Thursday, October 20, 2016

Spare Magazine and Maintenance

When you think about carrying a weapon you have lots of questions. Which gun? What caliber? What holster? Inside the waistband or outside? These are only a few of those considerations. One thing I always suggest is, carry a spare magazine. You will hear many schools of thought concerning this but here is mine.
I’ve talked to many people who have actual fighting experience. They are from law enforcement, Special Forces, and regular combat, and the civilian world. Each one of them told me that the more ammunition you have, the better your chances of surviving. The saying “If you can’t get it done with X number of rounds, more probably won’t help” is pure fiction! Real warriors know that cover and rounds are everything. I’ve heard many carriers slam other carriers for having a spare magazine. I believe this comes from ignorance. To me defensive shooting means stacking the cards against an attacker. I don’t want a fair fight. I want an attacker to wish they had not got up in the morning. I don’t want to hurt or kill anyone, but if I need to stop the threat, I want it to be swift and final.
In the St Cloud, Minnesota mall stabbing in September, the attacker stabbed 8 people before being stopped. Mainstream media reported him being stopped by an off-duty policeman. He was a part time policeman who owns a shooting school and is a 3-gun competitor. Jason Falconer was not just an off duty policeman. He shot in USPSA (U.S. Practical Shooting Association). When he shot the attacker it is doubtful, even under stress, that he did much missing. He shot him 6 times! Now I don’t know about you, but I would guess that the average gun carrier is not the same caliber of shot that Jason is. So I think an average shooter might have had to empty a 10 round magazine in the same situation Jason was in. Witnesses said that Jason shot the attacker and he kept coming. He went down but got back up twice! This tells me that perhaps 10 rounds is not enough. Add to that another attacker and all of a sudden you don’t have enough rounds even with 2 magazines. Those that want to limit magazine capacities really do not know what they are talking about. All they are reacting to are mass murders where several people were killed and the psycho used many, many rounds. They use many rounds because they can’t shoot. In the Orlando night club shooting the attacker fired around 200 rounds. There were about 102 people killed or wounded before he was killed by a SWAT team. Of course, that includes the rounds used in the shoot-out with police. I don’t think he was that great of a shot. I just think no one could get to the wounded for some time and they died from loss of blood. I’m just guessing, but his body count was probably not from well-placed shots. But because of the fact that he had “high capacity” magazines, whatever THAT is, the media and other ignorant people went nuts on how it was the fact that he had lots of rounds that made him effective. I’d like to know the facts of those innocents and how they died. I am speculating, but firing 200 rounds sounds like a “spray and pray” type of shooting. The fact that it was a confined space with little or no cover also made it a lot easier than if someone was shooting back from cover!
Please don’t think I am unfeeling of this cowardly act of violence. I’m just analyzing the reality of the shootings.
Often we talk about what we “need” in defensive shooting. In the thick of the fight I want a howitzer and the 101st Airborne to back me up! The FBI has come up with a statistic that we can look at and probably discard. They say in shooting, their agents needed 3.7 rounds to take care of the threat. I think that’s a starting point, but I think it can be a dangerous “standard”. Will you be the one that has an “average” encounter? Are you willing to bet your life on the stats and your skill? This could be a fatal error.
In 2008 a Skokie, IL officer, Tim Gramins, found himself face to face with an armed bank robber. With only his patrol car between them Officer Gramins finally hit the robber 3 times in the head to stop his threat and kill the attacker. After ward 17 total bullet holes were found in the bank robber who aggressively engaged the officer. 17 times! So how would that have worked if the police officer only had 10 round magazines? Or even 15? The firefight only lasted less than one minute. Gramins fired 33 shots while the attacker fired 21. Don’t tell me you only need one magazine! Don’t tell me you can “get it done with one mag.”
"People don't die the way we think they do," Gramins said. "I had 17 rounds in the guy. That will teach you how critical shot placement is." And more than one magazine!

These two incidents may be the exception you say. Well, please tell me which incident I’ll be involved in that will be any different than these two. Exactly. It can’t be foretold. So I am going to carry, at a minimum, an extra magazine.
Another consideration is mechanical failure. Ever hear of a magazine failing? If you compete for a long period of time you will see it. I’ve seen it happen to Glock, Ruger, Kimber, Smith and Wesson, and aftermarket mags. No one is immune. It can happen. Magazine maintenance is almost as important as gun maintenance.
In a defensive situation, having the ability to immediately eject the now-empty magazine body and replace it with a functioning unit could be the determining factor in the fight.

You will never know if fate is about to deal you a “Gramins moment” or a mechanical failure. Carrying at least one spare magazine is a small choice that can offer major advantages. Just in case.

You should have spare magazines to rotate on occasion or perhaps to have a practice set and an everyday carry set. Be sure to mark your magazines in order to know which is which when it comes time to rotate or diagnose trouble. All it takes is a simple paint pen to number and distinguish each magazine. It is always prudent to inspect the parts for cracks or damage after they have been wiped clean and to use a rust preventative (that won’t contaminate your ammunition) on the metal parts before reassembly.
Magazine maintenance is like voodoo and witchcraft to some and to others isn’t even given a consideration. One thing to remember about your pistol is that without the magazine it is nothing more than a high-dollar club. The magazine is an integral working part of a semi-automatic pistol, which contains the ammunition and facilitates the feeding of ammunition into the chamber. Having a magazine that is not reliable is almost like not having a magazine at all. Since magazines are such an important operating component of the semi-automatic pistol, it is highly recommended that all of the magazines associated with a pistol be maintained right along with the pistol each time maintenance is performed.
There are a few important things to remember when maintaining your magazines that will help to avoid trouble in the future.
When you disassemble your magazines, do them one at a time or segregate the parts if you insist on doing more than one at a time, so there is no mixing of parts from one magazine to another. When the magazine spring is removed from the magazine tube, take note of how it was positioned in the tube. In many cases there is a specific top and bottom as well as a front and back to the spring which means that you have three out of four options to get it wrong if you didn’t pay attention when it was removed.
If the magazine spring is installed incorrectly a variety of problems may occur, all of which will create less than satisfactory performance. The rest of the parts are pretty simple to remove and install. Match the shape of the parts to the shape of the magazine tube if you forget how it came apart and you will have a good chance of successful reassembly.
It is always prudent to inspect the parts for cracks or damage after they have been wiped clean and to use a rust preventative (that won’t contaminate your ammunition) on the metal parts before reassembly. Once the magazine is reassembled, use a cleaning rod or similar device to push the follower from top to bottom ensuring smoothness in both directions. Finally, load the magazine to capacity and test for the vertical movement of the rounds using thumb or finger pressure. Treat each magazine the same way and your magazines will serve you well for a long time to come.
Carry a spare and you will not be caught unaware.

Semper Paratus
Check 6