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Six For Maybe, Part 2

Fresh off of the inaugural Rangemaster Master Instructor class and accompanying social media hullabaloo, I wrote Six For Maybe, a discussion on revolver reliability.

Today, I discussed the issue with my boss who will soon have been a lawman for a mere 42 years. He was the top gun in his academy class shooting a Smith & Wesson Model 66, and he worked for an agency that issued Navy surplussed Smith & Wesson Model 10s. He has some time behind a wheelgun.

He told me that he didn’t remember revolvers failing at the rate in which I have seen them fail in various classes. He then went on the tell me about the old 10th Congressional District Pistol Matches (a pistol match open to all of the agencies within the 10th Congressional District of Georgia) and other training events, and he said, “I just don’t remember any real failures that weren’t related to ammo”.

So then I asked, “Did you carry a brush with you to the line?”

What followed was a detailed description of how they all carried brushes and cleaning cloths so that during any shooting event they could clean out under the extractor star or wipe down the breach face and other such sundry tasks.

So then I asked, “How often did you do all of that?”

He described that at least every 100 rounds or so he would go through the above described procedure?

So then I asked, “In the academy, was somebody always yelling at y’all to do all of that?”

The answer was an affirmative, but then he said, “I guess at a certain point we just all knew that we had to do all of that stuff.”

So then I asked, “Would you foresee problems if somebody was told by a buddy or gun shop guy that to use a revolver because it was “six for sure” and who didn’t understand the maintenance needs of a wheelgun?

The answer was in the affirmative.

Going back the original piece and the position that Darryl Bolke expressed, if you are going to seriously run a revolver, you have to be committed to maintaining it constantly while shooting it.

The only way to develop skill is to train, and in order to train, you are going to have to maintain.

That is a vital point that must be driven home to those who are going to use a revolver.

Six For Maybe

The oft-uttered mantra for wheelgun fanciers is “six for sure” referring to the supposed reliability of the revolver. Whether or not such is actually the case is a matter of perspective.

I pinned on a badge at the very end of the revolver era. I attended a regional academy, and only two agencies still mandated revolvers. The cadets worked in jails, and if they moved to a field division, they transitioned to semi-autos.

Of note, we were required to shoot the “Double Action Course” (GDAC) to graduate from the academy. That course had a stage in it based on the Newhall Incident, which occurred in 1970, requiring those shooting revolvers to fire two rounds, manually load two rounds, and then fire two more rounds all in 12 seconds. Those of us shooting magazine fed guns simply used a two-round magazine. I attended the academy in 1999. The GDAC was replaced circa 2004. Some things are slow to change. The replacement course is “revolver neutral” meaning that six-round magazines are mandated so that those shooting revolvers and semi-automatics all reload at the same time.

A decade or so later, I traded into a Smith & Wesson 586 so that I could shoot in an IDPA revolver match. I won my class and earned a match bump in classification with it. One thing I didn’t include in the original piece on that match was that in the later stages, I had trouble with the cylinder sticking. I brushed the cylinder out and tried to clean it in a safe area, but it took a detailed cleaning after the match to get it running smoothly.

In 2014, I met Tom Givens of Rangemaster and began to train with him on a regular basis. I had the chance to attend his Defensive Revolver class as a student in 2015. In that class, we had three revolver go down hard, as in done for the day. I assisted him with teaching an iteration of the class earlier this year, and we had revolvers fail in that class as well.

This past weekend (11/15-17/2019), I was part of the inaugural Rangemaster Master Instructor class. The class is only open to those who have already completed the Rangemaster Instructor Development and Advanced Instructor Courses.

We had four revolvers mechanically fail, and we had a fifth revolver get deadlined when the bullet from a squib round lodged between the forcing cone and the cylinder. This was during the revolver qualification course, and the student was forced to continue with his backup gun (a J-frame). This is the second time I have seen this happen. The other time was a first hand experience with one of my own revolvers. While this is an ammo related problem, the firearm is put completely out of action, and the fix involves using a rod and hammer to beat the bullet back into the chamber so that the cylinder can be opened. That’s not going to happen in time to save your life.

One of the failures was due to a small piece of debris binding up an action. This was at the outset of the revolver shooting. The person shooting this revolver was Chuck Haggard.

Another student in the class reported the above on Facebook resulting wheelgun lovers forming crowds with torches and pitchforks because their beloved platform had been impugned. Other responses ranged from “yeah, okay” to “Why would anyone shoot a revolver anyway?” The answer to that last question is that firearms instructors teach students, and sometimes students show up with revolvers…

One response, however, came from Darryl Bolke of Hardwired Tactical Shooting. I’ll quote the relevant portion below:


“So, with that background let me toss out some thoughts on revolvers and their legendary reliability. Here is a basic fact that I challenge anyone to argue. With a clean, properly functioning revolver with quality ammunition, they are incredibly reliable in actual street shootings through the initial load and likely the reloads typically carried. That means it will likely fire it’s first rounds under typical use while engaged with a criminal, and should have no issues with another pair of reloads if they are even possible. It does not matter if the gun has been sitting in a drawer for ten years or carried a lot. A proven quality service level revolver that is clean, lubricated and with quality ammunition is in my experience far less likely to malfunction than a semi-automatic pistol in the conditions we find in street shootings. That means, non-locked wrists, poor grip, asymmetric firing positions, interference from clothing or barriers, body contact, disturbance to the gun during firing, impacts, improper administrative handling, etc. They are consistent in their performance in those conditions, which is what reliable is. Where they are not reliable is when subjected to tests of ruggedness. They do not work well when dirty and full of debris. They do not work well when abused, neglected or exposed to foreign matter. They do not work well when poorly maintained. They do not work well with modifications made by unqualified individuals, or used outside of the limits of the modifications. If these are factors, their consistency will suffer. They also tend to require a trained individual and tools when they break or stop working.”

I understand the point Daryl’s point. I also think that by making his point he disproves his thesis somewhat.

I fall somewhere in between on the issue. I agree with Daryl in that a well maintained revolver in the hands of someone who knows how to use it can be formidable for the first cylinder full of ammo. I’ve also seen enough revolver failures in training and competition environments to worry about when that failure is due.

I enjoy shooting revolvers and will continue to do so. I very much enjoy teaching revolver skills. I’ll even continue to carry a revolver in Class A uniform for ceremonial functions because I personally think that they have much more class than any “bottom feeder”.

All things considered; however, I simply have much more faith in a quality semi-automatic for social purposes.

I’m not trying to convinced readers anything here. I know that even though I write that, some readers will assign a conclusion to me and then either praise or cuss me for it. Other readers will be mad, but they won’t know why. Such is the case when you put something on the interweb.

I’m not trying to change Dary’s mind. He is certainly qualified to espouse his conclusion.

As for the Master Instructor class, I shot a perfect score on the qualification course as did two other students. Each of us was shooting a service sized revolver with adjustable sights. Nobody shooting a small frame revolver or one with fixed sights shot a perfect scores. Maybe there is a clue there.

To settle the matter, the three of us participated in a shoot-off. I didn’t win the tiebreaker as I had two failures to fire…

 

Lifestyles of the Armed and Dangerous: Defensive Pistol Skills and Social Shotgun with Lee Weems of First Person Safety

Here is a review of a pair of classes I taught in Waverly, TN.

CIVILIAN DEFENDER

img_0319 Chief Weems, with his Benelli M1 Super 90.  Federal Flite Control was emphasized for it’s ability to keep the pattern on an IDPA target (in the, “down zero,” ring) which means that with practical application of accuracy, keeps the shooter accountable for all 8 or 9 (both quantities of buckshot are available in the Flite Control configuration) pellets, and (wait for it…) complies with the Chief’s dictum of full compliance with the 4 FIREARMS LIFESTYLE RULES!

I recently had the pleasure off hosting and attending a weekend of training with Lee Weems.  Lee is a Rangemaster-Certified Instructor, as well as running his own training company, First Person Safety.  Lee is the Chief Deputy for the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia.  And although Lee embodies the archetype of the quiet, Southern Lawman, he has quite a bit to say about the lifestyle adaptations required to be a competent, safe, thoughtful…

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Rehabbing Targets

Don’t throw those cardboard IDPA or IPSC targets away.  You can easily extend their useful life.  All you need is some quality spray adhesive and some paper targets as shown below.

IMG_9856

On the left is the San Jose Repair Center from Action Target.  The cost is $0.21 each plus shipping if you order at least 100 of them.  I’ve started using these in my classes.  I like the scoring areas for several of my drills and courses of fire, and a new repair center can be put up quickly.  This also saves a lot space in my truck.

On the right is a paper “Langdon Cut” IDPA target from National Target.  An order of 100 is $37.00.  You have to specify the “Langdon Cut” when ordering.

Claude Werner of The Tactical Professor brought these repair centers from the TargetBarn.com to my attention; so, I am updating this article to include them as an option.

That fine gentleman of the range, The Magnificent Steve, came up with a nifty target stand design.  He was kind enough to make some for me that will work for both 18″ and 24″ width targets.

The plans for the stands are available here:

Steve Stackable Stands

 

 

Review: The Complete Combatant (and Sundry Others)

That Weems Guy

I first became aware of The Complete Combatant due to their hosting Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics for one of his medical courses.  Caleb is a a regular presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference, and that is how I met him.  I attended the course, that is how I met Brian and Shelley Hill, the owners of The Complete Combatant.  This introduction resulted in Brian and Shelley hosting two of my Police-Citizen Contacts courses.  They have another class with Caleb coming in September; so, be sure to check their schedule IF you aren’t planning to spend that weekend with me at Social Levergun.  Quality medical training should be a part of your personal safety plan, and Caleb has a solid program.

Another example of the classes that they are bringing in to augment their own offerings, they hosted Andrew Branca’s Law of Self Defense course.  Andrew’s material…

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Campus Carry: What you need to know.

That Weems Guy

In the 2017 legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 280 amending state law regarding the carrying of handguns on Georgia’s college campuses.  The bill was signed by Governor Deal, and it goes into effect on July 1, 2017.

The purpose of this post is to share information about the bill.  It is not to debate the merits of the bill, pro or con.

The first distinction that needs to be discussed is that this bill allows for Georgia Weapons Carry License (GWCL) holders to carry concealed handguns in certain places on campus.  It is important to stress the word “concealed” as otherwise, the GWCL allows for open and/or concealed carry, and yes, the GWCL is required for open carry.

The bill did not amend 16-11-127.1 O.C.G.A. as it pertains to other weapons.  So, if you are a GWCL holder, you will be able to carry a pistol…

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Pistol Clinic with Qualification Courses, 10/24/2015

I will be teaching a pistol clinic at the Red Hill Range in Martin, GA, (Franklin County) on October 24th. The clinic will culminate in the shooting of the FBI and GA POST qualification courses. Students who pass the courses will receive a letter of documentation to that effect. I am a certified FBI Police Firearms Instructor as well as a GA POST certified Firearms Instructor.

The qualification courses are roughly the skill level of what a decent MM level shooter should be able to do. While certainly not a legal requirement, for a person who carries a firearm, having documentation that you have passed both a state and federal level qualification course could prove beneficial.

For more details and to register for the class, click here.

Class Review: Rangemaster Advanced Instructor Course

Another great course from Tom Givens and Rangemaster

That Weems Guy

“We want to shoot as fast as we can guarantee hits.”  –Tom Givens

Broward County (FL) is home to one of the most modern indoor shooting facilities in existence.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t available, and our class was held at an indoor range built in the 1940s.  It made for a very interesting shooting experience. The class consisted of 12 students; all graduates of the Rangemaster Instructor Development Course (IDC).

Tom Givens Tom Givens

The class began with a review of some of the material from the IDC particularly that we need to reject the notion of an “average” gunfight in favor of the term “typical” in that training programs should be designed around the things that we see occurring regularly.  Tom also stressed that shooting shouldn’t be a contest of a speed versus accuracy; it should be a blend of speed AND accuracy.  As he says, “There is a finite amount of time…

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