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American COP Sept/Oct 2010 - Page 24

OFFICER SURvIvAL JOhN RUSSO GETTING hOME IN ThE SAME CONDITION YOU WENT TO WORK IN. fail-safe BaCk Up yoUr dUty rosCoe e recently conducted a department-wide weapon’s maintenance, sometimes called an armorer’s breakdown. The range staff completely disassembled, cleaned, inspected and re-assembled every officer’s duty handgun; a service that should be done every 1-3 years, depending on circumstances. This most-recent inspection revealed some interesting things. Most officers over-lube their firearms, using lubricant as a substitute for proper cleaning. Lubricant attracts dirt and dust. The point being — the point of this Benchmade pen gets the job done in a pinch. W When this combination of lube and debris gets into the hard-to-reach areas it can congeal over time. In critical areas like the firing pin channel it can get so gummy it will almost harden and prevent the gun from working. We saw this first-hand on several occasions when an officer’s first trigger press of the day resulted in a loud click. After a quick tap and rack, the gun would usually fire. When a gun sits in an officer’s holster unfired for several months and this gelatinous goo has formed, the first ham- mer strike will usually break the firing pin loose enough so subsequent hammer strikes should allow the gun to fire. But, I’ve seen some guns fail to fire at all, until all the gunk is cleaned out. Think of the pucker factor this can cause when you really need your gun to fire — the first time and every time. Clean your gun properly, lube it sparingly and have it serviced by an armorer on a regular basis. If your department doesn’t have a certified armorer on staff (shame on them if they don’t) then take it to a quality gunsmith. When It Breaks? A fter years of conducting police firearms qualifications and training, the range staff and I have seen numerous weapons fail to fire for a variety of reasons. Most of the time a quick tap and rack will get it running again. Sometimes there’s a catastrophic failure and it just ain’t gonna work without some major repairs. When this happens, the standing order is to tell the officer to transition to their backup gun and this is where it gets interesting. I wish every officer would carry a back up gun and train with it, but many cops aren’t gun people and don’t want to spend their money on a personal gun. As a sergeant I’ve been accused of being too nice or soft on officers, but this is one area where I don’t mince words. We took an oath to protect human life. One of the most serious ways you’ll ever do that is by using your firearm, and statistics show it will be your handgun. So when a life is on the line, your handgun fails and you don’t have a backup then someone may die — possibly you. How does your family feel about that? Ask your spouse and kids if it’s worth $400 to have you come home at the end of your shift. You have no problem spending your overtime money on toys, so why not put a little toward some life insurance? If you need some advice in this area ask around or keep your eyes open for my upcoming article on back up guns. Always remember with guns and flashlights; one is none, two is one. Possibilities are near endless when it comes to With great little guns like deep cover back-up gear. Tiny revolvers are by North American Arms; pens (top to bottom) the minis from North SureFire, TUFF Products, Benchmade; knives (L-R) American Arms, many gun Benchmade and Spyderco. Notice the consistency toters are carrying back in quality products — don’t skimp with your life. ups to their back ups. What, n case I didn’t make myself clear, you should always have a backup gun. But what else can you carry to use in a pinch? A folding or pocketknife is a good place to start and I’ll bet my favorite deer rifle virtually all cops carry some kind of knife at work and almost as many when off duty. There are plenty of knife companies with a dizzying array of sizes and styles from which to choose. The best part is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on one — unless you want to. If you manage to venture out into public without a gun or a knife, will you at least consider having something like a pen in your pocket? Maybe even a tactical pen? Many tactical pens are made from aircraft grade aluminum, have hardened tips and glass breaking points; they’re specifically designed to be your last line of defense and are more robust than that flimsy pen you swiped from the report room. I rotate through several back up guns, knives and tactical pens depending on where I’m going and what I’m wearing. I can never be accused of not being prepared. I care enough about my family, the public and myself to protect and serve — not just during regular business hours. What about you? I No GuN? * For more info: Glock,; SureFire,; Spyderco,; Benchmade, www.benchmade. com; TUFF Products, www.tuffproducts. com; NAA, 24 WWW.AMERICANCOPMAGAZINE.COM • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

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