There are too many people in the firearm world - especially when it comes to "real world" or "defensive" use of firearms - who hide behind the word "tactical" as an excuse for poor technique or performance.
Today I would like to discuss reloading, both of handguns and rifles. Basically, anything with a magazine. There are many things to discuss when it comes to reloads, and this is a topic I plan on covering in detail in the future. To be specific, I believe that looking at the firearm during the reload, whether I am fighting or gaming, is important and beneficial.
Some people protest that you should never take your eyes off the target during a reload - that doing so is only for competition or "gaming." I beg to differ. If someone is trying to kill me while I reload, it isn't going to matter if I glance down at my pistol for a fraction of a second. They are still going to be doing the most dangerous thing they could possibly do, which is...try to kill me. My steely gaze is not magically slowing down their bullets.
The most complicated portion of a reload - perhaps better termed as the easiest portion of a reload to screw up - is inserting the magazine. During the time which the magazine is approaching the magazine well, looking at my pistol will help me return it to shooting condition as fast as possible. The weapon is already in front of me, it's not as if I need to turn my back to the threat to look at the magwell. If looking down speeds up my reloads, it follows that this will enable me to stay alive longer in a real gunfight.
It just so happens that this also makes split times faster during competition. Look, just because something is valued by a competition shooter (see the above linked photo of Bob Vogel) does not mean that it is immediately suspect for "tactical" or "gunfighting" purposes. It may or may not be useful, but it should be evaluated on its merits, not simply whether it is a "game" technique or not.
Here's what Mike Pannone had to say on the topic:
You look at it with a quick glance. Anyone who says “no” isn’t realistic. I was taught in every shooting package I ever did by every unit I was in or contracted shooter I shot with that if you can see, you should glance down quickly (maybe .20 sec) to ensure proper orientation and insertion of magazine. If you do this properly you are creating the proper procedural memory. This will allow you to perform the act even when you can’t see because you orient the pistol to your body and oncoming magazine the same way every time. You lose nothing in quantifiable situational awareness that you wouldn’t lose by blinking 2 times in rapid succession but you are affording yourself the highest likelihood for success. If it is at night and you have NVG’s you may still glance down because that is part of the action but with time your situational awareness of limited vision will remove that. With any useful vision available I will look, without I won’t.
Summary- Looking for a split second when vision is available is the way every great shooter (military, L/E and sport) I know does it. They do this for a specific reason and that is to have the best likelihood of success without loss of situational awareness.
If you get the chance to take any courses taught by Mike, I would highly recommend doing so.
...but there's no way to weed them out without wrongly violating the rights of those who should.
I understand that this statement may be offensive to some. In the firearm world, some fully invest themselves in an absolute interpretation of the Second Amendment: that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. I, too, believe that the Second Amendment is important and affords an individual right to own firearms...albeit with a few asterisks. Most notably, I think some people should not have access to firearms.
It is relatively easy to argue that violent felons should not be allowed to purchase or own guns. It's perhaps just as easy to argue that those convicted of domestic violence should also not be allowed firearms. Those who would argue against these points will certainly not agree with anything else I have to say, but they're entitled to their opinions.
After having worked in a gun store for a little while, I came away with the sincere belief that not everyone should own firearms. It's not a matter of education or experience - yes, at some point, everyone is new to firearms. It's a matter of attitude and inclination. Some people just don't care enough to keep and use their guns in a responsible manner which minimizes risk to others and respects public and private property.
I'm not convinced that mandatory training and safety courses will be of much help; even if they're forced to attend, these people won't retain much or any of the information that's passed to them. Someone with the right attitude - of affording firearms the respect they deserve as tools capable of causing harm when misused - will seek out this information without being forced to do so. Novice or expert, it's the willingness to constantly use firearms in a safe and responsible manner that is important. Yes, perhaps some people just need a little nudge in the right direction. But others will never come around.
It would be easy to say that maturity brings the responsibility which should be required to own firearms, but that just isn't the case. Men well into middle age - hunters and homeowners who don't identify their targets - have misused firearms, with the end result being the tragic death of others. Young people may also be at fault in these cases. The unintentional death of innocent people is the most egregious example of how the actions of those who shouldn't own guns impact others, but the minor actions of irresponsible people are far more common.
Take, for example, those who find humor in destroying public property - from road signs to national park entrance signs to the roof pictured above. Perhaps it's just youthful idiocy which will eventually be outgrown, but every person without a dog in the gun rights/gun control fight who drives by a sign defaced with a shotgun may potentially become anti-gun. Did the Founding Fathers intend for the Second Amendment to guarantee an individual right to destroy public property?
How, though, are we to weed out the undesirables on a massive scale? The bottom line is that we can't. We can't readily identify those who won't be responsible with firearms any more than we are able to identify those inclined to drive under the influence of alcohol. We can punish them after the fact, but that won't prevent their transgressions in the first place. Theoretically, we could have government commissions screen those who would and would not be allowed to own firearms, but that isn't acceptable to me considering the abuse which would inevitably result, and the inability of the government to perform the task in the first place.
This is the fundamental difference between those who want to restrict firearm ownership and those who don't. Should we punish the majority for the actions of a minority? I don't think so. But firearm owners should be mindful of those who act with reckless disregard when they handle or shoot their guns - and do what we can to correct their actions before innocent people are harmed.
And by "well done," I mean "burned to a crisp."
I was introduced to Mario of Piece of History Firearms by a mutual friend recently, and we'll occasionally head to the range to shoot cool stuff like MG42s, RPKs, PKMs, select fire Glocks, and so on.
We started talking about spare parts and projects and so on, and it turned out that I had a spare AK74 receiver and he had what was left of a select fire Bulgarian AK74 which was destroyed in a house fire (for more info on some of the firearms in this photo, see here).
The major metal parts weren't damaged, so after Mario replaced the springs and furniture and swapped out the fire control group for a semi auto version, the rifle was reassembled and ready to fire.
I asked that he not refinish the rifle, which was a bit of a shame since the AKs he turns out are actually...well...pretty.
Despite its outward appearance, the rifle functions without issue. Furthermore (and this is more of a coincidence than anything else), the rifle needed no elevation or windage adjustments. My initial shots at 50 yards were straight through the bullseye.
Needless to say, I was impressed. This isn't my first AK or even my first 74, but as a fan of the 5.45 cartridge, I'm glad that I have this rifle. Plus, I think the finish (or lack thereof) gives it a certain amount of panache.
Looking past the finish, a number of people have actually commented on the quality of the assembly work. This isn't terribly surprising, given that Mario has been building AKs for ten years, and his work is pretty highly sought after by knowledgeable folks in the industry.
Among them were some of the students at the May carbine course, who enjoyed shooting the 74 out to 300 or 400 yards.
Later, I saw that I could hit an E type silhouette at 700 when I did my part. At this month's 600 yard match, I fired a 153-3X out of 200-20X, which isn't very good, but then again it isn't that horrible for an AK with iron sights using surplus ammo, either.
To me the AK74 is preferable to the AK47/AKM, mostly due to the increased effective range of the 5.45x39 cartridge, but also the reduced weight of the loaded magazines. Also, surplus 5.45 is still being imported. If you are an AK fan and don't have a 74, or even if you aren't an AK fan, I would recommend considering a quality example. In my experience, a good sign that a 5.45 AK might be of good quality is a 1/8 twist barrel and/or an original Eastern Bloc barrel. Too many of the 5.45 AKs I've owned have had accuracy or keyholing issues due to a poor choice of barrels on the part of the builder.
This is by no means a replacement for any of my ARs, and I still feel that the AR is a superior platform in a number of ways. But I have to admit that I really like this AK74.
After what we feel was a rather successful first carbine course, Jim Staley and I have worked out the topics for the second course, which will be held at the same location, Sniper Country in northern Utah, and which you may sign up for here.
You may note the inclusion of pistol shooting; 100 rounds of pistol ammo will be needed and we are able to provide this at a reasonable cost for students as we did with rifle ammo for the first class. Another change is that the course will not be entirely AR-centric, and other carbines or rifles are welcome. Here's the list of what will be covered and a brief description of some of the activities/challenges. Some topics may be added depending on our observation of individual student needs.
- Observation and analysis of individual student high speed video:
- Rifle Reload
- Rifle shooting position/recoil management
- Rifle presentation/target transitions
- Pistol draw
- Pistol reload
- Prone fire/trigger control
- External ballistics/theory/terms explained
- Fundamentals of long range shooting and marksmanship
- Refinement of rifle reload, body position, presentation, pistol draw, reload, trigger control with more additional speed video analysis
- High heart/respiration rate shoot with baseline (non-stress shoot first) to compare results and capabilities in various positions, with reloads
- Practical application of long range shooting:
- Multiple targets
- Known and unknown distances
- Range estimation
- Range cards based on individual student muzzle velocities (via chronograph)
- Night/twilight shooting:
- Effects on range estimation, optical/fixed sight use
- Muzzle device flash comparison
- Introduction to practical application of shooting on the move, and the truth behind it
- Multiple target shooting with emphasis on decision making, eye movement, and speed intervals (when to speed up and when to slow down)
- Practical shooting in civilian attire/go bag and backpack shooting/concealed carry/shooting in and around vehicles/medical scenario
This will involve a scored and timed practical application of all skills and knowledge learned, as well as mental and physical challenges.
I am looking for approximately 20 to 25 volunteers in the Tucson area for a blind test of Oral IV, a "rapid rehydration ultra concentrate," and several other methods of rehydrating the human body.
These methods may include various popular sports drinks as well as "Supplement Charge," a substance with a remarkably similar description to that of Oral IV. To wit, both include these phrases in their advertising:
- Increases oxygen uptake at the cellular level
- Raises osmotic pressure level of cells to keep them strong
- Increases body enzyme production
- Enhance uptake of vitamins, macro minerals, proteins and other essential nutrients from natural food sources or dietary supplements
Other claims are similar, yet worded differently. Both descriptions also reference ions or ionic charges, crystalloid electrolytes, and other identical or nearly-identical phrases. Furthermore, both are intended to be mixed in small amounts with water. Supplement Charge, however, is much cheaper, at approximately $15 for enough fluid to "treat" 30 16-ounce bottles of water, while Oral IV is sold at the same price per package, although each package will only "treat" 4 16-ounce bottles of water.
If you are interested in helping me with this study, know that it will involve mild physical exercise and a urine test. I don't yet have a timeline, but will be discussing this with those who email firstname.lastname@example.org about the test.