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The Gunfighter’s Guide: Lessons Learned the Hard Way- Part 3, by The Grumpy Gunfighter

This article is a compilation of lessons I have learned, either from real world events or through lessons taught to me by the men and women I served with. Their advice has saved my life on a few occasions, and perhaps this gunfighter’s guide, also developed from lessons learned the hard way, may do the same for you one day.

In part 1, I covered three main topics– cars and guns, the scorpion vs. box jellyfish philosophies, and close quarters battle takeaways. Today we will move into fighting in larger spaces, specifically the backwoods and move onto other topics also. Then, in part 2, the topics included backwoods fighting, dealing with intense stress, practicing like you play, and continuing the fight as long as you are able to move.

Now, it is time to move into some equipment details. Let’s take a look at our kit next.

Customize Your “Kit” or “Loadout”

Be Thoughtful

Ounces add up to pounds, and pounds equal pain. So, everything you wear and carry with you should have a thoughtful, specific purpose.

The gear I carry is dependent on the mission that I am preparing for. For example, in my car I carry enough equipment and supplies for 72 hours, because I know that is how long it will take me to make it home if I had to walk home from my place of employment.

My kit changes if I am preparing for a day scouting excursion. I place less emphasis on food and shelter supplies and more emphasis on bullets and trauma equipment.

The Basics

We can debate the pros and cons of specific gear all day long, but at the end of the day the basics of all my kits/loadouts include:

Consistent Set Up For Access When Adrenaline Flowing

I set up my belt and plate carrier to allow me to draw my equipment with the hand that would likely need to access it. For example, I am left handed and so my handgun is always on my left side, but my magazines will always stay on my right because my right hand will primarily be used to feed magazines into my gun. Consistently setting up your kit in the same fashion allows you to unconsciously access equipment when the adrenaline is flowing.

Quick access to your trauma gear is extremely important. During a fire fight you will likely be the one applying aid to yourself initially. This self sufficiency allows your team to continue focusing on eliminating the threat while you can get to safety and work on stopping your blood flow.

The Caliber Conundrum

“The shooter who can accurately hit their target first lives, regardless of caliber.” – Former Range Master

Some Caliber Lessons

The argument on which gun and in which caliber is best for what situation will likely always be debated. However, here are some caliber lessons that have stayed with me.

The .22 Caliber, Killed More

The .22 caliber isn’t incredibly reliable due to misfires and jamming in semi-automatics, but despite that it has indisputably killed more people around the globe than any other caliber. Therefore, it is important to not underestimate this round.

The 9 Millimeter, Common, Inexpensive, and Accurate at Distances

The 9 millimeter is common, inexpensive, and can kill at distances farther than you can accurately shoot it. New brands have made this round shoot farther and faster than it originally could, making it great for close quarters engagements. Agencies like the FBI have transitioned back to 9mm from the .40, because they can carry more ammunition and have greater accuracy on follow up shots.

Best Gun For a Gunfight

Ultimately, the gun that you can shoot the fastest and most accurately is most likely the best gun to have in a gunfight. For example, I would rather have a $500 gun that I have put 10,000 rounds through rather than a $3000 larger caliber gun that I have only put 100 rounds through. This is because I know I am going to be more comfortable and more proficient with a gun that I have spent more time training with.

Whichever caliber you choose, make sure that you can train with it consistently. Get to know its quarks, how it functions, and what brand of ammunition that works best in it. Additionally, get to know the distances you feel you can comfortably and accurately hit your target.

Misfires, Mishaps and Mistakes:

The last thing you want is for your gun not to fire when you need it to. Although this isn’t extremely common in high quality firearms, it can and does happen to the best of them.

Tap and Rack

For any semi automatic firearm that uses a detachable box magazine, you can use the “Tap and Rack” method to clear the vast majority of malfunctions.

“Tap and Rack” is a simple two step process. First, slam your support hand into the magazine to ensure that it is properly seated into the firearm. Next, rack back the slide or charging handle while turning the ejection port down towards the ground. This allows misfire or jammed casing to fall out of the firearm so that a fresh casing can be picked up by the bolt carrier and enter the bore. When done correctly this process will clear the vast majority of misfires in under a second and a half.

You can practice this process while on the range by having a partner put a spent casing randomly in your stacked magazine. The spent casing will simulate a misfire. Then, a simple “Tap & Rack” will easily clear the firearm.


The majority of malfunctions I have seen in handguns is due to “Limp Wristing”. In rifles, it has most often been due to a lack of lubricant.

AR Rifle Lubrication

AR pattern rifles are notorious for needing gun oil to run properly, so be sure to keep a small bottle with you. Then, focus your lubrication on the bolt assembly and barrel, as these see the most movement during the firing process.

Limp Wristing

Limp wristing is a process where the shooter allows the recoil of a handgun to rock their wrists back towards their body, instead of keeping their wrists firm and level while firing.

One freezing January night on the range early in my police career, I was guilty of limp wristing, and it caused one of the most reliable handguns in the world to jam nearly every shot. After I learned to keep my wrists firm, I found that my handgun was in fact reliable. It was just a combination of cold, fatigue, and operator error that had caused my malfunctions.

This example is just another reason to train in a variety of conditions, because earlier in the day I had been shooting just fine. Earlier, I was less tired, and it was less cold. If I hadn’t practiced under these trying conditions, I would never have realized that I may cause my firearm to malfunction in this manner.

Mistakes Made In Training Save Life in Field

Mistakes made in training have saved my life in the field. We were in a diamond formation making our way through the wide hallways of a high school when we started to take fire from our left down a long hallway. I left my position in the formation in an effort to get a better firing position on the hallway shooter. I posted up on the far wall on the other side of the hallway and immediately fell into an ambush, taking multiple clay and paint rounds to my legs, chest, and back of the head. I was hurt and embarrassed but had learned my lesson. Had I moved with my team, we could have had cover to watch my back as we dealt with the hallway shooter. Never once in my career did I break formation again, because this embarrassing training accident had been forever seared into my memory. I can’t stress high stress scenario drills enough.


This article is simply a collection of my personal lessons learned that have helped keep my alive in some difficult situations. I hope that you never encounter a situation where you need to use deadly force. However, if you do, perhaps some of these lessons will be useful to you. Until next time my friends, keep your trust in God and keep your powder dry.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest [16]. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

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  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper [20]. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees [21] in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product [22] from Sunflower Ammo,
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Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
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Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of [26] Directive 21 (a $275 value),
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Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail [30] us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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Comments Disabled To "The Gunfighter’s Guide: Lessons Learned the Hard Way- Part 3, by The Grumpy Gunfighter"

#1 Comment By East-North-East in Cataldo On August 18, 2018 @ 1:42 pm

On my last TDY into Afghanistan in 2012, I took a small vial of Tungstendisulphide powder, chemical name WS2, to try as a dry lubricant for the mil connectors on our C4i radio equipment. A USMC Gunny and I was eating lunch at a DFAC at a FOB and started talking about firearms. I mentioned to him that NASA uses WS2 as the lubricant for the MARS rovers, and that I had started lubing my AR15/Sig/Browning HP, motorcycle, and so forth with it with GREAT success.

I described to him how I use a Q-tip to burnish the blackish/grey powder on the bolt carrier group parts, and any place that has sliding friction. He asked me if I would leave what I brought with him.

Degrease the surface, burnish with the WS2, and then re-lube with whatever you normally use if you must for rust protection. But try dry first 😉 My chainsaws were burnished and the bars run cooler. There are many other applications besides weapons lube: vehicular, my French Horn valves! and so forth. (it wont come out of the tuxedo….)

One excellent source of the powder and spray format (nasty solvents but necessary) is:

WS2 makes molybdenumdisulphide and the original “graphite” obsolete.

Boron-hex-nitride, HBN, is awesome for high temperature applications to 1000C (bullets….re-tinning copper)


#2 Comment By Harry On August 18, 2018 @ 3:38 pm

Decent three articles. I still use the old SLIP 2000 lube for my AR’s and pistols. Lube is like caliber discussions, everyone has got their favorites. I am wrestling though with the selection of the right handgun to carry on my duty belt. I like the 45acp and do well with it but like the author stated there has been advancements in 9mm ammo and I do enjoy shooting the G19.

#3 Comment By Dan On August 18, 2018 @ 9:16 pm

Thanks for the three great articles! My choice for practical use is my Browning High Power, even though my favorite is my 1911 made in 1943 by Remington Rand. The best lube I have found in 49 years of shooting (18 years competitively in combat and PPC) and continue to use is EEZOX.

#4 Comment By John On August 19, 2018 @ 3:01 am

There is not a need to practice “ tap and rack” with a S & W model 66. It will shoot very straight if you do your part. A very good article. I enjoyed reading. The article makes some very good points.

#5 Comment By Greg On August 19, 2018 @ 3:09 am

Any thoughts about using red hi temp wheel bearing grease for weapons lube? Any cons we should be aware of?

#6 Comment By SpeedBump On August 19, 2018 @ 7:01 am


I can’t imagine anything being better than lubriplate engine assembly lubricant.

Every scanario is different I guess, but for me and my training needs, I’ve yet to need anything more.

It clings like grease, and as it gets hot it turns into a medium weight oil. So long as I’m not cooking off several hundred rounds at one setting, I can’t imagine there ever being a problem.

God help me if ever I find myself in such a situation. Needing more than 200 rounds tells me I’m in a situation I should have seen coming, and I’m in over my head.

Hello OPSEC!

#7 Comment By Diane D On August 19, 2018 @ 10:31 am

Good point about limp wristing. It is often overlooked as a cause of malfunctions. There is a video on youtube where the shooter takes a reliable handgun and intentionally causes it to misfire every time.

#8 Comment By JC On August 20, 2018 @ 5:17 am

I’m sure there is more than 1 good choice for gun lube under normal conditions. It was research into cold weather lubricants that led me to slip 2000 ewl. I have used it at 10 below zero and the guns ran flawlessly.

#9 Comment By Ken On August 20, 2018 @ 2:44 pm

Ditto on the SLP 2000 – it is all I run on my go to firearms, except my older MILSURPs that need grease.

#10 Comment By dLuke On August 28, 2018 @ 2:42 am

Never heard of this kind of advanced lubricant, that must be very effective.