Weapons and Tactics

Updated to include news article.

Humans holding on to their tools is not something new, we see it in a lot of instant high stress situations.  We see the same thing often in police dash-cam video where the officer clinches his or her clipboard or other items they are holding.  This is the first video I have found containing what looks to be an untrained individual experience the same potentially involuntary response.

It’s because of this and numerous other factors that may result in only one hand being available,  that I choose to train myself and my students to not only shoot, but to complete every problem solving action common to a handgun with one hand.

The news article covering the event can be seen here.

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Other than suicide by cop, what compelled this man to exit the vehicle with a rifle to allegedly attack the small army of law enforcement officers surrounding him? Did he think he was going to fight his way out?  Did he not care either way?
I would like to see some compiled data on all toxicology reports from violent criminals and to see it collected on arrest for said compilation.  There is some research that suggests a strong link between drugs (including alcohol) and violence.  Some may feel that it’s common sense, while others disagree entirely.

I have no way of knowing if this suspect was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this is merely an attempt to understand the mind of a violent criminal.
The news report can be seen here.

More details on what led to the chase here.
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While I wouldn’t advocate antagonizing someone that was being held at gun point, it is good to see the good guys on top once again.

The raw video can be found here.

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A common idea is when a shooter encounters an interruption in the cycle of operation, he or she should perform SPORTS.  If the shooter observes an obstruction during the observe portion of that action; he or she should then perform remedial action.  I am offering that one can get to the appropriate action much faster and I am outlining what that action is for a double feed/failure to extract.

In the comments of the video below and other discussions on the internet I have ran across numerous people who have said, “no thanks, I will stick with SPORTS for my double feeds.”

Many circles on the internet feel that SPORTS is the solution to any stoppage.  Lets take a look at SPORTS in more detail.



Double feeds can come in a various forms.

Slapping the bottom of the magazine is often a necessary maneuver to use when one experiences a failure to feed/fire. Potentially an issue has occurred where the follower has become stuck or tilted, the magazine was not seated properly to begin with or it becomes unseated in the course of firing.   Slapping the bottom of the magazine does absolutely nothing for a double feed or failure to extract.


Pulling the charging handle to the rear is also the right step for getting a bad round out of the chamber for a failure to feed/fire. Simply pulling the charging handle to the rear with a magazine in the rifle will do nothing, but possibly cause the stoppage to become worse. A shooter with a double feed or failure to extract can rack the charging handle as much as he or she desires, but the stoppage will not be cleared until the rounds are able to be removed from the rifle.


This is a good step to do first, so the shooter does not waste time applying the remedies for a failure to feed/fire when the stoppage calls for a different procedure. Even on a failure to feed/fire, there is no need to observe for ejection. A simple standard response to ‘click with bolt forward’ of tap, rack, and reassess will work.   Had the stoppage been a failure to feed than there would be no ejection to observe anyway.

The feel of the trigger alone can tell the shooter that tap rack bang isn’t going to work. Why waste time adding in unnecessary steps when the shooter could simply identify the stoppage and apply the appropriate action to clear the stoppage?



A manufactured DF for training. Allowing the bolt to slam forward with a small amount of force on the involved rounds can increase the realism of the stoppage.

With the failure to feed/fire, this step would be the one that chambers the next round and is absolutely necessary. With a double feed or failure to extract, it is the exact same technique I use to make a double feed more difficult and realistic in training. If SPORTS is followed properly, this would be the time when the shooter begins remedial action to clear the double feed/ failure to extract.   Time has been wasted with unnecessary steps.



Let’s say we followed the Internet definition of when and how SPORTS is to be applied when we had a double feed or Failure to extract and we got all the way to this step. Picture the bolt forward on two cartridges trying to occupy the same space, now tap the forward assist… It does absolutely nothing and is a complete waste of time. Additionally, there is no need to tap a forward assist after clearing a failure to feed/fire if the bolt and carrier were allowed to go home on 100% of the buffer spring’s energy.


I even disagree with this one in most contexts. The threat may have changed his or her behavior in the course of the time it took to clear the stoppages or he or she may not be visible or even present anymore. That is why I stress a reassessment instead of training to always shoot after any reload or clearance.

SPORTS will work for a failure to feed/failure to fire, but even then it’s less efficient than a simple tap, rack, and reassess. SPORTS does not clear a double feed, failure to extract, stovepipe, or brass above bolt. Each of those actions has their own action that needs to be taken to clear the obstruction, usually referred to as remedial action.

The action I teach to clear a double feed is not something I came up with on my own, it doesn’t belong to me, nor did I have any part in its development. I have made small tweaks as to how I perform and teach the steps, but at its core, the steps are the ones taught to me many years ago by men more seasoned than I.

There are devices that can help the shooter perform stoppage clearances and reloads with more efficiency and you will see that some steps can be skipped at times. I am always looking for a better way, but the following is the best I have found to fit the majority of worse case situations involving a double feed or failure to extract.



Skip the S. and the P. and simply observe unless the stoppage is already identified by other means.

While adequate vision is not always available the eyes are a human’s largest source of sensory input, so the first step in clearing a stoppage is to observe what caused the interruption in the weapon’s cycle of operation. Once the cause is determined, the corrective action for the stoppage can be applied.

One who knows his or her firearm well and trains often may be able to diagnose most stoppages by the feel of the trigger. For example, if the shooter feels and hears the click of the hammer falling, the stoppage is likely a failure to feed/fire. Likewise, a mushy trigger felt when the bolt locks to the rear on an empty magazine might feel similar to the mushy trigger felt on a double feed, failure to extract or brass above bolt.

Additionally, lowlight and darkness situations may not allow the shooter the ability to see the stoppage, so between the trigger’s feel and the sense of touch, the shooter must determine the problem and apply the solution.


In most double feed or failure to extract cases, the rear of one of the rounds involved is still stuck under the lips of the magazine holding the magazine in place resulting in the magazine becoming unable to drop free on its own. Locking the bolt to the rear reduces the pressure on the round holding the magazine in place in cases where the bolt is riding above the lowest round. Even with the bolt locked to the rear, the magazine will likely need to be removed with more effort than its own weight. Even without locking the bolt to the rear, the magazine may be tight, but still removable.

The main reason that the bolt should be locked to the rear is to allow the shooter to clear the cartridges when they do not fall free after the magazine is removed. Having the pressure off the rounds as the magazine is removed can result in the rounds following the magazine out of the mag well.  Even when the bolt is not locked to the rear, there is still potential for the rounds to fall free when the magazine is removed.


This picture was caught as I was setting up a DF for this post. The round sticking out of the magazine was not staged.

A double feed that has been manufactured for training purposes will often result in the rounds falling free when the magazine is removed. This is not always the case in a realistic stoppage. Some would also suggest simply ripping the magazine out and immediately racking the charging handle to clear the stuck rounds. This will work some of the time, but not every time. Interestingly, the afore mentioned method is the exact method I use to create a hard, realistic double feed to work through on the range.


Get a solid grip on the magazine while depressing the magazine release and pull hard and fast to remove the magazine. If only one magazine is available, the magazine should be kept close. The magazine that was in the gun may have been the cause of the double feed, but it could also have a round sticking out in a way that causes an additional step or two to make the magazine ready to be seated in the mag well again. It is important to rip the magazine out in a way that allows gravity to help clear the stoppage.

Clear (Fingers in)


Rounds stuck with bolt locked to the rear and magazine removed.

On a hard double feed and some failure to extracts, the rounds are stuck partly in the chamber and/or pressing against each other and the inside of the receiver. If the rounds fall free when the magazine is removed, skip this step and go to the next step immediately. If the rounds do not fall free, clear the rounds by pressing upward on them through the magazine well. I typically shove my first three fingers up through the mag well and press hard against the rounds. In some cases a little more finesse and/or violence is needed to get them to come loose and fall.

If during the previous step, the chamber becomes known to be clear and there are no other obstructions, go directly to the next step and finish the procedure with a reload. If there is a round stuck in the chamber then the shooter should pull the charging handle to the rear and let it go home on 100% of the buffer spring’s energy until the shooter observes the round being ejected. In low light or when the shooter has not observed a round in the chamber, the shooter should rack three times keeping in mind that if he or she observes ejection, no additional racks will be necessary.

If available, reload with a different magazine from that favorite speed reload pouch and reassess.

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Daniel Shaw is a retired US Marine Infantry Unit Leader and is currently the Director of Training for Thunderbird Firearms Academy in Wichita, Kansas.

Mob Photo

Mob Violence is Commonplace

It is in the headlines and in the street. It is everywhere or at least it seems that it is and the reality is that it can occur just about anywhere.

The faces and the places may change, but mob violence is the same old demon burning out our cities and undermining our feelings of safety and security.

It’s a matter of time before it happens near you.

What are you going to do about it?

1. Prepare to deal with Mob Violence

Preparation is the single best thing we can do to be ready to deal with the undesirables that come our way.

Although many folks get by on luck alone and successfully navigate complicated situations without preparation, the benefits for preparing to deal with a high stakes situation are difficult to dispute.

Especially when preparation can be rather simple.

Study Mob Violence

YouTube. Maybe you have heard of it? It can be a handy tool for studying human behavior. Start with a simple search for “mob violence.” Then pay attention.

  • How does the violence develop?
  • What is the trigger?
  • What actions are taken that help people escape?
  • What actions are taken that make the situation worse?

Look particularly for patterns and you might start to get a sense.

War Game Realistic Scenarios

Taking a look a scenarios that are realistic for you and your situation is critical.

Think about where you spend your time. Maybe you work in an office downtown, live in a trendy urban area, love watching your favorite professional team in person, enjoy live music, or simply like to go to the movies.

Wherever you spend your time, war game it. Your team wins the game and a group of disgruntled opposing fans starts setting dumpsters on fire. You are enjoying Clint Eastwood’s latest when you hear rowdy teens busting up the lobby. Police shoot and kill a teenager and a large segment of society takes offense.

First, how do you avoid the situation all together?

What if you can’t? What do you do? What locations may be safer than others? How can you stay physically close to those that you care about? What exits are close? Where and how far is your vehicle? Will you be parked in when you get there? How will you defend yourself between your location and home? What if plan A is a fail?

Think about what could happen. Look back at history to see what HAS happened, then make a plan.


Once you have a plan, break it down and train it. Begin with the skills you are most likely to need. Although shooting a gun is fun, if you are a high school math teacher it isn’t very likely that you are going to have a gun to fight with when the student body goes berserk. Use your circumstances and your plan to define your training. Avoid focusing exclusively on any single tool.

If you leave physical fitness out you have missed the boat. Mob violence presents the opportunity for long stretches of intense physical activity related to your safety. Be fit.

2. Avoid Mob Violence

Avoidance is a Win

Regardless of how hard you train, how strong, fast or accurate you are, if you are involved in violence you can loose. The stakes are high and the only way to be sure to avoid the negatives of violence is to avoid it.

Pay Attention

Watch the news. Watch people around you. Listen to your gut. When things start to feel uncomfortable, you are already behind the curve. Don’t second guess yourself or others you care about.

Use Common Sense

It might be your favorite band, the playoffs, or report that needs to be ready for Monday.

Make sensible and balanced decisions. If things look iffy, buy the album, watch the game at home, or work from the satellite office.


We must accept that even if we work hard to avoid mob violence we may find ourselves in it anyway. The next best way to avoid violence is to get away from it. Evade.


Remember physical fitness? It may be in your best interest to exit the area quickly and this may mean on foot. Be ready to walk or run toward safety.

Blend In

You may not be able to move right away. In that case, consider blending in. Put a black hoody in your briefcase. Look like one of the mob until you see your opportunity to move.


There are some places you can be that are safer than others. Move toward those areas you identified in your plan as “safer” areas. As opposed to running away from danger randomly, focus on moving to an area you believe to be safer.


There is no doubt that avoidance and evasion are the preferred options, however, the reality is that your only option in some circumstances may be to respond.

Take a Secure Position

A secure position can be as simple as stepping into the recessed area of a building entry way. Effectively, you put yourself in the “eddy” where the crowd is passing by inches without noticing you tucked in a relatively secure alcove. You also have placed yourself in a position where you can be attacked only from the front which limits the number of assailants you ave to deal with at any given moment.

When it comes to mob violence you are likely to face multiple attackers and as a result consider that position becomes that much more important. A technique called stacking can be advantageous.

3. Tools

Use them.

Sure if the situation requires it, the scenario makes sense to deploy it and you have it, go to guns. It doesn’t always work that way.

Put your flashlight or the rock that was just thrown at you in your hand and throw hammer fists.

Use the fire extinguisher to spray and strike.

Swing the brass fitting on the end of that fire hose.

Anything that can multiply your force can help to swing the odds in your favor.

4. Respond with Vigor

Turn your response on like a light switch. Instantly. From seemingly nothing to every ounce of fight that is required to resolve the situation. When it comes to mob violence (any violence really,) it isn’t likely that you will have time to ramp it up. Bring what you need as hard and as fast as you can bring it.

Be the one that the mob fears.

Your Actions Today Make a Difference

Preparing to deal with virtually unthinkable situations today will pay dividends when they really count. The obvious benefit in preparing to deal with that angry mob is being more prepared to deal with mob violence should you ever face it. It doesn’t end there.

In addition to becoming more prepared to deal with a terrifying mob, you will be learning skills along the way that will help you to deal with the “typical” violence people experience in our nation everyday. In addition, you will build confidence in your skills. The result is a demeanor that discourages your selection as a victim and an outlook on life that makes it more pleasant and enjoyable everyday.

Get to it.

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Paul Carlson is the Owner of Safety Solutions Academy

Learn more about how Paul is saving lives through Information, Education and Training at safetysolutionsacademy.com or follow and subscribe to SSA through the following mediums.