Saturday, August 19, 2017

GLOCK is promoting the Four Rules: Good for them.

As readers know, I push the Gunsite Four Rules whenever I get the chance. Glock is on the same bandwagon now. Welcome aboard to them. Avoiding accidents is in everyone's interest.

If they feel they must rephrase Rule One, I would say "Treat every gun as a loaded gun!" is better phrasing than what they went with, but hey, it's the thought that counts.

GLOCK Safety Pledge | #FollowTheFour | GLOCK USA:

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Media misrepresenting Trump? Surprise, surprise!

Quoted from The media couldn't be more blatant in distorting Trump's words on Charlottesville | TheHill:
Has the media ever so deliberately and consistently misinterpreted what a president said?
It certainly seems as if the media finally found its proof that President Trump is a racist. ABC News’ coverage was all too typical:

Trump quickly blamed both sides for the conflict, adding that there were "very fine people" among both the protesters — which included white supremacists and white nationalists — and the counterprotesters.
"I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides," Trump said today. "You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides," he added.

With wall-to-wall news coverage repeating this misreading of Trump’s statement, it’s not too surprising that politicians from both parties quickly condemned the “very fine people” comment. NBC’s headline read: “Democratic, Republican Lawmakers Decry Trump’s Latest Charlottesville Remarks.” Ohio Gov. John Kasich attacked Trump: “This is terrible. The President of the United States needs to condemn these kinds of hate groups. The president has to totally condemn this."
Does anyone even listen to comments anymore before commenting on them?
I'll answer that last question. The press people, at least, do not listen, they stop their ears, they will not take in anything that does not reflect badly on Trump. The article quotes an exchange at a press conference:
Trump: “And you had people, and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. “OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.” 
Reporter: “You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly? (inaudible) understand what you're saying.”
Trump: “No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. . ."
Trump has said, as clearly as anyone could have, that not everyone opposed to tearing down old statues is a neo-Nazi, and not everyone in the antifa thing is an angel, which is just what a leader of all the people should say. And it drives the leftists nuts!

Read all of John Lott's article at the link above. It is clear that the press is in hit-piece mode and can't seem to find their way out of the awful nightmare they have concocted, in which Trump is a devil.

It is by now clear that the press pack is in full cry after Trump and bending the record out of shape is okay, in the minds of the reporters and editors involved. It looks to me like the news people have gone crazy. There is something really dysfunctional going on in how Trump news is reported, as if through a lens that presumes him to be an ogre, a fool, a lunatic. Editorialists and celebrities have at least stopped saying Trump is Hitler, so perhaps such people actually possess a learning curve--are just slow to climb it.

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Shooting the snubnose -- three how-to tips

The snubnosed double action revolver is my favorite type of concealed carry gun. It's durable, simple to operate and, if it is given periodic function checks, highly reliable.

Here are my top three tips for shooting the snubnosed revolver--a gun widely acknowledged to be a handful to shoot. Using the right techniques will make it behave.

  • Crush grip

I suggest you squeeze the handle of your snubnose as hard as you can. This has several good results. It keeps the gun from jumping so much in your grasp--for snubnose recoil is brisk. It prevents the gun from shifting in your grasp as you perform the long and heavy trigger pull needed to fire the weapon. It also keeps you from hitting poorly due to tightening your grip momentarily, in anticipation of recoil, because if you are already squeezing as hard as you can, you cannot make that mistake!

  • Deliberate trigger

You do not want to dawdle when a shot needs to be fired. But an even, steady rearward sweep of the trigger, followed by relaxing the pressure to allow the trigger to swing fully forward, is what is needed to get hits in a hurry, and that calls for a deliberate, steady trigger stroke and release.

What is to be avoided is hurriedly mashing the trigger, for that has the result of making the shot fly just anywhere--and most likely not where you need it to go. "Take your time because you don't have time to miss" is a maxim worth remembering.

The problem with "prepping the trigger," in which you pull the trigger most of the way, pause just before the gun fires, then carefully squeeze off the shot the rest of the way, is that it entails a pause.

  • Shark sights

Most uses of a defensive sidearm are at close range. Yet it is still possible to miss, so it is best to aim. How to do that in a hurry?  I think the shark method is a good balance of speed and half-decent short range accuracy.

Raise your revolver until it is very slightly below eye level, so that you see the front sight standing up above the rear sight--rather like a shark's fin is visible above the water. Aim with only the front sight, as you would use a shotgun's bead. When firing using the front sight alone, I find the shots strike slightly high, so the answer is to aim slightly low to compensate.

If you have plenty of time you can refine this coarse sight picture by raising the gun slightly or ducking your head slightly, so that you see the front sight centered in the rear notch. That is quick to do once you have acquired the front sight in your vision, with the rear sight beneath it.

Off to the range

The above three-ingredient formula will tame the snubnose. All it takes is practice. It is purely a myth that the snubnose is good only for a few yards and is wildly inaccurate. Many people shoot it inaccurately, but that is only because they do not know better. Range practice using the above principles will soon yield decent groups at 15 yards, and continued practice will only improve your results.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Two tomahawk techniques and some further thoughts

My previous post about the tomahawk's use drew several responses, none of them showing any clear indication that the commenters had read the article. Apparently they were here to leave links to their own enterprises.

Undaunted, I here make note of something I've noticed since I posted about my tomahawk method. The moves would be useful if you were armed with a kukri or a hawkbill knife. They would, moreover, adapt quite naturally to some improvised and makeshift weapons including hammers, entrenching tools, kitchen cleavers and wooden clubs.

As I implied in the former post, it is all right if you add techniques to the method if you see that as an improvement. If you add things, though, I suggest you keep and rely on the two basic techniques I describe, using them as the core of your enlarged method. Downward tierce and inward carte are very sound and reliable techniques.

Both techniques, as I do them, begin and end in the saber 3rd guard (tierce) and, when used in continuous moulinets, pass repeatedly through that position. The moment at which the hand returns to guard 3 is when you can switch the railroad track, as it were, and transition from a tierce to a carte moulinet, or carte to tierce.

Logic suggests that you think, therefore, of 3rd as your ready or en garde position, as well as the position to which your hand returns at the conclusion of each technique and, simultaneously, as the beginning of the technique that follows.

 (Picture links lead to ads on Amazon.)

Today's yuk

Via JR24 on The High Road

Thursday, August 10, 2017

SIG P320: progress marches on.

I'm sure you've heard all about the SIG fiasco from other sources. What I find interesting is that, despite changes in technology, and dissimilar mechanisms, the SIG 320 is prone to the same failure mode as the Colt Single Action Army pistol of 1873. If dropped rearward at an obtuse angle, either is prone to fire on impact. Plus ça change, mes amis, plus ça change.

Something I find interesting is that this matter was reported from the grass roots, from the gun enthusiasts and amateurs. So I count this as a victory of freedom of speech, of amateurism in its best sense, and of the Internet. The company will retrofit all affected pistols free of charge. That, surely, was not something they expected but I think it is very good of them to fix the problem on their dime.

If someone or other is spared the consequence of being clumsy and dropping his pistol and taking a bullet behind the ear, then the Internet has justified its existence.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Self defense using the tomahawk

Executive summary: This post outlines a very simple method of tomahawk use in self-defense. The method is one of continuous attack by means of moulinets. 

I have elsewhere suggested that the tomahawk or hatchet was more often used as a tool than a weapon on the American frontier. It was a frontier weapon simply because it was an ever present tool. There were better weapons available. The cuttoe, the smallsword, the hanger or even a properly fashioned wooden club was a superior weapon. Those were purpose-made for fighting and carried for reasons quite apart from day to day utility. A hatchet, though, was something every forest traveler found useful for routine tasks, to get kindling and cut up game for the cookpot, and so on.

I further opined that present-day attempts to make elaborate martial arts out of the tomahawk's use are neither historical nor practical. The weapon offers too few possibilities, too little variety in its practical uses, to make so much of a big deal over the matter. In its day, the tomahawk was most likely used, when used as a weapon, in a simple and straightforward manner, by people more accustomed to use it for mundane purposes. They would not be likely to employ it in a mode resembling video game ninja assassins.

That view was assailed by some people who appeared to have rather a romanticized notion of frontier life and events. My strongest support came from a martially minded American Indian--whose ancestral weapon it is.


No good parries belong to the tomahawk, just a few half-workable ones. You can attempt to beat-parry with the side of the ax head, that is, with the cheeks of the ax, or to intercept with the top surface of the head. You can attempt a hooking, pulling action by placing the heel of the blade over the opponent's weapon or his arm, or his neck, etc. That, though, entraps your own weapon at the same time.

There are some defenses that are patently unsound. I saw online something that claimed to be the "A-frame block" defense using the tomahawk, a set of parries supposed to be a sound defense to protect your head. It was instead a sure way to lose fingers. 

I think the healthiest approach is to use distance, timing and counter-attack as your defense, or find something to use in your off hand as a shield. Experiment with parries if you like, but I do not think you will be well satisfied. A hatchet is powerful on the offense--and that is the best that may be said.


The best plan of action that I have come up with is one of continuous attacks. In its simplest form: Make a cut at the opponent, and repeat the same attack over and over, in rapid sequence, by means of moulinets. If you find that is not working, try the same tactic in another line of attack. Raining blows on the opponent in this manner will keep him busy, and a whirling ax head does at least some service in closing the line to his counter-attack.

Timing is everything. The best outcome is that, before he injures you, you achieve a stop cut that takes him out of the fight. Attacks on his weapon hand, wrist and forearm are the most promising to that end.

The tomahawk is best used in horizontal blows to the inside line, and vertical blows in the outside line. (The outside is to the right-hander's right, and the inside is to his left. That is of course reversed for left-handers.) The reason is familiar from saber fencing and proven anew by every beginner at that art. Your weapon-bearing arm is very vulnerable to counter-attack when you make horizontal blows outward (left to right, for a right-hander). Likewise, vertical cuts you make on the inside line leave your arm more exposed than if you cut horizontally. 

Therefore the most suitable attacks with the tomahawk are inward horizontal cuts in carte and downward vertical cuts in tierce. The vertical downward blow is the better of the two. It is easily and rapidly repeated by means of moulinets (inside or outside moulinets). The horizontal blow also requires a moulinet for recovery and repetition, but a less convenient one. It is best if the moulinet turns clockwise for a right-hander (the reverse, counterclockwise, if left-handed). Turning it the other way feels clumsy. For a limbering drill, and for familiarization, try feeding a horizontal cut's recovery into a vertical downward blow, then recover from the downward tierce blow by steering the weapon into a horizontal carte blow, so on over and over.

The tactic of repetition of the same blow can thus be altered into assorted blows, to increase the confusion factor for your opponent. For example, you can fire off a sequence of tierce-tierce-carte-tierce-carte-carte--or any other sequence you like. As above, continuous attack is the key element of your defense.

For speed, your moulinets may be shortened; there is ordinarily no need for them to be full arm's-length rotations. For power, though, they should be more than mere flips of the wrist.

Some indirect corroboration of my ideas can be found in literature and reportage. Phrases like "repeated tomahawk blows" and "repeated (or multiple) hatchet blows" suggest that frequently, the blows were numerous. The rhyme about Lizzie Borden also suggests that multiple hatchet blows were an expected outcome in assaults with that weapon.


You may, if you like, explore the use of all the rest of the cuts of saber fencing, not just the two I consider most suitable for use with the tomahawk. You may moreover explore their combinations and permutations. In what may be an overabundance of caution, I limit myself to the two safest lines, supposing them to be enough to get by on. That may be excess caution because in our times, as in the frontier era, few real-world opponents would know enough to exploit the vulnerability of, say, your sideways-outward cut or some other risky move. Likely few people, long ago, had heard of the issue or thought of it. I doubt very much that academic fencing was a topic of much thought on the frontier.

The details of the method are best sorted out with practice and experiment. The tomahawk really is a simple weapon, made so by its inherent limitations. If you are looking for something to do fancy fencing with, hey, a sword is just the ticket for that. 

The hatchet's limitations are not inherently disastrous to its effective use. You have, at the least, two attacks, horizontal and vertical (with their natural variations such as slightly diagonal) and any number of feints. The shell game player, or three card monte operator, manages to be deceptive with no more to work with.

Do not try to extract more variety of use from the weapon than its nature permits, that's how to get the most out of it. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Heartache Incorporated

Despite the heartbreak hotel tone and the hokum and hoplophobia, this propaganda film does manage successfully to underline why we have the Four Rules. I contend that if you internalize the Four Rules, make them inflexible and fully habitual, and furthermore take the sensible safety precaution of taking your gun with you rather than leaving it lying around where children might get at it, no scenarios like those following can arise.

The tone and tenor of the video, though, are plainly of the 'guns are baaaad, m'kay?' irksome ilk. That it is a gummint production sends an odd message, even granted that this was the eighties and even the military hated the military. It almost says that by training and arming you we have burdened you with a curse. It should be treated as an honor, with heightened responsibilities.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saber attacks: Burton's manchette tactics examined

This is the third time I have taken up the matter of Burton's New System of Sword Exercise for Infantry. Here is my first article about it, a book review, not altogether favorable.

Second I examined some good aspects of his system and modified them slightly, to better suit my own tastes.

Now I am going to consider Burton's method of attacking the opponent's sword hand, wrist and forearm. It is the flower of his system. Indeed, the whole system makes little sense without manchette attacks as its focus and best purpose. Continuing what I started in my second article, I am going to propose some changes that I take to be improvements.

I think Burton's manchette method as he wrote it down is hampered by certain technical inconsistencies within it and by the terse and in places opaque explanations he gave. But I wish to give credit where it is due. It may be that the method would seem much better if we could in person experience him using it, rather than reading his explanation generations later. It may be that the extraneous or inconsistent aspects in his system actually got little use in practice, but were included in the treatise for completeness. It is certain that seeing a demonstration would be more useful than reading the explanations as we have them.

I will quote Burton directly for what is the only absolutely clear statement he makes about manchette tactics: "A golden rule which cannot be repeated too often is that all the Manchette-Cuts in Tierce (outside), either from above or from below, must be as nearly vertical as possible, whilst all the Cuts in Carte (inside) should be as horizontal as they can be made. The reason is simply that these positions cover the arm and render the attack less dangerous." Let us bear that principle in mind in perusing what follows.

A very good online edition of Burton's manual can be found here:  . You may wish to refer to it from time to time as I discuss some or other aspect of the system. 

Burton divides the techniques in his manchette method into five headings, as follows:
  • Direct Cuts
  • Reverse Cuts
  • Time Cuts
  • Feints of Coupé in Manchette
  • Feints of Seconde in Manchette
The highlighted portion below is cut-and-pasted from Burton. It is his summation of the method, given in a form common in fencing manuals of the day. The first column names an attack, the second the proper or likely defense, and the third gives a counter-attack.


The following is a synoptical tape of Manchette or Fore-arm play, showing the Cuts, the Guards (Parries) for the Cuts, and the Ripostes or replies that should follow each Parade. The Instructor will remember that instead of Prime we use High Tierce or High Carte, and for Seconde Low Tierce or withdrawing the leg.

Direct Cuts.
1. Carte de ManchetteIV. (Carte)II. (Seconde).
2. Ditto and cut Tierce.IV. and III. (Tierce)III.
3. Double Carte de Manchette and cut Carte.IV., III., and IV.II.
4. Double Carte de Manchette and cut Tierce.Parade Retrograde by withdrawing arm.III. or IV.


Reverse Cuts.
1. Half-feint.II. or III.III. or IV.
2. Feint Seconde and cut upwards.II.Cut with false edge upwards.
3. Feint Tierce and cut upwards.III. and II.II.
4. One-two-three, and cut upwards.Parade Retrograde.III. or IV.
5. The Pass.II. and I. (Prime).III.


Time Cuts.
1. On all Cuts in Carte.Parry with time in IV. Carte de Manchette.IV.
2. On feints in Carte ending with Cuts in TierceParade RetrogradeIII. or IV.
3. On Cuts in TierceReverse Cut upwards.III.
4. On Reverse Cut upwards.II. and III.IV.
5. On Cuts in Seconde.The Time Pass. III


Feints of Coupé in Manchette
1. Single Coupé.III. or IV.II.
2. One-two.IV. and III.III.
3. One-two-three.II., III. and II.III. or IV.
4. One-two-three-four.Parade Retrograde.III


Feints of Seconde in Manchette.
1. Simple Seconde.II.III.
2. Feint Seconde and cut Tierce.II. and III.III. or IV.
3. Feint Seconde, feint Tierce, and cut Carte.II., III., and II.III. or IV.
4. Feint Seconde, feint Tierce, and cut Seconde.Parade Retrograde.III. or IV.

If you are at all like me in the way you read such things, you have been waving your hand or a pencil in the air while reading, or perhaps a fencing saber if you happen to keep one handy. But as you familiarize yourself with the sequences of attack, parry and riposte, it's good to do so with a critical eye on the proceedings. 

If I am reading Burton aright, he abhors seconde as a guard or parry, but countenances it as a feint or cut. I think that, when he reminds us that we are to use tierce instead of seconde, he means only that we are not to use seconde as a parry. I think that is what he means because his descriptions speak of seconde feints and cuts in ways that make best sense if taken literally as seconde, not seconde as code for low tierce. In trying to understand why he might think the seconde feint is all right, it occurred to me that holding the sword in seconde can serve the same functions as coupé, or cut-over, but do so inverted, that is, below the opponent's sword not above it. Burton mistrusts the usual inversion of coupé, which is the degage (disengagement). He writes, "If the opponent attempt to "degage," that is to pass his point under your blade from Tierce to Carte, or vice versâ, retire by withdrawing the right heel to the left, and cut at the arm which his movement has exposed." Seconde, though, can get you under the opponent's sword while affording you the protection of keeping your blade inclined with respect to the opponent's: the hanging guard he so despised in the earlier part of his treatise is implicitly an advantage here.

From Burton's New Sword Exercise
What I think happened is that Burton understood the degage in fencing-school terms, that is, as being necessarily like the foil maneuver in which the blade disengages nearly parallel to the ground, thus offering no protection from a cut. Let us re-examine that assumption. It is possible to adapt the degage to saber use, leaving the blade inclined with respect to the opposing blade. It's accomplished using Burton's low tierce/low carte and a hint of "parade retrograde" if needed. Your point passes near below the opposing blade but your hand is far below, and your blade retains enough inclination to parry. If we do that we can dispense with seconde even as a feint.  Notice that it takes only a very small rotation of your point to the left or right to place your blade on the other side of your opponent's sword when you again raise your hand. 

If we cannot make this modified degage work reliably, then perhaps we can simply do without switching sides beneath the opposing sword, relying, instead, upon hopping over it with coup
és. An opponent of very short stature would, I admit, make the modified degage impractical. 

The advantage of doing away with seconde is that including it mars the consistent nature and smooth flow of Burton's system of linked tierces and cartes, linked together as they are by his innovation of semi-moulinets. The system is smoother and cleaner without seconde. Burton's illustration of his guards shows, but does not name, seconde formed high and low, a ghostly un-named presence in the system.

Of course, whatever you think of seconde, other people may elect to use it, so it makes sense to account for it in the system, at least so far as understanding how to answer it. But the improvement in flow when one removes it from one's own movements bears out the theory that logical consistency is beneficial even in real-world pursuits.

In a previous installment, I gave my doubts about the real usefulness of reverse cuts. They are well and good in fencing bouts because they count as hits, according to the rule book. In a military setting they may lack sufficient force to be effective. Whether I am right about that or not, using them introduces another inconsistent element into the flowing system of semi-moulinets. The movements are more harmonious and smoother without the reverses. Burton's system is more self-consistent without them, but he plainly likes them, and so here they are. He mentions a couple of instances in which the cut with the true edge can be used instead, but with a loss of time. I would have said instead that the false edge could be used there, but with a loss of power.

I notice that of the several real (not fencing) sabers I have around the house, not one of them is equipped with a false edge. Their designers did not find that refinement important. I would perforce do without the reverse cuts if somehow I found myself in a war involving sabers. 
Not all sabers had back edges historically, but in Burton's era the feature was common--and he criticized that it generally went unused. I, though, surmise that it went unused because it was not very useful.

This video from a modern fencing master shows that a good bit of what Burton was driving at anticipated later theory. The video mentions manchette stop cuts and shows the importance of remaining covered while you attack, and how reverse cuts can help you to keep covered. I think Burton would have seen in it much to commend. 

My own view of the matter is that three of the five divisions of Burton's manchette technique are simply splendid. Alter one element out of the five, the almost hypocritical uses of seconde, and delete another, the questionably efficacious reverse cuts, and the method's virtues emerge more clearly. It becomes a smoothly flowing and indeed brilliant display of fast swordsmanship. The underlying brilliance of it has been obscured, for more than a century, by Burton's presentation, which induces undue complexities, creates points of unclarity, explains things so as to minimize the method's problems rather than address them squarely, and is marred by an overall tone of bluster. 

As an afterthought, here is an exercise for the reader. For each parry, investigate and work out what is the most efficient way to move to make a downward vertical cut in tierce, and to an inward horizontal cut in quarte, attacks Burton points out as especially suitable for attacks on the opponent's wrist. Retain Burton's concept of the "semi-moulinet." If you are not feeling like a purist, you may include, also, cuts made in seconde.