Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in those postings. If you haven’t read the article on evaluations/qualifications that was posted last week, please read it before reading this article. It will add continuity to the message in this article.

I intend to be straightforward in this discussion. Frankly, I’m not worried about a bruised ego here and there. Why? Because what hangs in the balance are the lives of our friends, officers, military members or anyone else that will come to us for training. It is the responsibility of the organizations and individuals providing training to provide OR allow for the absolute best and most relevant training for those who will rely on their training to stay alive. So, the goal is to cause reflection on what we are doing and create a pathway that can lead us to a better use of our training time and how to ensure that those who are being trained can actually do what is asked of them.

In the previous article, I discussed the issue of the standard way that we see evaluation/qualification accomplished in many agencies. A proper system of evaluation is essential in any training program. I will add at this time that even when teaching a private class via my company, I have built in an evaluation/qualification into the course of instruction. It is critical to understand how the material is being absorbed by the student/trainee in order to know what needs attention to increase their capabilities.

I will included this exert from the previous article about evaluation/qualification to refresh our memory before moving forward:

“A standard way that the testing and evaluation is accomplished is to have a series of drills that require a certain amount of shots to be fired and usually within a predetermined time limit. Once the drills are completed, a scoring system is used to determine if the shooter has “qualified” based upon their score. Each shot is given a certain amount of points. At the conclusion of the course of fire, the total points accumulated by the shooter are tallied to determine the final score. This process is called an, “Aggregate Scoring System”. The agency can impose a minimum standard score to determine who passes and record the shooter’s actual score in their training record. Often, the minimum score is 70% of the total amount of points that are possible in the course of fire. Another option is the use of a “pass/fail” system where if the minimum score is attained, a passing score is recorded in their training record rather than an actual numerical score.   At a first glance, this seems like a fairly solid way of certifying the proficiency of officers. However, the issue is what are we trying to test and evaluate? How does what we are testing relate to how the firearm will be used in a real combat shooting?”

Let’s start to discuss what all this means, especially for the person who will have to use their training to win fights against people who will do everything in their power to kill them. One of the first questions that comes to my mind is why would an “aggregate scoring system “ be used in the first place? I will be somewhat blunt here but it is necessary to be truthful and honest in this discussion or we are wasting our time.

There are a number of reasons why an “aggregate scoring system” is used in many agencies or training programs to determine competence. I will focus on a couple but your mind is the limitation in answering this question.

One reason for using an “aggregate scoring system” is that if a higher standard was used many trainees will simply fail to qualify. This is a dilemma that agencies and police academies do not want to face. In some private schools, how would it look if a certain number of people “fail” the course that they have spent a lot of time and money attending if they are told they have failed the course? This can be a real problem for the business. So the “safe” solution is to apply a concept that has been universally accepted for decades in the law enforcement, competitive shooting and academic communities as a way of evaluating how students/trainees have absorbed the curriculum. It sounds like an acceptable solution doesn’t it?

One major flaw with this way of assessing an individual’s performance and absorption of the curriculum is that what the person hasn’t absorbed isn’t addressed in the form of remediation or correction. They get the “stamp of approval” and are deemed “QUALIFIED” so long as they get a minimum passing score. . Let’s examine why this is something to be very concerned about when applied to our firearms training programs.

The main reason we provide training is to allow the trainee the opportunity to be taught certain skills and then develop competency with those skills. As an example, I can teach a person how to do a palm heel strike in a defensive tactics course. First, they have to learn the mechanics of how to perform the palm heel strike. Then I have to make sure they can apply it by giving them the opportunity to hit something with it (a heavy bag, focus pad, striking pad). Then I have to allow them the opportunity to apply it in a controlled way with a human partner so that they can learn how to adjust for proper distance and how it “feels” to have an actual person in front of them. Finally, I have to introduce the trainee to the concept of force-on-force training where I will allow a role player to interact with the trainee by moving and presenting a more realistic way of applying the palm heel strike. Finally, I have to allow the trainee to learn how to apply it in real time, dynamically to get the full value of how it can be applied to a person who is not just standing there waiting to get hit. If at any point in this process, the trainee cannot perform the movement correctly, the process has to be stopped from going further until the skill level can meet the standard at that point in the process. 70% isn’t acceptable.

Now let’s apply the process I explained above to firearms training. First, I have to begin the process of teaching the trainee the “mechanics” of the methodology in my curriculum. This has to be a rather deliberate, detailed period of instruction. It is way too much information to included in this article about the “how to” in this process so I will not try it here. I will just add that the methods taught had better be built around methods that are “battle tested”, relevant to the environment that they will apply, and be centered around the concept of fighting as opposed to shooting.

Once the methods are taught, the trainee needs to be brought into an environment that allows for the application of those methods against a human target. This is where the integration of force-on-force training is introduced. Simple drills using airsoft (the most economical and safest way to do this training) where the target is no longer a piece of paper or steel plate but an actual person. Next, I have to further the trainees ability to learn the application of the methods by allowing the “human target” to vary positions so that a realistic view of a real person in those positions can be seen by the trainee. This allows for the adjustment of the method to the environment.

Once the above is completed, the “human target” will begin to interact with the trainee. These are very controlled drills to get the trainee to apply the methods when the target becomes more dynamic. The final step is to allow for a more dynamic interaction that is more unscripted and finally lead to a full force-on-force engagement where the actions of the “human target/role player” are unknown to the trainee.

Of course, this appears to be a simple way to get the training done. BUT, the key is what methods are taught and how the drills are set up. That isn’t something I will get into in this article. It is what needs to be physically taught by people who really understand what needs to be done and how to create the safe environment to provide the training.

What I have described above is the difference between training people to “shoot” as opposed to training people to FIGHT. Before I move forward, I would like to include a statement that I have used for many years to explain what I have as a philosophy about my training courses.

“The purpose of firearms training is to prepare a person to use firearms in a fight against an adversary in what usually begins as a spontaneous attack initiated by the adversary. Our firearms program is not about shooting. It is about fighting. When the concept of fighting is taken out of firearms training, we have forgotten the purpose of our training.”

I have been questioned on numerous occasions during the past few weeks about   why certain training is not included in their programs and why training is being curtailed in many agencies. Also, a frequent question is why the performance levels of “qualified” officers in many actual combat shootings are not consistent with their range scores. I thought I would spend the remainder of this article discussing these two issues.

Let’s first look at why certain training isn’t included in programs and why training is being curtailed in many agencies. I will list some of the reasons and then offer some analysis:

Budgets – Many agencies have simply been stripped of funding in their training budgets that has forced trainers to modify their training cycle or decrease the training frequency for their agency. This means that either less training of their existing program is completed or entire training blocks cannot be offered to the officers.

Instructors Cannot Change Existing Curriculum – In this case, the instructor cadre is prohibited from altering the training program to either add or delete elements of the program. Often, more relevant training is not allowed to be included in the program because the management of the department simply doesn’t want it to be included. I have to add here that in many cases, the people who are making the decision to not allow change are not firearms instructors, have never been in an instructor position and DO NOT have the knowledge and experience to even know what should be in a program. They simple have rank and impose their decision on the instructors who HAVE the knowledge and experience to understand what needs to be modified, deleted and included in the program of instruction.

Instructors Don’t Have the Technical Knowledge To Make Appropriate Changes To Programs – There is no nice way to say this other than many instructors have a limited amount of personal knowledge due to their personal experience, personal training level, personal bias toward change and may lack the desire to do the work necessary to make changes in the programs. It takes a combination of knowledge, desire, energy, and motivation on the part of an instructor to change programs of instruction. Many instructors find it easier to simply do the status quo. Change requires having to convince those who hold the money and power to say “yes” to the changes. For many instructors, it can be easier to just be quiet and stay with the existing program.

Politicians – When you ask politicians for money from “their” budget (I thought it was the tax payer’s money), it can take away form their “pet project” or they may simply want to use the money for something other than the training of those brave and dedicated men and women who protect the city, county, or state that they are elected to protect . So, they have the authority to just say “no”.

It Takes Commitment From The Bosses – Often, the money IS in the department budget but the command staff or Chief does not want the money spent on training and divert the money to other projects based upon their personal desires. They make a decision that something else is more important than better preparing their officers to protect the public and themselves more efficiently.

I am sure there can be other reasons listed but I think this lays out some of the major reasons why training programs can be affected in an agency.

Let’s discuss some of the reasons why we can see a difference between results of performance during range training in comparison with when the training is applied in actual combat shootings.  There are many factors that can be stated but I will focus on a few that I have personally seen and have dealt with over the years.

When trying to analyze why someone’s performance in a combat shooting didn’t match his or her performance while qualifying and during range training, I first must ask what type of training was provided to the individual and what methodology was taught in training. Also I need to know the frequency of training, provided by the department. I must also know if the person has received training that is not consistent with the reality of the environment where the training will be applied. If training is not consistent with the environment where the training will be applied, then that individual IS NOT being prepared to fight in that environment. It is necessary to analyze factors such as rate of fire practiced in training, training in variable lighting conditions, proper use of cover and being able to move and shoot simultaneously when in close quarters with the suspect. Other training issues are also important but these are a few that need to be looked at to determine why certain results were obtained in a given fight as opposed to the performance of an individual at the range.  

As I have discussed in other articles, if the range training provided doesn’t included force-on-force training, the trainee has only received a portion of the training that is necessary to learn how to apply the principles learned on the range. If the trainee isn’t allowed the opportunity to experience real time, real speed and the duress of fighting another person while attempting to apply what he or she has learned on the range, then the first time they will get to see how everything integrates is when there is live bullets in the air with them being the target of a suspect(s). This is absolutely the wrong time to discover that either the training has been incomplete or the methods taught simply don’t work in the environment where the fight is happening. Unfortunately, this happens in the real world because the individual hasn’t had the experience of the complete cycle of training. Poor methods coupled with lack of learning how to apply what has been taught leads to the failure of training that can cause injury or death of good people at the hands of criminals.

I will conclude this article by discussing something that all policy makers in an agency, the politicians and anyone else who controls the money and allocation of time for training needs to consider when deciding if they will allow training to be conducted.

No matter what the cost and time used to complete training, it will not match the cost of paying for death benefits for an officer who is killed in the line of duty. Even if an officer doesn’t die from injuries sustained in the incident, there is more to consider. There is the cost of medical bills for the immediate care of the injuries and the cost of rehabilitation needed in an attempt to bring the officer back to full duty. Also after all that expense, the department may have to retire the officer and not only pay for the retirement, but also the disability benefits and any other related cost involved in the retirement to include lifetime medical benefits.

This discussion will continue in the future. Meanwhile be safe and all my best wishes.

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

 Welcome back to those who have been reading the “Tactical Tip Of The Week”. For those who are new to these postings, you can find the previous postings in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. I sincerely hope you can benefit from the information in those postings.

In this article, I want to discuss an important issue that concerns law enforcement, military and civilians alike. A critical element of training is to have a way of evaluating the progress of those who are being trained. It must be determined if they have been able to assimilate the information and methods that have been taught to them. We must have a valid way of evaluating their performance to ensure that they are competent in the application of their training.

As a life-long martial artist, I have been indoctrinated in this approach to evaluating a person’s progress in their training. This is accomplished by means of a belt system that is used to progressively “feed” the information and methods to a person being trained at their studio. Prior to progressing to the next belt/level, a test is administered in order to evaluate the student’s proficiency. If a person cannot perform proficiently at their current belt/level, it is a mistake to allow them to progress to the next level without performing to a desired proficiently level at their current belt/level. At each level, more proficiency is expected from the student and more information and methods are taught to them.

When evaluating proficiency with firearms, testing and evaluation is a necessary and important element in our training programs. Generally, more proficiency in the training environment leads to more proficiency in combat. Also, liability is an important part of the equation. As individuals we are personally responsible for EVERYHING WE DO or FAIL TO DO when we use our firearms in the line of duty or in personal defense. For agencies, the same liability exists for all the department members that are trained by the department. So the issue is how do we administer this testing and evaluation process? I want to spend the remainder of this article discussing this issue.

There are a number of ways that proficiency is measured in agency firearms training programs. The term most associated with this process is “qualifications”. The term implicitly means that a person going through this process of “qualification” and passes the “qualification” course is certified as competent with their firearms and has met the standards required by the agency. These standards may be set by a state entity or by the agency using guidelines from the state to determine the course of fire or what must be tested.

A standard way that the testing and evaluation is accomplished is to have a series of drills that require a certain amount of shots to be fired and usually within a predetermined time limit. Once the drills are completed, a scoring system is used to determine if the shooter has “qualified” based upon their score. Each shot is given a certain amount of points. At the conclusion of the course of fire, the total points accumulated by the shooter are tallied to determine the final score. This process is called an, “Aggregate Scoring System”. The agency can impose a minimum standard score to determine who passes and record the shooter’s actual score in their training record. Often, the minimum score is 70% of the total amount of points that are possible in the course of fire. Another option is the use of a “pass/fail” system where if the minimum score is attained, a passing score is recorded in their training record rather than an actual numerical score. At a first glance, this seems like a fairly solid way of certifying the proficiency of officers. However, the issue is what are we trying to test and evaluate? How does what we are testing relate to how the firearm will be used in a real combat shooting?

Another critical question that must be asked is if the officer doesn’t perform what they are asked to do (meaning if they miss the target or attain a passing score but at a very minimum threshold required to pass) what is being done to correct the deficiencies in their performance? In my experience, the way this “Aggregate Scoring System” is used as an evaluation (qualification) way to determine proficiency is to put the trainee through the entire course, determine their score and if they pass, that’s the end of the process. They are deemed, qualified” and no further action to correct deficiencies is undertaken by the agency. There isn’t any remediation/retraining to correct the causes of any misses or inaccuracies.

I want you to contemplate this thought. What happens if the trainee continues this process of “qualifying” in an “Aggregate Scoring System” and no corrective action is taken to identify deficiencies? Additionally, what happens if specific training isn’t given to correct those deficiencies? Here is an answer to the questions asked above. The trainee’s deficiencies can go on indefinitely without having to correct what is causing the performance issues. I directly observed this as a young trooper when I observed senior troopers who after years of service still had difficulties with performing certain portions of the qualification course. This happened because the “Aggregate Scoring System” was used to determine a score and if the minimum score was obtained, they were qualified and technically they could not be required to do anything to correct the problems that caused the missed shots. So, year-to-year, as long as the individual passed the qualification course (even with a minimum passing percentage of 70%), they were qualified and no increase in proficiency was required or further training provided to increase proficiency. To this day, this happens in many police academies and police agencies.

I state this as a personal opinion. The concept of having a system in place that doesn’t require deficiencies in performance to be addressed and mistakes corrected is highly problematic. It would be the same as having a martial arts student continue to train over periods of time and not structure training to increase proficiency over time and require the demonstration of increased proficiency from the person. A program of instruction must be followed up with a system of evaluation/qualification that requires a trainee to demonstrate that they have absorbed the elements of the training program. The trainee must actually perform what is asked without deficiency. If the trainee can’t demonstrate proficiency in any element of their qualification system, a remedial program of instruction must be in place to assist the trainee to perform all elements of the qualification course proficiently.

Here is an example of what I am discussing. Let’s say you have a stage (or what I call a “task”) in a qualification course that requires the trainee to draw and engage the target with three rounds in 2 seconds. In an aggregate scoring system, the trainee can attempt to engage the target as described above and miss two shots. Because the misses will be factored into the “AGGREGATE” score – the total score from the entire course of fire. The trainee, in essence, has not completed the task required and the deficiency of the missed shots can be absorbed by the performance in the rest of the course of fire. So the deficiencies in performance can be “buried’ by the other parts of the qualification course.

 I am going to continue this discussion in the next article where I intend to cover how we can overcome the issues of qualifications raised in this article. I will discuss how can we structure training and then have an appropriate way of evaluating the trainee’s absorption of their training. We must be able to link their training with the way the qualification course is designed and administered.

Be safe!

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master

Special Announcement


Special Announcement


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

 I want to take this time to announce a new resource that will be a tremendous addition to your ability to find invaluable information about issues and equipment related to concealed carry and personal defense.

My long-time friend, Ralph Mroz, has launched a new blog that will bring his vast and diverse knowledge of firearms training and personal defense to our community. Ralph is not only a gifted writer, but also someone that has a passion for getting to the truth of any issue he is reporting on in his writings. I fully support his efforts to bring truth and reality into the training community and welcome his return to bringing valuable information to all of us.

Please visit his blog at https://thestreetstandards.wordpress.com

Be safe!

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master

Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

In the first article in this series, I focused on the introduction of long guns into our self-defense plan. In the second article in this series, I focused on issues relating to the use of shotguns as our selected long gun. If you haven’t read the previous articles on long guns, you can find them in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. It will help understand the content of this article more fully if you have read the previous articles.

In this article, I want to focus on rifles as a selected long gun. There are many choices available and each must be examined so that you can determine which choice can best suit YOUR needs and discuss how your selection affects the various roles your rifle will assume for you. I will somewhat follow the format I used with the shotgun article so there can be a way of comparison between the two long gun systems. In this article, however, I will specifically focus on issues that are unique to the rifle.

Battle rifles, battle rifles in a carbine configuration with shorter barrels using battle rifle calibers and pistol caliber carbines are all unique in their configuration and roles. They can, however, fulfill similar roles if needed. Through our discussion in this article, I will examine these issues so that proper choices can be made based upon facts and reality as opposed to trends or fantasy.

Let’s first list the various roles of the rifle/carbine systems available:

  •  Home defense
  • Law enforcement duty
  • Private security
  • Military
  • Hunting/sporting
  • Competition

Each role listed has a specific set of requirements. However, there are many similarities that can allow the same rifle to be used in multiple applications.

Rifles have the ability to be very flexible in the roles they assume because the same rifle can be configured in a number of ways to allow it to be used efficiently for varied environments. As an example, by merely changing the type of optics used, the ability to use a particular rifle can extend the effective range for a given individual rifleman to maximize on the rifle’s inherent accuracy. By simply changing the particular ammunition used in a given caliber, the internal ballistics( before the bullet leaves the rifle), external ballistics (while the bullet is in flight) and terminal ballistics (effect on the person hit by the bullet) can be changed to meet the particular requirements of a mission or environment.

The “Hardware”

 Let’s look at the types of rifles commonly used in the roles listed above.

  •  Bolt action rifles
  • Semi-auto rifles
  • Lever Action rifles
  • Pump action rifles

Each of the rifles in the categories listed above have the ability to be an effective self-defense rifle. They each have their own particular way of mechanically operating, but each has the ability to project its bullets with enough combat accuracy to fulfill the multiple roles that may be assigned by us.

Before I spend time discussing the “hardware” in more detail, I want to make a few points that I think will help someone who is looking to integrate a rifle in their particular scenario.

Often, someone may not have the finances to go out and spend the money to purchase a particular rifle system that is optimal for their situation. BUT they already have in their possession a rifle that they have used, are familiar with and, most importantly, proficient with because they have used it for hunting or recreational shooting purposes.

Here is an example of what I am getting to above. Let’s say a person has a lever action rifle in a particular caliber that they are completely familiar with and have safely used as a hunting rifle or recreational rifle over the years. In its given caliber, it has proven to be effective on the game that they have hunted and the owner has complete confidence in its reliability and can smoothly and safely shoot it. This individual can have a very effective self-defense rifle by using this same lever action rifle as a self-defense rifle.

What remains for the individual that selects this particular lever action rifle to consider is to fully understand its strong points, its limitations and how the particular caliber will perform in the environment it will be used in. Also, what can be done to maximize on its strong points and minimize the way that the limitations will affect performance in a self-defense role. These issues can be dealt with based upon the training accomplished with the rifle and the way we equip/accessorize the rifle to achieve the maximum benefit from it for its assigned role.

The model of analysis that I outlined above is the same that can be applied to any of the particular types of rifles I listed above. While it is absolutely true that one system can be a more advantageous one than another in a given role, it does not mean that a particular rifle cannot be effective even though it isn’t the optimal system.

A key point that I would like to make is that no matter what system you select, training with that system should be a main point of focus. The way we maximize our ability to use our rifle in its role is to build our training around the environment we will deploy it in. By understanding the environment, we will understand what training needs to be incorporated in our training regime. As an example, if I were using the rifle in the home defense role, I would need to know what engagement ranges will be encountered? What type of backstop I may be shooting into so I can understand how my bullets will perform via penetration in the event of a missed shot? What firing positions do I need to be able to shoot from while engaging a threat? Answering these basic questions leads us to our goal of maximizing the system we have selected.

 Caliber selection

Rather than go through the various calibers and weighing one as opposed to the other in a comparative way, I would rather take the discussion in another direction. I would rather discuss issues surrounding the caliber that YOU have selected or have available and what might be done to get the most performance out of it in YOUR selected rifle system.

Let’s look at a particular caliber and develop a way of analyzing the ammunition we will use in it for a particular role. If we develop a valid way of analyzing how we make ammunition selection, it can get us closer to maximizing our rifle’s capability to provide the terminal ballistics on target.

A common caliber that is in use is by the police and for civilian self-defense is the 5.56mm/. 223 Remington. Many people use this caliber as a self-defense selection and it is the standard caliber in our military. Depending on the particular mission we assign our rifle chambered for this caliber, the results can be wide ranging. The performance of this caliber can be dramatically changed based upon the particular bullet design we use, the muzzle velocity a given load will produce, the bullet weight used, the construction of the bullet and the rifling in the barrel. While we can get optimal performance from a given load in one environment, that same load in a different environment can vary. As an example, if this caliber is used in a military designated marksman role and longer range accuracy and performance is a critical requirement, then we see the heavier bullets being used due to their ability to be less affected by wind and if the particular rifle is dedicated to that role, the rifling used can maximize the ability to stabilize the bullet in flight.

If the 5.56mm/.223 Remington is used in a law enforcement patrol rifle, there isn’t a restriction that allows only full metal jacket (FMJ) ammunition as a duty round. Based upon its role as a duty patrol rifle, much flexibility is available to select a particular loading that maximizes terminal ballistics when the suspect is hit by the bullet but minimize the possibility of the bullet over penetrating the suspect. The bottom line is that we must match what we expect the bullet to do upon impact on the target with the particular loading we select. There is an almost unlimited amount of information available from many sources that can be used to help you select the right load for the role. The Internet, You Tube and the various manufactures specification sheets can provide you with great information that will be helpful. So, whatever caliber you decide to use in your selected rifle, it is important to fully understand the role the rifle is fulfilling and how the particular loading you are using will perform in a variety of scenarios.

Pistol Caliber Carbines

There is a special category of long guns that are “rifle like” in appearance but ares not chambered to use rifle rounds. Pistol caliber carbines use pistol calibers commonly found in the handguns we use for duty/self defense and are used in a carbine (short barreled) that is generally lighter than a rifle and has a relatively low recoil impulse as compared to rifles using the more potent center fire rifle loadings (5.56mm/.223 Remington, 7.62X51mm/.308 Winchester 30-06 calibers etc.). So we have a firearm that appears like a rifle but shoots a pistol caliber. Examples are the M-1 Carbine, the Ruger Camp 9 or .40 S&W carbine or an AR-15 chambered for a pistol caliber. . Of course, there are others but these are examples that can be used to understand what they are and how they look. These pistol caliber carbines are generally considered to be very easy to use, mild recoiling and easy to manipulate in confined areas due to their size and weight.

While their ability to match the power of center fire rifle rounds is not possible, their power is augmented beyond that of the same round used in a handgun due to the longer barrel length of the carbine that allows for an increase in velocity. As an example, a .357 magnum 125 grain loading that I used as a duty round when carrying revolvers was traveling at approximately 1350 feet per second out of my 4 inch Colt Python barrel. That same loading out of my .357 magnum Winchester Trapper model with a 16 inch barrel will have a muzzle velocity approximately 2,000 + feet per second. It isn’t the equivalent of a rifle round, but I don’t think many people would want to be in front of it and get shot by it. The same can be said about a .30 Carbine 110 grain hollow point or soft point loading. While some problems were encountered when using standard military round nose jacketed rounds, it is a completely different story when a 110 grain hollow point or soft point loading at approximately 2,000 feet per second is used as a duty loading. So, these pistol caliber carbines can be an extremely effective long gun due to the increased velocities and power levels that come from using a longer barrel than a handgun. Also, when compared to the accuracy levels attained by many people when using a handgun under stress, the pistol caliber carbine allows the shooter to be more accurate over a longer distance from the threat and deliver more power than attained with a handgun.


Up front, I will state that simple is better and many of the rifles are more than adequate as they come from the factory to do their job of protecting us in the typical self-defense scenarios encountered by the law enforcement and civilian community. The military application of the rifle has a separate and often distinct set of requirements that are not necessarily the same as the self-defense requirements needed in the law enforcement and civilian community. There are, however, some accessories that can augment your ability to maximize on your deployment of your rifle in a real world scenario. Here are a couple of accessory issues that I think are important to consider and integrated into your rifle system.

The ability to have spare ammunition immediately available to you right on the rifle is an important consideration. Having a spare magazine (s) on the rifle means that every time you pick up and handle your rifle, you will always have spare ammunition available. If you are using a magazine feed system, you can either attach a pouch to the butt stock or couple magazines together via ready made and available couplers. The couplers allow magazines to be held together when one magazine is inserted into the rifle and a spare magazine is mounted to the side of the magazine that is inserted in the rifle. Taping magazines together can also be used to accomplish this task. Taping magazines together is simple, easy to do and inexpensive. If you have a rifle that isn’t magazine feed, you can use a butt pouch that is specifically made for securing individual rounds in the pouch and the rounds are immediately available when needed. This type of pouch system works exceptionally well on lever action rifles. Another alternative is to have a dedicated belt with pouches to contain spare magazines or a belt with loops designed to hold the particular caliber rounds your rifle uses. I would suggest having the both ways of having spare ammunition available. You will always have spare ammunition directly on the rifle and if you have time to retrieve the belt, you can have additional ammunition available on an appropriate belt for your particular rifle.

A sling should be on the rifle. While many times a sling is not going to be used as an aid to marksmanship, it can be invaluable if you need to have your hands clear but do not want to lay your rifle down or loose immediate access to it since it is not on your body. There are many choices ranging form very inexpensive but functioning slings to more expensive slings of modern design. You can make the decision about what to use but a simple sling can be more than adequate for what it has to do for us.

Depending on the environment you are in, a flashlight can be an important accessory to have available. If you anticipate deploying your rifle in a dim to no light environment, it may be necessary to use a flashlight to identify a threat and avoid engaging a family member in a home defense scenario or have enough lighting available to accurately engage a threat. There are numerous ways to have a flashlight mounted on a rifle. You can research the almost limitless amount of flashlights and mounts available. My personal preference is to mount a flashlight on a rifle in the “6 o’clock position under the rifle. I find it works better for me when working around corners and when actually shooting. It minimizes the flashlight beam being interrupted by what ever amount of smoke that comes out of the barrel upon discharging rounds.

As an alternative to having a flashlight mounted directly on the rifle, I teach a method of using a hand-held flashlight that is highly effective and allows for a flashlight to be available in the event that you transition to a handgun if you have one available and still have a flashlight with you to coordinate with your handgun. Either way you choose to use a flashlight with your rifle, it is a sound choice to have a flashlight available when you deploy your rifle.

The last accessory I will discuss is optics for your rifle. There is an almost limitless variety of optics available. I do not intend to cover this from the standpoint of comparing one type of optic to the many types made by dozens of companies. I would rather discuss why would we may need optics on our rifle.

For so many of us, our vision suffers as we age. Often, the use of iron sights becomes almost impossible unless we are wearing specific glasses that allows for our vision to focus properly on the iron sights. That’s fine so long as you are on the range but not possible when wearing the glasses we use for our normal activities. Trust me, trifocals work wonders for our daily activities but don’t work well when using iron sights. So for those who have vision issues certain optics or red dot sights allow us to maximize our rifles capabilities and allow us to have a better way of aligning the rifle with the target.

Once you determine what your requirements are, research the optics available to match your needs. If you have vision that allows you to use regular magnified optics, I would recommend variable power scopes that have illuminated reticles. My opinion is that this will give you great flexibility to vary magnification based upon the environment and distance to the target. An illuminated reticle simplifies using the reticle in dim lighting conditions and at the lower powers act similar to a red dot sight with a low magnification capability.

For many roles assigned to a rifle and if vision hampers the use of magnified optics or iron sights, the current selection of red dot sights is a way to overcome many issues regarding aligning your rifle with the target to achieve combat accuracy. It opened the world of rifle shooting back up for me by using a red dot sight on my rifles. I would advise you to check them out if you are either unfamiliar with them or are having vision issues that are making it difficult to use your rifle effectively. In addition to the red dot sight itself, there are magnifiers that can be used in conjunction with them that can swing in alignment with the red dot sight when magnification is needed and then swung out of the way when no magnification is needed for more close-quarters application.

The use of a rifle allows for a tremendous advantage in many scenarios. Trained, competent riflemen rule the battlefield. You have many different and diverse choices when selecting a rifle, its caliber and the accessories that you may want to use to augment the rifle’s capabilities and YOUR ability to effectively use it. There are many sources of information that can be used to help in the selection process.

I will leave you with a final thought. No matter what you select as your rifle, your training in its mechanical use (how to manipulate it, maintain it and equip it) MUST be integrated into how to effectively deploy it in its role. At some point in your training, I encourage you to train in a force-on-force environment to really understand how to fight with your rifle as opposed to just shoot it. Both learning to shoot your rifle and learning how to fight with it are critical pieces of the training needed to maximize on your capabilities and tap into the capabilities of your rifle.

 Be safe!

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Tactical Tip Of The Week


Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo

 In the last article, I focused on issues relating to long guns and their selection for use in various roles. If you haven’t read the previous article on long guns, you can find it in my website, www.gunfightersltd.com or in my Face Book page, Gunfighters Ltd. Combat Shooting Methods Inc. It will help understand the content of this article more fully if you have read the previous article.

In this article, I want to focus on considerations that may help you determine what long gun suits your needs and discuss how your selection affects the various roles your long gun will assume for you.


Shotguns and rifles are the mainstay systems that are relied upon for duty and self-defense. Sub-machine guns and heavier full automatic weapons are not the norm for duty and self-defense use with the exception of law enforcement SWAT/Tactical teams and, of course, the military. So we will focus on the combat shotgun in this article and rifles, to include pistol caliber carbines, in the next article.

Let’s take a look at the shotgun. There are volumes written about the combat shotgun and its use as a fighting tool. I am not going to rehash that information or deal with the ‘how to” shoot it since that is better done in a class where there is direct feedback between participant and instructor. I want to focus on selecting the shotgun and the affect your selection has on deploying it in a self-defense role and for duty purposes in a law enforcement environment.

First off, I want to avoid the classic way many articles are written where there is too much emphasis on what system is better than the other. This is counter-productive when people are looking for information so that THEY can select what works best for THEM. The two mainstay types of shotguns that are associated with duty and self-defense use are the pump/slide action shotgun and semi-automatic shotgun. That is not to say that some of the side-by-side double barrel shotguns can’t be used but it is not the norm to see them used in great numbers for self-defense. Short-barreled, double barrel shotguns can be an effective tool but have certain limitations due to the limited shots that can be delivered before having to reload. However, they can still be used as an effective defensive tool. It just requires an honest evaluation of its strong points and deficiencies. If used, maximize on its strong points and determine ways to make up for its weaker points. So I will stay focused on the two main types of shotguns discussed above.

First, let’s look at the pump/slide action shotguns. They have been the mainstay for law enforcement for decades and have proven to be extremely effective in combat from the streets of our country, the trenches of WW I and jungles encountered during the WW II Pacific campaign. Here are some of the main points I would like to discuss:

  •  Manufacturers
  • Gauges
  • Barrel lengths
  • Fit of the shotgun
  • Accessories


We are lucky to have some great choices when selecting pump/slide action shotguns. Designs that are seasoned veterans of police and military service, as well as modern designs from Benelli and others give us the opportunity to purchase a suitable model in a variety of price ranges. So with a little shopping, the right shotgun can be found at the right price range. Reliability is an absolute in any defensive firearm we choose. Buy firearms with a proven track record and you will have a shotgun that will give you long and reliable service. YOU have to decide for YOURSELF the particular make and model that is best suited for you both functionally and financially.

There are many great semi-automatic shotguns available from several manufacturers. As with the pump/slide action shotguns, some of the sem-automatic shotguns have been around for a long time and have proven to be extremely reliable and useful as a self-defense shotgun. As an example, I have a Remington 1100 that I bought about 30 years ago that came with a 30 inch barrel. It was on sale for a ridiculously low price so I bought it. I received 100% reliability from it through several years of hunting. With a new shorter barrel and a change of stocks, I was able to turn it into a great self-defense shotgun and in the time it takes to change a barrel, I could hunt geese with it too.

Many modern semi-automatic designs have evolved since the time O bought that Remington 1100. They are extremely reliable and easy to use. They are not for everyone but it is a great option for someone that doesn’t like the added mechanics of racking a pump/slide action shotgun. I absolutely love my Benelli 1014. It has been in service with the Us Marine Corps for a number of years and has proven itself in combat. Many manufacturers have stepped up to provide us with shotguns that really maximize on their capabilities.

 A key point I would like to make before moving to the next topic is that many of us have used the venerable Remington 870 shotgun as part of our police service and have effectively deployed it and have no problem using the pump/slide action. I have to admit that using my semi-automatic shotgun is a joy to use and simple to operate. The key to using whatever system you decide to use is to maximize on both its capability and YOUR ability to effectively control it and hit your desired target. Only YOU can determine this and I would advise using both systems and then make your decision about what you want to use. Then train with it until you feel completely confident that you can perform the required manipulation of it and put its payload where it counts – into the threat.


In the law enforcement and personal defense use of the shotgun, the 12 ga. loadings are the most commonly used for self-defense and duty purposes. Not much can be said that isn’t already known about the effectiveness of the 12 ga. buckshot and/or rifle slugs and their ability to end close-quarters fights. The use of rifled slugs has an additional benefit of extending the effective range of the shotgun with its solid projectile. You have to determine when the use of either buckshot or a rifle slug is the desired load. Much has been written about the merits of one particular buckshot loading over another. As in everything I do related to combatives, I try to keep things as simple as possible. I use 00 buckshot and don’t look back. There are many different rifle slugs available. Do some research and you will find the one that best meets your rifled slug requirements. This is just my personal opinion but I use 00 buckshot as my primary loading since it gives me what a shotgun can do best – deliver multiple projectiles with one trigger pull in a controlled dispersion pattern. Rifled slugs enhance the shotgun’s ability to extend the range of engagement or allow for deeper penetration than what the 00 buckshot can offer. This is something you have to analyze based upon YOUR needs and once you make your decision – practice with your choice.

Here is something I would like to put out based upon my experience with teaching shotgun combatives. For those who have difficulty with the 12ga. loadings, there are great alternatives if you want the shotgun as your long gun. One alternative is to try low recoiling 12 GA. loadings to see if that solves any problems with controllability and recoil management. If that doesn’t work, then a great alternative is to try either 20 GA. or the .410 Bore shotguns. Both these offerings can be extremely effective in the anti-personnel role and for most people, much easier to control and manage recoil. This is YOUR choice and either choice is completely acceptable for self-defense.

 Barrel Lengths

The most common barrel lengths for defensive shotguns are between 18-20 inches. That said, as a self-defense long gun, barrel lengths longer than 18-20 inches could be used effectively as a self-defense long gun. Other than law enforcement, hunting or other sporting use, I think it is safe to say that we can anticipate that the home defense role is a primary use of the shotgun. Without getting into the ‘how to” aspect of deploying the shotgun as a home defense tool, if we are using it from a fixed strongpoint a few extra inches of barrel length won’t make any difference since you are not clearing corners with it. If you need to clear corners, proper positioning the shotgun can more than adequately make up for a few inches of barrel length. I just recommend that you pattern the load you are using in your shotgun you are using and it will let you know what to expect in the spreading of the buckshot at given distances. I would recommend finding the distance of your longest anticipated shot within your house and determine the patterning at that distance. Anything closer will give you a tighter pattern.

The point is if you only have your 24 inch barreled shotgun to use as your long gun, it can still be extremely effective. Just do the little extra work to determine the best way you can deploy it and know what to expect from it. Once this is done, train as much as you can at the distances that you anticipate engaging threats and you are increasing your ability to maximize on your choice in shotgun and loading.

Fit of the Shotgun

The fit of your shotgun can have a direct affect on your ability to develop both speed and accuracy. Having had the experience of teaching combat shotgun both in law enforcement and via my company over the past 32 years, I have seen the impact of shotguns that simply do not fit the person’s body. This is especially true with pump/slide action shotguns. The “length of pull” found on the standard socks supplied on production shotguns are often too long when the shotgun is placed into a proper fighting platform (stance). This can be easily addressed by either shortening the stock or purchasing an aftermarket stock that shortens the length of pull. This will greatly enhance your manipulation of the shotgun and help manage recoil. It’ s a simple fix for a problem that can really affect the shooter. One size doesn’t always fir all shooters.


We have been inundated with numerous accessories that can either attach to the shotgun or be off the shotgun but immediately available to the shooter via bandoliers, pouches or devices that hold spare shotgun shells. I would recommend looking at the role the shotgun is going to fulfill for you and select accessories that will enhance that role.

I went to work for a number of years with a standard out-of-the-box Remington 870 with a four round capacity and five extra rounds on a pouch located on the butt stock. So did everyone else around me and it worked fine for the role it fulfilled. It is a good idea to have extra shotgun shells on the shotgun so they are there every time you pick it up. You can benefit from a simple butt pouch of your choosing and I highly recommend it.

If you have a home defense strong point defense strategy in place (a fixed position that allows you to cover the avenue of approach to where you and your family are located) you can preposition extra ammunition at that place to enhance your ability to stay in the fight.

If you anticipate operating in low light conditions, it doesn’t hurt to have the ability to have a flashlight mounted on your shotgun. There are many options available from a variety of sources.

YOU decide on what works best for your situation. The important thing is to be as proficient as possible with your shotgun so you can end the fight as quickly as possible. Everything else should be based upon actual need rather than following what might work for someone else in his or her situation.

If you intend to use a shotgun as your main long gun, I hope some of the issues we have just discussed helps you make an appropriate selection for YOU. If you can, try to use both pump action/slide action and semi-automatic shotguns to see how each feels and functions. Good quality shotguns are durable and will give you great service. Remember, it is the fighter that will make the difference. Proper training and proper practice will be the most important part of the equation. Let the equipment enhance YOUR capabilities.

I look forward to continuing this long gun discussion focusing on rifles in the next article.

Be safe!

Louis M. Chiodo

Grand Master