Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!

Well, before the traditional Christmas festivities get under way I want to take a moment to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Susie and me. Thanks for touching base on this page - for sharing your lives, your joys and sorrows. He saw fit to sent His Son as an act of love and compassion . . . may we all carry that forward into the new year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Commentary - I've had home thoughts about the Jihadist threats to the US . . .

And now for something different . . .

Typically I put my thoughts down on paper.  While that has served me well . . . when I chewed on the San Bernadino attack, the Paris attacks and the mass migration of Muslims into Europe . . . it seemed that words might serve me better.  See what you think . . .

Pew completed a comprehensive poll this month that provided much of the information for this post.  You can read the poll here.

Let me know what you think of the video approach . . .


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Training - Defensive Shotgun Rounds


What round for your defensive shotgun? This is another of those infinitely deep rabbit holes that has spawned hundreds of articles and videos to demonstrate that “this” is the right round to use. Frankly, it’s way too deep for me so I’m just going to sniff around the edges.

I believe there are three primary defensive rounds you can choose with many sub-categories under the three. There is standard “bird shot, there is buckshot and there is a slug. There are, of course, considerations that must be taken into account regardless of the round you choose.

Typical defensive purpose

The shotgun is typically seen as a home defense gun. That said, the need to reach out and touch someone will seldom be beyond 50 yards. It is much more likely that you would use your shotgun within the confines of your home. What surrounds your home is also of consequence. Close neighbors have little interest in a 1 oz. slug whipping through their home. Look at your home, look at your surroundings and make sure you take all of those factors into consideration.

Over Penetration

Simply put, whatever the projectile that comes out of the end of your shotgun be a 1.25 oz. of #5 lead shot, or 9 pellets of 00 buckshot or a 1 oz. slug – it is going to continue to go through things until its energy is consumed and the round stops. That is why it is critically important that you have a home defense plan, that everyone knows it, that you are clear as to your fields of fire and that you choose your ammunition appropriately.

Rounds on the threat

So how tight are the patterns of your defensive round? This quick post is BY NO MEANS MEANT to be definitive on this question, simply a glimpse of general patterning. The idea though is, as it is with a defensive handgun, to confine the round to the threat. So ideally, with the birdshot and buckshot you would like to be close enough so that the pellets stay within the confines of the threat. And, with the slug, you want to make sure you are accurate enough that you can quickly and easily hit the threat from 50 yards or less. The reality is that in a home defensive situation your likely shooting distance will be 30 feet or less – about half the length of a typical home.

So, armed with my newly updated 870 I took advantage of the warm temps to pay a quick trip to the range to test the birdshot and buckshot on the patterning board at our range and then the slug at both 50 and 25 yards. Pro tip . . . if your range’s patterning board is simply a sheet of 3/8” steel, and you put a standard LE SEB target on that steel . . . when you hit it with either birdshot our buckshot the target will simply explode. I will probably approach this particular topic again later, but for today, let’s make use of what I have in my hand – two shattered targets that still have things to share with us.

30 ft.  Winchester Super X heavy Field Load – 1.25 oz. #5 shot

20151208_133410 (Large)

Obviously the center of the target was pretty well destroyed but I want you to take notice of the outer edge of the pattern. My POA was high center mass and I want you to notice that there were few if any pellets that hit outside the target outline. This is what you are looking for when you engage a threat with a shotgun round – the projectiles are contained within the threat and not continuing on past them.

We can certainly argue whether such a hit to a determined foe would be enough to convince them to stop their attack – but from 30 ft. and closer you can be reasonably assured that if you aim center mass the threat will take the brunt of the punishment from your birdshot round.

Winchester 9 pellet 00 Buckshot

Buckshot (Large)

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Again the result with a blown out target but in taping things back together notice that, as you would expect, the pattern was much tighter with virtually all pellets confined to high center mass. The buckshot did a better job of keeping the pellets on the threat. The other side of this is that you have fewer pellets, larger, heavier and you begin to run a higher risk of a pellet or more fully penetrating the threat. Again, no real hard and fast rules here, just something to keep in mind as you work through possible scenarios using your defensive shotgun.

Winchester Super X 1 oz. rifled slug hollow point

The slug round allows you to reach threats at a much greater distance than you could with bird shot or buckshot. Out to 50-100 yards it is, for all intense and purposes a rifle. That said, for you to take a shot at a threat at 100 yards, you may well have a hard time articulating why they were a threat you could not simply avoid. Reduce that distance to 50 yards or 25 yards and they become much more of an imminent threat to your well-being.

Rifled Slug (Large)

Slug Ballistics (Large)

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On my upgraded 870 I now have the new Trijicon front sight and simply align that down the barrel of the gun to form my sight picture – there is no rear sight per say. At 50 yards I hit 2 for 3 and then moved to solid hits once I moved forward to 25 yards. The biggest concern when moving to slugs is over penetration of the threat. That’s a pretty good size chunk of lead and depending on where you hit the threat and what they’re wearing – you could easily pass through the threat and into (or through) an adjoining wall. Again, be aware of your field of fire – you want to confine your damage to the threat . . . not family.

So how well can you “run the gun”?  Qualification shoots are one measure.  Here is a link to the ILEA Shotgun Qualification Drills.  It’s a “standard”, something you can shoot against and time to see how your skills with your defensive shotgun are developing.  Download it, take it to the range next time and shoot the drills, it will give you some idea of where you are in your skill set.

If a defensive shotgun in part of your home defense – take some time on the range to wring out your choice for a defensive round. There are any number of articles that have been written about this exact topic – do your research. Then, once you have made a choice, work your defensive shotgun into your range work. Having a shotgun in the corner of the room does little to protect you if you can’t “run the gun”!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Review - Remington 870 Upgrade


It seems that this is the year to “upgrade” my defensive weapons. I’ve detailed my upgrade to my AR-10, my backup AR-15, the new sights on my carry Glock 17 courtesy of Rob Pincus’ group . . . the only thing left really was my Remington 870 Express.

When I purchased it some work had been done. It came with a magazine extension to hold two additional rounds and a Speedfeed stock with pistol grip. Some time back I added a chunk of picatinny rail and a StreamLight TLR-1 flashlight. So when I began this upgrade project, this is what my 870 looked like.

Remington 870 (Large)

One thing I noticed while working with the PD and their fall qualification shoot was that I was simply not set up to “run the gun” in any smooth fashion at all. Reloads on the move, mixing slugs and buckshot, loading and shooting multiple rounds in a very short period of time . . . I simply was not getting it done. In looking at the differences there were two primary differences. A front sight that was clearly visible in low – VERY low light. And virtually all their patrol shotguns had 6 round sidesaddles mounted on the side opposite the ejection port. Finally, it seems that an adjustable stock al-la an AR-15 seemed to help the officers fit the weapon to their individual mount preference easier than a fixed stock. This became my “shopping list”.

Front sight

I settled on a XS Express Front Night Sight. It is manufactured by Trijicon and provides a large, clear front sight image whether in bright sunlight or extremely low light.

Repplacement Front Sight (Large)

Mounting is a bit different. On the shotgun the front sight is a bead attached to a front mount welded to be barrel. To mount the XS Express sight there is a 6mm hole in its base and the base is shaped to conform to the shape of the front mount. You then clean the surface of the mount and bead, mix a batch of JB Weld, fill the whole in the XS Express Front Sight and then spread a layer over the rest of the mount.

JB Weld (Large)

It is smart to dry fit everything – in my case it all fit fine – to make sure of a proper fit and alignment. Once the JB Weld is applied you have 20-ish minutes to make sure everything is properly mounted and aligned. It takes a full 24 hours for a full cure.

I must say I’m pleased with the final result which can be seen below.

New Frontsight (Large)

Side Saddle Shell Carrier

Next came the side saddle shell carrier. I decided on the Mesa Tactical Sureshell Saddle Mount. It will hold a total of 6 rounds and also adds a section of picatinny rail to the top of the 870.

Shell Carrier (Large)

Shell Carrier Parts (Large)

Mounting is very simple and quick. Pop out the pins holding in the trigger assembly, set the mount over the top of the 870, line up the holes and use the mounting screws to mount the entire assembly to the 870. 15 minutes work and I was ready to go.

870 Udate 2 (Large)

Adjustable Stock

The last upgrade was an adjustable stock. I chose the Magpul Remington Buttstock Combo.

New Stock (Large)

Removing of the old Speedfeed pistol grip stock was quick and simple. Two screws removed the butt pad and a single screw held the stock on to the rear of the frame. The installation of the new Magpul stock was just as simple with a single hex screw mounting the stock to the rear of the frame. The stock itself simply slid over the center shaft of the stock and the upgrade was complete.

870 Udate Completed (Large)

I will add a Vickers tactical sling down the road and things will be complete.

So, why the upgrade. Couple reasons. A defensive shotgun is a bit of a grab and go weapon. With the extension and the weapon in “patrol ready” condition (magazine full, chamber empty) you have a total capacity of 6 rounds. With the sidesaddle an additional 6 are also available – 12 rounds in your hand should the need arise. The mix you use – slug, buckshot or bird shot is entirely up to you.

Given that I’ve got a couple days of 50*F weather in the offing, I’ll take a couple hours tomorrow afternoon and see how things go on the range.

I simply do not recommend upgrades for the sake of upgrading a firearm. But, if you look at the purpose it is supposed to fulfill, and you find it lacking – make whatever changes you need to make to allow it to be the best defensive firearm you can afford.

And then as with all your firearms – get solid training and then hit the range. The weapon, the upgrades and frankly the ammunition are worthless if you can’t “run the gun”.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Training – Winchester DP I Qualification Course


After the last couple days of news . . . it was time for a bit of range work. If San Bernardino taught us all one thing – it’s that having a defensive weapon on our body that we can run and shoot accurately is our best bet at arriving home at the end of the day standing rather than in a Ziploc.

As I posted earlier I’ve been spending some time with the local PD giving them a hand with some new officers as well as running their trainers through their qualification shoots. They essentially use the OLD FBI qualification course – the one that starts at 25 yards rather than at arm’s distance. The idea is that each officer shoots against a well-defined standard that can be monitored and tracked.

For the majority of us – civilian shooters – shooting qualification courses also has real value. They allow us all to evaluate - “where we are”? If you’re one of those folks I referenced in my last post that has their permit, has a gun . . . but spends no time doing individual training on the range, things may not end well for you should the SHTF. Just sayin’.

There are any number of “qualification” courses of fire out there – your local LEO course, the FBI course (new and old), NRA Instructor qualification courses of fire and, part of the subject of this post – the Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program to name just a few.

One of the values that I personally place on shooting a qualification course – and keeping a record of the shoot – is that should I ever be involved in the shooting, it is one more piece of evidence that I take my skillset seriously, that I work at it and that I periodically demonstrate it. Shoot a course of fire, save the target, take an image of it, tuck it away in your training records and then pray you never have a use for it.

Anyway, I headed to the range with two purposes in mind – get some engagements in while wearing more cool weather gear, and to shoot the Defensive Pistol I Pro Marksman course of fire. You shoot 4 courses of fire, 5 rounds per course at a D-1 target (or equivalent) with all rounds within the “8” ring. See page 6 of the linked PDF manual. It was a nice afternoon, mid-40s and sunny. So, I got by with just a fleece.  Make sure you do your range work wearing the same gear you wear daily – coat, gloves, hat.

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So I put up my favorite LE SEB target, stapled my D-1 “equivalent” target at high center mass, took my place at 21 feet, attached my timer to my pocket and got down to work.

Below is the target that I shot. The “tape” is in the upper left, 50 rounds with times/splits for each 3-round engagement. I also shot at precise areas of the target – those are preceded by the number of the shape or the “H” in the case of the head shots. (Notice I took care of the threat’s ear in fine fashion!)

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So what to look for . . .

  • Shot placement
  • Time to first round engagement
  • Split time
  • How much time does it take to make a precise shot . . . and how precise was it exactly

My draws were somewhere slightly under 2.3 seconds from concealment with the best being 2 seconds flat and the worst was 2.33 seconds. For the precise shots, I typically added 1 second.

So what does this mean? I’ve maintained since my last trip, I seem to run right around 2.3 seconds. Precise shots need work. No idea what the heck happened with the head shot – but round 2/3 cleanly took off the threat’s ear. Round 1 should have put them down hard. Shapes 1 and 4 also had misses - - - take the time to GET THE HITS!!

So there you are – 50 rounds, with purpose and another bit of evidence should my life ever go sideways in a really big way that – yes, I work at my craft, I document the work and I can prove it.

On to the Winchester/NRA program.

The Defensive Pistol I begins on page 6 of the linked manual above. All levels must be earned in order. I shot the Pro-Marksman course of fire. 4 targets, 5 rounds per target with a 15 second time limit. 20 rounds total shot from the ready position.

I posted 4 targets and timed the string of fire for each target to insure I didn’t exceed the 15 second time limit. Here are the targets.

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As you can see the final string times were 6.88, 7.15, 6.23 and 5.71. I passed across the board but note the very last target – 5 rounds, 4 seconds with a 1” spread, not a bad way to end the day. All rounds were within the 10 ring and all were within the 4” x 6” rectangle that is my primary area of interest in the “high center mass” area of the threat.

From a book keeping pov, I’ll send the info off to Winchester and see what happens. From a performance POV, I met my expectations. I’ll continue to work on dropping time while maintaining accuracy. Remember, this is a perishable skill – if you hit the range once a year – your ability to take out a mortal threat may well not be there should the need arise.

Folks . . . there’s a new “Wolf Pack” in our country. They’re hungry, they’re determined, they’re focused and they’re hungry.

Hit the range, do the work . . . and carry every day, everywhere you legally can . . .

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Training – What you have in your hand . . . is what you want . . . Otherwise you’d have something else . . .


Long ago . . . far away . . . in another life I was a “Personal Growth Facilitator”. Think of it as a Drill Instructor for your head. My wife and I found this coursework out of need. We were emotionally recovering from her cancer and after a number of years we weren’t doing a very good job of it. A friend invited us to come to a “Guest Night”. Simply, things learned in about a years’ worth of course work literally saved us.

It was scary stuff to those on the “outside”. It was the time of “est”, and “T” and other types of guru lead courses – our friends were concerned for us. But they also saw things were working better for us as well.

Those who have met me or know me have little problem seeing the “asshole” side of my nature. Let’s call it DIRECT!!! And that personality trait is one of the primary ingredients needed to be a “Personal Growth Facilitator”. The company we went to recruited me to assist in coursework so for around 3 years or so I would stand in front of a room full of folks in the exact same spot I/we had been a few years earlier and I would assist them in primarily becoming brutally honest with themselves on where they were in their life, how they were acting and gave them a hand in picking a way out of their current minefield.

One woman sat in the back row with about 30+ other folks and bitched, whined, fidgeted . . . until I asked her a simple question . . . “How long have you been a bitch?”

Yep, the coursework was like that . . . So be forewarned . . . I intend this post to be “DIRECT”.

I write this the day following the San Bernardino terrorist attack. 14 dead, 21 wounded. Terrorists dead, house full of bombs, ammunition, info linking them to international terrorists . . . Jihad visits America. Perhaps the first of a Paris like attack on our home soil – there will be more. Neighbors noticed 6 Middle Eastern males visiting the house, taking delivery of large boxes but said nothing because RACISIM! Think “clock boy” $15 MILLION law suit – no wonder they shut up. Short story to this episode – what was once safely kept overseas is now part of our daily life. You need to move to “acceptance” fast, today, now, this instant . . . and make some adjustments in your life.

What you have in your hand . . . is what you want! Otherwise you’d have something else!

But . . . but . . . I have a carry permit . . . I carry once in awhile . . . I probably could have stopped them . . .

You’re dead!!!

Yep, got my permit, got that baby in the car should I need it . . .

You’re dead!!!

Yep, got my permit, to a basic pistol course, going to look at a holster and some more coursework this summer . . .

You’re dead!!!

Man, watched the coolest video the other day, got that new DVD course, gonna get a new holster for Christmas . . .

You’re dead!!!

Or going back to a conversation with a friend a few summers ago . . . “I got a new gun right after I got my permit, don’t think I fired more than half a box through it.”

You’re dead!!!

Yep, I took some really cool coursework this past summer, been to the range a couple of times, think I might just start carrying . . .

You’re dead!!!

Tell you what . . . every time I go to one of “those” places I strap on my gun!!!

You’re dead!!!

I really take this stuff serious! I’ve taken a couple courses, do my best to get to the range a couple times a year . . .

You’re dead!!!

I don’t carry my gun around too much anymore it’s to . . . hard to work . . . big . . . heavy . . . I don’t really know how to run it . . . I live in a pretty safe area . . .

You’re dead!!!

Get the idea?? So, if you’d met these two terrorist shooters, what would you have been up against?

Each carried a version of a .223/5.56 semiautomatic carbine.

Each carried a sidearm.

Each apparently had plate carries for spare magazines – I can’t find firm reports if they had plates inserted or not.

They placed remote controlled explosives in the building but failed to detonate them.

They fired . . . I WANT YOU TO HEAR THIS CLEARLY . . . 73 rounds (provided current round counts were accurate). One more time . . . 73 rounds.

They killed 14 . . .

They wounded 21 . . .

Total causality count in the building . . . 35 . . .

That body count comes from training, focus, dedication, clear intent . . .

That is your opponent. Forget the drive by shooter, the snatch and grab, the quickstop robbery, the restaurant holdup . . .

And focus of the shooter that is focused, dedicated, clear and skilled . . . THAT is your new threat as of today.

So let’s go back to the top . . .

What you have in your hand . . . is what you want! Otherwise you’d have something else!

If you aren’t as good as these two shooters . . . if you don’t carry . . . if you can’t hit what you need too . . . if you let every excuse in the world come between you and good coursework and frequent/consistent/focused training . . .

You’re dead!!

Nope, life shouldn’t be like this. Nope it isn’t fair. Yep, that’s what cops are for (their response time was apparently sub-5 minute for first on scene). But the nasty little secret is that when the shit hits the fan . . .


The first minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes . . . or in the case of my home . . . the first 45 minutes . . . is on YOU!

So you can lie to yourself all you want, you can tell yourself all the stories you want, you can pretend all you want . . . But “What you have in your hand . . . is what you want! Otherwise you’d have something else!”

If you can’t run your gun . . . if you can’t get your hits . . . if you don’t know cover from concealment . . . if you don’t carry . . . if, if, if . . . THAT is, indeed what you want – because THAT is what you have in your “hand”. You DON’T want to carry, you DON’T want to shoot better, you DON’T want to learn how to use your environment, you DON’T want to defend your life, you DON’T want to defend the life of your child or spouse or friend . . . so stop lying to yourself and stop feeling all warm and comfy with your permit and your gun home in the safe. Because . . .

You’re dead!!

Honest to goodness folks, get off your asses, smell the coffee, do the work, spend the money, invest the time, train your butts off . . . cause this situation is simply not going to bet better.

Help is not coming . . . it’s all on you . . . please, be ready . . .