Sunday, December 15, 2013

RE: Hoss USMC on the FBI Miami 86 Gunfight

This case is very interesting. I absolutely agree with Hoss on the importance of using cover. If nothing else like Max Velocity says Get LOW.

As to revolvers vs pistols. Double stack pistols offer an undeniable advantage in round count. A loaded Glock 17 is equal to an S&W model 19 PLUS TWO SPEEDLOADERS. You'd have to have a whole belt o speedloaders to equal the Glock plus 2 spare mags. Then again the power of the old Combat Masterpiece can come in handy sometimes.

Granted the whole thing was a total cluster F and agents carrying auto pistols didn't perform much better but to say this incident highlighted the long reload time under realistic combat conditions is an understatement. The revolvers slow reload time was unfortunately a big part of why some FBI agents did not come home that day. To the inevitable person who links to Jerry Miculek or Bob Munden reloading a revolver in .024 seconds 1) They are not using realistic duty gear. 2) The average decent shooter is not Jerry Miculek or Bob Munden. 3) The amount of manipulation required to reload a revolver is absolutely more than a mag fed auto. More manipulation means more time and more things to go wrong. If the death of the service revolver had to be attributed to a single incident it would without a doubt be the Miami 1986 gunfight.

Does this absolutely mean a magnum revolver as a duty/ go handgun is not a valid option? I don't think so. Just because there is a better option doesn't mean a revolver is not a viable tool. I'll get to the specific issues that I believe were more important in a minute.

I am hesitant to criticize the individual agents for their performance or lack thereof. Aside from the worst luck ever, which some could attribute to flaws in their training, a couple things worked against them.

First and foremost the FIBs faced trained and determined opponents, particularly Platt. The FBI agents failed to act as a group; training in contact drills would have helped a lot. This brings up the fact that lots of bad people do in fact have training and experience. IMO both Platt or Maddox were probably better trained for a full on gunfight than the FBI agents.  Also the bad guys were very focused and probably more willing to accept risk than the FBI agents. A trained person who doesn't really care if they die and wants to take as many people with them as possible is going to cause a lot of damage.

Why Maddox was not really a factor in the fight is unknown to this day. It is however good for the agents as if Maddox had pulled his share there would've been a lot more casualties.

Secondly Platt had a magazine fed RIFLE while the agents were armed primarily with various handguns and a couple shotguns. The round count, accuracy and lethality of rifles is such that anybody armed with a pistol is at a huge disadvantage. The results of the fight show this enough I do not need to belabor the point.

I consider the lack of rifles to be more of a critical gear problem for the FBI agents than the specific handguns they were carrying. Had every agent been carrying a Mini-14 or AR-15 variant this fight might have gone down differently, no matter the wheel guns on their hips.  Even the most antiquated rifle is better than just a pistol in a fight. A model 1894 30-30 in a FBI agents hand could have ended this fight a lot faster with fewer casualties.

This event, followed by the North Hollywood shoot out led to the swap out of shotguns in favor of rifles as the law enforcement back up long gun. For a variety of reasons that changeover was a lot slower than the move from wheel guns to pistols and there are still plenty of 870's riding around in cop cars today. Shotgun vs rifle is another discussion but from a strictly combative angle (excluding for a minute economics, legality in anti freedom areas and versatility) I will take a rifle every single time. There is nothing a fighting shotgun does that a fighting rifle cannot do better.

Lethality vs incapacitation:
It is critically important to understand the difference between these two things and why it matters. Obviously lethality means death. Incapacitation means a person is seriously degraded or outright incapable of being an active combatant. Incapacitation is not always lethality. Example, a bullet goes through a person's arm and another hits the hand on the other side. Dude can't manipulate a weapon and as such is incapacitated. Dude's odds of living are very high and he'll probably make a good recovery but for the sake of this fight he is no longer a factor. Lethality is a bit more problematic. A person dying eventually does not make them cease to be a threat right now.

Platt is the textbook example of this. The 9mm round to his chest early in the fight was probably an unsurvivable wound. He could have been on the table in Johns Hopkins and it would not have mattered. However in the time it took for Platt to die (during which he was shot several times) he extracted a fearsome toll.

Don't just expect to shoot somebody once and have them die immediately. The human body is a weird machine, a fraction of an inch can be the difference between immediate lethality and a drawn out death or even a totally survivable wound. If somebody is worth shooting they are worth shooting a lot. Continue shooting your enemy until they are incapacitated and no longer a threat.

Wrapping it up:
Use cover
Do not just be a bunch of individuals, work as a team with your compatriots
Double stack pistols beat auto's as a duty gun
Have a rifle handy for prolonged situations
Expect to shoot somebody a lot before they cease to be a viable threat

So those are my thoughts on that. What is your take?


Harry Flashman said...

Strange how people are still talking about that in news shows and movies. The book that Zero sent me, which I am sending on to you, references it.

roger u said...

I had never heard of this. According to wikipedia, Platt was a Ranger in Vietnam and Matix was a cook in the USMC and, later, an MP in the Army. Both honorably discharged. So, you are correct in that they were both probably better trained than the FBI agents, Platt especially.

Platt seems like a psycho from the wikipedia synopsis.

Anonymous said...

The whole "85 shoot out" discussion revolves almost exclusively around gear, and typically completely ignores the nature of the threat. It's not just magazines versus wheel guns.

Not very often does law enforcement have to confront actual combat veterans. When they do, there are frequently heavy casualties.

If I played golf against Tiger Woods, he could beat my ass with a set of rusty K-Mart clubs, just as easily as with his Pings. It's not the gear. It's what you can do with the gear.


Aesop said...

It's been beaten to death, but my first takeaway is "Don't emulate the FBI, they haven't done anything right in gunfights since the 1930s".

Beyond that
1) Teams beat individuals
2) individuals vs. individuals devolves to who is more motivated and better trained
3) vests don't work when they're in the car trunk
4) rifles don't work in the car trunk
5) rifles beat shotguns beat pistols
6) people don't die instantly from one bullet unless it's to the brainstem
7) driving along without a plan doesn't work well as actually having a plan

Prognostication, based on evidence:
Tens of thousands of cops poorly trained and minimally proficient with autoloading pistols and battle carbines won't fare any better against badguys in the future than poorly trained and minimally proficient officers used to do with wheelguns and shotguns.
But they will make a lot more noise, chew up the furniture, and shoot a lot more innocent bystanders.

Anonymous said...

1.2 agents had their weapons on seat when their vehicle struck the perps vehicle-instant loss of reactive time...
2.1 agents glasses came off-not effective till glasses were found on floor..
3.Perp driver temp incapacitated when partner unloads full mag of .223 directly in his face-looks groovy in movies...not real life
4.1st FBI shot hits perp in heart-all it took was 26 seconds for him to kill/maim agents
5.2 backup agents with MP5s double teaming cop groupie waitress 5 mins away..

riverrider said...

having been issued a s&w 64 as a rookie, i can say the advantage of a wheelgun is in that it makes you THINK. when you know you only have six, you plan accordingly,take cover(and think about where your next cover is, even eating dinner),and utilizing intestinal fortitude(sorely lacking today) you wait for your chance to take a well placed shot. sometimes its while the shooter is reloading from spraying his rounds ineffectively all over the 'hood. sometimes you're lucky, sometimes you're not. i shoot an auto these days, but it only holds 7 or 8, so the lesson still applies. if cops got propper training these day, i wouldn't have a problem with highcaps, but the spraying and praying has to stop. two carloads of gangsquad shot it out not long ago expending over 40 rounds before they realized they were in a school parking lot and shooting at EACH OTHER with ZERO hits! take their highcaps away until they show they can handle them...

Bret said...

I am a former Miami Police ofc and am familiar with the investigation. The FBI took their guns out of their holsters and lost them in the subsequent collision causing the bad guys to have a leg up. The fight took place over 50 yards. The man with the rifle fired it directly in front of his partners face, thereby incapacitating him. the arrogant fbi left their bullet proof vest and mp 5's as well as shotguns in the trunk. And for you 9 lovers, the rifle guy had a perfect hit in the heart , clipped the aorta and did not stop the guy.

Bret said...

The 9 silvertip with perfect placement , as the mantra goes simply did not do enough damage to stop the suspect. Again caliber does make a difference.

Theother Ryan said...

Riverrider, You do need to pay a bit more attention with just 6. Personally I believe that I am morally (as well as legally of course) responsible for every round I fire so doing my best to make sure it hits the target is the order of the day. If I took the best shot I could and it missed then hurt somebody off in the distance it would be hard to live with myself. On the other hand if I'd been shooting wildly I don't think I could deal with that.

Bret, Bullets are a weird thing. Sometimes they are difficult to predict. The cliche that anecdote is not the plural of data comes to mind. The DATA on 9mm FMJ vs 40/.45 FMJ is very comparable to the point of being arguably irrelevant.

Still if a .40 or .45 makes you feel better then rock on. If I didn't go 9mm my duty type pistol would probably be a Glock 21SF.

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