Mike Weisser: Your Character Is Showing

Much like FoxNews and their token liberals, the stridently anti-Second Amendment Huffington Post will occasionally publish pieces from time to time by a “gun guy.”  That is literally how Mike Weisser self identifies to the world via his blog and his description at the HuffPo.  He confidently claims that “I know as much about guns and hunting as anyone“ which is good if you are say an antigun HuffPo reader looking for an appeal to authority to include in a heated discussion on Facebook.  However……it seems like an unsubstantiated statement.  We shall circle back to that later.  He also claims that guns are his “only hobby” which given the volume of his blog posts and articles seems misleading.  Gun control seems to be his only hobby unless that is just a facet of his disappointment regarding the ever growing diversification of hunters and gun owners.

Weisser’s blog entries are not works of statistical analysis such as, the truly enlightening and well researched work of AmidstTheNoise on YouTube but rather they follow a constant drumbeat of the following:

  • Assault rifles are bad.  No hunter needs them.  Hunting is what rifles are good for.  (Pay no mind to the troublesome fact that bolt action and lever action rifles were at one time cutting edge technology and used as……assault rifles.  In fact, let us completely forget that muskets were once cutting edge and military issue.)
  • Several personal attacks on Dana Loesch.  He appears to be obsessed with female gun rights spokespeople, more on that later as well.
  • He spends some time defending the oh-so altruistic nature of Mike Bloomberg and endorses Bloomberg’s other efforts to control what we put into our bodies.
  • He makes sure that you know he owns those guns that he does not like such as the evil AR15 and AK47.  The logic of this assertion is lost upon all rational people.
  • Mr. Colion Noir, the articulate and informed black gun enthusiast is focused upon as well.  I think I know why.  Again, more later.

Any moderately informed Second Amendment supporter would have no problem deconstructing his views.  The aforementioned “AmidstTheNoise” (Mr Billy Johnson) would crush “Mike the gun guy” handily in a debate.  Actual debate is not Mike’s way of doing things.  He does not want any debate, he simply wants guns gone.  The common thread in his writing is “the gun is the problem.”  Not “end the drug war” or “fix the inner city.”  Nope.  You will never hear a gun control activist speak about actually fixing the socio-cultural roots of violence because as Mr. Bloomberg reminds us, it is not about the people, it is about control.  The state will protect you, it will tell you what you may consume, and settling a dispute with a blunt object where the physically stronger always win and keep the weaker in line, is far preferable than using a gun.  I am not sure if it is moral cowardice or just a desire for more control in the lives of our populace but the gun control zealots never want to actually fix hotbeds of violence like Chicago or Oakland.

So yes, it is a depressing and dreary read when perusing Mr. Weisser’s literary body of work. The level to which he stoops with truly nasty personal attacks on people such as Julie Golob and Dana Loesch is something that makes you want to cleanse yourself afterwards.

Earlier this year, Weisser joined a growing contingent of antigun and antihunting writers that have one thing in common:  they very much dislike the growing trend of outspoken non-white, non-male gunowners and hunters.  I promised more on why he singles out Dana Loesch and Mr Colion Noir so here we go!

A friend sent me this “article” which was typical of Weisser.  Weisser has a real problem with the NRA producing and disseminating gun safety media, particularly to children.  Yes, the word “phony” is used.  He is referring to this video that veteran, shooting champion, and mother Julie Golob starred in.  Weisser is never one to simply debate facts, rather he complained that Julie’s message is “bouncy and joyful” along with complaining that the children’s testimonials in the video are “cutsey” and of course pointing out how the Eddie Eagle program’s message of “not touching the gun — leaving the area — telling an adult, which is then followed by a new lyric for the older kids involving telling them never to touch a gun unless being supervised by an adult, never point a gun at anyone and always assume that every gun is loaded” is “phony.”

One notes a pattern here.  Why no cutting comments about Mr. Colion Noir’s appearance from Weisser?  Weisser touches upon one female gun spokesperson’s appearance and obsess over Dana Loesch.  “Why” is that the antigun and antihunting people detest seeing anyone other than a white male hunting or using a gun, period.  “Why” is that the growing popularity across the sexes and races of hunting and gun ownership does not fit the narrative of those pursuits being the sole domain of the white male.

Witness the controversy over a teenage girl daring to hunt in Africa (actual death threats).  Steve Rinella wrote a truly excellent article about the obvious sexism displayed by those “protesting” the hunt and I encourage you to read it here (and to watch his show and to buy his books).  The antihunting and antigun people are seeing what they considered white male-only lifestyles actually transcend race and sex.  Their reaction is of course to launch personal attacks and outright witch hunts.   Happily, that has not stopped Julie Golob, Mr. Colion NoirBeka Garris,  Dana Loesch, or Eva Shockey from asserting themselves as self reliant individuals who understand things like “the Constitution,” “the right to self defense,” and “ethically harvesting your own food.”

I doubt that Mike Weisser will discontinue his attacks on the non traditional hunters and gunowners speaking up for our rights.  I doubt that the Huffington Post will ever tackle the root causes of violence and I definitely do not foresee Shannon Watts noticing that outside of the inner city, America is less violent than the United Kingdom.

However, I will close with a few thoughts:

  • If Julie Golob is “bouncy,” is Mike reptilian?
  • Is it a sign of hypocrisy to lament that the average gun owning household may own more than ten guns but then point out that he owns “41 or 42” guns (apparently one is “sitting around somewhere in the basement or out in the garage” which means someone did not pay attention to the NRA’s gun safety program.  Please be a responsible gun owner and track your guns down and secure them, Mike.)  I suppose that senility might also explain such travesties of logic and blatant hypocrisy, no?
  • Julie Golob’s book is ranked at #126,839 in Amazon’s sales rankings at the time of this article’s publishing.  Mike’s last book is ranked at #3,332,186 (source).  I suppose that I should note that lower is better with regards to these numbers.
  • Claiming that “I know as much about guns and hunting as anyone. “ is not a good idea.  Someone might challenge you on that one, Mike.  Someone who actually hunts, who actually competes in the shooting sports, and is (gasp) female!  Maybe Julie Golob, maybe not .  Maybe Annette Wachter.  Uh-oh, another non-white, non-male gunowner to attack?  Quickly, off to the blog, Mike!
  • I also would not mind shooting against Weisser in a friendly contest.  I would not allow such an obviously angry character around my dog or my kids though.    Personal attacks show character, Mike.  You do not have the wherewithal to truly discuss the roots of violence in America so you sling insults and single out women (Dana Loesch and Julie Golob) and minority gun spokespeople (Mr. Colion Noir).  We get it, you feel threatened by guns and hunting going mainstream.  Your character is known.
  • We all genuinely hope that you find that missing firearm that you misplaced.

Whether you like it or not, guns carried by civilians have saved lives.  I am quite certain that the survivors of the Westgate Mall attack would disagree with Weisser.

News of the assault was beginning to spread via frantic phones calls, texts, and WhatsApp messages. Westgate is in the heart of a Kenyan-Indian part of the city, and the close-knit community there knew better than to rely on the authorities to send help. Instead, the call went out to the community’s own licensed gun holders, who were organized into self-appointed armed neighborhood watch units.

Harish Patel, a member of an outfit calling itself the Krisna Squad, was returning home from a morning spent volunteering at the nearby Hindu crematorium when he received a distress call: There was a robbery at the Nakumatt store in Westgate, with shooting going on. A couple of minutes later, the 43-year-old was within sight of the mall. He patted the pistol he wore on his hip and grabbed the spare magazine he kept in his car.

On the western side of town, Abdul Haji was in a business meeting at the Yaya Centre, another Nairobi shopping mall. The 38-year-old bitumen trader was sipping an Americano when his white iPhone chirruped. It was a text message from his brother: “Trapped in Westgate. Terrorist attack. Pray for me.”

Abdul abandoned the business meeting and rushed to his silver SUV in the basement. As he sped toward Westgate, swerving around cars and over sidewalks to cut through the traffic, he ran through a mental checklist: He had his gun, as always, a Ceska 9mm, but no spare magazine and no body armor.

He reached Westgate minutes after Nura and Harish.
“Where’s the SWAT team?” Katherine kept wondering as the hours ticked by. “Why isn’t somebody coming in here? They should be storming the place and getting us out.”

When somebody did come at last, it was one man (an armed citizen) with a handgun.

Also, more African Americans are carrying firearms for self defense.

Weisser’s blog will never lack for nasty personal attacks as more women are buying, using, and carrying guns.  I would not be surprised if he targets more of the new breed of gun owners whom are in the public eye such as Gabby Franco or Chris Cheng.

 

 

Ernest Langdon and the Beretta PX4

Way back when, a guy bought a SIG P220ST at a local gunshop.  He then took that double action/single action (DA/SA) .45ACP and famously “tore down the house that 1911s built” at the 2003 IDPA National Championship and won the CDP title.  Never an organization to be so inflexible enough to not ban pistols other than 1911s in the CDP division, IDPA changed the rules, making the P220ST illegal for the CDP division due to new weight restrictions (a newer, lighter P220ST was released shortly thereafter by SIG coincidentally).  Personally, this ranks right up there with the time the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) showed up at Camp Perry and used M16s to beat the Marines’ M14s handily as a moment in time in which I wish I could have been there to laugh with much gusto.”  This guy’s name is Ernest Langdon and he is one of those oddballs in the firearms world in that he is a combat veteran and a shooting champion, proving that the tactical and competitive worlds are not mutually exclusive.

Getting a bit closer to the subject of our article, DA/SA handguns are making a comeback in competition and elsewhere.  The last five USPSA Production National Championships were won with DA/SA guns, three times with a Beretta and twice now with a Stock II.   The noted 1911 manufacturer Wilson Combat is even selling custom Berettas.  CZ 75 variants abound in my local USPSA matches.

Finally circling in and landing upon the subject of our article, Ernest Langdon recently found himself in a quandary:  he wanted the desirable combination of size, shootability, and magazine capacity that the Glock 19 offers albeit in a DA/SA pistol.  I’ll let Ernest tell the rest in his own words, as taken from his original Pistol-Forum post.

The newest handgun on my radar screen is the Beretta PX4 Compact. I’ve never really given it a second thought even though it has been out and available for years. Some people really love the PX4. Some people don’t. I have heard great things about its accuracy and there are still a few police departments carrying the PX4 as their issued side arm. That being said, why is it a gun that almost no one considers as a personal carry option?

I started asking myself this when I was working in the Beretta booth at the NRA Show this year. I was talking to customers about the new handguns from Beretta, like the M9A3, Wilson Combat Brigadier Tactical, and the full 90 series product line. I am fully familiar with all of them, but I was contemplating getting a smaller gun for daily carry. I carry the full-size M9A1 now and while I have become accustomed to it, summer was right around the corner and I wanted something smaller and lighter.

Of course, most would say “get a 92 Compact” and while that was an option, there were a few things that have stopped me from carrying it full-time:
1) No front sight options. You get what you get unless you send it off to Tool Tech and have a night sight put in. No front dove tail!
2) No G model available, or at least not currently. Of course, I could send it down to Wilson Combat and have it converted, but that’s an added cost.
3) 13 round magazines. Not a big deal, but in my opinion, a gun that size should have 15 rounds of 9mm.
4) Hard for me to load with the standard mag. I can do it really well with a full size mag in the compact gun, but a quick reload with the standard 13 round mag often ends up with some of my skin between the frame and floor plate of the magazine. The grip on the 92 Compact is about a ¼ of an inch too short for my hands.

So, this brings me to the PX4. I started playing with the PX4 Compact and realized it had the features I was looking for in a smaller, lighter compact carry gun. The PX4 also has has 15 round mags (17 with extension), dove tail front and rear sights, the safety converts to a G configuration easily and it has the same manual of arms as my full size 92s. Most importantly, I can load it full speed without catching the heal of my hand with the magazine floor plate. Not to mention, the trigger is smooth and shootable out-of-the-box.

The PX4 was feeling like a great option, but there were some other factors to consider. Right off the bat, those huge safety levers! They were way too big for my liking and have some really sharp edges on them. The ambi slide stops are bigger than they need to be and seem to make the gun wider than it should be.

So I started asking the questions…
Ernest: What about those huge safety levers?
Beretta: “We make stealth levers that are much smaller. ”
Ernest: Really? What about those huge ambi slide stops?
Beretta: “We make a smaller single side one.”
Ernest: Really? What about that really little mag button?
Beretta: “We sell a kit with three different size buttons.”
Ernest: Really?

I mean why did I not know this stuff? I consider myself a gun guy and a Beretta guy, but I did not really know anything about the PX4 at all. I knew the safety lever could be converted to G and that it was a rotating barrel design like the Cougar, but that was really about all I knew.

So, when I got back from the show I continued looking into the PX4 with more detail and finally broke down and picked one up from my favorite gun shop, Virginia Arms in Manassas. I drove straight to the range to make sure I wasn’t going to have buyer’s remorse. I put 200 rounds through it right out of the box. Easy to shoot, very flat shooting for the size and weight. (Surprisingly flat shooting, actually). It also hit to point of aim and was very, very accurate!

I liked it, but, of course, I headed home to take it apart and swap out the hammer spring to a 12 pound chrome silicon spring for the 92 (thanks to Bill Wilson for that tip – he likes them too). The DA pull weight decreases quite a bit and I decided to start the 2,000 round-test with this thing. I clean it, lube it, black out the rear sight and add some orange paint to the front dot, slip a piece of bicycle inner tube over the grip and we’re off to the races.

2,040 rounds later and I had no issues; so, 2,240 total at this point and I’m liking my decision so far. (Shot 147 SXTs, 147 grain reloads, 115 AE, 147 AE, 124 AE, 124 Winchester FMJ, 115 grain WinClean, and even some 90 Grain Frangible stuff.) Not a single malfunction.

So, now what? If I am going to carry this thing there are some things that need to be addressed. To start with, I need those “Stealth Levers” I was told about. A call to my buddy Eric Stern at Beretta had those sent my way. I also ordered up as set of Trijicon HD sights and a holster from Custom Carry Concepts. When the sights came in, I did a little bit more trigger work (it’s basically just like a 92 in that respect – lucky for me). I also did a little stipple work on the frame (got rid of the inner tube) and changed out the smaller magazine button for the medium mag button to make it slightly larger.  Lucas Gun Oil is what I use for lubricating these pistols.

So here I am, a couple months later and many trips to the range, and I really like this gun. Not kidding! It is almost exactly the same size as a Glock 19, the trigger is now under 7 pounds DA and right at 4 pounds SA. I really like the Trijicon HD Sights. In fact, I now have over 4,000 rounds through this gun with no problems. The only failure I have had with the PX4 was in firing with the 115 WinClean, but it went bang on the second hammer strike by pulling the trigger again. (I don’t blame the gun for that, however, as I have seen lots of FTFs with WinClean.) I like it so much that I am carrying it all the time now and used it to qualify as my off-duty carry gun with the Sheriff’s Department.

The “Stealth Levers” make it a ton thinner. My my measurements the compact is about 6mm thinner with the small levers, but most of that comes from getting rid of the right side slide stop. I don’t have a standard PX4 to measure. The safety levers are about 5mm thinner than the stock ones. So that should do it if that is the widest part of the gun. If the standard PX4 does not have the ambi slide stops, then the safety levers are likely the widest part of the gun.

I have two more PX4’s that I am playing around with and changing things up to see how it performs with different features. I have modified another one, which also has Trijicon HDs, “Stealth” levers, medium mag button, stippling on the grip, G conversion, and more aggressive trigger work. The DA on this one is just over 6 pounds and the SA is 3.5 pounds. I only have about 300 rounds through this gun, but so far, it is just as good as the other one and the better trigger makes it more fun to shoot. I now have one to carry and one to practice with.

I am going to use the third PX4 as a gun to experiment with to see what can really be done with the trigger. So far it has been really easy to get the DA down and I think I can go a lot lighter on the hammer spring with a bit more work. I would not be surprised to get a sub 6 pound DA on this third gun with 100% reliability if I set it up correctly – I’ll keep you posted.

OK, so I now have just a little over 2K through the second gun. A 1,000 of that was Winchester WinClean (known for not being the most reliable ammo) and now a second PX4 has passed the 2,000 round test. So far the best hammer spring is the Cougar “D” spring. Gun has proved to be super accurate with everything I shoot in it and how I have a little over 6K through two guns and they have both been 100% reliable. Interestingly they both run the Winchester WinClean better than my 92 does. The WinClean gives me fits in the 92 pretty often. The PX4 Compact not only runs it well, it seems to shoot it very accurately also.

I have also heard that there are even more parts for the PX4 than I knew about. Turns out Beretta Italy has spent quite a bit of time developing some accessories for these guns. There are 4 different versions of the safety levers in different sizes. There are steel guide rod kits and even an improved trigger group. Basically it is a whole hammer and sear group that just drops into the frame that includes a better hammer spring. Both DA and SA are improved with this kit. I am trying to see if I can get my hands on one to try. This kit includes a stiffer cage that houses everything as well as plated parts for a smoother action.

All-in-all, I don’t know why this gun is not way more popular. If you are like me and prefer a DA/SA Traditional Double Action gun for carry, this is a great option. I carry AIWB, therefore, I prefer an external hammer gun – this PX4 is treating me well.

Here are a few comparison photos for you:

 

The Gadget: an additional safety device for Glock pistols

The Glock 17 burst upon the world pistol scene in the 80’s. Chunky, inelegant, having a polymer (“PLASTIC?!” the purists cried) frame, and…..lacking an external safety but for the tab on the trigger.  Naturally, everyone kept their boogerhook off of the bangswitch and everyone lived happily ever after, right?

Well, no.  Several lawsuits were filed by law enforcement personnel.  Many of these lawsuits were attempting to blame Glock for negligent discharges when disassembling the pistol in order to clean as one must pull the trigger in order to disassemble it.  Nonetheless, there were and inevitably will be more, lawsuits resulting from negligent discharges when attempting to reholster a Glock pistol.  Some examples are:

1. An FBI agent

2. Massachusetts officer shoots hole through pants reholstering

3. Officer Bill McMahan

4. Harlan County

So, do we have a mechanical problem with Glocks and other pistols that have the safety on the trigger or do we have a training problem?  Obviously, every pistol owner should take a training class that goes beyond the good Lieutenant Colonel’s Four Rules.  However, with full time law enforcement personnel experiencing negligent discharges from their issued Glocks they were trained to use, should we not expect negligent discharges from Glock owning citizens?  The answer is “yes” and aside from the very real (though not widespread) danger of negligently firing a Glock when reholstering, Glocks have many virtues:

  • fairly corrosion proof
  • Not difficult to learn how to use effectively
  • Not expensive
  • Extremely reliable and durable (please ponder the difference between the two)
  • A simple design, easy to clean and work on

So, some years ago a visionary met the engineer who could implement his vision.  No, I am not talking about the venerable Woz and Jobs but rather the shooting instructor “ToddG” and his student and friend Tom Jones.  ToddG had an wistful dream.  You see, ToddG is known far and wide for personally choosing to carry his pistol at the appendix position and inside his waist band, popularly known as “AIWB” (Appendix Inside Waist Band).  ToddG was in the middle of one of his famous fifty thousand rounds in six months pistol tests and the current test pistol was a Gen4 Glock 17.  ToddG had learned to enjoy the additional safety of reholstering his test HK P30 with his thumb on the hammer, thereby effectively negating any chance of a negligently discharged bullet hitting either his groin or his femoral artery.  ToddG wished aloud in Tom’s presence something along the lines of “I wish I could reholster a Glock like I did my P30.”

Sometimes, a spark like that is all you need.  Tom thought upon ToddG’s idea and went to the pen and napkin drawing room.  The next day he presented ToddG with his idea. After that day, he went to his workshop and thought, designed, and built what is now known as the Gadget Striker Control Device (for the sake of brevity, I will refer to it as the Gadget).

The Gadget is a safety device for Glock pistols.  It is two pieces of metal that replace the Glock’s slide cover plate.  It has one moving part.  Upon inspection of a Gadget installed Glock, the observer must carefully examine the pistol to ascertain what aftermarket part has been installed.  Should the Gadget have its lone moving part broken (this has not happened in four years of testing), the pistol will continue to function.  The Gadget is for all intents and purposes, aesthetically identical to the factory OEM slide cover plate.  Functionally, it is also corrosion proof and insofar as four years of testing by dozens of testers can rule out, idiot proof.  Maintenance is very nearly fool proof.  Apply one drop of lubricant (I used Slip2000 EWL) to each side of the lone moving part.  That is it. 

Installation of the Gadget is not an involved process.  Unload your Glock.  Do this again, four times.  Move to a room with no ammunition in it.  Retract the slide on your Glock, engage the slide stop.  Turn the weapon upside down on a flat surface, resting it upon its sights.  Take a smaller flathead screwdriver or a knife tip or a ballpoint pen tip and press the spacer sleeve (part #6 on this diagram forward, that is towards the end where the bullets come out.  Pushing towards the bottom of the slide with your other thumb, remove the slide cover plate.  Keeping the spacer sleeve depressed, slide the Gadget in until it covers the spacer sleeve and then you will have to depress the spring loaded bearing and slide the Gadget until it clicks firmly into place.  Cease pressure on the spacer sleeve, disengage the slide stop and allow the slide to go forward.  Rack the slide and inspect the chamber to assure yourself that no phantom rounds have been chambered.  Pointing the weapon in a safe direction, attempt to pull the trigger with your strong side thumb on the Gadget or where the slide cover plate was.  If you have installed the Gadget correctly, any pressure on the trigger will be instantly felt by your thumb that is resting against the Gadget.  Furthermore, your thumb’s pressure on the Gadget will easily overpower any pressure on the trigger.

The actual patent for the Gadget Striker Control Device illustrates the elegant simplicity of the design.  This is a schematic of the device itself.  Pictures being sometimes louder than words, click this link to see exactly how the device keeps the Glock’s striker from moving to the rear and thereby canceling out the firing process.

So what is it like in practice, having a Gadget equipped Glock?  Reassuring.  Once you teach yourself the nearly instinctive placement of the thumb upon the Gadget, muscle memory takes over.  Whether it be my Safariland GLS, my JM Custom AIWB, or my JM Custom IWB 3 holster, I always thumb the Gadget when reholstering.  It would take conscious effort not to do so.  I have been personally using a Gadget during training, some competition, and personal practice for nearly four years including one Vickers Tactical class.  The device has never malfunctioned for me nor any of the other dozens of people who were testing it.  It requires perhaps two drops of oil every few thousand rounds.  It develops a slight bit of surface wear and then stops wearing.  In my opinion, Glocks need at least two upgrades from the factory:  decent sights and a Gadget.

So, the inevitable outcry will be shrill.  “Glocks don’t need additional safeties!”  “THIS is my safety.”  “It’s just a trinket.”  “This is NO substitute for training.” (I absolutely agree with the last).  My personal favorite is “This will get you killed on the streets in a gun grab if your attacker grabs the rear of the slide and disables your Glock!”  This moronic argument completes ignores the existence of hammer fired pistols that can be disabled in an identical manner such as the HK P30, M1911A1, Sigs, the Browning Hi Power, and so on.  Watch Tom Givens put that silly argument to rest in this video where he demonstrates how you can disable a Glock without a Gadget.   And so, will the predictable phrases be uttered by those who have not used one of these devices nor even have seen one in person.  However, if you think you would like to be able to reholster a Glock in a completely safe manner using a simple device that will not break and that if used properly, will guarantee you will not say have a negligent discharge due to a drawstring on your jacket getting in the trigger guard.  Furthermore, the man when it comes to actual fighting with guns, ground fighting with guns, and training you how to deal with a gun grab; Craig Douglas AKA “SouthNarc” of ShivWorks has the following to say about the Gadget:

Todd gave me two gadgets a few years ago to put on two Glock 17 Sim guns to test this very issue. I ran them for a year and in that time had about 500 entangled gun fights with them in my coursework. I have yet to see the Gadget be the factor in a failure to fire. The vast majority of the time if it’s a failure to fire it’s the slide being pushed out of battery.

You may purchase a Gadget here at IndieGoGo.  The current Gadget has been tested on 9mm, 40, 45, and 10mm Glocks of all frame sizes.  The only Glocks that will not accept the current Gadget as-is are the 42/43. Specific decisions and plans regarding those models have not been finalized but it’s safe to assume that it’s being looked at seriously.

 

The Gadget installed in my Gen4 Glock 17
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This picture illustrates how the Gadget moves with the pistol’s striker if the striker is being engaged.  

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The Gadget uninstalled using the tip of my Joe Watson HITS knife.

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Clearly the Gadget does not have to be clean in order to function. My Glock gets a cleaning every few thousand rounds whether it needs or not.

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US Border Patrol rifle article Part II

This is a follow up to my original article.  The original article has been very popular due to the amount of times it has been read and commented upon; even if many of the comments were not public.  I will be paraphrasing the comments I received from the agents in the field and not attributing directly to anyone in order to preserve the anonymity of the agents who wrote to me.

 

This appears to be beginnings of a Good Thing in that the agency is attempting to identify problem rifles and also upgrade internal parts to a new standard such as replacing all buffers with Colt H2 buffers.  To clarify, these are Colt M4A1s that are being discussed in these articles.

 

However, the rifles are being deadlined at very high rate and sometimes for the wrong reasons.  One of these wrong reasons is diagnosis of a “bent barrel.”  A bent barrel is indeed an extremely worrisome problem but to diagnose it, one must have the barrel’s bore spotlessly clean.   I spoke at length with Greg “Sully” Sullivan of Defensive Edge Training regarding this and he confirmed that even just a bit of fouling in the bore will absolutely throw off the reading and make the armorer think the barrel is bent.  Sully was kind enough to expound upon the issues common to police and (especially) military trained armorers inspecting rifles:

  • Testing a barrel for straightness without thoroughly cleaning the barrel ahead of time
  • ofttimes armorers use the wrong or an incorrect headspace gauge as Sully has found that many of these gauges are meant for both 5.56x45mm and .223 Remington.  This is incorrect as 5.56 does indeed vary slightly from the .223 headspace specifications.  This product on Amazon is a case in point regarding the widely available yet incorrect headspace gauges.  Sully and Defensive Edge uses only Pacific Tool & Gauge headspace gauges.
  • Border Patrol  and other armorers recommending and allowing only Breakfree CLP instead of something like Slip2000 EWL  (Sully’s favorite) which breaks down the carbon.

 

This topic went nationwide on this story with FoxNews and Tucson TV station N4T covering the story.  The Fox story mainly repackaged the original N4T piece.  Though neither piece was very technical, the Foxnews piece brought the issue to a nationwide audience.  Claims of the Border Patrol agents being “unarmed” were made (albeit thirdhand from an Arizona firearms trainer who has questionable credentials to say the least; examples onetwo, three, four, and five).  Though, I find that claim a bit sensational, attention was paid to the issue of being issued a pool rifle with an unknown zero.  This attention is a very real concern as it is a very real issue (discussed in detail in my first article).  After reading the quotes of the “law enforcement” expert Jeff Prather, I uncovered quite a bit of sordid history (linked to in this paragraph) on Mr. Prather.  This is a bit of a tangent but after reading about Mr Prather’s martial arts businesses, I asked noted martial arts champion and firearms trainer Cecil Burch for generalized comments on on finding a credible trainer in these two oft merging fields of study:

 

“Any art or method where the teacher is deemed untouchable and beyond criticism should be
avoided like the plague (which is actually what it is). One of the great benefits to the popular
growth of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA as exemplified by the Ultimate
Fighting Championship) is that they have shown that you can train full force and that even the
teachers should be on the mat training with the students on a daily basis. The recognized top
champions do it, so there is no excuse why some “master” of an esoteric art should hide behind
mystique and mannerisms better suited to a Kung Fu movie from the 70’s.
If the teacher spends his time spouting mystical proverbs and showing off techniques, but never
tests himself under authentic pressure on a regular basis on front of everyone, he is a phony.
Period.”

 

In an interesting public relations skirmish, the Border Patrol Union president was quoted as saying “we want our rifles back.”  The Border Patrol’s Chief Deputy Ron Vitiello was quoted as stating that a “specialist” should be doing work like replacing the firing pin and the rate of nearly 40 percent was “more than we are comfortable with.” (source, Foxnews)

 

Enough Border Patrol agents and other well informed professionals have made it clear to me that this is not a conspiracy to disarm the Border Patrol or to enbolden illegal immigrants and drug mules.  Rather, this seems to be a genuine though classically bureaucratic decision to finally (for the first time in the agency’s history), inspect and fix all of the agency’s rifles.  In fact, this is the first time in the agency’s history that such an effort has been made.

 

As well all know, the government takes a lot of time to do anything.  Obviously deadlining 40% of an agency’s rifles should be compelling evidence to any bureaucrat that the Border Patrol needs new rifles.  However, when they deadline 40% of the rifles issued to an agency that has, at best, a 2:1 rifle ratio, they are making it harder for the agents to do their job and use their rifles when they are literally confronting drug runners who are at least as well armed as the Border Patrol agents.  Couple that with a firearms training program that has been steadily hemorrhaging money and ammo for years with no agency standard on optics nor the zeroing of the optics they do have and the result is damning. Agents armed with rifles they don’t know the zero on.  Agents refusing to draw rifles, or choosing to draw shotguns over rifles, out of concerns for the reliability of their weapons, the liability of a rifle with an unknown (to the agent) zero, and their personal safety in the event they have to employ them.

 

From what I have been told, the Border Patrol has a decent plan for the tangible side of their rifle program.  They plan to phase out the HK UMP-40 submachine gun and replace it and gradually phase out the standard Colt M4A1 in favor of an 11.5″ barreled M4/AR15 variant manufactured by Colt.  Rumors conflict on whether or not the Border Patrol will simply buy new uppers for their M4A1 carbines or buy completely new carbines.  Below is a proposed final configuration:

 

The plan to replace the existing M4A1 carbines and the UMP-40 with the Colt 11.5″ carbine makes tons of sense.  What does not make sense is deadlining 1000 rifles in a sector and issuing only 100 new ones back.  What does not make sense is either going out of your way to deadline rifles (the aforementioned incorrect diagnosis of “bent barrels”) or worse yet, thinking the issued rifles are broken while lacking the knowledge to discern cosmetic issues from real issues.  Some choice quotes from agents in the field:

“Most of the rifles were deadlined due to “bent barrels” according to the inspectors.  Most of the deadlined rifles were under five years old and all of them had recently passed a qualification”

“Rifles with very dirty chambers are either being deadlined or are going to be re-barreled due to the amount of time required to clean the chamber as well as the hazmat issue (they treat lead and gunpowder residue like it is kryptonite).”

“It seems odd to me that parts are already “wearing out” at 800 rounds. They can try and blame a lack of agent maintenance/neglect, but regardless if the weapon was not cleaned at all within 800 rounds, parts should not already be worn/broken.”

 

So, for the Border Patrol leadership reading this; there should have been new rifles handed out, on a one a one for one basis for the deadlined rifles.  Whether you know it or not, your agents are out there on the front lines without enough weapons, without enough training, and  with weapons they are afraid to use.  A Border Patrol station not having enough training ammo in order to check zero before qualifying is a reprehensible circumstance.  Stations not having enough in their budget to spend more than $150 on their annual shooting supplies is dangerous.  Your agents are entrusted to use deadly force when necessary.  It is your job to make sure they feel confident, employing their skills and weapons in order to do their jobs and go home at night.

 

 

 

 

 

US Border Patrol deadlining rifles at a rate that is detrimental to officer safety

Within this past month, CBP (Border Patrol) stations were hit hard by an inspection performed by agency armorer/inspector from CBP Harper’s Ferry campus on their issued Colt M4 rifles.  These details were passed on to me from a confidential source and were released in the name of officer safety.

The CBP stations were given a perfunctory warning but were surprised by the level of detail of the inspections.  The following parts were replaced on the spot:

  • Gas rings
  • Firing pins
  • Upgraded buffers to Colt H2 buffers (heavier than the standard H buffer)
  • Cotter pins
  • Buffer springs (amazingly for armorers they had a ruler to measure these)
  • Bolt carriers
The armorer/inspectors were typically military in their approach to cleanliness and lubrication of the rifles.  That is not a compliment.  When I and countless others in the military maintained our rifles, armorers would hand the weapons back when we attempted to turn them in with directions to clean the bolt tail (somebody PLEASE tell me what function the bolt tail has in the weapon, especially a spotless one), to….scrape the crown of the barrel with a stainless steel cleaning rod.  You know, because cleanliness counts.  These same armorers would demand and get a nearly lubricant free weapon.  For those that have not served; the military obsesses over clean rifles yet only replaces parts when broken and not on a proscribed maintenance regime.  A decade of war on two fronts and the popularity of citizens getting training on America’s most popular rifle (the AR15) has enlightened many to the fact:

 

A weapon can run dirty and wet. A weapon cannot run dirty and dry.  
 
 
So, the armorer/inspectors did some good.  Then they complained vociferously about the (gasp) “dirty” rifles and the “unauthorized” choice of lubricants (Slip2000 and TW25B).  What is funny here is that the CBP is an organization that follows DOD (Department of Defense) regulations.  So….guess which lubes are DOD authorized and have their own NSN numbers?  That’s right, Slip2000 and TW25B.  That’s a problem with unit level, say Marine 2111s that only know to keep the weapons inspection ready (way too clean, cleaning to the point that folks damage precision fit parts whilst scraping carbon at the armorer’s behest) and to…..fix things after they break.

 

Fixing things after they break is an armorer’s job.  An armorer’s job should also entail preventive maintenance.  To many police department, federal agency, and military armorers “preventative maintenance” means “inspection ready.”  It should mean replacing buffer and extractor springs at roughly X amount of rounds.  It should mean checking throat erosion.  It should mean changing out gas rings at roughly X amount of rounds or if they’re visibly worn (there is a test for this).  Sadly….we are not there yet.  Folks deride “torture tests” where trainers like Pat Rogers run rifles like “Filthy 14” without cleaning for tens of thousands of rounds and trainers like Todd Green pushes pistols to the point that they break.  Think about it.  Pat and Todd showed us that your weapon is not an idol to which you sacrifice time and lungs (solvents) to in order to receive its blessings  (functioning).  You do have to clean and lube weapons, most especially the latter.  You do not  have to as much as your daddy/drill instructor/drill sergeant/etc taught you.  Remember the days when you had to have an automobile regularly greased?  Times have changed, automobiles and weapons have gotten better.  Oil changes are routinely recommended by manufacturers to be done at 7500 miles, not 3k miles.  Weapons do not need babying and proper lubrications and spring replacement counts far, far more than being white glove inspection ready with a “light coat of CLP.”

 

Anyway, what’s startling about this whole inspection by the gun cleanliness Nazis out of Harper’s Ferry is how many rifles they deadlined and how many replacement rifles were received to take the place of the deadlined rifles.  In one Border Patrol sector, roughly 2400 rifles are issued.  Nearly half (1000 or so) were deadlined.  Guess how many replacement rifles showed up?  150.  One hundred fifty to replace one thousand deadlined rifles.  The agents were told “more are coming, we don’t know when.  We might just replace the old uppers with complete new uppers.  We don’t know and don’t have a time table.”  Not to mention that rifles the agents were happy with in terms of function were deadlined.  Go/no go gauges were used on the chambers and even the bolt carrier group (BCG).  A special tool to see if the barrel was bent was used and bent barrels were found.

 

We all like to envision something like “one agent, one rifle” but that is not how things work.  The Border Patrol was close to this before the Clinton era.  During that time, budgets were cut and less rifles were available.  It became the new policy to have one rifle per three agents.  Of course this being the federal government, “senior” agents got their own rifles that they did not have to share.  This practice continues to today.  Now….the armorers are pulling their hair out, waiting for word on what to do when they’ve lost roughly 40% of their issued rifles.  They simply don’t know what to do.  One station had 42% of their issued rifles deadlined.  Personally owned weapons are of course, not authorized for duty use.
It doesn’t take an encyclopedic knowledge of current events to remember Brian Terry.  Now, even the most jaded cop hater can envision themselves in the shoes of a Border Patrol agent on the border with Mexico and what would he want?  A rifle.  An AR15.  An AR15 that he knows will perform.

 

Zeroing.  This is the process of adjusting the iron sights and/or the optic to have the bullets hit point of impact (POI) to a certain point of aim (POA).  This is important.  With say, a 50 yard zero (that is, your rifle will shoot exactly where you aim at 50 yards); your rifle will shoot roughly two inches low at 15 yards and in.  If you do not think knowing how the gun is zeroed is important then read this article.  I am not saying that officer knowing his zero at certain distances was an issue or not but it’s glaringly obvious that knowing where your weapon shoots at certain distances is something that an officer needs to know.  My source tells me that armorers and officers use differing zeroes such as 25 meters, 50 meters, 36 yards, etc.  Would you want to make a shot on a suspect holding a hostage with a weapon whose zero you’re unsure of?  Not to mention that the Border Patrol has a mishmash of EotechAimpoint, and ACOG optical sights.  To compound matters further, there’s several models of each optical sight in use.

 

Ammunition.  Despite wild eyed rumors and conspiracy theories about the feds buying up all of the ammo in the known world…..the Border Patrol has been hit hard by the ammo shortages just like the rest of us.  They would issue 150 rounds per agent a quarter for practice ammo IF they had the ammo.

 

What’s funny is that there was a time when the Border Patrol sent their BORTAC instructors to receive instruction from Mike Pannone and Kyle Lamb.  Then the BORTAC instructors would train the other sector and station level instructors.  Guess what Mike and Kyle taught about lube?  That’s right, use a lot, don’t worry about over cleaning the gun, use stuff like the aforementioned Slip2000 and TW25B (I do note that Kyle Lamb is recommending Rand CLP now).  So…the armorers are recommending against what these instructors who were hired by their agency to instruct their agents recommend.

 

An interesting tidbit is that the Border Patrol has a DMR (Designated Marksman, Rifle) program.  Using scopes scavenged from the military surplus program known as “DRMO,” the Border Patrol had a cheap but effective setup on their more accurate rifles.  My source tells me that 90% of their DMR rifles are deadlined.

 

Probing further to satisfy my inner gun geek, I found that Blue Force Gear and VTAC slings are authorized and even issued.  SOPMOD stocks were acquired and the excellent VLTOR stocks were as well.Now that you’ve digested all of this, please read the commentary I received on these subjects from well known police, military, and civilian firearms instructor Pat Rogers:

What are your thoughts on more than three agents sharing one rifle?

Pat:  The weapon is a life support system. People will feel more comfortable/ confident when they are intimately familiar with that piece of equipment.  People will also exercise more care with their own equipment then with pool equipment.

Do you think that the varying zeros of the issued rifles is an issue?

Pat:  Zeros are critical with irons, but less so with
RDS (Red Dot Sights such Eotechs and Aimpoints).  
Mechanical offset is inherent 15m and in, and then necessary only for high
percentage shot.  
A 2.6” center mass hit will still be efficient under 90% of the circumstances.


Your response to the armorer/inspectors’ quibbles regarding weapons cleanliness and lubricant of choice?

Pat:  CLP is notoriously sub par.  It needs to be shaken vigorously before application, and even then it is not efficient in either cleaning, lubricating or preserving.  I have used TW25 in the past, but for the past 14 years, only SLIP 2000- which has an NSN…Over the past twenty years we have supervised several hundred thousand rounds of 5.56mm ammo in AR15/M16/M4 variants down range every year.  Our observations are that the gun will run when dirty as long as it is generously lubed.  It will not run as well or as long when dry.Filthy 14 has 43,320 rds down range.  It broke 2 bolt lugs at 16,000 rds. It had the rail loosen at 40,000 rds.It was only cleaned three times. On each of the above, and once when it was getting to be a hazmat issue in the armory (as in Linus blanket Hazmat) 

I have not used a bore brush on any of my guns since 1995 (this includes the M-14’s I have shot in High Power and went Distinguished and High Master with).  I did use wet/ dry patch with those guns, but now only put a patch through when exposed to salt water, or extremely dusty, muddy environmental conditions.

I have five M4s that have an average of 20k with minimal cleaning, but generously lubed.

Note- I do not carry a gun for a living anymore and do not advocate this for guns used at work.

However, the obsessive cleaning as pushed by the unknowing has ruined more guns then shooting them.  If it takes more than 20 minutes to clean an M4, you are probably wasting time.

The bottom line is that the agents need good rifles.  They need more good rifles.  They do not have enough rifles.  They don’t know when they are getting their replacement rifles.  They were already short on rifles before this happened.  Ethically, it is tough to justify taking a difficult or “low probability” shot with a rifle you did not zero and have not shot recently if at all.  We need our Border Patrol agents to get replacement rifles for the ones they just lost to their own agency.  Furthermore, they need more rifles, ideally one per agent.  Then, an agency wide system of maintenance on the weapons needs to be implemented; not just “replace when broken.”  Replace parts at intervals.  Then, standardize the training.  They need defined standards and practices such as “This is the agency wide recommended zero for an M4 rifle.”  “This is when bolts should be replaced.”

This article was written to help get the word out.

The unbearable competence of being “tactical”

You’ve seen it before. A guy who only “trains” like he would fight. I used to be that guy after I left the Corps (Honorable, infantry for those interested).  In a way, it’s easier to simply go take a carbine/handgun “tactical” class than it is to decipher UPSA/IDPA rules, match times, and more importantly to find a match local to you and to set aside the hours needed in order to attend a match and shoot for seconds.

There’s a lot of pluses to “tactical” training classes.

  • You start off from zero.  With a competent instructor, so long as you’re safe, you will learn.
  • It’s a much better use of eight hours with regards to learning purposes.  You will be shooting or learning in some form for eight hours a day, roughly.
  • Although gun gamers deride “Tactical Timmys,” there’s something to be said for learning how to draw your weapon from concealment, use a white light for target ID properly (safely), and to how to shoot and move.  Though we live in a fairly safe nation, being ready for home defense is a good thing
  • You get to shake out your gear, see what works, and benefit from having an instructor there to guide you.  Roughly akin to going to college as opposed to trying to self educate.
However (comma) here’s what I’ve seen trending amongst shooters in the “tactical” shooting community.
  • Plateaus.  Folks hit a certain plateau and stay there.  I’ve been to my fair share of “tactical carbine” classes and I’ve learned at least three different versions of where to place my legs when shooting from barricades.  I didn’t really get better at doing this.  The carbine classes where I got better involved being held accountable for times on drills and accuracy.   In other words, if your instructor isn’t sporting something like this, you may be attending a “bro fest” or “entertrainment” (hat tip to Mr Vickers for coining that term) where you won’t progress as a shooter.  If you’re not improving over the years, you might be wasting your time and ammo.
  • Stagnation.  Seems similar to “plateaus” but if you see the same guy only attending “tactical” classes for literally years, it’s a safe bet he can scan and assess like a mofo’ while wearing his carefully chosen multicam but won’t be placing well in an environment where the drills are “stages” designed by someone else, and his peers or competitors are shooting these stages with a wide variety of weapons types, concealment (or not) gear, and sights.  My first USPSA match was bewildering.  There was no set way to do anything.  I had to think, I had to try different things in order to succeed (not that well either, but I’m still learning this whole “competition” thing).  It may be time to try something different when you see the same circle of people doing the same thing for literally years.
 
“Tactical” classes enjoyed a huge boom in popularity shortly after the invasion of Iraq.  Veterans were coming home with money in their pockets, ready to buy a nice rifle and to enjoy shooting it.  Troops were heading to Iraq and Afghanistan and the more savvy ones realized that the standard weapons training was woefully inadequate (the private sector is nowhere near as stagnant as the military in this regard except for a few certain military units).  The great PMC boom began (private military contractors) and folks knew they needed the best training they could afford.

Nowadays, it’s not quite as popular.  Trainers can be seen scrambling to fill classes (the true pros rose to the top and still don’t have a problem filling classes) .  Truly awful trainers often out themselves on YouTube and the worst part is that they don’t know what they’re doing wrong until AR15.com General Discussion gets a hold of them and thoroughly chews them up.    That being said, we should endeavor to get more gun owners trained.  Trained gun owners are good gun owners.  The best place to start off at is…..a two day handgun class.  Good pistol shooters can become good rifle shooters very quickly.  The inverse is not true.  So, go take that pistol class.  Then….(after you get your carry permit if possible in your locale), go check out the local competitive shooting match.  Tell them you’re new and want to learn.  Don’t stagnate like I did!  I’d recommend USPSA but whatever catches your fancy be it trap shooting, carbine (3 gun or 2 gun), or IDPA.  Get out there and be pushed to excel as a shooter.

So, inevitably you’ll hear “I won in combat.” OK, what does that mean?  Have you found a reason for a plateau for the rest of your life?  In twenty years when the rest of the world might be say, using phased energy weapons with projected sight pictures in your smart glasses, will you be chanting that “real guns shoot lead” ala the “real guns shoot .45 and 30 cal and are made of wood and steel” set of shooters we see today?  Does it mean you learned something unattainable in combat that no competitive shooter can learn?  Do you plan quantify your combat experience or does everyone hit by enemy fire instinctively know something that no competitive shooter could hope to learn?  What I’m getting it that “seeing the elephant” is indeed something unquantifiable but….I can name many, many combat vets who didn’t go on to plateau and stagnate and weren’t too good for “gun games.”
  • Jeff Cooper honed his pistol skills in competitive matches in California after he saw combat.
  • Combat veteran Ernest Langdon bought a Sig P220 and used it to make history against very expensive 1911s, being the first person to win IDPA Nationals in the Custom Defensive Pistol division with a double/single-action pistol (SIG P220).  He also has a habit of winning 3 gun matches.
  • Personal friend and stellar carbine trainer Jack Leuba knows a thing or two about combat.  That doesn’t keep him from getting out there and competing with a carbine and a pistol.  This year, he did something crazy and competed in a carbine match with a 7.62 AR.  The only person who beat him (in the complete match, using a much easier to shoot AR15 no less) was Jerry Barnhart.   Match results here.  Folks, that is beyond amazing shooting.

So, if you want to progress as a shooter…don’t get hung up on being tactical.  It’s OK to have fun shooting.  It really is.  I know that serious folks like serious training but I’m the self deprecating type so I’ll go out and get my ass kicked at USPSA.  I’ll follow that up with another Pat Rogers class.  Why another tactical class?  Because I go to where the great instructors are.  I’ll happily admit that the tactical and competitive shooting worlds can overlap.  Also….Pat Rogers classes are fun.  Some of the students are serious people doing serious training but the instructor (Pat) somehow makes being professional yet humorous and positive a better way of learning how to be a better tactical shooter.

One real world example is the infamous “Rangetime with Cory and Ericka” debacle.  Cliffnotes:  Cory and his wife Ericka had a nice little business providing “tactical” style training with pistols and carbines.  Cory lied and said he was an 11B (Army infantry rifleman).  He was disproven of this very publicly (never made it through Basic).  Now both of their names are mud and rightly so.  Imagine if Cory had withstood the allure of camouflage, being tactical, and so on; perhaps focused on say…..shooting.  He might be in a very different place today as say, a 3-gun or pistol champion with no pretensions and no lies to his name.

Lastly and what really inspired this long winded, scattershot piece; I saw a conversation on the evil book of faces regarding that Jerry Miculek is a fast shooter but he would “never survive a shoot house with (insert tactical trainer’s names here) that can shoot people’s faces like it’s going out of style.”

Well…..personally, I’d hate to go up against Miculek with slingshots.   I dared to say “ante up and let’s see what happens.”  I was banned off of that person’s Facebook account post haste.   Given the current trends in tactical shooting forums, Miculek will have no credit unless he’s heard and seen enemy gunfire.  OK, that’s hard to make happen.  However, I’ll bet money Miculek will take a “shoot house challenge” against anyone.  Who’s going to ante up, tactical shooters/instructors?  Who’s going to have a third party set up a shoot house and run through it against Jerry Miculek for score?  GunNuts can very likely make this happen if you’re willing to put your cards on the table and everyone would enjoy reading about it.  Good fun could be had.
Ante up.

On the danger of being a gear and training Luddite

I like training classes.  A lot.  Pistol and/or carbine.  I learn things at these classes.  Training classes, while (sometimes justly so) derided as “entertrainment” are a quite viable way to learn, to brush up on, and advance your own personal level of skill with the martial art that is shooting.  I always point new shooters towards a good two day pistol training class as the most important building block in enhancing one’s shooting proficiency with any firearm.

However, any gun forum observer/participant can tell you that it’s easy to get caught up in training; to follow a “sensei” (instructor) and to only “train.”  There are guys out there that treat carbine/pistol training classes as a religion and only train with the leader of their religion, their chosen instructor.  Guys, you need to branch out.  Try USPSA, USCA or even classes from another instructor.  Try competition, your training will help you there and you will see challenges in competition you will have to solve for yourself.

You’ll see the negative effects of only training when folks obsess over the difference between say, “Flat Dark Earth” and “Urban Dark Earth.”  Grown men will debate endlessly the merits of various brands of tactical pants and show each other pictures of their “battle belts.”  Many of these training addicts will avoid actual shooting competitions and fall into the trap of sneering at “gun gamers.”  I myself, love USPSA.  It may not be real life but the real life shooting skills you are forced to learn in order to be competitive.  It’s somewhat telling when a self professed “gun gamer” is far and away the high shooter at a tactical shooting oriented carbine class (I know, I was there).

As a former infantry Marine, I automatically eschewed playing dress up for training classes.  I alway tried to go as “slick” as possible and even did my transitions from carbine to pistol using an AIWB (Appendix Inside Waist Band) mounted pistol.  Worked pretty well, actually.  No chest rig, no multicam, no $200 hearing protection (the sub $50 Howard Leights are outstanding), as little specialized gear as possible.  I was “training like I would fight,” dontcha know.

I did well in the training classes on timed and scored drills.  Ironically, one of the best classes I ever took was decidedly not “tactical” and helped me build a foundation to be a better than mediocre shooter.  As I always tell folks getting into shooting, take a good pistol training class.  It’s much easier to shoot a carbine/rifle than a pistol but skill with a pistol directly carries over to shooting any other firearm.  Get a pistol with good sights, a good holster, ammo, some spare mags, and training.

From learning how to shoot a pistol does shooting skill begin.
 
  However, training like I would “fight” caught up with me and it caught up hard.  I recently attended the excellent EAG Basic Carbine Course and proudly went there without the recommend knee and elbow pads.  Chest rig for carrying magazines?  Hell no, I’m training like I would fight!

 

  Well, on the last training day; I hit the gravel hard as I shot a timed drill.  My left elbow came away bloodied but seemingly fine.  I did note that I would have gotten better times in drills and done less fumbling with a…..chest rig for magazines.  In other words, I would have gotten more out of training with said chest rig.  A very good friend read my review and quite generously sent me a BCM 03 Chest Harness.

 

  Anyway, a week later as the lessons from “Uncle Pat” sank in, my elbow started getting worse.  The small scrapes seemed to have given me an infection.
  A visit to a doctor resulted in basic antibiotics.  A day later, things worsened.  More antibiotics courtesy of a emergency room visit failed to work.  Another ER visit, intravenous antibiotics.  At this point, lines had been drawn on the infected area, showing the progression of the infection.
  At this point, I had been diagnosed with a very bad cellulitis infection.  Moving the arm was painful, resting it on a table was out of the question.  The specter of elbow pads and me “training like I would fight” haunted me, smirking.

 

  Fortunately, my brother in law is a real life House MD.  Board certified infectious diseases doctor.  A quick Skype video session and he took me off of the antibiotics that weren’t working and put me on Zyvox.  Nearly instantaneous results after two emergency room visits and one appointment with my MD.  My brother in law speculates that I might have had MRSA.
Having been shot in my other elbow, I am very lucky to have received the treatment I did.  My friends being my friends, instantly dubbed me “Elbowla Patient Zero,” a title I wear with pride.

 

  Moral of the story?  Be functional, not fashionable.  You don’t have to be clad head to toe in multicam to shoot and some gear can protect you, save you time, and allow you to enjoy shooting much more.  For less than $20, I have some great elbow pads that could have literally saved me hundreds of dollars and so far, six trips to the doctor (counting the ER).  Shoot, I even splurged on some $24 knee pads.  Remember, it’s easy to be hard, it’s hard to be smart.

 

 Don’t be that guy, get some gear, and train smart.  It’s easy to be hard, it’s hard to be smart.  Also, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.  If you show up to a class clad head to toe in “tactical” gear and clothing replete with a “tactical” shemagh, and overweight, I might make fun of you.  If I do, please reciprocate with comments about “Elbowla Patient Zero” and enjoy your carefully chosen gear and more importantly, your training time 🙂

 

Safariland 5377 GLS Outside Waist Band holster review

This review is about the Safariland 5377-83 GLS OWB (Outside Waist Band) holster for Glock 17s (Glock 19s and 26s will fit as well).  There is a paddle variant of this holster, denoted as the Safariland 5378 and a clip model, the Model 5379.   This model is also known as the “GLS” or Grip Locking System.  The holster is classified as a Level I retention holster in that it can withstand active attempts to remove it for at least five seconds without the safety/retention device enabled.

This holster was generously provided for review by my friend Chris Abernathy of XS Sights.  Since reviewing this, I made sure to purchase one as a gift for my brother, who is now a full time cattle rancher and prefers a retention OWB holster he can rely upon when a’horseback.

The holster is typical Safariland quality, in that it’s (excuse the pun), nearly bullet proof.  Heavy duty plastic, felt lining (not thick felt though), and a sturdy belt slide which is adjustable for cant, three positions.  You may adjust the tension of how securely the weapon is retained with a hex key.  The holster is compatible with all of the Safariland three hole mounting systems.

 

Adjustment for cant is accomplished using one of the three holes at the bottom

Safariland bills this as a concealed carry holster but that is most certainly not the case in real life.  This is the holster to have for anyone considering OWB (outside waist band) carry that doesn’t want a slow draw but does want Level I retention.  The GLS is noticeably thinner than the industry standard (and standard for many police and military) ALS.

 

The GLS and Dark Star Gear OWB compared.  The GLS is much more bulky due to design.  Note the release button on the GLS.

Views showing the weapon inserted and comparison shots.


The silver hex head is how you adjust tension with regards how securely the pistol is held in the holster

Using the GLS is easy and…..instinctive.  Simply bump the button with the knuckle of your middle finger as you draw.  It took me roughly ten dry fire draws before I was drawing and dry firing without thinking about hitting the button.  Reholstering is similarly easy and instinctive but you do have to shove the weapon down into the holster until you feel the retention device engage.

Using sand, Virginia dirt, and talcum powder; I was not able to disable this holster’s locking mechanism (anything can be disabled with enough dirt, I concede).  Adults were not able to wrench the unloaded weapon out of the holster when I was wearing it.  My body was literally pulled and twisted around as folks tried to (in testing) to wrench the pistol out of my holster.

Using my shot timer, I was not able to register a statistical nor perceived difference between the GLS and my “go to” OWB holster; the outstanding Dark Star Gear OWB.  However, using one made me miss the other:

  • Using the GLS made me miss exactly how well the Dark Star Gear OWB hugs my hip.  I really don’t think OWB holsters are “concealed” for the most part but the Dark Star Gear OWB is the best OWB in my “box o’ holsters” for concealment with an untucked shirt.
  • Using the Dark Star Gear OWB made me yearn for the simple, intuitive, and secure GLS retention system.  Once you use it, you “get” the need for it.  You understand WHY? people like retention holsters.

  In the past, I’ve written about a certain trend in the Open Carry movement; that of using the junk SERPA holster or a SERPA knockoff.  Open Carry folks, please consider the GLS.  It’s a whopping fitty bucks or so shipped and at that price, it is worlds better than the SERPA or Uncle Mike’s you normally carry.  It’s even made for the Open Carry movement’s pistol of choice: the Springfield XD.

  Law enforcement personnel, if a Level I retention holster is mandated by your department; This.  Is.  It.  Just get one.  The draw speed is such that you can take your retention duty holster to your local IDPA/USPSA gun games and not miss a beat as you compete with your duty gear.  Hikers, folks who work outdoors, get you one of these.  It’s the ideal retention holster when concealment is not an overriding priority.

  Safariland knocked this one out of the park.  Now if they can follow up on their success and make a true CCW friendly GLS; that would make many gun owners very happy.  Ditch the requirement for the three hole Safariland mounting system capability and just give the holster two belt loops.  It’s OK to make CCW only holsters, Safariland.  Also, Safariland…..please consider working on your website’s layout and navigation.  It’s in desperate need of a refresh. 
I would like to note that I received the GLS holster as a loan and am sending it back to Chris at XS Sights.  The Dark Star Gear OWB was bought and paid for by myself.

EAG Basic Carbine Class Review/AAR, Aug 02-3 2014 (Pat Rogers)

On the days of August 2nd and 3rd, 2014; I attended EAG Tactical’s Basic Carbine Class at Echo Valley Training Center in West Virginia.  Presented as a “Two Day, Low to Moderate Intensity class with the emphasis on the basics of marksmanship and manipulation,” made my non tactical, cake eating ears perk up and I decided to go as “slick” as possible with regards to gear choices.  More on that later.  The class had military veterans, law enforcement, federal employees, and active duty military attending.

Fog dissipating from the range as we convoyed in.  Weather was excellent for both days.
 

 

  Gear and weapons choices:
Training Day One (TD1):
  One thing that immediately stands out about my EAG class experience is the level of professionalism involved.  That means class starts on time, a course schedule with room for evolving with the shooters is adhered to, attention is paid to students’ health and well being during the training evolution, targets are inspected by the instructor after each string of fire, and most importantly; a safe training evolution occurs.  Constant, short lectures with real life examples of WHY? are given.  Pat makes sure that you understand WHY? before DOING.
  We received a very good and humorous safety brief along with an individual carbine inspection by Pat.  When inspecting our carbines, he didn’t engage in brand name snobbery (“that brand will get you killed on the street, son!”) but rather just checked for any immediate problems that would impede training.  He also inspected personal gear selection with an eye for safety and student welfare (hydration, knee pads for the gravel, etc).
  A fifty yard zeroing exercise was then confirmed.  I shot well except with a bit of vertical stringing I couldn’t explain but blamed on myself until I physically inspected my carbine towards the end of the day.  Happily, fellow student Martina had the right tool to tighten up my LaRue Aimpoint Micro mount (which has never gotten loose in six years before this) and my groups tightened up noticeably.  This was my bust and I should have checked it a long time ago.  I’m buying one of those Combat Optic Tools ASAP……
  We then moved onto offset and optics choices.  Nothing was really preached as gospel (Pat is open to new pieces of gear and techniques) but hard won lessons are imparted for your benefit.  This is not an NRA High Power class but rather a class oriented on “how to fight with a carbine.”  Therefore, all training is conducted from the fifty yard line to the three yard line.  An outstanding class (with hilarious examples from the real world as usual) was taught on that crucial two inches or so of sight offset on the AR-15 rifle.  Single shot, hammer pair, controlled pair, Mozambique/Failure to Stop, and NSR (Non Standard Response; seven rounds rapid fire to the center mass) drills were taught and drilled over and over again.  We also learned the basic firing stances:
  • Standing.  Don’t overthink this!  You need to negate recoil by getting into a basic fighting stance but you don’t need to over exaggerate this (crouching way too far forward, sticking your ass out).
  • Kneeling (a few variations were taught).  The basic kneeling or as Pat calls it, the Monica, and the familiar to me as taught by the USMC; the kneeling with elbow support.
  • Prone; two variants were taught with the emphasis of using what works best for you.  Using the magazine as a monopod is strongly encouraged.  I saw some students using a magwell hold in the prone, I myself did not do so.
  Malfunction clearance was taught and in a safe manner.  We actually drilled the different types of malfunction clearances and a few times, by the numbers.  Shit happens and you should know how to deal with it.  Multiple target engagement was taught with an emphasis on hitting each target as quickly as possible and then delivering more shots as needed AKA the “Box Drill.”  This drill was thrown as us quite a bit.
  Learning points for me from TD1:
  • The sight offset really kicks in at about fifteen yards.  Example:  you’re shooting from the fifty yard line to the three yard line and your shots are all exactly where they should be until you start shooting at fifteen yards and in at which point they’re too low.  That’s the time you need to start aiming roughly two inches higher.
  • The basics matter.  A lot.  Without knowing your zero and holds for various distances, what good is your expensive kit?  With Pat’s training, a new carbine shooter shooting next to me was looking like a rock start on the target and drill times.  However, said new shooter brought….a positive attitude.
Training Day Two (TD2):
We started with a quick confirmation as zero.  Pat teaches that “your zero is a living thing; check it often.”  The MEU/SOC and Mod Navy drills were taught, ran for familiarization and then time.  Drills were broken up with shooting on the move and Pat did his best to make sure that students didn’t overthink shooting on the move (SOM).
  Don’t:
  • Try to time your shots when you’re landing on one foot specifically
  • Don’t game SOM by stopping to shoot during advancing to the target or waiting to shoot once you’re stopped and cannot advance anymore
Do:
  • Take the shot when it appears.  The shot you have may not be the best sight picture you will get but you have a finite amount of time and this isn’t an NRA High Power class but a class on “how to fight with your rifle.”
  • Remember that offset; it’s always there and waiting to strike.
  • This relates to taking the shot when it appears but know what’s acceptable and what is not.  The longer you take to make a shot, the less time you have.
Tactical reloads were taught and WHY? and WHEN? to do so was elucidated on.  As with every EAG lesson, it was hammered home firmly with multiple dry and live repetitions.  The day ended with scored and timed iterations of the MEU/SOC and Mod Navy qualifications.  During TD2, a former EAG student texted me; asking me to say hello to Pat for him (Pat trained said buddy while said buddy was in Force Recon and pat was training Force Recon Marines as civilian contractor) and giving me good natured shit about my upcoming performance on the MEU/SOC qual.  Naturally, I did worse than I should have; forgetting to flip the safety off until I pressed the trigger.  Pat admonished me that I knew better afterwards and I did make the qualifying time but not to the best of my ability.  Learning occurred.
The S&W 5.45x39mm AR15 shooting Soviet military surplus ammo shot amazingly well as usual, note the two shots in one hole
 
Pat making sure that SOM drills are conducted safely
 
 
Gear learning points:
  • $7 Walmart kneepads suck but nowhere near as much as no knee pads.
  • A Magpul CTR will impact your quick detach sling loop on a Daniel Defense sling mount and cause the quick detach to….quickly detach and to make carbine embrace gravity.  I removed about a quarter inch of plastic from the CTR and PROBLEM SOLVED PROBLEM  STAYING SOLVED (Please note that the comparable Noveske unit is thin enough that this isn’t a problem with it)
  • Everyone always says that lube choice doesn’t matter, just run it wet.  Well, try that with 5.45x39mm Soviet surplus ammo.  The corrosive salts in the primers make you quickly realize that all weapons lubes are not created equal and despite hot water rinses at the end of each training day, weapons lube choice can matter.  So far, Fireclean or Slip2000 EWL work best for me.
  • Elbow pads.  Apparently, I need to find out what these are and get a pair as I left the class on TD2 with blood literally running down both arms from my elbows.
  • Mag carriers.  Problematic when used a lot.  Good for one-two mag changes but you run out of belt space.  I need a chest rig….
  • The Safariland GLS is the OWB (Outside Waist Band) holster with retention to have and it impressed everyone who got a demonstration of its innovative retention design.  I will be reviewing this holster on its own soon.
Gratuitous “filthy rifle” pictures.  The rifle was not cleaned between training days.  Weapon ran flawlessly as usual.
 
 

 

 
Class logistics
  The training venue is excellent.  There was not one aspect of the Echo Valley Training Center that impeded training.  However, the location is remote.  Bring your food and plenty of snacks.  This being an EAG class, Camelbak sponsorship was there and very generously provided Camelbak Elixir in the form of all you could drink from a ten gallon container and full retail sized tubes of the tablets.  I really can’t say enough about this stuff nor the support.  Being a former infantry Marine who remembers the days of canteens and then getting screamed at for daring to buy and use a Camelbak when they first came out; the notion of a tablet of energy drink (with or without caffeine or “energy” as Camelbak calls it) that you simply drop into your Camelbak and it self mixes and doesn’t turn your Camelbak into a self aware bacteria experiment truly amazed me.  I went home with two tubes pressed upon me by the generous Martine (who also shot very well during the class) and promptly bought more.  “No mixing at all,” yeah I can get used to that.  Truly, an amazing product.  I need to get a Camelbak suitable for training use now……  Of course, Pat calls this stuff “Camelcrack” and it is like crack that keeps the students going.
  Be on time.  Have your magazines loaded if possible.  Have ammo.  Don’t slow down the rest of the class.  Have your range fees in the correct amount, ready for collection.  Do everyone a favor and be ready to help out with targets and take your trash home if possible at the end of the day as this is a remote location and trash has to be separated and burned.
  Be ready for Uncle Pat’s bags o’ goodies.  Apparently, EAG Tactical has strong relationships with much of the shooting industry and therefore, each and every student got a bag of gear from LaRue Tactical and one from Bravo Company along with PMAGs from Magpul.  As an accounting of Pat’s personality; I witnessed Pat attempt to help out one small town cop with extra magazines (many kudos from me for ponying up your hard earned pay to travel to Virginia in order to get training your department doesn’t offer nor pay for!).
Free goodies!
 
 
 
The instructor:
 
  Biography here.  Pat is a Vietnam combat vet, retired Marine Chief Warrant Officer, and a retired NYPD Sergeant.  I do realize that much of the online gun forum community believes that you need at least SOF or better yet, Tier One experience to teach marksmanship but I assure you, Uncle Pat does the job quite well.  Pat imbues his class with an infectious positive energy coupled with personal stories illustrating the point he is trying to make sans “let me tell you about my own awesomeness.”  Humble and side splittingly hilarious, Pat never has a bad word for anyone, be they student or fellow instructors in the training industry.  His skills as an actual diagnostician are unparalleled, to wit:
  I’m shooting a string from the kneeling.  I was sloppy about it and could have done better.  As I was recovering to the standing, Pat asked me “how did that feel.”  My answer:  “Sloppy.”  Him:  “yup, you could have done better.”
  That is how EAG classes go.  If you mess up after having been instructed like say, not keeping your weapon topped off with ammo; you get humorously chided but not castigated.  Points are driven home using real world examples and one on one instruction and diagnosis occur continuously throughout the day.  Targets are personally inspected by Pat.  He also “walks the walk” and demonstrates each drill as a matter of course.  You will be held accountable according to your level of skill.  If you are a basic skill level carbine shooter, Pat will make sure your fundamentals are being practiced and you understand HOW? to shoot that drill better.  If you’re more advanced in your skillset; your groups better be tight and you’d better make the par time or you will be reminded that you can do better and given a tip on what you might have done wrong.
My bottom line:
 
  I wish I’d taken training from EAG years ago.  The positive energy Pat exudes along with his (literally for you Archer fans) generations of experience training civilians, military, and law enforcement makes it impossible not to take an EAG class and not come away a better shooter.  Strongly recommended.  I’ll be at the very next EAG Carbine Operator’s course in October.
Pictures of the author at the class