Jul 26, 2014

Carry Ammo - Training, not Equipment.


Many years ago, during a cold night in January I pulled up on a corner and saw a man sitting down, leaning against a wall.  He was not homeless or tired, he had been shot seven times in the torso.  While this was not a new experience for me it was the last for him.  The trauma doctors worked on him for a good six hours and were able to save some of his organs for donation, but he was dead by the time he got to the hospital, his body just did not know it yet.

The surgeons pulled out several .25 ACP projectiles out of his body, of these some were intact and some were deformed due to bone impact which changed their path inside his body.  There were a few that went directly through him and were inside the brick wall he was leaning against.  At that time I was very surprised that this had occurred, I was under the understanding that full metal jacket (FMJ) ammunition was simply not capable of doing this type of damage.  What I was taught about ammunition and selection of ammunition was mostly incorrect.  This was not the fault of those passing that information on, it is a general misconception about the topic.

That incident was not isolated however, I came to experience it many times over.  Fatal gunshot wounds that were a direct result of FMJ ammunition in many different circumstances.  Those seated inside vehicles, through doors (vehicle and residential), as well as bounce impacts from shots fired several blocks away, walls and sides of vehicles.

What was the same in all of these situations?  Shot placement.  The gun did not matter, the ammunition did not matter, the holster (and in most cases lack of) did not matter.  Shot placement was all that mattered.  This is something we, as those who carry firearms, need to understand clearly.  If you do not take the time to train accuracy, deployment and develop situational awareness the type of ammunition you have in your gun, the gun you carry, the holster or the speed of your one shot from the holster does not matter.


"But you have an entire blog for gear review? Isn't that a little hypocritical?"

The reason I am posting this is specifically because if you are one of those people who relies on equipment to give you an edge, you are setting yourself up for a possible issue.  Equipment can fail you.  There is no magical ammunition that makes people die instantly. (well, there is, just not for most acceptable defensive pistols)  There is no one holster that is the best at concealment, quickest on the draw, absolutely the best at making you look skinny and not revealing a hidden firearm, it does not exist.  There is no instructor on earth that can take a random person and help them develop life saving situational awareness in a weekend.  A dedication to training and the fundamental understanding that equipment should  be a secondary consideration is part of the process of making you a more capable person.  This is the real reason behind many of my posts on gear/equipment/kit.  If you read them you will see many of my opinions and experiences specifically target use and application.


"Well, all the videos online show modern defensive ammunition making big cavities, you even posted some of them.  Now you are saying FMJ works just as well?"

I have posted videos of Federal HST and Ranger T-Series videos as well as some of my own, non scientific tests.  I have shot windshields and doors during classes.  I carry hollow point ammunition in my magazines, this is not because I believe in the magic of hollow points.  The fundamental concept I am trying to pass on, one which I was taught by competent instructors as well as my own personal experience is that modern defensive pistol ammunition is ineffective at stopping a human adversary and should not be solely relied upon to that end.  No amount of hollow points (or any ammunition) will help you if you never see threat coming, and/or cannot hit your target accurately and repeatedly.


We are all different, there is no one size fits all for gear, we all have our own personal preference, so we like to argue among ourselves over the extreme details of moot points.  If you are like me, I want to have the best gear for me which may not work for you.  We are all in different situations, places in the world and at various levels of training.  The most important concept is to evolve with your training, in order to make you into a more competent and capable person. (this does not just go for firearms, by the way)  I want an edge just like everyone else.  I want to be slightly faster on the draw, I want the ammunition that I carry to be just a millimeter more damage than any other on the market and I want to be able to see my target through a sight that makes aiming easier.  None of that happens if I do not put the time into training.

Reality has a way of vetting equipment/kit very well, those of us who have the misfortune of using certain items which we train with understand the concepts behind selection and training very vividly.  The first time you draw from that cool holster while you are running and take a shot, one handed, in a full sprint should not be during a moment when your life depends on it.  The first time you use your favorite "defensive ammunition" through a windshield, bedroom door or through that shiny new pistol you just started carrying should not be when failure is acceptable.  I am not advocating becoming a high speed "operator," far from it, I am pointing out that what you use is not as important as how you use it.

None of us know when we will be tested, but we all will be in some capacity.  The equipment you choose should be secondary to your skill set and if you feel as though you are lacking in skill, do not attempt to make up for it with more expensive or new equipment.  Put that money into ammunition and training supplies, hit the range, dry fire your gun, run through your procedures and make weapon use and application subconscious so that you can focus on the real issues.