Perfecting the Fundamentals of Gunfighting with a Carbine

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

From a very good discussion on my forum. The full discussion can be found here.

Three weekends in a row training and teaching………

You all know me, I am constantly looking for the very best information that I can find to pass onto my students. Many of you have watched as I worked through my varying obsessions from CQB, to Low Light, to Point Shooting, to Dynamic Movement, to the Reactive Gunfight, to Perfecting the Fundamentals of the Proactive Handgun, and now to my very public announcement to get deep into Perfecting the Fundamentals of Fighting with a Rifle.

I wanted to write this article to begin the discussion on my experiences training with ninpo_student and in return, then passing that knowledge onto my students.

As an Instructor, every once in a while you come across something that is an absolute game changer. For those of you that trained with ninpo_ student in April of 2016, you probably know what I am talking about…….Recoil Control and the Consistent Recovery from Recoil.

For me, what was so cool about the class is how everything ninpo_student was teaching in regards to this subject was in perfect alignment to what I was doing inside of my proactive handgun courses. While the techniques were different, the concept was virtually identical……get structure behind the weapon and mitigate the recoil as much as possible, in order to get faster and more accurate hits.

Inside the course in April, ninpo_student said something that has stayed with me from the very first moment he said it.

“We would shoot these terrorist 5-10-15 times and you know what we found out?”…………………” We weren’t shooting them enough!”

At that point he showed us what they had learned to do to be as fast and accurate as possible, inside of typical CQB distances.

Make no mistake about it, the best defense is not a good offense……the best defense is an outstanding offense!

I wanted to write this article to begin to discuss owning an outstanding offense in regards to gunfighting with a carbine.

This material comes from the best Gunfighters in the world, who learned hard earned lessons as their brothers died around them while fighting the Global War on Terror. Ninpo_student passes on these lessons to honor his brothers and I would hope to be seen as doing the same.

If there is one thing that I have learned over the last couple of years, it’s that we have ALL been taught a huge amount of theory. These theories cannot be tested by one gunfight, or two, or five, or ten, or twenty five. For theories to be adequately tested, it require a significant number of gunfights. What do I consider significant………. somewhere around a hundred gunfights. Until then it is simply theory! America has been at war since 2001, this is the longest time period that we have ever been at war. The amount of experience and knowledge coming out of this time period is simply unsurpassed in American history. If you are not paying attention to the lessons learned, the myths dispelled, and the theories blown out of the water you are missing out on some amazing information.

With all of that said……..what do we need to do to be as fast and accurate with a rifle as we can possibly be?

When you are blasting long held beliefs out of the water and talking about the failures of past theories, I find it is best to set the stage and first begin discussing the thinking behind those theories. Almost immediately, you begin to see the problem with the past thinking.

When I started discussing the “locked wrist grip” on the handgun, the new habits are such a dramatic change, that there needed to be some convincing to get people behind putting in the substantial work needed to make those changes. This stable rifle shooting platform is going to very much be like that.

The changes are dramatic. There will be a resistance to the changes. The convincing is easy with the rifle in your hand, the evidence of the tracking of the sights in your face, and the absolute truths of the hits on the target. It is not going to be near as easy in the written form.

Lay down the science and people with good common sense will see it plain as day.

On the structure behind the rifle we need to understand the learning progression that we went through. The M4 set up and the techniques used came to us straight from the use of the MP5. Standing straight up, mount of the rifle in the shoulder pocket, collapsed stock, and a mag well hold. The problem is that the 5.56 is not a handgun round. The theory behind the M4 and the techniques used simply did not facilitate a good recoil control or a consistent recovery from recoil. What worked well for the MP5 simply did not work well with an M4. When the urgency is high, there is no way to put the hits on board as they would need to be, in order to dominate the adversary with ballistic effect. When we are talking about taking down a religious zealot, who is not afraid to die, and only wants to take as many Americans with him as he can, an extremely dominant offense is an absolute must.

And that dominate offense starts with recoil control and consistent recover from recoil, which of course is all about structure behind the gun.

Recoil is energy.

You can either store/absorb the energy or you can transfer/redirect the energy. Shooting a M4 like it was a MP5 has you absorbing the energy. You can only successfully absorb so much energy before it negative effects your ability to make fast and accurate hits. You get muzzle flip that climbs and you get knocked back on your heels. Absorbing does not work well.

Transferring the energy through your body, and straight to the ground, through a straight rear leg is far superior to absorbing it. So, it is the stance that allows this transference of energy.

Aggressive forward lean (and I mean AGGRESSIVE) with the support side foot forward and knee bent right above the foot. Firing side leg rearward, well back, and straight. You will look like you are trying to push a truck up a hill. The straight rear leg is essential. Without it, you are not transferring the energy to the ground, you are absorbing the energy. For those that have trained with me, the straight rear leg is going to be very different from what you are used to. It will take work, effort, and constant monitoring. This ain’t no combat crouch.

Now that we are transferring the energy to the ground, we need to get as much body mass behind this rifle as we can. We may be transferring the energy, but it still has to go through the body. It needs to go through a body with solid structure. Hips squared up to the target! No blading! Rifle mount NOT high in the shoulder pocket with the toe of the stock. Mount it lower and inward of the shoulder pocket, somewhere in between the shoulder pocket and the center line. You will need to drop the head to get your cheek weld.

The firing grip is all about working the trigger. Do not be too concerned about the trigger finger placement on the face of the trigger. More and more, accomplished gunfighters are beginning to just “bury” the trigger finger, just as we are seeing in the locked wrist grip on the handgun. The support grip is far forward in a C clamp, with the thumb over the top of the rail, and while pulling the carbine back into the mount. Do not overly pronate the C clamp, because when you are fighting for blood you are going to need to find a C clamp that you can do for hours and overly pronating makes that impossible. Extend well, short of full extension, find something that gets the job done with out unnecessary tension or strain. The C clamp is all about not allowing the muzzle to rise. The “pulling the carbine back into the mount” of the support hand also reduces muzzle rise and helps facilitate the recoil straight to the rear and straight to the rear only.

With a M4 variant, with a short fore end, where you can not extend out to a good C clamp, gain the length that you need by extending the stock to it’s full length.

The tracking of the sights/red dot

This optimal stable shooting platform is all about not allowing muzzle rise (just like with a handgun.) Read your sights! If they are tracking upward, you have not nailed your optimal position. The ultimate goal is to have the rifle recoil straight to the rear……and straight to the rear only. If the muzzle never comes off of the targeting area, you can press the trigger as fast as you can and keep everything in a very tight pattern.

This is a decent image of the aggressive forward lean, the squared up hips, and the straight rear leg. The C clamp may be slightly overly pronated and past that of being able to do for a long period of time. The overall concept is well displayed, but as in anything, this is going to be user dependent. Slight adjustments may be required, but the concept is sound in this image.

If you have any questions feel free to join in on the discussion at my forum.

An Example of a Home Defense Carbine Set Up and Plan

By ninpo_student of The Ready Line and Deus Ex Machina

I’ll lay out how my home defense (HD) carbine is setup, the condition it is kept in and how I expect to employ it. Hopefully it will answer your other questions too. My current HD blaster is a 10.3” 416 upper on an SR15 lower. The upper has an Aimpoint T1, SF 200 lumen Scout light, DBAL I2 and a direct thread Gemtech Trek T suppressor. The lower has an A5 receiver extension, B5 Systems Sopmod Bravo stock, KAC two stage trigger and Lancer magwell with a Magpul MS3 padded sling. It is staged with my Team Wendy carbon bump helmet, PVS14s and a Surefire IR helmet light. As a fan of all the lumens, I choose the 200 lumen Scout because (1) it was what I had in the parts box, (2) it was compatible with the dual tape switch I have that integrates with the MFAL and (3) I expect to fight under no light conditions for as long as I can and the 200 lumens will work for my needs in that context. When I have the extra money it will be replaced with a brighter light.

Ammunition is the Barnes 70grn TSX loading from Asym Precision, magazines are G3 PMAGs loaded with 30 rounds each. In addition to my bump helmet, I have a Unity Clutch belt with a comp’d and RMR’d G19, two pistol mags with 124+p HST, a spare carbine magazine, Surefire Fury hand held and a small trauma kit. Under the clock at random times in the middle of the night, I can jock up in just under 30 seconds, less if I skip the NODs. I have a house alarm system and two small dogs who are very aggressive barkers when they sense someone unauthorized in their yard. I stage everything on a small stool sitting next to my side of the bed, setup so I can don the belt, sling up the carbine and mount the helmet, in that order.

The carbine is kept in what is commonly referred to as “patrol ready”; bolt forward on an empty chamber, on safe, dust cover closed with a 30 round magazine inserted under the closed bolt. The sling is banded to the stock so I only need to give it a solid tug and it’s free to use. The equipment on my carbine or used in conjunction was selected to fill specific roles. The optic stays on until it’s scheduled battery change, the MFAL has a visible green laser, the light and laser controls are integrated on the tape switch for ease of use, the suppressor is self explanatory, the A5 system smoother out the recoil impulse to aid in shot to shot recovery and the magwell is big and hard to miss.

With that out of the way, what do I consider to be essential skills and procedures to employing my HD carbine ? Stance, sight picture and alignment, trigger control, recoil control, emotional control on my part, light use and discipline, and target discrimination. Really everything that goes into running a carbine optimally inside of a CQB engagement. Recoil control I’ll address in a future post as it deserves more space than I’d devote to it here. The fundamentals don’t really change, although their application and importance may. Depending on the target profile, distance and surroundings, etc., I can afford to be sloppy on any or all of them, depending. I need to be prepared to burn it down on a dude at 5m with multiple rounds or make a low percentage shot on threat holding my wife or one of my children hostage at 18m, that farthest distance inside my house.

The three I consider the most important are emotional control, target discrimination, and light use / discipline. Since I plan on fighting in a no light environment, should I be forced to use light, I’d expect it to be under exigent circumstances for PID in the event my NODs go down or an unexpected light source comes into play. The other role would be to deny space to my adversary once I’ve recovered all my people as I await an LE response to keep him away from my family. The two I consider most critical are target discrimination and emotional control.

Target discrimination is fairly self explanatory, but I will say this. Under the stress of hunting someone inside a structure, if you aren’t paying attention to the world around you, you’re going to shoot something you don’t intend to. So, that means no third eye principle, the eyes should move roughly 15 degrees ahead of the muzzle as you scan for targets. The manual safety stays engaged until your eyes are connected to the sighting system and you’ve made the conscious decision to shoot. We do not hunt people inside structures or anywhere else, with a disengaged manual safety. If your weapon choice doesn’t allow you positive control over the safety at all times, pick another weapon or train until you can easily manipulate it. To do otherwise is negligent, in my opinion. I’ve seen more than one high speed, legit assaulter type shot in training because someone didn’t have the safety engaged. If we can make that mistake, then you can too.

Emotional control is the other big one. You will be hunting an adversary, or waiting for him to come to you inside your house, with your family inside it. FISHing (fighting in somebodies house) an incredibly stressful event, made even more so with the addition of the most valuable things in your life on the line should you fail. Speaking for myself, I’m going to flipping furious that someone dared to come inside my house and threaten my family. I know I need to temper that anger and not let it dictate my actions and responses. If this is your first gunfight those emotional responses and urges will be even worse, including fear. You need to be able to recognize that they exist and set them aside until the killing is done. You can be mad, scared, whatever once it’s over. Until then you need to be focused on the tasks at hand; killing, incapacitating or driving your adversary away from your family and house.

Now to the environment. It will either be a violent home invasion attempt during daylight hours while I’m home, or someone attempting to sneak into my house in the wee hours of the day. If I’m awake, the carbine will be near wherever I’m at inside the house ( or backyard if I’m out there ) along with my Roland in my CCW holster. My wife knows to retreat to our daughters bedroom and post up until the fights over, whether or not I win. At night, she’ll do the same thing. Her room is next to mine so it shouldn’t be an issue accessing. From there, it’ll all depend on how the fight develops and what happens.