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Tactical Briefs (Volume 2, Number 8)
The CHP-Newhall Shootout of April 6, 1970
Click here to learn more about the CHP-Newhall Shootout
The roots of modern law enforcement officer survival tactics and training (as well as contemporary personal defense firearms training for private citizens) can be traced to the tragic murder of four California Highway Patrol officers by two ex-convicts during a nighttime traffic stop at a restaurant parking lot in Newhall.
The two ex-cons, Jack Twinning and Bobby Davis, had cut-off another vehicle when pulling onto Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles. When the couple in the vehicle theyd cut-off communicated their displeasure, one of the ex-cons brandished a gun. The driver of the other car exited the freeway at the next off-ramp and reported the incident by telephone to authorities.
Minutes later, CHP officers Walt Frago and Roger Gore located the car containing suspects Twinning and Davis, and initiated a vehicle stop. Frago and Gore were suddenly attacked and brutally murdered when they made contact with the suspects. Two backup officers, James Pence and George Alleyn, arrived just moments after the murders and were immediately fired upon by the two cop killers. In a gun battle that lasted several minutes, the suspects also killed Pence and Alleyn.
The killings shook the American law enforcement community. In the investigation that followed serious deficiencies were discovered in CHP tactics, training and equipment, which caused, or contributed to, the deaths of the four officers. These findings produced development of updated tactics and training, and new equipment to better prepare CHP officers to successfully handle threats to their safety. These changes were considered revolutionary, and many other law enforcement agencies nationwide emulated the CHP example.
Ever since Newhall, CHP has been a leader in officer safety, and was one of the first law enforcement agencies in the nation to begin performance based acceptance testing of duty ammunition. CHP firearms trainers teamed-up with the International Wound Ballistics Association to assist with development of the IWBA Handgun Ammunition Specification, which has been adopted by many law enforcement agencies across the country.
The California Highway Patrol has published a web page that pays tribute to officers Alleyn, Frago, Gore and Pence. It describes the circumstances of the shootout, and credits the sacrifice made by these four officers as the impetus for positive change, which has undoubtedly saved the lives of many other law enforcement officers (and private citizens) since.
Product Review: Mitch Rosen Leather Lightning
By Shawn Dodson
I recently purchased a Milt Sparks Executive Companion IWB holster for my Glock 19. I was very familiar with the Executive Companion because Ive carried my Star M43 Firestar in one for years, and I was very satisfied with the design. The holster is made from top quality materials and the craftsmanship is excellent.
When trying out my Executive Companion holster for the first time, I was unable to smoothly draw my Glock. Id never encountered this problem at all with my Firestar. After many more draws, I concluded that, because of the Glocks wider frame and slide, the waistband of my trousers were pressing more tightly against the holster than when I carried my Firestar. The increased pressure wouldnt allow the holster to smoothly release the Glock.
I figured the problem would go away after a few hundred draws. It did, a little bit, but not as much as Id hoped. While contemplating my problem it dawned on me that Id remembered reading something called "Leather Lightning" in a gun magazine or maybe somewhere on the Internet. I was pretty sure it was sold by one of the major holster makers. I couldnt recall whom, but I knew it wasnt Milt Sparks. I started my search by visiting Mitch Rosens web site and immediately found what I was looking for. That Homer Simpson-like voice in my head skeptically observed: "$7.00 for that dinky little bottle of stuff? Whats postage paid mean?" I placed my order and waited for it to arrive.
My wife called me at work a few days later and tells me: "A package came in the mail for you today. What have you ordered now?"
Me: "Whos it from?"
She: (aggravated sigh) "Mitch Rosen."
Me: "Ooh, thats the stuff to slick-up my holster."
She: "Whatd it cost US?!" (Wives are like that, arent they?)
Me: (small-boy voice) "Seven dollars."
She: "Awfully small package."
Me: "Hey! Youve never complained about my small package before."
She: (disgusted) "Is that all you ever think about?"
Me: "Sometimes I think about guns."
She: "What else have you ordered lately?"
Me: (playing stupid) "I cant remember."
When I got home from work, experience told me to seek out and greet my wife with a kiss and ask her how her day was before turning my attention on my new toy. Being experienced too, she detected that my mind was preoccupied with the package that was lying on the counter. "Go ahead," she sighed.
I opened the package and read the directions on the bottle. Looking at the invoice told me that I wasnt charged postage. My Homer Simpson inner voice told me: "Hmmm, that must be what postage paid means."
I gathered up my holster, applied the Leather Lightning sparingly (two drops applied with my fingertip) to the inside surfaces, and put my holster on. The instructions said: "The holster may be used within 5 minutes of application." I sat on the sofa and watched the big Garfield alarm clock that sits in the living room. I could hardly wait.
Almost as soon as the second hand of the Garfield clock swept past the designated 5-minute point, I thrust my Glock 19 into my trusty Executive Companion. I settled into position and quickly withdrew my gun from its holster. The stuff works! I detected not one hint of resistance.
I applied the Leather Lightning to my Executive Companion holster a few weeks ago. This single application has been sufficient ever since. The stuff is not greasy or oily after application, and whatever it is it soaks right into the leather.
You ought to try Leather Lightning if you have a holster that seems a little too tightly fitted to your gun. The instructions on the bottle say: "Add just enough Leather Lightning to get the feel and release desired." You can take that advice to heart. This is NOT one of those products where you rationalize to yourself: "If a little is good, then a lot more must be better." If you follow the directions on the bottle, chances are very good that youll be happy with the results.
Winchester .223 64gr Supreme Power-Point Plus SHV223R2
In the June 99 issue of Tactical Briefs (".223 Ammunition for Personal Defense/Law Enforcement") we mentioned that the Winchester Super-X Power Point cartridge (X223R2) uses the same 64 grain JSP bullet as the moly-coated Supreme Power-Point Plus cartridge (SHV223R2). We were wrong.
Fortunately we requested the Winchester spokesman to send us samples of both the X223R2 and SHV223R2 loads so we could verify cartridge configuration for ourselves. We recently received these samples from Winchester.
Our examination revealed that the SHV223R2 cartridge uses a bullet with a cannelure. A military style crimp is applied to the case mouth to firmly hold the bullet in place at the cannelure. Whereas the bullet used with the X223R2 cartridge does not have a cannelure, and the case mouth is not crimped to the bullet.
Except for the moly-coating, the SHV223R2 cartridge is apparently identical to the CHP contract specified Q3246 "Knurled" load. The CHP contract stipulates a bullet with a cannelure to prevent feeding failures in its AR-15 rifles.
For those of you who are interested in the CHP/Winchester Q3246 "Knurled" load, but who are unable to obtain it for whatever reason, the SHV223R2 cartridge appears to be an almost exact duplicate. The moly-coated bullet might develop slightly greater velocity than the bullets loaded in the X223R2 and Q3246 "Knurled" cartridges, but you're advised to verify this for yourself using a chronograph. The potential velocity difference might make the SHV223R2 cartridge a better choice for a general-purpose patrol rifle that is fitted with a barrel whose length is less than 20-inches.
The X223R2 cartridge is probably best suited for a bolt action rifle.
Blunt Trauma Concussion of Spinal Cord as Mechanism of Instantaneous Collapse Produced by Centerfire Rifle Bullet Wounds to the Torso
Why does a felon (or a large game animal) instantly collapse after being shot in the torso with a centerfire rifle bullet when the speed in which this occurs is obviously too quick to have been caused by substantial blood loss?
The reason is most likely due to the diameter of the temporary cavity produced by an expanding centerfire rifle bullet, combined with the location of the temporary cavity within the body. The temporary cavity produced by an expanding .30 caliber rifle bullet ranges between 7-9 inches in diameter, which is about the diameter of a volleyball. Violent displacement of such a large mass of tissue within the thoracic or abdominal cavity can cause the spinal bones to collide forcefully against the spinal cord, disrupting nerve transmissions and causing instantaneous flaccid paralysis, in which the felon (or animal) drops in his tracks like a rock.1 The effect is indistinguishable from a shot that physically severs the spinal cord. Once the felon (or animal) is down, the effects of blood loss take over and a complete loss of consciousness usually occurs in a matter of seconds.
The location of the temporary cavity is an important component of this mechanism, especially with large game animals. A shot that impacts and penetrates low in the chest of an animal may not have the same effect as a shot that hits the middle or upper chest closer to the spinal column. This explains why some animals instantly collapse, and why others might run until blood loss finally brings them down.
The temporary cavity produced by common combat handgun cartridges, even high-velocity loads like MagSafe, is too small to produce this effect. Handgun bullets simply cannot duplicate the wounding effects of centerfire rifle bullets.
For comparison purposes, an expanding .223 Remington bullet produces a temporary cavity that is approximately 5 inches in diameter, and the high-velocity (1700+ fps) MagSafe .45 ACP Defender handgun bullet produces a baseball-sized temporary cavity slightly less than 4 inches in diameter. Although the temporary cavity of the 223 cartridge can produce blunt trauma concussion of the spinal cord, the effect is less reliable because it is highly dependent on shot placement and the location where the temporary cavity is formed in the body. In 1989, an Alexandria, Virginia police officer was killed when a .223 bullet failed to quickly incapacitate a felon who was high on PCP and cocaine, and holding a 12 gauge shotgun to the head of a civilian hostage. According to the police report, the bullet "...struck [the felon's] back in the center of his torso, grazed a vertebrae, severed the aorta, penetrated his right lung and liver, and exited his body in the right abdominal area." As he fell to the ground, he fired a shot from his pump-action 12 gauge shotgun into the face of a nearby SWAT officer killing him. He was able to pump the shotguns action and wound a second officer before he was finally stopped.2
- Fackler, Martin L., M.D.: "Incapacitation Time." Wound Ballistics Review 4(1), Spring 1999; 4-8.
- Walts, Earl, Lt.: "Report on the Special Investigation of the March 22, 1989 Incident at 316 Hopkins Court." City of Alexandria, Virginia; April 3, 1989; 12 pages.
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