Category Archives: Weapons Education

Understanding CZ Test Targets

In accordance with longstanding European gunmaker custom, CZ ships a test target with its pistols. These seem ridiculously simple, but there are enough people asking about them in online forums that we thought we’d explain them. We usually have a few CZs with boxes and paperwork around the house…

Don’t get too excited, they’re not NIB old stock (well, most of them aren’t). (If you look real close to the right of the CZ-75 box, you can see a current CZ-UB box that almost exactly matches the black background. Adventures in photography). While we don’t have anything from the 70s or earlier represented here, we do have (oldest first):

  1. A CZ vzor 70 in 7.65 mm manufactured during the pistol’s production twilight, in 1980.
  2. A CZ-83 in 7.65 mm manufactured during the pistol’s production startup.
  3. A CZ-75 “Pre-B”, manufactured in 1987, prior to mass importation to the United States;
  4. A CZ-75 P-01, manufactured in 2015, which is typical of current CZ-UB production.

The first three pistols were manufactured during the Cold War era and the P-01 is contemporary. All four were probably scheduled for production with a view to exportation, although both the vz. 70 and the P-01 were also the standard pistols of the national police force, and when this CZ-83 was made, there was some thought that the Verejna Bezpečnost (police) would adopt it order to retain the 7.65 caliber.

It is our understanding that all targets are shot rapidly, from rest, at 25m, although only some targets are labeled with distance; and that Sellier & Bellot ball ammunition is customary.

We’ll now look at the targets in the same order. The targets are of three different types: the vz. 70 has a small polygonal aiming point inside a rectangular target area, the target used by the CZ-75 and -83 has a rectangular aiming point with the center of desired impact on its bottom edge and a circle centered on that point describing the desired impact area, and the P-01 target is a modern digital rendering of the firearm’s performance on an instrumented range.

  1. The vz.70 target is actually labeled vz.50. This makes perfect sense, as the two pistols have only cosmetic differences; most of the running changes in these small police pistols were made during the vz. 50 years. A late vz. 50 is more like a vz. 70 than it is like an early vz. 50. There are six shots on the target, one a flyer to the left. The legend at top reads: PISTOL 7.65 MODEL 50 and PISTOL NUMBER 652090. The legend on the bottom reads DATE: 29 Dec 1980; SHOOTER: Zemek (with two partial, illegible rubber stamps, one circular and one a signature), and OTK with a rubber stamp which may be the “kissing lips” we discuss below. We would welcome any insight to the meaning of the acronym OTK, but suspect it’s some type of inspector.
  2. The CZ-83 target is a CZ-75 target with the -75 legend scratched out with black ink, and a CZ-83 legend rubber-stamped in place. Whether a specific target was developed for the CZ-82/83 series is unknown; it’s possible, as this pistol has a four-digit serial number flagging it as first year production. The CZ-75 would have been the main export product of the Uhersky Brod plant when the -83 was introduced, and these targets would have been in daily use. On this target, the pre-printed CZ-75 lines (which you can read on the next target) are inked out, and a rubber stamp says Pistol čz model 83 caliber 7.65 mm. Below the inked-out CZ-75 lettering is Distance 25 m, and to the right is Pistol Number 002846. The legend on the bottom reads Date (blank) Shooter (stamp looks like JBICHR [?]), and OŘJ with a stamp we call the “kissing lips” but appears on magnification to be a blurred-out stamp that once had numbers or characters within it. It seems logical that OŘJ also refers to some inspector or inspection title, but again we do not know the Czech acronym.
  3. The target with the 1987-production CZ-75 (pre-B, which dates to 1992) is the same basic one used for the CZ-83 above, obviously without the CZ-83 adaptations. The legend inked out in the -83 target is seen to read PISTOL ČZ Model 75, Caliber 9 mm Parabellum, and the SHOOTER stamp at bottom center reads FICE[?]NC. The OŘJ stamp can be seen to be a circle with illegible characters inside (we liked it better when we thought it was kissing lips! From Moravia with love!). Seven shots appear to have hit this target, unlike the six of the two earlier ones. It is possible that this target is more “weathered” than the older CZ-83 target because the gun reached its end buyer in 1987, while the CZ-83 remained in one warehouse or another until 2017.
  4. The P-01 is a modern computerized target that depicts the fall of the shots graphically on an ordinary sheet of A4 computer paper, and contains a great deal more information than the old targets. There is no point in translating any of the Czech, as CZ-UB has helpfully done it for us. This target represents the impact of five shots by white circles. The blackened circle is the calculated center of the group.

That the new targets are labeled in English as well as Czech is a nod to CZ’s export focus these days; printing them on an ordinary A4 sheet of computer paper and generating them by computer saves time and money at a busy factory, yet gives buyers confidence that their firearm has been tested and worked. (Europeans still have to proof-test their firearms, but we suspect many American firearms leave factories without every cycling a live round).

The Cold War era targets are (sparsely) labeled in Czech only, and are printed on extremely coarse and flimsy Warsaw Pact era paper, which has, as you can see here, yellowed to one degree or other with age. They do have a certain character. If we didn’t want to keep these in the boxes the firearms came in, we might just frame them. How much of the dirt, oil etc. on these fairly dirty targets came from the range and how much from the intervening decades of handling is anyone’s guess.

All targets are serial numbered to the guns, usually with blue ballpoint ink, and have a space for the technician who fired the gun to stamp his name and the date. Both of these stamps are seldom present, but the serial number has always been.

One open question is whether targets like these were furnished with domestic police and military firearms. Our tentative hypothesis is that they were not; instead, the military (etc) acceptance stamp went on when the ordnance officer was satisfied, and there was no point in retaining a target beyond that. None of the CZs we have with Czech military or police acceptance marks came with targets, but all were used (most, well-used) when we acquired them.

Update

We thought that we’d add this: if you’re lucky enough to have a date stamp on your CZ test target, the month will be abbreviated in Czech. Here is a table of the Czech months and the standard abbreviations for those months, which CZ used on its stamps.

Czech Months

English month Česky (Czech) ČZ Abbreviation
January leden led.
February únor ún.
March březen břez.
April duben dub.
May květen květ.
June červen červ.
July červenec červen.
August srpen srp.
September září zář.
October říjen říj.
November listopad list.
December prosinec pros.

Watch out for June and July!

More on the Czech/German AT Rifle

Our recent auction post reminds us that (1) we have to come up with some better way of flagging more interesting auctions and (2), and more to the point of this post, that there’s a lot of interest and misconceptions about the Czech-German AT rifle featured at one upcoming auction.

First, this 2015 post here has some background on rifle-caliber-yuuuge-case AT rifles, like the German and Polish variants, and their rounds. (This archived external page also covers the round). The Germans chambered this rifle in their standard wartime 7.92 x 94 mm P318 round, which was used in the standard German PzB 38 and 39 AT rifles. The round was capable of 4,000-plus fps from a long barrel and the most common ammo was a tungsten-cored kinetic penetrator. P.O. Ackley, eat your heart out. Barrel life was pretty short, but if you’re going to shoot a rifle at tanks, it’s not the life of the barrel that should be worrying you.

(The Russian site that cartridge picture is from appears to be down now, unfortunately).

Those rifles operated by a dropping block, like an artillery piece (or early breechloader), and their principal mechanical difference was that the PzB 39 was manually operated, replacing the “semi-automatic” (in artillery terms) automatic opening and ejecting of the PzB 38.

The Czech rifle used completely different principles, and as proposed for Czech service a different cartridge.

In fact, the Czechoslovak Army experimented with a variety of anti-tank rifles in the 1930s, as part of a campaign to improve AT defenses overall. Many Czechoslovak officers put their faith in conventional anti-tank artillery, but others pursued the AT rifle. Many versions were tested including Josef Koucky’s’ ZK 382, a bullpup repeater which fired a unique 7.92 x 145 mm round, further ZK single-shots ZK 395 (12 mm x ?) and ZK 405 (7.92 x ?), the ZK406 repeater and 407 self-loader the “Brno W,” the Janeček  9/7 and 15/11 mm Gerlach-principle squeeze bore, and several 15mm designs, including vz. 41 single shots, and a bolt-action magazine repeater which was supplied to Italy (in only 15 units) and possibly Croatia. The 15mm guns used an AP version of the 15 x 104 mm round used in the Czechoslovak vz. 60 heavy MG, produced primarily by the British under ZB license as the 15mm BESA. The Czech engineers then reworked into the vz 41 in 7.92 x 94 for the occupiers, specifically, for the SS.

During all this experimentation, Czechoslovakia was dismembered and its Czech provinces occupied. The best was the enemy of the good; nearly a decade of experimentation in AT rifles wound up yielding absolutely nothing for the Czechoslovak Army. (It was a moot point, perhaps, as despite its strengths in tanks and artillery, there was no resistance to the Nazi occupation.

Most of the elite of the Czech arms design industry worked on these rifles at one time or another. Vacláv and Emanuel Holek worked with Koucky at Zbrojovka Brno; Jiri Kyncl worked with Janeček.

By the time the SS received their rifles, they were already hopelessly outclassed by improved armor, and among Speer’s actions in his attempt to rationalize the chaos of the German and occupied territories’ arms industry was to discontinue production of the 7.92 x 94 Type 318 ammunition.

The M.PzB.SS.41 was supplied in a wooden transfer and storage crate containing the rifle, two spare barrels, and four magazine boxes containing five magazines each. There were some variations in minor features (bipod, muzzle brake) during production. Of some variants, only photographs or documents survive. We have found no reports of combat effectiveness.

All of these AT rifles are rare today, the German guns existing in single-digit quantities (the mass-produced PzB 39s were recalled during the war and converted to grenade launchers, the GrB 39).

Sources

  • Dolínek et al. Czech Firearms and Ammunition: History and Present. Prague: Radix, 1995.
  • Hoffschmidt, E.J. Know Your Anti-Tank Rifles.  Stamford, CT: Blacksmith Publishing, 1977. (A .pdf of the chapter of this out-of-print book on this rifle is attached: MPZB41 comp.pdf)
  • Šada, Dr. Col. Miroslav. Československé Ruční Palné Zbrane a Kulomety. Prague: Naše Vojsko, 2004. (pp. 139-142, 197-198).

Update

Well, this is embarrassing. Never hit “schedule” or “publish” on this one. -Nose

Wednesday Weapons Website off the Week: CounterJihad

We have found good information and argumentation on the CounterJihad.com site and its related YouTube channel. It had gone radio-silent after the election, and may be an Israeli-sponsored propaganda effort aimed at the election; despite that, it was generally right about the problems the USA has been having identifying with and targeting an enemy that has no comparable difficulty targeting us. 

If it takes a gang of lobbyists whose paychecks ultimately get accounted in shekels to wake up America, about all we can say about that its, “Thanks, Israel.”

Of course, it could be part of the legendary Russian Scheme to Elect Trump. Russia, too, has problems with jihad and is amenable to making common cause with us, within limits. (The US, you will recall, sponsored an MB takeover of Egypt, and armed MB and Al-Q related terrorist groups in Libya and Syria, after exposing the secular/liberal opposition to Qaddafi and Assad to extermination by both sides).

So is it Jerusalem? The Kremlin? Huh. Maybe it’s just a bunch of patriotic Americans. Because on the issue of the global jihad, the policy that is best for Israel or Russia — to crush it utterly — is the policy that is best for the United States. Not to mention the UK, where The Religion Of Peace™ just perpetrated its only real sacrament, murder, again this week.

From our point of view, it’s very hard to quibble with their election-time Five Point Plan, only some parts of which are being executed already (despite resistance from extremists’ friends in the Deep State, the DC nonprofit/media nexus and among the post-American legal and judiciary element). Explained in a video, complete with portentous-toned narrator:

While the website hasn’t been touched since the election (cheapskate Israelis?), the YouTube channel showed a sign of life this month, posting a new video for the first time in six months. So keep an eye on Counter Jihad. Whoever is behind it, their message is one more Americans (and other Westerners) need to see.

CQB: Attitude Beats TTPs

There’s nobody quite as good at CQB/CQC/good-ole-doorkickin’ as the unit known as Delta. Not anybody, not worldwide. The SF teams that are best at CQB are the ones that train to be an interim stopgap, available to theater combatant commanders if Delta’s too far out or too overcommitted for a given tasking.

Delta’s skills came from its origin as a Hostage Rescue / Personnel Recovery unit, and it now has nearly four decades of institutional memory (some of which cycles back around as contract advisors so that old TTPs don’t get lost) to bring skills back up when real-world missions sometimes take off a little bit of the CQB edge.

In a wide-ranging post at the paywalled site SOFREP, fortunately reposted at the unwalled site The Arms Guide, former Delta operator George E. Hand IV discusses how the most important building block of CQB is, absolutely, the guts to actually do it.

Close Quarters Combat (CQC) is to the effect about 75% (maybe higher) testicles, and then 25% technique. I don’t like to over complicate things, especially CQB…. It is the very nature of the degree of difficulty inherent in ‘the act’ of CQB that bids its techniques to remain very simple, lest the mind become incapable of holding the process at all.

… if you can find a person that will take an AR and run into a small room of completely unknown contents, expected deadly threat, then you already have ~75% of what you need to create a successful CQB operator. All that remains, is to teach and train your operator the very few principles, and the very simple techniques, for room combat.

….

You are ~75% ‘there’ once you have that individual who will storm blindly into a deadly room. Now, it can’t be a person who just says they will do it. It has to be a person that in fact WILL do it, and WILL do it over and over.

See, no matter how high-speed low-drag you are, the enemy gets the proverbial vote, too.

There is a constant that exists, though you may disagree ferociously, it remains nonetheless: “no amount of high-speed training and bravado will ever trump the thug behind the door, pointing his AR at the door, and with finger on trigger.” ….

That’s right, the Chuck Yeager of CQB has a bullet waiting for him; all he has to do is wait long enough, however long that is. I have known a team of Delta men who lost their junior and senior team mates to the same goat-poker in the same small room in Iraq.

Both were head wounds from the same rag-head firing blindly over the top of a covered position. For the senior brother, that room was supposed to be the last room, of the last attack, of the last day, of the last overseas deployment he was ever supposed to make. The wait was over.

via Nobody goes into a room like Delta Force: A CQB attitude primer | The Arms Guide.

That “senior brother” is MSG Bob Horrigan, whose picture (courtesy Hand) graces this post. The new guy was MSG Mike McNulty, whose image is also at the link.

Hand’s entire post is worth reading, studying, and even contemplating. Do you go in, when going in could well get you shot by some “rag-head goat-poker”? (For police, substitute “brain-dead gangbanger” or “booze-drenched wife beater”). Real life for guys in these jobs is a daily reenactment of Kipling’s Arithmetic on the Frontier.

No proposition Euclid wrote
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow.
Strike hard who cares – shoot straight who can
The odds are on the cheaper man.

(Background on the poem. Of all the things I read before going to Afghanistan, Kipling was the best preparation. The Yusufzais he mentions are today still a Pathan (Pushtun) tribal group, frequently in opposition; the Afridis are still dominant in the Khyber Pass area, and some of them still affect green turbans. Only the weapons have improved).

If you have the attitude, and are willing to go into the Valley of the Shadow because you’re not going to be in there with them, instead those poor throgs are going to be in there with you, what are the simple tactics he has in mind?

(Caveat. Your Humble Blogger has never served in Delta. He had a short CQB/HR course called SOT many years ago, the short course which ultimately evolved, in two paths, into SFAUC and SFARTAETC).

Preparation

You need to have the basics first:

  1. Physical fitness. If you’re not ready to sprint up five flights of stairs you’re definitely not ready to train on this. Bear in mind that actual combat is much more physically exhausting and draining than any quantity of combat training. That may because fear dumps stress hormones that either induce or simulate fatigue. Perhaps there’s some other reason; it’s enough to know that the phenomenon is real.
  2. Marksmanship. This comprises hits on target but also shoot/no-shoot decision-making, malf clearing and primary-secondary transition. In our limited experience, almost no civilian shooters apart from practical-shooting competitors are ready to train on this stuff.
  3. Teamwork. It’s best to train a team that’s already tight. If not, no prob, the training process will tighten you.
  4. Decision Making under Stress. This is vital, because the one thing that you can plan on is your plan going to that which is brown and stinketh.

Process

The military stresses doing complex events (“eating the elephant”) by breaking them down into components (“bite-sized chunks.”) The process we use is lots of rehearsals in which risk and speed are gradually increased. One level is absolutely mastered before reaching for the risk or speed dial. (There are guys who go to SFAUC and are still carrying a blue-barrel Simunitions weapon in the live-fire phase. They’re still learning, but they’re not picking it up at the speed of the other guys. They’ll have to catch up and live fire to graduate).

Numerous rehearsals and practices are done in buildings of previously unknown configurations. A culmination exercise is full-speed, live-fire, breaching doors into an unknown situation. It can be done with dummies playing the hostiles and some hostages, and live people playing some no-shoot targets. (George has a story about this at the link. Not unusual to have a Unit commander or luminary like the late Dick Meadows in the hostage chair on a live-fire; at least once before Desert One, they put a very nervous Secretary of the Army in the chair).

The term the Army uses for this phased training process is widely adaptable to learning or teaching anything:

  1. Crawl
  2. Walk
  3. Run

Most civilian students, trainers and schools go from zero-to-sixty way too fast. To learn effectively, don’t crawl until the training schedule says walk, crawl until you’re ready.

Training should be 10% platform instruction and 90% hands-on. This is a craft, and you’re apprenticing, you’re not studying for an exam.

Tactics on Target

The most important thing you get from all these drills is an instinctive understanding of where the other guys are and where you are at all times, and where you’re personally responsible for the enemy.

Divide the sectors by the clock (degrees are too precise) and have one man responsible for a sector. Don’t shoot outside your sector unless the guy covering that sector is down. Staying on your sector is vital for safety! You should not only own the sector between your left and right limits, but also the vertical aspect of that sector, from beneath you, at your feet, through the horizontal plane to overhead.

Shoot/No-Shoot is vital and the only right way to do it is look at the hands and general gestalt of the individual to assess a threat. Weapon in hand? Nail ’em. Empty hands? Wait and keep assessing. (In this day of suicide vests, any attempt to close with you should probably be treated as a suicide bomb attempt).

If you have the personnel, the shooters do not deal with neutrals or friendlies on the X. There’s a following team that handles them, for several reasons including the shooters being keyed up to a fare-thee-well at the moment of entry.

You can’t learn CQB from a book, or a lecture, or some assclown on YouTube who never suited up and took a door. You have to physically practice, and practice, and practice. Ideally, under the beady eye of someone with a lot of doors in his past, and a skill at setting targets that borders on malicious mischief. (MSG Paul Poole, rest in peace, you old goat).

But first, absolutely first, you need guys with the guts to try. George is absolutely right about that. There is much other good stuff in his post, including a funny history of the term “operator” in the Army. (If you didn’t attend the Operators’ Training Course, it’s not you. Sorry ’bout that). You know what we’re going to say now, right? Damn straight. Read The Whole Thing™.

Colonel Cross in the State House

This splendidly-hirsute fellow is the late (very late) Colonel Edward E. Cross, valiant commander of the 5th New Hampshire in the War Between the States. (That “valiant” is not ironic; the guy led from the front, with predictable consequences).

His portrait hangs in the State House, where members of the nation’s largest state legislature and their staffers see it every day the Legislature is in session (which is too many damned days, but that’s another story). Colonel Cross was just a figure mentioned in passing to us, until we received the following in a political newsletter.

If you ever walk the hallway near the south stairwell you’ll likely notice a number of portraits of individuals from the Civil War. Among those immortalized on the wall is Col. Edward E. Cross of Lancaster, NH whose portrait is located right outside of SH 103. Before joining the army Col.Cross was a reporter for the Coos Democrat, the Cincinnati Times and even started one of the first papers in the Territory of Arizona.

Col. Cross served as the commander of the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Regiment for three years during the Civil War. Under his command the NH “Fightin’ 5th” served with distinction in battle at Fair Oaks, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. The 5th NH Vols. were always “first to fight” and earned the unfortunate distinction of losing more soldiers in battle than any other regiment.

Not a distinction that was much sought after, we’re thinking. And we’re not going to explore too deeply what that might have to say about the leadership of Colonel Edward Cross of the Fightin’ 5th.

It was during the battle at Fredericksburg that an artillery shell “burst in front of Col. Cross, and he fell, apparently lifeless”. Col. Cross was escorted off the battlefield and later recovered in an army hospital. To commend him for his bravery the men of his unit purchased him a sword and pair of spurs from Tiffany’s in New York.

Col. Cross returned to command the NH 5th Volunteer Regiment during the Battle of Gettysburg where he was mortally wounded on July 2, 1863. Just before the fighting he reportedly yelled to Confederate General Winfield Scott “this is my last battle” as if he knew what was to come of his fate.

Something doesn’t make sense here. Winfield Scott was a Union General, the elderly hero of 1812 and the Mexican War whom Lincoln sacked in 1861 and replaced with McClellan; he wasn’t at Gettysburg. There was a Confederate general named Winfield Scott Featherston, but he doesn’t seem to have been at Gettysburg, either. But that’s what our source (not online) says.

The “my last battle,” thing, though. Uh-oh. Sounds like foreshadowing, doesn’t it?

The sword and spurs on display here at the State House are the very set that was purchased for Colonel Cross by his unit unfortunately, he was killed at Gettysburg before they could be presented to him. Next time you find yourself by the south stairwell take pause to look at the portrait of Col. Cross and read more about the life of this incredible Granite Stater.

Now, you may never find yourself by the south stairwell in the State House in Concord, New Hampshire. Why would you?

But now you know a little something about Colonel Cross. And aren’t you glad you did?

 

 

A Shocking Update in Florida “Citizens Police Academy” Shooting

Moment of horror: 9 Aug 2016, then-Officer Lee Coel, left, role-playing as a criminal, has just mortally wounded Mary Knowlton, right, role-playing as a cop. Knowlton had a Simunitions-modified Glock; Coel, a personal Smith & Wesson Airweight with live wadcutters. PGPD/FDLE photo.

Lee Williams has an update on the Punta Gorda, FL, shooting death of 73-year-old retiree Mary Knowlton. The police officer who killed her, Lee Coel, has been fired and charged with manslaughter, and the police chief, Tom Lewis, has also been charged with some trivial misdemeanor (although he clings to his job) in what has turned out to be the most incredible and horrifying bad shoot in this young century.

Hey, at least when NYPD shoots nine bystanders, they’re trying to shoot a criminal, and they know they’re firing live ammo. This cockeyed Keystone incompetence has no such excuse.

According to investigative reports and crime scene photos released Wednesday, former Punta Gorda Police Officer Lee Coel loaded Blazer .38 Special hollow-base wadcutters into his Smith & Wesson .38 Special  Airweight revolver, instead of Winchester blank rounds.

ATF traced the murder weapon to Officer Coel… just in case he was inclined to lie about that, too.

Coel then pointed his revolver at 73-year-old retired librarian Mary Knowlton and pulled the trigger four times.

Knowlton was hit twice.

“Mrs. Knowlton was struck by two of the four bullets that were fired. One bullet ricocheted off the engine hood of the parked car and struck Mrs. Knowlton in the abdomen, where it remained. Another bullet ricocheted off the engine hood and struck her in the inside of her left elbow, where it remained. A third bullet ricocheted off the engine hood and came to rest at an unknown location. The fourth bullet entered and lodged in the driver’s side door of the parked vehicle,” the FDLE report states.

An autopsy later showed that the fatal round perforated Knowlton’s aorta.

The next line is one that always makes us lose focus for a minute, because it’s the classically mealy-mouthed passive voice of responsibility shirkers.

The FDLE report indicates that mistakes were made.

“Mistakes were made,” my ever-lovin’ eye.

The mistakes “were made” by somebody, or several somebodies: Coel and the Punta Gorda police chief, to be sure, but also, as an outraged Williams points out, by every officer who attended this kind of half-assed “training,” and didn’t speak up.

Do Read The Whole Thing™, as Williams extracts a whole litany of lessons from these morons, but the fact is, somebody chose the easy wrong (“Hey, a revolver works great with blanks,” over the hard right, “How do we do this without pointing a live weapon at anybody?”).

.38 blank, left. .38 Hollow Base WadCutter practice ammo, right. FDLE photo.

Lee is not buying the idea that the superficial similarity of the rounds somehow excuses the shoot.

Anyone who has ever taken even the most basic firearm safety course will see that a plethora of mistakes — an entire chain of mistakes — occurred long before Coel was unable to distinguish wadcutters from blanks, and then loaded the fatal rounds.

I’m sure there may be some who say — because the wadcutters and blanks look somewhat alike — that they now understand how this could have happened.

That’s bunk.

This never should have happened.

Adherence to even the most basic fundamentals of firearms safety would have prevented this needless, tragic death.

Lee Williams has written an update, calling for the resignation or firing of Lewis. Apart from Lee’s points, just the hiring of Coel, who had failed at other police departments, calls into question Lewis’s judgment — and makes one wonder whether other clockwork bombs are ticking away in the Punta Gorda PD.

One gets the impression that Coel is that rare thing, the sort of cop who always wanted to shoot somebody. Now that he’s done it, maybe he understands why all the other cops aren’t like that. In partial defense of Lewis, he seems to have cooperated with the investigation.

The same cannot be said of Coel. He lawyered up and shut up, getting a privilege you would not, and he and his lawyer lied in a statement submitted by letter, claiming that he had called out to test fire the blanks while on duty. This was contradicted by the recollections of the dispatchers and the radio logs and tapes.

Only four fired casings from Coel’s revolver were recovered, but the revolver has five chambers, and the partial box of live .38 ammo in his car contained 35 rounds — 50 minus three revolver loads. That suggests that Coel pocketed or otherwise disposed of the one remaining live round in an attempt to evade responsibility (witnesses agree that he fired four shots, and traces, at least, of four shots were found). The manufacturer of the casings from the firearm and the matching box of live ammo in the car, CCI, does not manufacture centerfire blanks, and confirmed that to the investigation.

The FDLE investigation’s complete report is being trickled out only to friendly reporters. A partial textual report is here: FDLE Report on Punta Gorda Shooting.pdf

Another news story based on access to the full report contains this chilling note:

Punta Gorda police Lt. Katie Heck said she “probably” gave Coel a box of live ammunition, thinking they were blanks, the report said.

“Probably.”

It’s beginning to look like Coel was just the tip of the incompetence iceberg, and nobody in that department knew what he or she was doing.

Lewis, meanwhile is on “paid administrative leave.” Yep, he’s been vacationing on his failure for seven months and counting. Maybe someone should give him his incompetent officer’s revolver, and a box of what his incompetent lieutenant thinks are blanks, and urge him to do the right thing.

Any Gun > Endless Fussing About Guns > No Gun

Read the mathematical expression in the title of this post. Any questions?

Of course, there are questions. After all, what is a gun (mostly) blog but “endless fussing about guns,” eh? But what we mean is this: too much fiddling with what you carry actually detracts from your ability to get proficient with what you carry. But even fussing and fiddling with guns, holsters, etc., is better than not carrying, so it’s most important that you carry.

If you got the impression that we’re about to beat our favorite “satisficing vs. optimizing” dead horse again, you’re half right: we’re certainly not averse to giving Deceased Dobbin a few good licks with Louisville’s finestkind equine motivator. But really, to say that the endless fanboy debates about this pistol vs. that pistol miss the point is like saying that Colin Krapernick and the San Francisco 49ers missed the Super Bowl — true, but understated to the point where one’s sanity comes into question. About 99 repeating 9 percent of the stuff written on the Internet (or in print) about self-defensive pistols is nonsense, compared to the overriding primacy of following Rule Number One of Gunfights: BRING A GUN.

Note that it’s not, “Bring a Glock,” or, “Bring a pistol whose caliber begins with point-four,” or, “Bring a pistol designed by John Moses Browning because he was the last firearms designer who was not a drooling, inbred retard.” A gun. Gun, generic, one each, color optional, caliber optional, maker optional.

Pure gun-counter heresy, that.

Are some choices better than others? Yes, but mostly in the edge cases. As much as it may tempt some people (Ian?), and as brilliant as Karel Krnka was, a Roth-Steyr Repetierpistole M.07 is probably not a good choice (for one thing, rotsa ruck finding a Kydex holster). Likewise, an old Jurras Auto Mag looks totally cool, but only a fictional movie character who was six-feet-many-inches tall would actually carry one; another not-a-good-choice. Nor are many cheap pistols, although you would learn a little about firearms lethality from the following exercise:

  1. Buddy up to a homicide detective in your town (or nearest equivalent, for those of us in too small/peaceful villages to have one).
  2. Get him or her to give you the caliber, and if known, make and model of the last 10 homicide guns; 100 in Chicago, as you want a whole month’s data. (Wouldn’t work for our town; to get to 10 homicides you have to go back to the Indian massacre of sixteen-fifty-something).
  3. Our guess is that the distribution will be, in order: 9mm, .22, .380, .32, .25 .40. And the brands will include approximately zero that have fanboys.

Yet people keep asking “is this one better than that one?” Eh. Fact is, it’s not 1910 any more. Most defensive autopistols and revolvers are pretty good. Even the cheap ones are safe to shoot and usually work. Tam summed this up recently in a really good post:

“So, which do you like better? The Glock or the M&P? Which one should I buy?”

Okay, first, I don’t know that I would say I really like either of them. The Glock is a lot easier to mess around in the guts of, if that’s the sort of thing that appeals to you. As far as shooting goes, they’re pretty much of a muchness. All these plastic cop guns are, really.

“Much of a muchness”? We’ll assume she did that for effect. Still, her basic point is there, and deserves to be belabored, like the rib cage of our expired equine, pining for the corrals:

If one really sings to you, buy it, but you’re kidding yourself if you think there are vast differences in performance waiting to be unlocked in one versus another.

….
This is the sort of stuff that matters when you add up hundredths and tenths over the course of a ten stage match and probably doesn’t matter dick across a convenience store counter or across fifteen feet of rainy midnight parking lot.

Ding, ding, ding. Do Read The Whole Thing™; this lady shoots more pistol rounds in a year than the average infantry platoon, and between her native curiosity and magazine work shoots a very wide range of good-quality pistols. She knows whereof she speaks; respect that.

And before anyone starts talking about this military unit uses this and that agency is known to carry that, there are two or three facts about military and governmental pistol purchases to bear in mind:

  1. Other things besides raw performance matter. Costs count. Maintenance counts. Compatibility with other kit and allies’ forces counts. (Will you ever fire your pistol whilst wearing a gas mask? Or need to use some foreign nation’s ammunition because that’s all there is? One hopes not). Manufacturing offsets count. And the performance criteria are weighted by somebody and his weights he puts on the various performance measures may not be yours. 
  2. Performance results between pistols on a given test are usually very close: the SIG and Beretta entries were tied in the M9 testing; Beretta’s lower price broke the tie. FN and SIG were very close in recent testing for a Federal agency. Around 15-20 years ago, a special mission unit adopted .40 Glocks, but they only just edged out .40 Smiths, and both of those beat STI 1911s primarily on maintenance, not performance, grounds.
  3. In the military and even as a criminal investigator, your pistol is secondary to almost everything else in your job. If you’re plugging people with Ole Reliable, something has gone seriously awry with Plan A.

For a personal carry pistol, you might want to make a short list, and adopt the first gun you find that checks the few boxes, and carry it with confidence. For instance:

  1. Can I shoot it okay, and will I practice with it?
  2. Can I carry it safely and securely while wearing the clothes I usually wear, and doing the activities I usually do?
  3. Do I like it and feel good about carrying it?

If you like, we can go into the importance of each of those three points. Notice exactly zero of the have anything to do with the sorts of things that fill the pages of gun magazines, the pixels of blogs, or the vast featureless tundra of the gun webs.

See, it’s all about reflexive obedience to Rule Number One.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Camopedia

You probably didn’t know you needed a link to a wiki about camouflage uniforms patterns, etc., but if we were to give you one — this link to Camopedia.org — do you think you can find something good to do with it?

Sorry for the brevity of this W4 this week, but, well, in the game of life vs. blog, sometimes blog goes home with the “Participant — 2d Place” trophy. On the plus side, we’re pretty much through the Ides of March without being assassinated, so we’re one up on Julius Caesar!

How Many Guns In Your “Arsenal”?

We get the impression from you guys in the comments that gun ownership among the readership ranges from zero to hundreds of firearms.

Since we’ve seen that the media counts anything more than a couple firearms as an “arsenal,” we assume most of you have an arsenal at home. But how big?  So it’s time for a poll.

How many guns have you got?

 
pollcode.com free polls

You can vote with confidence, as even Super Administrator Powers can’t tell us who said what. Of course, if you spill your collection size in the comments, then everyone can see. We can’t see how that would harm you, but it’s a free country and you can keep your secrets if you like.

This should be an excellent opportunity for smart-ass comments, from those of you who are so inclined. Tomorrow sometime we’ll tell you what bracket Your Humble Blogger falls into.

Update 1 @ Midnight 15 Mar

We’ve seen some interesting comments, and over 350 poll-takers, with some in each bin but the tails having the lowest numbers. Having just found some deficiencies in the inventory, Your Humble Blogger is pretty sure he falls in right around the midpoint of the 51-100 bracket, maybe 8 or 10 above midpoint if incomplete retro AR receivers count.

Lots of respect for all — doesn’t matter how many guns you have, what matters is having the right to make the decision for yourself. Mad props to the people who keep the light burning in the jurisdictions experiencing firearms Dark Ages.

Update 2 @ Noon 16 Mar

Over 600 poll takers so far. 70-something comments, plus another handful over at the poll site. If we ever do this again, we’ll have to include Boating Mishap among the choices.

For the Man who has Everything: 60MM mortar M224

When you see a 60mm mortar for sale, it’s usually the old vintage M2 or M19 that was the United States infantry’s go-to enemy grunt-whomper for decades, from the 1920s through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and various smaller wars.

Rare picture! A TF Smith mortar crew in action 11 Jul 50. Half of the mortars in B Co had just been condemned by ordnance inspectors in Japan. They fought with them anyway [Signal Corps Photo #FEC-50-4100]

Mortars rule the battlefield; they are short-range, high-angle artillery in the hands of infantry commanders and their THOONK is one of the most reassuring, or terrifying, things you can hear on the battlefield. They are prodigious casualty-producers in the defense, but can also be (and are) carried on the offense or even on patrol. They can be fired in direct or indirect mode. “Direct” doesn’t mean straight at the target, like a rifle, given a mortar’s high trajectory. It means the gunner can see and aim at the target. In “indirect” fire the gunner is firing from behind terrain, and does not have line of sight on the target — he aims at a stake in the ground and adjusts from that position using corrections fed to him by the fire direction controller, who uses a whiz wheel or calculator that’s built of pure trigonometry. (You can do FDC doing the trig “by hand” but man, does it ever slow things down).

Mortars are generally smooth-bored and so their projectiles are generally fin-stabilized. Do not mistake this for “inaccurate”; an experienced mortar crew is capable of first-round direct fire hits anywhere in range.

There is nothing wrong with an M2 or M19. These licensed-built versions of the French Brandt-Stokes mortar differ only in that the early one has a trigger (which is good for aimed direct fire), and the later a fixed firing pin (better suited to fire for effect). They use the same ammo and the same firing tables, are simple as a hammer (although indirect fire with forward observers not in the gun-target line, and fire direction control for mortar batteries, can get complicated), and persisted for decades because they were hard to beat at their job.

But it is rare to see an M224, the widowmaker, life-taker and morale-breaker that replaced the M2/M19, on the civilian market. Here’s one:

When the USA replaced its 1950s vintage 81mm mortar with a new and better one, it seemed logical to apply that same technology to the 1920s-tech light mortar, which produced the M224, a mortar that is as easily patrolled with as the old 60 but which has the firepower, range and terminal effect of the old 81. The fixed-pin-or-trigger debate was solved by providing both and making the feature operator-selectable, so you can squeeze off single rounds in direct fire or to meet an exact  Time On Target, or you can have your well-trained crew deliver a steel rain of shells on your foes. In trigger mode, that hinged bar inside the carrying handle is your trigger… and no, Wolff does not make a spring for reduced trigger pull. Sorry ’bout that.

Even the Marines like this mortar, although they have grumbled about the lack of a thermonuclear round, and absence of a bayonet lug. (Maybe they can get HK to copy it and add the lug. Not sure if turning Oberndorf loose on nuclear physics is a good idea).

The 224s very seldom come up for sale in the civilian Destructive Device market. With the price being asked for this, it’s more likely to go to a well-heeled collector than a casual shooter. It’s a nearly complete mortar with the sight, bipod, T&E, and tube, but it doesn’t seem to have the smaller “patrol” baseplate, just the big one that changes it from an instantly-firing one-man carry to a 30-seconds-to-TOT two-man carry.

Whether those thirty seconds are a long time or not, depends entirely on whether someone is shooting at you (and who). Incoming aimed fire does weird things to time.

The seller, who’s in Oklahoma (relax, New Yorkers and San Franciscans, you’re out of mortar range), says:

This is a live 60mm M224 mortar and this a registered destructive device and will need to be transferred to an NFA dealer. Very nice overall shape and highly unusual to see this trigger fired mortar available for sale.

Ammo is also restricted by the National Firearms Act — if it’s explosive rounds. Training/practice and homegrown non-warhead rounds are fine. You can also roll your own, as the current owner says he does.

It functions well and can be shot with practice rounds or I have been using aluminum beer bottles full of plaster with 12 gauge blanks for engines.

via 60MM mortar M224 : Destructive Devices at GunBroker.com.

And then there’s the other target market — the ones who want to be ready when THEY come.

Because, really, who doesn’t want to be ready when THEY come? THOONK!