Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pistol Mounted RDS for Duty & Service Use...is this the future?

Red dots sights on pistols is by no means an innovation in the shooting industry, they have been around for over 20 years and had been used primarily in the competition world to enhance sight acquisition when shooting stages. I first used a service pistol fitted with an Aimpoint 16 years ago and saw a U.S service pistol fitted with a Doctor Optic in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2001. There are many benefits to running a pistol with an MRDS fitted to it such as; fast sight acquisition, night vision shooting, long range shooting and stoppage clearances. However, there are many drawbacks also that savvy end users will be aware of and those that aren't need to be. Obvious arguments include battery life, electronic failures, cracked or broken glass, fogging of the lens with extreme temperature variations as well as zero-shift particularly when replacing batteries. Other less obvious issues that military end users need to deal with are robustness, will the sight still work with thousands of rounds put through the gun and is the unit waterproof and can it be submersed to the Mil standard depth of 66ft. There are many pro MRDS users within the commercial space that advocate them as duty or service ready primary sighting systems, but are they really duty or service ready? Is this the future?

The Rhetoric
Someone recently made the comment that “the same arguments we make today about pistols fitted with RDS are the same arguments that had been used against rifles mounted with RDS around 20 years ago”. This to some degree is true, however a pistol is not a rifle and a rifle is not a pistol and that’s where the similarity ends. The same problems that can plague a rifle mounted red dot sight are the same ones that can plague pistol mounted MRDS also. But is the reverse true?

Areas Of Operations
I served my county in special operations for longer than a decade and deployed on missions that have included Jungle Operations, Water Operations and Desert Operations. While operating in the jungles of East Timor, I personally had to remove my Aimpoint from my rifle due to the heavy rain and intense fogging which was not isolated to the rifle optics but NVG’s as well, regardless of the use of anti-fog applications. Anti Fog is not a fix all by any means and will solve a fogging issue short term but there will always be times where environments and time will trump some of the best preparation. During those times, I was forced to revert back to iron sights by day and use lasers at night for targeting.   

I have witnessed dust storms in the deserts of Iraq that have lasted for three days and even times when it rained mud! These are the extremes of war that require the ability to have options with your optics and in field maintenance sessions to manage the serviceability of weapons and equipment. 

I have had to use a substandard sighting system during counter terrorist diving and water operations missions that could effect performance because better optics were not waterproof to the required standards. 

Because of this diverse area of operations and the nature of special operations, sighting systems for military application need to be scalable and redundant in order to allow operators to perform their missions with success. On the other hand when it comes to domestic counter terrorism and land based assaults, operators can take advantage of a variety of weapons and equipment that excel in that environment that would otherwise cease to function in harsher environments such as subsurface approaches, over the beach infiltrations or even during mountain and arctic warfare missions.  

Optical Clarity
Some RDS have a tinted, anti-glare lens coating that reduces the amount of light that passes through the lens and creates complications when firing directly into the sun particularly at low light and when firing into shadows while looking towards the sun. This problem is not a dot intensity issue, and one that can be solved by turning down the brightness controls; it is a lens clarity problem. Historically RDS had not been submersable due to their open system design but more modern variations are submersible and waterproof but some not to military standards of 66ft. 

Milled Slides & Losing the Dot
The loss of continuity of the red dot during recoil management is a well-documented one and even very experienced end users including myself have experienced the dot leaving the field of view due to the recoil angle of the pistol. This is not theory it is fact. The dot is not viewable during recoil due to the RDS being mounted to the rear of the slide and is disappears with only the slightest change in angle of the wrists. This means that the dot must be reacquired every time the weapon is fired. If there is any inconsistency in grip or positioning of the weapon, such as weapons manipulations, the dot will be even more difficult to reacquire. When using iron sights, the front sight does not leave the field of view at all during recoil and due to the position of the front sight on the front of the slide, it does not drop below the LOS at all, unlike the RDS which is mounted to the rear of gun and moves low and under the LOS. The front sight is always in view and is easier to reacquire. This is a well known problem with pistol mounted RDS and is negated in the competition world by using hand loaded ammunition with a low power factor. This is more of an issue when using +P and military ammunition or calibers that generate more recoil than others such as .40cal handguns. These complications are unique and isolated to pistol mounted RDS because the optic is mounted to the reciprocating surface. These issues are not the same problems that rifle mounted RDS suffer from and can’t be solved by saying rhetoric like ‘these are the same arguments that have been made against red dot sights on rifles 20 years ago’ because rifles optics are not mounted to moving parts.

New Mounting Options
There are competition mounts on the market that been around for a long time and the newest version of those is the Geisslle ALG ‘6-second’ mount which attached to the frame of the handgun like similar versions. Due to the need to reduce the profile of the mount and reduce the mechanical offset, the mount prevents the use of the irons sights that reduces the redundant ability to have an alternate sighting system should the optic fail. The fact that the mount can’t be removed quickly places it into the niche category as well.  The ALG mount was developed for specific end users with specific requirements and interestingly enough was the same requirements that I had while serving on the counter terrorist team back in Australia. 17-years ago we solved that same problem by using a pistol with an Aimpoint mounted on it in much the same way as the ALG does today. Mounts like the ALG does address some of the issues mentioned above regarding muzzle flip and lose of dot during recoil by mounting the optic mid gun which maintains the same angle of incidence but reduces the distance traveled as it is mounted closer to the pivot point. In addition to these points, there is also a mechanical offset issue that must be overcome with raising the Point Of Aim (POA) over the LIne Of Bore (LOB), this can be zeroed out but can still presents a problem that good iron sights don’t have.
Photo courtesy of HK Forum
While serving in my Unit, I had the unique role of moving between domestic counter terrorism duties and off shore hostage rescue and war fighting. Special Operations units such as ours require access to a wide variety of weapons and equipment in order to solve unique problems. Whether it is a reduction in time, increase in accuracy, reduction in weight, increase in performance, reduction in size, increase in functionality, we are always testing and evaluating, looking for positives and negatives before we accept something into service. We also understood very quickly that there were limitations with weapons and equipment that were developed for the domestic CT role that did not perform to the required standard during war roles and consequently, additional weapons and equipment were needed in order to meet those needs. There are definite advantages to having RDS on service pistols but for the most part are relegated to niche roles and applications. Unfortunately due to liability gaps in learning and training as well as some fundamental flaws to overcome, we will continue to see them being incorporated into specialist roles and advanced shooting but their inherent shortfalls will prevent them from being utilized as a primary sighting system for all personnel at all levels in the short term.

The future is indeed here and yet has been here for nearly 20 years! The same problems exist today as they did 20 years ago.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Failure of Gun Control, an Australian Perspective

Australia is not America.

Australia does not have a Bill of Rights, so the legislatures have more say than America’s over many issues of individual rights, and the courts have less control. Also, Australian’s have no constitutional right to bear arms. This is because the British granted Australia nationhood peacefully where as the United States had to fight for it and ratify its own Constitution with amendments to protect democracy and prevent tyranny and oppression.

In the early years of Australian colonization, Gun control was left up to each individual colony and after Federation, each state. The Commonwealth does not have constitutional authority over firearms but does control customs and defense related matters.

During the rise of Communism in the 1920’s, Australia imposed restrictions on handguns, which continued into the 40’ and 50’s thinking that it would limit the availability of handguns and military rifles ending up in the hands of communist radicals. Restrictions continued to be tightened throughout Australia up after WWII and following the rise of organized crime and underworld violence.

With the rise of urbanization in the 1980’s and the introduction of new values such as feminism, environmental awareness and media reports about so called ‘American gun violence’ created awareness in the Australian population of gun control as a potential issue.

Between 1984-1996 there are several mass killings in Australia that arose public concern. The 1984 Milparra Massacre involving rival OMG’s left 7 dead and 28 wounded, The 1987 Hoddle St massacre where Julian Knight shot and killed 7 wounding 19 and the Queen St massacre perpetrated by Frank Vitkovic where he killed 9 and wounded 5 others in an active shooter incident at the Australia Post building. In response to these shootings, several states required registration of ALL guns and restricted availability of semi automatic rifles and shotguns.

In 1991 in Strathfield, NSW, Wade Frankum shot and killed 8 and wounded 6 others during what was known as the Strathfield Massacre. Frankum initiated the attack with a hunting knife, stabbing a female sitting behind him in a café. After leaving the knife in the body, he retrieved a Chinese SKS rifle from a duffel bag and opened fire in the café killing 7. He then fled into the mall and killed his final victim. Frankum committed suicide shortly after a running gun battle with Police.

In 1996 in Port Aurthur, Tasmania a man with a history of violence and erratic behavior opened fire at a historic former convict prision where he killed 35 and wounded 23 others. The suspect Bryant was later taken into custody after a long standoff with police SWAT teams.

Directly after the Port Arthur shooting, the Prime Minister of Australia immediately forced all states to adopt a new gun law proposal under the National Firearms Agreement. This was necessary because the Australian Constitution does not give the Commonwealth power to enact gun laws. The proposals included a ban on all semi-automatic rifles and all semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, and a tightly restrictive system of licensing and ownership controls.

The Australian Constitution requires compensation for any property taken by the Government, which spurred the 1996 Gun Buy Back Scheme or gun confiscation scheme. This was a compulsory and mandated scheme to remove all weapons from Citizens and their homes. The gun buy back took effect between the periods 01 Oct 1996- 30 Sept 1997. The Government bought back and destroyed nearly 1 million firearms, which was about one third to one fifth of Australian firearms.  A similar program was pitched by the Left after the Sandy Hook shooting and knowing that anything mandatory would not pass, the suggestion of gun buy back to stimulate the economy was put forward. Pay people for their guns so they can spend it on other things!

There have been several mass killings in Australia since those controls were introduced. The 1996 restrictions did not stop mass killings in Australia.

Notably, in 2002 at Monash University in Melbourne, 2 students were shot killed in a school shooting with pistols and the 2014 at the Lindt Chocolate café siege  Man Monis took 17 hostages and killed 1 before being shot an killed by members of the NSW TOU during the dramatic hostage rescue. Monis was armed with a shotgun obtained on the black market.

The Government also provided financial incentives for citizens to give up the shooting sports! Approximately 25% of pistol shooters took this option. There has been several Gun Amnesties since the introduction of the 1996 controls where nearly 70,000 handguns were handed in.

In response to the Lindt Chocolate café siege, the NSW Government tightened gun control further bringing in new laws and offenses for possession of stolen firearms. The Government also introduced measures to stop the use of 3D printers and milling machines from anyone without the appropriate license.

Historically, Australia has had low levels of violent crime. Overall levels of homicide and suicide have been on the decline for decades. Also, the proportion of these crimes perpetrated with a firearm has declined since the 1980’s.

As much as the Government reports how well these controls have worked over the years by releasing Government obtained data that fits their narrative, much of the decline of the violent use of firearms was declining naturally in Australia due to our way of life. 

In 2005 the head of the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn, noted that the level of legal gun ownership in NSW increased in recent years, and that the 1996 legislation had had little to no effect on violence and later stated; “The fact is that the introduction of those laws did not result in any acceleration of the downward trend in gun homicide. It is always unpleasant to acknowledge facts that are inconsistent with your own point of view.”

Another report measured the incidence of mass shooting and compared Australia to New Zealand, which has far less restrictions on gun control. The report concluded that the rate of mass shootings did not decline with the introduction of gun control measures in 1996.

A 2013 report suggested in a conservative estimate that there are a total of 250,000 long guns and 10,000 handguns on the illicit grey or black markets in Australia. Criminals will always find a way to arm themselves with illegal weapons purchased on the black market or stolen weapons from theft and robberies.

The President has recently made some very serious statements referring to ‘the Australian model of gun control’ which all started by the Prime Minister at the time, John Howard executing his version of an executive order for all states to adopt gun control measures.

Gun laws in Australia has not eliminated mass shootings, they still occur and at the same approximate rate. Australia’s culture has changed over time as noted by the reduction of homicide and suicide since 1980, which is pre gun control.

Australia also has less than 1/10th the population of America and mass shootings will be less frequent in Counties with fewer people. A way to decrease gun violence in America might be to stop spending money on introducing new laws, enforce existing laws, and stop illegal immigration and violent criminals from entering into America. Prevent illegal weapons from moving through our ports and number of illegal weapons on the black market.

When Obama and the left say that we should respond to shootings as Australia did that does not mean background checks on private gun sales. That means that this is the first phase of mass gun control by the Government.

By taking away Citizens rights to own firearms plays into the narrative of what the left stands for and that is to take away the ability for citizens to think and operate without the need for Government.  The left wants to regulate and control everything, take a look at the Obama Care debacle. First it’s health care then it will be gun ownership.

Don’t allow Obama to leave his final legacy before he departs the White House. His legacy of instituting wide spread gun control measures to disarm our Citizens and prevent us from exercising our right to bear arms and the ability to protect our families and ourselves. By Obama praising Australia for its gun-laws, he is also advocating mass confiscation. It is up to all of us to do our part in protecting our second amendment rights. Stand up for what you believe in and voice your opinion because my right to bear arms as a Citizen of this great country shall not be infringed! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Redback One Shooting System: The High Mounted Optic

The Redback One Shooting System:

The High Mounted Optic.

I get asked all the time why I have my Aimpoint set on such a high mount? So I thought that I would write a piece on the Redback One methodology and how that relates to our shooting system and weapons set up.

There are several reasons for setting the combat optic on a high riser block and here they are.

Mitigation of muscular fatigue: The neck. Having a low mounted optic on the rifle forces the shooter to extend the head forward and down in order to acquire the sight picture. This places excessive stress on the trapezius and sternoclidomastoid muscles as they run through the upper part of the neck. Mounting the sight on a high riser block alleviates this stress by keeping the head in a more neutral position and allows the shooter to conduct long clearances more comfortably.

Mitigating muscular fatigue. The eye. By placing the optic low on the rifle and angling the head forward places a high amount of stress on the superior rectus muscle of the eye. This is an extraocular muscle that is innovated by the oculomotor nerve. The superior rectus primary function is elevation and is in its primary position while looking straight ahead. By mounting the combat optic on a high riser block, the shooter can maintain the superior rectus in as close to its neutral position as possible. This not only minimizes stress and fatigue of the eye but also allows the eye to maintain a greater range of motion, which is vital to proper scanning procedures during room combat.

Rearward Mounting and Butt-stock Position. Mounting the sight as far to the rear as possible allows the shooter to maximize the field of view provided by the combat optic. As the Aimpoint Micro is a technically more difficult sight to use due to the restricted field of view compared to other sights on the market, it requires the shooter to be more consistent with rifle presentations and mounting procedures. In order to achieve a more ‘head up’ shooting position the butt-stock must be collapsed to ensure that eye relief can be maintained and mounting speed can be maximized.

Faster Sight Acquisition and Shots on Target. Placing the combat optic on a high riser block means that the shooter has a shorter distance to move the weapon and achieve the mounted shooting position than when setting the sight on a lower mount. Traveling a shorter distance during presentation translates into faster sight acquisition, and also means faster rounds on target.

Night Vision Operations. When employing night vision goggles there will likely be times when the shooter will need to use either the day combat optic with the naked eye or passively sight the rifle by using the NVG behind the combat optic. Two occasions that might occur are when or if the aiming laser fails, or when operating in an environment where there is a belief that the enemy possesses a night fighting capability. In order to achieve either method of targeting while wearing NVG’s, the shooters head must remain in a neutral and upright position.

Gas Mask Operations. In order to be able to quickly mount and target the rifle while using the protective gas mask, the combat optic must be raised to ensure that the weapon is presented naturally and not canted to one side. Having the combat optic mounted low on the rail makes it extremely difficult to sight the weapon making target engagements slower and potentially less accurate. This also places the head in an unnatural position while shooting which is again counter productive to this technique. 

Potential Negatives. There is an argument that could be made to suggest that without a low, deep solid cheek weld on the butt-stock that recoil management could suffer which will affect accuracy. That argument is partly true if the shooter does not fully understand recoil management and how to can be mitigated, which is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say that I do not have any issues with recoil management.

There is also an argument that the mechanical offset is too much and is detrimental to accuracy in CQB operations. This is quit a small point really as there is always some mechanical offset and must be trained during individual skills training at the range. I always ensure to include an offset in every drill that I shoot during CQB shooting evolutions regardless of the size of the target. I know exactly where I need to aim to achieve the shot placement I need to maximum incapacitation. Our Operator Readiness Test is a fantastic assessment of speed and accuracy which requires the shooter to place 12 rounds of carbine and 12 rounds of pistol inside a six-inch circle with one hundred percent accuracy with both the pistol and carbine from a distance of 7 yards in a time frame of 20 seconds. Being able to perform these speed and accuracy requirements means that your ability to include an offset under stress has been assessed. 

Conclusion. In closing, there are many advantages to mounting the combat optic on a high riser block that clearly out weight the perceived disadvantages as I have outlined above. The Redback One Shooting System has been designed to compliment our close quarters battle and target prosecution courses and seamlessly mesh with CQB TTP’s. If you haven’t tried it out, give it go and see what you think. It may require you to retrain some preexisting neural pathways from legacy techniques but once you overcome them you likely won’t go back.

For more information on our training programs please feel free to contact us directly.

Phone: (757) 839-8375

About the Author – Jason Falla is a former member of Australian Special Operations Command, now Director of Training at Redback One. Jason is a decorated veteran of OIF and OEF with multiple combat deployments to multiple war zones.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Redback One on Zeroing and Accuracy.

M4 Iron Sights
To adjust elevation using the factory M4 iron sights, rotate the front sight using a sight adjustment tool, multi tool or the tip of a bullet. To bring the point of impact up, follow the arrow markings on the front sight base. Up will be clock-wise and down counter clock-wise. Each indent or click on the front sight will move the Point Of Impact or (POI) by 1-inch at 100-meters.

To adjust windage using the factory rear A2 sight, follow the arrow markings on the right side of the windage knob. To move the POI to the right, turn the knob clockwise. To move the POI to the left rotate the knob counter clock-wise. Each click of the windage knob will move the POI ½ an inch at 100-meters.

The Group.
The pattern formed after firing is known as the group. The center of the group is known as the Mean Point of Impact or (MPI). In order establish a group, the shooter must fire a number of rounds consecutively without changing positions. Typically 3 rounds are used during the initial stages of the zero. By firing only three rounds, shooters can conserve ammunition while making bold adjustments to windage and elevation. Once the group has been moved to the desired location, the shooter should fire a five-round group to confirm that the zero is correct at that range. Firing five rounds will highlight consistency in marksmanship and will also expose any inconsistencies with fundamentals during the firing process.

For example, if you only fired three rounds and one round was separated from the other two, it could be assessed that the separated round was a flyer, an error created due to poor fundamentals. However, if another two rounds were fired and were grouped together with the single round (flyer), the group would then read as if the two initial good rounds were the inconsistent ones. This is known as a split group and the firer should fire again. Split groups are difficult to assess and an indicator that the firer moved the firing position in between shots or adjusted position midway through the group.

Moving the Group.

Following the manufacturers guide will give the shooter the best results when making adjustments to the sight during the zeroing process. The shooter must determine the center of the group or, the Mean Point of Impact or (MPI) before making any adjustments to the sight. If after firing the first three round group it is determined that the MPI is a long way from the desired zero point, the shooter should make bold adjustments, using the manufacturers guide to move the group in the general direction of the zero point. Once the shooter is in the vicinity of the zero point, he can then use fewer click adjustments to make fine movements of the group until the correct zero is achieved. Remember, the value of the click will be reduced by three quarters when zeroing from 25-meters. Therefore, if the value of each click is 1-inch of movement at 100-meters, the value of the same click will be ¾ less or ¼ of an inch at 25-meters.

Zeroing Practical

The Zero Process.

50m-200m Zero. To achieve a 50/200-meter zero, the MPI of the shot group will be 1” low of the aiming mark at 25-meter. When using the Redback One Zero target the shooter will use the solid 1” square of the lower left or right zeroing target as the Point Of Aim or (POA) reference at 25-meters. The POI should be center of the hollow 1” square directly below.

Extreme Spread.

The group is measured from the center of the furthest apart shots in the group. The distance between these shots is known as the extreme spread or (ES). The ES at 25-meters should no more than 1.5-inches. This represents the minimum marksmanship requirements at 25-meters.


When zeroing is performed at a reduced distance, it is important to confirm the zero at each zero distance. The first distance will be at 50-meters. When using the Redback One Zero target, shooters will use the lower bullseye target to confirm at this range. Groups should be Point Of Aim / Point Of Impact at this distance. Minor adjustments may be required for some shooters. The ES at this distance should be no more than 3-inches.

After the group has been assessed, the shooter should then move to the 100-meter line and fire (3) deliberate (10) round groups for marksmanship purposes, breaking and resetting the firing position between each group. This will establish a Central Zero Point (CZP), or true zero of the weapon. The CZP should be approximately 2” above the POA at 100m. The ES at this distance should be no greater than 6-inches. This represents the minimum marksmanship standards at this range.

By performing this process shooters will become more confident in the performance of the zero between 0-100m and understand the trajectory of the bullet during flight.

The following picture highlights the trajectory of the bullet and where it intersects the line of sight at 50m and 200m. This picture is not to scale and should be used as a guide only.

Confirmation of Zero

The shooter must move to the 200-meter line and confirm the zero is correct and can accurately engage targets at that range. An automated range with monitor to reference shot placement is preferred. However, is this is not available; using a butts-party to identify impacts can be used.  As an alternate method, several steel reactive targets can be placed at the berm. The shooter can engage the steel targets to receive instant feedback of hits. This method is relatively crude, as it will not allow the shooter to determine exact accuracy.  Using a paper target with a contrasting aiming mark will allow the shooter to fire an accurate group and move down the range to check zero.

Accuracy is based upon three key factors.

1.     The weapon system,
2.     The ammunition,
3.     The firer.

When selecting a weapon, the purchaser should take the following into consideration.

1.     Reliability. The weapon selected should meet or exceed military specifications of reliability. There are many articles posted on this subject on the Internet and end-users should research reliability reports prior to purchasing their weapon. I choose to use all Mil-Spec parts and accessories for my weapons and ideally, a complete weapon system manufactured by a reputable military grade company.  

2.     Accuracy. This seems to be a contentious issue these days as there is a lot of speculation as to the quality and durability of parts and accessories being offered on the market by the vast amount of ‘black rifle’ manufacturers. Again, I suggest doing some research on manufacturers to ensure that you are buying exactly what you thought you were. Accuracy is typically associated with the upper receiver. To that end, the barrel and the fit to the upper receiver. A matched bolt can improve accuracy slightly as lock up is more consistent. The industry standard should be 2 MOA when it comes to the weapon systems accuracy.

Don’t get sucked into Mil-Spec either. What I mean by that is that the military will always select a weapon system based on reliability before accuracy. If you are looking for a super accurate 1 MOA gas gun, maybe a custom manufacturer might be worth looking into or a very specific military weapons system dedicated to performing to that accuracy standard.

Ammunition 101.
The second factor in accuracy is the type of ammunition that the firer has selected to use. Mil-Spec, Match, commercial are three basic terms that can describe categories in general.

Mil-Spec ammo is mass-produced to military specifications and again is designed around reliability over accuracy. Bottom line with Mil-Spec ammo is that it is capable of holding a 2 MOA group at 100 meters. This may not win you a gold trophy at the three-gun competition though.

Match ammunition is designed for competition and is spec’ed with accuracy as the primary focus. The projectile is not seated as deep or tight as Mil-Spec ammo so that it leaves the case more consistently when fired. Most match rounds also have a hollow point to assist with accuracy. Hollow point ammunition has been a contentious issue in the military and how or if it violates treaties signed by the U.S Government.

Commercial grade ammunition like many rifle manufacturers, produce a range of ammunition that is designed for the average user. Some make ‘close to Mil-Spec’ rounds others hoping to bid on military contracts will make to Mil-Spec standards. At the end of the day, there are some good commercial manufacturers of ammunition that is suitable for training and defensive purposes. I use a combination of commercial loads and Military loads with my weapons for training.

When selecting your ammunition, you should look for a round that is reliable and can produce accuracy standards of 2 MOA at 100 meters. There is some much to learn about ammunition and ballistics but these very basic points will help in making better choices.

The Firer
The firer is always going to be the weak link when it comes to accuracy. Marksmanship standards can assist with maintaining quality when it comes to individual marksmanship. The military holds personnel to a general marksmanship standard of 1.5-inch groups at 25-meters or 6-inches at 100-meters. I believe that with a quality weapon and ammunition and some good training, a more realistic group size should be 1-inch at 25-meters and 4-inches at 100-meters.

Don’t get sucked into industry hype about guns, ammo, shooting and accuracy. Unfortunately the industry is full of companies trying to sell you things you don’t need. Some are trying to manufacture solutions to problems that don’t even exist! And, outside of product manufacturers there are the firearms experts who know everything and can teach you everything you need to know. Well, just like buying a weapon, make sure you do your research when it comes to selecting a service provider to train and teach you how to deploy your weapons. In an over-saturated market, few will prevail. The cream typically rises to the top and those that lean forward and continue to progress and develop new innovative methods will be here when the smoke clears.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Post Engagement Sequence and the Importance of Situational Awareness

The post engagement sequence at Redback One includes the initial scan and assess of the immediate threat area, following by a secondary scan into the peripheries and finally a check to the rear. We incorporate a system check to identify any stoppages then apply the safety catch and return the ejection port cover the up position (where appropriate or if time allows).

The scanning and assessing part of the post engagement sequence is all part of follow through and should be trained correctly in order to prevent any tunnel vision and to increase the shooter's situational awareness.

There are many situations that require the conduct of correct post engagement sequence, here are some examples:

1. During team movement drills (fire & movement / break contact) there is a need to identify the location of team members to ensure that you are maintaining spacing and can effectively communicate.

2. During team movement again to ensure that you maintain good fields of fire during assault or break contact drills and not encroaching on safety angles which leads to fratricide particularly when operating in close terrain.

3. During the conduct of room combat operations there is a need to communicate (verbally or non-verbally) with other elements in the  room. Keeping your head on a swivel allows you to maintain good Situational Awareness (SA) during these times. (Think using NVG's) Incidentally, lacking SA is one of the quickest ways to fail a CQB course.

4. As a singleton and operating in a 360 degree environment there is always a need to check your surroundings for the presence of multiple threats (think Patrol Officers). Particularly during high risk periods such as a traffic stop or felony stops. Even more so when there has been an exchange of gun fire. Patrol Officers will need to continually scan their threat area which as a singleton is 360 degrees. Officers will also need to be aware to check on the presence of responding or assisting units moving into the incident site.

I believe that the post engagement sequence is over-looked during training.  We (RB1) always include a lesson on our preferred method of conducting the Post Engagement Sequence. We break the threat area down into three sectors.

1. The Central Vision Scan - 50 degree left and right of your axis. This is the high risk sector where known threats are present. The eyes lead the muzzle during the scan, the flashlight / laser illuminates darkened areas and identified targets are engaged quicker using this technique. We incorporate some scientific evidence on Dynamic Visual Acuity here that has been proven to increase the shooters ability to track and engage targets.

2. The Near Peripheral Scan - This sector exists 50 degrees left and right of the center axis and continues to 90 degrees left and right. This is where we are looking for other team members or bringing objects / threats / unknowns out of our ambient vision and into our central vision for processing.

3. The Hindsight Scan - using a position that allows the shooter to maneuver his weapon without flagging others (high ready is the preferred position) the shooter uses trunk rotation to scan behind in both directions. During the hindsight scan, it is important to (look and see) objects and areas of interest to the rear. We may need to identify any combination of the following: friendly forces, fire positions, enemy positions, cover, concealment, defilade, extraction routes, etc etc. This is super critical especially if you are conducting break contact drills or tactically withdrawing from that area.

In order to train students to a higher standard of scanning, we continue to reenforce the need to look and see during the conduct of the scan and assess to all students until they get it. We use imaginative ways to have the students identify certain things during the conduct of the scan and assess. IE, having an AI move to concealed positions and hold up fingers for the students to count, or just identify the AI's position. Alternatively at the base level, we tell students to slow down and look for likely fire positions and positions that would afford cover during a bound to the rear.

Maintaining situational awareness during room combat is very important to ensure that communication is effectives between team members via verbal or non verbal methods. Assault team members will be very aware of the need to continue to scan the room looking for anything in the threat matrix.

I see all too often the tunnel vision effect when we teach Shooting On The Move (SOTM) and individuals fail to use ambient vision to maintain the integrity of the line during forward movement. If you are going to train SOTM in your own time or at your department or Unit, you need to train to a higher standard and incorporate scanning during the move if you are not already. Actually get off the trigger, apply safe and look! Then get back on the gun.

Break contact drills are another skill that require each shooter to conduct a full scan to identify team members to the left and right prior to picking up and moving. Failing to scan during these times will only end up one way!

SA was hammered into me so much during my time in the military that it's just flat our part of me. From conducting long range surveillance patrols to break contacts, to diving or CQB, Situational awareness is a huge part of the successful conduct of the activity or mission and if not performed to the highest standard can quickly lead to someone getting hurt or killed.

Friday, March 30, 2012

M855A1 Fact or Fiction?

In response to some questions...

The 'GREEN' debate.
Appeasing the 'Greens' by placing some emphasis on a 'green' round is sensible in this day and age. This is really a minor point as the military ultimately focuses on the job at hand which is defeating the enemy. I wouldn't read into the ground pollution problems too far as I'm sure the 'G' knows that there has been little evidence regarding this, they do have to take all sides into consideration. A bit of smoke and mirrors IMO.

Why is the Marine Corp fielding SOST (Mk 318) and Army M885A1?
There are many examples of the different branches of the military choosing to use different equipment. Take camouflage patterns for example! Armor carriers, armor plates, ear protection, hemostatic agents, tourniquets, CREW devices and the list goes on. The fact that the Marine Corp wants to field the SOST (Mk 318) is at their discretion based upon the types of conflicts they 'typically' find themselves in. The decision was made based around vehicle check points and the USMC's desire to have a round that can penetrate auto-glass IOT stop a potential VBIED from entering the check-point! Okay, so what about 90% of the other marines that are facing the enemy in the open? On patrol through AFG you will engage the enemy more times outside of a vehicle than you will inside one! Also if you need barrier penetration, you need only send a fire control order to the SAW gunner, 240 gunner or send a 203 HEDP, 66, 84, .50 Browning, MK19, A10, JDAM, or any other barrier penetrator in the inventory to achieve the aim or desired effect. I would much rather have a round that is capable of quickly incapacitating the enemy when directly striking him rather than a round that is specifically designed to penetrate then incapacitate. Wasn't that the issue with M855?

Time to Change!
All branches of the military need to rapidly change doctrine, methodology, TTP's and equipment if they want to remain relevant in today style of warfare. The U.S military has been guilty of this in the past. There is no need to bring up examples of previous engagements that resulted in a poor battle plan due to the type of warfare being conducted and a lack of TTP's to deal with it.
Trijicon may have to come out with another reticle designed for a different trajectory, M68's don't have this issue. As warfare changes, equipment needs to change with it. The zero of weapon systems is not that big of a deal. Weapons ideally should be zeroed to the ammo being used. Although I don't know off hand the POI shift between the two rounds being fielded, I don't think that it is significant enough for a soldier or marine that struggles with many other factors of poor performance relating to poor down range accuracy. The marksmanship standards are loose enough to absorb these minor issues. Over-whelming fire support and suppressive fire will always beat individual marksmanship during an assault. At the closer ranges during CQB and battle-field clearances, the POI shift won't be noticed.

The Cost?
I don't think anyone can honestly look at their pay check and say that they notice money missing due to the expense of the round development. Tax payers money! Wouldn't you prefer to have our troops finally shoot ammo worth shooting at our enemy regardless of the cost?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

M855A1 Fact or Fiction?

There seems to be a lot of talk about the effectiveness of the new M855A1 round ever since its development. There have been reports that argue its lethality, penetration, accuracy and compatibility with the current fleet of service M4s. I just don't think that I buy into these arguments! You cannot argue that the M855A1 has better terminal performance and a better flight path than its predecessor. It has a longer maximum effective range and better accuracy.

The major complaint seems to come more from its cost of manufacture, which really is a moot point when compared to some of the financial decisions the current Government administration has made over the past year or so! When compared to the cost of an Aircraft Carrier the M855A1 is pretty cheap. The Government has spent a lot more money on lemons in the past that no body noticed yet everyone wants to have a crack at this project?

Elements of the Australian Military have been using M855A1 for an extensive period in theater with excellent results. It's reliable with accuracy out to 900 meters in a range environment and terminal engagements out to 600m.

The issues relating to the increased chamber pressures are yet to be seen, I have not heard any problems associated with feed-ramp wear, bolt breakage or barrel wear. Only time will tell.

Lack of availability of the 70 grain brown tip ammo is a significant issue for most whereas M855A1 is in abundant supply.

U.S Army personnel will be issued this round when deployed in theater. Soldiers should have confidence that the round will perform to the required standard.

Marksmanship and human error is always a bigger issue for our troops. We need to ensure that we focus on combat marksmanship training and shot placement rather than relying on the advancement of bullet technology doing all the work.