D-Boys And Their Toys

So what’s the big deal? A 14.5″ with a red dot and a light? I have three of those in my safe right now, and a 13.7″, and a Recce Rifle with the latest peepeepoopoo LPVO. This rifle doesn’t even have an ambi controls or a BAD Lever!

PART ONE – A historical primer on the “CAR-15

Hey gang.

Today, I want to talk to you guys about a particular military M16 variant with an understated, yet pivotal role in the development of the modern infantry carbine as we know it today, over 30 years later. Hitting the scene in the late 1980’s was the Colt Model 723, otherwise known simply as the CAR-15 by the men who wielded them.

The Colt Model 723 is known today by several names. Commando, 723, SCUD Hunter, Delta Carbine, the list goes on. For consistency in today’s conversation, and attention to various idiosyncrasies, I will be referring to the 723 and related rifles as the “CAR-15”. I’ll probably use “rifle” and “carbine” interchangeably because the distinction is pedantic at best, fuck you.

I’ll do my best to keep this informative and concise but please bear with me, as I am not Mr. McCollum, nor anywhere near his caliber in matters such as these.

If you’re around my age or older, and you are reading this article, you’ve probably seen the films Black Hawk Down and Blood Diamond, or played Half Life, all of which introduced me to this particular family of carbines back in the day. This carbine can be mostly boiled down to three major features:

  • Fixed carry handle
  • Aimpoint optic
  • Weapon light

So what’s the big deal? A 14.5″ with a red dot and a light? I have three of those in my safe right now, and a 13.7″, and a Recce Rifle with the latest peepeepoopoo LPVO. This rifle doesn’t even have an ambi controls or a BAD Lever!

Yeah, I get it, just bear with me. The end result is incredibly similar to what we’d now consider a bog-standard M4, but that’s kinda the point.

Modelo Time

In the 1980’s, the most modern service rifle issued to the fighting men of the US military was the Colt and/or FN M16A2 rifle. This rifle featured a 20″ barrel, fixed carry handle rear with updated rear sight, featured semi and burst fire modes, and weighed a little over 8 lbs. The only accessory of note would be the basic two-point sling issued with the rifle.

In 1988, a 25-year old Larry Vickers checked in to the Operator Training Course, one of the newest members of 1st SFOD-D, or “Delta Force”. Vickers was issued a brand new Colt rifle, fresh in the cardboard box , with a cardboard dowel still in the barrel. It, too, had “M16A2″ rollmarked on the lower receiver, but it was… different. This model had a 14.5” barrel with an M203 cut, a two-position collapsing stock, and the old-style M16A1 carry handle. It also featured a safe-semi-auto selector, instead of the A2’s derided burst fire mode. The Colt catalogue referred to this configuration as the “Model 723”; the D-Boys called it “CAR-15”.

This compact M16 sibling was able to bring the majority of the M16’s firepower and accuracy into a smaller footprint, while still maintaining its reliability, something earlier M16-based carbines were not well-known for. The majority of US SOF at the time were using the H&K MP5 submachine gun for CQB/assaulter duties. While the MP5 has been a highly-effective and respected weapon since it was introduced, it is chambered in the 9×19 Parabellum handgun cartridge. This inherently limits its effective range and lethality in a modern conflict zone, where most of the bad guys are likely rolling with AKM variants, H&K G3s, FN FALs, and so on. The CAR-15 bridged the gap between the “musket” and the 9-mil subgun, and Delta was quick to embrace it.

As far as I am aware, the earliest high-profile use of the CAR-15 by Delta Operators was in 1989 during Operation Acid Gambit, in Panama. This mission resulted in the rescue of American intelligence asset Kurt Muse from the Cárcel Modelo prison in Panama City. Shortly after this, in the Desert Shield/Storm days, Delta would find themselves hunting Iraqi SCUD missiles behind enemy lines while carrying these same carbines.

Oddly enough, however the most iconic portrayal of this rifle doesn’t come from the Gulf War, Iraq, WMD hunting or counter-terrorist action.

The Five-Yard Line

On October 3rd, 1993, a humanitarian mission in Somalia punctuated with low-intensity conflict between Coalition forces and local militia members erupted into what is now known as “The Battle Of Mogadishu” to westerners, and “The Day Of The Rangers” to others. As part of the still-ongoing Somali Civil War, this battle featured the most intense close-quarters fighting seen by US Forces since the Vietnam War. The main US troops involved in the fight were the men of the 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st SFOD-D, and the 160th SOAR.

A one-hour snatch and grab turned into an extremely bloody day-long gunfight in the streets of Mogadishu. By the end of the day, 100 Americans had been wounded, 16 were killed in action, and one was taken as a prisoner. The violent firefight and heroic deeds of of the Rangers, Delta, and UN personnel were later documented in the novel Black Hawk Down by journalist Mark Bowden, which was famously adapted into a film of the same name in 2001 by director Ridley Scott.

Reality vs Film

The CAR-15 in actual Delta service at this time was less of a set-in-stone spec, and more of a proof of concept that grew over time. Minor differences have been seen from one issued CAR-15 to another. A good example is the fact that many of them came with standard Government-Profile barrels (with M203 cut) and some came with “pencil” profile barrels. Either of these configurations could be considered to be the same catalogue item, the Model 723. The 723 was considered an “M16A2 Carbine”, but it featured a transitional upper receiver setup between the A1 and A2 we now colloquially refer to as the “C7” upper, first made by Diemaco/Colt Canada. It’s basically an A1 upper with a brass deflector and forward assist.

The optics at the time would usually be either the Aimpoint models 2000 and 3000 which were, at the time, mainly considered “sporting” optics with 1″ tubes and 4 MOA dots. You’ll see a few different weapon light setups from the time. Of most note would be the conversion of the Underwater Kinetics model QXL Scuba Flashlight. These would be modified in-house by Delta armorers and commo dudes to be painted black, covered in black inner tubing, set up with remote switches and affixed to the plastic handguard by hose clamps.

On the other hand, the film armorers used components that were easier to acquire at the time to assemble several screen-ready rifles, but still captured the idea of the CAR-15 authentically. There are, however, a few major differences of note. The film rifles feature A2 uppers, as opposed to the period-correct C7; technically, they would be considered the Colt Model 727. Attached to the upper’s were carry handle Weaver mounts (I’m not sure the make) with Aimpoint Comp M2s. These rifles also featured barrel clamp-mounted Surefire 6P or 660 flashlights, which was the preferred white light after the time of the Modelo-style QXL Scuba Flashlight.

You may have also noticed that the rifles seen on-camera were slightly tweaked and re-used for the film Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio. A byproduct of both films sharing the same prop/armorer company, Bapty & Co, these rifles were wielded by the mercenaries seen in film, and for a brief scene at the films climax by Danny Archer. Does it ultimately make that much sense that a bunch of South African mercs in 1999 are rolling the same primary as literally Delta Force? Probably not, but it illustrates that they are well equipped and trained, and for characterization of the group, it fits well enough. It’s still a cool rifle, and it’s got a different paint scheme this time. It kinda makes me wish we got a rifle like this in Far Cry 2 instead of the fucked up not-quite-an-AR we did get.

Cyclical, Like The Terminator

On the initial glance, and even after some use, your impression of this rifle is probably going to be something like “it’s dated”, and “the red dot is really high up there” and you’d be right. However, consider the concepts that drive this build.

The M4 SOPMOD program in the 90’s and 2000’s was a direct evolution of this rifle due to its versatility and overall performance, but with a recognized need for more extensive accessory solutions. The most basic SOPMOD Block I rifles had flat top uppers with Aimpoints mounted lower to the gun to allow co-witnessing iron sights. They also featured the KAC RAS quad-railed handguard for easy accessory management for lights, lasers, and foregrips. The Block II rifles refined this package somewhat with updated optics, improved quad-rail, and other accessories, but the concept was still the same.

This M4 bears typical SOPMOD Block I accessories. Of note is the Aimpoint Comp M2.

Fast forward to now. Micro red dots on 1.93″ mounts with MLOK handguards are among the most popular setups in CQB-oriented rifles. The high mounted red dot allows for a more “heads-up” shooting stance, improving situational awareness and comfort. The slick MLOK handguards replacing quad-rails cut unneeded weight on the front end.

Wait… tall red dot, slick front ends? Haven’t we done this before?

Really makes you think. Turns out we had it mostly figured out 30 years ago. Not to say improvements haven’t been made in the past few decades (this setup would not be quite so nice under NODs as modern solutions) but it is extremely interesting to see these old setups be completely justifiable in the modern age, after going through so many iterations. If I was told right now I had to give up my currently issued patrol rifle, I would not feel any worse off with my CAR-15. It is extremely rare for a “historic” design to also qualify as a practical one.

If you aren’t used to this “heads up” style, it’s gonna feel a little alien learning it on the CAR-15. The FiberLite style stock is very thin, so your cheek/chin weld is gonna have less engagement than say, an LMT SOPMOD stock. Rep it through a bit, and you’ll be back to blastin’ in no time. While you’re rolling this build, I think you’re gonna be surprised at the lightweight nature of this gun. Turns out the AR can be really fuckin’ light, we just need to stop throwing so much shit on them. Or do more pushups, whatever.

To be clear, I’m not advocating that you drop whatever your current primary is and commit to the bit of the CAR-15. I simply suggest that you might be surprised how much a “dated” build like this can hold its own in the current year. At the end of the day, fun things are fun. LARP your heart out.

My CAR-15. Build guide coming very soon.

There are many reasons I decided to do this build, and eventually this article. It’s a cool rifle. It’s an effective and simple rifle. It’s a peek into “how dad did it”. With all that being said, it’s important to remember the men responsible for getting this wheel rolling to begin with.

In the words of Larry Vickers:

SOF in general has been a catalyst for improving and reinventing things that were set in stone. SOF legend Major Richard Meadows, the man I consider to be the first Delta Operator, was involved with not only MACV SOG but was a team leader on the Son Tay Prison Raid, arguably one of the most influential SOF missions in history. Delta Force grew from that kind of outside-the-box thinking.

It was the Son Tay Raiders who first fielded a red dot sighted weapon system, and it was Delta who picked up the ball with Aimpoint sighted CAR-15s. Every Soldier, Sailor, Marine and Citizen who uses a tricked out M4 style carbine today owes a debt of gratitude to individuals like Major Meadows, the Son Tay raiders and the Operators of the Delta Force for pushing the limits of the AR style carbine into one the most successful fighting weapons in the history of the US Military.

Larry Vickers, 2013

The CAR-15 is ultimately a product of its time, driven and further developed by the men who wielded it, and the world they operated in. This rifle exemplifies the “get shit done” attitude of the guys who have been there and done that and wanted to do it even better. The knowledge today we take for granted when we build out any AR was gained only through experience, and often paid in blood.

Gothic Serpent was just one footnote on the military history of the United States, and the lessons learned in Somalia, Panama, and earlier in Grenada, Iran, and Vietnam, defined the dawn and growth of what’s now considered standard in special forces operations, and the use of the fighting rifle in general across the globe.

Take a moment to reflect on that knowledge, and know that at the end of the day, the ingenuity and experiences of a few hundred real people is what brought us here. I feel that this rifle is a fitting tribute to those men.

Delta Operator escorting General Norman Schwarzkopf as part of his PSD Team.

This article grew into something far larger than I initially intended, but it’s gonna be a good thing when it’s all shaken out. You can look forward to my build guide coming soon in Part 2.

Thank you all very much for reading, stay safe, and listen to Calliope Mori’s new album Sinderella on Spotify.


Further Reading;
Larry Vickers – The SCUD Hunter Carbine
Larry’s Delta CAR-15
Forgotten Weapons Ft. Larry Vickers Delta Force Colt 723 Carbine

Vode An: A Republic Commando Retrospective

2005 – I remember I was at my grandma’s house after school watching some afternoon cartoons when a commercial came on. It started with a LucasArts flash, and I was an avid Star Wars fan, so my attention was immediate. Revenge Of The Sith was due out soon, and I clung to anything I could get.

What I saw was Star Wars, but not in a way I had ever seen before: intense first-person helmet-cam combat in ambushes interspersed with the heavy breathing of a stressed Commando. I knew this was something different, something I’d never seen before.

2005 – I remember I was at my grandma’s house after school watching some afternoon cartoons when a commercial came on. It started with a LucasArts flash, and I was an avid Star Wars fan, so my attention was immediate. Revenge Of The Sith was due out soon, and I clung to anything I could get.

What I saw was Star Wars, but not in a way I had ever seen before. I distinctly remember the ad campaigns for this game showing a sense of tension and even fear I had never seen from any media from the franchise: intense first-person helmet-cam combat in ambushes interspersed with the heavy breathing of a stressed Commando. I knew this was something different, something I’d never seen before.

The Boys

Delta Squad in the team room

Released in March of 2005 for the XBOX and Windows, Star Wars: Republic Commando is a “tactical” FPS set in the Star Wars universe during the time frame of the Clone Wars. I’m not going to dive too deep into the narrative, but lets take a look as to what makes this title tick.

As soon as you launch the game, you are greeted by your boys, Delta Squad, backed by the vocals of a Mandalorian choir. The game spends a few minutes getting you up to speed. The basics: you are a Clone Commando in the Grand Army Of The Republic, designation RC-1138 or “Boss,” and leader of Delta Squad which is made up of three additional commandos.

  • RC-1140 “Fixer”
    Fixer is the teams technician and slicing expert. He is described as “pure and uncomplicated” soldier, and Four-Oh is a “by-the-books” type of Commando that will recite policy and SOPs verbatim. His favorite weapon is the wrist gauntlet vibroblade. Badass.
  • RC-1262 “Scorch”
    Scorch is the “class clown” but he’s got it where it counts. Six-Two is the demolitions and heavy weapons expert of the squad, and is always the first for a clever quip or to volunteer for a bit of “radical restructuring.” His favorite weapon is the anti-armor launcher. Enemy go boom.
  • RC-1207 “Sev”
    Sev is described as a “fierce hunter” and it’s clear from first glance he is not only very capable, but very enthusiastic about his work. The crimson smears of paint on his armor, combined with his passion for his work, have brought forth a very important question: is it real blood or not? Oh-Seven’s favorite weapon is the sniper rifle.

    Each Delta’s personality is unique and distinct from the get-go. Boss is voiced by Temuera Morrison himself, who played the role of Jango Fett and the Clone Troopers in the films, which adds a hefty amount of authenticity to the character and the experience overall. The squad’s interaction amongst themselves really does feel like that of professionals who have lived and worked together for a considerable amount of time – in this case, for their whole lives. The dialogue almost never feels contrived, or out of place.

Buckets On; Hearts Gone

Grab your buy’ce

Your first duty as Delta Lead will be partaking in a covert op in the backdrop of the Battle Of Geonosis to assassinate a Geonosian HVT. Each Delta has been inserted via separate methods as a failsafe, to ensure the whole squad doesn’t all go down in one gunship.

As you make your way through the the frontline trenches, you’ll become acquainted with your basic equipment and controls. This game handles more or less like any standard FPS of the time; it’s simple to pick up and run with. The Heads-Up-Display within the helmet of your Katarn armor will give you information as to your health and shield status, objective location, and squad status. Weapon status is indicated by readouts on the weapons themselves. Nearly every piece of info the game will give you is in a diegetic manner that Boss himself is seeing. Encountering your first enemies will get you torching off some blaster bolts with your Blas-Tech DC-17m Interchangeable Weapon System, or “Deece.” As the name implies, the Deece is modular, and with quick component swaps will perform as your workhorse assault rifle, precision sniper system, and light anti-armor launcher all in one package. Especially of note – When’s the last time you can remember using iron sights in a Star Wars game?

DC-17m IWCS in action on Geonosis

You are also issued a DC-15s Sidearm Blaster, which is fairly plain as far as handguns go. Accurate and packing a fair amount of punch, it has a recharging system which ensures you’ll never be caught without ammo for a fight. It can fire eight shots in rapid succession before needing to recharge, so I always imagined this to be analogous to iconic Delta Force 1911s, or the MEUSOC 1911 employed by the Marine Corps; whether that was intentional or not, who knows.

You can also pick up various small arms from fallen enemies throughout your missions: these include a Wookie rocket launcher, Trandoshan shotgun, and even a belt-fed MG. The arsenal is rounded out by a few different grenades, including the classic Thermal Detonator, flashbangs, and an EMP grenade which stops clankers in their tracks. Throughout your tour, you’ll be going toe-to-toe with various TradeFed battle droids, as well as Trandoshan slaver and mercenary chakaar. If you want to live to operate another day, it’d be good to become familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of your available equipment.

DC-15s Sidearm Blaster. Two Galactic Wars?

Working your way into your target location, you’ll pick up your squadmates one by one. Here is where you’ll begin to realize that the most effective weapon at your disposal is not the Deece in your hands, but your team. You are able to give your squad simple commands, such as taking up a sniping position, setting up a demo, slicing a terminal, or aiding a fallen brother in need. You can also decide the general manner in which they behave, with the “search and destroy” command prompting them to be aggressive and semi-independent of your direct command, or having them form up while you take point and call the shots.

The Deltas are able to think for themselves. They’ll seek cover as appropriate, use available healing stations if needed, or utilize grenades and the various Deece attachments. I’ll notice that if I’m performing a task, such as setting up a demo shot, the squad wont simply stand and watch me work. They will spread out, watching different sectors from positions of cover.

Each Delta has a particular skill or equipment they “specialize” in, but this does not translate to any difference in gameplay: each brother is just as proficient in each skill as the next. It would be nice if there was a perk to using each Commando to fill specific tasks, such as Sev having more accuracy or a higher fire rate when in a sniping position, or Scorch having a reduced time to set up a demo or recover an enemy mine. I believe this may have been omitted in order to keep the decision making more fluid and on-the-fly, rather than getting bogged down while in a firefight. This is a “tactical” shooter, but it isn’t Star Wars: Raven Shield. Maybe it could be compared to the simpler Rainbow 6: Vegas games in terms of that side of the gameplay.

Much of the campaign is designed around the effective use of your squad – you simply cannot play this game like Three-Eight is a one-clone army. Your energy shields and guns will get you far, but at the end of the day, there is a reason there’s four of you. The very best and most engrossing parts of the campaign are when you are setting up an ambush or a counter-assault with the resources you have around you. Is there a place you can set up a proximity mine and lure your enemies through it? Maybe there’s an E-Web emplacement nearby, but you need to demo some rubble to get a clear line of sight. The tactical gameplay keeps you on your toes, and keeps you re-assessing what resources and positions of advantage you can exploit. I can tell you that even with all the advantages you can muster, taking down a Droideka dispenser under withering fire is going to be a huge pain in the shebs.

Setting up firing positions in a Slaver Camp takedown.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Republic Commando will have you participating in several diverse AOs. From the red-sand canyons of Genosis, to a VBSS mission on a derelict Acclamator-class Republic Assault ship, and finally the jungles of Kashyyyk, from the depths of the Shadowlands all the way up in the Wookie villages high up in the Wroshyr trees; each environment is well-detailed, and varied in appearance. There are stark stylistic differences even in similar locales, like Trade Federation and Republic starships. None of the levels got too repetitive to me before I found myself in a new one.

Slaver patrol camp in the Shadowlands of Kashyyyk.

Sound design is very authentic to Star Wars, and uses familiar effects that will make you feel at home in the overall universe. Also present is a mix of John Williams’ score for both the original trilogy as well as the prequel films, and original tracks made just for Republic Commando – both intermix seamlessly. The original tracks make frequent use of male choir singing in the Mando’a language, intense percussion and brass elements, as well as a goddamn didgeridoo. This is in keeping with the presentation of Mandalorians being based on New Zealand and Maori cultures, thanks to Temuera Morrison being the template for them. Give it a listen in the link below.

Graphically, the game is very competent. The team managed to strike a balance between military grit, typical Star Wars presentation, with a mix of almost cartoonish stylization, and manage to pull it off with great success. You’ll see some absolutely massive Wookies defending their homes, and face off with the intimidating profile of the B2 Super Battle Droid.

As the game was a 2005 XBOX title ported to PC, the standard graphics suite is dated and native widescreen isn’t supported out of the box. There are easily-installed mods to remedy this and enhance the visual acuity of the game somewhat. An updated port of the game has been released for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch as well.

A More Civilized Time

Bugs have a tendency to get their blood on your visor. Frankly, it’s inconsiderate.

At the time, Republic Commando occupied a very unique space in Star Wars media, and it does so even to this day. This is even more surprising considering this is a first-party LucasArts project, rather than a licensed title. Around the early/mid-2000’s, Star Wars games and books detached from the main films were incredibly popular: of particular note would be the Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic and Star Wars: Battlefront series, releasing their first entries in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

Republic Commando is notable in the fact that you won’t see a single Jedi or Sith throughout the campaign; this is pure, ground-pounding SOF action in some of the hottest sectors in the galaxy. Seems like it was a long time coming for a franchise with “Wars” literally being the operative word of the title.

Reminds me of a saying someone once said about keeping a good blaster at your side.

E-Web emplacement in action.

Coming back to Republic Commando after having a bit of my own experience in our own world, living and learning, I feel I’ve been able to appreciate certain bits about the game more. You can see where the use of a military advisor payed off. It is interesting to see life-like tactics applied to the Star Wars setting played totally straight. Maneuvers are purposeful and appropriate. I take particular notice of the assaulters moving to points of domination after a successful door breach, similarly to how I’ve trained and executed many times. This has been a staple of CQB tactics in every worthwhile professional body that has partaken in close combat for decades at this point.

For clarity, I’m not a Sep-slotting space commando or combat veteran – I’m not even a part of a “tactical” team. However, I do work with a handful of guys that I have been through some pretty good scrapes with, and I trust my actual fuckin’ life with them: It’s pretty hard to do a two-man building clearance in the middle of nowhere if you don’t absolutely have faith in your partner. You get that same sense of brotherly love from Delta’s interactions with each other, from complimenting someone on a well placed shot, or ribbing them for taking too long to slice a terminal. When I was younger, I thought it was just some decent writing; I know now that this is an example of exemplary character realization, and this an extremely hard kind of relationship to portray in media if you haven’t lived it. This is no small feat for a movie tie-in FPS from the mid 00’s, and it’s something I’ve grown to appreciate greatly.

If you’d like to play Republic Commando, you can pick it up for about $10 on Steam, or track down a PS4 or Switch copy. The game is a little short at about 6 hours, but there’s no feeling of slack or filler in that time frame, and is well worth the cash in my opinion. If you’d like to read the novels, the first entry, Hard Contact is listed on Amazon for Kindle at $4, and paperback at $15.

Vode An,” a Mando’a phrase meaning “Brothers All.”

Alright, ner’vod, I’ve rambled enough about my favorite band of Space-SAS for one day. Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope it piqued some interest in a neat slice of Star Wars media.

Stay dangerous, ret’urcye mhi.


Zoomer Fudd, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Glock

I imagine where I’d be today if in 2016 I would’ve just bought a fucking G19. It’s cool to have fun and cool guns. I love my 1911, my Makarov, and even my S&W Model 64 revolver. Just try not to get caught up in your own meme. At the end of the day, irrefutably, fun things are fun.


Seems like it was a really long time ago.

I was sworn in as a Reserve Officer in a very small town in the PNW on July 8th. This was the day after an active shooter in Dallas, Texas shot fourteen Dallas PD officers, killing five, before being BTFO’d by a resourceful Dallas PD Bomb Tech and half an M112 brick. This doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the article, but I feel that it is an important detail in how I perceived the very start of my career.

Jumping back a bit, I had been working at a local FFL/indoor gun range for a couple years, with a friend, Doc, who was already a reserve officer at this same agency. I was in school for a Criminal Justice degree (lol) and the FFL job left me decent amount of time to study, but also work in a field I had already long considered a hobby since I had been a teenager.

This led to me being exposed to just about every type of commercially available firearm out there. Prior to being employed there, the only handguns in my possession were a Rock Island Armory 1911 and a Bulgarian Makarov. Both of these were gifts, as I was only about 20 years old. A week or two before landing the FFL gig, Doc sold me a S&W M&P9 privately for a really good deal. I asked him why he was getting rid of it and he told me he had just bought a Glock 17.

I started carrying the M&P at work, and shot it whenever I got the chance. I liked that Doc had already installed an Apex flat-faced trigger, as I was already a big 1911 fan. I was never very confident in my M&P as time went on, and I felt like I had a higher-than-acceptable rate of light primer strikes. This ended up unfairly coloring how I viewed striker guns for a longer-than-acceptable period of time. A single sample: a well used, modified M&P.

Not too long after, on my 21st birthday, I bought myself an Israeli police surplus Jericho 941F. I had just watched all of Cowboy Bebop for the first time, and I was ecstatic to have a blaster close to the one Spike carried.

As time went on, I carried and shot the M&P less and less. I also ended up buying a Springfield Milspec 1911 to replace my RIA, and sold off my M&P not too long after, as I viewed it as untrustworthy. My main rotation was my new 1911 and my Jericho. These I viewed as “good” and “based”, unlike the M&P which I thought was “lame” and “cringe”. Thus began my true fudd arc.

At some point, Doc introduced me to the Chief of his agency, who I’ll simply refer to as “Chief”. I was encouraged to apply, so I did. After a testing and interview process, not terribly long later I was offered the position of Reserve Police Officer. I would say I was “hired” but in most places, Reserve Officers are entirely volunteer.

Chief sat me down and told me how the start of the process would go, when I would attend a regional reserve academy, provided me with policy material, and so-on. Eventually the conversation turned to equipment. It was up to me to provide my own firearm. Chief saw I was a “gun guy”, and informed me the choice was mine as long as the gun was from a reputable manufacturer, and retention holsters were readily available for it…

Which was just enough rope for me to strangle myself with.

I knew that I liked the single-action trigger that the 1911 provided, and I didn’t mind the cock-and-lock carry method. I did not like the idea of having 8-round magazines in a duty gun. The choice was obvious.

Hi-Power, Hi-Class, Hi-Drag

Browning Hi-Power MkIII

Yeah, this isn’t a joke. In the year 2016 of our Lord, my first service pistol was a fucking Browning Hi-Power. I had clearly taken the 90’s FBI HRT and SAS videos to heart. I even asked Larry Vickers in a livestream he did if it was a good idea and he said “It doesn’t do anything a Glock can’t do.”

Let’s go over the BHP a bit.

Pretty simply, you can think of the BHP essentially as an “improved” 1911 design. It’s a single-action-only setup with a frame mounted safety, just like any 1911. The BHP does not use a 1911 trigger, however, and this is an important distinction. Rather than the flat-moving trigger iconic to the 1911 with a roughly 5lb. pull, it has a more traditional hinge-type trigger, with about an 8lb. pull. The trigger has a gritty feel to it due to the presence of a magazine safety. The BHP also has a much more modern and painless takedown process, doing away with the fiddling about with bushings and barrel links. The slide and barrel fitment feels smooth and glassy.

The standard magazine capacity is 13 rounds, but Mec-Gar makes 15-round magazines for it that don’t really drop free, since they omit the springy bit on the genuine magazines which throws them out so hard its like they never wanted to be there in the first place – then again, maybe they didn’t. A full-size steel gun with 13-round mags is basically like polishing the brass on the Titanic. Looks real nice, but how much use is it?

Issues arose immediately that I willfully ignored. Right out the gate, this gun cost me $1100. Yeah. That was before adding Trijicon HD tritium sights since there’s no way to mount a weapon light. At this time, for some reason, I was super fucked-up about the concept of a weapon light and using said light in a manner that may be unsafe due to it being attached to a firearm. Naturally, since I was so smart and all, instead of actually seeking out knowledge and training, I made the decision to deprive myself of the option altogether.

The Mec-Gar 15-round magazines had a tendency to not lock the slide open on the last round, so much so that the Range Officer at my initial quals asked me if my gun “was okay”.

The MkIII version of the Hi-Power has a painted-on black finish on the slide and frame, and a stainless steel barrel. On one of my first nights on patrol, I remember looking for a fleeing suspect in a heavy rain. I had forgotten my Gore-Tex at home (rookie mistake) and was thoroughly soaked. When I got home, I stripped my gear and didn’t think much of it. The next morning, my BHP’s barrel was absolutely dusted in rust. To this day I can point out imperfections from this one lax maintenance moment.

Browning Hi-Power Mk III

  • PROS
    1. It’s a 9-mil
    2. Reliable
    3. Very well manufactured
  • CONS
    1. Weight
    2. Capacity
    3. Magazine Disconnect safety (also affects trigger)
    4. No way to mount accessories such as WML
    5. Stainless is not a good option for certain climates

I moved on from the BHP maybe six months later. I saw the value in being able to mount a light, and realized the trigger was not good enough to excuse any of its other shortcomings. Let’s see what’s behind Door #2.

Guns Of The Patriots

Springfield MC Operator (Non-I.D. Tagged)

You ever play Metal Gear Solid 4?

I fully regressed and went back to the 1911, but realized I needed one with modern features and the Springfield MC Operator fit that bill for me. The Operator ships with Trijicon HD sights, and distinctly was the first 1911 design I came across that featured a railed dust cover back in the day: Now THIS was a gun. I also got myself a Surefire X300 and a grip of Wilson Combat 87D magazines for it. I remember I had a triple mag pouch on my duty belt and a double mag pouch on my vest, for a total of six magazines with the one riding in the gun. This totals to a whopping 49 total rounds carried. But hey, the 230-grain Winchester Ranger T .45ACP expanded to 1″ in ballistic gel! What choice did I have, really? I don’t wanna mention how many guns I traded in just to afford this one.

At this point, I was the only person in my academy class not carrying a Glock or M&P; I also ended up winning the Top Shooter award for that year, which further cemented me in this ego buy. I did shoot this gun very well, but so does anyone who shoots a 1911. What this gun did is hide my lack in practical shooting skill by way of throwing money at the problem. I carried this for most of my remaining time at that agency. Guys from other agencies would see me on calls, and I can remember them pointing out and saying stuff like “Dude, he’s carrying a 1911” and that made me feel like a cool guy. Sheeeeeesh.

Springfield is my go-to for anything 1911, as I’m not in the realm of buying “custom-shop” pistols. The Operators have hand-fit slides to barrels and frames, which is a good value add considering these guns hover around the $1000 mark. The triggers are as good as you’d expect, and the guns are very accurate. I had some initial reliability hiccups in the first 200 or so rounds, but after that it was mostly smooth sailing, even with a regular diet of Federal or Winchester JHPs.

I never fired this gun “in harms way”, but it instilled a confidence in me. It was nice at the time, but moving on I realized that’s not how the weapon/wielder relationship is supposed to work.

This gun also made me VERY familiar with its inner workings, as maintenance with any regularly-run duty or competition 1911 is a constant. This doesn’t just mean keeping it clean and lubed, this means checking and replacing several different springs, extractors, etc. I simply cannot recommend a 1911 as a patrol officer/deputy’s sidearm due to this reason alone.

The much more egregious reason is the limited capacity. 8 rounds is not enough, and it cannot be argued against in good faith. I’ve heard the 1911 described as a “Two bad-guy gun in a three bad-guy world.”

Running a 1911 will get you pretty good at mandatory reloads, though.

Springfield MC Operator 1911

  • PROS
    1. 1911 Trigger/”Buying Accuracy”
    2. 1913 Rail
    3. .45 ACP
  • CONS
    1. Weight
    2. Capacity
    3. High-demand maintenance cycle
    4. Stainless, again
    5. .45 ACP

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this is still one of my favorite guns, and even moreso if I didn’t mention this is still in my off-duty rotation. It’s a very nice-shooting gun, and the slim profile means I can carry it IWB very comfortably. Still, I eventually realized I needed to make a change. Carrying five spare mags and field stripping my gun after every shift got super fucking old. I’m not gonna get into another decades-old internet argument but .45 ACP and 9×19 are about as good as getting dudes to buy the 6×3 farm as any other service pistol caliber (Yeah, even .40 S&W) so it makes sense to run the one that holds more ammo and shoots softer.

Third gun just might be the charm.

James Reeves Moment

Glock 19 Gen 4

Fucking finally.

I remember the day I got this gun in my hands. I felt like I had committed some great sin. This was one of the “FS” models that came with metal iron sights and slide serrations on the front end of the slide. I distinctly remember shooting this gun low-left for a good bit, and I could not figure out why. I had been carrying a gun for a few years at this point, and I was shooting low and left with a Glock 19 at fifteen yards.

What was my excuse? I didn’t have one. I let my 1911 carry me through my bad habits with its super short traveling trigger. The G19 made me take a step back and really re-assess where I thought I was in development of my handgun skills. No gimmicks, no steel frames, no slick trigger to carry me.

I started forcing myself to carry this off-duty before it became my duty gun, but it was easily scalable for both uses. I sorted mine with a set of Haley Strategic TH1RTE3N sights, a MagPul magwell, and the X300 I bought with my Operator.

Managing this gun was a breeze. 15 rounds of 9×19 in a standard capacity mag, with 19-round mags in reserve was a game-changer compared to what I had been doing. In three magazines I carried 54 rounds, more than I carried in twice as many 1911 magazines. 147gr. JHP was very pleasantly recoiling and easy to manage, and ball ammo was cheaper to buy to make sure I could keep practicing. This was essential to my growth with this gun. I ended up taking refresher private instruction, and re-committing to range time. The Glock, practically, is no less accurate than your 1911, it just doesn’t let you cheat.

All of these benefits over my past guns and you’d think there’d be a trade-off; some kind of “equalizer” that brought the sum of its parts in line with the other guns. This simply isn’t the case. This gun can do all of this, all while running for literally thousands of rounds without a cleaning or re-application of lubricant. As Todoki Hawado likes to put it, “It just works, desu ne.” Even when it does need a cleaning or a parts swap, it’s unlikely it will be more than a five minute affair. This is what you should expect out of any gun you select for a duty role.

Oh yeah, and this gun cost me $550.

It is literally insane to me to think that instead of buying a Glock 19 in 2016, I went through about $2500 in suboptimal guns due to my ego and willful ignorance rather than just give the “boring, soulless” Glock a fair shake. I let a bad experience with one gun color my view for years. I shittalked Glock dudes for ages from behind the FFL counter. Would you believe I even shoot Glocks for fun now? Holy shit.

What else is there to be said? As of now, Glocks (particularly in 9×19) still absolutely dominate the handgun market in the civilian and LE spheres. I can’t think of any other family of pistols that has even half of the aftermarket support, and economy of scale benefits as the 9mm Glock does. You will never go to a gun store and not see Glock magazines, holsters, and other gear. There are entire companies who purely make their living by selling aftermarket Glock mods.

Glock 19/17/34/19x/45

  • PROS
    1. Capacity (15 rounds being the lowest)
    2. Weight
    3. Absolute reliability
    4. Market share / components and accessory availability
    5. User-level customization
    6. Value
  • CONS
    1. MuH gRiP aNgLe shut the fuck up

Touch Grass, Go Shoot

This was a bit of a mess, as it’s literally the first time I’ve ever written anything with the intention of it to actually be read by others. The root point of this article is to dump your ego and emotional attachment when it comes to running your guns. I’m not saying you HAVE to run a 9-mil Glock for duty/defense, but if you haven’t at least taken a hard look at it, you are only limiting yourself. There are great duty gun options from other companies like H&K, Sig-Sauer, and Smith & Wesson. I guess you could even carry a CZ or a Walther, but I’d keep that to yourself.

I found myself caught up in the over-analyzing of everything from behind the counter without much in the way of actual experience. I find many internet folk tend to have a similar issue depending on their tenure as a shooter. I imagine where I’d be today if in 2016 I would’ve just bought a fucking G19.

It’s cool to have fun and cool guns. I love my 1911, my Makarov, and even my S&W Model 64 revolver. Just try not to get caught up in your own meme. At the end of the day, irrefutably, fun things are fun.

It’s worth mentioning that a few years ago when I got hired on at a new agency as a full-time LEO, I was issued a stock G17 Gen 4 with TLR-1, and this simple setup has been my main workhorse ever since. My off-duty Glock is a G45 with slidework from Jagerwerks to mount a Trijicon RMR. In the future, I hope to be able to implement pistol optics for my guys at an agency level, but that’s a topic for another day.

Thanks for your time guys, stay dangerous.

(Misato is best girl.)


Believe it or not, even Glocks can be fun.