Monday, June 13, 2011


This was originally posted as a comment to the "DANGERS OF INTERVENTION" post. As it wasn't so much an intervention incident as a "this happened to me" incident I thought it deserved its own post. What can we learn from this incident? How did the author do? What would you have done differently, if anything? Part of the Thinking Gunfighter philosophy is learning from the experiences of others. The author at this time has preferred to remain anonymous.
In the last three years, thanks to about 80 hrs of combat handgun, carbine, and shotgun, I have walked away unscathed from an attempted carjacking where I exited quickly and got behind the engine block as it's all that stops a bullet, as well as an attempted robbery by getting inside their loop (look up OODA LOOP)and having them reacting to me, which is a clearly critical part of preventing/winning a gun fight.

I had just exited a convenience store in a NC city at 10 PM on a 30 degree night and a small guy, with a curiously clear voice, asked me if I had a few extra bucks. I had the hair on the back of my neck rising as well as a screaming in my head that this was not a panhandler but rather a deadly situation. I did not yet know why and never had this feeling before. What happened, IMO, is that my subconscious had picked up a 2nd bad guy coming quietly behind me. When the smaller guy in front of me got about 10 feet away as his pace exceeded mine despite my having my hand on by gun under my coat and issuing stern and loud commands to back-off or we were going to have a big problem, I saw his eyes divert to my left for just a moment. A quick look revealed a guy about 3" taller than my 6'2" frame and 75 pounds heavier approaching from about 20 feet away.

Bringing my eyes back to the smaller guy in front of me he was putting one, and only one, hand in his right jacket pocket. At that point my weapon was aimed immediately right at his chest, time became non-existent, and I had tunnel vision begin as I screamed, "Show me your &^%$ hands". I had learned in a class with a Federal trainer that one hand only goes into a coat to come out with car keys, a knife, or a gun. As we were not near any car but mine and he had just changed to demanding money, it almost assuredly was a gun. Had my hand seen a weapon emerging I had already angled him to have empty stores behind him and I had determined I would break the trigger that I had 1/2 pressure on.

There was no question in my mind. If he came out with a gun I was shooting right in his chest until he fell. I can only say that I know now I can drop the hammer because I am going home to my wife and kids and will do what I have to. I probably could have shot, but I would have needed a good attorney and a lot of money to have done so. Cops I know who I have described the situation to have said I could have been shot through the coat and should have shot. Well, they have their legal fees paid for and I don't for shooting, "Father of the year", as the media will say. Plus, it would have been made a racial incident. I called the Federal Agent the next day and he said to never report such things. If I ever have to shoot someone, which I prefer not to, they are going to bring up any previous involvement and a DA who wants to prosecute is going to claim I am trigger happy. Their job, if they prosecute, is not to find the truth, but to put me in jail for a long time.

I cannot stress enough to those guys carrying a gun out there with a CCW/CHP that if you have not taken at least one 10 hour combat handgun class from a very, very qualified LEI, or former LEO, YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO. You have no idea because, "In a crisis situation you default to your lowest level of training competence". And if you have no training you have no real idea of how, in split seconds, to formulate a game plan. You are reacting to your assailant and will likely be the loser. You will not be practicing a different type of shooting nor will you be screaming, as I did, in the event of witnesses. I have read discussions where the guy who was not the aggressor yelled, "Back off or I'll blow your &^%$ brains out". That's a great thing for a Grand Jury to hear. There's a way for a civilian to likely stay out of jail. If you have taken no classes and not practiced what you have learned, then you don't know them.

If anyone is offended by my words then good. Maybe it will give you pause to get some training from qualified (not everyone really is) training for in both my situations I would have been guessing as opposed to assessing the situation and going into a combat mindset to win. Just a non-LEO citizen's experience on how I went from being the mark to THEIR THREAT, at which point they decided to go find another mark.

Train often, train hard, and carry always, as you are not smart enough to know when evil decides you are an easy score. BTW, I know half-a dozen guys who carry most of the time. My experience has fallen on ears that tell me what they would do to the guys who dared tried to do that to them. Talk is cheap. Tough talk is stupid talk.

Training hard in NC

P.S. I got behind the engine block in the carjacking attempt as I pulled into a spot against a wall and they pinned me in at the rear. I know now to always back into a spot as they will pass you buy when they see that you are aware of their actions.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Issue of Intervention

There is much talk both on the internet and in real life about the duty or obligation that comes with carrying a concealed firearm Many times we hear people say things like "If I'm ever where an armed robbery is going down I'll get my gun out and shoot the bad guy dead" or something similar. Is this a good idea? Should our default position be "I'll be a good witness" or should it be "I will stop evil acts at any cost" or something in between? Why do we carry a gun? For some it is protection for themselves and their loved ones. For others it extends to property, other people, and so on. Writer, researcher, and retired police officer Evan Marshall graciously allowed me to re-print one of his commentaries on intervention. Some important things to think about here, presented by a man who truly has been there and done that.

There has been a lot of space devoted in the Stopping Power Message Board and other message boards to the presentation of hypothetical situations and a request for solutions. The problem with such imaginary situations is that there is none of the untidiness and ambiguity that exists in the real world.
Please understand that I’m not ridiculing those who present such situations or those who attempt to solve them. I consider those who post on this board as friends I haven’t met yet. As your friend I feel a moral responsibility to share my observations based on my actual experiences in real incidents. I don’t want to see good guys and gals get their selves in a jam by jumping into situations that are unclear and fraught with danger.
Let me be perfectly frank. Those who think that intervention will bring fame, honors, glory, etc., are delusional. I once prevented the rape of a woman by butt stroking her attacker with a shotgun while he was in the act of penetrating her. Weeks later she made an excessive force complaint against me. She thought I should have been more restrained in my behavior! On another occasion, my partner and I chased a holdup man into a store where he took a woman hostage. He then threatened to kill her (he had just shot two people in a bank and we believed him!). My partner shot the bad guys three times. One of those bullets slightly grazed the woman’s finger and she sued us for endangering her!
If the rescued individual doesn’t make life miserable for you in the courts, they just might kill you. I’m aware of four instances where officers responded to a domestic violence situation and when the wife realized the breadwinner was going to jail she assaulted and killed her would-be rescuers.
My Tac Unit partner and I backed up a precinct unit on a domestic assault arrest. As the husband was being handcuffed the wife disappeared down the hallway. I motioned to my partner and we followed her down the hall with guns drawn. We found her in the bedroom loading a Winchester .30-.30 lever action rifle. We quickly disarmed and cuffed her. As we brought her into the living room a precinct sergeant ordered us to let her go. When we refused to do so, he attempted to remove her from our custody. When told him that if he didn’t back off we would arrest him, he left to complain to our supervisors.
If ingratitude isn’t enough we need to understand that things are almost never what they seem. What appears to be a car jacking may be the attempt by a father to recover a child from a noncustodial mother. Our intervention may not only be ill advised but we may be acting in violation of a court order. The fact that we are unaware of a court order will not save the day.
Even if the situation is exactly as it appears and you’re even in accordance with the law, you need to understand one simple fact-the law is what the local prosecutor says it is. Do you really want to spend 7 years in jail waiting for an appeal to be heard and your conviction overturned?
I once got sued for in excess of $100,000 for handcuffing a suspect. The city settled out of court even though my actions were totally legal. Anybody who read about this settlement in the paper would assume I was guilty of inappropriate behavior or some illegality. The city paid the settlement and provided legal counsel. Had I been acting as a private citizen I would have subjected my family to decades of poverty in order to pay the judgment and attorney fees.
Situations that involve significant injury or death are frightenly expensive. My partners and I were sued for $17.5 million dollars in the fatal shooting of a holdup man. The legal fees alone would have run into seven figures. We were accused of being blood thirsty, trigger-happy racist cops. The media conveniently forgot we had intervened in the severe beating and robbery of an elderly woman.
All that being said and experienced, I continued to intervene. However, people should be reminded I was a cop-it was my job. I spent 20 years going in harms way for total strangers. Would I do that today? Probably not. I no longer have the deep pockets of the City of Detroit behind me. Sound callous? Well, would you be willing to jeopardize everything you own and your family’s security for a total stranger? Would you be willing to lose your home, your cars, and your retirement to play Knight of the Round Table?
Apparently some people are certainly willing to fantasize about intervening in a hypothetical situation. Some may consider this harmless musing, but I find it troubling. Tactical planning involves assessing all the potential problems carefully and realistically looking at the cost of such intervention. Role-playing or gaming looks at it through rose colored glasses and ignores the cold hard reality of a person’s involvement in a deadly force event.
I carry a gun to protect myself and the people I love from the Monsters that roam the earth. When I’m away from those that mean everything to me, I carry so I can return to them. Are there circumstances where I would intervene to help a stranger? Yes, but such intervention would be on my terms at my pace. I am not going to jump into a situation with gun drawn.
Rather I would seek cover and carefully evaluate the totality of the circumstance. When I was convinced I knew what is really going on I would respond with the minimum amount of force necessary whether that required drawing my cell phone or my pistol. If all we have is a pistol we have severely limited options. I carry three pistols, oc, cell phone, and a flashlight, and I am a PPCT Defensive Tactics Instructor. I am willing and trained to respond with the appropriate level of force even if that is “only” a command voice. I understand the force continuum and know what the appropriate level force is in a given situation. Ignorance of such critical parameters can have horrific consequences.
Those who think the mere display of a weapon will stop hostilities are na├»ve in the extreme. The same people we will be confronting know what an appropriate level of force is and when we make outlandish or unjustified threats we’ll show our true colors. These people can tell when we’re serious and we will quickly find ourselves disarmed and in real trouble.
Again, we need to avoid rushing in where Angels fear to tread. Remember the most endangered species is good guys and gals. Go with God.
Copyright © 2002 No re-distribution without permission.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Some Insight into the Myths About the Shotgun

The Fighting Shotgun is one of the most common yet most misunderstood weapons available to the public. I asked J.D. McGuire, who makes his living building fighting shotguns for folks, to share with us some of the things he has found over the years.

The Tactical Shotgun for Home Defense
“Keep it Basic”

By J.D. McGuire, Owner of AI&P Tactical
Web site:
This short write up is going to be very basic and many of the knowledgeable gun guys and gals are going to be bored to death reading this, however, there is a current trend in the gun world of people wanting a Tactical Type shotgun for home defense use. This is for them as many are also new to firearms.

You may have seen the term “HD” when reading about shotguns. That simply stands for “Home Defense” and any firearm can be used for this. However, there is one that is best for most people and that is the shotgun. These are also referred to as “Tactical Shotguns”

The Tactical shotgun is nothing more then a shotgun with some features that makes it easier to use in certain situations. These weapons are very much like the shotguns that have been used for sports shooting for many years, but with a few design differences. They are what many of you would know as Police or Riot Type shotguns. They have shorter barrels, a larger round capacity then a sporting weapon and other features not common on the type of shotgun you would hunt with or use on the skeet range. They are called Tactical Shotguns simply because they are designed to be used in a Tactical type scenario by Police, Military or Security Officers. In a worse case scenario, they are designed to be used by you or me to defend our loved ones or ourselves.

Design of the Tactical shotgun should start with the action of the weapon. Most common and reliable is the Pump action. With this weapon, you manually pull the forend of the weapon to the rear after each shot and the action ejects the spent shell and loads another shell into the chamber so you can fire again. The semi-auto loading shotguns perform this action for you each time you pull the trigger. The weapon operates by using gases from the shell being fired to force a piston to the rear initiating the same action that you performed manually on the pump action and an action spring forces the bolt back forward loading a new round into the chamber so you can fire again. Some models of semi-auto shotguns operate with other actions by using the force of the fired shell to initiate the action instead of using gases.

With that out of the way, remember this. I do not recommend any semi-auto shotgun for Home Defense, Duty or in any situation where your life is on the line. These weapons are not reliable enough for me to trust. There are too many issues that can cause a semi-auto to miss feed, jam or to malfunction in other ways. They are fun to shot, great to hunt with but a pump shotgun should be your choice for Home Defense. It comes down to the operational design of the weapon and I will not get into all that, however, if you are reading this and trusting what I am saying then trust this part most of all.

The most common pump shotguns used for home defense are 12ga shotguns. I believe the smaller 20ga to be a more affective HD shotgun but the buying public does share this opinion so there are more 12 ga shotguns on the market in the tactical design. If this is a weapon for a senior, a person small in stature or a person very new to firearms then I recommend you look that the 20 ga Tactical Models. A great example of this weapon is on my web site . Put your cursor on the links for the 20ga Tactical. The weapon that you are seeing there is a Remington 870 20 ga. Tactical with the SpecOps recoil reducing stock a synthetic stock that is shorter then a standard stock. It cost about the same as the 12 ga models. You do not need the exact one on my web site as that weapon has custom upgrades up with Police parts and is parkerized. If you have the budget for it then fine but the same stock model from Remington will fit your need.

The most common barrel length on a Tactical Shotgun is 18” or in the case of the Remington models, an 18.5” barrel. Barrel length is important as you will be moving through your home with this weapon and the short barrels are more “Doorway” and “Hallway” friendly. They are also faster to swing to a target close to you. The legal length for any shotgun barrel is 18”. Shorter then that requires a special stamp from the BTAF, a $200 Federal license fee and a lot of paper work.

Choke is the restriction at the end of a shotgun barrel that tightens the shot just prior to it leaving the barrel. This is done to give you tighter patterns of shot at longer ranges. The most common choke on these weapons is called Cylinder Bore or Cly Bore for short. This is pretty much no choke. Next is Improved Cylinder Bore or I/C and is a little more restriction. Next is Modified or Mod. Which is a little more restriction then I/C. I recommend the Cyl Bore or I/C choke for most HD weapons. Choke really does not matter at the close distances you are going to using this weapon in an emergency. If you have out buildings or property around your home and may to go outside, the I/C gives you a few more feet of assurance that your pattern will be affective on a threat. I have the modified barrel on both my HD’s since I have out building on my property but I/C would serve as well.

Sights. Here is where may people go wrong when selecting an HD shotgun. The best sight for you HD shotgun is a simple bead sight. It is the fastest sight to use and the most effective at close ranges. There are high visibility and tritium bead sights that enhance the effectiveness of this type of sight and these are fine with me. The trend is to go for “Tacti-cool” or as I call it “Tacti-fool” sights like Ghost ring sights or Optical sights. These sights can get you killed in a close quarters fight. Do not even think about them on a dedicated HD shotgun. In the type of situation you are going to use this weapon there is no time to find a threat in a small peep sight like the rear ghost ring sight. Optics are also a problem as they have to be turned on, they have batteries that can go dead and there is simply no need for them on a close quarters weapon.

The type of stock you decide on is very important. Length of pull ( LOP) of the stock is the distance from the trigger to the end of the stock recoil pad that is up against your shoulder. Standard LOP is 14” and works well for people over 5”10” tall. However, here again, shorter is better so I recommend the reduced LOP stock which is 13” LOP. If you are short I even recommend what is called the “Youth Stock” which has a LOP of 12”.

There are also adjustable stocks that adjust with a quick pull of a lever and look like the stocks you see on many AR type rifles. These are a good choice for the home where different people of different heights may be required to learn to use the weapon.

There are two very effective tactical stocks on the market that not only adjust, but they reduce the recoil of the shotgun. The Knoxx SpecOps stock uses a cam spring in the pistol grip and a spring in the stock tube to take up to 80% of the felt recoil. It is very effective and allows anyone to be able to handle the 12ga shotgun. The other is the Mesa Tactical stock. It also adjust but it uses an Endine buffer in the stock tube to take up to 70% of the felt recoil. The buffer works like a shock absorber on your car. The SpecOps sell for around $120-$140 and the Mesa stocks start at $315 so your wallet can often decide the type you decide on. Another recoil reducing option, and less expensive is to upgrade the recoil pad to one that helps reduce felt recoil. The best I know of is the Remington R3 pad made by Limbsaver or any of the Limbsaver pads. There are other great recoil pads on the market also. Upgrading the recoil pad on your shotgun is the best upgrade and shooter can do and your shoulder will thank you.

The capacity of the HD shotgun should be 6+1. This means six rounds in the magazine tube and one in chamber. I recommend this simply because most HD shotguns come with this capacity when they have the 18 or 18.5” barrel. If they have a 20” barrel they will have a three shot extension on them and can hold 7+1. I also recommend that if the weapon is going to be stored loaded that you do not have a round in the chamber. Keep only four to five rounds in the magazine tube so you do not compact the magazine spring over time.

Most of these weapon will come with sling attachments and you may want a sling should you take a shotgun training course. Most of these courses require one, however, take that sling off when you get home. An HD shotgun does not need a sling and that thing can get you killed. It can hang up on other guns in your gun safe or hang up on something in the closet. It will hang up on door knobs, furniture and things that I have not even thought of yet. NO SLING on an HD…..

Weapon lights. This is one accessory that I recommend. You need to see what you are dealing with in these situations and a quality weapons light can save your life and it can stop you from making a mistake and using that weapon on an innocent person. The best on the market is the Surefire dedicated forend lights. These lights are built into a forend that will replace the forend on your shotgun. Surefire is one the best companies in this industry and they warranty these light for a life time. They have the best customer service of all the vendors I deal with.

Other options are to use light brackets and a small weapons light or even some of the LED flashlights. You can see some quality brackets at www.cdmgear and these will hold lights like the Surefire G2L or G3L, other Surefire models or many of the other brands on the market. The Stream Light Poly-Tech is another quality light that will not brake the bank.

A shell holder is not needed on a basic HD but it is a plus if you have property or out-buildings to check. This accessory allows you to have additional shells on the side of the weapon. I have several different type of ammo in my shell holder as I have out-buildings and have to leave to house to check them if I think something is going on. One of the buildings is my custom gun shop and with a 20 minute responce time being average by the police where I live I may have to deal with something in or around that shop. Everyone's situation is different and it is better to have the extra ammo and not need it than to need it and not have it. If you live in a residential area, condo or you are certain this weapon would only be needed indoors, pass on the shell holder as it is very unlikely you are going to have a situation inside your home that requires more rounds then you have in the weapon.

This is very important. Take a shotgun training course from a reputable trainer. No some EX Delta Ninja Special Ops Commando trying to turn students into some kind of Special Operators, but a reputable trainer at a reputable training facility. You will not only learn to use the shotgun but will learn about the laws of you state pertaining to using deadly force in self defense. After the training course get out and shoot your weapon as often as you can. Learning the weapon and becoming proficient with it is what is going to save your life.

It is important that you avoid the Tacti-fool mess that so many people put on these weapons. Keep it basic and there is less to go wrong with it when the time comes to protect your life and the life of you family. My contact information is on the top of each page of my web site, and you can call with any questions any time. I always have time to talk shotguns.

Also, be warned. If you call and are asking for a HD shotgun and then inquire about something like my “Police Elite” model, well, we are going to have a serious debate about what you need and what you want. If you have that kind of money, and want one then fine. Just so you understand the difference. There is a big difference in what you want and what you need. I recommend on my web site that someone on a budget go buy the basic Remington HD Shotgun model 25077. That weapon will serve you well and would fit the needs of 90% of the people that call me and can be found anywhere for around $330. Some one asked me why I would send my customers away like that and I replied “because it is the truth.”

If you get little else from this write up, please get this. Anyone trying to sell you Ghost Ring sights, Optic sights, pictinney rail forends, laser or strobe sights, heat shields or bayonet lugs on an HD shotgun or to put on your HD shotgun is just trying to get as much money from you as they can. On my web site on the "build your weapon" page is a link to a video of a man named “Clint Smith” the founder of Thunder Ranch. In this video he talks about the shotgun for home and self defense use and this man knows what he is talking about. He also tells you to keep it basic. If you will not believe me then please believe him.

So let us review.

1. The HD shotgun should be a pump action shotgun
2. The HD shotgun should be kept basic, no frills and tacti-fool mess.
3. Barrel length should be 18 to 18.5 inches with a bead sight
4. Stock length should fit the shooter but short is better
5 Weapon capacity should be 6+1 or 7+1
6. Weapons lights are optional
7. A shell holder is optional
8. No sling on a an HD shotgun
9 No tacti-fool mess on this weapon
10. You don’t need a high dollar shotgun as long as it is well built from any of the leading manufacturers.
11. Take a shotgun training course from a reputable trainer.

So there is the basic HD shotgun. It is that simple and understanding that gives you the right starting point.