March 1992 – Michael’s Observations

Too Well-Armed?

It was another great day to be in the field with some of your armed friends, as I tend to say. But isn’t that the unvarnished truth? The weather was excellent, and the course of fire we shot was both challenging and interesting.

I don’t want to over-analyze the day’s activities (did I really say that?) because Terence is going to do the main analysis in his write-up, and he has all of the figures to do so — I thought that I would mention a few points of interest, since I was the main assistant of the day and saw most people shoot each and every run.

If you haven’t read Terence’s shoot report, stop now and read it before you read this. Then my comments will probably mean more to you, without me going over the same descriptions of eachstage. All right?

First off, I and everyone else there enjoyed very much the chance to test our back-up or hideout weapons that are just not used in any type of “sporting” competition. Learning the strengths and the limitations of any and all weapons you plan to use for “social” purposes may be worth its weight in gold. Next, everyone got a chance to see what everyone else had for a secondary weapon, and the different ways they employed them — all the more profit for all of us in the program.

Who Is Carrying & What Is It?

It was discussed at the shoot, and by Terence and me later that evening, that there is a considerable difference between a back-up weapon (which could even be a boot knife) and a hideout weapon. He structured the event loosely on purpose, to allow each shooter the maximum flexibility in his choice.

For the purposes of my discussion I will call a back-up pistol of the same basic caliber or size as your primary weapon a “second gun,” particularly when it is carried in a holster meant for a quicker draw than a .25 or .32 auto in your hip pocket or a zippered pouch would be. Weapons which are small enough to be very well concealed (including when your coat or jacket is off) are more properly called “hideout” weapons — and a well hidden knife still qualifies as a hideout weapon.

The drag-the-wounded-buddy stage was interesting and it gave me a chance to try my own personal strategy, even if it was against the “rules” for the stage. I learned what results I could expect in that type of situation. My solution was probably influenced by the moving-target rifle event we just had: not wanting to give the enemies any “free shots,” even for a short duration of time. I’m satisfied by the results.

The choice of drawing the second gun versus reloading the primary weapon is discussed by Terence. I noticed, at first, a hesitancy to drop or throw the primary weapon on the ground! Remember the concept of “you fight like you train?” If you baby your equipment in practice, you’ll probably do it in a real fight as well. If your equipment is very fragile, then you need either tougher equipment or pre-arranged protection and preservation procedures for that equipment in the field.

However, after a few people dropped their pistols from around waist level most, but not all, of the rest of the shooters followed suit. Several shooters knelt down to reduce the impact to their weapons, and then stayed down as they drew their other pistols. Very good! A couple of people bent down to place their weapons on the ground, then straightened back up to shoot; this critically wasted time. Not so very good!

I was reminded again that my derringer shoots very high, and the targets we had to shoot at were at the extreme end of its range — about 10 or 12 yards. The recoil both eats your hand and, because of the round grip, rolls the gun up in your fist the way a single action does. I may now try harder to get around to loading for it with only 3.5 grains of Bullseye; its barrel is too short to burn very much more powder anyway, and it may allow the pistol to shoot a little lower by not trying to twist out of my hand. I sure hope so.

Some people were mystified by their own very slow reload times. I think it was because we don’t load from slide-lock, as a rule, so that when we do it is somewhat foreign to us. We’re not very smooth in getting the slide forward. Some people waited with the pistol at their waists or at armpit level until the slide had gone completely into battery, before they started to move the pistol up to eye level. All that leads to the slow times, and maybe even some of the miscues we had out thereafter the reload.

When you do something different from what you normally do (“we fight as we train,” etc.) it tends to throw you off stride and leave the door wide open for mistakes. They usually occur right after the new or different technique is used.

Several people were pressed for time right after the event, so at the next pistol exercise I will give a short class on reloading from slide lock. I’m sure very few people out there saw me reload from slide lock, because I had no trouble with the technique. I just had trouble remembering when to do it.

The first time I tried it, I threw my slide-locked pistol to the ground. I was thinking I was supposed to go to my back-up. Instead, it was the reloading stage. I then picked my pistol up and reloaded. I believe my reloading time was around 6.5 seconds for this entire, self-induced fiasco. But that compared favorably with some of the people who had no brain drain at all — except for the unfamiliar loading from slide lock, or revolver shooters. I would have been much faster if I had drawn the magazine on the way down, then reloaded and shot from kneeling.

At any rate, we saw the great difference in the time it takes to draw a weapon from “deep cover” (a hideout gun) versus getting a second pistol out of a belt holster. Perhaps this will show us that speed of draw is dependant on your mode of carry and the exact circumstances of your being armed.

For example, if you are someone in law enforcement, you might well carry — in addition to your main, first-line, duty pistol — a second gun (i.e., Officers’ Model{sic} auto, five or six-shot snub-nose revolver) in a belt ot shoulder holster, plus a hide-out weapon or two to boot! “He probably clanks while he walks!” was the line from the old Wild Wild West

Do you remember all his weapons? If you are nose-to-nose with the bad guys on a regular basis, there is no such thing as being too well armed and too ready. Of course not!

Next down the ladder from all the King’s Men (officers of the law) is the person with a concealed weapons permit, or “Citizen First Class.” In some places no restriction is placed on the carry weapons; in others, all the weapons intended to be carried must be listed on the permit. In some cases one is allowed only a fixed number.

This brings up the point of which weapons to put on your permit. Do you put all large-frame pistols, or do you save a spot for a hideout gun? Although having just one pistol available to you a tall is a great benefit to you in a potential confrontation, there are times when having a hideout pistol in addition could be very valuable as well.

Now we come to the second-class citizens in our great country: those of us who, while we are basically law abiding, tax paying, and (some of us) have even done military service for our country, are denied the carrying of arms on our person, concealed. This poses many and varied problems for the SCC whomever he may be.

The problem, of course, starts with the “New American Socialist Order” many of the damn’ politicians are trying hard to bring about, and the “palace guard” for all of those damn’ politicians are in the respective law enforcement bodies that they control. And we all also know that politicians prefer unarmed peasants!

George Bush has the armed forces of the U.S., plus the FBI, DEA, CIA, Secret Service, and a host of others. He be the Big Bopper.

Pete Wilson, Chairman of the Peoples Republic of California, has the California National Guard (unless Bush federalizes them), the State Police, and California Highway Patrol at his command.

The Los Angeles County Supervisors have the Sheriff’s Department as their troops, and Mayor Tom and the L.A. City Council have the L.A.P.D., including the “ram” (which is an armored car manufactured by Cadillac-Gage) to enforce their will on the people.

There are other minor “war lords” — each separate municipality that has its own police department, like Culver City or Beverly Hills. This is not a story I made up, these law enforcement (and some military) personnel are either directly or indirectly under the control of politicians who think they know what is best for us, and are well on their way to controlling each and every phase of our lives, whether or not we like it.

The crucial problem, as it applies to carrying concealed weapons (you thought I forgot where I was, didn’t you?), is when the damn’ politicians want you to not defend yourself or your family from the criminal element. This is the old “squeeze play” on those of us who are second-class citizens because we are at risk from crime and criminals: the laws and/or regulations that are passed by the damn’ politicians make criminals out of honest citizens trying to defend themselves by carrying concealed weapons. It is sort of a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation1.

This reminds me of a story about Chuck Ries, Armand Swenson, and Jim Hoage standing around at a SWPL shoot many years ago, talking about trigger jobs to each other. It was like the commercial, “My broker is E.F. Hutton and he says…” everyone was real quiet with an ear turned to listen to the master wizards talk. After a while, the peasants (me and the other guys) asked the wizards some questions.

One guy asked about the wisdom of carrying a Colt Commander, versus a Government Model, back and forth to his cleaning establishment. I forget the exact opinions given. What I do remember is the guy next to the guy who asked the question.

He said, “how did you get your concealed weapons permit?” The guy who owned the cleaning business said, “what permit?” Then he went on to state that in the part of town in which he did business, he was much more afraid of being caught without his pistol than he was of being caught carrying it illegally!

I believe that statement represents some of what we second-class citizens are facing. We have to risk life and limb at the hands of criminals or risk being arrested by law enforcement officials for disobeying laws that keep us from defending ourselves and our families. Nice choice, isn’t it? Makes you wonder whose side the law is on, and what “justice” is, in this day and age.

The damn’ politicians are squeezing our freedoms in the name of law and order (laws to suit them, and we’d better follow their orders) and the criminal element is threatening our peace and security with violence that the law enforcement agencies really cannot hold in check. It would seem that there is a conspiracy to use crime and dope dealing as a reason to institute harsh laws against the population in general and all firearms owners in particular.

Now, after making all of my statements as a free man, that still leaves us with the problem of what the second-class citizen does about carrying a concealed weapon. I have some ideas because I have been an SCC for a long time now.

First, you have to believe in the old saying, “Better to be tried by 12 than carried by six,” and just carry concealed at the appropriate times. The real problem is: you don’t know exactly when trouble is coming. If you did, you would avoid it — or have a rifle or shotgun in your hands when it started.

Sure, some moments are higher risk times than others — but what about stopping at a Bob’s Big Boy and getting herded into the meat locker by robbers, and then fired on? It happened not too many years ago in L.A., at a Bob’s Big Boy where I ate at least five or six times a year! It was on the way between where I used to live in Hollywood and Uncle Charlie’s.

In those days I carried a Semmerling (five-shot, .45 ACP) in a nice leather pouch made by Steve Henigson.

What would I have done? I might not have waited until I was crowded into a meat locker with a bunch of frightened and untrained people. I might have hung back, near the back of the pack, as they were leading the people to the locker and, when the tail-end man was screened off visually, I’d have drawn my pistol and shot the rear-most bad guy first. I’d have followed that by taking cover and trying to work toward the door, using my last four shots (I carried some spare loose rounds, but no spare magazine) to cover my exit, one shot at a time.

I would have been confident in hitting a torso, or even a head at the closer, indoor ranges, since I had made head shots at 25 yards (kneeling) with the Semmerling and it is quick to single-load.

Unfortunately, because of my financial situation (or the lack of employable skills) I could not continue to carry a weapon that was going up in price so rapidly. So I sold it.

The beauty of the Semmerling is that you can take offensive action, if necessary. With many other hideout guns you’re limited to “muzzle contact” shooting only, and then you must grab their gun to be able to shoot effectively.

If I had the money, I’d have a half dozen Semmerlings. Too bad low production and the collectors drove the price up so high that it is very difficult to justify carrying so expensive a pistol.

It is very much like the problem of carrying a $2,000.00 rifle, with an $800.00 scope, in the trunk of your car, running the risk of theft, fire, collision, flood, and bolts of lighting. We have had discussions about this in relation to our car gun events — the cost of losing the weapon, rifle or pistol, and just what the bottom line is in regards to saving your ass.

In my advancing years, I am becoming more and more bitter about who gets to be armed in our society. I have several good friends in law enforcement, and I have trained hundreds of police, military, spooks, etc.; but just because I did not choose long ago to become employed in law enforcement, I am not allowed to carry a concealed weapon legally in most parts of the country.

Be that as it may (and I will take out my frustrations on the next person who tries to screw with me) I have had to come up with some solutions to keep my sanity. I offer them to you other second-class citizens who are trying to keep safe in an increasingly hostile world.
TV show, describing Robert Conrad as “James West.”

The Successive Weapons Concept

The successive weapons concept says that you may have to carry your smallest available weapon on you (or have it immediately at hand) and use it to fight your way to a bigger or more effective weapon. If you have a good, sharp, lock-blade knife on you, that may allow you to repel an attackor break contact and get to the next successive weapon in your plan, a pistol at minimum.

Then again, only having a knife might not allow you to survive. If you are facing multiple badguys, a knife isn’t going to help you very much — you need a real firearm. People who keep many loaded weapons around their homes, businesses, cars, etc., and are never very far from a loaded weapon, are practicing what I think is the only semi-legal avenue to being continually armed — without actually carrying. You would really have to be Bruce Lee, Jim Bowie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Joe Louis, and wear body armor, to even have a chance without a firearm.

I have been told by friends in law enforcement, and some others with concealed weapons permits, to carry anyhow because it’s only a misdemeanor and I can beat the rap. Well, I know of a guy who got busted by an unsympathetic cop for a pistol visible on the seat of his car. He was arrested and hauled away. His vehicle was left at the side of the road for the car thieves and parts strippers. He laid out at least $500.00 for a lawyer, he lost several days from work, and I think he even lost the pistol. I just cannot take that kind of financial body blow, even once; and I cannot allow my van to be ransacked, destroyed, or stolen for the very same reasons.

So if I carry a weapon, it is with a lot of pressure. I am not willing to go to jail, and I am not going to have a firearms conviction and lose my rights to own them. At that point I would have to exercise what Mike Waidilich (Range Master of Bakersfield P.D.) calls “free will,” which means that a free man can do anything he wishes, even if it is his last act.

I would welcome the damn’ politicians coming to disarm me (and I might even put flowers on their graves every year). But instead they will send their troops, the police, to whip us second-class citizens into line. I truly hope anyone in law enforcement who knows me, and knows that they are coming to take me to the “reeducation camps,” can quickly develop the 24-hour bubonic plague or take a vacation day that morning. When you’re trying to concentrate on your front sight and everybody on the other side is all in the same uniform, you can’t always recognize people who have been your friends.

It is interesting how the discussion of concealed weapons can stir up the juices and passions in an old war horse. As I have said before, I think that I’m getting meaner and more set in my ways as I get older.

We all die. No one cheats death in the end. So to me what is more important is how we live and how we face death when it comes. Steve Blankenbiller, Don Rizer, Jeff Cooper, and I had a long discussion on those very same points after dinner over some wine (I had ice tea), once when we went to visit him many years ago, and I just don’t seem to feel any different now than I did then.

Perhaps it is something that everyone should give some thought to in his life. Where will you draw the line? It might help you to cope with this form of mass insanity that is falsely called civilization.

I guess that some of us were just never meant to die slowly in a rocking chair. But damn it, if I knew I was going to live this long, I really would have taken much better care of myself.