Category Archives: Ranging Shots

If One Is All

Two Hands Are Better Than One, Unless….

Firing a handgun with one hand is somewhat akin to the old adage of, “Stand on your two hind feet and shoot like a man.” In the past the court jesters of Hollywood and especially the B movie and better cowboy and gangster versions showed us lots of pretty remarkable—even if they weren’t real—handgun skills. These marksmanship displays included 1-hand shooting, short-barreled guns with unending ammunition fired uphill in blowing snowstorms on moving targets in the pitch dark as just a few examples.

of a handgun one handed appear naïve or even stupid, in reality the possibility of using and firing a handgun with one hand in a fight exists. In fact the potential exists so much the wise and prudent would address this issue in training while using either hand right, left, strong, opposite—you pick the name and the hand.

From 1963, here are old cops shooting the old way—by some standards.

The Past Blast

I have talked to several people of seniority over the years and they recount days past before WWII where all handgun firing was just that, hand gun… not hands gun. In fact, most these fellows are pretty adamant the single-hand firing served them pretty well and they had no complaints about personally shooting one handed well into the mid 1970s. A common thread I remember while talking with these “old” people is they most often recall the time when the most change occurred (or so they declare) was after WWII. After the war, in their opinion, more people tried shooting two handed more often and faster and the second point was most shooters did not hit what they were shooting at.

It should be and is noted here that I talked most often to cops and so the guns would have been revolvers and many of the issues of marksmanship might have evolved around the use of the single- or double-action modes of manipulation for the trigger.

Having been there—the 1970s—I recall the knockdown drag outs about the use of double- or single-action modes for marksmanship like in the PPC course or in long-range shooting applications or for surgical work like hostages. It was quite a rodeo—even then.

This is a bit of shooting history illustrating a style and fashion not seen today.

The Point?

The point may be today we see articles addressing the issue of concealed carry by big people or the physically challenged and so forth. So maybe we could address the issue people who carry handguns for self-defense who might be injured in the introduction of the conflict and be required to deploy their weapons system outside of the format of how it is normally fired or how they may have trained?

Probably training to shoot the handgun one handed with either hand in case of injury is wise. Do not forget it may not be about injury it may be simply because your hands are occupied with a grandchild. So there is no misunderstanding if you are in a gunfight with your grandkids present it better be after you have given up your wallet, the Escalade and quite a bit of groveling has been done… just prior to the draw, which will not be faster than a gun already pointed at you.

Moving Around Town

Your practice should include one handed—with both hands included—firing in, from and around your vehicle from both the passenger and driver side while you sit in both places. Talking about it and doing in are not the same thing. You do not want to learn how to do this type of manipulation and shooting during a gunfight. One subtle point: If you shoot the gun inside the car it will be loud.

Also, consider some practice replicating things or places you might be in your normal day. Sitting at a restaurant table is a poor place from which to start or compete in a gunfight. Ask all the Italian mob guys shot at their dinner tables.

A strong issue with me can be confirmed by anyone who has been with me in training. I press the points of physical withdrawal from threats and ground fighting as far as it can be done with both learning and safety addressed correctly.

The handgun and close companion the Benchmade auto folder. Like guns,
Clint favors having two knives instead of one.

Sharp Stuff

Handy 1-handed tools for defense often come with edges or pointy ends. Both are cool. Couple of points: I am not a knife guy, and there are plenty of good ones around. Again, I am not one. My views here are mine, based on the fact most often I accidentally cut myself with a knife and everyone who knows me knows that fact. That said I am getting better with knives and like the fact I can often carry a knife where other types of weapons, specifically guns can’t go. I carry at least one and find two knives are like guns. Two are better.

One-hand shooting skills could come in handy. Train with both right and left or strong and weak—it doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you can do it.

From The Bench

I use Benchmade knives. The folks there helped me sort through the very cool maze of steel from Benchmade to get the knives I carry, use and like. Cutting to the chase, I have both the Mel Pardue designed Model 5000 Auto Presidio and the 5000SBK and in staying with the 1-hand vein of this column the reason I choose these knives is the auto operation allows me to deploy and use the knife with either hand and one handed.

The knives are rock solid and the positive lock is comforting to me as not being a knife guy I want the blade locked if I intend to stick the thing in something. The reason I carry two is simple. If I ever have to use the pointy sharp thing I plan to plant it in something important of theirs and then leave quickly. Like I said I’m not knife guy, duly noted, but I don’t plan on standing around trying to get the knife back if it is wedged into something pretty solid. Not knife tactical I am sure, but it works for me being a gun guy at heart.

I would train up to use one or both of the hands issued to you, even if they aren’t even used at the same time. The skilled one hand use of either handgun or knife may come in handy someday. It could happen. Remember—both gun and knife laws need to be considered where you live.

“Best Of” Ranging Shots from February 2009 issue
By Clint Smith

Benchmade Knives
300 Beavercreek Rd.
Oregon City, OR 97045
(800) 800-7427
www.gunsmagazine.com/benchmade

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GUNS Jan 2014

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Applying Light

You Can’t Hit What You Can’t See.

Mr. Jeff asked me to write about lights, so here goes. This is the quick and dirty of my 30 years of work. Have a seat, belt up, and hang on.

Lights are a good idea so you don’t shoot the wrong thing. Much of conflict takes place in low light or altered light environments. I use the light to find the light switch on the wall and to turn it on so I can see what I’m shooting at. Turning the light on is dangerous because you can get killed, but I would rather see what I was shooting at—making sure it wasn’t a family member—so I can get killed, but I would rather get killed than kill my kids or my partner.

Use the light so you can see, if it is dark turn it on, if you don’t need it turn it off. The light may “blind” your opponent but it won’t do a darn thing to their trigger finger so they can, will and, in the past, have shot back. Strobe lights are stupid because they jack your eyes up. Yeah, maybe the threat’s eyes also, but we covered the “lights in the eyes” and I don’t want to outsmart myself. Many people have.

The light is actually two, the spot of light in the center and the big circle of light. Make sure you start looking/scanning with your eyes into all of the circle as well as the spot. You’re getting lots of info if you’re smart enough to use it. Use the spot of light like a clock face 3-6-9-12 and cut the corner with the edge of the light so the spot shines into the area you are searching. Try to make sure the light doesn’t bounce off the wall back into your eyes. A point of interest when this all happens: You will be shooting the threat with the sights on your pistol—not the light.

As for lasers, they only show you where the muzzle is before you hank the crap out of the trigger. “It intimidates” the threat. Yes, but so will a sucking chest wound! I’m not trying to scare you. If you want to scare people, get an ugly Halloween mask. When applying gunfire, my goal is to stop people from doing what I started shooting them for in the first place.

Caution

When using a revolver, do not put your fingers forward of the cylinder while shooting with the light as you will set those suckers on fire or sheer them off. If you mount the light in the rail of the S&W 325, check if the cylinder opens and closes so the light mounted doesn’t block the cylinder from opening. The rail is designed wrong. It should be a single-slot rail forward. Ask me how I know….

Sort Of Final Words

Get a good light not one from the 7-11 made in China. Streamlight, SureFire, Insight, AE. Don’t be a fool. A light that costs $6 will get you killed. Good gun, good ammo, good holster, good light, good knife. Your life will depend on it.

Other Methods

Jaw Lock

Yep, now the flashlight lights your sights, but for me with glasses, I get a wicked back blast of light off my glasses. The light near your head may draw gunfire? Not anymore than any other position. It is a truly a 1-handed shooting gig, though.

Extended Arm

Hundreds of cops will use it tonight on traffic stops, it works to manipulate the light into areas you need to see in, and it is one handed and it is a viable option used at the right time, right place by the right person.

Weapons Mounted

Nothing handheld beats weapons mounted. Weapon-mounted lights allow for all techniques, loading, malfunctions, et cetera, to remain the same for the gun handler. Just be darn sure your light doesn’t fall off the gun while firing. Polymer frames are the worst with the Glock .40 S&W being the one gun model I have seen lights fall off the most during shooting. Easily solved. Shoot your handgun a lot in practice with the light on to find out if it’s going to work. I pull no punches here: The SureFire X300 and the Streamlight TL series are best. On the weird poop-o-meter scale, the SureFire slides off and on—and it will, The Streamlight screws down… if you screw the darn thing down. Caution on all weapon-mounted lights while mounting or dismounting the light do not cover your hand with the muzzle.

4 Basic Handheld Techniques

Crossed

The back of the wrist to the back of the wrist, this is also called the Harries. Key points are to blade the body more with left elbow forward and down. I always think I have $50 between the wrists and I hold it tight enough to not drop the money.

Uncrossed

It’s OK if you use Uncrossed because it is a quick way to switch the light to the other side of the gun for threat access. Make sure your thumbs stay touching because if the light hand is back too far, the slide can bark your knuckles and maybe foul the gun.

Syringe

Think of a syringe, it works best if your light body has a groove so you can apply backward pressure to activate the rear-mounted switch. Keep the thumbs together again for the same reason as mentioned in uncrossed.

Syringe Supported

Probably the best if your hand size allows for it. The support hand works the light and the strong hand controls the gun while the three lower fingers of the support hand wrap around the shooting hand.

All hand held stuff is basically 1-hand shooting with the exception of the Syringe Supported hence why I like it.
By Clint Smith
Photos By Heidi Smith

This is the crossed wrist technique also called “Harries.” Good except for hard right corners

When using the uncrossed technique, it is harder to control the spot of the light.

The syringe method is solid technique for handheld lights.

Syringe supported is probably the best handheld method if the shooter’s hands allow for it.

In this case a weapon-mounted light is deployed and the handheld held light is in reserve.

AE Light
P.O. Box 1869, Rogue River, OR 97537
(541) 471-8988
www.gunsmagazine.com/aelight

Brite-Strike
11 Raffaele Rd.
Camelot Industrial Park, Plymouth, MA 02360
(508) 746-8701
www.gunsmagazine.com/brite-strike

LED Lenser USA
P.O. Box 20446, Portland, OR 97294
(800) 650-1245
www.gunsmagazine.com/led-lenser

Hot Shot Tactical
121 Interpark Blvd. #706
San Antonio, TX 78216
(855) 357-2327
sales@nullhotshottactical.com

Insight Tech-Gear
9 Akira Way
Londonderry, NH 03053
(866) 509-2040
www.gunsmagazine.com/insight-technology

Streamlight Inc.
30 Eagleville Rd., Eagleville, PA 19403
(610) 631-0600
www.gunsmagazine.com/streamlight

SureFire
18300 Mt. Baldy Cir.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(800) 828-8809
www.gunsmagazine.com/surefire

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Wheelguns

They Still Have A Place And They Serve Well.

The unknowing often consider the revolver archaic. I guess by comparing it to some of the modern high capacity semi-automatics of today it could be true. The argument for the auto pistol’s 15- to 20-round magazine capacity, compared to six or seven charge holes of the revolver, is valid… but only if you miss a lot. Or if you are fighting a herd of people and don’t know how to reload a revolver.

There is a generation of people who “grew up” on Glocks and the like (the polymer kids). They are concerned about an impending ban… which we tried in the ’90s. I noticed during the last ban that a lot of people who couldn’t carry lots of ammo decided in many cases to carry bigger ammo. As a point of clarity I saw lots of Glock people go to the likes of 1911s during the last ban. The new ban is yet to be determined and what we will be left with yet to be decided…whatever. I never much worried about the ammo gig; I mostly carried a 1911 and started out in the old days on revolvers, which I still own and have the skills to use.

Many people don’t use revolvers nowadays, and since that may change, I thought as an old guy, I might give the younger folks a revolver overview.

Actually there are five sizes, but the choices at either end of the size list are kinda stupid, or worthless. If you get some peewee midget thing that fits in a belt buckle, or some other novelty, you’re armed, but dangerous? That’s questionable! At the other end we have the hand cannons like .500s and .460s. You bet; they’re big guns and will stop stuff. Blow a hole in a rhino? Yep… and weigh a ton. They’ll pull your pants down while carrying them and destroy your hearing when and if you shoot them, unless you have the best of ear protection.

At the smaller end we have 2- to 3-inch barreled revolvers, mostly in .38/.357 calibers, and they aren’t bad guns if you understand their purpose and limitations. You go ahead and shoot all the magnums you want in these small guns. The .357s are not pleasant to shoot. We won’t discuss practical blast, muzzle flash, and hand-crunching recoil of the magnums. A better choice in these short-barreled revolvers would be decent .38 Special ammo properly placed on the threat. The sights on small revolvers are present but sometimes that’s all that can be said about them. The small size makes reloading under stress, even with speed loaders, a task, but it can be done—with practice.

In the medium range we have some good choices. As examples we have the old Colt Python and the Smith & Wesson Model 19, which are no longer made. It wasn’t because they weren’t good guns—they were—but times change. Today, the Ruger GP100 and SP101 type guns are solid affordable revolvers, along with a series of Smith & Wesson revolvers in .38 Special. The K-frame, and the slightly heavier L-frames, are all good size guns that come is various sizes and configurations like Model 64, 67, 586, 686 and the tricky 686 Plus (made for an enemy who counts the rounds you fire?).

And then the big guns, big by size and caliber the likes of the Model 29 .44 Magnum, the Model 57/58 .41 Magnums and the other N-frames such as the Model 25/325 available in the iconic .45 ACP. All these or current variations are very good fight stoppers but require people who are willing to work to conceal the guns as well as work to control recoil—but they are good handguns.

This point requires some clarity. The actions are simple. Deciding which one will work for you is another thing. The ability to shoot a gun that might not be yours—a battlefield pick up for instance—is or could be a point of intrigue.

Single-action revolvers fire one way. The shooter must cock the hammer and press the trigger to fire, then redo to fire again. As an example we have the Colt Single Action Army.

Double-action revolvers come in two formats: the simple version being the double-action-only revolver. In this gun the trigger cocks the hammer by pressing rearward on the trigger until the gun fires, then re-do as required. The hammerless is not actually hammerless. The hammer is internal, or not exposed to the eye. Great examples are the Smith & Wesson models 340, 40 and 42, all with internal hammers. A cheater in the field is the S&W Model 38. It has a partially exposed hammer, protected by a shroud. It could be thumb cocked but it’s goofy to do so.

The other double action is actually correct in that the gun can be fired, by design, either by trigger cocking, or thumb cocking. True double-action revolvers can be fired both ways. Most modern fighting/defense revolvers work this way, examples being the Ruger GP100 and SP101, Smith & Wesson Models 29, 27, 36 (pick any one of a many).

The spectrum of the revolver includes (left, top to bottom) S&W Model 60, S&W Model 686,
S&W Model 29 and (right, top to bottom) the Colt Single Action Army, S&W Model 327 factory
made double-action-only, and Colt Model 1877.

A S&W custom made Model 327 .357 Magnum 8-shot revolver made to fire in the double
action or trigger-cocking mode only. While popular in Europe prior to out Civil War.

ODD Name?

This double-action nomenclature is odd because calling certain actions “double” is indicative of the ability for two types of operation (like a S&W Model 29). In reality, the double-action-only (like the S&W Model 40) is a single action (only one way of operation) because these true double-action-only guns fire one way—by trigger cocking. I’m not getting philosophical or esoteric; it’s just called something it’s not.

The revolver is solid; the sights are mostly decent or can be made that way. If it doesn’t fire, like in a misfire, you simply pull the trigger again. The revolver can be carried in decent fight stopping/changing calibers all based on projectile placement.

The revolver doesn’t hold a lot of ammo, so practice loading. Think this will be a big deal in a fight? Ever watch Jerry Miculek shoot and load? And some sights are frail (aren’t they all?). Also the revolver may have a bit of bulk for concealed carry. However, I don’t notice much difference if I go from a Model 1911 5-inch gun to a 4-inch N-frame Smith & Wesson, since I have always just dressed around the handgun I am wearing.

If, sadly, someday you’re only allowed to have a revolver, (don’t worry about me, I have mine already), personally, I think you’ll be just fine. Nonetheless, we’ll all carry on the good fight to keep our hi-cap and AR stuff, but maybe, just maybe, throw in a bit of practice with your wheelgun—or get one—just in case.
By Clint Smith
Photos By Heidi Smith

Sturm, Ruger & Co.
411 Sunapee St., Newport, NH 03773
(603) 865-2442
www.gunsmagazine.com/ruger

S&W
2100 Roosevelt Ave., Springfield, MA 01104
(800) 331-0852
www.gunsmagazine.com/smith-wesson

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Good Gear – B&T

B&T LLC Products

Arguably at no other time in American history has there been more interest in precision rifle use than today. With the exchange of information and flat out what’s available from web specific sites and the History Channel, never has there been more data available. Advances in technology, and more specifically rifles, have jumped forward in the last 10 years like at no other time in the history of firearms since the transition era of black to smokeless powder.

Platform stability is critical to precision marksmanship and is historically, and in reality, one of the three elements of rifle marksmanship. Aiming is understandable. The hold, or holding of the rifle, is the platform of stability we speak of. And of course trigger application. In competitions like 3-gun shoots, and all of the many sniper rifle matches held around the country, these fundamentals are tested but as always the ultimate test is combat.

A shot that is fired is only as good as the platform it comes from and the one constant is to provide a stable platform to engage what are often long-range and or moving targets. The search is continuous to acquire these stable positions with those in the know always aware that these issues (sights, trigger and platform) are being applied under duress.

In the firearms marketplace there is always someone who makes a good product and often there are several others who make stuff similar, but are at best mediocre “hood ornament” products. It is actually an oddity when one company makes several really good products, all of which work. B&T Industries LLC is one of these companies. The company logo is, “Tools for the 21st Century Marksman.” In their case it’s an absolute truism.

B&T Ind. was born, so to speak, on 1/1/2000 (the day the world was supposed to crash to a halt or something goofy). In reality two good things happened that day, the world didn’t end, and the B&T Accu-Shot precision monopod came into the firearms market. A rock-solid product, the Pod has been sold around the world to military, law enforcement and the private sector.

Fifteen versions allow shooters to pick a pod of a height that works for them or, in some cases, a Pod correct for their specific rifle type such as my Accuracy International rifle system, for example. A Pod is easily mounted on my rear sling swivel and tightened right up to the stock. My version has the Quick Knob that, as the name implies, allows me to make bold adjustments to the pod and then fine-tune it as required. The Monopod has a large number of accessories, including a steel cap replacement for the contact end of the pod for hard-use applications. Other upgrades for the pod are available as well.

The B&T Atlas bipod is without reservation one of the strongest bipods on the market today. It’s available in three formats, the BT10, BT10NC and BT10-LW17. Weighing in at a nominal 10-1/2 ounces the bipod is constructed in America (there’s a concept) and made from T6061 aluminum that is hard anodized. All springs and fasteners are stainless steel. The legs move front to rear and positive lock at 15 degrees, plus and minus. The heat-treated legs move to allow five position settings. Add on parts for specific user applications include 3-inch leg extensions, and ski and cleat type tips to replace the standard issue rubber leg tips. Nominal height adjustment ranges from 5 to 9 inches with more height if required by the use of the aforementioned leg extension pieces. Deployment is quick, easy, quiet, and rock solid. Other versions of mounting the bipod to the rifle include a quick release to a 1913, a solid screwed-down-tight setup and rifle-specific ones like the one I use on my Accuracy International system.

I like this piece of gear a lot, yes it holds a battery… cool, it folds up hence the flip-grip moniker, though it is actually the BT27 Folding Vertical Fore Grip. Most important it really gives me a place to anchor my hand on the front end of short rifles. In my time at HK, I saw more than one person tag their hand by having it in front of the short barrel of the MP5. Although the act of having your forward hand too close the muzzle itself sounds stupid, if you look, it is a reality. Many rifle people switched to subguns and even more so today you see many short-barreled rifles (SBRs).

Folks who shoot a lot have a little dose of, “kinda forgot where the support hand is on the front of the rifle syndrome” and, if the rifle happens to be a short one, the blast and muzzle burn can tune your hand up pretty good! I have, and use, the BT27 in two formats, for SBR equipment, and for a solid support on the front of a heavier rifle while under movement. I wish other lifesaving equipment from guns to vests were made as well as the BT27.

With the information available today there should be no reason to not have excellent equipment, and that doesn’t always mean who threw the most money at the subject.

A reasonable amount of money invested in solid equipment will always be worth the weight of carrying it. B&T products are an example of what solid equipment should be, and in their case it is.
By Clint Smith
Photos By Heidi Smith

B&T Industries
P.O. Box 771071, Wichita, KS 67277
(316) 721-3222
www.gunsmagazine.com/b-t-industries

The Atlas Bipod (above) deployed with the BT27 Folding Vertical Fore Grip shown unfolded into the support position. The Quick Release Atlas Bipod mount (below) attaches to a 1913 forward rail. The Atlas bipod legs even deployed full length are still rock solid.

The BT27 (above), here in a partial up mode, allows the end cap to come off for access to a spare battery carried inside the grip body. The B&T monopod shown below is the quick release model allowing bold adjustments by the use of the button and fine adjustments from the rings.

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Airborne Ammo

Little Things—Like Fixed Ammunition—Deserve Much More Respect Than Usually Given.

It has been pretty exciting to have a job I have always liked for the last 46 years. In all cases the military, law enforcement and as a civilian my work has been with or has evolved around and dealt with firearms. I have seen some odd stuff over the years like .44-40s fired in a .45 Colt revolver. It just rattles down the barrel and still hits a target at modest range.

I have shot .50 BMGs, Mark 19 40mm belt-fed grenade launchers, every kind of handgun I can think of down to the FP45 Liberator single-shot handgun dumped from the sky all over Europe during WWII. Lugers and Broomhandle Mausers are great guns and yet old favorites are always Colt Single Action Army revolvers, 1911 Auto pistols and rock-solid Smith & Wesson revolvers. Yet in all these guns and all the rounds fired something still happens every once in awhile that makes me wonder.

Throw BOOM!

OK, think of this as a crime scene. I went shooting the other day with a .45 ACP revolver with factory ammunition loaded in moon clips. After shooting, there are always stray live rounds left in one or two of the moons. No biggy, just strip out the empties and reload new cartridges in the moon and back into the bucket of fully charged loaders the ammo goes. I have a plastic bucket I put all the ammo in and it will hold about 200 rounds in the moons ready to go for a shooting session. When I got home, I stripped the rounds, reloaded them and, stepping out on the back step, I simply lofted lightly one of the loaded moons into the bucket and boom! Out the side of the buckets goes the projectile and crap flew around for a bit. When the dust cleared, I measured and the moon was dropped exactly 44 inches from fingertips to contact and it appears an exact edge of a case rim struck a primer hard enough for the denotation. Silly me, or stupid me—anyway, no more of that.

ammo

The results of the mistake of dropping live ammo into a bucket full of live ammo.
Such detonations rarely happen, but when it does it’s a little too exciting!

Your Backside

Many of you know me from training and know I am a safety… advocate… would be a nice word. I am very strict on safety on my ranges and I do not believe sacrificing safety for a trick shooting drill that probably won’t happen in a fight anyways.

So, I strongly advise people to not take their guns out of the holster while behind the firing line and we provide fiddle tables so people can do whatever fussing over the gun they think they need to do, even if they often don’t need to. So anyways you do not want or like to hear gunfire behind an active working firing line. A few years back in a Defensive Handgun class while at Thunder Ranch/Texas, we had our shooting lined formed and running smoothly. A student firing a 1911 .45 ACP pistol was on the line and apparently having trouble with a half-loaded magazine. Considering the magazine was the problem, the student threw the half-loaded magazine a nominal 10 yards behind the line towards his gear bag and on impact there was a detonation. Of course the line right at that moment wasn’t firing, so the seemingly very loud boom came from behind the line. So with a full head of steam I turn around to be greeted visually by only a drift of blue grey smoke and no one to bark at. Review showed the magazine warped when it popped allowing the spring, follower base and remaining cartridges to scatter all over the area.

Go figure. High primer, or a perfect storm impact? I never discovered what the cause was. Except, I sort of wonder if we should ever throw loaded magazines around.

Loose Ammo Goose

When I was a young cop I went to a local gun store to see what I couldn’t live without in the gun department. The owner was helping several other customers. One who was fooling with an automatic pistol that at least was a baby Browning .25 ACP. The deal was being resolved and a partial box of .25 ACP ammo was setting on the edge of the glass counter top.

During the conversation the box got brushed off the counter top and upon impact with the floor we all got a thrill as it popped a round off and blew the box and contents all over the floor. After a long silence and an additional body-hole checks we all decided it was all clear to come out from behind whatever readily available cover we had all sought out. Again it looked like the edge of the case on the primer in the loose cartridges in the box gig.

So!

So, it appears that after all this time I finally have learned to not throw stuff like ammo, boxes of ammo, loose rounds, loaded magazines and or full-moon clips. See even an old dog can learn something new, even if it did take three times for the wake up call.
By Clint Smith

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GUNS May 2013

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Need For Speed?

Slow Down, Be Happy.

The skill using firearms and how to train with them is in a constant state of flux even though the actual tool itself and how to use it effectively hasn’t changed much over the last 100 years or so. Sadly, happily or logically if you look at your sighting system, keep it properly aligned and discharge the weapon by firing—usually a result of pressing the trigger well—the projectile hits the target, which still today remains to be the point of the exercise, I believe.

For many of us regular gun homeowners or what editor Jeff calls Sam & Suzie homemakers, much of the Outdoorsy Channel “gun” programming is based on competitions and the shooting fast, run and gun that goes with it and… might be a bit beyond most of us? I grasp the concept and actually understand TV needs to be active and exciting, even though a 1-hour show is only about 35 minutes in duration after they repeat and repeat the redundant, redundant stuff again and again echo, echo.

Watch one and you’ll get it. It’s like watching the goofy State of the Union address and just when you think it is over somebody from the other party comes on and tells us what we just heard like we’re stupid and didn’t understand English or that we all don’t already know that both sides of the political aisle are fulla crooks. By now we all got it.

ranging 1

Although not always cool or vogue the shotgun for example is still a solid fight changer. Patterns at 15 feet with a variety of shot sizes show the potential lethal results. The patterns marked 30″ with No. 6 and 7-1/2 shot show the potential of the average duck gun.

TV Speed Vs. Reality

So, just after the guy on Outdoorsy Run & Gun TV tells us we gotta shoot fast like the “experts” another guy comes on and tells us we gotta shoot fast. Or what? Like what happens if we don’t shoot fast? What happens if we shoot first to hit the target and then do it as quick as we can—but we hit the target first and foremost?

The speed we need to shoot at is a speed that we can—and will—hit the target effectively. We could or should train to hit the target regularly and then increase the distance and or reduce the size of the target so as to continue to increase and change the challenge. We get better because we press ourselves. A timer may help us to gain skill if used as a tool to tell us where we are. The timer will not tell us if we will be a success or failure in a future gunfight. The timer can show us what we did and repetition will make us do what we are doing in less time because we get smoother, and we get smoother because we practiced.

A timer thing could tell us when to start. In a real fight when we hit the target and it doesn’t kill us back that will be how long it took for us to solve the problem.

ranging 2

Good solid equipment and good skills with a touch of reality might save the day. A rifle, shotgun or handgun—whatever you choose—along with a phone, first aid and fire stuff might come in handy.

TV Speed Vs. Reality

Bluntly, in my older age I am not often impressed by some of today’s young people and even less impressed when I am exposed to them for a length of time. Call it creative differences. I have seen some of these people walk around free rifle ammo to walk off the range so they can go play a computer game. I am also not talking about civilians here but I do include active military people going on deployment to Afghanistan.

“Blasphemy!” is now screamed by the readers. “Anti-American, anti-military. How dare Clint besmirch our people in uniform?!” First I’m not besmirching anyone per se but I am by the grace of God telling the truth.

So what gun the military issues or uses or what training the military does or doesn’t do is a “yeah so what?” thing. There are a lot more issues civilians need to consider before and after rather than what are the current cool guns and tactics.
As examples, down your hallway at 3 a.m., the other side may not be impressed with your cool stuff. All tactics on stairwells suck, your strobing light will jack your eyes up as well as the bad guy’s, and do you know where the light switch is on your hallway wall? Did you take the safety off your weapon? Be sure you don’t kill your own kids while looking for a response to a threat… and that doesn’t stop the threat from killing you back while you’re using your strobe and tactical guns and gear.

Always remember lots of people have been killed by people they have killed, but who haven’t died yet.

Unlike Modern Warrior there is no reset for you or one of your kid’s lying on the floor with a sucking chest wound. Unfortunately both children and adults by age groups just don’t get it sometimes. Combat or conflict has a way of resolving who paid attention and who didn’t, and life can often be a cruel learning curve.

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Clint isn’t sure a timer is essential, but the Robar Glock, Mossberg 500 and a good light might be helpful for home/personal defense.

Operator / SWAT Not

Not an operator or SWAT or 20 years old anymore and guess what you don’t have to be. It simply isn’t required and it isn’t a reality or a life. Train and gear up to meet “your” potential problems and then train up a bit more.

Skills?

Here is a concept: Get a gun that works, train up in fundamentals, maybe shoot an IDPA match or something realistic at the range with like minded friends who own guns for defense. So then look at the sights press the trigger even use a timer… but most of all remember the ultimate goal was to be smart enough not to shoot but good enough that if you have to shoot you can solve your problem.

There is no reset button in life.
Clint Smith

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Guns Magazine March 2013

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BUGS!

Some Thoughts On Choices Of Backup Guns.

History records people who carried two handguns for a variety of reasons. In the days of mounted cavalry big “horse” pistols were carried in scabbards mounted to or attached to the saddle pommel. A second or backup gun came in handy in mounted fights as loading the revolver of the day required some detail and often some time to charge with powder and ball. Some gunmen of the era of the American West carried two guns, Hickok, Hardin, Stoudenmire but mostly these were gunmen or residents of built up towns as a true cowboy working stock had enough stuff to deal with and documents record working cowboys often left their handguns in the chuck wagon rather than having to deal with the handgun, a rope and an ornery steer in thick brush.

Bluntly in cap-and-ball handgun times a second gun was a lot easier and faster than trying to load the empty first handgun. Even with the advent of the cartridge-firing Single Action Army or the break-top S&W loading was still a time consuming process compared to the insertion of the magazine into the well like so many of us do today.

Why a backup? As food for thought the drawing of a second gun may still be quicker than a reload in a fight regardless of the era or the type of gun. The backup gun may be a lifesaver in case of a mechanical failure of the primary gun. In the case of physical “loss” of the primary handgun to a threat a second gun gives the shooter the ability to respond.

Here comes a firestorm: The backup gun must be used by a skilled person who understands the use of the BUG will most likely occur in a high stress application. Proper or normal shooting techniques might be impaired by injury so the skill and application must be applied without a hitch. Try to aquire the best proper grip and the best application of body weight behind the gun especially if you want to use a small auto. I know it’s all the rage to carry a small .380, but you can have it and you’re welcome to it (I’ll get to that in a minute). Since the fight can and could be at short range and many gunfights start out as a fist fight, the chances of you being on the ground are high and if the threat is on top of you, consideration must be given to the fact that barrel-slide-muzzle contact to the threat may cause a failure of the auto pistol to operate correctly. The shooter must remember under duress to clear the muzzle of physical contact.

Personally a revolver is much better for the muzzle contact applications that can occur at short range because the revolver still works—fires—in the muzzle contact mode. You can train up to “hold” the back of an auto pistol so it fires while in physical contact but then as soon as the auto does fire the shooter must cycle the slide to clear the fired case from the chamber, but at least you BUGs have always intrigued me because in my head the thought process is that my big, main, primary buttkicking handgun is empty, broken or stolen… so now I’m going to reach inside my shorts and pull out this popgun? Yeah, yeah, the gun with you is better than the one at home in the safe, but the gig still remains “I was fighting with Ken (so to speak) until everything goes south in a fight I could honestly lose and my response is… I drag out Barbie to fight with?”

So, puppies are cute, yet a BUG should be in reality the biggest gun you own—remember you’re in a dogfight, your first choice of handgun fails—and out comes a poodle? Sorry, I think a BUG should be the biggest gun you can carry. My BUG is a double-action-only 2″ S&W 327 8-shot .357 Magnum with no hammer spur. I also am starting to train up and use the new Springfield XDs in .45 ACP… yes, an auto pistol, but a big-bore gun, in an ankle holster and very reliable in every format I have trained in with the gun to date.

A BUG should be in a place where you can get as much access and the best access to the gun from as many odd places or positions as humanly possible. Ankle holsters are a good choice in my opinion, if I wind up on the ground in a fight, good access and access while sitting in a car with either hand. Offside pocket holsters—yes the gun in a holster in your pocket—not floating around loose. The BUG location will also dictate that you’ll need to train up in offside or opposite-hand shooting—and you should anyways.

History after a fashion will record your problems, and your resolutions. If you do well people will remember, if you do poorly even more people will remember. Your BUG, big, little, carried or not carried, it’s your call, it could also be your life in the balance.
By Clint Smith
Photos By Heidi Smith

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Remington’s Masterpiece

The venerable 870 shotgun.
The shotgun is deeply woven into American firearms traditions often being used by civilians as a hunting and gathering device and, if required, it crossed over into a personal defense tool as well. No segment of our society has warmed up to and used the shotgun as well or as often as the American police and no shotgun as been more accepted by law enforcement officers than the Remington 870.

Introduced in 1950 to directly compete against the Winchester Model 12, the Remington 870 has become the best selling shotgun in American history with sales numbers racked up in excess of 7 million shotguns for both the LE and civilian markets!

Why A Pump Gun?

I own two 870s with the new one being 25 years old and the old one 30 years of age, and they have never given me a bit of trouble other than I split the stock on the old gun not long ago so—up front—I like the 870. Cutting to the chase, the 870 is arguably more dependable than many of the other shotguns in the marketplace be they semi-auto of gas or recoil operation or pump actions of a different maker. The twin-action bars and smooth action make the 870 just about as dependable as the next sunrise.

There is a subtle clue here by looking at what platform the custom makers nationwide generally use as the basis for their shotguns. No brainer here, these guys take an already good gun—the 870—and then modify it to what they think a fighting shotgun should be. Maybe the only problem here is often some of these builders have never used a shotgun in a fight, so there is a tendency get a butt load of stuff stuck on the gun probably not needed other than to fulfill a marketing ploy.

The Rifle Shotgun?

Rifled sights are great for slug shooting and I recall as a young man working at API with Mr. Jeff Cooper who was a staunch believer of the shotgun being used with slugs (I would suppose because of his strong foundation in rifle marksmanship). The slug, of course, allows for a single projectile of rather large dimension to be placed on the target by a competent shooter.

Slugs historically have not been all that much fun to shoot, but with the advent of the reduced recoil tactical slug, an average human can shoot the shotgun pretty well and pretty often with the single ball load. Because of the 870’s rapid barrel change, the ability to shoot slugs with a barrel if required is a breeze. And as they have for many years Remington has a broad spectrum of shotgun barrels and guns specifically designed to shoot slugs for hunting, defense or law enforcement (if you need or want a specialized shotgun).

Editor’s note: This column originally ran in the November 2008 issue. Clint is recovering from surgery and will resume his column in the January 2013 issue.

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Thoughts On Defense

A good start is to choose your gun wisely.

While teaching on an almost daily basis clients often ask me what practice can they do to get better? This is a good question generally asked by people with the best of intentions. It could be a somewhat loaded question based on the fact much of the end result rests on how much effort is put forward on their part to get to that end result.

Shooting, I believe, is a perishable skill and no matter how hard you work at it ultimately in the end eyesight changes, age or injuries will alter skill levels even for the best of the best. All this said, a very good level of defensive skills could be acquired and maintained with some effort on the part of the willing shooter ready to work at it. So, like most things in life you gain mental and physical skills appropriate to what effort you are willing to put into it.

It might help to get competent instruction if that instruction is relevant to what your purpose for having and maintaining a firearm skill was from the beginning. Thinking and training beyond the firearm, the acquisition and practice of personal awareness and personal tactical skills in reality are probably as important as the gun itself at the end of the day.

What Gun?

Getting the correct weapon for you might be the first step. Be guarded and don’t buy something purely on the basis of comfort or size. These are of course considerations, but they are by no means the only considerations you need to think of. Be careful not to buy a certain type of gun because someone else has it. Possession on their part doesn’t mean they are necessarily competent with their choice anymore than you acquiring their choice will make it the correct gun for you. Also I think it is important to remember your weapon choice only needs to work for you and to help you save your life or the lives of your family.

I recently had a young person tell me my choice of the 1911 was a bad thing because “it is an old gun.” That of course could be true, then again, I have grown up and old with the 1911 and for me it has served very well in the past and continues to do so today. Are 1911s for everyone? I doubt it. Then again, I don’t think a basket of polymer pistols would serve me personally any better. One additional point of many in this area, most of us buy guns with the concept of personal defense on the street, but in reality, the likelihood of us using a defensive tool at home is just as likely… maybe even more so than on the street.

Probably which or what technique you use to shoot with will be based on many changing factors with a few being your age, personal physical fitness, personal shooting experience, the environment you are forced to work in, whether or not your eye glasses got knocked off when the fight started, whether or not you are injured and so on. Some things will always be important like fundamentals, but they may too also be affected simply by the fact of where they are being applied environmentally.
By Clint Smith

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Zero Sense

Where Do You Want Your Bullets To Strike?

Editor Jeff John gets consistent requests for information about how to, or where to, “zero” firearms for both hunting and defensive applications. He asked me to address this issue so I thought I’d give you information on “how to” zero your firearms, specifically considering defensive applications. These are my opinions after fussing with the defensive use of firearms for a few decades.

As in all the firearms systems, you—yes, you—need to decide what you think is a baseline of where—as in how far in distance to the target—at which you’ll need to zero your handgun. A degree of silly comes up here because if we knew where we were going to be in a fight and at how far distance-wise, we could simply not “show” up that day.

Marksmanship and/or the application of firearms to a fight is—or should be—precision shooting, i.e. being to hit successfully and repeatedly the likes of the center of mass and the pelvis, for example. Shooting is then precision shooting, except an occasion may call for a surgical application, namely a head or partial head exposure shot, which is often not difficult, but the projectile placement requires attention.

This all seems pretty commonsense today, but then again, you get lots of variables when it comes to opinions. Historically, even some types of competition used bizarre hold offs like in PPC-stylized shooting. Many shooters opted for a neck hold because the tapered neck gave a more precise aiming point at extended ranges—so much so sights were even mechanically built with numbered hold offs for this extended 50-yard B27 target-type shooting. Silhouette shooting, such as steel chickens and pigs, was another example of big hold offs being required and often achieved by the use of rail-type sights and big clicky thing adjustments on both the front and rear of the sight.

Bluntly, if you are shooting a 9mm, .40 or .45 bullet for defense, the actual deviation in the curve/trajectory of the bullet is so minimal from 15 to 25 yards, most people can’t hold the difference. That said, I think a defensive handgun should hit where you aim at. Where “at” is, is someplace you decide on between zero and 25 yards. In my experience, more people will “lean” on the pistol to take the projectile impact off course than any “bullet drop” will ever make. So sights are adjusted on point-of-aim, point-of-impact and good ammunition with the pistol manipulated correctly. I set mine for 20 yards so the projectile then strikes at the top of the properly aligned sights at that distance. It makes me happy.

In a fighting handgun, where you aim is where you should hit, all other things considered. You just need to consider what all the other things to consider are.
By Clint Smith
Photos By Heidi Smith

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