I’ll begin by saying I’ve admired Gabe Suarez and his works for many years. Long-time blog readers of GiA will also know I am a disciple of Jeff Cooper.
Having said that, I am not inflexible. Of course, I do not have the financial means to make changes to my armament and ammunition at a moments notice.
Here is what Mr. Suarez had to say recently regarding how he differs from Col. Cooper’s teachings, and their history together (from Facebook):
THE SUAREZ SYSTEM – HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Thursday, June 08, 2017
I was asked how the Suarez material differs from the Modern Technique invented/codified by Jeff Cooper. Here it is…a long read, but it sets down the historical context.
I attended Gunsite in 1990. Cooper was there as were a few of the current “stalwarts” for the modern technique, a couple of SEALs and an entire group of LAPD SWAT with 1911s. I was running my issued weapon, as crappy as it was, a Smith & Wesson 5906 that had been tuned up by Steve Deladio in Long Beach, CA. While I was open minded, I did have some ideas about what was what since I had been working around criminals, gang members and killers for five years.
I had not been in a gunfight yet, but I was around alot of guys who had. In the end, I got top score and won the shootoff, against all of those guys. Cooper and I became friends, and I attended Gunsite every year until 1995. So one could say I became well versed in the Modern Technique. In Cooper’s words in the Intro to Tactical Pistol he described me as, although I would never use them to describe myself, “a master pistolero”. I say that only to illustrate my understanding of the modern technique.
The Modern Technique was born in the competitive field, not the battlefield. I didn’t read this…Cooper told me. The exercise was a man versus man shootoff, involving a draw from the holster, at some ten yards. In that sense, the competition was in fact open. And for that problem, some trends began to emerge. Below eye level shooting, or any moving while drawing – while quite popular with men like Askins, and Bryce, and other accomplished killers for close up shooting – didn’t work so well in that interval.
And since the goal was to hit before the other man hit, there was no need to move or use cover. What won was standing at ease, bringing the pistol up to eye level with both hands, and using the sights. When one man won, others emulated his method and also won.That is the over riding problem with sporting events derived from martial pursuits.
And Cooper, ever the academic, studied and identified the trends, duplicating it in his works.
Now, I respect Cooper’s memory and was proud to call him my friend. And I will say that he was not as close minded as his followers are. I shared the gunfight where I discovered “getting off the X” with him and he said that under those circumstances, it was a brilliant move. I still have that letter somewhere, and I know he mentioned it in his newsletter.
Between my intro to the Modern Technique and the height of my teaching career, I had the good fortune to be in a few gunfights…as the primary shooter. I also investigated a great number of shootings between bad guys and a few with good guy versus bad guys. I began to see trends that the modern technique did not address. As well the gunfight I told Cooper about where the concept of moving off the target line while drawing and shooting was crystallized for me, revealed many shortcomings in the MT methods.
In those days there was no internet or Google. Knowledge was passed on either via scholarly articles in police journals (forget getting anything of value in the gun rags of the day) – or via word of mouth.
In that gunfight, my third I think it was, although alert, I was in a reactive state. I moved to avoid being shot and shot back without a perfect sight picture and killed my adversary. I noted all of this and sought answers. Eventually I came across the works of John Boyd and the OODA cycle which explained in detail why my tactic of movement had allowed me to prevail in a situation where we otherwise would have shot each other. The study continued and by the close of my police career I had used that same method several times with success.
There was no force on force back then. There was Simunitions which was extremely expensive and being a UK company, they despised the idea of lowly civilians using their equipment. Some guys basically stole the gear (I actually mean borrowed for a lengthy period) from their agencies to train, but that was rare…and still is.
As well the anal-retentive range practices precluded anything other than a stationary stand and deliver training system. Eventually however, we brought in Airsoft and worked the training, simulating gunfights over and over and over. We determined that the initiative (who had started things) would determine the successful tactics of each party. We determined that moving kept you safe, while standing, or ceasing movement lead to you getting shot. We also determined those weaver stances, isosceles stances, or any hold on the weapon that was “stance dependent” was untenable in a close range reactive gunfight.
In 2004 or 2005 we had a Force On Force class…the first one, in Las Vegas. I set guys up facing each other at five yards. Armed with airsoft pistol analogs to their real weapons, and suitably protected with face masks, I told them to “GO”. This simulated a true gunfight to a far greater degree than any range exercise these men had ever seen before.
We had extremely accomplished Modern Technique guys totally change their perspectives on gunfighting after that class. We had “Combat Masters” from Taylor’s and Front Sight get their asses handed to them by first time attendees, school teachers, doctors, and students who understood what we were teaching.
And we have been developing it more and more and more ever since. I will tell you and anyone on earth that the gunfighting system taught at the Suarez School is by far the best system to keep you alive in a gunfight, and to help you kill your enemy at the same time. That was the beginning of “our system”.
Now to differences –
Specifically the Modern Technique relies heavily of being alert. In the modern world that is not always possible, and we know that while we try to be thus, the distractions of modern life will impede our incessant “Yellow”. We differ in that we understand the natural inclination, as well as the fact that if one is alert, he will often avoid/evade most problems.
Gunfighting is for when you were taken by surprise and so, a strong reactive understanding is essential. So MT is proactive, which happened maybe half the time. We do not ignore it, but we do not fixate on it either. Our system begins at reactive since that is where most lone operators will be when they realize they need to kill the other man.
Secondly we have the Weaver stance. Perhaps men are stronger today than they were in those days, but we have found in proactive shooting there is no need for the dynamics of the weaver stance with a moderately developed upper body and hand strength. All one has to do is look at what the world’s champion shooters use and you will not find weaver stances there. Often times what is needed is simply getting the weapon out quickly and punching it forward, working the trigger as you do so. Watch a force on force event and you will not see any weaver or isosceles stances. You will see a great deal of one handed shooting.
Next is the matter of Flash Sight Picture. This is but one step in a long continuum of visual references with regard to the handgun. On one extreme you have the pistol just clearing the holster, and the operator relying on pure body index and proximity to the threat. Midway we have meat and metal…the meat of the bad guy surrounding the metal image of the slide. And eventually, arms at full extension, eyes fully on the front sight or red dot, and pure marksmanship at hand. So we do not ignore the “flash sight picture” but it is not a complete use of the sights, or the body indexes either.
The next MT component is Compressed Surprise Break. Again, like the issue of the sights, working the trigger is far more involved with respect to the dynamics of the fight than merely a compressed surprise break. There are times when mashing the trigger just as fast and as hard as you can is called for. Other times we work it like a sniper rifle. All of this, and the way we work the sights is based on distance interval, and the degree of initiative you have in the fight.
Finally, the Semi-automatic pistol in a large caliber. Cooper and his men were very fond of the 1911 in 45 ACP. I don’t carry one of those. I carry a Glock 9mm. I have seen men shot with modern 9mm anti-personnel ammo and have never seen the failures we hear about in the old articles. We have several ER doctors who report that there is virtually no difference between 9mm and the other calibers. So I feel well armed, as do those who know, with a modern 9mm pistol. As well we do not subscribe to the “controlled pairs” or “hammers”. We shoot them to the ground. We rely on bursts. A burst is three to five rounds. Our school solution is a burst to the chest and a burst to the face. And of course, in proactive events, we shot for the face and head exclusively.
That is it in a nutshell. As well, our working of the pistol is vastly different. We are goal driven and focus on the state of the operator in the gunfight. Having been in some, my staff and I realize that analytical academic based weapon manipulations will fail. We also know the physical state one will likely be in. Not one of terror-filled defecation, but certainly one of excitement and adrenaline driven actions.
For example, the malfunctions we have seen discussed here. Rather than the analytical method taught at traditional schools, we understand that if your pistol malfunctions you have just been interrupted in killing the man who was trying to kill you. At such times, and often in low light, you neither have the luxury of examining the weapon, nor often the light to do so.
So we follow a flow-chart process bereft of any decision on the operator’s part other than “did it fix it and can I keep shooting”. So given a stoppage of any sort, the first reaction is an immediate and thoughtless tap rack. If that fixed it, keep killing. That maneuver will fix a failure to fire, as well as a failure to eject (known to traditional students as a stovepipe). It will not fix a feed way stoppage (not really a double feed), or an empty gun. If the initial maneuver fails to remedy the problem, the operator manually rips the on board magazine out and discards it. That will in fact instantly remedy the feed way stoppage in most modern handguns. (We have alternatives for those who must use Beretta M9 or 1911). The operator then loads a fresh magazine on board and manually cycles the slide, fixing either of the last outcomes…feed way stoppage or empty gun. We have students solving malfunctions dynamically and on the move in less than an hour.
Well, there you have it. There may be other things I haven’t thought of. We also favor appendix carry and training from concealment exclusively. We prize hand to hand combat ability and train with knives as well. We like red dot sights on our handguns, and put a premium on physical strength and conditioning.
But we firmly acknowledge our roots.
via Theo Spark
My first thought was of Frank Frazetta, but this isn’t art, and there was no half-nude woman.
POTD: Watch Your Hands When You Unload And Show Clear
A shooter was unloading his handgun when this happened. From what Scott relayed to me, was that the shooter cups the ejection port to catch the round to save time from picking it up off the floor. Now to clarify, this was not a malfunction. It was not a FTF and the primer was never struck. What happened was that during the unloading process the shooter’s hand covers the ejection port. The round most likely ejected into the hand but since the hand was so close to the ejection port it got caught between the slide and barrel.
Take a look at the picture below. You can see the primer lacks any hammer mark. However there is a clear crease from the edge of the slide cutting into the headstamp of the casing. If you look at the photo at the very top, you can see the bullet has a vertical line cut into it as well.
By cupping the round as it ejected out and it getting caught on the slide as the slide tried to close, the round went off in the shooter’s hand.
Here is what Scott relayed to me:
The following is a story relayed to me. I do not have first hand knowledge of this, but I do trust the source.
The pictures are of a recovered case and projectile after a shooter attempted to eject a live round during an unloading evolution. The shooter covered the ejection port with his hand and attempted to capture the live round rather than letting it eject freely from the ejection port. The round was trapped, under pressure of the recoil spring, in-between the edge of the ejection port along the edge of the breach face and the front of the ejection port on the right side of the slide.
There is a noticeable linear denting on the nose of the projectile and an obvious strike point on the rear of the case and the primer. The projectile could not escape and the resulting effect was for the case to burst. The pressure from the burning propellent was absorbed by the shooter’s hand. He will not be able to make this mistake again.
It is a sobering lesson for many shooters. No one ever really believes that this could happen to them.
I have seen some people use this technique in USPSA. I have seen people eject the round and catch it in the air as well. Be careful and pay attention. The scenario above could be considered a sheer accident. However if the shooter did not use that ejection method then there is less likely of a chance such an event would have occurred.
h/t Scott B.
I have used this technique on occasion. Usually not (thankfully). When it comes to safety, I think being safe is preferable to looking cool.
Interestingly, there is no picture of the shooter’s hand…
(from TFB, in part)
Long Gun vs. Handgun in Home Defense – Maneuverability Differences Overblown
It used to be conventional wisdom to have a 12 gauge at the ready for self defense. Then, slowly, the tactical world fell back in love with the handgun under the guides of maneuverability within the home. The thinking was that the handgun, being a smaller package, was better for one to clear their home. Combined with the higher capacity and ease of reloading, the handgun, was per thinking, the easier to use weapon.
This is, of course, before one even brings up the ability to suppress the weapon, which is good for the defender to maintain their hearing.
However, Thunder Ranch posits that this significant maneuverability advantage is overstated. While sure, the shotgun is a longer weapon, when presented to a target its really not significantly longer than the handgun at full arm extension in the proper firing position. They back this up with a quick demonstration of a common Mossberg 500, an over-under and a full-size 1911.
There was one point that the instructor made in the video that I think is poignant (paraphrased): “Would you rather fire one shot from a handgun at a guy running at you with a knife or a shotshell?
I, for one, will take the shotshell.
Unfortunately, I have wee ones floating around so the need to keep the weapon locked up while easily accessible trumps my desire for 00 buck…
Yea, I remember those ‘olden days’, when home defense was defined by having a shotgun. (This was the 70’s). I remember a discussion in some gun store with a proprietor, while drooling over an Ithaca Model 37 Deerslayer Police Special, and making conversation, suggesting it would be a ‘fine, upland bird gun’. (This was before I owned any). And the sales guy responded, “Would be good for turning around in a hallway, as well!” 🙂
Well, my friends, we seem to have gone full circle.
I would take the shotshell, as well, if I were ever fortunate enough to own another DSPS, again.
One of my memories of first getting into shooting (way back in the ’70s) was buying, carrying and shooting SuperVel 9mm ammunition. If I remember, it was a 90 gr. bullet, hollow point, and cost roughly twice what ball 115/125 gr. ammo cost ($13.95 vs. $6.00, per 50). It was alleged to leave the barrel at 1375 fps! (I’m certain this was a test barrel, as opposed to my lowly Model 39-2 Smith 4″).
I would spend my hard-earned 1970’s cash on SuperVels (when I could afford them) based on the idea that I should practice with what I carried.
But, as with many things, SuperVel went TangoUniform. And ammo designer Peter Pi went to another company. (I still have an ammo wallet of 18 rounds I acquired somewhere – don’t tell anyone! Kinda silly as I currently do not currently own any 9mm pistols…)
(from the link, in part)
I’ve mentioned “Zeurillium” (zinc alloy) bullets before. MI Bullet offers a 1050fps 90 grain load that has next to no recoil and excellent accuracy. It works very well in blowback pistols like Hi-Point C9 and in conventional tilt-barrel locked breech semiautos. Due to the nonexistent recoil, it does not work in rotating breech pistols like Beretta Cougar or my favorite GP XCalibur. Should I wish to run it exclusively, XCalibur does come with a weaker recoil spring that would accommodate the lightly loaded round, but then I would have to change it out when switching to the carry load.
Fortunately, Velocity Munitions is about to start selling the full-power 1400fps version of this load. Fans of 7.62×25 Tokarev round will observe that the bullet weight and the velocity are very similar between the two loads. While the 9mm load doesn’t expand, it starts out with slightly larger frontal area and does have a decent meplat for punching clean holes. Since the zinc alloy is harder than lead, it has overall penetration similar to jacketed ball.
Now I’m an ‘old-school’ guy and have graduated to heavier, wider projectiles. BUT, the velocity of these rounds do interest me.
Now, if I could just afford a 9mm pistol? 😦
In our last episode…
I had gone shooting with friends, and marveled at the significantly lighter trigger of my friend’s Smith & Wesson .38 snubbie.
Having carried my electroless nickel S&W 442 for going on 22 years, with the stock 14 pound trigger(!), I thought it might be time for improvement.
SO, I order a Wilson Combat spring kit through Brownell’s (for a whopping $9) and excitedly awaited it’s arrival so I could swap out the springs and share in the love…
I received it in about four days, found my brand X gunsmithing screwdriver, and went to remove the S&W sideplate. Two screws in, I discovered that screw #3 was NOT loosening! Not too much of a surprise, as the cheap screwdriver shaft was turning in the handle (!), and I had never had the sideplate off. Ever.
I own a second (better quality) gunsmithing screwdriver. However it remains beneath a pile of unpacked boxes. And between being disabled, having back problems (and just not wanting to) there it remained.
Suggestions were made for screw-loosening oils, but without a decent tool, it wasn’t going to happen…
My roommate said she had a quality gunsmithing screwdriver, and offered it for my use. I jumped at the chance. But Life got in the way. For almost two months. Sigh.
FINALLY, I had the tool and the time. And access to the You Tube videos regarding J-Frame Smith smithing. And I began the task at hand.
That stubborn screw continued to be stubborn – but not impossible. 🙂
The sideplate was finally removed, and with some minor difficulty ( I repeat, I am NOT a gunsmith), the mainspring has been replaced!!
And the trigger pull went from fourteen pounds to a whopping EIGHT!
I’ve not yet replaced the trigger return spring (Wilson give me three from which to choose!) and the instructional videos have instruction regarding stoning certain surfaces to smooth them up. I’m not certain I’m up for that. As Inspector Harry Callahan said, “Man’s got to know his limitations.”
FTC – I bought all the screwdriver sets (except my roommate’s), the spring replacement kit and the revolver. Go and buy your own!
Peter (again) brings the Truth!
That question was put to me by a reader this weekend. He asked, “There are so many different opinions out there for a defensive weapon: this or that caliber, or cartridge, or firearm, or technique, or whatever. Is there any one thing I should look to master before worrying about the others? Is there any single element that can make the difference between life and death, if I ever need it the hard way?”Why, yes. Yes, there is. It’s basic marksmanship.
- No matter what super-dooper, felon-stopper, magnum-blaster ammunition you carry, unless you can put it into an attacker’s vital zones and shut him down, he’s going to hurt or kill you or your loved ones.
- No matter what plastic-fantastic, space-cowboy-zapper death-dealing firearm you’re toting, unless you can bring its whiz-bang features to bear against an enemy, it won’t do you any good (except to make you look technologically sexy, and I doubt your corpse or your surviving family members [if any] will care about that).
- No matter how gung-ho, super-fit, extreme-martial-artist your physical capabilities may be; no matter whether you can sprint a hundred meters in Olympic-record time while simultaneously dodging speeding bullets; no matter whether you can bench-press three hundred pounds while operating a machine-gun with your toes; unless you can put down-aimed, effective fire on your opponent, his return fire is going to turn your superhero body into a colander.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article titled ‘.22LR as a defensive round‘. It remains one of my most popular and most-searched articles on the subject of defensive shooting. In it I outlined a very low-cost and extremely effective training technique that anyone can apply to almost any weapon. If you read that article, and follow the training it advises, I guarantee that your combat effectiveness will be multiplied several times over, even if you do nothing else to improve your chances. Weapon and ammunition selection can follow, and of course you’ll need to practice to achieve similar results with a harder-kicking, less easily controlled firearm. Nevertheless, the basic principle of getting effective rounds on target remains the key to successful self-defense.
Remember, too, that accuracy with a firearm is a perishable skill. It’s not one you’ll retain unless you keep in training. Start with basic ‘bullseye’ target shooting and/or competition, by all means, and progress through the training methods I outlined in my earlier article; but don’t rest on your laurels once you achieve marksmanship nirvana. You’ll have to stay in practice. I reckon you should be shooting at least a hundred rounds a month with your BB handgun to do that; and if you’ve upgraded to a suitable defensive weapon, plan on shooting 100-200 rounds every three months as an absolute minimum with it. I prefer a practical minimum of 50-100 rounds every month, but I realize not everyone can afford that much time or that much ammunition. That’s why ongoing practice with a BB gun is a very inexpensive, ultra-affordable and extremely important way to keep your skills current. You can do that in your back yard, or in your garage, or even (using Airsoft guns) in your living-room without risking damage to your furniture or fittings.
Practice, practice, and more practice. It’s indispensable – and it really does make a difference. There’s a lot more to defensive shooting than just marksmanship, but in the absence of accuracy, none of it matters worth a damn.
Even ONE of these heroes making this choice is unacceptable! (Day #13 of 22)
…and many fallacies.
It came across my radar screen recently this never-ending story (and many variants) regarding Gaston Glock & Co. FINALLY making a Glock using JMB’s ubiquitous 1911 design!
About an hour later, having accessed a few different search engines determined that in all likelihood this was a repetition of the original story, going back to at least to 2009…
Complete with high art!
Akin to a Holy Grail, of sorts:
Of course, who knows what the future may bring? A GLOCK single-action auto, which takes standard 1911 magazines and has replaceable stocks and an external hammer?
Will Gaston choose poorly?
It’s time to ask ourselves what we believe.
The Brilliant-and-Lovely TAMARA spake thus:
Just because H. habilis was several branches back on the family bush doesn’t mean we’re supposed to stop being handy.
I get not carrying a pistol. It’s not for everybody and, if done with any level of seriousness, demands certain commitments and obligations that not everyone wants to undertake, and that’s cool. It’s still (mostly) a free country.
But how do you go through life without a flashlight and some kind of knife? Our most primitive ancestors carried sharp rocks around with them. Hell, carrying a sharpened rock around in case of future need is basically how we tell where the apes stop and the people start in our fossil family album. If they could have carried a light around without it burning their fingers or going out all the time, you bet they would have.
Bayou Renaissance Man recently regaled us with a story, and a photo:
Now and again commercialism gets so weird that it jumps the shark. I think that’s just happened (or is that ‘happened again’?) in the shooting sports. 5.11 Tactical, an otherwise respected producer of so-called ‘tactical’ clothing and related products, has announced at the 2016 SHOT Show that it’s developed – wait for it – ‘Raven Range Capri‘ trousers for women, which have instantly (and inevitably) become known as ‘Tactical Yoga Pants’.
The funniest thing about them, to my mind, are the comments left by readers at The Firearm Blog. Here’s one exchange.
- I weigh about 280 lbs. I think these might have a slimming effect on me and be quite stylish at the range.
- HAHAHAHA… does the term TMI mean anything to you??? just kidding dude…
- TMI or BMI??
- You go, um, guy. You go.
- Not to be critical but I think you would exceed the maximum tonnage limit.
There are many more at the link. Click over there for a good laugh.
Of course, this isn’t the only time 5.11 Tactical have produced something, shall we say, ‘tongue in cheek’. A couple of years ago they came out with the ‘Tactical Duty Kilt‘. I particularly enjoyed the fact that it was available in ‘tactical’ sizes up to the mid-50’s . . . which would indicate (a lack of) fitness and physical dexterity that’s anything but tactical!
(Yes, I do own a ‘Tactical Duty Kilt’. My wife insisted I had to buy one for the sheer hilarity of it. No, I won’t post a picture!)