The Marine Corps SOTG M4 Qual – Get MEU Ready

The Marine Corps SOTG M4 Qual – Get MEU Ready


50 yards, 50 rounds, 2 Magazines, 2 Targets and a shot timer.

This is a challenging dynamic qual to up your CQB shooting.

If you really want to put some hair on your nuts, try running this with a transition to pistol thrown in.


Myths about Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight

Myths about Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight


If you carry a Handgun for Self-Defense you should dedicate a LARGE block of your monthly training to knife attacks.

They happen more frequently than you think and due to Hollyweird and Fantasy Gunfight Training most armed civilians and sadly a large percentage of law enforcement have no clue how to properly deal with them.

If you can still find them, check out Kelly McCann’s Combative Pistol/Knife and Dog Brothers Die Less Often DVD’s.

They are two of the most Practical/No bullshit pieces of training regarding how to “deal” with violent street knife attacks.




Prepare Accordingly and Train Realistically!

Putting the FIGHT before the TOOL

From the Archives, 2014


Certain words in the English vocabulary produce very strong mental pictures when they are used. Take for instance the word “Gunfight”. When we hear it, despite the story that may go along with it, we often imagine two or more people blazing away at each other, bullets whizzing through the air. It could be the opening scene to Gunsmoke, with Matt Dillon quick drawing on the outlaw or maybe Stallone as Rambo, man-handling an M-60 while it breathes fire and spits brass. The point being, the prominent thing we see in our minds when we hear that word are the GUNS. 

The reason for this could aptly be termed “Verbal Conditioning”. Notice the placement of the two words: “Gun” first and “Fight” second. Using the precedent principle, we could deduce that the GUN (the tool being used in the fight) is the primary focus, while the FIGHT is secondary, having less importance in the overall scheme of things and being much more ambiguous as to it’s meaning.

Let’s face it, we live in a very GUN AWARE culture. Due to Hollywood movies,”Shooter” Video Games and the over abundance of mass shootings by mentally deranged assholes, Guns have become part of the national consciousness. Looking back in context,  today a 10 year old, (in part due to the Call of Duty Video game Series) is much more likely to be able to recognize an AK-47 or a Glock pistol than they would have 30 years ago, when Atari “Pac-Man” or “Pitfall” was the height of entertainment for that age group. What is tragic to me about all of this is not that guns are popular with kids, or that the youth of America are more aware of them, but that guns are fundamentally misunderstood for what they are.

You see, Americans love to put the GUN on a pedestal. They love to show them off in red velvet display cases and hang them over their fireplace mantle as a badge of honor. They love to go to the firing range not really to practice, but to “show off” their beloved rifle or pistol, secretly hoping that the shooter on the line next to them will say a flattering remark or ask them a question about it, so they can recite their pre-rehearsed speech about their new “baby”. And I am sure all of you have the seen “that guy” during a Shooting class who wants to clean his gun after every drill or refuses to get down on the ground, fearing his “baby” might get dirty. You think I am making all this up? I bet I am hitting home with a lot of you guys right now, or at the very least describing a good friend of yours!

As responsible CO’s we have to be careful not to become more TOOL focused than FIGHT focused. The entire mentality of WINNING THE FIGHT, lies not in the tool itself. As Jeff Cooper famously said,  “Any GUN will do, if you will do”; or to say it another way, “Any TOOL will do, if you will do!” It lies in having the mindset of “I am going to survive this day, no matter what it takes.” 

That is the beauty of Combative Principles in my opinion. They are brutally simple and cut to chase in terms of winning the fight; no katas or complicated techniques to remember, just pure, un-adulterated violence of action until your enemy is no longer a threat to you. These principles apply across the board to any weapon you can pick up, starting with empty hands, stick, knife and ending with a firearm. Combative Principles lie at the heart of the saying “One Mind, any Weapon.”

Being prepared AT ALL TIMES to go from zero to 100mph in terms of defending oneself lies at the heart of what the CO drills and rehearses for everyday. We have to be prepared to FIGHT. No matter where we may find ourselves and no matter what we may or may not have in our hands.

In closing, CO’s need to stop the gun (and knife) worship and devote more time to FIGHTING in all your training!! If we use the above video as a thermostat to measure the REALITY of the street, then we have to come to the conclusion that our attacker is gonna be close, despite our best efforts to have the textbook “Reactionary Gap”. We need to develop a tool box of empty hand strikes (or knife strikes) in order to gain distance and room to draw our firearm. We need to be aware of “gun grabs” and actively practice weapon retention. We need to be able to (as Southnarc puts it) to fight “from the clinch” or to put it plainly, to fight from that “OH SHIT!!!” moment when things have already went south.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!

Carry 24/7 or Guess Right!!


For all of the unfortunate and violent stories of  incident’s I have posted of CO’s fighting for their lives to help us LEARN and therefore GROW as Civilian Operators, I think the above story can do the most good-by far. It touches on 4 skill sets that I have always felt are integral to staying realistically prepared in the violent world in which we live. Namely, 24/7 Armament, ECQ Fighting, Vehicle Combat and the “+1 Mentality”.

As you read this list, don’t just skim over the topics, take some time and reflect on each one and see how your CURRENT training and STATE OF READINESS measures up.

1. The most obvious:   CARRY 24/7!!

If there is one thing I continually harp on to my students and friends, it is always to STAY ARMED! and when I say “ARMED” I am not just referring to your handgun. Remaining in a constant state of readiness (for the CO at least), entails having everything on your person, 24/7 you would need to survive a violent, and perhaps even prolonged attack or fight.

The short list would include:

  • Extra Magazine for primary
  • EDC pocket knife
  • small fixed blade
  • flashlight that doubles as a kubotan
  • cell phone
  • small trauma kit

I know this sounds like a lot of gear to tote around 24/7, but I have been doing it for a long time now, and I can tell you right now if you are careful in your gear selection, it is not a big deal. My first piece of advice would be to look at carrying things horizontally (like your mag and fixed blade) so your pockets can be free to clip your EDC and flashlight and carry your cell and trauma kit. I am a fan of carrying my fixed blade (typically a Benchmade CBK Push Dagger or Blackhawk Crucible) clipped horizontal at 11:00, this is a very natural position and I find it very fast to access.

2. Vehicle Combat Training is not “specialty” training for the Civilian!

I always tell my students that your training needs to reflect your lifestyle. Most of split our time between home, work and the commute to get to both of them. The likelihood that a violent incident will occur at one or more of these places therefore is 33%; this story proves that probability is more than accurate. It makes sense then for the civilian to integrate vehicle combat drills into their everyday routine, not just something they touch on once in a while as a “specialty” skill set. I will be doing a series of articles to help you guys design some realistic drills, but in the meantime, when you start looking at designing your drills, don’t go “gung-ho joe” and just focus on scrapping inside the cab right off the bat! First look at PREVENTION measures that could get you “Off-the-X” rather than get you deeper into the “doo-doo”. Remember: there is no shame in retreating when your life is at stake! Remember also, you have a 2 ton, 4 wheeled weapon at your command..that trumps that little handgun on your hip everyday plus Sunday! If you spot danger, haul ass if possible! If that is not an option, then we need to look at using the vehicle as a weapon, if that is not an option, we need to address the threat BEFORE they can pin us in the vehicle cab, if at all possible, we do not want to fight inside a 6×6 ft box with empty hand or knives if possible..take my word on this (and from the guy in this story) IT SUCKS!!

3. ECQ Fighting is a street Reality

One of my favorite instructors favorite maxims was “Well, in a PERFECT WORLD I might agree with you”. Some of his best lectures started with that saying, including the one that shot down a fellow students belief in the much discussed “reactionary gap”. Most civilian combat training erroneously teaches  that the “reactionary gap” is some kind of magic distance that will keep students safe if they abide by it. The problem with this teaching, is like most “fantasy gunfight training” it is not REALISTIC or PRACTICAL. We live in a world where people get close to each other, not so close where it is uncomfortable, but definitely so close so they could hurt you. I mean come on, next time you go in the supermarket or bank, try to keep 21 feet between you and every other human being you come across…NOT GONNA HAPPEN.The above story illustrates the point perfectly: most criminals NEED TO GET CLOSE to do whatever it is they plan on doing, be that rob, rape, assault or kill you. So that begs the question, “What is the best defense then?”. The best defense is two-fold; first is AWARENESS and second is LEARN TO FIGHT UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH EMPTY HAND, KNIFE AND GUN through Combatives training. Does it suck? Yeah, read the above story! Will you get hurt in the process? The probability is very HIGH, but that is the reality of staying alive in today’s world.

4. The “+1” Mentality: Predators always travel in packs

I know this a huge cliché in the training community, but this one actually holds water. Again, our above story verifies it. The guys injuries came from the dude he never saw..why? because in the stress of combat, you are focused on killing the dude in front of you..a friggin nuclear bomb could go off behind you and you most likely would keep on fighting the guy in front of you, because that is the threat YOU SEE AS MOST RELEVANT. Your mentality must always be “+1”, meaning, there is always the likelihood of being than 1 perp around, so look out for him. Second, ALL OF YOUR DRILLS need to integrate some type of “scanning” the area, and not just post-incident either, “Keeping your head on a swivel” means ALL THE TIME, not just after the threat is down or the fight is over. If you can maintain that +1 mentality and drill on breaking that “hard focus” that comes when a fight begins, you are well on your way, but like everything, it  takes repetition.

If there is a constant in the universe, it is this: No plan survives contact with the enemy.  I think the above story proves that. All we can do as responsible CO’s is to attempt to minimize every risk possible and stay prepared at all times, in every imaginable way possible. At the end of the day, any incident (ie attack on your life) that you walk away from is a good one, regardless of what you had to do to make that happen.

Stay Armed, Stay Alert and Stay Dangerous!

Book Review: Rattenkrieg: The Art of ECQ Combat Pistol



Bob Taubert’s latest work, Rattenkrieg: The Art and Science of Close-Quarters Battle Pistol is a book that is right up there with Styer’s Cold Steel or Applegate’s Kill or Get Killed. The book reminds you of the hard fact that necessity is definitely the mother of invention when it comes to relevant and practical combat skills. And even though the skills discussed may have been developed over 60+ years ago, their tactical relevancy and potency are no less diminished.

For those of you not familiar with the author, Bill Taubert (who also writes under the pen name Bob Pilgrim) is a literal GIANT in the tactical training community, not to mention a huge influence and personal hero of mine. I could go on about Taubert and his influence on me personally, but that is for another post;  for the time being read a short bio about him HERE.

Since most of you out there probably don’t speak fluent German, “Rattenkrieg” translated means “War of the Rats”, a term of euphemistic endearment the Germans used to describe the barbaric and brutal combat experienced during the Battle of Stalingrad during World War 2. The Germans found out really fast that the Russians intended to fight to the last man and the last bullet for every square yard of the only city which bore the name of their “Boss”, Joseph Stalin. In the end, The Battle for Stalingrad would cost both sides dearly. The entire German 6th Army would be totally annihilated, a sum of approximately 300,000 men. On the Soviet side, the losses were two-fold and much, much worse. Not only did military casualties have to be calculated, but civilian casualties as well. Antony Beevor, in his Outstanding book: Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege 1942-1943  estimated that between 1.1 and 1.2 Million Soviet Soldiers were lost. And although not precise because of the combined problem of Soviet secrecy during the Cold War and destroyed census and death records, it is estimated that between 100 and 300,000 civilians were killed. All together, the total “Butchers Bill” of the Battle of Stalingrad would be approximately 1.4 Million souls.

As Taubert explains, Stalingrad was the virtual birthplace of modern CQ and ECQ Military Combat doctrine. All of what we have today on the subject (both in the LE and Civilian training world) started here. I am not one to re-hash an entire book, but I will say this book does offer several perks for the CO, mainly the drills near the end. Bear in mind also that these drills come from the realistic GLOBAL perspective of a “Been-There-Done-That” kind of guy. Taubert over the past 2 decades has helped write the accepted, modern manual of combative and ECQ pistol. Striving to reinforce his methods to Tier 1 Assets in the Military, FBI HRT and LE SWAT Teams across America that 360 degree realistic  training that is based on “street proven” methods should replace the generic and impractical square range “Competition Driven” training (and drills) that plague all tiers of the tactical training community currently.

Consequently, there is also a fair amount of information in the book that is sectioned off for LE 2-4 man entry teams, including dynamic riot shield drills. But as some of my friends have criticized that this is not an “applicable skill-set” for the individual civilian, I see it as a great opportunity for the CO to expand his tool box and apply the training to Small Unit Tactics and MOUT exercises. The CO must also never forget that just because a particular skill-set being taught may not readily apply, the CO can always take the information, turn it around and develop counter-techniques to repel and/or neutralize a 2-4 man entry team equipped with riot shields.

In closing, this is an advanced book on shooting tactics and definitely not one for the “tactical golf” crowd. For the serious CO however, this book is a gold mine. It will not only provide relative, realistic drills and tips but be an outstanding reference book for the serious warrior student.

Stay Real, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!