In regione caecorum rex est luscus

In the Land of the Blind, the One-eyed Man is King

Don’t Look Up — Satellites 

Osama bin Laden’s Compound — A Good Use of Satellites

In the Land of the Blind, what if a few men had a billion eyes?  What would we call them?  Well, we’re about to find out.  In one of my old jobs, I used to surf the net and pick out 20 articles per week, copy them, put them in seventeen binders and provide those binders to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard and fourteen other folks around Washington, DC.  All the articles were “open source” – unclassified – the key was knowing where to look for pieces of information they needed to make decisions, and probably wouldn’t get this info from their subordinates who processed data in traditional Washington ways, where sometimes the boss doesn’t find out what’s going on.  Think Swamp.

Nowadays, sometimes I go geeky and surf around like the good old days, and I found this article from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which is full of geeky folks researching geeky things.  Its about satellites; how there are at least 768 commercial ones up there zooming around; how US federal regulations limit images taken by commercial satellites to a resolution of 25 centimeters, about the length of a man’s shoe; how their orbits pass over every place on Earth sometimes 15 times a day.  Then it discussed a company called BlackSky Global that promises to have their satellites fly over most major cities up to 70 times a day.  As MIT says: “That might not be enough to track an individual’s every move, but it would show what times of day someone’s car is typically in the driveway.”

Now go to Google Earth Pro.  Type in your address, and voila you’ll see your house from above.  But what is really interesting is it has a feature that shows you the overhead views beginning many years ago.  Look to see how the resolution gets better over time; what you couldn’t see in 1995, you sure can see in 2010; and what you couldn’t see in 2010, you can see now; that evolution isn’t going to stop.

That’s just commercial; military and national intelligence satellites (ours and other nations) have resolutions and linked recognition software that make commercial satellites seem tame.  In an open source, US astronomer Clifford Stoll,  former systems administrator at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, remarked that a really good satellite platform, orbiting at 155 miles up, could have a resolution of “a couple of inches.  Not quite good enough to recognize a face.”  But that disclosure was several years ago, and technology always marches on.

That’s just satellites.  What about ground imaging cameras?  Well, it is estimated that by the end of this year, there will be 1 Billion ground imaging cameras on Earth.  That is one camera for every eight people.  You may well have some in your home security system, or the trail cameras you set up to spot that Boone and Crockett Club record buck you just “know” is out there.

However the revolution in electronic security is not in image producers; it is in image interpreters – the artificial intelligence (AI) systems that are lashed up with the cameras.  Let’s look at the Chinese, pardon the pun.  The security system for the city of Guiyang, about 3,500,000 people, has the image of every single resident.  The cameras read faces, and the AI estimates age, gender, and ethnicity and matches every face with an ID card that every Chinese must have.  Chinese engineer Yin Jun says that the system can “trace all your movements back one week in time.  We can match your face with your car…match you with your relatives and the people you’re in touch with.”

A recent exercise, monitored by the BBC, took seven minutes for the system to identify and surround a new visitor to Guiyang.  But it gets better.  It appears that AI now includes Emotion Recognition to track traits such as facial muscle movements, vocal tone, and body movements in order to infer a person’s feelings.  Perhaps that could be used to incarcerate a person before they commit a crime – arresting them for their thoughts!

A few months ago, we attended a wedding held outside.  During the service, I heard this buzzing above my head.  Thinking it was a hornet, I looked up, but it was a small drone taking photos of the wedding, mine included.  Then I wondered: what else is up there, so high no one would ever know it is there, or its purpose?  Was it also looking at me?  Does it know my name?  Does it know what I am thinking?


In the Land of the Blind, The One-Eyed Man Is King

Henry .45 Long Colt

Sometimes you have everything you need in fighting a war.  Overwhelming troop strength; some kind of technological advantage; holding the high ground and a whole bunch of other factors make it a lot easier to defeat your opponent.  But sometimes, you just have to be a little bit better and you can win.  In regione caecorum rex est luscus is an old Latin saying that I’ve adopted for looking at things in a different way, but since I don’t speak Latin, “In the Land of the Blind, The One-Eyed Man Is King” will have to do.

For example, let’s just say that the politicians decide that semi-automatic pistols, semi-automatic rifles, and semi-automatic shotguns should be prohibited from civilian ownership.  If those types of weapons go away and that’s all you had before the laws took effect, you are now living blind in the self-defense world.

But even though, in our scenario, you do not have a semi-auto anymore, if you have revolvers as  handguns, lever-actions as a carbine/rifle, and a pump or double barrel shotgun, you may have a reduced capability (figuratively one eye instead of two), but you can defend yourself really well, if you are proficient in these older-style weapons.  And you aren’t limited to just one.

In fact, you will have significant advantages with these “less capable” weapons, but first let’s dispel a few myths.  There aren’t any zombies.  The odds of you having to defend your home against hundreds of firearm-equipped attackers are staggeringly low.  Two, almost any individual attacker will not go kamikaze on you after running through multiple hits to his body.  Pain deters; if it doesn’t, then just decline Novocain next time at the dentist.  And meth-heads have diminished combat capacity when they put that junk in their bodies.

Let’s take revolvers.  Most hold six rounds; a few snubbies hold only five; and newer models over the last fifteen years can hold up to seven or even eight (an S&W Model 617 holds ten .22LR.)  If you can’t hit center of mass on a guy’s chest with one of 6-7-8 rounds you haven’t practiced enough.  Its important you hit because reloading a double-action revolver – except for Jerry Miculek – is painfully slow.  And reloading a single-action revolver is lethally slow.  And revolvers generally have more “felt” recoil because they don’t have a slide eating up part of that.

That’s the sour news; now the good.  You can conceal small revolvers.  You have more caliber choices in revolvers than you do in semis.  .357 Magnum comes to mind, and yes there is a Desert Eagle but those are really expensive and almost nobody has one and after a ban on semis, you won’t either.  But you can easily have a .357 revolver, which also will shoot .38s and .38 Plus, which means you have a greater chance to find ammo in an ammo-shortage era.  Ruger, Colt, Smith and Wesson and others make some pretty good models that I would stake my life on.

That’s because in a self-defense fight, you can’t afford any technical problems.  Most encounters will not be under optimum conditions (read low-level light, cold temperature – so you are wearing bulky gloves – initial surprise disadvantage, etc.)  The last thing you want is a failure to extract, failure to feed, or failure to fire – all three of which can happen in a semi-auto.  A failure to fire (firing pin hits the primer in the rear of the case but the powder fails to detonate) can happen in a revolver, but if that rare event happens (especially in factory ammo; I would never trust my life to ammo I had reloaded), you just pull the trigger again.  No need to re-rack it.  There are a few guys online that assert revolvers are less reliable.  Go ahead and believe that if you want.  But in this scenario that you can’t have a semi-auto, you basically can have a revolver, or nothing, so make your choice.  In regione caecorum rex est luscus.

Oops; I forgot.  There are Bond Arms derringers that are obviously not revolvers; I have fired Bonds in .410, .45LC, 9mm, and .38/.357 and all were really well-made and fill a small niche in anyone’s arsenal.  A very small niche that might be counter-car-jacking or something like that, because they have just a two-round capacity and are also slow to reload.  But since you can buy replacement barrels that all work on the same frame, they may be the most flexible firearm to have during ammo shortages because of that.

Now to carbines/rifles.  So if we can’t have a semi-auto, might want to consider a lever-action.  They come in a lot of calibers but seem limited in 9mm and .45ACP.  Why am I singling those two out?  Well, if you have your rifle in the same caliber as your revolver it makes it logistically easier on you.  Henry weapons generally hold about ten rounds give or take.  They used to be a pain in the rear to reload in the tubular magazine but maybe the gals and guys at Henry anticipated this situation and now many models also have side loading gates.  Also, when you have a 16 to 20-inch barrel, rounds like .357 and .44 pick up a whole lot more velocity and become even more lethal.  If you don’t care for a Henry, Marlin or Winchester are great also.

And most of the optics you can put on a semi will work on a lever-action, especially newer ones that have Picatinny rails on them.  For shotguns, you go through the same logical process; heck, treat yourself and have a pump, an over-under and a double barrel side by side.  Or a really cool German or Austrian combination weapon that might be an over-under shotgun/rifle like something from Ludwig Borovnik or Johann Fanzoj.  You’ll need to get one used, and you’ll need to be REALLY nice to your better half, and when you see the prices you’ll know why!

With weapons getting scarcer in stores try GunBroker.com, GunsAmerica.com, or Gunsinternational.com so at least you can see price ranges and determine what’s reasonable.

In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to have this discussion.  But we don’t live in an ideal world; in fact, we never did, because life isn’t that way.  So make the best of it and be that one-eyed shooter when a lot of folks are going to be “blind” because they haven’t prepared.

In the Land of the Blind, The One-Eyed Man Is King2021-06-15T17:56:31-06:00

Night Vision (2)

View through a Thermal Sight

In Night Vision (1) we started discussing night vision.  We’ll continue that now, as there are a lot of threats you may run into that require even more sophisticated equipment than just Night Infrared (IR).  Or as Bela Lugosi remarked as Count Dracula: “Listen to them, the children of the night.  What music they make!”

Today it’s all about detecting HEAT through Thermal Imaging.  All objects absorb, reflect, and sometimes transmit energy at different levels.  Different materials give off heat or cold energy at different rates.  Thermal imaging devices detect small differences in heat; they do not require visible light to produce an image, so can be used day and night (unless the manufacturer says not to in daylight.)  Mammals generate heat; birds and reptiles absorb heat, so all are often warmer than their surroundings, and can be detected at greater distances with thermal imaging than with basic night vision.  Cars, trucks, and boats generate heat.  With thermals, you see engines and exhaust pipes brightest, because they are the hottest; if a car has been outside on a sunny day, the hood and roof will stick out.  Tires and brakes are often warm from friction.

Thermal devices often have a switch that in one position the warm/hot image is bright white, and the surrounding is dark, or the picture is reversed, and the warm/hot image is black.  You may  have a third option of color where objects are in red, orange, and purple tones.  Different targets show up best in certain options for me, so try and get one with all three, because we all see differently.

The more you play with thermal sights, the better you’ll understand what you are seeing (i.e., a mammal’s chest has more heat than its ears or tail.)  Thermal sights often have zoom magnification, but sometimes at higher magnification the image blurs a bit; you’ll figure out the right power by using it.

Sixty years ago, U.S. Army scientist John Johnson developed a system to evaluate thermal sight capabilities by three measurements:

Detection: detecting whether an object is present.  Usually expressed in yards or meters (for our purposes meters and yards are about the same.)  “Something is there, and it bears watching” is my equivalent.  The better the device, the further this is and can approach 3,000 yards.

Recognition: recognizing which class an object belongs to, such as a house, boat, truck, animal, or man.  This will be less than detection range.  In a 3,000 yard detection range device, recognition range may be 1,300 yards.

Identification: identifying descriptive details of the object, whether a vehicle is a car, Jeep,  pickup or minivan.  With practice, for a human, you can often determine number of men, if they appear in uniform, and if they appear to be holding rifles.  In our 3,000 yard detection range example, identification range may be 700 yards.

For some excellent info on thermals, go to www.atncorp.com.

Now it’s time to answer your first question: what do you want this thermal device to do?  Hunting feral hogs or vermin on a farm?  Detecting would-be criminals?  Detecting heat leaks in buildings?  Power line maintenance technicians locate overheating joints, and sometimes faulty electrical wiring.  Firefighters use thermals to see through smoke, find people and localize fire hotspots.  They are also common tools used by many home inspectors; even home-buyers are realizing that thermals can save them thousands later.

Will you be stationary in your activity or moving?  A thermal sight can get bulky; if you are stationary, that is less of an issue.  What is your climate?  Rain and heavy fog can severely limit the range of thermal imaging because light scatters off of droplets of water.

Since we are often looking at $1,500-$4,500 for a thermal device (sometimes more), we need an acquisition strategy.  If you need more than a night sight (IR), delaying thermal a little bit may allow you to buy a better capability later.  And consider buying both night vision (IR), and thermal from the same manufacturer, so accessories will almost always fit both.  For a thermal sight there is one more consideration.  Find a legitimate business use for the thermal.  Then toward the end of the year determine if the tax break of the thermal is more advantageous this year or whether you should buy it early next year.

Either way, remember In regione caecorum rex est luscus.  With a thermal sight, you will be able to see an enemy at night much, much better than he will be able to see you, if he can see you at all.  Let him be the blind man.

Night Vision (2)2021-06-15T17:42:06-06:00

Night Vision (1)

IR Image at 89 yards at night

Show me the man or woman who says that they are not afraid of walking alone in the dark of night and I will show you a fool, a liar, or someone with night vision equipment.  Because in the dark, there’s a lot of opportunity to run into things that go bump in the night.

Flashlights are great; everyone should have one in the car, when out walking, and in several areas of your house – with spare batteries and periodic function checks.  If you have a flashlight and a bad guy does not, you have an edge, with one exception: as soon as you pop it on, everybody knows where you are.

Maybe it’s time to get an extra CAPABILITY rather than buy your ninth pistol, so let’s shed  light on seeing at night.  Were it possible that I could tell you exactly what brand of night vision equipment to buy, it would be easy, but I can’t!  This is because each of us “sees” differently, and then our brains “translate” that vision in their own way, so what works for me may or may not work the same for you.  In an ideal world, before buying you could field test night vision equipment, but in reality you probably can’t.  You may find a video online showing the view through a device, but in the absence of handling one for a night, you need to know some fundamentals.

Today we’re visiting night vision scopes, binoculars, or monocular (basically half a bino) that rely on some ambient light, such as moonlight and starlight.  Many come with internal infrared (IR) illuminators, or an external IR which looks like flashlights but transmits light that cannot be seen by the naked eye, but can be seen by the night vision device.  Within range, you’ll see phenomenal details.

Night vision devices with IR have been around a while.  The Germans fielded one, aptly called “Vampire” in 1945, but its problem was weight.  The rifle weighed 11 lb.; the scope and IR source 5 lb.; and the battery and backpack 30 lb.  Today, this capability generally weighs 2-4 lb.

Looking through night vision (IR), you generally see images in shades of gray (such as above of the wild hog) or green.  An animal’s eyes will often glow.  You can see hair, fur, movement, but it is not a pure optical view like a daylight scope; you are looking at something like a tiny TV screen that shows the image.  Generally, you see things a few hundred yards away, depending on the power of the IR light.

Night vision IR can “see” cars, boats, buildings, and trucks.  You see animals on the edges of cornfields, but generally not too far inside the cornfield.  Night vision IR devices have zoom magnification, but sometimes at higher magnification the image blurs a bit; you’ll figure out the right power and what you are seeing by using it.

What do you want this device to do?  Hunting feral hogs at night?  Looking for vermin around a grain silo?  Detecting would-be criminals bent on breaking and entering?  Detecting heat leaks (thermal can; night vision can’t) in insulation?  Finding your pet dog if he runs outside?  Looking for rats and mice does not require long range.  But concerning criminals in a rural area, the further out you see them, the longer you have to make a decision what to do.

Many devices have GPS, are Wi-Fi capable, can record what you see and transmit that in near real time to your associates – or even the police.  Many have range finders and one-shot zeroing.  Some can withstand recoil up to a .375 H&H or .416 Barrett, but verify before you buy.  And you can use them on a weapon or off.  Go to www.atncorp.com.  Their videos are typical of possibilities, especially the one on ATN RADAR.

Will you be stationary in your activity or moving?  A night vision scope, with an external IR, on a rifle can get bulky; if you are stationary, that is less of an issue.

Since we are often looking at $500-$1,000 for a night vision device (sometimes more); and $1,500-$4,500 for a thermal device (sometimes more), we need an acquisition strategy.

Consider buying night vision (IR) first.  As you’ll read next month, advances in thermal technology occur frequently; delay buying thermal may allow you to buy a better capability later.  Plain night vision does not seem to be making these rapid advances: IR is IR, and will be less expensive.

Most importantly In regione caecorum rex est luscus.  With night vision IR, you will be able to see better than almost any adversary out there.


Night Vision (1)2021-06-15T17:48:15-06:00


Every 42 seconds there’s a carjacking incident in the U.S.  And it is on the rise.  Minneapolis police report that carjackings shot up 537% in 2020.  And “Chiraq” in Illinois?  The number more than doubled from 603 in 2019 to more than 1,400 in 2020, the highest total in nearly two decades.  Most carjackings happen between 10:00 pm. and 2:00 am.  92% occur when the driver is the sole occupant in the vehicle.  45% involve firearms, 11% involve knives, and 18% involve some other type of weapon.  Some 52% are successful nationwide.  All this we know.

But what about a carjacker who has in mind not only taking your car, but taking you in it – to some deserted area where he has some really nefarious plans for you?  We simply do not know this number, just as we do not know which carjackers have itchy trigger fingers.

So what to do?  There are numerous passive defenses; in carjackings, “passive” is not necessarily sub-optimal: park in a safe spot (back into parking spaces to easier see and get away) as close to the building door as possible; check the back seat before you get in; lock your car when you park (if you have an older vehicle whose doors do not automatically lock, manually lock them yourself; while at a drive-through ATM, keep your vehicle in drive, not in park; keep track of your keys; never leave your engine running when you go in a store; and stay alert while driving.  No car is worth your life; if it seems like the right move, give the guy the keys and get out of there.

Every time you email, or talk on the phone, or text in your car, whether it is moving or stationary, you run the risk of getting carjacked – because carjackers look for an easy target, individuals who seem weaker than the attacker, or who look like they will not resist.

Remember carjacking can occur while on the move; one way is the rear bumper tap.  When you get out to check for damage, a second culprit jumps in your car and drives off.  If you suspect anything, do not get out, but rather drive to the police station or a crowded area before you exit your car.  Another trick is when a “panhandler” puts a $20 under your wiper.  You get out to catch it, a second guy runs up and jumps in the driver’s seat.  Just drive away; the Jackson will still be there later.  Leaving a gap between you and the vehicle to your front when you stop is not only a good deterrent, but gives you room to maneuver if need be.

But what if it just doesn’t look right – that he isn’t interested in the car but in you, or worse your youngsters in the back seat.  What if flight may not be possible?

If you have a gun in the glove box, under the seat or in any other “convenient” location, getting to it during a carjacking probably won’t be a viable option.  A good way to ensure your gun is accessible is to wear it, which is another reason to have a concealed carry license.

Bond Arms .410/.45 LC

It will be short range, probably 3-10 feet.  Weapon is your choice; I’ve recently extensively fired a Bond Arms, 4.25” barrel, over-under derringer in .410 with various size shot and that looks like a real game-changer.  If you chose to shoot .410 (it can also handle .45 Long Colt — not .45 automatic), go with strait 00 buckshot because sometimes the fancy special defense rounds, that have a larger bullet and some small buckshot with it, seem to have a bad habit with the depth or primer with respect to the Bond Arms’ firing pin.  You only have two rounds, so you cannot afford even one misfire.

Remember all carry locations aren’t equal, especially when seated behind the wheel.  Some drivers prefer cross-draw (front left side for a right-handed shooter) because there are fewer fixtures to foul your draw.  But here’s the rub.  I’ve never visited a gun range where you can practice that – sitting in a car seat, with a loaded weapon on your left hip, cross-drawing it, swinging it upward to driver’s side window level, and firing.  As you know, if you don’t practice something, it may not work under pressure.

What about pepper spray?  You could have that in some easy-to-reach place.  Pepper spray power is measured in Scoville Heat Units, just like peppers you eat – or avoid eating.  The more (5,000,000-plus SHU) the better, but some pepper spray companies “message” the heat rating.  Your best tip is to go to your nearest police precinct, tell them you know that giving your keys to a carjacker and then fleeing would be best for you 98% of the time, but what do they recommend you carry for that critical 2% when your gut says, “this guy is going to kill me.”

And if you want more of a Tiger tank, contact Bulldog Direct (www.bulldogdirect.com) for bullet resistant glass, door panels; it’s an interesting read.

But again, if it’s just the car, let it go.


How Much Ammunition Is Enough?

500 round can 9mm 147GR Ammo - Durkin Tactical

How much is enough?

In the “Land of Not Enough Ammunition,” how much ammo should you truly have on hand?  There may be no precise answer; maybe it’s a thousand answers, but there really is a way to analyze what you need.  Hoard it through impulse buying and you are truly blind; think it through and you’ll be king.

You need what is called a Basic Load for every caliber.  Compute that on a one-year requirement – that is, if you could not buy, beg, or borrow any additional ammunition, what amount – per caliber – would last you the next 365 days to train/practice, hunt and defend yourself?  Not all Basic Loads must be the same size; what you determine for 9mm is almost certainly not the same as for .30-06.  All calibers require practice; some are great for hunting, some not; and for self-defense, some are better than others.

Second, you need a mechanism, on paper or in the computer, so you always know what you currently have.  I use an extremely easy Excel spreadsheet that automatically adds or subtracts totals.  Maybe it’s overkill, but inside each caliber, I divide that by bullet size and bullet type, because some rounds are better for self-defense than others, etc.  If you have four weapons that  fire the same caliber, you still only need one Basic Load for that caliber.  Remember, it is much better to keep all calibers at Basic Load level, than to be short in several calibers, but way over in one.

Look at your requirements.  Practice: I try to hit the range 1-2 times a week, but not always with the same caliber.  For me, practice is maintaining muscle memory, so I pull the trigger the same way all the time, switch magazines the same, and improve accuracy so each pistol round I fire from 50 feet down to 7 feet is a disabling shot on an armed attacker.  I find that I can do all that with 20-30 rounds of the same caliber per range session.  Above that is fun, but doesn’t get improved results for me – if firing more rounds per session makes you better, have at it.  So for 9mm, my annual practice requirements of 30 rounds, once per week, over 50 weeks = 1,500.  I have better calibers for hunting, so that component is zero for 9mm.  Even if we went to a worst-case scenario, I can’t see more than 500 9mm rounds for the year for defense (because I have other weapons that are good defenders also) so my total for 9mm = 2,000.  It’s the same for me in .45 ACP.

Hunting for me includes regular hunting trips and local opportunities we currently have.  I add in the possibility of food shortages that may drive people to shoot wild game for meat that they usually don’t now.  That’s where the .22 Long Rifle comes in.  When you have to feed young-uns, sportsmanship goes out the door, shooting pheasants and ducks on the ground is kosher, squirrels and rabbits are meals, and a .22 attracts much less attention than a 12-gauge.  And yes, unless you are diplomatic about it, farmers could get really irate if you don’t negotiate, but concerning the 2nd Amendment, we’re all on the same team, so work it out before any triggers are pulled.

For traditional hunting-rifle calibers, Basic Load is very small compared to pistols.  You need to annually confirm your zero and make sure the scope is aligned correctly.  For me, 100 rounds per rifle caliber = Basic Load.  Shotguns require you to subdivide rounds because what is good for pheasant (#5 shot) is not for geese (BB) concerning traditional hunting, and you’ll need buckshot for self-defense.  Semi-auto rifles (what the media calls black rifles/automatic rifles/assault rifles) can be used for hunting or self-defense, require practice, and will have a higher Basic Load than a bolt action.  Some oddball calibers, like 7X57R, could have a Basic Load as low as 50.

On my spreadsheet I record what I have and what I think I need per Basic Load, per caliber.  Once I get to my Basic Load number, I stop buying that caliber.  When I drop below Basic Load level, I write it down on a card, so I know what I really need to buy, instead of impulse buying.  Don’t spend more on hoarding, buy a Mantis X10 Elite training kit good for pistols, rifles, and shotguns, dry or live fire.  It, and other training devices, can save you thousands of practice rounds, just in case your numbers prove incorrect!  But they won’t be because you have thought the numbers through.

How Much Ammunition Is Enough?2021-06-14T15:26:14-06:00

Benelli M4 Tactical Shotgun

The wisdom of crowds is the idea that large groups of people are collectively smarter than individual experts when it comes to problem-solving.  Sometimes the problem is pretty benign and sometimes the problem is a bunch of bad guys that need to go away from the effects of a tactical combat shotgun.

The “crowds” in this case are the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Special Operations Forces that all decided some twenty years ago to equip themselves with Benelli M4 and M1014 (an M4 with a skeletonized butt-stock.)  The Services keep some pump shotguns, mainly because the Army has used them to great effect for over one-hundred years, as some old habits die hard, but the reappearance of “smaller wars” around the world, often in cities and close-quarter conditions, convinced the military to go with a more robust semi-auto weapon.

And robust is what the Benelli M4 is.  Weighing about 7.8 pounds, and having a pistol grip, you know you are carrying a substantial weapon, but the weight, shape and size make recoil seem tame – even when you fire the six 12-gauge round capacity as fast as you can.  The barrel length is 18.5 inches (overall length of 40 inches) and that is enough to keep the pattern where it should be, while not being awkward if you are in tight quarters.  You can fire 2¾ and 3-inch shells.  Although the weapon has a Picatinny rail on the top of the receiver for attachments, the rear ghost-ring sight is so good that why add weight with a red dot?  You have to worry about batteries and, yes, tests show that a ghost sight is slightly faster than a red dot from acquire-to-shoot.

The designers also used their smarts concerning loading the M4, but if you are a long-time pump shotgun person, it may seem odd at first.  For the M4, you load a round into the chamber FIRST while the BCG (bolt) is back, and the gun is empty.  You then release the BCG, which lets you load additional rounds into the magazine tube.  This way, you always have a round in the chamber if you need it.  This method is superior to a pump in that with pumps you have to load rounds into the tube, then pump, in order to accomplish the same thing.  The M4 is faster getting a round in the chamber when you have an empty gun.  If the bolt is closed, it always allows loading of more shells.  The setup also allows you to change the shell in the chamber without affecting the shells in the magazine tube.

Once you figure that out in just a few minutes, you’ll be sending buckshot down range as fast as John Wick.  Just don’t waste ammo like John does, often firing 3-4 rounds per bad guy.  And for you bad guys: don’t hurt a gentle little dog that belongs to someone who owns a Benelli M4.

Benelli M4 Tactical Shotgun2021-06-14T16:40:57-06:00

CZ Accu Shadow 2

CZ Accu Shadow 2

Sometimes in life you owe it to yourself to get the best-of-the-best, whether that is a sports car, guitar, set of golf clubs, pair of binoculars – or a pistol.

Of course, no matter what the item, there will be experts out there that have their own opinion on #1, but most of the time, if those experts put aside their personal biases, they’ll come up with at least a short list from which to chose when you are looking for the very best.

In the firearms category, I may have finally found a pistol – that if it isn’t the best in the world, it certainly is on the short list for that title – the CZ Accu Shadow 2.

First, the bad news…you are going to have to explain to your better half why you just dropped about $2,250 on a piece of steel weighing 46.5 ounces.  To which you will reply that it is 9mm, has a magazine capacity of 17+1 (you can get some after market magazines that hold a little more), has an all-steel frame, a single and double action trigger, a fiber optic front and HAJO rear sight, a cold-hammer forged 4.89-inch barrel, an ambidextrous manual safety, and an overall length of 8.53 inches.

Your better half will reply that the weapon sure feels heavy, and you will respond that to anchor the muzzle in the slide, the weapon has a new ¼ turn 1911 style AccuBushing, that the custom hammer further lightens and smooths the DA and SA trigger pulls, and that the weapon is capable of sub-3” groups at 50 yards.

Again, your better half will point out that you are currently not capable of shooting that precise at any distance and you will reply – “BINGO, that’s exactly the point.  This pistol will challenge me to work as hard as I can to not let its reputation down, and with it I can be as good as I ever have the chance of being.”

Designed for target shooting, it is way too heavy and large to carry concealed for self-defense, unless you are a lineman in the National Football League.  It is not constructed to be a trail gun that you drop in your rucksack for a jaunt through the woods.  Having said that, if you have to make a bullseye on your final shot to win a pressure-packed competition, or have to absolutely ensure a hit against a dangerous animal or murderous criminal for your first shot – with no room to miss or you might die – you want to be pulling this trigger on this weapon.

CZ stands for Česká zbrojovka that translates to ‘Czech armory,’ and dates back to 1936.  The first products out the door were aircraft machine guns, military pistols, and small-bore rifles.  The Germans, who have always known a thing or too about firearms, forced the Czechs to continue producing CZ pistols after overrunning Czechoslovakia just before World War II.  After the war, the Soviets forced Eastern Europe to join the Warsaw Pact and for decades soldiers armed with CZ-75s faced other soldiers armed with Colt 1911A1s – and both sides felt confident about their chances, which they should have been.  CZ-USA is the exclusive US importer, importer of rifles and pistols from CZ.  CZ-USA puts the final touches on a CZ Accu Shadow 2.

In one of the most fascinating ironies of the former Cold War, the Czech Republic joined NATO, and in May 2021 the Czech-based parent company of CZ, CZG in Prague, completed the purchase of famed US arms company Colt after securing regulatory approvals in Canada and the U.S.  CZG picked up a 100-percent stake in the historic Colt’s Manufacturing Company as well as its Canadian subsidiary, the Colt Canada Corporation.  The sale reportedly involved $220 million cash and the issue of just over 1 million shares of common stock.

So what are you waiting for?  If you don’t buy a CZ Accu Shadow 2 for yourself, who will?


CZ Accu Shadow 22021-06-13T17:44:45-06:00

Freedom Arms Model 97 .45 Colt

Freedom Arms Model 97 in .45 Colt

“If we couldn’t build a better gun than the rest of the industry, we wouldn’t stay in it.”

When you get to be my age, you appreciate quality.  My wife of 37 years has attained absolute perfection, for example.  My close friends all deserve to be best friends and we all count on each other through thick and thin.  I always wanted a Jeep Wrangler with a World War II Army green paint scheme, so one sits in the driveway as I write this; it is our only vehicle.  On an unaccompanied Army tour to Germany, I skimped and saved enough to buy a set of Zeiss binoculars.  The same feeling goes for firearms.  It is flat amazing shooting a Shiloh Sharps .45-70 rifle, a Smith & Wesson Model 627 .357 Magnum revolver and a Walther PPQ M2 .45 ACP.  The same experience happens with a Johann Fanzoj combination 16 gauge shotgun over a 7X57R Mauser rifle, made in 1962 in the Ferlach valley of Austria, or with a similar “drilling” made by master gun producer Ludwig Borovnik at the same location (and which you can read about on this website as well.)

Freedom Arms Model 97 .45 Colt with additional .45 ACP cylinder

Freedom Arms revolvers have a well-deserved reputation as the Rolex watches of single action revolvers and while I thought I understood that comparison, until I extensively fired one I did not realize just what fine machines they are.  Built of space-age stainless steel to remarkably precise tolerances for production pieces, they are extraordinarily durable and accurate.  Parts are machined in batches; more complicated parts are made in smaller batches.  Once all the batches are completed and the all the parts for a model are ready, the highly-skilled Freedom Arms machinists put the revolvers together by hand.  Then, other experts assemble the revolver and test it for accuracy at 25 yards – think a shot group as small as a dime to a quarter.  You’ll get the actual group shot with your weapon when you buy it.

Close-up of Freedom Arms Model 97 with .45 Colt cylinder. Tolerances are extremely fine.

Then the pieces go to the finishing room.  The exterior finish is just as precisely made, with polishing that is the envy of the industry.  While stainless steel heat-treated in the 45 R(C) hardness range is almost impervious to the elements, it is also almost “invulnerable” to classic bluing, engraving and color hardening.  Tolerances are extremely fine.  Some reviewers compare the movement of the trigger, hammer and cylinder to the locking mechanism of a bank vault.  Being an old Army guy, I would use a different comparison and just say that the action reminded me of the breech block locking in a 120mm cannon in an Abrams tank, just before the round is fired down-range at a speed of about a mile per second.

Finish on the Freedom Arms revolvers is excellent

Freedom Arms really geared up in 1978, under the direction Wayne Baker and Dick Casull, of  with the Model 83 chambered for the .454 Casull pistol cartridge, which for a while was the most powerful handgun cartridge in the world.  The company expanded the range of its offerings from the ubiquitous .22 Long Rifle to the monster .500 Wyoming Express and filling in with many hi-performance revolver round in between such as .475 Linebaugh, .44 Magnum, .41 Magnum and .357 Magnum.  In what one reviewer called the “thermo-nuclear calibers,” the pistols are “cold, calculating, killing machines.  If you suffer from a terminal case of the wheel-gun warm-and-fuzzies, they may not be for you.”

The box tells you exactly what options are on this firearm.

In 1997 Freedom Arms may have sensed this feeling and introduced a down-sized, handier version of the Model 83 chambered for high-demand cartridges such as the .17 HMR, .22 Long Rifle, .327 Federal, .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, .44 Special and .45 Colt.  Known as the Model 97, in the last twenty years this model has compiled an enviable record both in the field and on the range.

Determining how many revolvers the company [307 883-2468] produces is a difficult proposition.  Waiting times after ordering can last in the vicinity of one year.  A BATF report of revolver production for the company in 2007 was 376; the BATF in 2012 reported that Freedom Arms manufactured 404 revolvers for the year. For 2015, the total had risen to 499 revolvers.  Think about that for a minute.  There are approximately 262 work days per year.  So for all practical purposes, the men and women at Freedom Arms make only two firearms per day.  Production by caliber, of course, is even smaller.  My guess is that the company may produce only twenty-five Model 97 Colt .45s because, in my opinion, the monster calibers, such as the .454 Casull, probably take the lion’s share of production.

That is what I fired, a Model 97 in .45 Colt.  This particular example has a 5.5-inch barrel, overall length of 10.75 inches, adjustable sights (with an interchangeable gold bead front sight,) black Micarta grips, and a factory trigger/hammer adjustment to a three-pound pull, all weighing in at 2.29 pounds (36.64 ounces.) This configuration gives the firer a sight-radius of 6.75 inches; for reloaders, the barrel twist rate is 1-24 (the number of inches the bullet moves along the bore while the bullet rotates one full turn, in this case 24 inches.)  It also had an additional .45 ACP cylinder, that like the .45 Colt cylinder, is line-bored in which the frame and barrel are assembled, and then a cylinder “blank” is fitted.  That is then drilled out for each bore through the barrel.  As a result, the alignment between each chamber and the barrel is absolutely perfect; in fact each cylinder is marked with the same serial number as the frame, so you know the exact pairing that should be made.

To test the weapon, I chose the seven following factory rounds, as I am not a handloader: Winchester Super X (Cowboy/Target) with 250 grain Lead Flat Nose bullets; Winchester Super X (Target) with 255 grain Lead Round Nose bullets; Ultramax with 250 grain Round Nose Flat Point bullets; Ultramax with 200 grain Round Nose Flat Point bullets; Hornady Critical Defense FTX 185 grain bullets; Black Hills 250 grain Round Nose Flat Point bullets and Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown 230 grain Jacketed Hollow Point bullets.

My first impression was that the Model 97 .45 Colt is a “blast” to shoot.  The big bullets make big holes in the paper targets.  They should, as anything over 218 grains is over half an ounce of lead.  The recoil pushes more than it snaps the hand; the trigger guard did not slam back into my fingers.  The second impression is that this firearm will expose batches of ammunition that lack consistency.  Using a sandbag rest, the firer will instantly be able to assess which factory rounds are consistent in powder quality and quantity, and also the flight dynamics of the bullets themselves.  It can be a harsh verdict and with more than one factory load on that first day and days since that I concluded that I was not going to waste my time or money on firing rounds which were inferior to this revolver’s capability; and for this .45 Colt, the 25-yard accuracy shot group as tested at Freedom Arms was just 0.68 inches center-to-center (shown in top photo.)

As mentioned, you will wait several months after ordering.  If you just cannot wait that long, Gunbroker.com usually has several dozen Freedom Arms on auction at any one time. GunsAmerica.com and GunsInternational.com have dozens more for sale, often by regional Freedom Arms FFL-holders who serve as dealers.  Two of these that usually have a wide selection of Model 83s and Model 97s are First Stop Guns in Rapid City, South Dakota (605) 341-5211 and SMJ Sports (owned by Steve Bredemeyer) in Columbia City, Indiana (260) 396-2349.  I drove 275 miles each way to visit Steve and he patiently showed me several 83s and 97s in a variety of calibers.  If you wish to purchase one of these new pistols – and I’d like to meet the shooter who declines after actually holding one of these masterpieces – Steve will promptly ship it to your local FFL location.  Instead of a year, you’ll be pulling the trigger in six days.

I do not hunt with a revolver, although it seems to me that this .45 Colt would make a great wild pig weapon.  It packs easily and could be used in a pinch for self-defense – the caliber being more than sufficient to drop an attacker with one shot to the center of mass – although considering the five-round cylinder and carrying with the hammer over an empty cylinder gives you only four rounds.

I’ll update this as I find the rounds that work best.  After firing twenty-five of each of the seven factory rounds mentioned above, the Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown 230 grain Jacketed Hollow Point bullets and the Ultramax with 200 grain Round Nose Flat Point bullets showed the most promise for accuracy.

If it turns out that hand-loads are far superior, that’s what friends are for and I hope they won’t mind loading for me, especially if I let them shoot this great pistol.

Freedom Arms Model 97 .45 Colt2017-10-02T12:53:37-06:00




(May 15, 2017) I was watching the original 1984 version of the movie Red Dawn, with Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and Ben Johnson the other day.  What a great movie; it is a fictional account of an invasion of the United States by the Soviet Union and Cuba and how a group of young adults in Colorado fight against the occupation.  After watching it, I started to think how one famous military strategist would have counseled the patriots who fought back.

The Art of War by Sun-Tzu

This is the granddaddy of all books on war, and just about anyone who wishes to understand war starts with this – at least Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, American General Douglas MacArthur and Vietnamese General Võ Nguyên Giáp did.  The Art of War presents a philosophy of war for managing conflicts and winning battles and is accepted as a masterpiece on strategy, frequently cited and referred to by generals and theorists.  The text is composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare.  Do not get hung up on who may have written The Art of War.  Some historians trace it back to a Chinese military strategist known as Master Sun from the 6th century BC, while others attribute the work to Sun Wu who lived at some point between 776 BC and 471 BC.  Still other experts name the author as Sun Bin in the 4th century BC.  The work very succinctly presents the tenets for developing and executing a strategy that will defeat the strategy of your opponent.   It is presented in lists and recommendations.  Also, different translators give different titles for each of the chapters; don’t worry about that.  It is more important to grasp the salient facts than it is to know what chapter or page they are found.  Here are some of the highlights in italics and a brief description:

Chapter One: Detail Assessment and Planning, also called Calculations.

Study the five factors of warfare: Way, Heaven, Ground, General and Law. Calculate your strength in each and compare them to your enemy’s strengths.

A good commander constantly evaluates the situation, which includes the level of support of the people, weather conditions, geographic factors, the competency of your officers and your organization, logistics and other resources.  You compare your strengths in each of these to your enemies to see where you can gain an advantage.

Warfare is the Way of deception… if able, appear unable; if active, appear inactive; if near, appear far; if far, appear near… attack where your enemies are not prepared; go to where they do not expect. 

In fighting a superior enemy occupying your country, by definition you will be inferior in numbers and likely in technology.  You won’t be able to go one-on-one.  You will have to keep your plans and intentions secret and you can’t do that if you are blabbing them all over the internet, unsecure tactical radios, telephone, emails and other electronic communications devices.

Chapter Two: Waging War, also called Doing Battle

When doing battle, seek a quick victory.  A long battle will blunt weapons and diminish ferocity.  If troops lay siege to a walled city, their strength will be exhausted.  Therefore, the important thing in doing battle is victory, not protracted warfare. 

This is pretty clear for conventional war, but what about fighting against a power occupying a country.  Unfortunately, a population striving to throw off the yoke of enslavement is in for a long haul and it will not be over until the occupying power quits, so these guidelines actually apply to the enemy in our case.  They have to make the enemy believe that we will never quit and never surrender.  They will deny them victory because we have the will to continue to fight, but for the enemy it will be a long, protracted, bloody war.

Chapter Three: Strategic Attack, also called Planning Attacks

The best warfare strategy is to attack the enemy’s plans, next is to attack alliances, next is to attack the army and the worst is to attack a walled city; laying siege to a city is only done when other options are not available…one who is skilled in warfare principles subdues the enemy without doing battle, takes the enemy’s walled city without attacking and overthrows the enemy quickly, without protracted warfare.  Generally in warfare: if ten times the enemy’s strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if double, divide them; if equal, be able to fight them; if fewer, be able to evade them; if weaker, be able to avoid them.

Try and defeat the enemy’s strategy before the conflict; pick on the weakest ally in the enemy chain and hammer them (like the Russians did when they attacked the Italians and Romanians on the flanks of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad.)  Be there “firstest with the mostest,” as Nathan Bedford Forrest would say.

Therefore I say: one who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be in danger in a hundred battles.  One who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes win, sometimes lose.  One who does not know the enemy and does not know himself will be in danger in every battle.

You have probably seen this many times before and it applies to warfare, business, sports and other areas of competition.  You have to gather all the facts you can and rehearse how you want to fight; you have to know the strengths and weaknesses of every one of your soldiers and be relentless in gathering similar information about the enemy.

Chapter Four: Disposition of the Army, also called Formation

One takes on invincibility defending; one takes on vulnerability attacking.  One takes on sufficiency defending, one takes on deficiency attacking.  Those skilled in defense conceal themselves in the lowest depths of the Earth.  Those skilled in attack move in the highest reaches of the Heavens.  Therefore, they are able to protect themselves and achieve complete victory.  Those skilled in warfare establish positions that make them invincible and do not miss opportunities to attack the enemy.

To take an enemy position the general rule is that the attacker must have three-to-one odds; that is because the defender knows the terrain better than the attacker (because the defender has been on the terrain for some period of time) and that the defender can use the terrain, maybe by digging in or hiding, to lessen the effects of enemy weapons.  Having said that, the defender always needs to be prepared to counter-attack, once the attacker has exhausted his resources.

A victorious army first obtains conditions for victory and then seeks to do battle.  A defeated army first seeks to do battle, then obtains conditions for victory. 

You have heard the phrase: “Ready, Aim, Fire.” Study and prepare first, pick out your target and only then fire (or fight.) When soldiers who need more training get scared, their actions can often be: “Fire”, “Aim, Fire, Ready” or “Ready, Fire, Aim.”  Not only do you have to fire, you have to fire at the key targets and identifying them occurs before you pull the trigger.

Chapter Five: Forces, also called Force

Generally, in battle, use the common to engage the enemy and the uncommon to gain victory.  The force of those skilled in warfare is overwhelming and their timing precise.  Even in the midst of the turbulence of battle, the fighting seemingly chaotic, they are not confused.

Sun-Tzu called for basic infantry to pin the enemy down, and then use more capable troops, like cavalry to finish off the enemy.  In almost every fight, you are going to need a reserve to exploit, or respond to, unforeseen circumstances.  That reserve force needs to be one of your best: one that can respond quickly, understand what to do in uncertain circumstances, and press home the attack in difficult situations.  You need the ability to use not only great force, or strength, but also to apply that force with great precision.  That is the theory of high-value targets; it is better to kill the enemy commander than it is to kill ten of his soldiers.  What targets do we need to destroy first to give us a better chance to win?

Chapter Six: Weaknesses and Strengths

To be certain to take what you attack, attack where the enemy cannot defend…to be certain of safety when defending, defend where the enemy cannot attack…the place of battle must not be made known to the enemy…if it is not known, then the enemy must prepare to defend many places…if he prepares to defend everywhere, everywhere will be weak.

These are the very tenets of guerilla warfare and guerilla warfare is exactly what a population must practice in order to throw out an invader.  You know the terrain and from your contacts you must determine the enemy’s plans and intentions.  Then you start picking off his outposts and installations, striking quickly and then disappearing into the population until the next attack.

Therefore, know the enemy’s plans and calculate his strengths and weaknesses…provoke him, to know his patterns of movement…determine his position, to know the ground of death and of life…probe him, to know where he is strong and where he is weak…The ultimate skill is to take up a position where you are formless…if you are formless, the most penetrating spies will not be able to discern you.

America has had numerous skilled fighters who appeared out of nowhere to strike, disappeared into the mist and re-appeared where they were least expected to attack again.  Francis Marion (“the Swamp Fox,”) John S. Mosby (“the Gray Ghost of the Confederacy,”) and Geronimo fought outnumbered time and time again against much larger antagonists.  They knew that they had to remain dispersed until the last second when you can mass and attack because the enemy’s technology and intelligence services was constantly  trying to locate them.

Chapter Seven: Armed Struggle, also called Military Maneuvers

If an army is without its equipment it will lose; if an army is without its provisions it will lose; if the army is without its stores it will lose.

You do not need to strike the combat elements of the enemy to win; by destroying his equipment and supply dumps you can starve the enemy forces.  This was one of the major characteristics of the blitzkrieg, which advanced deep behind the front of the enemy to attack headquarters command and communications, transportation hubs and supply bases.  An added advantage is that a logistical unit has a lesser ability to fight and generally has inferior weapons.

One who does not know the mountains and forests, gorges and defiles, swamps and wetlands cannot advance the army.  One who does not use local guides cannot take advantage of the ground.

This may be your greatest advantage; you know the geography of your area of the country.  You know where you can hide, where alleys are in big cities, what off-road terrain you can take a vehicle through, where the small paths are in a wooded area; no detail is too small to study.  GPS is great, but there is no substitute for personal knowledge of every fold in the terrain and every building in a town or city.

Therefore, the army is established on deception, mobilized by advantage, and changed through dividing up and consolidating the troops…therefore, it advances like the wind; it marches like the forest; it invades and plunders like fire; it stands like the mountain; it is formless like the dark; it strikes like thunder.

You have to own the night and strike where the enemy least expects it.  And to invade the enemy “like fire” you have to show no mercy and ensure you kill the enemy…not just scare him.  If you can do that, you will start putting the fear of God in your adversaries.

Chapter Eight: Nine Changes, also called Variations and Adaptability

There are routes not to be taken; there are armies not to be attacked; there are walled cities not to be besieged; there are grounds not to be penetrated; there are commands not to be obeyed.

There are times when you have to be smart enough to know when not to do something. It is called flexibility.

There are five dangerous traits of a general: he who is reckless can be killed; he who is cowardly can be captured; he who is quick tempered can be insulted; he who is moral can be shamed; he who is fond of the people can be worried…these five traits are faults in a general, and are disastrous in warfare.

We will discuss how to organize later; sufficed to say, you are probably going to elect a leader, or at least make a decision whether or not you want to serve under an existing leader.  Obviously you aren’t going to pick a coward, but it is also important not to select someone who is reckless or one who does not think through a situation and thus gets angry easily.  The leader is going to have to sometimes put his own troops in harm’s way for the greater good.  Choose wisely.

Chapter Nine: Army Maneuvers, also called Movement and Development of Troops

To cross mountains, stay close to the valleys; observe on high ground and face the sunny side. If the enemy holds the high ground, do not ascend and do battle with him.  After crossing a river, you must stay far away from it.  If the enemy crosses a river, do not meet him in the water.  When half of his forces have crossed, it will then be advantageous to strike.  If you want to do battle with the enemy, do not position your forces near the water facing the enemy; take high ground facing the sunny side and do not position downstream.  After crossing swamps and wetlands, strive to quickly get through them and do not linger.  If you do battle in swamps and wetlands, you must position close to grass, with the trees to your back.  On level ground, position on places that are easy to maneuver with your right backed by high ground, with the dangerous ground in front, and safe ground to the back.

You have to practice analyzing terrain; what you are striving for is to use the terrain to your advantage, so you can observe, maneuver and engage the enemy easier than he can. Generally, the force that can get to the potential battlefield first will win.  If you can do that, and entice the enemy to attack you, you can use the advantage of the defense, inflict casualties and then get out of there quickly.  Sun-Tzu’s comment on swamps and wetlands applies more to conventional armies than irregular troops.  If you know your way around local swamps and other difficult terrain, they can give you a huge advantage.

If the birds take flight, he is lying in ambush; if the animals are in fear, he is preparing to attack.

The fundamentals of warfare are a lot like the fundamentals of hunting and many successful armies in the past maneuvered as if they were on a great hunt, especial Genghis Khan and his army.  Many of the best soldiers in an insurrection against a foreign enemy or tyrannical government have been lifetime hunters, whose knowledge of field craft is second nature.  If you are not a hunter now, consider learning how, and ask your hunting friends if you can go with them.

Chapter Ten: Ground Formation, also called Terrain

Ground is accessible, entrapping, stalemated, narrow, steep, and expansive.  If you can go through but the enemy cannot, it is called accessible.  For accessible ground, first take the high and the sunny side, and convenient supply routes.  You then do battle with the advantage. I f you can go through but difficult to go back, it is called entrapping.  For entrapping ground, if the enemy is unprepared, advance and defeat him.  If the enemy is prepared, and you advance and are not victorious, it will be difficult to go back; this is disadvantageous.  If it is not advantageous to advance or for the enemy to advance, it is called stalemated.  For stalemated ground, though the enemy offers you advantage, do not advance.  Withdraw. For narrow ground, we must occupy it first; be prepared and wait for the enemy.  If the enemy occupies it first, and is prepared, do not follow him.  If he is not prepared, follow him.  For steep ground, if you occupy it first, occupy the high on the sunny side and wait for the enemy. If the enemy occupies it first, withdraw; do not follow him.  For expansive ground, if the forces are equal, it will be difficult to do battle.  Doing battle will not be advantageous.

As you can see, you must always be evaluating the lay of the land, because your enemy will be doing so. Terrain sometimes changes based on the weather – what might be a perfectly good avenue of approach to attack the enemy on a warm summer day, might be a muddy bog after several days of rain in the early spring.  A wise general once told me, when our tanks were finding it difficult to advance through a wooded training area in Germany: “Never let the terrain beat you.”  If you look at most disastrous battles, the losing commander did not properly read the terrain and was caught on a battlefield disadvantageous to him.  General Robert E. Lee may not have realized that the mile long field on which the famous “Pickett’s Charge” would take place, was almost all uphill and that his men would be tired when they reached Union lines.  General George A. Custer, when he took five companies of the Seventh Cavalry on the right bank of the Little Bighorn did not see that the undulating terrain would allow the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne warriors to remain concealed until they advanced to within 200 yards of the cavalry, at which point the warriors’ repeating rifles had an advantage over the single shot Springfield 1873 carbines of the cavalrymen.

Chapter Eleven: Nine Grounds, also called the Nine Battlegrounds

This chapter, in my opinion, primarily deals with an offensive invasion into another country, which is not the situation you will be facing.  Having said that, there are several descriptions that have value so read the whole chapter as well as the others; here is one of them:

Therefore, those skilled in warfare are like the shuaijan.  The shuaijan is a serpent on Mount Chang.  If you strike its head, its tail attacks; if you strike its tail, its head attacks; if you strike its middle, both the head and tail attack.

You want to create in the mind of your enemy that you have the ability to attack from anywhere, no matter how the enemy deploys his army.  You are everywhere, but when the enemy looks for you, you are nowhere.  Create an aura of fear in your enemy by exploiting propaganda that your forces are like a deadly snake.

Chapter Twelve: Fire Attacks, also called Attacking with Fire

In Sun-Tzu’s day, setting fires was a combat multiplier to prevent the enemy from using certain terrain, destroying his supplies and causing the enemy to leave a particular area.

There are five kinds of fire attacks: one, burning personnel; two, burning provisions; three, burning equipment; four, burning stores; five, burning weapons. 

The problem is that once fires start, they are unpredictable.  But the thrust of his idea is correct, you simply cannot just attack enemy combat units, but have to also attack enemy supply dumps, maintenance facilities and other key logistical targets.

Chapter Thirteen: Using Spies, also called Intelligence and Espionage

Sun-Tzu was all about using the cerebral to defeat superior force, and nowhere is this more evident than his discussion of intelligence and espionage.

What enables the enlightened rulers and good generals to conquer the enemy at every move and achieve extraordinary success is foreknowledge.  Foreknowledge cannot be elicited from ghosts and spirits; it cannot be inferred from comparison of previous events, or from the calculations of the heavens, but must be obtained from people who have knowledge of the enemy’s situation.  There are five kinds of spies used: local spies, internal spies, double spies, dead spies, and living spies.  When all five are used, and no one knows their Way, it is called the divine organization, and is the ruler’s treasure.

For local spies, we use the enemy’s people.  For internal spies we use the enemy’s officials.  For double spies we use the enemy’s spies.  For dead spies we use agents to spread misinformation to the enemy.  For living spies, we use agents to return with reports.

Every other American out there can provide information on enemy intentions and capabilities.  Every enemy headquarters in the occupation is going to have Americans doing the jobs such as cleaning, and maybe even facility maintenance.  Those people know schedules; they know where enemy officers are billeted; they know who has a mistress and who has a gambling problem.  They are the key to leveraging and turning enemy individuals to provide information.  Wait staff in restaurants know who regular customers are and when they frequent the facility, which is key information for ambushes and targeted attacks.  You want to create the image in the mind of the enemy that there are millions of spying eyes on them from the moment they wake up each morning.


Red Dawn started out pretty demoralizing as I thought about the country being invaded and occupied.  Watching the resistance develop turned the movie around; they could have defeated the invaders a lot quicker if they had followed Sun-Tzu.  The Art of War is an excellent book and can help you develop strategies for a lot of challenges in life, not only if Russian troops are marching down Main Street!

Go to Top