Our Loaded Pistols

By John Farnam

Our Loaded Pistols
Our Loaded Pistols
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- “With only a little practice, and some intelligent instruction, the pistol (at the time, the 1911 45ACP) can be mastered well enough to be an effective short-range weapon.

But as a rule, the soldier does not get enough practice. Shooting in the Army is discouraged. Too much bother handling the range; use too much expensive ammunition; dangerous anyhow – may shoot somebody!”

Roy F Dunlap, from his 1948 classic, “Ordnance Went Up Front,“… some observations and experiences of a Sergeant of Ordnance, who served throughout World War II with the United States Army in Egypt, the Philippines and Japan.”

Military small-arms training has improved since Dunlap wrote about it decades ago, but not nearly as much as it needs to, and practical pistol training within the military has seen scant betterment since the end of WWII.

As Dunlap notes, risk-averse senior officers are still “afraid of guns,” particularly pistols. Everyone is too timid to carry the pistol with a round chambered, so there is virtually no training within our military system on how to do it correctly.

In the 1960s, it took Jeff Cooper (then a civilian) to show us how to carry a 1911 pistol! Prior to the “Cooper Era,” few had the slightest idea. Army manuals comically avoided the subject.

They still do!

With the Pentagon’s selection (in 1985) of the Beretta 92F (M9) pistol to replace ageing 1911s, the rest of us went in another direction, to the wonderful, new Glock Pistol.

Many regard the Beretta M9 pistol, reliable as it is, a maladroit, user-hostile clunk, particularly with its two-stage manual decocking lever, which the Army never learned how to use anyway.

Today, manual decocking levers are a thing of the past, and everyone is gravitating toward the Glock, and now a host of Glock-like competitors, including the XD, M&P, SIG320, FNS, Walther PPQ, Ruger All American, H&K VP9, et al. All are attractive due to their light weight, high capacity, ergonomic design, integral safety features, reliability, and simplicity of operation.

I’m not going to say that the 1911 is “obsolete,” but I will say that most of us have moved on!

Back to Dunlap’s comments:

An “effective short-range weapon” must be able to be safely carried routinely, in a high state of readiness. Since it is designed to provide its user/carrier with the capability to effectively respond to UNEXPECTED threats, it must continuously have a round in the chamber and thus be ready to be presented and fired more or less instantly.

Yet, it needs to be “drop-safe,” easily mastered, and convenient enough to be carried safely, concealed or openly, for long periods.

In today’s terrorist environment, I’m no longer comfortable carrying a six-shooter, nor even an eight-shooter. I like a fourteen-shooter, at a minimum! Low-capacity pistols I now regard mostly as back-ups.

For many in our military, a pistol is still little more than an expensive rank insignia. Even today, and even in forward areas, few carry their pistol with a round chambered. Most don’t even have a magazine inserted. They are still “afraid of guns.” For us to really advance the Art is, even today, as it was in Dunlap’s time, just too much trouble, too expensive, and too risky. “Dangerous anyhow- may shoot somebody!”

The few I’ve trained are the exceptions!

I believe, for most of us, your pistol is still your most important weapon, because it is the first one your hand will touch in a sudden emergency. We have to be competent, professional gunmen. That is our heritage and our duty!

Our loaded pistols are our constant companions. We are comfortable and confident. We don’t have accidents, and we don’t miss, even at relatively long ranges.

That’s the difference between a live professional, and a dead amateur!

Pistols are important, and always will be!

/John

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

17 Comments
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Eric

Just wondering… how long does it take you to rack a round into the chamber? Compare that time to the time it takes to flip off the safety. I am not a gunfighter by any stretch of the imagination, and 99.999% of the time I am carrying, I need that sidearm to be safe. If there is NO round in the chamber, it will not fire under ANY circumstances. I would rather add a few milliseconds onto my draw when I need it and add a substantial margin of safety when I don’t need it. Glock 21, .45 ACP. I… Read more »

Habuzaki

Civilian carry and Armed Forces carry are apples and oranges. While it is common sense for LE and concealed carry civilians to be locked and loaded at all times, this isn’t the case for conventional military forces, especially during peace time. Granted, warfare has evolved and so should our military, but the payoff may not be worth the capital needed for the investment. As for me, as a Marine infantryman (0311), pistols were for those guys in the rear, you know the machine gunners (0331) and motarmen (0341), lol. But, seriously, when I served the only time a pistol was… Read more »

Sgt. Saxon

Civilian carry and Armed Forces carry are apples and oranges. While it is common sense for LE and concealed carry civilians to be locked and loaded at all times, this isn’t the case for conventional military forces, especially during peace time. Granted, warfare has evolved and so should our military, but the payoff may not be worth the capital needed for the investment. As for me, as a Marine infantryman (0311), pistols were for those guys in the rear, you know the machine gunners (0331) and motarmen (0341), lol. But, seriously, when I served the only time a pistol was… Read more »

Sgt. Saxon

Civilian carry and Armed Forces carry are apples and oranges. While it is common sense for LE and concealed carry civilians to be locked and loaded at all times, this isn’t the case for conventional military forces, especially during peace time. Granted, warfare has evolved and so should our military, but the payoff may not be worth the capital needed for the investment. As for me, a Marine infantryman (0311), pistols were for those guys in the rear, you know the machine gunners (0331) and motormen (0341), lol. But, seriously, when I served the only time a pistol was going… Read more »

Skoal

wake_Up_America It depends on the military branch. The USAF does requires all M9 carriers to have a round chambered; however, the USA does not allow for this (save certain/rare situations). In fact, even when carrying the M16 or M4, the USAF instructs all carriers to have their loaded magazine in the weapon (though without a round chambered) and most of the other branches do not; they carry their magazine pouched (hip, vest, etc). This was part of the problem in Beirut when the explosive loaded van breached the gate; security wasn’t ready/fully armed to engage the vehicle and many people… Read more »

Lt4545

Since the goal here is proficiency, accuracy and confident protection I for one have ” moved on to a 1911a1 that I am well trained on ,have checked out on and can consistently shoot accurately in most all situations. It’s a gun that gives confidence in hand ! I’ve tried the ugh! Glocks and find the trigger horrible , one that takes much much longer to gain confidence in mastering, the only way I could get any accuracy out of it was to stage the trigger before finishing my aim and shot. Noy very conducive to accurate fire under stress!… Read more »

Frank Klafs

when browning designed the 1911 and M2, he hit the ball out of the park. The author is self promoting with his comment of “aging”. If you want to spend a few hours, develope a list of all the manufacturers that are currenlty producing 1911s. It is very very impressive. For a piston that came out in 1911 it has changes very little. Hit someone with a 9mm and you many not put him out of the fight. Hit him with the 1911, and he is. This is even if you have to beat him senseless with the 1911. You… Read more »

Larry Jordan

Have always preferred the 1911 and its variants since 1955. Always cocked and locked.
Lately, after firing my sons Sig s 938 and 229 Legion I’ve had to reevaluate. I do not personally like Glocks or any striker fired pistols. In Revolvers I prefer J and K frame S&W.

Larry Davis

For what he says, the author is correct: the Army as a rule does not train with sidearms enough; the focus is on the shoulder weapon and larger weapons. While on active duty, SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) for sidearms (pistols, specifically M1911A1 at that time) was magazine inserted, chamber empty, weapon on safe. Now I will admit that this was “peace time” Army and a CONUS (state side) assignment. But even our written SOP for combat didn’t call for a chambered round. Part of that restriction stems from the philosophy (however flawed) that sidearms generally are carried by leaders who… Read more »

Whiskey For My Men Beer For My Horses

Why would anyone carry a handgun without one in the pipe? I have known a couple guys that they said they would rather rack their slide for a pistol or pump one into the chamber when using a shotgun as a deterrent ( IMO they’ve watched to many action movies). If the bad guy is lucky he might hear my safety click off. I like carrying my 9mm 1911 style hand gun because it has high capacity mags and it has a hammer.

WarEagle82

I carry an M1911 with 8 round mags. But I carry 4 mags.

In my last tactical simulation I carried a 17-round Glock for the first time and I only had to swap mags 2 or 3 times during any scenario. I was either victorious or dead by that point.

wake_Up_America

I always have 1 in the pipe ready to go, that’s how I have trained myself since I started with firearms. I can’t believe the military doesn’t stress being competency and training with pistols but then again it is the US Gov’t…..

Pete

I realize you’re talking about military combat, but in civilian self-defense situations the average number of shots fired is 2.3. It is highly unlikely you’ll reach the 14th round under such circumstances. Even in a combat situation, which I admit I have never personally experienced, I believe I would gravitate toward my familiarity with the 1911A1. It is my understanding that special operations types carry the Kimber variations of this weapon.

Anonymous

This. At least for civilians, incidents of lethal force are sudden, violent, close-range affairs. The fight will be over one way or another long before a six-shooter runs dry. If six aren’t enough, seven or fifteen or twenty won’t save you. Full-size six-shot service revolvers in .357 Magnum are every bit as viable today as they were sixty years ago. The 1911 is every bit as viable as it was when it was introduced. If seventeen-round magazines of minor-caliber ammunition are comforting to you then by all means use them–but they’re not going to save you if you can’t get… Read more »

Clark Kent

I hate to break it to the author, but one HAS to figure out the operation of the Beretta M9 decocking lever. It will not fire in the on safe position. It is not a complicated operation, even for a soldier. And the most important ‘integral safety feature’ of ANY firearm resides between your ears. By the way, is Mr. Farnam currently serving in any of the U.S. armed forces? If not, his opinions on firearms training within same are merely conjecture.

Josey Wales

@Clark. You are correct the best safety is between your ears! The 92 is not hard to learn to use effectively but I do agree with the author that handgun training is at minimal levels in the military. Having fought in the battle of Fallujah for more than 8 straight days,4 of them with no sleep, I can attest that at least two of my buddies died cause the military discouraged keep in one in the pipe. It happened within 10 feet of me. As for me, I received “special” permission to carry an XD. The one I kept in… Read more »

Josey Wales

As usual I got filtered for no logical reason!!! Sometimes these post monitors just piss me off.