Sunday, November 27, 2011

FLGN Goes Political For A Minute

Whenever I read about police brutality, or incompetent use of deadly force, it really makes me sick. It makes me doubly sick to read about young veterans of the current wars being cut down by trigger happy and incompetent police. See the link here. A US Marine in  Arizona was gunned down by a SWAT team some time ago, and the shooting has been cleared, as has the phony baloney warrant used to do a dynamic entry into the home of a person suspected of being suspicious. From the information that Yahoo! so graciously provides, it looks like the police had little more than circumstantial evidence to suspect Jose Ortiz.

I've been a cop. In a small town, where our intelligence service was whatever we could pick up through the grapevine and substantiate through first-hand witnesses. Then came due process, where I would write a search warrant and get a judge to review it and see if I had done my due diligence. Most of the time, I had. Then, with warrant in hand, I would rally my superiors and we would make a plan. Our plan was ALWAYS a knock warrant, but with sufficient back-up to save us if someone decided to get crazy. Maybe I'm a hopeless libertarian. Maybe I'm an idealist. But my bosses and I, and the county and state police who backed up my warrants would always go in with the Road House mantra in mind: Be nice until it's time to stop being nice. 

I served warrants on real drug dealers. Meth houses. Guys who pulled guns on a whim. Most of them would give up when they saw me and my boss on their doorstep. In my opinion, SWAT teams should not serve warrants. SWAT should only be used for emergencies. And I don't have too many nice things to say about SWAT cops. Many of the ones I have met have been dumb jocks who didn't have the balls to join the military. A few have served, and a few are great fellas, but by and large, they just want to play Army and would relish the idea to "kill a bad guy". 

I have no doubt that Jose Ortiz answered the door with an AR15 upon hearing a loud boom and seeing men in masks clad in black swarming toward his house. I would probably arrive at my door with my Para LTC in hand if I heard a flashbang or shotgun blast and saw people in black outfits heading toward my door. Why it was necessary at all to use SWAT to serve this warrant is beyond me. If you have such strong evidence, then why not arrest Jose on his way to work and then serve the search warrant? If he really was a drug dealer, why were no drugs found on his property? If he really was a bad guy, where is the evidence? The only thing the story proves is that Jose Ortiz was killed in his home in front of his family on suspicion of being suspicious. 

And to top it all off, the team dumped 71 rounds into the man's house with his wife and child inside. What a shame. For the 2nd Amendment crowd, for the police community, and veterans everywhere. I hope Pima County makes this right. Someone needs to lose a badge, and maybe a few years of freedom. 

Medium Iron

One of the first handguns I ever fired was a 1911, and I've had a soft spot for the old warhorse ever since. I have a Springfield GI 1911 that I customized and spends most of its time as a .22LR with a Ceiner slide. I also have a Para LTC that is getting back into my concealed carry rotation, but spends most of its time as my woods companion or at the range. 

So over the Thanksgiving holiday, I went to the family farm and proceeded to bust a few caps in the Para. I put  a hundred of my handloaded 200 grain hardcast LSWCs (powered by a near max load of HP38) and 50 rounds of Federal 230gr FMJs. I've always been pretty decent with a 1911, but I threw in the wrinkle of talking to a friend on my cell phone (by wedging it under my ear muffs) and shooting for group at 20 yards. Things turned out okay. 
Said 20 yard cell phone group.

I've had the LTC for about a year now, but with the deployment, I haven't spent much time with it. But I do have a few observations. First, the black finish on the slide is not very durable. While I haven't yet had a battle with rust, the finish wears off at an alarming rate. A hundred rounds will usually result in a new scratch near the ejection port. That's annoying on a $700 gun. Next year I will probably pay a guy I know to refinish the slide with CeraKote. But it shouldn't be necessary on such a high dollar piece. Also, both Para 8 round mags failed. They were prone to double-feed. I had a bunch of GI 7 round mags, and that's what I prefer to use. I may pick up a Mec-Gar 8 rounder later and see how that works out.

Scratches from ejection/holster wear.

Holster wear from my Fobus scabbard.

That said, my Para is very accurate and totally reliable with Winchester Supreme Elite 230gr JHPs, 200gr LSWC handloads,  and 230gr ball of several makes. I think I've put a few Winchester Silvertip 185gr rounds through it too, but not enough to form a conclusion about their reliability through my pistol.

The 1911 has always been controversial. In the early days it was too dangerous, having only a single action trigger. Now it is dangerous because it has a thumb safety and some internet heroes will tell you that it's impossible to remember to flick the safety off under stress (you mean like soldiers do every day on their M4s?). Capacity is relatively low now compared to the M&Ps and Glocks of the world. And it weighs a lot more, which is an issue for all day carry.

25 yards just plinkin'.
I shot a mag transitioning from left dot to right dot quickly.

I will always have a soft spot for big, heavy, metal guns with great triggers. I have fond memories of learning to shoot with a 1911, and doing a few shooting matches as a teen. I will probably always have a 1911, and I believe it will always be king of the target range, though detractors constantly declare it obsolete. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reality Bites

Two things make me want to pull my remaining hair out when it comes to firearms training. #1- Training to snatch a pistol from an assailant's hands. #2- Training to clear your house when you hear a noise at night or to confront an intruder. These things are absurd and will probably kill you, but they are a neat "hook" to get people into martial arts and firearms schools. Now sit back while I blow off some steam.

First, the Jackie Chan pistol-takeaway. There are dozens of different schools and techniques, but they pretty much all involve you taking a pistol from an attacker. The thought is that if an attacker gets too close, it would afford you the opportunity to disarm them. Well, I agree with the principle that you should go out fighting, but this is an absolute last-ditch effort and a motivated attacker isn't going to let loose of that gun. You should  accept the fact that you're getting shot in the effort, whether it works or not. Don't believe me? Buy an airsoft pistol and have a friend point it at you (wear appropriate protective gear) and try to take it from them. I would bet you get shot 80 or 90% of the time and the gun goes off every time--regardless of outcome. The pistol-takeaway is a neat trick, but I would spend most of my time training for something else and doing my best to avoid this situation. Those of you out there who are not spies or convenience store clerks will probably not have to worry about this scenario. Ever. 

Second, clearing your house. Let me start by saying that at this point I've been in the infantry for over nine years. I've done two deployments to Eastern Trashcanistan, and served as both team and squad leader for real-life operations where we had to clear houses. If you get online and download a Warrior Task Manual, you will find that the task "Enter and Clear a Room" is listed as a fire-team level task. That means that you never clear a room with less than three people. Clearing a house is generally a platoon level task at least. That means to clear your house properly, you need about 27 people. Granted, part of that platoon will be providing support from outside, but no less than 15 would be assigned as entry teams. 

My advice is to have a plan for things that go "bump" in the night, and that plan is to hold one room with everyone inside while one adult holds a gun on the(locked) door and another dials 9-1-1. Again, if you want to test my logic, buy a pair of airsoft pistols and try your luck against a buddy. My suggestion is to tell your friend (the "invader") to pick a spot and stay there. I think you will be surprised how hard it is to clear a room even against a static target. 

That said, I don't think it's silly to learn how to clear rooms. It's really fun and a buddy and I bought .22LR clones of classic "tactical" weapons just so we can relive our glory days without being shot. Learning to clear rooms is great and you should always seek more training if you want it, but don't let it go to your head. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. 

Well, thanks for tuning in for my little rant. I'm heading to the family farm for the weekend. Probably going to play with the MP-5 while I'm there. Maybe that will generate a new post. Maybe not. Keep your stick on the ice!