UpComing Classes

Emerald City Writer's Conference


October 18-20, 2013; Bellevue, WA

A Basic Guide to Weapons

Chat with a Cop

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Weapons I'v Carried: Part IIIb

Weapon’s I’ve carried Part IIIb: Shotguns and submachine guns cont.

So you don’t think I’m a Rambett or anything like that, this is the final section of Weapons I’ve carried . . . for now.

During the DOJ Academy we were trained with the Benelli, 12 gauge, auto loading shotgun. It was long, heavy and the recoil was pretty strong. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7U8cjl8HlM ) Of course I was already sold on the Remington 870. I liked the pump-action. With the Benelli, all we had to do was muscle the nozzle on target and keep it there, while simply pulling the trigger.  Well, that and try not to dislocate your shoulder. 

The Remington 870, if jammed, could usually be fixed in the field. I’ve done it myself during an actual combat situation. Range Masters have told me if the Benelli jammed in the field, the only thing it could be used for, until brought in for repair, was as a club. This was one of those situations where it was obvious by the way they taught, even the Range Masters were not enthusiastic about the weapon.    

My training on the Benelli was short and to the point. I learned all the fundamentals but gained no enthusiasm for the weapon. The firearm instructors pointed out, several times if I remember correctly, that carrying the Benelli was completely voluntary. So I paid attention, because hey someday my life might depend on me being able to operate the Benelli.  But I was relegating it (the Benelli) to the bottom of all my contingency plans.

Now our training on the H&K MP5 (http://www.hk-usa.com/military_products/mp5_general.asp) was more involved and required a lot more hands on. This meant fun, fun, fun and more fun. The MP5 is a submachine gun, it fires 9mm rounds. The safety or select fire has two to four selections. Safe, single shot, two round bursts, and fully automatic. 

During the DOJ Academy we shot the MP5 quite often. The targets we were required to shoot at were one third the side of normal targets. We were told if we were sent to Assault Weapon School we would have to qualify on the smaller targets.

We were taught to hold and control the MP5 by holding the forearm (which encases the barrel) with our non-dominate hand and the pistol grip with our dominate one.  When we started, our elbows and arms were up and parallel to the ground. We would twist our arms down to our side while pulling the weapon stock into the pocket of our shoulder. This twist pull motion helped to maintain control while firing.

Our MP5s had slings. Because both the MP5 and HK53 were considered secondary weapons, if at any time there was a need to ditch the assault weapon, I could drop it and it would swing to my side as I drew my primary service weapon (My Glock 26, 40mm semi auto).  Thank goodness for the lefties that came before me. Someone figured a way to make the tangled belts into a viable sling for southpaws.  In fact when I ‘let it hang’ my assault weapon swung to my right side out of the way when I pulled my primary weapon.    

Toward the end of the DOJ Academy the Head Range Master had us all fill two magazines. He smiled and told us we could go fully auto with the two magazines – to get it out of our systems. Firing fully auto, we all quickly found out how hard it was to control the weapon. Yes, we had been warned, but until I fired on full automatic I didn’t understand why spraying a machine gun was considered a complete waste of ammo.

In order to carry the MP-5 after the DOJ Academy, I had to apply for Assault weapon school with the approval of my supervisor. Let me tell you, that was some serious fun. When we arrived at school first order of business was to qualify expert with our handguns. If anyone failed to do so they were sent packing. No pressure there.

We were not told this was a prerequisite and we came in to training cold – unprepared -- for a preclass qualification. The instructors told us our handguns were our primary weapons and if we could not fire them in an expert manner we didn’t need to be there. Two fellow trainees were sent packing.

At this training class the instructors brought both the MP5 and the HK53 to train on. I was told if I qualified with the HK53 I would be eligible to carry either weapon on-duty. So I took on the HK53.

Next we sat in a classroom and went over the MP5 and the HK 53 (http://www.remtek.com/arms/hk/mil/53/53.htm). We took them apart, learned how to clean them and put them back together.

The MP5 is a submachine machine gun. It fires 9mm (handgun) ammunition. The HK53 is a scaled down rifle that fires .223 (rifle) rounds. Main difference between the MP5 and the 53 was the HK 53 shot that .223 rifle round. This photo will show the difference between 9mm and .223 ammo. (http://www.arizonagunlist.com/gun_reference_material.html)

We went out on the shooting range and shot, and shot and shot. If our weapon was not on safe it was on fully auto, however we had to learn how to fire in two round bursts. Not as simple as it sounds.  The targets we had to shoot were small so our groupings (pattern which develops while shooting at a target)  were expected to be tighter (closer together).  Nothing short of expert shooting would pass the course.

Then we had to do mock into entries buildings. The way we trained the third person through the door during the service of a search warrant held the assault weapon. Simply, put if officers were shot at during an entry it was the third person through the door who usually took the round. By replacing a handgun in that third position with a submachine gun the outcome was more in the officer’s favor.  

During my DOJ Academy training with the MP5, I shot decent enough to know I could pass the training even though my groupings were not as tight as they could be. The HK53 was different, both the sound (about as loud as a shotgun blast) and recoil (only slightly greater than my handgun) were greater when shooting the 53. I’m not sure why, but I held the weapon even tighter because my groupings were fan-freakin-tastic. For that reason, among a few others, I absolutely loved carrying the HK53.

I would have carried the HK53 throughout my entire career, but someone in power decided the 53 needed to be treated as a rifle. This meant long range firing, a new shooting school and finding elevated platforms to shoot from. Translation: a whole lot of precarious climbing. My brain said do it, do it. My body, being the realistic one, said ‘hey – you forty-something-year-old – try it and die.’  

So I went to carrying the MP5. Not my HK53, but I still had lots of fun shooting it and I remained on the entry team as the third person through the door.         

Today a lot of guns and assault weapons have ambidextrous safeties, Making everyone’s life easier.


  1. Great information, and very interesting. Thanks for sharing your experiences and expertise!

  2. Gwen, my pleasure. I hope the info helps.