Well there it is. Instead of tap, rack, bang, your humble correspondent responded to his SCAR’s failure-to-fire with rack, tap, rack, bang. If I wasn’t humble before my public pooch screwing at the SIG SAUER Active Shooter Response Instructor course, I am now. No, that’s not right. I was humble before. I’ve always known that A) my shooting and tactical skills decrease dramatically during an adrenalin dump B) those skills aren’t that great to begin with and C) $hit happens. Once again, I appreciated the value of planning for success and preparing for failure . . .

Like most airplane accidents, a screw-up during armed self-defense requires at least two operator errors and/or equipment malfunctions. In this case, I didn’t push/pull the SCAR’s P-MAG when I shoved it into the mag-well. The mag was about as well-seated as a loser at musical chairs. I eventually got the gun running, so it wasn’t a “complete” screw-up. But . . .

It could have easily descended into a major tragi-comedy. I might have decided to reload (I didn’t initially check the gun for empty because I knew I’d started with a fresh mag)—and not had a spare mag. Or dropped the spare mag. Or had the mag in my battle belt backwards. Or switched the SCAR’s safety on, confusing a reload with a tactical reload,  and brought the rifle to bear with the gun on safe.

Lest we forget, in a real life combat situation, screw-ups increase your TED (Time Exposed to Danger). Chances are you won’t be flanked by a brace of highly trained policemen who’ve got everything squared away (thank God). Whether or not you get to live to talk about your f-up probably depends more on the bad guy’s actions or reactions than your ability to recover efficiently. In other words, blind luck.

The trick here: never give up. Sure, you should train your brain with set protocols for malfs. But don’t get married to them. More to the point, be ready to divorce them. If your gun doesn’t work, or if you run out of time trying to make it work, or you just can’t make it work, dump it. Switch to your handgun, knife, fists, feet, nearby coffee cup, rock, arched eyebrow, anything.

Keep yourself goal focused. STOP THE THREAT.

Get familiar with firearm f-ups by inducing screw-ups during practice. Dummy rounds (inserted at random intervals) are your friend. An actual friend can call out challenges in the middle of your string (i.e., reload, tactical reload, red dot failure, etc.). Train yourself to understand that creating a firearms “comfort zone” works against you. There will be nothing comfortable or predictable, about a gun fight. Except this . . .

You will to survive is your greatest asset.

Never mind all those gun gurus who ask “are you willing to kill another human being?” If you need to, you will. The question is: are you willing to die to survive or protect your loved ones?” If so, you cease becoming your own worst enemy—even when you are. Either find a way to solve your problem or die trying.

If you’ve got that straight in your head, then the only failure is to stop trying. Don’t. Never give up.


  1. I am not getting your posts emailed. But I found it.

    Anyway, how do you like the SCAR. I am sorta, kinda thinking about one. I have no real love for the AR system and to my un educated eye, the SCAR seems like a contender.

  2. Bravo. Although I’ve always felt that one of the keys to self-defense (unarmed) is your willingness to hurt another person very badly with your bare hands and feet, I also appreciate the absolute necessity of being committed to doing whatever is necessary at whatever cost. You’ve stated the basic philosophy of self-defense very eloquently.

    • “Although I’ve always felt that one of the keys to self-defense (unarmed) is your willingness to hurt another person very badly with your bare hands and feet”
      Armed or unarmed, the only determinants of the outcome of a fight are the ability to use violence and the willingness to do so.

      • That’s okay, the Army taught me to shoot, but you managed something no one I ever met has…getting an RI Concealed Carry Permit. (I grew up in Lincoln, folks still live there, but I became a Texan when I got stationed at Fort Hood, and this is where I’m retiring.)


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