Friday, December 2, 2011

M&P Extended Magazine

One of the downsides of switching from Glocks to the M&P is that you don't get to use the 33-round "Happy Sticks" anymore.  That is, until now.

One of my guys knocked this together, using two M&P magazines. 

I was able to get 30 rounds in there before I got tired of loading it.  With some refining, we're pretty confident it can hold more.  In testing, we were able to send all 30 rounds downrange with no problems.

Adding an Arredondo extended basepad could theoretically get you even more rounds.  We'll test that soon enough.

If an enterprising manufacturer wants to make these, there's definitely a market!  In the meantime, we're hoping to make a few more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Hiatus

I know I've been pretty quiet lately.  Like most folks, I have been busy with a few things.  I'm finishing up school and getting ready for deer hunting and the holidays, not to mention the Winter training schedule.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A clarification is in order here:

I think that the recent shooting of a mugger by a permit holder, as reported here and here was justified.

Thanks to this article, in the Pioneer Press, some folks have gotten the wrong idea about where I stand. 

The problem with speaking to the press is that they are looking for short answers.  Unfortunately, this is a complex issue and short answers don't always work. 

Currently, conflicts exist between the required elements of self-defense (based mainly in caselaw) and the statutory laws allowing for citizen's arrest.

Currently, four elements are examined by the court when justifying the use of deadly force in self-defense:
  1. Lack of aggression on the victim's part (referred to as the “reluctant participant” test).
  2. Reasonable fear of immediate death or great bodily harm.
  3. No lesser force will do – that is, you are facing deadly force.
  4. Retreat is not practical.
However, Minnesota statutes also allow a citizen to make an arrest for a criminal act, and allow them to use necessary and reasonable force to do so. 

If a felony was committed in his presence, the permit holder would have the right to make a citizen's arrest under Minn. Stat. 629.37.    Minn. Stat. 609.06 allows necessary and reasonable force to make the arrest.

The article quoted me as saying: “"The two issues I see are reluctant participation and retreat. If he chased the guy, he didn't retreat."  I said that, but it's not all that I said.

What didn't get printed was the rest of my comments, where I went on to say that the self-defense requirements and citizen's arrest statutory laws were in conflict, and that I expected that the court would find his actions necessary and reasonable.

When the Legislature was in session, I testified in favor of improving the law and allowing citizens to “stand their ground” in the face of attack, rather than require retreat. This case is an excellent example of why the “stand your ground” law is necessary. 

Since this article was printed, additional misquotes of my statement have been reprinted by people on both sides of the issue claiming I said the shooting was not justified.

That's not what I said, and I never intended to convey that.

This is not my first rodeo. Generally, my experience with the press has been very positive.  But we all have to live and learn.  

I know a couple of folks in the local gun rights community are annoyed by my speaking out of turn, but the person I'm most concerned about here is the permit holder who found himself facing an armed robber and had to defend himself.

Whoever you are, you have my support, and I hope you are doing okay.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Retro Revolvers

At our recent "Drills and Skills" event, I decided to do some shooting with my Model 64 revolver and really enjoyed it.  I had to ask myself, "Why don't I carry this gun more often?"

I've always loved revolvers.  My first guns were revolvers, most notably the Colt Python I shot as a teenager and the first gun I ever owned – a Smith & Wesson Model 29 I bought on my 21st birthday (for $340!).

I carried revolvers on the job, too.  At the time, having an auto pistol was still kind of a new thing.  I had a Smith & Wesson Model 28 "Highway Patrolman" that accompanied me on many hours of patrol.  

Unfortunately, my financial needs at the time forced me to sell it, and most of my other guns, in 1996. Many of the guns I've bought over the last 10 years were purchased to rebuild that collection.

A couple of years ago, redeemed myself and filled two more holes in my collection by picking up a Smith & Wesson Model 28 and Model 64. 

One thing I love about old guns is their history.  Both of these turned out to have interesting pasts. The Model 28 was sold in Riverside, California in 1970 to a California Highway Patrolman.  The Model 64 was bought in 1992 and served with the NYPD.

The Model 28 is a .357 built on the N-Frame.  When the .357 was first marketed to police officers, it was only available in the expensive Model 27. 

The folks at Smith & Wesson came up with the idea of making a "budget" version of that gun with a matte finish and some changes to the manufacturing process to reduce costs.  The end result was the Model 28 "Highway Patrolman" - a big, solid handgun that inspires confidence in anyone who picks it up.

For me, the Model 28 is more of a collector's piece, although I carry it as a backup when deer hunting. 

I do have a revolver I carry once in a while - a Smith & Wesson J-frame 442 - and I wanted to get in more revolver practice.  However, as anyone who owns one knows, the J-Frame can be less than fun to shoot.  I wanted a revolver I could put two or three hundred rounds through at the range without too much pain.

I scored a deal on my Model 64 through JG Sales (last time I checked, they had a few left).  For less than $300 I got a heck of a nice gun.  I swapped out the well-worn rubber grips for a new Hogue "Bantam" grip, and went to the range. 

The trigger, in accordance with NYPD specs, has been converted to double-action only, which frankly, I really like.  Being able to thumb cock the hammer has limited utility on a defensive handgun.  The trigger pull is consistent on every shot, and the trigger has been polished smooth for excellent contact with the trigger finger, giving greater control.

The bull barrel keeps the muzzle from flipping too much when shooting hotter +P ammo, and the gun is frighteningly accurate. 

Are they useful for self-defense?  Absolutely!  Both guns are great shooters, reliable, and accurate. 
I am sure you are wondering - Erik, if these guns are so great, why don't you carry them?

When my Father died in 2001, he left the family a restored 1957 Ford Thunderbird.  Driving that car was both exhilarating and terrifying.  No seat belts, no air bags, no power steering and an engine that was all horsepower.  The T-Bird represented top of the line performance for 1957, but with very little utility in 2001. Parts were expensive and just keeping it stored was costing us.  Ultimately, we decided to sell it.
The car I drive every day is no T-Bird.  But it's reliable and easy to maintain - and I look for the same traits in a defensive handgun.

These two revolvers are like my Dad's old T-Bird.  They are beautiful, powerful, rich in history, and excellently designed - but not as practical as other guns. 

So why don't I carry these fine revolvers?  Because there are guns out there like the M&P, Glock, and others which fulfill the role of a defensive handgun more effectively.  Granted, both revolvers would be effective for self-defense in a pinch, but there are guns out there that are lighter to carry, easier to shoot, and carry more ammo. 

The guns I carry are my daily drivers.  I've got no more affinity for them than my Toyota Camry.

But like most of us, I too own guns that, every now and then, I like to take out for a Sunday drive.  And that's pure joy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Emily gets her gun - maybe, anyway.

Washington Times commentator Emily Miller recently started a series of articles about buying a gun in Washington, DC. 

Living in Minnesota, it's easy to forget just how bad it is in other states.  If I wanted to buy a pistol in Minnesota, it's a pretty simple affair.  Just acquire a Permit to Purchase for free from my Police Department (which takes seven days), go to the gunshop, and buy what I want.  The Permit to Purchase is good for one year.

Alternately, you can acquire a Permit to Carry from your Sheriff, which is more expensive (around $100 for the training and another $100 for the permit fee) but good for 5 years.  Of course, there is the added benefit of being able to actually carry your gun once you get the Permit.

On a trip through Illinois some time back, a friend of mine and I stayed over in a hotel in a suburb of Chicago.  Complying our best with the Federal "Safe Passage" law, we had our guns locked in cases.  As my friend prepared for bed, he uncased his pistol, loaded it, and put it on the nightstand.  I pointed out to him that this was illegal.

"What do you mean?"  he asked.  "We're renting this hotel room, it's our home for the night."

"That's true" I agreed, but in Illinois it's illegal for us to possess a firearm - even in our own home - without a Firearms Owner ID card (FOID card), which we can't acquire as non-residents. 

The reality of that sunk in.  In Illinois, it's a felony to do something that we do in Minnesota every single day!  Depending on local law, just having a gun on your nightstand could equal a lengthy prison sentence.

For the most part, we feel secure in our gun rights in Minnesota.  But we should never forget that with just a couple of legislative moves, we could be living the life of gun owners in Illinois or DC. 

Click here to read Emily's saga of buying a gun in DC

My next Permit to Carry Classes are in Kenyon, Minnesota on Oct. 15 and Minneapolis on Oct. 16.  Drop me a line if you would like to sign up!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Tally for 2011 - so far

The tally so far, for 2011:

Two Low-Light Shooting classes
Eight Permit-to-Carry classes
Five Basic Defensive Handgun classes
Three Individual Instruction students
One Advanced Handgun/Shotgun class
One Defensive Rifle Class
One Close-Quarter Handgun Class
One Drills & Skills session

171 Training Hours

112 Students

It's been a great year, and we're not even done yet!

Drills and Skills!

Wanting to do something to reward my students for their support, I came up with the idea for a "Drills and Skills" day - an opportunity for my students to run some different and challenging drills, based on what they have learned in our courses.  We ran our first session on Oct. 1, and it was a huge success.

We started with the usual safety briefing, with some additional discussion about the shooting stages and targets we were planning to run today.

Participants were given time to gear up, load and check their weapons.  We run a "hot range" which means that shooters are expected to wear their guns and keep them loaded, just like they do in real life.
A side-berm was designated as a "gun handling zone" for anyone not on the firing line.

Here are the drills we fired, in order.  Please note that we modified some of them to meet our facility's capabilities and training needs.  In most cases, we adjusted times or ranges slightly. 

We also used the QSI method of determining hits - all hits to the body midline count.  There are no "points" you either hit it or your don't.

We ran most of the drills at least three times each.

Targets were B27 silhouettes with a body midline hitbox drawn on them.  The scoring box starts at the eye level and runs down to the navel, and is about 6" wide.  We also used a pepper-popper type steel target. 

All drills started with the gun holstered and the shooter in the interview stance, unless specified.

Hackathorn "Three Target" drill
Distance: 7 yards
Target: B27
Stage 1: Six shots, slow fire in 1 minute.
Stage 2: Six shots, 10 seconds.
Stage 3: Six shots, 5 seconds. 

The goal of this drill is to demonstrate the importance of fundamentals, and show how small errors in slow fire can be magnified as you speed up.

El Presidente
Distance: 7 yards
Targets: B27, each spaced one yard apart.
The shooter starts with their back to the target and hands in the air ("surrender" position).  On the signal, they pivot, draw, and engage each target with two shots.

Bill Drill
Distance: 7 yards
Target: B27

Six shots, as fast and as accurately as possible.  All hits must be in the body midline.

Dozier Drill
Distance: 10 yards
Targets: 5 steel "poppers"

The shooter starts on the firing line with pistol holstered.  Further down the line we had an AK47 in a case, unloaded with a full magazine sitting beside it. 

On the start signal, the shooter engages each target with two shots while another shooter uncases, loads, and fires the AK.  The shooter must complete the drill before the AK is fired.

We ran this several times.  To make it more interesting we ran it first with the case zipped shut, then with the case open.

History of this drill

NTI Challenge
Distance: 10 yards
Targets: Three B27s spaced 1 yard apart

The shooter starts sitting in a chair with their hands on their knees.  On the start signal, the shooter stands up, moves laterally, and engages the three targets. 

MerCop's MCS Reaction Drill
Distance: variable (greater than 7 yards)
Targets: B27

The shooter starts walking towards the target from the 25yard line.  Before they reach the 7 yard line, a coach tosses a ball downrange into their field of vision.  When they see the ball, they move laterally and engage the target with four shots.

The purpose of this drill is to challenge shooters with a visual cue to shoot, rather than an audio cue.
We mixed it up by having a roleplayer make the target "talk" and the shooter have to respond. 

The second time we ran the drill, the shooter was accompanied by an "unarmed friend."  In addition to engaging the target, they had to move the friend off the line of attack and protect them.

Everyone had a great time, and we're looking forward to doing more of this, not just with pistols, but rifles and shotguns as well.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Truth in Training

In 1988, I enlisted in the United States Army.  While most people who enlist are driven by patriotism or a sense of duty, I did it because my life wasn’t going anywhere and I didn’t feel I had a lot of options.  I liked guns and I wanted to be a cop; joining the Army seemed like a fast-track option to that career.
As I write this, the “War on Terror” and occupation of Iraq have been going on for several years, and I think we can agree that anyone joining today’s military can expect to be exposed to combat in some form or another.  In 1988, it was different.  We hadn’t had a full-scale “war” since Vietnam.  My perception at the time (having done no real research) was that I was unlikely to go to war during my five-year enlistment.
I signed up for Military Police, expecting to spend my time working law enforcement in a garrison environment.  Basic Training and MP School was a rude awakening when I was introduced to the world of MP “Combat Support” operations.  I learned, much to my surprise, that in addition to law enforcement, MPs were responsible for area security, prisoner of war operations, and something called “Battlefield Circulation Control” which is best described as managing transportation routes.
Resigned to my fate, I embraced the possibility of being a combat soldier, and expected – rightly so – that the Army would teach me everything I needed to know.  During our 17 weeks of training (MP Basic Training and MP School are combined into a single course) we learned how to use several different weapons.
At the time, the Army was transitioning between weapon systems, and old was replacing new.  As these weapons systems were phased out, new recruits would be trained on the new equipment, but so long as it remained in use, we had to train on the new and old systems.  As a result, we had to learn multiple systems.  The M16a2 was replacing the M16a1, we had to learn both.  The M9 pistol was replacing the M1911a1.  We had to learn both, plus the .38 revolver, which the Army issued to women at the time in lieu of the .45.   The AT4 rocket launcher was replacing the LAW.  The M249 SAW machine gun was being added to the inventory in addition to the M60. 
Some of these weapons we fired a full “qualification” on, while others we fired for “familiarization” which is the Army’s way of saying we shot it at least once.
I found myself stationed in Panama in 1989.  Like Grenada, what happened there is barely a footnote in the history books.  It was a scary time, and finally came to a head in December 1989 when a US officer was killed by Panamanian troops.  On the night of December 19, the shooting started.
I’d been convinced that the Army had taught me everything I needed to know about marksmanship.  On the morning of December 20, 1989, I took what my mentor, John Farnam, calls “The Test.”  Despite everything going wrong, I managed to survive, not so much by skill, but by sheer luck.  Realizing my training had failed me, I stood in the jungle at a place called Ancon Hill and cursed the “instructors” at Fort McClellan for not only failing to do their job, but lying to me about it. 
It’s been an awful long time since that day, and a lot has happened since then, but every time I step into a classroom, every time I step onto a shooting range, I make a simple commitment: I’m not going to lie to my students.  In order to be an effective trainer, you have to be honest with your students and yourself about their capabilities, your capabilities, and the harsh realities of self-defense. 
It might not be what they want to hear, but you are doing a disservice to them if you don't stay true.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Special Deal: Permit to Carry and Defensive Handgun with a $25 discount!

We're running a special deal to close out 2011.  With Winter just around the corner, we don't expect to be out much after the end of October.  So we're running one last Basic Defensive Handgun course before the snow falls.

We also have two Permit-to-Carry Courses scheduled in October, one in Kenyon on Oct 15 and one in Minneapolis/St. Paul on Oct. 16. 

We believe that the best training for a person who wants a carry permit it to take both classes.  The Permit-to-Carry course provides you with an understanding of the legal and moral implications, liabilities, and responsibilities that come associated with carrying a handgun.   In this class, you learn how to stay out of trouble.  It's not so much a class about "How to Shoot" as it is "How to Avoid Having to Shoot."

The Basic Defensive Handgun class provides you with the practical skills you need to use your handgun in self-defense, should you find yourself in trouble.  This class will teach you "How to Shoot."

So what's the deal?  Sign up for a Permit to Carry class and receive a $25 discount on a Defensive Handgun Class.  You can use this discount at the October 22 Class, or wait until 2012 when we resume outdoor classes.  It's up to you, as long as you use it by October of next year.

If you have any questions, or want to sign, up, just drop us a line at 612-702-5517.

Need some 9mm defensive ammo?

I have 400 rounds of Federal 115-grain 9mm +P+ hollowpoints.  Retail on these is around $40/box.

I'm selling all 8 boxes for $150.  Contact me if you are interested!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Run towards the shooting, or run for the door?

It's been recently brought to light that one of the witnesses to the shooting at the IHOP restaurant in Carson City, Nevada was armed with a pistol. According to reports:

"The owner of the BBQ across the street had a clear shot of him walking into the IHOP after he killed the lady motorcycle rider but didn’t take it, citing "it was a pistol against an AK, what was I going to do?""

This revelation resulted in a number of comments, some supportive and not so much. I won't comment on second-guessing the BBQ store owner's decision, because, frankly, it was his to make.

Every now and then, I hear someone say “Wouldn't it be great if there was a person with a legally carried handgun present at one of these active shooter incidents?” Well, despite the best efforts of the press to ignore it, it's happened several times.

1997 – Pearl, Mississippi: Assistant Principal Joel Myrick used his .45-caliber pistol to stop a 16-year-old who had shot nine students, two fatally. Myrick had to run to his car parked 1,000 feet from the school to retrieve his gun before he could run back and use it.

2002 – Grundy, Virginia: at the Appalachian School of Law, an adult killed a professor and a student and wounded three classmates before two college students retrieved their firearms and stopped the killer, who surrendered at gunpoint.

2005 – Tacoma, Washington: When a gunman opened fire in a shopping mall, Brandon (Dan) McKown, drew his lawfully carried pistol and verbally commanded Maldonado to put down his gun. Maldonado's response was to fire on McKown, striking him once in the leg and four times in the torso, damaging McKown's spine and leaving him paralyzed.

2005 – Tyler, Texas: after a gunman shot and killed his estranged wife on the courthouse steps, handgun permit holder Mark Wilson drew his gun and confronted him. Wilson was killed by the gunman.

2007 – Salt Lake City, Utah: when a gunman opened fire at the Trolley Square Mall, he was stopped after exchanging fire with an off-duty police officer. The officer was out of his jurisdiction and for all intents and purposes acting as an armed citizen.

As we see from these incidents, the outcome in these cases is never going to be good! At best, a person who intervenes in a shooting can expect to be ignored (the fantasy of heroic recognition is a false one). At worst, you can expect to be seriously injured or killed. Worries about being arrested or sued pale in comparison to the very real threat that, if you get into a gunfight, you might get shot!

If the gunman is threatening you or your loved ones, that's a no-brainer. But should you run towards the gunman instead of the door?

In our classes, the question inevitably comes up, “what should we do?” Our advice is to consider the following:

Is this for real?
A colleague of mine once told me of a case where a well-meaning student of his drew a gun during what he thought was a robbery – and turned out to be the filming of a crime-prevention commercial. Before you get involved, make darn sure those are real guns and real danger – and not some juvenile prank.

Is there anyone here who I am personally responsible for?
As a husband and father, it's my responsibility to care for and protect my wife and son. If they are with me, I'm getting them out before considering anything else.

So, let's make it easy. You're sure this is for real and you're by yourself. Should you engage the bad guy or not?

One important question is, can you take him? In the incidents above, one person got killed trying and the other one was grievously wounded. Do you have the training to handle this situation? Unless you are absolutely sure, I'd advise you to get out.

In addition to injury and death, you can't ignore other liabilities. You could get shot (by mistake, I hope) by responding police. You could get shot by another permit holder who is unaware of your intentions. If you are wounded, nobody but YOU is going to pay your medical bills. Assuming you get through unscathed, you can expect to get sued, investigated, arrested, and charged. It's not a decision to take lightly.

Whether you engage or run for the exit is ultimately going to be up to you. What you need to do NOW is decide under what circumstances you are going to act, and if your training is adequately preparing you for your planned course of action.


We're still building the new and improved QSI Training website, but in the meantime, I wanted to get the blog off the ground, so I'm taking advantage of the Blogger service. 

Stay tuned for commentary of the state of firearms training, self-defense, and information about QSI Training classes.  We've got a lot planned for the rest of 2011 and 2012!