Operator rules

Everybody knows, or should know, the basic rules of firearms safety. (a) Always treat the weapon as if loaded, (b) Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy, (c) keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, (d) be sure of your target and what is beyond it. (These are sometimes called “Cooper’s Rules” after legendary instructor Col. Jeff Cooper. There are several minor variants of the wording.)

If you follow these rules, you will never unintentionally injure anyone with a firearm. They are easy to learn and very safe. They are appropriate for civilians.

Some elite military units have different rules, with a different tradeoff between safety and combat effectiveness. I learned them from an instructor who was ex-SOCOM. The way I learned them is sufficiently amusing that the story deserves retelling.

The instruction began in the following way. Imagine several students sitting in a circle in camp chairs, the instructor almost directly across from me. Note that this was after we had learned and practiced the basic Cooper rules I described above.

The instructor began by clearing a pistol (opening the chamber port so we could see there was no bullet there or ready in the magazine) and letting the slide drop until the port was closed.

He handed me the pistol, looked at me with a slight smile, and said “Eric. Please shoot yourself through the head.”

I thought for a second, grinned, pointed the pistol at my temple, and pulled the trigger. There was a click and shocked gasps from some other students. (The gasps meant they had learned civilian rules correctly. I believe testing this was part of the instructor’s intention.)

The instructor then asked for the pistol back. I handed to him. He fiddled with it for a moment, passed it behind his back, brought it into view, offered it to me with the chamber port closed, and said again “Eric. Please shoot yourself through the head.”

I said “No, sir, I will not.”

His smile got a little wider. “Oh? And why not?”

I said “Because the weapon was out of my sight for a moment and I do not know that it is not ready to fire.” (My exact words may have been slightly different. That was the sense.)

“That was the correct answer,” he said, and proceeded to explain to all of us that elite military units must frequently carry weapons in a combat-ready state, and therefore train safety under different rules that require fighters to reason about when a firearm is in a dangerous condition.

In that exchange I violated Cooper’s Rules (a) and (b). I was thinking like a warrior who must frequently carry weapons in a ready-to-fire condition (because he can’t count on having the time to ready the weapon in a clutch situation) and knows that the warriors around him are trained to do likewise.

I’ll never forget those few minutes, because they taught all of us a valuable lesson. Also because we did not prearrange this! The instructor paid me a notable compliment by assuming that I would respond correctly both in obeying his first order and disobeying his second – and, if you think about it, there was a normative lesson there about intelligent initiative, cooperation and responsibility that goes far beyond the specific context of firearms safety.

UPDATE: Post title changed from “Military rules” because this is a story about how special-ops fighters (“operators” in military jargon) think and react.

111 thoughts on “Operator rules

  1. Actually, the gasps were because you violated Mama’s Rules:

    “If your friend told you to go up to the roof and jump off, would you do it?”

  2. Typo: “The instruction in the following way” -> “The instruction went”

  3. >Actually, the gasps were because you violated Mama’s Rules:

    Yes. In order to know that I was violating Mama’s Rules, though, they had to have internalized Cooper’s. That was part of the instructor’s point.

  4. I seem to remember that as a Zen thing, too (well, not about firearms specifically). Something along the lines of “Once the building is complete, we take down the scaffolding.”

  5. I had the privilege of being one of those students sitting in the circle of camp chairs on a different occasion than the one you describe. At that time I had around ten years of safe weapons handling experience, and I can tell you that the demonstation set off loud, angry alarms in my mind . . . until I grokked the message. “Sometimes this device is a projectile weapon, and sometimes it is a hunk of steel, and I am capable of knowing the difference.”

    Cooper’s rules are important, but when followed blindly can induce a kind of magical thinking about inanimate objects.

  6. I think this would be better titled as Military Instruction. I don’t see how Cooper’s rules are any less valid (although Herschel Smith of The Captain’s Journal says his son was taught to keep his finger in the trigger guard of his GPMG, a SAW I think, with sufficient control that he’d not pull the trigger unless he really meant it). This anecdote just shows the instructor testing the students including you about internalizing Cooper’s rules.

    And only special cases like those in SOCOM would even try this, so even better might be Elite Military Instruction, the “normal” military types live under a regime of officers so obsessed with making no mistakes that sentries are routinely forced to carry unloaded rifles (even after 9/11). I gather the thinking of the base commander is that any attack will probably result in the end of his career, so he might as well reduce the higher risk of an negligent discharge. This was a factor in the Marine Barracks bombing; by the time the sentries at the gate had put magazines in their rifles and a round in the chamber they saw the truck was half-buried in the building and could do nothing but take cover (per the autobiography of the Secretary of the Navy at the time).

    BTW, here’s Wikipedia’s copy of them, which I know is correct since I put them there from one of his Commentaries ^_^:

    All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.

    Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)

    Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.

    Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

  7. I personally wouldn’t have done it. There are understandable risk trade-offs to being less dogmatic about safety for certain types of training. The key word there is trade-offs. There is absolutely no upside to pointing a gun at your head and pressing the trigger. I’ve done training that gave my USPSA RO side fits (live fire from vehicles with multiple occupants including things like firing out the passenger side window from the drivers seat being an obvious example), but it was all well managed to minimize risks and done with full understanding of what those risks were and why they were acceptable.

  8. >I had the privilege of being one of those students sitting in the circle of camp chairs on a different occasion than the one you describe.

    Ah, so he ran this mindfuck more than once, did he? I am unsurprised to hear it. Did the other person with a speaking part respond correctly in that instance?

    If so, I’ll bet he or she was one of the class’s natural leader types. The instructor in question is, as I am sure you will agree, a devious bastard who always has multiple purposes in mind – some very subtle and long-term – in interactions like that.

  9. ESR said: “Ah, so he ran this mindfuck more than once, did he? I am unsurprised to hear it. Did the other person with a speaking part respond correctly in that instance?”

    There was a variation on the theme that went roughly like, “take this, check it, now shoot me through the chest.”

  10. >There is absolutely no upside to pointing a gun at your head and pressing the trigger.

    In this case, there was an upside.

    The instructor knows I’m very quick on the uptake and not shy about refusing stupid orders; I’m certain that’s why he chose me for the other speaking part, though we never discussed the matter afterwards. We didn’t have to; I know how his mind works, and he knows that I know.

    The instructor was counting on me to instantly figure out what he was doing and to help him teach several interlinked lessons, some of them very subtle. One of them is that rules are not a substitute for reasoning, they’re what you fall back on when you don’t have the time or attention for reasoning. Another is how, when operating within a warrior ethos, to correctly and politely refuse an order from a superior with whom you must maintain a working relationship, and when it is appropriate to do so.

    He wasn’t wrong, I did figure it all out in less time than it took me to draw a breath, and I behaved in the way that met my responsibility to assist the training of my co-students into mature and thoughtful fighters. Had I behaved stupidly or incorrectly I would have been failing my sword-siblings, and I was not about to do that if I could possibly help it.

    It is not irrelevant that this instructor opined on other occasions that I have the right psychology and toughness to have been SOCOM myself, if not for the obvious physical disqualification of my CP. I don’t think he was kidding. I’ve had other interactions with Special Operations types that suggest that I get it, and that they can tell that.

  11. ESR, what if your instructor was a proficient practitioner of prestidigitation?

  12. >There was a variation on the theme that went roughly like, “take this, check it, now shoot me through the chest.”

    Yeah, OK, that’s a better hack for reducing the stress level on his victim. In his shoes I’d use it if I were slightly less confident of the victim’s ability to instantly reason out the purpose of the exercise under pressure.

  13. >ESR, what if your instructor was a proficient practitioner of prestidigitation?

    You have to remember that I had seen him clear the weapon seconds before. I also had the meta-information that he likes me and doesn’t want my brains splattered on his lawn.

  14. I recently finished taking a tactical medic course (designed to train EMS providers to work with SWAT teams and similar). This involved learning basic SWAT tactics from actual operators. We were all working with “real”, though unloaded firearms. They were all inspected every time before use and secured with colored tape to ensure that the firearms couldn’t be loaded without reasonable evidence.
    That having been said, there was an awful lot of muzzle crossing which occurred, much of which was unintentional. However, sometimes you have to do it, simply because topology is a pain and humans aren’t perfect massless points in space.

  15. >>ESR, what if your instructor was a proficient practitioner of prestidigitation?

    >You have to remember that I had seen him clear the weapon seconds before. I also had the >meta-information that he likes me and doesn’t want my brains splattered on his lawn.

    But it would certainly be a very effective demonstration of the purpose of Cooper’s rules for the other guys there. ;-)

  16. Possession and utility of firearms demands a seriousness of mind and habit. This type of example (and the accompanying wisdom) is the proper role of memetics.

    We live in a predominantly civilized society in which the likelihood of encountering an armed confrontation is very small. Consequently, such life-threatening events are rare (except for military combat veterans). However, our ancient ancestors routinely encountered lethal confrontations and evolved under these pressures. Our innate wiring reflects this and has imbued us with hare-trigger aggression, which does not serve us well in modern carry situations. Training is vital to override this trait. Join a gun club, make friends, assimilate good habits.

  17. >The instructor was counting on me to instantly figure out what he was doing and to help him teach several interlinked lessons, some of them very subtle. One of them is that rules are not a substitute for reasoning, they’re what you fall back on when you don’t have the time or attention for reasoning. Another is how, when operating within a warrior ethos, to correctly and politely refuse an order from a superior with whom you must maintain a working relationship, and when it is appropriate to do so.

    May I ask, what was the context? What type of class was this? Because this is pretty advanced material, seems to be way beyond a simple ‘CCW safety and certification’ class.

  18. >May I ask, what was the context? What type of class was this? Because this is pretty advanced material, seems to be way beyond a simple ‘CCW safety and certification’ class.

    Damn straight it is. The context was a week-long intensive for martial artists – and not just any martial artists, either, but a population selected for high intelligence and mental flexibility. The overt goal was to teach swordfighting and general combat/survival/leadership skills, including small-unit tactics. The not-very-covert goal was to turn geeks into … “Heinlein characters” would be a pretty good first approximation.

  19. >One of them is that rules are not a substitute for reasoning, they’re what you fall back on when you don’t have the time or attention for reasoning.

    I keep finding myself coming back to this. I think there’s something else, that nobody had pointed out yet. It was a test as well as a lesson, to see if you understood the difference between the letter and the spirit of the rules. The spirit of the rules, their intent, exists for a reason and is valuable. The letter of the rules is for slow thinkers, the unimaginative, children, and bureaucrats (some overlap).

    Being mindful of principles, doing this correctly (for one value of correctly) and getting things done, while not being restricted by the letter of rules, or the conventional way of doing things…. this is *very* SOCOM. Traditionally only very elite soldiers were even allowed to think this way, and only from certain countries – for lesser soldiers it was rigid adherence to the exact letter of every rule, with everything governed by a rule.

    This is actually also *very* subversive, but in the name of competence.

    >Damn straight it is. The context was a week-long intensive for martial artists – and not just any martial artists, either, but a population selected for high intelligence and mental flexibility. The overt goal was to teach swordfighting and general combat/survival/leadership skills, including small-unit tactics. The not-very-covert goal was to turn geeks into … “Heinlein characters” would be a pretty good first approximation.

    Despite not actually being a martial artist, to me this sounds like an enormous amount of fun.

  20. Another side of this is that exposure to large, necessary, unavoidable dangers can lead men to become cavalier about small, unnecessary, totally avoidable dangers. That leads to bad habits. Cover your buddy’s head with your rifle’s muzzle as you cross behind him? In combat, SOCOM operators will do that, and often they will be right to do so. But that doesn’t make it a good thing in general; it’s a trade off, something you generally want to AVOID when you can, not merely do all the time because you’re an elite SOCOM ninja who laughs at danger. I’ve heard well-respected civilian instructors (e.g., Clint Smith and/or his people at Thunder Ranch) gripe about that.

    The goal for military men should perhaps be the Carlos Hathcock mindset; debonair audacity in accepting challenging missions, utterly thorough diligence in executing them.

    And I would NOT have pulled that trigger to dry fire against my own skull. Because what’s the upside for me? Looking cool and hip? Not worth it.

    Btw, similar thing with the story of the SF guy who flipped out holding up his finger and yelling, “THIS is my safety!” when some REMF pointed out that his M4 was off safe in the chow hall. Yes, he was correct that he and his finger are ultimately the real safety, not the little metal lever, but that little metal lever was incontrovertibly in the WRONG position, and there was absolutely zero reason for it to be that way in that situation. One or both of those men felt the need to turn the position of that little metal lever into a dominance contest, which was stupid. Ideally, that conversation would have gone, “Hey dude, I think your rifle’s off safe.” [click of rifle being safed.] “You’re right, thanks.”

  21. >Btw, similar thing with the story of the SF guy who flipped out holding up his finger and yelling, “THIS is my safety!” when some REMF pointed out that his M4 was off safe in the chow hall. Yes, he was correct that he and his finger are ultimately the real safety, not the little metal lever, but that little metal lever was incontrovertibly in the WRONG position, and there was absolutely zero reason for it to be that way in that situation. One or both of those men felt the need to turn the position of that little metal lever into a dominance contest, which was stupid. Ideally, that conversation would have gone, “Hey dude, I think your rifle’s off safe.” [click of rifle being safed.] “You’re right, thanks.”

    This has been fictionalized in a Kratman book, forget which one. There’s a reason the SF guy had the attitude he did, and by the standards of his training the lever was *not* in the wrong position. That’s a very important point which you have totally missed. As for downplaying the situation, yes there was probably a less confrontational way to address this, involving de-escalation and then chain of command.

    BTW this ties back in with something I was going to point out. Eric, you’re not talking about ‘military rules’ (as anyone with any knowledge of the restrictions ordinary soldiers operate under wrt weapons, ammunition, their issue and handling, etc) but rather ‘operator rules’. (Hate to use the word ‘operator’ but it’s a succinct label that fits here.)

  22. And if anyone hasn’t made the connection yet, SOCOM is military hackers. As in they’re hackers, and their field is military operations.

  23. >Traditionally only very elite soldiers were even allowed to think this way, and only from certain countries – for lesser soldiers it was rigid adherence to the exact letter of every rule, with everything governed by a rule.

    The U.S., for cultural reasons, has about the least rule-bound military in the world. The Israelis compete for the title, but that is partly because between 1948 and 1967 the Israeli military learned a lot of its chops from U.S. military trainers who responded to working with an exceptionally bright and motivated intake by training them to a level that U.S. line military could not achieve at the time. That changed, later.

    One of the effects of an all-volunteer military, and the reason the U.S. officer corps doesn’t want to go back to the draft, is that the level of training the intake will handle without buckling goes way, way up. This same instructor told me that U.S. line military today are now trained to the level of elite and spec-ops troops in most other countries. The exceptions are a handful of nations with a strong spec-ops tradition, notably Great Britain and Russia.

    >Despite not actually being a martial artist, to me this sounds like an enormous amount of fun.

    Oh, hell yeah!

  24. >Eric, you’re not talking about ‘military rules’ … but rather ‘operator rules’

    Hm. You know, you’re right. Perhaps I’ll change the post title.

  25. >This has been fictionalized in a Kratman book, forget which one.

    M-Day, I think. I thought of that too. And you’re right, the SpecOps guy was reacting correctly from his training. The point of the way Kratman handled the otherwise pointless digression from the main plotline was to explain the culture conflict between elite and line military … and how these can sometimes put troops and officers in no-win situations.

  26. >The point of the way Kratman handled the otherwise pointless digression from the main plotline was to explain the culture conflict between elite and line military … and how these can sometimes put troops and officers in no-win situations.

    Also as I recall he went on to make other points about how neither culture was universally applicable, about how each had a place and set of circumstances where it belonged and was the best way to go about things. And how within its own proper place, each culture was correct.

    Not everyone is capable of functioning on the elite level, under elite rules. For many (most?) the ‘line’ approach is more suitable and effective. Which comes back to….

    >And I would NOT have pulled that trigger to dry fire against my own skull. Because what’s the upside for me? Looking cool and hip? Not worth it.

    Looked at in isolation, it’s a pointless risk. But it’s actually breaking a boundary, this test and the one that followed is a transition to thinking like the elite soldier culture, not line. And it really is a cultural leap, thus the reactions from the class. One the students needed to make considering the syllabus.

  27. He must have been very certain that he had clearly demonstrated that the weapon was cold, and that you had completely witnessed this…otherwise, you would have been right to refuse and say “I couldn’t completely see and be sure that you cleared the weapon”.

    Anyway, never mind “elite military units”…who the heck doesn’t carry their weapon in a “combat-ready state”? What the hell is the point of carrying a weapon in any other state?

  28. PS. I wonder what he would have said if you had quickly verified the weapon was safe? He didn’t say not to…

  29. PS. I wonder what he would have said if you had quickly verified the weapon was safe? He didn’t say not to…

    That’s likely what I would have done. It’s the first thing you should do in any instance.

  30. >But it’s actually breaking a boundary, this test and the one that followed is a transition to thinking like the elite soldier culture, not line.

    By “the one that followed” Greg means a test of the ability to evaluate that an order is obviously wrong and say so, straight up. And in both observations Greg is absolutely right.

    The instructor, in running this script, needed to choose a foil that already had the elite-military/operator mindset or something close to it in order to provide a correct behavioral model for the other students. In this case, that was me. Note that when he asked me to shoot an unsafe weapon at myself, my response was not “Are you crazy, you fucking idiot?!?”, it was “No sir” – a polite refusal acknowledging his position of authority. That’s military courtesy and it has an important role in preserving the ability of war bands to cohere and function.

    That was part of the lesson. We were all there, in part, to learn how to operate within an elite-warrior ethos. The instructor knew damn well I’d taken childhood lessons from Robert Heinlein and was already a twenty-year martial artist and shooter when I walked in; that made me his best bet in a group of civilians. I could and would, ask myself “WWJRD” – “What would Johnny Rico do?” – and get the right answer.

    >And it really is a cultural leap, thus the reactions from the class. One the students needed to make considering the syllabus.

    Yup. The styles we were working on might be mostly impact weapons, but the instructor was training us to be elite skirmishers who could operate with high initiative and minimal command direction – SOCOM with swords.

  31. >PS. I wonder what he would have said if you had quickly verified the weapon was safe? He didn’t say not to…

    I think that’s obvious; he would have praised me for commendable caution, then found some other opening to teach the other lessons.

  32. Related to both the “Rules” – and issues of reasoning about when to apply them hard and fast (Further interlinked lesson – ya gotta know when the rules apply, and when to bend them…) and the “jump off a roof” quote above…..

    http://xkcd.com/1170/

  33. >Anyway, never mind “elite military units”…who the heck doesn’t carry their weapon in a “combat-ready state”? What the hell is the point of carrying a weapon in any other state?

    You’d be surprised. Really surprised. Ask anyone who’s ever done guard duty with an unloaded weapon (hang around with military folks, in person or online, and you’ll hear lots of complaints about that sort of thing). Standard military culture *really* does not trust soldiers with weapons and ammunition any more than it absolutely has to, especially not both at the same time.

  34. >What the hell is the point of carrying a weapon in any other state?

    You have to choose the tradeoff between readiness and safety that fits your threat model. I myself normally carry in Cooper Condition Three, AKA “Israeli carry”: mag loaded, chamber empty, hammer down. This is in fact the mode the 1911ACP was originally designed for. For a good discussion of the tradeoffs, see

    http://thinkinggunfighter.blogspot.com/2010/09/myths-of-israeli-method-of-carry-or-why.html

  35. I was taught gun safety by my father, who’s primarily a hunter, and they obsess on rule 2, direction of weapon, because you never know in the field when a twig or what have you might pull your trigger, and of course you don’t entirely trust safeties, or for them to be on. And from that perspective, unless that SF type was maintaining very good control of the direction of his weapon while he was in the chow hall he was wrong, unless perhaps he’d cleared it (condition 3, no round in the chamber). Assuming of course the hall was sufficiently unlikely to be attacked in a way a slightly more ready carbine with a very short effective range would be useful.

    His finger wasn’t the only thing that could have pulled that trigger. Heck, some wise-guy could have noticed it was pointed in a safe direction and pressed it just to make a point.

  36. The big thing that C3 article seems to miss is the how much slower/ more difficult it is to chamber a round one handed. If your other hand is occupied, say by the person attacking you, good luck getting your gun in to action. I find the contrast between the talk of big boy operator rules and carrying a gun that isn’t ready to fire striking.

    If you get a chance to do some sparring with simunitions or airsoft, you’ll likely abandon C3 carry in a hurry.

  37. On a micro-scale, gun safety helps to prevent tragic singular accidents.

    On a macro-scale, widespread (and legal) gun ownership and carry practices are significantly reducing crime, engendering responsible and respectful citizen behavior, elevating personal integrity and competence, and generally reversing the cultural degeneration wrought by Progressivism.

    The Big Picture is not trivial.

  38. Yow, I personally don’t believe in carrying a 1911 in Condition 3 at all.

    As far as design, from memory John Moses Browning (PHUH) didn’t believe it needed more than the grip safety, but the Army insisted on a manual safety, and as anyone who’s detail stripped a 1911 can attest, that hammer is not going to drop while that safety is on. The grip safety is mechanically not hardly as good, so maybe the original specifications were Condition 3. I do remember something, maybe in an old Cooper book, about sentries/MPs wearing a serious glove in the left hand to rack the slide by drawing the hand across the top and it’s rear sight (not grabbing the slide).

    But once you add that manual safety, I don’t see any serious problems with an experienced person carrying it in Condition 1. The number one thing, something Massad Ayoob emphasizes in his safety video (watch it if you haven’t), is that with an external hammer you can put your thumb on it while holstering. For single action guns, that keeps it from firing if something like a windbreaker tie catches the trigger. For double action, you’ve got to catch the hammer rising before its too late. Like Ayoob in the link, I wouldn’t carry a striker fired gun like a Glock in anything but Condition 3, and I personally don’t ever plan to own on.

    I don’t think the inertial firing pin of standard 1911s is a danger in modern examples, it’s got a very strong mainspring (ammo was lousy way back then), and nowadays the firing pin spring can be extra strong and still work 100% with modern quality self-defense ammo (plus all the ball/FMJ I’ve every fired in mine). Don’t carry it in Condition 2 (for many reasons), and don’t let it get near the strong magnet of an MRI machine or the like (the Colt Model 80 firing pin safety won’t save you there, as one police officer discovered).

    Then we get to personal tradeoffs. As a fairly hale and hearty martial artist our host is probably not so concerned about someone getting very close and trapping one of his arms, or worse scenarios (oh, say, Martin on top of Zimmerman). For various historical reasons, aside from alertness, that’s not the case for me, so I very much want to be able to draw and fire my weapons with one hand.

    I also may have a lot more experience shooting than our host (started learning at age 3 when he’d take us out hunting, started shooting in kindergarten, did a fair amount of hunting with my father, was on high school rifle team, all this is really ingrained), so I’m sufficiently confident of following the above rules that I think keep my use of the 1911 safe enough. I also live in an area with higher than average crime, although stranger interpersonal crimes aren’t common.

  39. >As a fairly hale and hearty martial artist our host is probably not so concerned about someone >getting very close and trapping one of his arms, or worse scenarios (oh, say, Martin on top of >Zimmerman).

    In my experience, the opposite is true. Gun guys who have no martial arts experience tend to assume the gun will solve all of their problems. People who have actually trained hand to hand against an opposing will know better.

  40. >I find the contrast between the talk of big boy operator rules and carrying a gun that isn’t ready to fire striking.

    Have you factored into your thinking the fact that I train to fight hand-to-hand?

    I figure it this way: if the bandit attacks from so close that I don’t have time to ready the weapon, I’m unlikely to have time to draw – especially since I carry concealed. In that situation I’m better off going straight in for a disabling strike, taking him down, and then disengaging to draw and ready. The legal context recommends that, too; it’s better to be able to say “I shot him after he got up and came at me again.”

    If I weren’t trained for hand-to-hand, my infighting strategy would be different; I’d carry a DA or in Cooper Condition One and accept the slightly higher risk of unintentional discharge. Likewise, if I could routinely open-carry and reduce my draw time to zip, the argument for maintaining the weapon in a ready-to-fire state would be much stronger.

    Of course, at longer engagement ranges the time to ready stops being an issue. Also, for reasons I won’t discuss, the attack scenarios I consider most likely involve some preliminary posturing and threat talk by the bandits. And now I’m going to shut up. You can probably make some deductions of your own.

  41. >Gun guys who have no martial arts experience tend to assume the gun will solve all of their problems. People who have actually trained hand to hand against an opposing will know better.

    And that second category includes me.

  42. WRT to “gun guys”, not well trained ones. Or simply ones who Google Tueller Drill and most especially watch the videos and internalize the lessons (I myself tested out the timing way back in the early ’90s).

    In short, a ready accessible holstered gun is no good against preventing an assailant with an edged weapon who’s less than 21 feet away from you (maybe 24 if you can’t move a little) from delivering a mortal strike before you can put one round into him. Which might not stop him. And he’s a moving target, and, worse, if you move to give yourself more time a crossing target. (If you aren’t aware of this, you’re likely scoring some police shootings as unjustified when they really were.)

    Or like in the Martin and Zimmerman situation, an assailant could potentially deliver a temporarily disabling blow without a weapon in that interval. And as that case showed and our host acknowledges, having less lethal options against an “unarmed” assailant is a very good thing. Although I hear lately that some courts are treating pepper spray as lethal force….

  43. For some really excellent training on the intersection between guns and Martial Arts, check out Craig “Southnarc” Douglas of Shivworks. (www.shivworks.com) He’ll be in Palmyra,PA in September.

  44. Odd. A couple decades of serious martial arts training has taught me that nobody is invulnerable, regardless of the color of your belt or the swagger in your stride. Sure, you can use your training to create the distance required to ready a C3 weapon, but you have no guarantee that you’re going to be in a condition to do so. Going hand-to-hand is always a dangerous experience, with a risk of injury that may preclude your use of a firearm.

    My weapon does not have an external safety, only internals to prevent inertia-fire. It only goes bang when the trigger is pressed. I carry with a round in the chamber. I only require one hand to deploy it. If absolutely necessary, I could sacrifice my off hand to gain enough physical clearance to draw and shoot from within my body space. I practice this. It sometimes means that you do indeed have to violate one of the 4 commandments – and accept that your muzzle may cover part of your body. Buying a realistic facsimile of your weapon in a BB version is a great option.

    Given the unknowable variables of a violent encounter, adding the risk of an inert, disabled weapon (one that has to be primed before it can be used) is – to me – unwise.

    But…I hope you’re the only one that has to contend with the potential consequences of such a decision. I have determined that neither I nor my family will ever have to stand in regret for want of a loaded gun.

  45. For all that I know and understand its validity, reading about this kind of firearms training gives me a cold and clammy terror.
    I suspect this is because the UK’s disarming laws, by preventing me from ever encountering guns in ordinary civilian life, cause me to instinctively associate them with crime, war, and other scary things, as that’s the only context in which they show up.
    We’d better hope Britain never _really_ needs an army, ’cause we’ve had all the fight trained out of us…

  46. FWIW, my Glock 27 is carried in Condition 1. I also only use a holster that covers the trigger guard completely, and do exercise caution when reholstering.

    I had always heard that Browning intended the 1911 to be carried cocked and locked…

  47. Edward, if you ever make it to Penguicon, be sure to come to Geeks with Guns. We have a good track record of taking people who have never been around firearms and giving them a good basic introduction. Yes, even Englishmen, including one well-known humor-fantasy author…

  48. > Yes, even Englishmen, including one well-known humor-fantasy author…

    Terry Pratchett was damn good for a newb. Steady, intelligent, and a good shot.

    This surprised me not at all.

  49. >I had always heard that Browning intended the 1911 to be carried cocked and locked…

    There is a bit of dispute about this. Older sources say condition 3 but that might have been due to the lack of a grip safety.

    I’ve tried Condition 1 with a 1911 and that protruding hammer snagging during a fast draw is a real problem. Which might be an argument for moving to DA but…I like .45ACP. I’m comfortable with it.

  50. >I’ve tried Condition 1 with a 1911 and that protruding hammer snagging during a fast draw is a real problem. Which might be an argument for moving to DA but…I like .45ACP. I’m comfortable with it.

    There are other options, Sig is one. The P220, or the new P227. I know I like my 229, and would carry it if I could. I live in a may (not) issue state, commoners don’t get permits.

  51. Great. So stick with .45ACP and get a DA auto….or a dehorned & bobbed 1911?

  52. Have you ever handled a CZ 97? I am quite happy with the various 75′s I have interacted with, but I’m willing to settle for 9mm instead of .45ACP.

  53. I roleplay with a group of ex-military, and have come across what you call “operator rules” with them. The explanation given was that where they operate, infiltration by bad guys (whom you need to shoot at NOW) is a greater danger than accidental discharge.

  54. That piece advocating C3 talked of jacking the slide and drawing with one hand. How does one do this? I’ve only handled a 1911 once in my life, but I clearly remember how strong the mainspring was. I definately needed both hands. Please don’t tell me you rely on the holster’s retaining mechanism to hold the gun in place.

  55. >Great. So stick with .45ACP and get a DA auto….or a dehorned & bobbed 1911?

    I’ve considered the latter seriously. I’m keeping an eye out for something suitable.

  56. >That piece advocating C3 talked of jacking the slide and drawing with one hand. How does one do this?

    I don’t know the technique. I draw with my right and jack with my left.

  57. >I roleplay with a group of ex-military, and have come across what you call “operator rules” with them. The explanation given was that where they operate, infiltration by bad guys (whom you need to shoot at NOW) is a greater danger than accidental discharge.

    Yeah. That’s why, though I understand operator rules, I don’t apply them day to day. I don’t indulge in Soldier-of-Fortune fantasies; I’m not on a battlefield, I’m a civilian carrying in a relatively low-threat environment.

    Now, if for some reason I had business in inner Detroit, or even in some parts of North Philadelphia, my carry behavior would change…

  58. To draw and load your 1911 one-handed, one technique is to use the fixed rear sight as a ‘catch’ to snag on your pants pocket and push down hard. Fugly, but it might save your life.

  59. There is another rule which I have seen quoted before, that I don’t think is just a rewording of any of Cooper’s Rules:

    “Always use the safety catch, but never rely on it”.

    However, this was from a book on game (shotgun) shooting, so it may well not apply in a combat situation.

  60. Meh. The safety is somewhere in the space between useless and hazardous. If you need the gun now, you may well forget to disengage it.

    If you follow Cooper’s Four Rules, the safety becomes irrelevant.

  61. >Meh. The safety is somewhere in the space between useless and hazardous.

    I don’t agree. The thumb safety on a 1911-pattern is pretty solid. If I routinely carried Condition 1 I’d engage the safety after pre-cocking, then train to thumb it down on the draw.

  62. Yeah, that’s the one exception I’d make: the safety is an integral part of cocked and locked.

    On other firearms, though…

  63. If you follow Cooper’s Four Rules, the safety becomes irrelevant.

    When you’re holstering your weapon, you can’t follow Rule 2 (where it points), when you count the affects of hot, high velocity gas and burning powder exiting the muzzle very very close to your body, even if you manage to prevent pointing the muzzle at any part of your body. The same is true while carrying, but if your holster is sufficient and your gun is of modern/adequate design and manufacture, Rule 3 (trigger guard) is your friend. Ditto when drawing it; to expand on previous remarks, hunters depend on Rule 2 the most (trigger guard is open to the world), self-defense types who don’t carry in Condition 3 depend on Rule 3 the most.

    Hence Ayoob’s advice, in his safety tape, of keeping your thumb on the hammer while holstering, with the addition in the link of carrying a no hammer, striker fired gun like Glocks in Condition 3.

  64. The Cooper rules are very similar in intention to the first few hours of assisted free fall skydiving training. The point of the training is to drill just enough information into your head that you don’t have to think too much about what you’re doing and you will be somewhat safe while making your first jumps. But after the initial jumps are over, you begin to operate much more thoughtfully because your adrenaline levels have lowered (enough) and your familiarity with the process of skydiving is sufficient. So too, once you are familiar with a firearm, then you begin to understand the logical failures and limitations of the Cooper rules but are also able to understand their intent, purpose and the quandaries that you are presented with when handling deadly weapons. In actual fact, the Cooper rules are both very valid while also being very invalid at the same time. But generally, only a person that is familiar with handling firearms will understand the limitations of the Cooper rules. Those who are new to guns, just learn and abide by the Cooper rules and worry about the rest after.

  65. @Edward Cree: “For all that I know and understand its validity, reading about this kind of firearms training gives me a cold and clammy terror.”

    Think about other scary things in life that you might have tried, like skydiving. They are quite deadly if done the wrong way. And yes, people even do nasty things to other skydivers that ends up being called “murder” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parachute_Murder . Those risky things are much like handling guns. Most people that have never handled guns before have a wide eyed look of horror when they first lay eyes upon a real gun. And they handle them as though the gun could actually shoot off itself with its own will. I too was the same. But once trained and familiar with a gun, they become just another thing that we do that takes responsibility, training and commitment. It’s another one of those things in life that helps to make a citizen a better person – generally.

  66. Better to have a good gunbelt and use that. Actually, always have a good gunbelt.

    Heh. Sure thing. Mine’s a Liger.

    Doesn’t take much middle-age spread to put some flab in the way though…whereas my tough jeans pockets are always accessible. Not that it’s relevant to me, I always carry hot.

  67. For the general topic of empty chamber carry – including a military context – see Chic Gaylord’s Handgunner’s Guide for the tale of an Airman who was shot while carrying an empty chamber .45 auto himself. With pictures how he prepared himself for the next time – starting with an empty chamber as ordered..

    For the general topic of trust but verify see “Do You Trust Me” e.g.:
    “On August 10, Lance Corporal Cody Scott Shoenfelder died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head at Marine Barracks, Washington DC. DC Police and the Marine Corps are now investigating whether or not Shoenfelder was killed while playing the “trust game,” apparently due to the fact that another Marine was present when Shoenfelder shot himself.

    So far the situation is under investigation, though the media seems convinced that this shooting was due to the “trust game,” a foolish pastime engaged in by some Marines in the past. In the “trust game,” one Marine loads a pistol, takes the magazine out of battery (pressing the magazine release so that while the mag is still inserted in the weapon, it is not fully seated), then racks the slide, ejecting the round in the chamber. He then points the weapon at another Marine and asks, “Do you trust me?” If the answer is yes, he squeezes the trigger. In 2009, Cpl Matthew Nelson was sentenced to 8 years in prison for killing LCpl Patrick Malone in the “trust game.” At least two other fatalities are believed to be connected to this game.”

    Read more: http://sofrep.com/25533/marine-killed-at-marine-barracks-the-trust-game/#ixzz2t1rJErJi

  68. “To draw and load your 1911 one-handed, one technique is to use the fixed rear sight as a ‘catch’ to snag on your pants pocket and push down hard. Fugly, but it might save your life.”

    I doubt it. More likely, I’d end up with a jammed gun and my pants down by my ankles. Unless my attacker dies laughing, my life is forfeit…

  69. I doubt it. More likely, I’d end up with a jammed gun and my pants down by my ankles. Unless my attacker dies laughing, my life is forfeit…

    HAHAHA :)

    If you must insist on dressing like a badass gansta nigga, make sure you also shoot your gun sideways like a real pro. ;)

    Ooh…and try that flicking technique to curve your shot like in the movie “Wanted”!

  70. Try to find somebody with a CZ-97 at Geeks With Guns. The biggest complaint is the doublestack .45 causes a grip that can be a bit hard to get a smaller hand around. Overall, the gun gives you 10+1 rounds of .45 in a low-bore DA/SA steel-framed handgun with a frame safety that can only activate when the hammer is cocked. MSRP is quite affordable, even if you just keep it as a range toy. That being said, I’ll keep my 9mm, save a third of a pound of weight and have 16 rounds in the mag.

  71. >Ooh…and try that flicking technique to curve your shot like in the movie “Wanted”!

    The knife fighting in that movie was even sillier. Hint: you do not repeatedly spin around, presenting your back to an opponent, unless you want to die.

  72. I couldn’t believe the Mythbusters guys wasted their time attempting to curve a shot like that. I was hoping that Jamie would deadpan a monologue to the effect of “are you idiots fucking kidding me? learn some goddamn physics!”

    Sadly not.

    Not to mention the terrible risk they took by attempting it….by definition, they had zero muzzle control. Dumbasses.

  73. If you can’t rack a pistol one-handed, you have a training opportunity! I carry C3, but I train to draw and fire with all the combos, both hands, strong hand only, weak hand only. Almost every malfunction clear requires a rack afterwards, and who knows, one hand may be unavailable. A one-handed magazine change is a skill you don’t want to master under stress.

  74. >If you can’t rack a pistol one-handed, you have a training opportunity!

    I’ve never seen it done. Can you point me at a training video?

  75. About 0:45 into this video there’s a fine example of one-handed slide rackage. I can vouch for the quality of this DVD in its entirety. Yes, I am a Magpul Dynamics Fanboi! (Why did they have to break up the band?)

    http://youtu.be/ZTr8xvkUWp4

  76. Really never? Good to think about it.

    Lots of ways – bend the leg and trap the slide between thigh and calf. Behind the knee works for a reload mostly. Catch the rear sight, front sight or ejection port whatever works – practice at home – on anything from a magazine base plate in a belt carrier the belt to the holster to a boot top to a metal lace retainer on shoes use a boot heel as a surface to push the slide into.. There was a fashion for streamlined rear sights for a while. The current fashion is cocking ledges. Holsters have lots of use including reversing the pistol in the holster for a single handed reload. And to repeat myself see Chic Gaylord’s Handgunner’s Guide for some inspiration from a man once widely known for never again attitude from an empty chamber.

  77. > In short, a ready accessible holstered gun is no good against preventing an assailant with an edged weapon who’s less than 21 feet away from you (maybe 24 if you can’t move a little) from delivering a mortal strike before you can put one round into him. Which might not stop him. And he’s a moving target, and, worse, if you move to give yourself more time a crossing target. (If you aren’t aware of this, you’re likely scoring some police shootings as unjustified when they really were.)

    That’s not a hard and fast truth. I’ve watched and run the scenario in force-on-force training with simunitions and seen first hand that the minimum range for effective engagement with a handgun varies widely from person to person. From the drills I’ve watched, about a third of students with limited training are able to get at least one hit while moving prior to physical contact at 21 feet. It’s also good to keep in mind that employing a firearm does not have to be an either/or choice – many (if not most) response scenarios will involve movement and/or physical engagement in conjunction with the sidearm.

    In any case, way better than relying on rules-of-thumb is for individuals to go get some experience running these sorts of drills themslves in a force-on-force training environment with simulated weapons. The more contact and stress, the better.

  78. One I can vouch for – One-Handed Survival Shooting Mike Seeklander and Rob Pincus – available from all the usual suspects including Amazon or direct from Seeklander. Not the same thing as the previously shown S.W.A.T. Magazine show but a first rate special purpose teaching video he breaks down each technique first demonstrating it with an unloaded weapon, then live fire.

    On S.W.A.T. Magazine TV: Mike Seeklander
    November 23, 2010 | Category: S.W.A.T. Magazine TV | By: Marshal Halloway
    This week’s episode will feature Mike Seeklander from US Shooting Academy. He will talk about the importance of knowing how to run our handguns one handed. Other guest instructors talk about how they advise their students when to be prepared to use lethal force.
    ……

    Dave Spaulding has some mention on his video from Panteo Situational Combative Pistol

    With this video, Dave Spaulding gets into more advanced techniques for defending yourself with a handgun. …… In this video Dave starts with a review of the essentials. Then he continues with …hand manipulation,….., and more.

    The free teaser shows a quick one hand manipulation with the rear sight on the belt.

    People have died in what are called training accidents getting ahead of themselves.

  79. When instructing a beginner, or someone who will never attain anything more than the novice state (you know, one year of experience ten times v.s. ten years of experience once) the rules are always, never. Always treat the firearm as if it’s loaded. Never point the weapon at something you do not want to kill/destroy.

    To the expert it’s always sometimes, maybe, it depends.

    Watch a swat team stack up.

    Some more “elite” units train on a “two way range” (this sometimes always refers to combat) where there as you’re in your spot shooting at YOUR target you are within a yard or so of your teammates target who is lying a yard or so away from yours.

    If you can’t do that, or if you don’t trust your teammates to do it, then you don’t belong there.

    I sort-of know a former British SAS guy. At least during the 70s and 80s (when he was active) their protocol was finger INSIDE the trigger guard pressed against the trigger guard when moving.

    Btw, similar thing with the story of the SF guy who flipped out holding up his finger and yelling, “THIS is my safety!” when some REMF pointed out that his M4 was off safe in the chow hall. Yes, he was correct that he and his finger are ultimately the real safety, not the little metal lever, but that little metal lever was incontrovertibly in the WRONG position, and there was absolutely zero reason for it to be that way in that situation.

    This was in the movie Blackhawk Down. It was (IIRC) a Delta Force Operator speaking to a Ranger Battalion Lt. Col. There was a LOT more to that scene than just a tired, hungry operator getting irritated at a “REMF” (if you ever plan to call a Ranger a REMF make an appointment with your oral surgeon ahead of time and have a medical team standing by), there was (at the time) considerable friction between the SF units and the Ranger units.

    This was also reflected realities of the mid 90s (the event it portrayed was in 1993) with the end of the Cold War, budgetary realignments etc.

    As they say in the Intelligence community “The real war is the war across the potomac”

    Rangers are incredibly professional soldiers. They’re awesome. SF guys are warriors. Different mindset, different mission, different strategies and tactics. When they rub elbows there can be some friction.

    That said, if you’re not Delta material with Delta training (look, these guys are professional level athletes with the sorts of reflexes, kinesthetic awareness and muscle memory that most of us JUST CAN’T MATCH. It’s genetics AND training AND a decade of dedication) you just don’t do that shit. Rifles and Pistols are completely different animals. DO NOT COMPARE THE TWO.

    Modern/contemporary pistol designs (and retrofits to designs of historical interest like the 1911) are intended to be carried day in and day out by regular folks. They have internal safety mechanisms that prevent bad shit from happening when the trigger ISN’T pulled–for example when the weapon is struck hard, or drops. You can see this on revolvers like the Ruger or the Smith and Wesson if you look where hammer drops. You can’t see it on the Glock or striker fired pistols because it’s all internal. I’m not going to unload my 92FS to play with it right now, but it’s got something like that.

    Your AR doesn’t. Nor does the AK. You *CAN* get slam fires out of both of those systems. It’s rare (especially with harder primers that militaries usually specify[1]). This is why *current* operator doctrine (at least the Ops I’ve talked to) with the M4/M16 is to masterbate the safety lever as they move and shoot. It’s easy enough to do on anything with an AR lower.

    The Ak is a little tougher and a little louder. It goes off when contact is expected and back on when you’re done shooting. But then it was designed for more expendable soldiers.

    You ever want to see a real fight get a sergeant from the hundred-and-worst and a sergeant from the eighty-duche together in a room when they think no one’s watching.

    One or both of those men felt the need to turn the position of that little metal lever into a dominance contest, which was stupid. Ideally, that conversation would have gone, “Hey dude, I think your rifle’s off safe.” [click of rifle being safed.] “You’re right, thanks.”

    Again, larger issues were at play. The BC didn’t need to call him out in front of everyone, and the Op had just returned from several *days* outside the wire doing intel/recon work. (IIRC).

    This was also (realistically) right at the beginning of the GWOT (although the USG didn’t recognize it), and at the end of a long relatively peaceful period. Old habits die hard.
    ————————–

    On “Condition Three” carry:

    From conversations I’ve had, many European agencies mandate condition 3 carry because they’re a bunch of euro-weeny gun fearing wusses.

    They also tend to have dogs, so they’ve got one hand on the leash and one hand free for the gun.

    The general technique is to draw, and *just* as the firearm clears the holster turn the wrist inboard, catch the rear sights on the duty belt or holster and shove the firearm down with a vengeance. There was even one pistol (IIRC it was a CZ variant) that had a bit on the slide specifically for this, but I can’t find a picture to verify.

    Either way, it CONSIDERABLY slows down getting the gun in the fight.

    If you’re down one hand (wounded, carrying something as important as your life etc.) and you need to clear a malfunction you can drive the front sight into the meat of your thigh and push. I’ve tried this. It hurts, but it works.

    Given the threat models you’ve articulated here (Threats from militant islamists etc.), the way you generally live your life, and the basic threat landscape, and I say this totally respecting your intelligence, experience and training, a pretty bad idea.

    You’re never going to get a chance to go “hand to hand” with most of your probable threats. They aren’t going to attack you attempting to beat you into submission, they’re going to stay outside, and might just start shooting straight off. I get that you like the .45 caliber, hey, we all have personality flaws, but there are DA/SA 1911 styles (hey, the High Power was designed to be shot DA/SA or carried C&L it’s not like JMB (pbh) was ONLY a SA guy), The CZ97 is a .45 caliber auto that can either be carried C&L or DA/SA. And of course there’s Glock in .45.

    When it’s time to shoot it’s time to shoot, not fuck with the gun.

    I don’t agree. The thumb safety on a 1911-pattern is pretty solid. If I routinely carried Condition 1 I’d engage the safety after pre-cocking, then train to thumb it down on the draw.

    Safeties generally are about handling the firearm. Putting on the safety makes a fiream safer to handle and carry. On modern pistols external safeties are to keep the trigger from being pulled by accident, to include when your shirt or cover garment gets hung up when reholstering, This is why those of us who carry pistols w/out external safeties (I sometimes carry a Glock, sometimes a P7) have to be extra careful when putting things away (draw fast, holster slow and carefully).

    On Double Action revolvers (note that most of them have no safeties) and 1 1/2 action pistols like the Glock and XD the trigger resistance is your safety. On 1911s you’ve usually got a relatively light trigger, thus the external safety.

    I’ve never seen it done. Can you point me at a training video?

    Go on Youtube and search “one hand pistol manipulation” and “one hand pistol clearing”. There are a variety of techniques. Some depend on certain types of equipment (for example they rely on having a sturdy belt and holster that is easy to reholster into, you might not have one of those) or certain movements that you might be uncomfortable with. Pick a few and train with them until you get a feel for it.

    To the beginner it’s “always, never”. You’re not really a beginner here, other than the condition three carry you’re in the “sometimes maybe”.

    [1] Or so I’m told.

  80. If you must insist on dressing like a badass gansta nigga, make sure you also shoot your gun sideways like a real pro. ;)

    Oddly enough the “half homie” (pistol canted anywhere from 10-45 degrees off vertical) helps strengthen the wrist a bit when shooting one handed, and at normal pistol distances doen’t appreciably move the point of impact. Well, it doesn’t if what you care about is not dying. It might if what you care about is tight groups.

  81. I couldn’t believe the Mythbusters guys wasted their time attempting to curve a shot like that. I was hoping that Jamie would deadpan a monologue to the effect of “are you idiots fucking kidding me? learn some goddamn physics!”

    I was under the impression that in the movie, the trajectory-curving was achieved by a form of telekinesis and the “flick” technique was because if you can mentally make the bullet go where you want to in real time, you don’t need muzzle control…

  82. LS on 2014-02-10 at 22:10:09 said:

    That piece advocating C3 talked of jacking the slide and drawing with one hand. How does one do this? I’ve only handled a 1911 once in my life, but I clearly remember how strong the mainspring was. I definately needed both hands. Please don’t tell me you rely on the holster’s retaining mechanism to hold the gun in place.

    I suspect there’s a misunderstanding for recoil spring here – the mainspring, as mentioned supra, drives the hammer. Folks will fiddle with the mainspring and with the firing pin retainer to change leverage and so change the cocking effort – make it easier for lighter loads and harder for higher pressure loads or a different feel in recoil.

    In the traditional 1911 it’s not too hard to thumb cock with the strong hand. With a trick hammer and a beavertail it may not be so easy depending. Be that as it may first cocking the hammer then racking the slide may be easier at the range.

    I suggest looking at corneredcat.com for the article: http://www.corneredcat.com/article/running-the-gun/rack-the-slide/

    Probably the biggest hurdle you will have to overcome, since you are reading this article, is the belief that you’re not strong enough to rack the slide and that racking the slide is a matter of brute force. It is not. Technique matters far more than muscle. If you have difficulty, don’t give up. You can learn this — honest, you can.

  83. esr on 2014-02-10 at 22:19:47 said:

    >Great. So stick with .45ACP and get a DA auto….or a dehorned & bobbed 1911?
    I’ve considered the latter seriously. I’m keeping an eye out for something suitable.

    Look at
    http://forum.ltwguns.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=9518 – Hard to just buy one without infinite patience or a time machine but fame has some upsides.

  84. >http://www.corneredcat.com/article/running-the-gun/rack-the-slide/

    Huh. I learned something from that. I’ve been pulling the slide with my left hand, which I can do even on a 1911 because I have the grip and arm strength required – but it never occurred to me, and nobody ever showed me, that it would be easier to just stabilize the slide and push with my right hand.

  85. stabilize the slide and push with my right hand

    I think I first picked up this kind of technique when reading about an Israeli method for deploying a C3 Desert Eagle.

    Draw, and as you are about to reach full extension on presentation, rotate gun 90 degrees anticlockwise, firmly grasp slide with left hand, drive right hand forward to chamber the round, move left hand back to support position.

    Practiced that until I was only about .5 secs slower than normal. Still didn’t like having to perform an extra action before having a useable gun though. Abandoned it.

  86. The media (and most liberal politicians) are deliberately characterizing gun owners as crazy, incipiently violent, psychotics; and this persistent messaging is slowly altering meme states in an ever-growing cohort of the population.

    Most gun owners are unlikely to ever encounter a lethal threat and actualize their self defense training (very low probability of occurrence and even when it happens its typically over in just a few minutes). However, in order to counteract the memetic assault from the media, every gun owner should routinely speak out positively about the social benefits of responsible civilian gun ownership. This battle you can fight every day and its just as important.

  87. The media (and most liberal politicians) are deliberately characterizing gun owners as crazy, incipiently violent, psychotics; and this persistent messaging is slowly altering meme states in an ever-growing cohort of the population.

    I literally cannot remember a time when this wasn’t true. I came of political age during the first Nixon term, after the Gun Control Act (CGA) of ’68, about the time the BATF found work for its revenuers, sidelined by sugar price supports turning moonshine mostly into a hobby, in viciously persecuting gun owners and gun dealers. A lot of states got really nasty in the ’70s as well, about the only good news there was that a referendum to ban handguns in Massachusetts failed. The Federal full on assault on the nation’s gun culture was only somewhat reigned in by the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act of ’86 (FOPA), which many believe saved it.

    Starting then, despite various spasms against “assault weapons” (and nationally we’re still living with G. H. W. Bush’s import ban), the tide has turned, with the 1987 passage of a shall issue concealed carry regime in Florida starting a nationwide sweep that ended with Wisconsin and Iowa in 2011. And in one of the few positive on the ground fruits of Heller and McDonald, Illinois is going shall issue in practice right now (!!!). It’s now easier to list the states that aren’t de jure or de facto shall issue: California (maybe not so bad in some rural counties?), Hawaii (total ban), Maryland, Massachusetts (but not in a number of more rural cities), New Jersey, New York (ditto for many upstate counties), and Rhode Island is mixed. (Although many wouldn’t be surprised if Connecticut goes from de jure shall issue to much more restrictive; then again, the state is experiencing Massive Resistance towards the Sandy Hook law requiring e.g. registration of “assault weapons”).

    Now, it’s certainly bad that so many live in the #1 and #3 most populous states—but notably they’re losing people not counting immigration—but there’s been a real sea change here, and especially as the nation ages more and more people are jumping through the hoops and getting concealed carry licenses (not needed in Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming), with many of them carrying, and taking this away from these people … well, that wouldn’t end well. Especially with the media’s inability to not hype violent crime, which has in general fallen dramatically since this wave began.

    Modulo the inability to import finished “assault weapons”, things have never been better in my politically aware lifetime.

  88. >I literally cannot remember a time when this wasn’t true. I came of political age during the first Nixon term, after the Gun Control Act (CGA) of ’68

    I’m about the same age and I confirm. I recall the media/academic push to demonize gun owners beginning in earnest after the RFK assasination in ’68.

    The good news is that it has failed – arguably it has actually backfired massively. Popular support for “gun control” is at record lows and falling. It seems Americans have largely bought the freedom argument. This gives me hope.

  89. “I don’t know the technique. I draw with my right and jack with my left.”

    “Huh. I learned something from that. I’ve been pulling the slide with my left hand, which I can do even on a 1911 because I have the grip and arm strength required – but it never occurred to me, and nobody ever showed me, that it would be easier to just stabilize the slide and push with my right hand.”

    @esr: I’ll bet that, while you think you are jacking with your left hand, you are actually doing both. The next time you’re at the range, look carefully at other people when they draw, jack and fire. Try to be more aware of what you are actually doing when you do the same. It’s natural to use the muscles of both arms when doing this, and you are moving the gun away from your body as you point it towards the target. (Maybe someone with a cellphone camera will be good enough to film you as you do it, and let you see yourself.) You have to be saving valuable time if you are jacking at the same time as you are moving the gun. Your body has probably already made this discovery, even if your brain hasn’t noticed it yet.

  90. LS: well, that could be fantastic news for California residents (might not survive an en banc rehearing, and we don’t know what remedies are going to be required), and potentially a big win for the open carry crowd, who panicked the legislature into unwisely banning open carry and thus making all carry at the whim of county governments. Akin to the 7th Circuit enforcing shall issue (!!!) on Illinois in the face of their absolute ban in December 2012.

    Caveats are that since the 7th’s ruling, the Supremes have denied cert to appeals of all the other Circuits that said New York (2nd), New Jersey (3rd), and Maryland (4th) subjects (can’t legitimately call them citizens) have no particular right to bear arms, despite the circuit split. They palpably don’t want to touch this topic.

  91. esr: After the RFK assassination, two months after MLK’s?

    Hmmm; like his brother’s assassination, it didn’t fit the narrative (a Palestinian who felt “betrayed” (Wikipedia) by his support of Israel), it happened in LA so it couldn’t be blamed on the animus of fly-over country, so clearly gun owners were to blame….

  92. OK, here’s the end of the majority decision:

    The district court erred in denying the applicant’s motion for summary judgment on the Second Amendment claim because San Diego County’s “good cause” permitting requirement impermissibly infringes on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense

    REVERSED and REMANDED.

    While IANAL, let alone “a constitutional law professor”, this sounds like the denial of plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgement has been reversed, i.e. the county has lost, as the decision notes solely on the basis of the 2nd Amendment, and it’s now up to the District Court to come up with remedies. Based on further reading of an article, what this does is eliminate the need to show “good cause” beyond saying you want to protect yourself etc. We’ll see what happens.

    Ah, in reading that article, it seems I erred in reading Wikipedia, the Supremes have not decided on the New Jersey appeal. Which means there’s some small amount of hope there, there’s now a massive Circuit split, 2 pro, 3 anti.

  93. > This has been fictionalized in a Kratman book, forget which one. There’s a reason the SF guy had the attitude he did, and by the standards of his training the lever was *not* in the wrong position. That’s a very important point which you have totally missed.

    *I* totally missed? Really… What part of, “in the chow hall” do you not understand? As far as I know, no US military unit trains to simply stand around with their M4 carbines loaded but the safety off while on base. That would Make No Sense. What’s next, paratroopers jumping with their rifles off safe, in order to be “ready”?

    Note that I don’t know where the original story came from, where I first heard it (it was not in any Kratman novel, and not the scene in the Blackhawk Down movie either), nor if the true situation was changed in retelling over the years. Doctrine no doubt varies on when and how you should manipulate the safety, but that’ll be while on patrol or at least while holding the rifle, not in the low/no threat situation with your rifle slung, as I heard the story.

    Btw, as anybody who’s used an AR-15 knows, it takes effectively zero time to switch from on safe to off, because you do it while bringing the rifle up to target. And on any gun with a manual safety, it’s important to always practice taking the safety off as you bring it up to a firing position, because even if you purposely left it off, it could have gotten into the on position by accident. (There are documented cases of cops getting killed because they habitually carried their gun off safe, and couldn’t figure out what to do when it got on safe by accident in the middle of a fight.) That led to the typical American doctrine of obsessively manipulating the safety of an AR-15 every time you move it from low ready to a firing position.

    That at least is useful manipulation practice. Whether it’s a good idea tactically is arguable. Now, for other rifle designs like the AK, it’s simply impossible to do efficiently, and thus stupid to even attempt. (But people do attempt it of course, especially Americans used to the AR-15.)

    The real issue though, is that even with a very “easy” to use manual safety like the AR-15, under stress, you can expect your fine motor control and problem solving abilities to degrade, possibly severely. So simplifying the motions you need to make the weapon fire as much possible might be the smart way to go. People who take that view will tend to run the safety lever on an AR-15 much more like an AK, spending a lot more time with the safety off.

    What the different flavors of real “operators” currently do I’ve no idea, but there or plenty of ex- SF, Seal, etc. guys working as instructors, and I’ve never heard of any of them advocating that a rifle should be off safe while you stand around with it dangling from its sling.

  94. @Jay Maynard
    > Isn’t Pennsylvania “shall issue” except for Philadelphia?

    Philly is too, they just don’t want to be and are recalcitrant about it.

    @Dan
    > I think I first picked up this kind of technique when reading about an
    > Israeli method for deploying a C3 Desert Eagle.

    For a while (allegedly) the Israelis taught all civilians to carry C3 as when the nation was first getting started they had a heck of a mishmash of various types and styles of auto pistols, and it works out that “carry with an empty chamber safety off” gives you a really, really common manual of arms. You then have one set of lessons for everyone, and given that the main threat they were concerned about was terrorism or military attacks, it’s a reasonable compromise.

    @atp:
    > it was not in any Kratman novel, and not the scene in the Blackhawk Down movie either

    Did you read the book?

    > What the different flavors of real “operators” currently do I’ve no idea, but there or plenty of
    > ex- SF, Seal, etc. guys working as instructors, and I’ve never heard of any of them
    > advocating that a rifle should be off safe while you stand around with it dangling from its sling.

    * What they advocate and teach to civilians is (hopefully) different than what they do. At least I hope. Cops should not be blowing holes in the sides of buildings and shooting everyone NOT a hostage in the face. Civilians are extremely unlikely to need to learn how to do a 5 or 10 man stack, enter and clear (although if your SO/MOTAS likes to shoot getting team training is not a BAD idea). Also Civilians *mostly* don’t have the sort of ammunition and barrel budget Delta/SEALs/etc. do, so some things just aren’t as practical to teach.

    SEALs in full battle rattle don’t get mugged. I don’t do dynamic entries on rooms full of terrorists. Different goals, different strategies, different tactics, different training. Mostly.

    * See what I said about there being other considerations at that time and place (intra-service rivalries, etc. etc.) and it very well could have been that Mr. Operator thought he’d put it on safe, and just decided to get up the officers ass (oops, was wrong. It wasn’t an LTC, it was a Captain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X0UEilAiwY Note the interplay before and after).

    And it certainly is not, and never has been doctrine or practice (generally, I can think of at least one exception) to have the rifle off-safe when slung (that one exception is following an emergency transition from primary to secondary/tertiary–the gun goes down and you either sling it as you draw the pistol, or you just drop on the sling as you draw).

    Now you’re right about it taking no more time to get the weapon off safe and get it to the shoulder as it does just to get it up there (for AR and rifles with similar ergos (My PTR 91 has a similar positioned safety as does my SIG 556, but for some reason on the SIG I can’t get to it with my thumbs (and if I were a lesbian I’d be considered well hung) when the rifle is shouldered, so it’s going off safe early and getting on safe late.

  95. William O. B’Livion: you’re not the only one who has that problem with the SIG 556; Google sig 556 safety extension and you’ll find three varieties available, from Krebs Custom and Manticore Arms.

  96. I assume the trash talking bandits you anticipate are urban minority thugs. If that’s the case, don’t under estimate their own combat readiness. They certainly understand the element of surprise, and if they’re out to rob you, they’re a lot more likely to avoid eye contact until within striking distance and then throw a a haymaker without warning.

    The trash talking stereotype comes more from situations of rivals fighting rivals.

  97. >*I* totally missed? Really… What part of, “in the chow hall” do you not understand? As far as I know, no US military unit trains to simply stand around with their M4 carbines loaded but the safety off while on base. That would Make No Sense. What’s next, paratroopers jumping with their rifles off safe, in order to be “ready”?

    Yes, you apparently *really* missed it. The SF guy was being true to his training, and “I can throw away the principles of my training because it’s only the chow hall” doesn’t cut it. “It’s only”ies are a bad idea and a bad habit. If your standard of training is Cooper’s 4 rules, then you don’t deviate from *those* for any “it’s only” situations.

    >The real issue though, is that even with a very “easy” to use manual safety like the AR-15, under stress, you can expect your fine motor control and problem solving abilities to degrade, possibly severely. So simplifying the motions you need to make the weapon fire as much possible might be the smart way to go. People who take that view will tend to run the safety lever on an AR-15 much more like an AK, spending a lot more time with the safety off.

    You seem to have partially explained it for yourself.

  98. One reason for the “unbreakable” rules of gun safety is so that when you are acting stupid, you’ll do what you were trained to do rather than what you stupidly might do, unlike this potential Darwin award winner

  99. > but it never occurred to me, and nobody ever showed me, that it would be easier to just stabilize the slide and push with my right hand.

    Typical gun “owner”.

  100. >Typical gun “owner”.

    Attempts to insult me do not bring down the ban-hammer. Being boring and content-free about it do, and you have a pattern of this. Amend your behavior or you will be banned.

  101. Typical I suppose, admits ignorance and learns at every opportunity. See Beyond this Horizon. Ignorance is curable…… Then again what to say of the many who already knew this particular movement – why less typical? I do wonder what the numbers are.

  102. >Then again what to say of the many who already knew this particular movement – why less typical?

    We don’t know that they are less typical. It might be that I was in an ignorant minority and SA pistol owners who do know this move are more typical.

    One thing I do predict is that the push motion gets discovered more frequently by people with low-to-average upper-body musculature, because the off-hand strength penalty means they are more likely to only be able to use a dominant-hand motion for this.

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