Archive for August, 2010

CCW and modern environments

While I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, I actually advise some of my students and family and friends that a firearm should not always  be your primary weapon.   If you use your firearm to defend yourself,  you are going to be going to be hiring a lawyer and sitting in a courtroom in the very near future regardless of whether or not you were in your right.  There have been several recent crime reports coming out of the Country where 14-17yr old youths were involved with violent crimes, but as in much of the Urban environments, the bad kids get played like they are the victims when a good guy uses force against them, usually police officers.

There is a reason you hear about Cops using tasers more and more.   In some situations there has even been complaints that they are using them too much.     If you have a means to carry mace, pepper spray or a taser, you can solve the problem, walk away and call 911 without too much to worry about in the aftermath.The reality is this, yes people can die from being tasered, or even have alergic reactions to pepper sprays and mace,  I was even involved with an incident where a man on PCP actually dies from being maced, but statistically speaking, it is almost always better than if a firearm was used in these incidencies.    Public places are probable the most likely places you will need to defend yourself, and even bullet you send, may not hit the bg, but may hit a wall or other person.   If you are dealing with a hostile drunk or a 16yr old juvenile drugged up, your physical well being may be in danger, but using deadly force will mean hiring a lawyer and a long drawn out case.


Military rifles and table shooting

I remember when I made the jump from shooting bolt action rifles as a kid to shooting my first AK style rifle.  Besides thinking it was cool and fun to shoot, I realize that the kind of felt awkward to shoot from the table.   The real reason was that my size didn’t really support the gun very well and it was the protruding 30rd magazine that made me sight a little higher than I wanted to.  I later picked up a Yugoslavian SKS rifle and even though it fired the exact same 7.62×39 round, it was far more comfortable to shoot, and it was easier to lay lower on the ground.    With my present level of training I realise there are shooting positions that you can move into and still remain low to the ground, but still not always practical.

Another simliar comparison would be for an AR 15 style rifle vs a Mini  14 with a 5rd magazine.  The next time you buy a gun and are looking to stock up on gun magazines, pickup a smaller capacity magazine for table shooting and see what I mean. These differences really come out when taking a firearm on a long hunting trip, because finding a good firing position is extremely important to getting a good hit.    I have a few 10rd magazines for my M1A rifle that I like to use when shooting off of tables.   Even though the gun is normally sold or issued with a 20rd, the smaller capacity helps keep you low and gives you a little bit more potential for movement.


M4 Carbine setup for murphy’s law

I’m sure you’ve done plenty of research into combat optics, which is the toughest and which reticle is best for you,  but are you setup for a backup plan if your sighting system goes down?   Using loctite on all of the places that need to be locked down does wonders for reliability, but in combat, sometimes your optics can get smashed or even shot.    There have been several advertisements showing up about ACOGs getting hit by bullets and even surefire flashlights that took bullets and still worked, but sometimes a broken scope that is loctited to your gun will become a nightmare in a combat situation if it is broken.

I personally do not like the idea of fold down front sights because I never thought the permanent front sight obscured my targets if I hed the gun right, but some people really don’t like the front sights there when using red dots or Eotech gun sights.   Quick detach rifle scope and rifle sights are becoming more common because this is a reality of combat.   I think this is being a little too anal, but if it works for them, that’s their decision.   I do see some people operate Eotech gun sights with no backup sights and I think it’ll  be a matter of time before they show up a range with dead batteries and realise that their gun is going to be as accurate as a blunderbuss.   If you set your cowitness sights up, you can use them as primaries or backups at any point.   Using fold down front sights is an extra step to getting your Carbine backup if the primary optic goes down, but that’s just my opinion.


CCW and gray areas

When an individual decides that they are going to be carrying a firearm, they must first understand that even though they are permitted to carry a firearm, there are some places that they cannot carry.   Most areas that you can not carry are obvious, like government buildings, court rooms ect, but each State has some areas you may not.    Even though it may be legal to carry a concealed firearm into a bank in your State, a bank that has had a previous history of robberies may have a metal detector that you will have to walk through, and since it’s guaranteed that you’ll set it off, it may be a good idea to leave your firearm in the car.

There are many gray areas for CCWing.   When selecting a gun holsters, it may be wise to think about the what ifs, and how much of a headache it’s going to be to have to take your holster off during the day.   I have personally seen a few clip on holsters fail during CCW where the student comically points the gun with the holster on it at the target.   Even though this has occured numerous times, I still have to state that the belts that were being used were not ideal.   It is extremely important to select a good gun belt that securely holds your clip on holster.


Limitations and advantages of handgun sights

The real advantages I see to actually altering the front sights on handguns is for home defense.   Even if you have a flashlight on or there is some lighting  in  your home, it’s still can have a lot of shadows and moving from room to room will give you areas where it would be good to be able to see exactly where your front sight is pointing.   Hunting with a handgun or rifle usually means hunting in early morning with limited light and the same for late evenings in later afternoons.  Hi visiblity sights should give you some advantages for speedy target acquisitions.

A lot of this is really going to be about conditions that you are shooting in, and it will also depend on how good your eye sight is in the first place, but traditional gun sights that are solid black can sometimes be hard to pick up in low light and even if they are being used in sunlight, they are too thin or too thick for a shooters taste.   Depending on the type of shooting that  you are doing sometimes the gun  you have is a good format, but some changes need to be made to your rifle sights or handgun sights.  Even today there are some red dot optics that I do not like because the dot is so big that it obscures the target and it makes it very difficult to shoot tight groups.   Low light can make it even hard to see objects behind the the target.



Young eyes and iron sights

I guess I feel fortunate that at the ripe old age of 42 I still don’t need to use glasses.   I’m in the minority amongst my piers, but that still doesn’t mean I’m the best shot.   Having good eyes doesn’t mean you have the best shooting skils either.   There have been multiple times I have taken young maidens to the ranges and they out shot more experienced shooters, just because they didn’t jerk the trigger like their 25yr old male rivals did.   Breath control and trigger control can do a lot for you whether you where glasses or not.   I started out shooting with guns that had optics on them  before I started shooting with iron sights.   I feel that most shooters should start the other way around, but as long as you eventually undestand the skills behind each, all is well.

There is nothing wrong with skipping the whole 22LR training stages for novice shooters, that’s a call an teach, instructor or family member will have to make and the  decision is theres.    I personally believe a beginner training gun is an A2 20inch AR15 target rifle.   The XM15E2 is a great shooting platform for anyone that wants to shoot with out using rifle scopes and depending on the personality and attitude, you can do quite well if you know your ballistics limits.  The experience an operator is, the more they will acknoledge that when an optic goes down, you better know your irons or you’ll wish you did.


Non weapon mounted flashlights

I highly recommend the Section 8 Tactical ultimate retention device.   These work extremely well with 20-25mm flashlights.   When I first got a hold of one, it took me a little while to get use to the idea of using them, but after an incident that changed my life, the $16 I spent was worth it.   Being able to point a light in a different direction than a gun is extremely important in some situations, especially in your own home.   There are are endless scenarios that play out when discussion these topics, but I’ve actually live a few of my own and I am confident that I have the right tools.

Lanyards are in my opinion an old school way of carry a flashlight.   If it works for you than good for ya.   I put lanyards on some flashlights just so they are harder to loose.   Now that so many flashlights have gotten so small, yet powerful, losing that $250, 80 Lumen flashlight has gotten easier and easier.   I have some weapon mounted flashlights that are rock soldid and I don’t think I will ever change that, but when it comes to using handguns, I’m not a big fan of putting lights on them.   Maybe once Streamlight flashlights technology gets to the point where the flashlight projects from the guide rod and doesn’t inhibit the use of your usual CCW holster or make your gun bulkier, then I’ll change my mind.



New tools new tactics

Whenever we run a novice student through a carbine course, one of the first things we teach them after the basic saftey and shooting techniques is barrel sight offset.   Since so many people are using AR15 type rifles, there is a considerable distance between the place where a scope points its crosshairs and where the bullet is going to impact at close ranges.   Something like a Trijicon ACOG gives you a good idea of what people mostly use and we show crosshairs pointing at a dot and where the bullet hits approx 2 inches below that.   This really only has a purpose in showing a shooter what could be applied is using a firearm in self defense in a hostage type situation.

Since lasers have been improving and prices are coming down, we see them showing up more and more on handguns.   While I suggest people take a look at the price they are paying for them and do a lot of research on the durability of the product, a whole new can of worms emerges when sighting in your crimson trace or lasermax laser sights.   Depending on how your laser is mounted, there will be a windage offset that needs to be known.  Crimson Trace laser grips on revolvers can project from right above the grip area or there is a newer style that projects next to where the barrel line is.   Each have their pros and cons, but there is still an offset.   With new tools, there are always slight changes that need to be made to insure an operator knows that with distance, bullet impacts change.


Mini 14 Magazines and hunting

I must admit, I was  lucky enough to be able to stock up on PMI magazines in the 1990s and never had to worry much about finding after market rifle magazines for the Mini 14.   While admit I have seen plenty of poor performing Mini 14 rifles on the ranges, it was always because the user was not using Ruger factory rifle magazines.  If you are fortunate enough to live in a State that allows the use of semi-auto rifles for deer season,  there is no lighter and faster Carbine for Coyote or white tails than the Mini 14.   I have personally witnessed deer being taken with 75gr HPBT with the Mini 14, so don’t tell me the .223 isn’t good for the job.
Inside of 200yds and with a 4x optic, a Mini 14 is well within the tolerances of being able to take a 150-200lb animal.   Considering the flat trajectory, hold overs are virtually none existant at these ranges.  Since you can get 20rd and 30rd factory magazines for the Mini 14 again.   There still are reasons to not want to heat up the rifle and it is well known that the Mini 14 is not a military rifle.  The accuracy will begin to decline after approximately the 3rd shot is fired which gives good reason to only stick with the factory 5rd magazines.


Hunting overkills this Fall

For most of the Northeast, hunting will start in about 6 weeks for archery and then small game begins.   Archery has gained a  lot of ground in this region because so much of the good hunting areas are populated and it’s hard to safely manage deer populations if areas where it’s not really safe to use a firearm.   I still don’t know why so many people go with monsterous optics that when put under any kind of realistic hunting test, will always slow you down.   Whenever I ask people what they are doing with a 50mm objective on a gun that is really meant for something that weights 800lbs and they are out hunting white tail, they usually say they are afraid of making bad shots.

From my own personal experience in the military and law enforcement community, I think hunting with a red dot is probable more practical than any optic that magnifies more than 5xs.   For small game I’d recommend against using a red dot, but there have been times I’ve been tempted to just bring a Mini 14 with an Eotech out for while tails just because the speed I get with that configuration is better than any lever action or 7mm bolt action.   Whenever you are thinking about doing long range shooting, go ahead with magnification, but wheneve you are thinking about rifle scopes for hunting applications, do a realistic gauge of how good your eyes are and what kind of opportunities you may expect when out in the field, and don’t slow yourself down with too much magnification or an optic that has an eye relief inhibits your mobility.

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