Thursday, 20 December 2012


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Monday, 17 December 2012

Wise Comment

A friend of mine posted a very wise comment, which is worth thinking on.

"We should be allowed weapons to defend ourselves from violent crimes when they happen."

"No, we should examine why these crimes happen in the first place, and try to understand what leads to them so we can prevent them from happening."

The answer is 'yes.' It's not an either/ or proposition. To say otherwise is a false dichotomy in the name of political expediency." 
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Friday, 7 December 2012

Monday, 3 December 2012

Disarming Hand guns, a quick technical guide.

I have covered firearm disarming techniques in my book. Obviously these are high risk techniques but if you are in a situation that may need them the alternatives are probably worse. A slim chance is better than no chance. The basic rule is “get out of the line of fire” and “control the weapon so you are do not re-enter the line of fire” Take the weapon or turn it against him if you can.

This post will cover some useful supplementary information on the workings of pistols  that may be useful for defensive purposes.

If a pistol is single action it must be cocked before the first shot can be fired. For most pistols this involves pulling back the hammer with your thumb. For an automatic pistol the movement of the slide will recock the hammer for subsequent shots. For a single action revolver or other non-automatic the hammer must be manually cocked for each shot. In short, with a single action pistol the hammer must be back for the gun to fire. If it is not, then it cannot fire, no matter how hard you pull the trigger. Watch a few movies and you will often see someone threatened or supposedly ready to fire with a single action with the hammer down!

For a double action pistol pressure on the trigger will cock the hammer and then let it drop. Many double action automatics let you either cock the hammer manually or fire by double action for the first shot. For second and subsequent shots the hammer stays back. Some automatics are “Double Action Only” (DAO). Many of these use internal strikers but some have external hammers and for these the hammer stays down after every shot. For a double action revolver the hammer stays down after every shot. The hammer can be manually cocked for single shots, which require less trigger pressure.  In short, double action weapons can fire with either the hammer back or down.

How can you tell if a weapon is single or double action? There is no hard and fast rule if you cannot reliably identify the weapon. Most modern revolvers are double action, unless they are based on older weapons like the Colt Peacemaker. Automatics may be either single action or double action. If you have to use an unfamiliar weapon your best bet is to manually cock it for the first shot.
Let us look at some common examples:

Colt M1911A1 aka Colt Government Model. Its variants and copies are easilly recognizable and nearly all of them are Single Action Automatics. The only exception I am aware of is some models of the Canadian Paraordinance pistols.

Browning Hi-power. One of the most widely produced handguns of all time. A Single Action Automatic.
Colt Peacemaker. A Single Action revolver. Basic design is used for some modern weapons such as the Ruger Blackhawk.

Beretta M92. A Double Action Automatic. Standard handgun of the US army and widely used by other armies, police forces and individuals.

A SIG P226. A Double Action Automatic. Like many modern pistols it looks a lot like the Browning High Power. Note position of the magazine eject button at the base of the trigger guard on this and the Beretta. The Browning and M1911A1 have ejects in the same place.
Walther P38. Double Action Automatic. Has a heel mounted magazine release.

Walther PPK. Double Action Automatic. Heel mounted magazine release. Many similar weapons exist, including the Russian Makarov pistol.

Smith and Wesson Model 10. Typical of a Double Action Revolver.

A Glock pistol. A popular Double Action Only Automatic design. Note that it does not have an external hammer!

Taurus Revolver. An example of a hammerless Double Action Only Revolver.
As the hammer of a revolver moves back, either by manual cocking or trigger pressure, the cylinder is turned by a mechanical linkage. The chamber that is in line with the barrel when the hammer is down will not be the next chamber to be fired. As the hammer goes back the next chamber moves into alignment with the barrel and will be fired as the hammer drops.  In an episode of “Maverick” James Gardner stops a six-gun firing by sliding a stick down the barrel. He knew the gunman would keep an empty chamber under the hammer, as was common practice then. The stick entered the chamber and prevented the cylinder revolving to bring a live round into position. Interesting and entertaining, but not exactly a practical technique. Revolver safety mechanisms have improved since then so carrying an empty chamber under the hammer is no longer necessary or common practice.

I have come across an idea that gripping the revolver cylinder will prevent a gun from firing. This works on the same principle. If the cylinder cannot rotate a fresh round cannot align and the hammer cannot move back. This would rather depend on how tightly you can grip but is worth trying if you can combine this with twisting and manoeuvring the weapon to redirect or remove it it is worth a try.

An automatic pistol does not have a cylinder that you can try to prevent turning but it does have a slide (or at least most models you are likely to encounter will). Part of the slide forms the rear part of the chamber, the bolt face. The bolt face has the business end of the firing pin. If the slide is pushed back even a few millimetres the chamber becomes unlocked and the firing pin cannot reach the round, and the gun cannot fire. If you grab an automatic try to move the slide back as you twist and realign the gun.

We started off talking about hammers. Preventing the hammer from moving forward will prevent the weapon firing but your success in doing this will depend on your relative position and the weapon type. If the hammer is back slipping your hand between it and the firing pin will prevent it from firing, but you will not be able to see the hammer condition if the gun is directed at you. If you can positively identify the weapon type as single action, such as a Colt M1911A1 or Peacemaker this may be worth trying. Combine this with gripping the slide/cylinder with your other hand and twisting the weapon. Holding the hammer of a double action gun down is probably not practical. You may be better off cocking the hammer yourself and trapping your hand between it.

Trying to control the hammer of a weapon is probably more practical if you can approach the weapon from the side or rear and is best combined with other techniques to remove or realign the weapon. That way if something goes wrong and the weapon still fires it is pointing in a harmless direction or at the gunman.

Ejecting the magazine is another potential technique. Most pistols have the magazine eject as a button near the base of the trigger guard. Many pocket pistols and/or pistols of german origin have a “heel catch” on the bottom of the butt. If you can reach this control when you grab the gun you may be able to eject the magazine. The catch is, some guns have magazine safeties and will not fire if the magazine is in place, while others will still be able to fire the chambered round. There is no hard and fast rule for telling if an automatic has a magazine safety or not, but at least if you eject the mag he only has one shot.
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Sunday, 18 November 2012

Cowboy Figure Eight

                I have been reading up on knots again the past few days. Knots are a subject we have touched on a couple of times in this blog. I used a Fisherman’s Knot to create an adjustable lanyard for my kukri and a combination of Overhand knot and Fisherman’s Knot to create my Tenouchi. I have been debating whether to add a post or two dedicated to the subject of useful knots since it is a subject some people have trouble with.

            While researching I became aware that the following application for a Figure Eight knot was rather conspicuous by its absence on the internet. I came across this in the Time-Life Book on Cowboys. I no longer have the book but fortunately I had sketched it and scanned the sketch onto my computer when I cleared out a load of old papers a few years back. Playing with my favourite graphics program produced the image below.

            The application is to quickly tie off a lasso to a saddle horn, but the knot itself and how it is tied can be used in other contexts.

            The left end of the rope has been thrown around a steer or mustang and is about to come under a considerable load. The cowboy holds part of the lariat in his right hand near the green arrow. The rest of the lariat is on his left.

            The cowboy pulls the rope against the left side of the pommel using his right hand and then brings the free end of the rope over the top of the taunt rope, around the right side of the pommel and through the loop held by the right hand.

            This is quite a useful technique. I have noticed that with some cordage the knot will tend to slip if the free end is not further secured. The cowboy doubtless made a loop in the free end and slipped it over the horn to create a half hitch. Once the figure eight has taken the initial strain this is easy to do. Alternately a couple of half-hitches can be applied to the standing part.

            My original sketch, also showing another method of dally. The advantage of the figure eight is that it can be applied to a mast or tree where you could not throw coils over the top. It is easier to apply under strain than, say, a round turn and two half hitches.
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Friday, 16 November 2012

Turkey Season

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Sunday, 11 November 2012

New iPod and Playlist

            One of my favourite pieces of technology is my iPod. Simple in concept, the iPod really has changed how people enjoy music, especially if you grew up with the Sony Walkman and Portable disc player type devices. I can carry every piece of music I own with me, and using shuffle I never know what will be played next, but know it will be something I like.

            What has my iPod to do with self-defence? Not much really, sometimes it is nice to just enjoy the music.

            I had a 30Gb “iPod Video” that has served me well for a number of years. I do not recall when exactly I brought it but this model came out in 2005, which sounds about right. The headphones it came with broke on me after a few years, which lead me to discover that the sound could be so much better with alternate headphones.

In the past few weeks it has become obvious that the headphone socket has worn out, so I only get sound in both earpieces if I lean against the plug. My girlfriend told me to go along to the Apple store to see what could be done, so I did.

Apparently my model is now classed as “Vintage” and being well out of warrantee could not be repaired. I was given a 10% trade-in on any new model.

The only thing I had used my old iPod for was playing music, so had no interest in something that could take photos, access the internet and play games for an increased price tag. For that reason my choice was the 6th Generation iPod Classic.

Someone at Apple has been very smart here, realizing that change for change’s sake is not necessarily a good thing. The Classic works and indeed looks a lot like my old model. The main difference is that it now has a 160Gb memory and the facing is made from aluminium rather than plastic. It seems to hold a charge better too and apparently the battery life has been extended to 36 hours. I have heard talk that Apple intend to discontinue the Classic in favour of the iPhone and iPod Touch. I hope that is not the case. There will always be a market for a music player that mainly just plays music.

I had expected the guys at the Apple store to transfer the content of my old iPod onto my new, but this service was not available. I had to wait a while until I could find time to make sure everything I had on my old iPod was on the copy I keep on an external Hard Drive.

Because it is so familiar setting up my new iPod was very simple. I copied my backup files into iTunes and then onto the iPod. 5,659 songs at 21.2Gb took a while though.

In fact the main difference I found was more to do with iTunes itself. The only playlist I have ever used are “Recently Added” and “Least Played”. These were standard options on my old iPod but I could not find them on the new model. I searched on the internet on how to create these using “Smart Playlist” but most of the explanations I could find were not satisfactory. As is often the case with Apple, the solution was a lot simpler than you think. Since correct information on how to create these particular playlists is hard to find I thought I would put it up on here to benefit those who have brought my book or read the blog.

The simple method is:- Open “New Smart Playlist”. In the top left corner there is a section saying something like “Obey rule”. Untick this box. Go down to the line that says “Limit to” with a number beside it. Set this number to how big you want your playlist. I set mine to 250 items. Right beside this is a box that says “Random”. Open the drop down menu and change Random to either “Most Recently Added” or “Least Often Played”. Name your playlist and you are done. Took me several hours of looking through webpages to find that!
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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Shark Night

            There are things in life that you want to learn, and there are things in life that you need to learn. You may not have a desire to know how to stop arterial bleeding, but it is something you should know.
If you look very closely there is a shark in this picture
            The other night I was watching a movie called “Shark Night”. Now, I enjoy a good creature feature but cannot say I was impressed by this one.
            In the movie there is a scene where the character “Beth” (Katharine McPhee, above) conceals a knife in the back of her panties. She uses the knife to stab the evil redneck. In the movie, the redneck swears and his mate laughs and says “Scars show character”. The shoulder wound doesn’t seem to bother the redneck much and they feed Beth to the sharks. I could not help but think that if Beth had known a bit about combat anatomy, as described in my book she might have known to drive the blade into the spot beneath the redneck’s ear or into his kidney. If she had read the sections on knife use she might have known enough to keep her blade and use it against the other redneck. OK, the other redneck has a pistol, but at that range she might had had a chance rather than no chance at all. If she had read the book she would have known about gaining the outside gate and could have used the first redneck as a shield.
            Most people don’t want to know how to use a knife against another human being and that is to their credit. Most will hopefully never need to. But some of them will, and knowing how to defend yourself with likely available weapons or how they may be used against you comes under “should know” rather than “want to know”.

            Visit the preview page for my book and invest in a copy. It might save your life, and not just against shark-fixated rednecks.

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Monday, 5 November 2012


            Today is Guy Fawkes’ Night, a time for fireworks. Of course, fireworks have actually been going off since before Halloween. There are also likely to be fireworks for the next week or so. The Hindu festival of lights, Diwali is nearly upon us. Its proximity to November 5th means that the modern festival of lights now includes fireworks.

          Although there will be firework displays tonight many individuals and local councils chose to schedule theirs over the last weekend. Over the last two days fireworks have been going off sporadically. Some people have even been setting them off during the daylight, which seems pretty daft.

            Just once I’d like to see everyone keep their fireworks until a scheduled hour, and then the whole city let off everything they have all at once. Fill the whole sky with light and colour. That would be a sight to see.
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