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Boston Terrorist

 I realize that my blog isn’t exactly FOX news, so this message isn’t likely to get to very many cops before this is all over and done with, but still I am doing what I can. 

Word out this morning is that the surviving terrorist is wearing a bomb vest. 

Anyone who has taken my training, or similar training, knows that the ONLY solution to a bomb vest is to put a bullet through this guy’s brainstem before he can detonate the explosives. The best way to do this is with a rifle at a safe distance. I don’t know how much explosive he’s got on him, so I can’t tell you what a “safe” distance is in this case, but I would guess that 50 yards would be about right. Anyone with experience from the Sandbox on this, please feel free to contact me ( and I will post updated radius intel. 

Please be clear on this, I am NOT advocating assassinating this man. But there may be no other alternative that will not cost the lives of law enforcement officers and/or civilian bystanders. 

Do NOT approach this man if you identify him, until/unless his bomb vest and/or triggering mechanism/BHG (brain housing group) have been neutralized. 

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Why No-one Needs a 380

Last week I explained why everyone should have a 9mm. This week I’m going to explain  why no one needs a 380. I realize this is going to upset some people, but the truth is the truth, and I’ve done enough research on this topic to have confidence I know the truth about this topic. 

Now, first thing: just because I say you don’t need a 380 doesn’t mean I disapprove of you wanting or having a 380, or even a bunch of 380’s. We all have pet calibers and guns that we own and shoot for the sheer pleasure of it, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I have a couple little 32 H&R Magnum revolvers that are a hoot, for example. But I for damn sure don’t carry them as defensive tools. 

A handgun is a relatively anemic fighting tool when compared to more serious combat arms such as rifles, shotguns, and crew-served weapons. Those of us who carry handguns for defensive purposes should do so with the understanding that the fighting handgun is not a definitive solution, but a practical one. The fighting handgun is a compromise between compactness and portability on the one hand and lethal force utility on the other. In other words, a handgun is the smallest and most packable firearm you can get, but it’s also the weakest firearm you can get. 

So since we’ve already hobbled ourselves by carrying something that’s less effective than a long arm, my view on this is that we shouldn’t give ourselves an extra handicap by carrying a handgun chambered for a cartridge that is demonstrably ineffective. 

I often refer to the “service calibers” in my work. These are the calibers that are carried by law enforcement and military personnel here in the USA, and abroad. These calibers have all been tested and found to be adequate in gunfighting both in the ballistics lab and on the street. These calibers are 9x19mm (9mm Luger), 357 Sig, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP, in autopistols, and 38 Special, 357 Magnum, and 44 Special in revolvers. (There are a few bigger calibers out there such as the 41 Magnum, 44 Magnum, 45 Colt, 50 AE, and others that are carried by a lawman or two here and there, but they’re not commonly issued calibers, so I exclude them from the general term of Service Calibers.) 

All of the above-named service calibers have been thoroughly tested and meet the FBI ballistics protocols established in 1986. Jacketed hollowpoint (JHP) bullets in these calibers will penetrate 10-12″ of standard ballistic gelatin after passing through 4 layers of denim, and the bullets will expand reliably. Moreover, most of these bullets will penetrate intermediate barriers (e.g. laminated automobile glass) and still perform to an adequate standard in gelatin. 

However, almost no 380 ACP ammunition that I have personally tested or witnessed being tested will meet the FBI ballistic performance minimums. I was at a class last March at a SWAT conference at which a ballistics test expert from Federal/ATK gave a very impressive and thorough demonstration of the performance of various LE ammo (from Federal/Speer as well as other manufacturers). He shot ballistic gelatin blocks with all kinds of guns and ammo, through all kinds of intermediate barriers, and favorably impressed the class attendees with just about everything, even little 38 snubbies. But when it came to the 380, the results were dismal. One member of the class had his new pocket BUG, a Ruger LCP 380, and we watched it perform. The little 90 gr bullets barely penetrated 5 inches of bare gelatin, and half of that through 4 layers of denim. 

Folks, that’s not performance you can stake your life on. 

It may be comfortable to carry a tiny 380 caliber pistol, but it sure as hell ain’t comforting when you know how anemic this cartridge is. And it simply doesn’t make sense to down-grade to a 380 when there are ultra-compact pistols like the Kahr PM9/CW9 chambered in 9x19mm that are as small as most 380’s. 

As my good friend Mas Ayoob often says, “Friends don’t let friends carry mouseguns.”  I think that’s good advice for all of us, and if you’re a member of my website, you’re a friend, so I need to pass this bit of wisdom on to you. Don’t carry a 380 for personal defense. Just don’t do it. 

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Why Everyone Needs a 9mm Pistol

 Everyone needs at least one 9mm pistol. I don’t mean your only pistol caliber should be 9mm, but if you find yourself with just one pistol, it should be a 9mm. 

The reasons for this are many and varied, and I can’t possibly put them all down in one blog session, but for starters just consider that it is unquestionably the most ubiquitous pistol round in the world. I would venture to say there are more loaded rounds of 9mm ammunition in the world than all other service calibers put together. This should tell you something about the utility of the round for general military and law enforcement sidearms use. 

But to get to some specifics:

1. The 9mm is a compact cartridge. This means you can carry more rounds in a given pistol chambered in 9mm than if you’re carrying a .40 or .45.  Example: the Glock 17 holds 18 rounds of 9mm, while the .40 caliber version of the same gun, the G22, holds 15 rounds. Does this really matter? Hard to say… but I know guys who work in Executive Protection who assure me that they all carry Glock 17’s, in no small part because they have plenty of anecdotal evidence from EP guys all over the world who have needed fast access to all 18 rounds in executing a successful protection/extrication. And because it’s compact, you can carry more reloads, too. 

2. The compact size of  the 9×19 cartridge also means gunmakers can chamber extremely small pistols like the Kahr M9/PM9, the Keltec PF9, and the Ruger LCP. I carry a Kahr PM9 as my “always” gun, which means it’s my backup gun (BUG) even when I’m packing a larger pistol, and my only gun when I’m in maximum concealment mode. And I can shoot it very, very well, even with +P ammunition.

3. The 9mm is about as light-kicking  a round that packs enough punch to win a gunfight. This means it’s highly controllable for just about anybody who can shoot a handgun. This means it’s more likely to be an accurate pistol in most people’s hands, and as the late Bill Jordan said, when it comes to gunfights, accuracy is the final word. 

4. The small size of the 9mm cartridge means it’s cheaper to manufacture (or reload your own, if you’re so inclined) than any other service caliber cartridge. Cheap is good. 

5. The 9mm has more than enough power to deliver lethal force to your attacker’s vital hit zones. I have plenty of stories in my files about the effectiveness of the 9mm in Officer Involved Shootings world wide. Members of this website can go to the members-only area and look at the photos of the would-be armed robbers shot by that cop in Brazil a few years back. He was shooting a 9mm pistol and his duty ammo, which was, IIRC, 115 gr +P Magtech JHP ammo. It’s a deadly cartridge provided you put your bullets where they need to go… but that applies to all service caliber handgun cartridges from 9mm through 10mm and 45ACP.

So now you’re convinced you need a 9mm handgun. Which one should you get? 

Well, I admit I’m biased very strongly toward the Glock 19. It’s a good sized pistol, but slightly more compact than the G17, a great shooter, and reliable as all get-out. I prefer my Glocks with a NY-1 trigger, which is more crisp than the standard Glock trigger, and with a shorter reset. Combine that with a 3.5 pound trigger connect and an internal polishing job, and you’ve got one sweet-shooting pistol that is uber-reliable. Other 9mm’s I know and trust in the fullsize category include the G17, the Browning Hi-Power, the Beretta M9 and its Brazilian clone, the Taurus PT-92, and the great Smith & Wesson Model 39/59/69 pistols plus their new M&P line.

You should probably get at least one sub-compact 9mm, too. The Glock 26 is a great pistol, if a bit chunky. The previously mentioned Kahr PM9/CW9 pistol is a phenomenal little 9mm handgun, and while it’s kind of ugly, the Kel-Tec PF9 is a rock-solid subcompact as well.

I have found a 9mm pistol that fits the hands of all the shooters in my family. My youngest daughter and my son both prefer the S&W 6906, while my elder daughter prefers the Glock 19. My youngest daughter has also obtained her CCW permit, and is planning to purchase a Kahr CW9 for her standard carry gun. With my G19 or Taurus PT92 on my belt and my Kahr in my pocket, I round out the group nicely, and we can all share and shoot the exact same ammo. I have a Dillon Square Deal B set up in my shop to reload 9mm ammo in quantity, so we have no excuses not to go to the range to maintain our proficiency.