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TRAINING WITH JOHN FARNAM

Article submitted by Mark Hatfield

Six times now John Farnam has been requested to provide training  down near the edge of the great swamp of Florida, and I have been privileged to be able to attend (and pass) four of them.  This student group were mostly repeat students, seems like once you take one of Johns classes, you keep coming back.

As for Mister Farnam , he’s a big guy who can be big without being imposing.  John lives the part of the ‘gray man’ not standing out in a crowd.  First meeting him, he reminded me of some of my relatives, he looked as though he might have just gotten down from the tractor and come into town to get parts for the harvester and told jokes to the girl at the cash register to brighten her day.  Studying with him, you quickly realize that John is one of those men who might never start a fight but could certainly end one.

In his younger days, John had some substantial experiences as an officer of Marines in Vietnam, then continued as a reservist until retirement.  He has also acquired 41 years experience in law enforcement including as a supervisor of detectives.  He is well known as a trainer for military, police, and civilians, in this country and elsewhere.

This past weekend was a repeat of the Advanced Defensive Handgun course.  As often, there were some things I had forgotten (shame on me), some things new, and learning some improved variations of things I already practice.

John generally uses a greater number of assistant instructors than other courses which I’ve attended which allows for the prompt correction of errors and feedback.

The classes are very clearly geared for survival not competition.  Responses to unwanted attention from possible attackers (avoidance, de-escalation, and preparation for contact) are not simply lectured but practiced repeatedly.  How to interact with responding police is critical, these responses are also part of drills.  Just knowing how to shoot is not enough.

After learning good responses to technical problems which may occur, each student is expected and required to do whatever is necessary to keep going and ‘stay in the fight’ to complete any particular drill.  This does not mean simply doing the ‘correct’ malfunction drill for a staged malfunction but should during a drill the student drop a gun or magazine, fumble a reload, have a real malfunction or any odd or unexpected thing which may happen, the student is expected deal with it and keep going while using good tactics.  Anything less would be game playing and not preparing for reality.

Each class I have attended required passing a final drill which is not pass/fail or scored.  No errors of any kind are allowed.  If a student had any error, an instructor stopped them immediately, told them what happened, and the test stops.  The student goes back to ‘the end of the line’ to try again.  Especially in my very first class with John, I had to run the drill a number of times (partly due to falling back upon old habits), just about everybody did.

Generally, the class is not over until everyone passes or we have to leave the range.  An option for those few people who may not make it that day, if at another date they can demonstrate the drill successfully in front of an instructor, they can still get their passing mark.

Along with shooting, gun retention and disarms, emergency medical response, verbal interactions with aggressors, police, bystanders, legal issues, and political concerns, Mister Farnam has always included discussions of mind, heart, and soul.  He is also a Historian.  By profession and need, he has killed but is not what much of the public or the media would think of as a killer.  He is a humble man.  I have never known him outside of class and some emails but I have come to think of him as a friend.

Johns’ organization is Defense Training International based in Colorado.  He has written several books which are on the must read list for serious shooters.  He also writes his ‘Quips’, thoughts on related topics on random intervals.  Simply get on his website and request to get on the mailing list. No sales, ads, or anything of that type, only his observations and information to be passed along.  Even if you can never take a class, sign up for the quips.

A Boy and His AR15 ( My 6940 )

I often post pictures of my Colt 6940  on gun boards or the looserounds facebook page and people ask me about it. They want to know how it shoots what I have on it and why I use what I use. SO , I decided to talk a little about my gun and why it is the way it is.  It is not perfect or anything special but after years of changing and always evolving my shooting style and methods and most importantly my mindeset, I have settled on it the way it is for now.

As can be seen above, there is a varied combination of parts on my carbine. None of them are added just to make it cool and none of the things I added make the gun less functional.  As I have said many times before, I do Not believe in the idiotic KISS theory. By that I mean I do not think adding a light or an optic is adding “useless tacticool crap”.  Of course some people can and do take it too far, but using things on your gun to give you more capability and a edge over the bad guy is common sense.  Somethings are gimmicks and a waste of money that should have been spent on ammo. But optics, lights and slings are never ever a waste of money( unless its crap cheap products). You do need to think carefully about what to add and if you know how to use it. If not, you can learn. But you would do well to make sure you understand it. Even something as simple as a weapon light could do more harm to you then good if you do not know how to use it during a fight. That may seem to not make sense, but you can blind yourself if care is not taken or draw fire towards you and give away your position. SO yeah, fighting with a light is not just as simple as turning it on and shooting.

To start with, I use the magpul CTR stock. This is one of the few magpul products I liek and is worth having. For the most part I do not like or have much use for a lot of Magpuls stuff.  They make some great stuff, but they also make a lot of gimmicks. I like the CTR because it locks, has multiple ways to mount my sling, it is light, thin and comfortable.  big plus is the latch is not easy to hit and let the stock collapse if I have to use it rested on something. The rubber but plate is nice, not to help with recoil but to keep it from sliding off my plate carrier or other nylon gear.

Next is the charging handle and BUIS.  I like the Knights armament 600 meter sight.  I usually use the standard , but I switched to the micro so the mount for a PVS-14 would clear it. The KAC is my 1st choice always. I have used a lot of different models but I will always recommend the KAC.  The charging handle is the BravoCompany  Gunfighter CH.  I use the medium. The large snags everything on my gear and really digs into the body and the small is not much different from the standard latch.  I find the Medium to be the best of both worlds. It is truly more then just an extended handle. It is very tough and the re design was well done, well thought out and bullet proof. Enough has been said about the quality of the gunfighter already and I am sure it is nothing new to anyone.  I do not use a PRI gas buster cause I ain’t got a can and the Badger breaks. Pure and simple. The badger breaks.

Next is the grip. I love the tango down battle grip. I have small fingers and the ergonomics of the TD grip just work for me. I do not like the MIAD, or the cheap MOE.  The angle of the new Larue and the Bravo company grips do not do it for me. I feel the TD give me a better position to work the trigger for proper trigger control and it will store two batteries int he bottom.  I  use a Knights ( KAC ) ambi safety. I use this because I bought it before Colt started selling their ambi safety but, I feel no need to switch and have utmost confidence in the KAC product anyway. I use the cut away insert for the right side. I found that a full length safety would often drag on my gloves as I went to fire when indexing my trigger finger along the gun. The cut away solved this nicely and is still easily hit with the thumb.

On the left of the gun you can see I have added a BAD lever , a Norgon ambi  mag release and a KAC  QD socket.  The BAD lever makes reloading very fast. It does not always work with every AR15 on the market ( read cheap ) but it makes thing very fast and give me the ambi feature I feel is important on a fighting gun. I do however , feel there is a whole lot of room for improvemt with this type of add on.  The one reason I truly appreciate it is that I can lock the bolt back without taking my firing hand off the grip. If you have to clear malfunctions, the BAD lever really shows its worth. Downside is that you can become dependent on it like a crutch. You can find yourself trying to hit it on a gun that does not have it during a reload and that can slow you down a second or two. That may be enough to slow you forever. So keep that in mind and train with and without it if you have one.

The Norgon mag release. Nuff said. The ambi feature I love so much and deem valuable for a fighting gun.

The KAC QD socket is there because for right now, the 6940 does not have rear QD sling points.  I and a lot of others feel this is the best place to mount a two point sling on the rail. Personal choice, but it gives you more room with the sling. Since the 6940 has one in front, I can move the sling position to the rear or front depending on my needs. And with QD sling swivels it is easily done in no time at all.

Inside is the geissele ssa trigger. Now I will almost always tell you to use the milspec trigger and for good reason. It is hard to beat for toughness durability and reliability. The gun was meant to work with the standard trigger in it. And You can shoot it with all the precision needed. The AR15 is not  benchrest rifle nor is it a sniper rifle. If you are a competent shooter, you can shoot just as well with stock trigger as any other as long as it is safe and functioning correctly. It is not a hunting rifle. Think of the “match trigger ” in your fighting carbine the same as you would as having a light match trigger in your CCWD side arm. Now, if you are an experienced shooter, with a lot of years behind a gun with proper trigger control that can shoot a standard trigger to your full potential. Then by all means try out a SSA or something like it.  Stay away from the Rock River Arms triggers. To be blunt, they are crap. They are fine for the bench rest range shooters who fire 200 rounds a year. But time and time again, high round count carbine classes have shown that the RRA trigger will fail you. It is just not rugged. If you have one that works, great, but its a matter of time before it stops feeling so sweet and starts feeling like mush. If its a target or varmint rifle, that fine. But do not put it on a duty rifle or fighting rifle. It may cost you dearly one day.

My optics of choice are the Aimpoint T-1 and ACOGS, I mainoly use the T-1 because it is just the best all around work horse sight. I do not even know why aimpoint makes RDS that are not T-1s or something like them. No need for much more!! It is small, light, so tough Larry Vickers dropped it out of a chooper twice and it faired better then the gun it was on, and shot it, ran it over, sunk it, and dragged it on a gravel road for miles.  You can see the video on line. Funny thing was it was suppose to be a Daniel Defense add. I think it sold more T-1s then rifles. Those of us who used the T-1 before the video, knew how great it was before the test.  Batteries last almost long enough for you to collect a social security check and it has NVG settings and of course Larue makes his excellent QD mounts for it. A must have to any optic.  I use the KAC over sized adjustment nob that holds and extra battery inside. Not that it will likely ever be use, but you never know, the battery may be bad.

A neat side bonus is the Larue mount has room inside for a couple more batteries, some blow or anything else you may want to hide.

Up front I use the SureFire scout light with Vampire head. The head lets me switch from white light to IR light for the PVS-14  I can mount on the carbine or use helmet mounted.  To activate it I use the Surefire dual SR07 switch. It is a pressure switch and a on/off button switch combined. It snaps over the rail and is so useful I do not know how I ever lived without it.  The PVS-14 is seen below the light using the rifle picatinny mount.

The PVS14 mounted on the carbine. You can see how snugly the KAC micro BUIS fits under the mount nicely. The T-1 has several night vision setting and makes shooting at night as easy as invading france.  Hits out to as far as 100 yards can be made very easily on a night with moon out and stars. On a dark night the Vampire head makes easy work of hitting targets at night.  The IR flashlight can not bee seen with the naked eye so you need NV. But if the bad guy has NV, you stick out like a turd in vanilla ice cream, so you got to be careful how you use it. Just like a white light.  KNOW YOU EQUIPMENT AND WHEN TO USE IT PROPERLY!!.   Together they are a very effective force multiplier that will allow you to dominate a night fight.

My rail covers  are simply Larue tactical index clips. You can use as many or as little as you like and customize them around accessories. They even have clips the will help you route wires around the gun and secure them tightly.  They are slimmer than panels and weigh slightly less. Weight can be a factor even with panels in certain environments and times. It is not a big deal for me, but I always make a effort to save a few ounces  if I can, even if its not a top priority.

After years of suffering 3 point and single point sling fiascoes, I settled on the one sling that made me forsake all others. The Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat Applications SLing. ( VCAS).  It is everything I ever wanted in a sling. I hate 3 points and I hate having single points hit me in the nuts.  The VCAS is tough, comfortable and easy to adjust in a hurry.  I add QD sling swivels so I can take it on and off in a hurry or move the sling to the front, rear or to the other side if need be. I like it. it would take something awfully special to make me stop using it and switch.

Now this is not my only AR by far, but is  the one I reach for first and the one I will depend on for everything.  I have no need for a middy, and I am sold on monolithic upper. I have not seen a more accurate factory  rack grade fighting rifle. The Colt Chromed lined 4150 1/7 barrel is always my choice.  After close to 10 million AR15s  on one side of that number or the other, I feel they know how to make a AR15. With that in mind, colt has never failed me and got my Dad home from Vietnam.  I find the 16 inch barrel to feel my needs and I do not need a rifle shorter.  Plus if used in home defense inside, I do not want to blow out my ears with a 10.5 inch barrel. Nor do I want to explain why I used a NFA rifle or risk losing it forever to some police locker.

For magazines, I use about any quality mag, USGI, Pmags and lately the new Lancer mags, the advanced warfighter mags.  I found the HK mags to be pure hype with not real performance gain to justify the price.  Just like every other HK product I have tried  I do like the surefire 60 round mags. The two sent to me have held up well despite all my abuse and have not failed me. They have limited uses, in some cases but I think they are worth having. I would suggest buying at least one before the election, no matter how it will turn out.If things go wrong, you may never get one for the current price again.

SO that is my carbine, It is not set in stone, but what you see is pretty much how it stays. Optics will be swapped for certain roles and some times it will have a small bipod or VFG. but the items on it in the pictures are the serious fighting upgrades that always stay  on it unless a much better and proven part comes along to replace it. They may do the same but be tougher or  better ergo wise. But the purpose they fill would be the same.

Bore obstruction and web raffles.

 

A couple of weeks back one of shooters at our range left a .30 cal brass rod in the bore of their rifle and fired.  Later the rod was found near the 100 yard line.

 

When the shooter fired his rifle, the increased recoil caused his rifle scope to hit him and cut him.  The rod ended up shorter by 6 inches.  .30 cal at one end and .338 on the other.  The silver you see on the rod is some of the rifling that was stripped out of the bore of the rifle.

As always, it is a good idea not to fire your firearms with any bore obstructions.

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I see a great many cheap optic break at the range, or brought to the range broken.  In trying to help someone take off a seized cap on a Tasco scope, the whole turret came off.  Nikon scopes have great glass, but I have also seen several of them fail on the range during zeroing.  The cheap holosights(also popularized by many current video games) is one of the worst.  Not only do they break easily, people have issue trying to zero them, or even getting them bright enough to work in the Florida sun.  If your going to buy a cheap optic for plinking, I would recommend looking at the BSA as they tend to work, or Primary Arms.  However I would not recommend either of those a fighting firearm.

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From around the web:

The Michael Gingher Foundation is having a drawing for a Springfield M1A Loaded Model.  Money is going to help students perusing gunsmithing education.

Team Ranstad is having another large raffle, info can be found here.

I have purchased tickets for both of these.

Take Your Carbine Everywhere!!!!!

I like to have a carbine with me. I like to have my trusty widowmaker with me wherever I go.  In fact, if I could sling it across my chest every where I go I would be happy. I use to not be so paranoid, but things have changed over the year.  Terrorist attacks, men jealous of my looks, urban crime and flash mobs on the rise, robots from the future and jilted women who had hoped to live up to the high standards to be m lover turned away have made me a lot more antsy in the last 12 years.  I can’t carry my carbine out in the open like I would love to. Though, that does not mean I can not carry it out in public ( where legal).

The trick is for it not to look like a rifle or a rifle in a rifle case. Most of the cases made to hide the fact they are not gun cases, usually fail at this. Anyone who knows anything about guns can spot one of these supposed covert cases because they still have that “look” about them.

I came upon an idea while my girlfriend was going to college at a large university , to keep my precious with me while on the street walking past the university with all the students going by and none of them the wiser.  My idea is certainly not original, but it was a pretty good idea for me anyway.

I used the hide in plain sight method. I bought an ADIDAS bag meant to hold baseball bats or tennis rackets or jock straps or whatever it is people who like or care about sports use to carry that crap in.

While carrying my carbine in this bag, I was able to walk all over down town, past hundreds of liberal arts students with non having a clue. It helped that I acted like I was not trying to hide a “deadly assault rifle ” of course. It is legal in that state and the state I live in so I had no reason to worry or seem nervous. Acting like you belong and have nothing to hide and not fidgeting with it or you CCW sidearm I might add, is a habit that everyone should get into. A lot of people who have every right not to worry about CCWing seem to look guilty or worried when they first start to carry and it shows.

I was able to eat at my favorite place, go into stores, the mall and walk around a small fair going on while carrying the bag and just look like a student going to the tennis court on campus later ( or whatever people who care about that non gun related crap do).

The bag is a heavy kind of canvas/ plastic with some padding to protect the cricket bat or whatever it was meant to hold so it will protect the gun from light knocks,though that is not its purpose. It will hold a 16 inch carbine even with stock extended. I found it had a pouch for jock straps or some such, that would hold up to 6 mags,but that made too much noise and wanted to make it harder to carry and keep a reasonable shape.

It has a double zipper flap that can be opened fast and the carbine deployed pretty rapidly considering. It also has two handles  and some metal rings that allow a carrying strap so you can sling it over your back.

Obviously I do not carry it everywhere and after the test mentioned it was used just to carry it in off the street and up into my GFs apartment for the weekend with no one knowing what it really was. It’s main duty now is to hold my “trunk” gun in my jeep. Few people would break into your car to steal smelly socks and jock straps or a baseball bat and that is what the case screams. Especially if you don’t to something dumb like leaving a  plate carrier full of mags laying beside it.

If you want to keep a rifle in your car but want to keep it low key, look around at normal household things that will hide your gun and not invite a thief or give away what it is.

Check your state laws before you do any of this, people. I live in one of the top ranking states for gun freedom so I can do a lot legally that maybe some of you can not and I of course have a CCWD and that helps, not that its needed for the rifle as it is in my state. But check before you do any of this. It may be OK in your state it just can not be loaded.  Be careful though, people wanting to hurt you are not the only thing out there that can ruin your life. A ambitious attorney wanting to make an example of an evil gun owner cando more damage and is more likely then any zombie alien invasion.