ground where they cannot bring the enemy within line of sight, will not spend their ammunition uselessly; moreover, unless they are urged and commanded,in the majority they will not advance or shift to ground which will give them a more favorable target opportunity. By the same token, in night fighting, there is an excess of firing through the access of fear. Men in night engagement do not suffer the same cramping and instinctive feeling that any act of firing will increase personal jeopardy through greater exposure.”
“This sense of relative freedom, combined with fear reaction to the sudden attack, builds up the fire volume. There will be a greater number of willing participants in the fire contest; also, on the average, these participants will shoot off more stuff than in daytime engagement.”
The development in night vision devices and the military’s ability to operate in darkness to a level probably equal to their abilities during the day time is widely know and no doubt feared by hostile forces in modern times. I found the above information fascinating and would be very interested to see how this compared to modern tactics.
This was considerably shorter that the first part for various reasons and was longer coming that promised. Due to new T&E products arriving a few times a week now that warm weather is coming, I will try to update with the next parts as soon as I can. If you found these interesting keep checking back. You can also comment on the looserounds facebook page to so we can judge the level of attention this series may be gaining and if enough people as about it, more updates will follow quicker. Tshame.
A couple of weeks ago. the giant Military collectible , “show of shows” was held in Ky, the state I live in. Among other distinguished guests of honor, including Medal Of Honor recipients, was Major John Plaster. Major Plaster is the writer of The Ultimate Sniper and several books on the history of MACV-SOG and his experiences while in SOG. I bought the fist book he wrote on SOG in the mid 90s and had a copy of his excellent sniping manual before that. It was a real pleasure and honor to meet the famous One-Zero. He not only autographed this picture, but also a copy of his Photo History of SOG. To my surprise, he also got his fellow former SOG One-Zero, Larry White to autograph the book on the page Mr. White’s picture during the war, appears on. To me, that was the sign of a great guy. He was really awesome and asked me if I wanted a picture with him and Mr. White.
The Major is on the left, and Mr. White on the right with the hideously deformed writer in the center trying not to look intimidated by the legends who were kind enough to be seen with such a oaf.
While I wish we would have these legends with us for many many years, sad to say they are leaving us to recon the after life. If you have a chance to meet these heroes, you should take it. We do not know how much longer we will have the honor of their being among us.
One note I would like to make is the actions of some of the men who stood in front of me to meet these guys. They demanded too much in my opinion. The gentleman did not have to be there and the jack asses asked for book after book to be signed. Obviously to make there way on to Ebay within the hour I had no doubt. And they treated these men like it was a zoo. intruding upon them, especially the older WW2 veteran MOH winners. I did not over stay my welcome nor push it. When I saw the older WW2 guys getting tired, I did not do more than shake hands and thank them. I know we all get excited by meeting these legendary heroes, but when you do get there, remember to treat them with respect and courtesy and pay attention to body language and be sensitive to their needs.
The LWRC Compact Stock runs about $60 dollars.
It is very much like a mini-SOPMOD stock. Don’t mistake this for LWRC’s Ultra Compact Stock, which requires a different receiver extension and buffer system.
This stock is small(about the same size as a M4 stock), light, includes a QD socket, and best of all it is cheap. It will drop right onto a milspec diameter buffer tube.
The LWRC Folding Vertical Grip runs about $40.
I like the size and feel of it, I didn’t find it clunkly or awkward. It is slightly longer than a Tango Down “stubby” VFG.
When I first saw this, I thought it would feel blocky, clunky, and would be awkward. When I actually used it, I found that I liked the feel of it. When folded up(in the configuration I had it in), it could be held like a Magpul AFG.
The problem with this VFG is that when locked open, it wobbles. I found a good bit of play in the folding VFG and I found that distracting when holding the rifle. While the VFG does “lock” open, requiring pulling down on a peg on the grip to close, it still had excessive play when open. If it locked up with out movement I think I would love this grip, but that wobble causes me to dislike using it. This VFG is held on with two torx screws, and much be slid on from the end of a rail.
I recommend the stock, I don’t recommend the VFG.
THEY AIN’T ALL THE SAME.
Article by Mark Hatfield.
Recently I was asked to ‘baby sit’ (my words) a fellow who was teaching a handgun class at a range where I serve as a Range Safety Officer. I was to give an impromptu safety talk and then observe the class for a while to determine if they could be left on their own or needed watching. They needed watching. Boy Oh Boy, Did they need watching.
Before they started I asked questions to get a feel for their experience and training. I was told that ‘most’ of the four students had trained under this instructor before. The instructor did have a large emblem on the back of his jacket showing his certification as an instructor, issued from a large well known organization, no less. This instructor informed me that these students were all at the ‘intermediate’ level, he then added that this was because they had all attended a concealed weapon class. The class, I believe, he had taught.
Among them one had a medium frame revolver, another a small Glock, another a small oddball copy of the Colt ‘1911’, I don’t recall what semi-auto the other fellow had. Two of the semi-auto shooters didn’t remember how to load their guns, even how to insert the magazine. I observed that the ‘1911’ shooter fired right handed but always used his left hand to put the safety on or off. Later I showed him how to operate the safety using the thumb of his right hand and the alternate method if he was shooting with his left hand. I cautioned one shooter to not put his thumb behind the slide of his semi-auto. I had to remind one or two to put on their eye protection. There was one or two other things I advised. The instructor had never said anything nor did he assist the students with any of these problems. Nor did he assist or correct any other problems.
They were firing at ledger size sheets of paper, that is 11 by 17 inches and doing so from seven yards. The warm-up was to take their time and fire six shots. One guy hit with only five shots, another with only four, the Glock shooter missed with all six. Throughout my observation I kept reminding myself ‘He calls these INTERMEDIATE level students’.
The first four or five drills the shooters were to start from a ‘low ready’ position and fire six shots, returning to the low ready after each shot. Glock shooter never did, every drill he would raise his gun and fire all six. The instructor never said anything. He never knew about it.
I held back from much I could have said or done. I did not want to undermine the instructor or seem like I was ‘taking over’ the class however it was almost difficult not to. I did jump in when the instructor stood in of his students (who were all on the firing line) and as he spoke of something, two of them drew their guns from the holsters and pointed them down range though somewhat to the side. The instructor had not thought of that as a problem until I interrupted and pointed it out. He didn’t even seem to notice.
While the instructor took a potty break I inquired how much they were paying him. One hundred dollars each for a partial day.
Part of the problem was very clear. He, the instructor, never watched his students. Yup, He would tell them to do something then never watch them as they attempted to do it.
His written material, some memorized, some read aloud from his notes, was ok, not bad, certainly not wrong but was often incomplete in areas. The drills he had them do were so-so at best but did not seem to be leading to any particular goal. His great error was that he never paid attention to what the students were doing. He could not assist his students, correct their problems, improve their technique, or anything because he never saw them in action. Whenever they shot he would stand in the middle of the line and shoot along with them at the same time. They could have been shooting at each other and as long as they missed he might never have never know it.
After about an hour and a half I was notified that I would be needed elsewhere, could these guys be left alone? I said ‘no’, but that it might be easily correctable (I hoped). At the next reasonable opportunity I announced that I had to leave and asked to speak with the instructor on the side. I had seen that the guys all did reholster safely, that was good. I explained that there was a serious problem which he had not realized. He apologized for letting the students draw their guns while he was in front of them, I explained that there was much more than that. I mentioned that the guys could be (without being aware of it) pointing guns at their own feet, at their hands, at each other and he would never know because he NEVER watched them. I tried to really drive this home. I suggested that he use this method:
Explain what he wants them to do.
Then WATCH them.
Give them corrections as they may need.
I could have said a lot more, that he was wasting their time and money as well as reinforcing bad habits, letting them think that what they did was OK, but I didn’t.
I didn’t think this ‘instructor’ was an idiot. However that day, he was not an instructor, he really was not instructing. He thought he was. I thought he could become an OK instructor but the large well known organization which gave him his teaching credentials clearly never taught him how to teach.
A few months earlier I was a volunteer at an orientation to firearms for women only. All the ‘coaches’ were certified Range Safety Officers. The shooting portion was done with one-on coaching. During this, a handgun was pointed at my student and I, twice. My student saw this also. The person who pointed it at us was one of the coaches.
I spent seven years in the Navy and Marine Corps, during that time I did work for some senior people who were ‘problems’. I felt fortunate that for my first several assignments I had leaders who were quite good both in their field and at leadership, that experience allowed me to better exist when under those who were not. Those ‘intermediate’ students I observed did not know enough to know what they were getting and what they were not. I felt sorry for them.
BTW That instructor shot only very slightly better than the best of his students. AND Talking with these students before the class started, some of them actually thought that they were at an intermediate level of skill.
Last month, we took a look at the DMR concept from an equipment standpoint. Some key points from the last discussion:
- Glass turns your rifle *as is* from a 0-300 yard gun to a 0-600+ yard gun.
- Free Floating enhances POI consistency
- Any rifle with a decent chrome lined barrel can be a DMR
- Quality ammo makes substantial improvements in any rifle
- The DMR concept is not tied down to a specific style of rifle
So it’s not about building a Mk 12 clone, it’s about acknowledging that the rifle you have right now is capable of doing *great* things with the right upgrades and training on your part. So what use is a DMR style rifle in the hands of a civilian?
Equipping your rifle with glass, a free float rail, and quality ammo expand your rifles effective range to the edge of the AR15s ballistic capability. As a civilian, learning to use your rifle to the edge of its performance envelope is a good thing, but will their ever be a time when you can use 600 yard capability? We know disasters happen. Hurricane Katrina, the battle for Blair Mountain, the Tulsa Race riots, the Zimmerman / Martin riots, Furgeson, and the L.A. riots are just a few examples of extreme SHTF situations since 1900.
One million rounds expended in fighting? Yup, on Blair mountain. So it is not unprecedented to think that SHTF could go sideways very quickly. In fierce fighting, who wouldn’t want a rifle that is good both up close and out far? Let’s discuss some advantages a DMR style rifle can have to its user:
- Positive target ID: identifying persons from a distance to judge their intent
- Overwatch: capability of observing and covering a large area with accurate fire
- Small target capability: That rabbit looks delicous, if we can hit it
- Better low light capability: quality optics enhance your low light shooting
- Quality ammo: accuracy increased with more effective terminal ballistics
- Can harvest medium sized game from a further distance with above ammo
Glass isn’t the be all, end all since it cant quite compete with a red dot for the majority of close range scenarios, but as Jerry Mikulek can show us, a good 1x variable won’t slow us down that much either. Having an individual skilled in fundamental marksmanship and giving them a rifle which lets them apply their knowledge is a powerful thing. From hunting to defense, a DMR style build with a dedicated and practiced shooter expands the AR15 from a 0-300 to a 0-600+ yard rifle.
While the majority of us will never need to take a 200-300-400-500-600 yard shot, its a skill I want to cultivate and pass down to my kids. History shows us the last 100 years have been interesting, and things can only get more interesting from here. Can a boxer with longer arms reach his shorter armed opponent first? That’s exactly why I want to understand and apply the full potential of my rifle. – The New Rifleman
Guest post by Jack Broz
In 1969 I was a Navy Corpsman assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines in Vietnam. The week of March 25th 1969, Alpha was ordered to assist Delta 1/4 which had captured LZ Argonne near the border with Laos. Delta was being sniped at by an NVA .51 caliber machine gun and 82mm mortars.
The morning of March 25th Alpha began moving down into a valley towards a high point where it was thought the NVA weapons were located. Within a very short period of time Alpha ran into what might have been an NVA base camp and a furious firefight broke out.
At some point during the firefight I picked up a discarded NVA battle dressing. I put it in my pocket. After things settled down I put the NVA battle dressing on my helmet under the elastic band. I told my Marines that I had 50 battle dressings to use on them if needed, but if I get hit use this on me.
The battle dressing appeared to have Chinese writing on it. I carried it on my helmet for the rest of my tour. It became my good luck piece and I came home without a scratch. Not really, but none from enemy action.
Thirty-five or so years later I have two step-sons who became Marines. The younger of the two received orders for Afghanistan, while home on leave I took the Chinese battle dressing out of our display case, wrote on it where it came from and handed it to him for “luck”.
He returned and gave it back, only to receive orders to Iraq a few months later. Once again the battle dressing went to war. Again he came back and returned it.
Sometime later his older brother received orders to Iraq and the battle dressing made it’s fourth deployment and again was returned.
Both boys are now no longer active duty Marines and the battle dressing is now back in the display case in our house
Article Submitted by Mark Hatfield.
Chris Costa aka ‘The Beard’, has got quite a reputation, knowing, doing, teaching. When I learned that he would be teaching a class only fifty minutes from my home I couldn’t pass that up. What a deal, big name trainer, no long drive, no hotels. I signed up and paid in full, then it was canceled.
The cancelation had nothing to do with Costa, it was due to problems at the facility, caused by the owners. I was impressed by the effort of Costa Ludus (his organization) to make things right. They used more than one means to assure that I received the word including calling me at home to be certain. They also offered a complete refund or if I chose to let them hold my money towards a different class they added to it and increased the amount in my account, not just by ten or twenty bucks either. I let my money ride with them. It was some months later when I signed up for Vehicle Elements Theory, a three day class to be held in a location about three hours away.
Fighting from inside a car or starting from in or near a vehicle, usually in groups of two or four, this was a hoot, and ammo intensive. I had done some of this type of training previously but not firing from inside the vehicle nor as physically vigorous, such as crawling out from a vehicle. The old knees were troublesome and I was not yet recovered from a problem with the ribcage. Only two days before the start of the class I could again hold a handgun in the Isosceles position but not without some awkwardness and pain. Two days before that I could not do that position at all. Moving from positions such as standing to kneeling was painful so in all, that made the class a bit more challenging.
Firing from inside vehicles, using vehicles as cover or concealment, exiting vehicles, working in pairs or teams of four, coordinating with others (an important thing), and putting out lots of firepower, that’s pretty much what we did. It had been recommended to bring at least eight hundred each of carbine and handgun rounds. I estimated that I fired seven hundred of one and nine hundred of the other. We did not work from moving vehicles but The Beard did discuss with us the complexities of that. He did relay that some organizations spend two weeks doing these drills and those more complex.
When under fire and crawling out of a vehicle to the opposite side what do you do with your gun? If in a passenger car seated in the rear behind the driver and have a holstered handgun on your right side, how do you draw and fire out the window to your left without having your muzzle sweep the driver or some part of yourself? These are some of the problems we faced and practiced repeatedly.
A side note was the discussion of a particular hand position with the handgun and some variations of this position. The position is well known and laughed at by serious shooters. It was explained that there actually are some situations where this position can be of value, further, that there are certain scenarios where certain personnel are taught to use this position and he gave the reasons why. Agree with it or not, there actually may be some justification for it in some specific situations. So controversial is it though, that he chooses to not be photographed demonstrating it to avoid hassles or be thought of as an advocate of it’s use.
It was interesting that he explained he made no distinction in teaching whether for the military, law enforcement, or private citizens, he believed in giving each the same material.
There was a period in the first day where I felt like ‘That Guy’ as some say, meaning that I was the problem person, or the one who ‘just didn’t get it’ or get up to speed. I had become accustomed to using always the same guns and gear in such classes and was going to try some variants on this occasion. Also, rather frustrating, when packing, I could not find my usual holsters. In my hotel room the night before the class I discovered that guns and holsters I intended to use were not compatible so on the first day I used a holster which I had rarely worn. Because of this, on that first day of class when reholstering I discovered that because of only a slight difference in my holster, my hand could not slip the gun in automatically as I had for so many years, I had to search for and find the opening of the holster for the muzzle to enter. During our warm-up and assessment drills that really slowed me down. I had decided to not wear web gear for the rifle mags but just to place extra mags in my pants pockets. I had done this some before however I did not realize what a huge difference there would be between different pairs of pants in how difficult it might be to remove those mags.
Also in that period on the first day we did some rifle drills which I know about but don’t practice and he was pushing for speed. There was one skill drill which I essentially gave up as we had to immediately prepare the gun for the next repetition but then later also had to be ready for a possible variation. If you stayed ready for the possible variation then then he might only call for the main drill for which your gun was not ready and could not be made ready in time. If you made ready for the main drill then it was not possible to do the variation if called. I honestly wondered if he forgot what drills he was having us do. It seemed that others may have been having the same problem. Or maybe it was just me. There were no other such complications throughout the class.
People who are not military, Secret Service or such tend not to realize how much of their life involves the car or other vehicle. What was taught and practiced in this class is not just for those special guys but can apply to everyone. Some of the more physical stuff I was tempted to opt out and sit those out but I am very glad that I did not. What most of the other students would have done in some of the vehicle drills was not possible for me and I’m glad to have found what I could do while under supervision and in a controlled environment. Never think that ‘it’ can’t happen to you. As I learned also in the military, even a small amount of rehearsal can make a big improvement in your response when something happens ‘for real’. I’m glad I went.