(Cocoa, FL) – Diamondback Firearms, creator of high-quality firearms and industry-leading components, is excited to introduce the Diamondback Sidekick, a 9-shot, single and double action rim-fire revolver with a swing out, interchangeable cylinder.
The Sidekick has a 9-round revolving chamber capacity in both calibers and both cylinders are on a quickly convertible swing out arm for fast interchangeability allowing the user to switch between standard and magnum power in just seconds and even faster ejection and reloading, which is sure to excite even today’s modern shooters.
The DB Sidekick hits the mark when it comes to combining the all-time sought-after classic cowboy style featuring all your favorite attributes of a modern revolver. The Sidekick is chambered in 22LR with a 9-shot cylinder and comes with an additional 9-shot cylinder chambered in 22Mag, allowing the buyer to enjoy a firearm that is great for self-defense with manageable recoil, hunting small game, pest control, as well as some enjoyable and inexpensive target practice. The Sidekick higher capacity allows for 3 more snakes, rabbits, or soda cans depending on what you’re hunting.
The Sidekick has a 9-round revolving chamber capacity in both calibers and weighs 32.5 ounces. Both cylinders are on a quick-convertible swing-out arm for fast interchangeability allowing the user to switch between standard and magnum power in just seconds, additionally offering faster ejection and reloading, which is sure to excite shooters.
While the Sidekick models an old school cowboy revolver keeping with that classic look and feel, Diamondback has added features like the cylinder release being incorporated to the old school ejection rod, a cool smooth black Cerakote finish, and checkered polymer grip panels. They also went with a rear integral and a fixed front blade sight. These features are wildly important when you need to be quick on the draw. The Sidekick will initially be offered with a 4.5” barrel having 1:16RH twist, 6 groove rifling. This package weighs in at 32.5 ounces and has an overall length of 9.875.
“Diamondback Firearms cut their teeth in the industry by producing their ultra-compacts DB380 and DB9 pistols and are also well known for their high-quality AR-15 rifles,” says Rachel Maitlitz, Marketing Manager for Diamondback America. “This year, we are working hard to expand our product line and bring new designs to the market. The DB Sidekick is the latest product in the Diamondback lineup and helps expand Diamondback’s product offerings into new areas.”
With a budget-friendly MSRP of just $320, the Sidekick (model DBSK22LMB) is sure to be a popular choice for first-time owners and firearms enthusiasts alike. Diamondback will officially launch the Sidekick on November 22, 2021. Fans can check the official countdown clock as well as a collection of new Sidekick photos on the Diamondback homepage at www.diamondbackfirearms.com
|US Army Photo|
The old soldier leaned heavily on his cane. He grew slightly misty eyed as he looked down at the gravestone sitting in the sunshine just outside the nation’s capital. He had known the man buried there, had served with him in two wars. Had held him as he died on a snowy hilltop in Korea.
Sorry about the pictures as they do look FUBAR. But since its such a great looking rifle, I just could not delete it. Grumpy
Recently on an Internet website a fellow asked me, “Do you have a barbeque Colt?” I replied, “Um, No, I don’t think so.” Then another fellow, sensing my ignorance, added the term arose from fancied-up handguns Texas Rangers reserved for backyard BBQs. A third fellow added, “Mike, you just showed a picture of an engraved Colt SAA, so you definitely have a BBQ Colt.” All this got me to thinking, “What if I was invited to a BBQ requiring a fancy handgun?”
Most of my life I could have been named Mister Ordinary. My hats, saddles, boots and clothes were all plain. At age 24 I surrendered to just a mite of ostentation. Throughout my high school years, I used laundry markers to put my MLV initials in brand, so when I ordered my first S.D. Myres holsters I had them hand-carved accordingly. Since then, I’ve plastered my “brand” on just about everything. Over the years two readers had branding irons made as presents for me. Once when heating one of those branding irons Yvonne said she saw a strange gleam in my eyes and vacated the premises. I deny that!
After this Internet chat and weeks of lockdown boredom, I sat in my gun vault and considered my candidates for BBQ guns. One would be a Colt 1911 of the ELCEN serial number range. These were ordered by a major distributor supposedly for sale “south of the border.” For this reason, they were all .38 Supers. Made of stainless steel (except for the sights) they were given such a high polish I thought at first it was nickel-plating. Grips on mine are checkered rosewood. Then I turned to El Paso Saddlery for a floral carved holster for packing it.
However, my most gussied-up handguns are single actions. In fact, I could attend BBQs every weekend for months without feeling underdressed toting a fine SAA. Two of mine are engraved Colts. The .38 WCF/.38-40 was made up expressly for the Colt Collector’s Association. It’s numbered 79 of 150. It has 4.75″ barrel with tasteful engraving, but as yet I’ve not equipped it with fancy grips. I can’t make up my mind as to what material they should be crafted from — fancy walnut, checkered rosewood, bison bone, ivory, or something else.
My other fancy Colt SAA was engraved here in Montana by Brian Gouse. It’s also 4.75″ barreled with the factory issue grips — for now. What takes it a notch up is the two cylinders are fitted. The original one is .44 WCF/.44-40. With considerable searching I located an unfired .44 Special cylinder and had it engraved also by Brian. If attending a backyard BBQ where I might be charged by a raging bull or hungry panther I’d fit the .44 Special cylinder and load it with the special run of Black Hills .44 Special factory loads with 250-gr. SWCs.
If attending a BBQ with prestigious guests where I might have to resort to name dropping in order to get my proper quota of attention, I’d wear a very special Colt SAA. This one is a .45 with 4.75″ barrel and full blue finish. Its stocks are exquisitely relief carved ivory with MLV on one side and steer head on the other. They are the work of Paul Persinger of El Paso. This Colt bears name dropping because it was ordered from Colt by country/western musician Hank Williams, Jr. with my name engraved on the backstrap.
Don’t Forget Your Better Half
So far, I’ve left Yvonne out of this imagining game. I couldn’t attend such a BBQ so finely adorned with her looking plain. If we were attending a BBQ together, we have a perfect, yet not identical pair. Back in the early 21st century when U.S. Firearms was making beautiful quality single actions, I ordered two with engraving. Yvonne already had a Colt SAA .44 WCF/.44-40 with a 5.5″ barrel, so she asked for her USFA to have the same length. Obviously, my preference for barrel lengths is 4.75″. Hers has serial number YMV1 and mine is stamped MLV3.
Truth be told, the backyard BBQs I’ve attended in my lifetime could probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. But who knows? It could happen.
A gunstock or often simply stock, the back portion of which is also known as a shoulder stock, a buttstock or simply a butt, is a part of a long gun that provides structural support, to which the barrel, action, and firing mechanism are attached. The stock also provides a means for the shooter to firmly brace the gun and easily aim with stability by being held against the user’s shoulder when shooting the gun, and helps to counter muzzle rise by transmitting recoil straight into the shooter’s body.
History and etymology
Early hand cannons used a simple stick fitted into a socket in the breech end to provide a handle. The modern gunstock shape began to evolve with the introduction of the arquebus, a matchlock with a longer barrel and an actual lock mechanism, unlike the hand-applied match of the hand cannon. Firing a hand cannon requires careful application of the match while simultaneously aiming; the use of a matchlock handles the application of the slow match, freeing up a hand for support. With both hands available to aim, the arquebus could be braced with the shoulder, giving rise to the basic gunstock shape that has survived for over 500 years. This greatly improved the accuracy of the arquebus, to a level that would not be surpassed until the advent of rifled barrels.
Ironically, the stocks of muskets introduced during the European colonization of the Americas were repurposed as hand-to-hand war clubs by Native Americans and First Nations when fragile accessories were damaged or scarce ammunition exhausted. Techniques for gunstock hand weapons are being revived by martial arts such as Okichitaw.
Anatomy of a gunstock
A gunstock is broadly divided into two parts (see above), with the boundary roughly at where the trigger is. The rear portion is the butt (1), and front portion is the fore-end (2). The fore-end (or forestock, forearm) affixes and supports the receiver, and relays the recoil impulse from the barrel via a recoil lug. The butt (or buttstock) is braced against the shooter’s shoulder for stability and also interacts with the trigger hand, and is further divided into the comb (3), heel (4), toe (5), and grip (6). The stock pictured above has a thumbhole (7) style grip, which allows a more ergonomic vertical hold for the user’s hand.
In some modern firearm designs, the lower receiver and handguard replace the fore-end stock, leaving only the butt portion as the recognizable “stock”, even though they serve the same function as the traditional fore-end.
Styles and features of stocks
The most basic categorization of stock types is into one-piece and two-piece stocks. In a one-piece stock, the butt and fore-end are a continuous monolithic piece, such as that commonly found on conventional bolt-action rifles. Two-piece stocks use separate pieces for the butt and fore-end, such as that commonly found on break-action and lever-action firearms. Traditionally, two-piece stocks were easier to make, since finding a quality wood blank suitable for a long one-piece stock is harder than finding short blanks for a two-piece stock.
In one-piece rifle stocks, the butt also varies in styles between the “European” type, which has a drop at the heel to favor quick shooting using iron sights; and “American” type, which the heel remains horizontal from the grip to favor more precision-oriented shooting using telescopic sights. There are also in-between designs (such as the Weatherby Mark V) with a “halfway” heel drop where the front half of the buttstock stays leveled.
Collapsable or folding stocks are often seen on military carbines, SMG/PDWs, their civilian-derived versions and some machine pistols. A collapsible (or telescoping) stock makes the weapon shorter and more compact for storage, carrying and concealment, and can be deployed just before shooting for better control. A butt hook, which is an attachment to the butt of the gun that is put under the shooter’s arm to prevent the rifle from pivoting forward from the weight of the barrel is sometimes used in competitive rifle shooting. These stocks are also used on combat shotguns like the Franchi SPAS-12 to allow the stock to collapse when not in use.
The grip is at the front portion of the butt that connects with the fore-end, and is held by the shooter’s trigger hand during firing. The back surface of butt front near the grip is called the tang. Many grips have roughened textures or even finger grooves engraved into the sides to increase the firmness of the shooter’s hold. Some grips have a thumb rest (or groove) carved near the tang to give a more ergonomic hold for the trigger finger.
The grip varies widely in styles. A straight grip stock (A) proceeds smoothly from toe to the trigger, giving a nearly horizontal holding angle for the trigger hand, while a full pistol grip stock (E) contains a separate stand-out grip piece, providing a nearly vertical angle for the trigger hand for maximal ergonomics, and is commonly found on modern military rifles such as the ubiquitous AK-47 and M16/M4 families of assault rifles. In between the two extremes, the semi-grip stock (B) is perhaps the most common sporting rifle stock, with a steeper angle cut into the stock to provide a more diagonal angle for the trigger hand. Modern target-style stocks have generally moved towards a fuller, more vertical grip, though built into the stock rather than made as a separate piece. Anschütz grip stocks (C), for example, use a nearly vertical grip, and many thumbhole grip stocks (D) are similar to pistol grips in shape.
The comb is another area of wide variation. Since the comb must support the shooter’s cheek at a height that steadily aligns the aiming eye with the weapon’s sights, higher sights such as telescopic sights require higher combs.
The simplest form is a straight comb (A), which is the default form seen in all traditional rifles with iron sights. The Monte Carlo comb (B) is commonly found on stocks designed for use with scopes, and features an elevated comb to lift the cheek higher, while keeping the heel of the stock low. If the elevated comb is of a rounded dome shape, it is often called a hogback comb. A cheekpiece (C) is a raised section protruding from the side of the stock, which provides a more conformed support for the shooter’s cheek. There is some confusion between these terms, as the features are often combined, with the raised rollover cheekpiece (D) extending across the top of the stock to form essentially an exaggeratedly wide and high Monte Carlo comb.
Some modern buttstocks have a movable comb piece called a cheek rest or cheek rise, which offers adjustable comb height that tailors to the shooter’s ergonomic preference.
The fore-ends tend to vary both in thickness, from the splinter fore-ends common on British side-by-side shotguns to the wide, flat bottomed beavertail fore-ends found on benchrest shooting guns, and in length, from the short AK-47 style to the long Mannlicher stock that runs all the way to the muzzle. Most common on sporting firearms is the half-stock, which extends roughly half the length of the barrel.
Stock measurements are important regarding target rifle stocks if competing in IBS or NBRSA registered matches. The target rifle stocks must meet certain dimensional and configuration criteria according to the class of competition engaged in. Stock dimensioning is especially important with shotguns, where the typical front-bead-only sight requires a consistent positioning of the shooter’s eye over the center of the barrel for good accuracy. When having a stock custom built or bent to fit, there are a number of measurements that are important.
- Sight line, a datum line along the line of visual aim, extending axially to all points necessary for shotgun stock reference measurements.
- Length of pull, the length measured from the back end of the butt to the trigger. Many newer stock designs have an adjustable length of pull. Other relevant length measurements affected by the length of pull include length to sight (LTS) and length to handstop (LTH).
- Drop at heel, the distance from the sightline to the heel of the butt. Sometimes also called the height of the buttpad or buttplate height.
- Drop at comb, the distance from the sightline to the comb. Sometimes also called the height of the cheek rest or cheekpiece height.
- Cast is sometimes also called offset.
- Cast off, the distance from the center of the butt to the Sight line, to the right side as seen from the rear. Often used by those shooting from the right shoulder.
- Cast on, the distance from the center of the butt to the Sight line, to the left side as seen from the rear. Often used by those shooting from the left shoulder.
- Pitch, the vertical angle of the butt of the stock, determined by a straight line from heel to toe, referenced perpendicular to the Sight line.
- Cant, the angle of the butt of the stock, rotated around an axis parallel to the bore line, referenced to zero degrees if pointing vertical to the ground.
- Bore line, A datum line concentric with the barrel bore and extending axially to all points necessary for rifle stock reference measurements.
- Recoil arm, the vertical distance between the bore axis and the contact point of the stock against the shoulder where the recoil acts. If the recoil line corresponds to the bore line, the firearm can recoil straight backwards and minimize muzzle rise.
- Corporal line, the bottom edge of the butt of the stock, or as determined by a straight line from grip to toe.
- Corporal angle, the angle of the corporal line referenced to the bore line at the corporal intercept point.
- Corporal intercept point, the point on the bore line forward of the bolt face where (if) the corporal line intercepts the bore line.
- Handguard rotation, only found on firearms where the handguard can be rotated.
In addition to ergonomic issues, the stock can also have a significant impact on the accuracy of the rifle. The key factors are:
- A secure fit between the stock and action, so that the rifle does not shift under recoil
- A stable material, that does not suffer from changes in shape with temperature, humidity, or other environmental conditions to a degree that could adversely impact accuracy
A well designed and well built wooden stock can provide the secure, stable base needed for an accurate rifle, but the properties of wood make it more difficult than more stable synthetic materials. Wood is still a top choice for aesthetic reasons, however, and solutions such as bedding provide the stability of a synthetic with the aesthetics of wood.
Burst or automatic shoulder fired small arms can incorporate the “straight-line” recoil configuration. This layout places both the center of gravity and the position of the shoulder stock nearly in line with the longitudinal axis of the barrel bore, a feature increasing controllability during burst or automatic fire.
Traditional gunstocks have a permanently-shaped buttstock that is fixed in length of pull and comb height, and cannot tailor to the anatomical variation between different users. If the user wants a more comfortable head position to achieve better natural point of aim, then an additional cheek pad (which add to the comb height) or buttplate (which add to the length of pull) need to be installed. These improvisations might not be ideal as they might still not achieve optimal fitting to a person’s ergonomics.
Modern manufacturing and gunsmithing techniques can produce gunstocks with variable comb heights and buttplate positions. This can be achieved either by having interchangeable modules or using spacer blocks, which can increase the vertical and horizontal thickness. Alternatively, the buttstock can be built with a movable comb (known as a cheek riser) and/or buttplate, which use one or more guide rails to control position changes. These moveable parts can be adjusted using a leadscrew (usually turned with a thumb wheel), or have them slide freely along the guide rails and then fastened to desirable positions with set screws or thumbscrews. Some more complex designs also allow horizontal shifting and tilting of the cheek riser, as well as vertical shifting and slanting of the buttplate.
Traditionally, stocks are made from wood, generally a durable hardwood such as walnut. A growing option is the laminated wood stock, consisting of many thin layers of wood bonded together at high pressures with epoxy, resulting in a dense, stable composite.
Regardless of the material actually employed, the general term “furniture” is often applied to gunstocks by curators, researchers and other firearm experts.
Folding, collapsible, or removable stocks tend to be made from a mix of steel or alloy for strength and locking mechanisms, and wood or plastics for shape. Stocks for bullpup rifles must take into account the dimensions of the rifle’s action, as well as ergonomic issues such as ejection.
While walnut is the favored gunstock wood, many other woods are used, including maple, myrtle, birch, and mesquite. In making stocks from solid wood, one must take into account the natural properties and variability of woods. The grain of the wood determines the strength, and the grain should flow through the wrist of the stock and out the toe; having the grain perpendicular to these areas weakens the stock considerably.
In addition to the type of wood, how it is treated can have a significant impact on its properties. Wood for gunstocks should be slowly dried, to prevent grain collapse and splitting, and also to preserve the natural color of the wood; custom stockmakers will buy blanks that have been dried two to three years and then dry it for several additional years before working it into a stock. Careful selection can yield distinctive and attractive features, such as crotch figure, feathering, fiddleback, and burl, which can significantly add to the desirability of a stock. While a basic, straight grained blank suitable for a utilitarian stock might sell for US$20, an exhibition grade blank with superb figure could price in the range of US$2000. Blanks for one piece stocks are more expensive than blanks for two piece stocks, due to the greater difficulty in finding the longer blanks with desirable figure. Two piece stocks are ideally made from a single blank, so that the wood in both parts shows similar color and figure.
Laminated wood consists of two or more layers of wood, impregnated with glue and attached permanently to each other. The combination of the two pieces of wood, if laid out correctly, results in the separate pieces moderating the effects of changes in temperature and humidity. Modern laminates consist of 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) thick sheets of wood, usually birch, which are impregnated with epoxy, laid with alternating grain directions, and cured at high temperatures and pressures. The resulting composite material is far stronger than the original wood, free from internal defects, and nearly immune to warping from heat or moisture. Typically, each layer of the laminate is dyed before laminating, often with alternating colors, which provides a pattern similar to wood grain when cut into shape, and with bright, contrasting colors, the results can be very striking. The disadvantage of laminate stocks is density, with laminates weighing about 4 to 5 ounces (110 to 140 g) more than walnut for a typical stock.
While wood laminates have been available for many years on the custom market (and, in subdued form, in some military rifles), in 1987 Rutland Plywood, a maker of wood laminates, convinced Sturm, Ruger, Savage Arms, and U.S. Repeating Arms Company (Winchester) to display some laminate stocks on their rifles in a green, brown and black pattern (often called camo). The response was overwhelming, and that marked the beginning of laminated stocks on production rifles.
Injection molded synthetic
While setup costs are high, once ready to produce, injection molding produces stocks for less than the cost of the cheapest wood stocks. Every stock is virtually identical in dimension, and requires no bedding, inletting, or finishing. The downsides are a lack of rigidity and thermal stability, which are side effects of the thermoplastic materials used for injection molding.
Hand-laid composite stocks
A hand-laid composite stock is composed out of materials such as fiberglass, Kevlar, graphite cloth, or some combination, saturated in an appropriate binder, placed into a mold to set, or solidify. The resulting stock is stronger and more stable than an injection-molded stock. It can also be as little as half the weight of an injection-molded stock. Inletting and bedding can be accomplished by molding in as part of the manufacturing process, machining in the inletting after the stock is finished, molding directly to the action as a separate process, or molding a machined metal component in place during manufacture. Finish is provided by a layer of gel coat applied to the mold before the cloth is laid up.
Some high production firearms (such as the PPS-43, MP-40, and the Zastava M70B) make use of metal frames in order to have a thin but strong stock that can be folded away to make the weapon more compact. However, even a skeletonized steel stock is often heavier than the equivalent solid wooden stock. Consequentially, less cost-sensitive designs like the FN Minimi make use of lighter-than-steel materials such as aluminium alloy or titanium. A few designs, like the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare, use a metallic chassis which securely beds the functional components of the firearm, with non-structural polymer panels attached externally like a shell for ergonomics and aesthetics.
A telescoping stock, also known as a collapsible or retractable stock, is a buttstock that can shorten by telescoping into itself, usually by sliding along guide rails or an M4-style buffer tube. They are useful in allowing a rifle, submachine gun, shotgun or even light machine gun to be stored or maneuvered in tight spaces where it would otherwise have trouble fitting. The user can either slide in (“collapse”) the buttstock to make the weapon more portable and concealable, or extend (“deploy”) it for bracing. Some telescoping stocks can shorten to more than one length of pull settings, allowing the stock to have some ergonomic customization for different users.
Some buttstocks can have a hinged attachment to the receiver and can be folded forward to shorten the overall length of the gun. The hinge usually has a locking mechanism to prevent accidental or unwanted movements of the buttstock. When stability is not needed, the gun can be folded down to save space, be concealed, or held with one hand or nearer to the core; when stable aim is needed, the buttstock can be quickly extended and held to the shoulder.
Most folding stocks bend left or right depending on factory design or user preferences. Some are however designed to bend up and down, and usually made of a minimalistic “skeletonized” frame to fit over and envelop the receiver. Some compact weapons (e.g. machine pistols) have foldable buttstocks with more than one articulations to allow even more shortening.
A bump fire stock or bump stock utilizes the recoil of a semi-automatic rifle to facilitate a faster rate of fire without requiring any modification of internal mechanisms to convert the firearm to an automatic firearm.
The term “bump fire” was originally an improvised technique to shoot an AR-15 faster by having the shooter applying a non-rigid forward push on the receiver (by gripping the handguard or via a foregrip) and having a loose hold on the pistol grip. When the gun shoots, the recoil shifts the receiver backwards, moving the trigger conversely forward (from the receiver’s frame of reference) and relaxes the pulling force on the trigger, allowing it to reset. When the shooter’s forward push overcomes the recoil momentum and shifts the receiver back towards the front, the trigger is “bumped” against the shooter’s finger and get depressed again, firing off another round, which produces another recoil that repeats the above process. This allows a cycling rate of firing much faster than what the shooter’s own finger can typically achieve, but is usually inaccurate due to the shooter often have to fire from the hip to still hold the gun firmly.
A bump stock replaces the manual forward push with a spring mechanism at the interface between the receiver and the pistol grip/buttstock. The user only have to simply hold the trigger back against the grip, and the spring-assisted forward push will itself work against the recoil to cycle the shooting. This allows an increased rate of fire that can reach several hundred rounds per minute, and is far more consistent in performance compared to the manual bump fire.
Many handguns also support the use of shoulder stocks to handle recoil. An example is the Luger P08 “Artillery Pistol”, which has a wooden factory holster that can be attached to the pistol grip and used as a buttstock. Some aftermarket manufacturers also make accessories for popular semi-automatic pistols such as Glocks, including grip modules that has built-on folding stocks, or even “conversion kit” that allows the pistol to be mounted into a carbine-shaped enclosure with a shoulder stock.
A pistol stabilizing brace (PSB) or arm brace is a device similar in shape to a buttstock, but is meant to be in contact with or wrap around the shooter’s forearm like a wrist brace or splint, instead of being pressed against the shoulder. It is mainly designed for pistols with carbine-style receivers (e.g. “AR pistols” and PC Charger), which are stockless out-of-factory to avoid being legally classified as short-barreled rifles, as an alternative measure of countering recoil and muzzle rise with one-handed shooting. The brace can be mounted to the pistol via an M4-style buffer tube, or via a Picatinny rail interface.
Even though the bulkier end of a brace can still be leaned against the shoulder like a shoulder stock, doing so would invite the same legal complications as shoulder stocks do. On December 18, 2020, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives filed a notice to the Federal Register titled Objective Factors for Classifying Weapons with “Braces”, proposing a series of criteria used to evaluate whether pistols with attached stabilizing braces are firearms that should be regulated by the National Firearms Act, but withdrew the notice five days later.
In some jurisdictions, the nature of the stock may change the legal status of the firearm. Examples of this are:
- Adding a shoulder stock on a firearm with a barrel shorter than 16 inches (41 cm) changes it into a short-barreled rifle (SBR) under the United States National Firearms Act.
- Folding stocks, or stocks with separate pistol grips, are regarded as assault weapon features and banned in some U.S. states and municipalities.
- In the United States, fitting a bump stock to a semi-automatic firearm causes it to be classified as a machine gun by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, meaning they are effectively banned on the federal level. They are also banned in Canada and the United Kingdom.
(A quick explanation: I was actively involved in relief efforts for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, organizing and dispatching teams of field workers to assist in the disaster-stricken areas. This is where many of the references in this post came from.)
Over the course of today I’ve heard back from several of our field reps who were in the hurricane-damaged areas from Wednesday through Sunday, and have also picked up on after-action reports from my contacts in the Louisiana State Police, and, through them, some from the Mississippi State Police. This e-mail summarizes experiences and lessons learned.
1. People who were prepared were frequently mobbed/threatened by those who weren’t. This was reported in at least seven incidents, five in Mississippi, two in Louisiana (I suspect that the relative lack of Louisiana incidents was because most of those with any sense left before the storm hit). In each case, the person/family concerned had made preparations for disaster, with supplies, shelter, etc. in good order and ready to go. Several had generators ready and waiting. However, their neighbors who had not prepared all came running after the disaster, wanting food, water and shelter from them. When the prepared families refused, on the grounds that they had very little, and that only enough for themselves, there were many incidents of aggression, attempted assault, and theft of their supplies. Some had to use weapons to deter attack, and in some cases, shots were fired. I understand that in two incidents, attackers and/or would-be thieves were shot. It’s also reported that in all of these cases, the prepared families now face threats of retribution from their neighbors, who regarded their refusal to share as an act of selfishness and/or aggression, and are now threatening retaliation. It’s reportedly so bad that most of the prepared families are considering moving to other neighborhoods, so as to start afresh, with different neighbors.
Similar incidents are reported by families who got out in time, prepared to spend several days on their own. When they stopped to eat a picnic meal at a rest stop, or an isolated spot along the highway, they report being approached rather aggressively by others wanting food, or fuel, or other essentials. Sometimes they had to be rather aggressive in their turn to deter these insistent requests. Two families report attempts being made to steal their belongings (in one case, their vehicle) while overnighting in camp sites on their way out of the area. They both instituted armed patrols, with one or more family members patrolling while the others slept, to prevent this. Seems to me to be a good argument to form a “bug-out team” with like-minded, security-conscious friends in your area, so that all concerned can provide mutual security and back-up.
I can understand these families being unwilling to share the little they had, particularly in light of not knowing when supplies would once again be available. However, this reinforces the point I made in my “lessons learned” post last week: plan on needing much more in the way of supplies than you initially thought! If these families had had some extra food and water, and hidden their main reserve where it would not be seen, they could have given at least some help to their neighbors and preserved good relations. Also, a generator, under such circumstances, is a noisy invitation (and a bright one, if powering your interior lights), saying, “This house has supplies – come and get them!” I suspect that kerosene lanterns, candles and flashlights might be a more “community-safe” option if one is surrounded by survivors.
2. When help gets there, you may get it whether you like it or not! There are numerous reports of aggressive, overbearing behavior by those rescuers who first arrived at disaster scenes. It’s perhaps best described as “I’m here to rescue you – I’m in charge – do as I say – if you don’t I’ll shoot you”. It appears that mid-level State functionaries and Red Cross personnel (the latter without the “shoot you” aspect, of course) were complained about most often. In one incident, a family who had prepared and survived quite well were ordered, not invited, to get onto a truck, with only the clothes on their backs. When they objected, they were threatened. They had pets, and wanted to know what would happen to them. They report that a uniformed man (agency unknown) began pointing his rifle at the pets with the words, “I’ll fix that”. The husband then trained his own shotgun on the man, and explained to him, in words of approximately one syllable, what was going to happen to him if he fired a shot. The whole “rescuer” group then left, promising dire consequences for the family (including threats to come back once they’d evacuated and torch their home). The family were able to make contact with a State Police patrol and report the incident, and are now determined that no matter how much pressure is applied, they will not evacuate. They’ve set up a “shuttle run” so that every few days, two of them go upstate to collect supplies for the rest of the family, who defend the homestead in the meantime.
Another aspect of this is that self-sufficient, responsible families were often regarded almost with suspicion by rescuers. The latter seemed to believe that if you’d come through the disaster better than your neighbors, it could only have been because you stole what you needed, or somehow gained some sort of unfair advantage over the “average victims” in your area. I’m at a loss to explain this, but it’s probably worth keeping in mind.
3. There seems to be a cumulative psychological effect upon survivors. This is clear even – or perhaps particularly – in those who were prepared for a disaster. During and immediately after the event these folks were at their best, dealing with damage, setting up alternative accommodation, light, food sources, etc. However, after a few days in the heat and debris (perhaps worst of all being the smell of dead bodies nearby), many found their ability to remain positive and “upbeat” being strained to the limit. There are numerous reports of individuals becoming depressed, morose and withdrawn. This seemed to happen to even the strongest personalities. The arrival of rescuers provided a temporary boost, but once evacuated, a sort of “after-action shell-shock” seems to be commonly experienced. I don’t know enough about this to comment further, but I suspect that staying in place has a lot to do with it – there is no challenge to keep moving, find one’s survival needs, and care for the group, and one is surrounded by vivid reminders of the devastation. By staying among the ruins of one’s former life, one may be exposing oneself to a greater risk of psychological deterioration.
4. There is widespread frustration over the lack of communication and empathy by rescuers and local/State government. This is partly due to the absence of electricity, so that TV’s were not available to follow events as they unfolded: but it’s also due to an almost deliberate policy of non-communication by rescuers. There are many accounts of evacuees wanting to know where the bus or plane was going that they were about to board, only to be told “We don’t know”, or “To a better place than this”. Some have found themselves many States away from their homes. Other families were arbitrarily separated upon rescue and/or evacuation, and are still scattered across two or three States. Their efforts to locate each other are very difficult, and when they request to be reunited at a common location, all of those with whom I have contact report a blanket refusal by the Red Cross and State officials to even consider the matter at this time. They’re being informed that it will be “looked into” at some future date, and that they may have to pay the costs involved if they want to join up again. This, to families who are now destitute! I’m very angry about this, but it’s so widespread a problem that I don’t know what can be done about it. I hope that in future, some means will be implemented to prevent it happening again. Lesson learned: never, EVER allow yourselves to be separated as a family, even if it means waiting for later rescue and/or evacuation. Insist on this at all costs!
5. Expect rescuers (including law enforcement) to enforce a distinctly un-Constitutional authority in a disaster situation. This is very widely reported, and is very troubling. I hear repeated reports from numerous States that as evacuees arrive at refugee centers, they and their belongings are searched without legitimate Constitutional authority, and any personal belongings seen as potentially suspicious (including firearms, prescription medication, etc.) are confiscated without recourse to the owner. I can understand the point of view of the receiving authorities, but they are acting illegally, and I suspect there will be lawsuits arising from this practice. Another common practice reported on the ground in the disaster areas is for people to be ordered to evacuate, irrespective of their needs and wishes – even those folks who were well-prepared and have survived in good shape. If they demur, they are often threatened and bullied in an attempt to make them abandon their homes, pets, etc. Lesson learned: in a disaster, don’t expect legal and Constitutional norms to be followed. If you can make it on your own, do so, without relying on an unsympathetic and occasionally overbearing rescue system to control you and your destiny.
6. Don’t believe that rescuers are all knights in shining armor who will respect your property. There have been numerous reports of rescuers casually appropriating small items that took their fancy in houses they were searching. Sometimes this was blatant, right in front of onlookers, and when protests were made, the response was either threatening, or a casual “Who’s going to miss it now?”. Some of our field agents report that this happened right in front of their eyes. Another aspect of this is damage caused to buildings by rescuers. I’ve had reports of them kicking in the front door to a house, or a window, instead of trying to obtain access with as little damage as possible; climbing on clean, highly-polished tables with hobnailed boots in order to get at an attic hatch to check for survivors; etc. When they left the house, often the door or window was left unlocked, almost a standing invitation to looters, instead of being secured. When the families concerned get home, they won’t know who caused this damage, but they will certainly be angered by it. I think that if one evacuates one’s home, it might be a good idea to leave a clearly-visible notice that all residents have left, so as to let would-be rescuers know that this house is empty. On the other hand, this might make it easier for looters, so what you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabouts . . .
This will be about broader issues than just bug-out or threat situations. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching closely as the whole evacuation and rescue drama has played out, and have been very active in the relief process, learning all I can for future reference. There are some broader issues that might not come to mind at first thought, but which are directly relevant to our own safety, security, and peaceful possession of our homes. Some of these have been mentioned in earlier e-mails, but they bear repeating in the light of the number of incidents of which I’ve heard.
1. If you choose to help, you may be sucked into a bureaucratic and legal nightmare. Example: a local church, in the beginning stages of the crisis, offered its hall to house evacuees. Local and State officials promptly filled it up with over 100 people. Their “social skills” proved extremely difficult to live with . . . toilets were blocked, restrooms left filthy, graffiti were scrawled and/or carved on the walls, arguments and disputes were frequent (often escalating to screaming matches, sometimes to physical violence), evacuees roamed the neighborhood (leading to all sorts of reports of petty theft, vandalism, etc.), church workers were subject to aggressive begging and demands, etc. Requests to the authorities to provide better security, administrative assistance, etc. apparently fell on deaf ears – the crisis was so widespread and overwhelming that a small facility such as this seems to have been very low on the priority checklist.
After two days of this, with complaints from the neighbors becoming more and more insistent, the church informed local officials that it wanted the evacuees removed at once, if not sooner. They were promptly subject to bureaucratic heavy-handedness (including threats to withhold previously-promised reimbursement for their expenses); threats of lawsuits for daring to insinuate that the evacuees were somehow “lower-class” in their conduct, and for alleged racism, slander, and general political incorrectness; and threats of negative publicity, in that officials threatened to put out a press release denouncing the church for its “elitist” and “un-co-operative” attitude in a time of crisis.
The church initially caved in to this pressure, and allowed the evacuees to stay: but within a couple more days, the pressure from neighbors and from its own members became impossible to bear, and they insisted on the evacuees being removed to a Red Cross shelter. I’m informed that repairs to their hall will cost over $10,000. This is only one example among many I could cite, but it makes the point clear – if you offer your facilities to authorities, you place yourself (to a certain extent) under their control, and you’re potentially liable to a great deal of heavy-handed, insensitive bureaucratic bullying. Those of you in the same position as this church (i.e. with facilities you could make available) might wish to take note.
2. Law enforcement problems will often be “glossed over” and/or ignored by authorities. In many cities housing evacuees, there have been reports of a significant increase in crime caused by their presence: but you’ll find that virtually all law enforcement authorities publicly deny this, and/or gloss over it as a “temporary problem”. This is all very well for publicity, but it ignores the increased risk to local residents. I’ve been tracking crime reports in about a dozen cities, through my contacts with local law enforcement and the Louisiana State Police. All the LEO’s I speak with, without exception, tell me of greatly increased crime, including rape, assault, robbery, shoplifting, vandalism, gang activity, etc. However, you won’t see these reports in the news media – indeed, you’ll often see senior LE figures actively denying it. The officers with whom I speak are angry and bitter about this, but they daren’t “go public”, as their jobs would be on the line if they did so. They tell me that often they’re instructed not to report certain categories of “incident” at all, so as not to “skew” or “inflate” the “official” crime figures.
I’ve also heard reports from Texas, Alabama and Tennessee of brand-new high-end motor vehicles (e.g. Cadillacs, Lincolns, BMW’s, etc.), with New Orleans dealer tags, being driven through various towns on their way North and West. The drivers were described as “gang-bangers” (and sundry less complimentary terms). However, there have been no reports of stolen vehicles from New Orleans, because there are no workers to check out dealer lots, or report thefts, and no working computers to enter VIN’s, etc. into the NICS database of stolen vehicles – so officers have had no choice but to let these vehicles proceed. Draw your own conclusions.
3. Your personal and/or corporate supplies and facilities may be commandeered without warning, receipt or compensation. I’ve had numerous reports from in and near the disaster zone of individuals (e.g. boat-owners, farmers with barns, tractors, etc.) and corporate groups (e.g. companies with heavy equipment, churches with halls, etc.) finding an official on their doorstep demanding the use of their facilities or equipment. If they demurred, they were told that this was an “emergency situation” and that their assistance was being required, not requested. Some of them have lost track of the heavy equipment “borrowed” in this way, and don’t know where it is, whether or not it’s still in good condition, and when (if ever) it will be returned. In the meantime, they can’t continue their normal operations without this equipment. Others have had their land and facilities effectively confiscated for use by rescue and relief workers, storage of supplies, etc. In some cases, in the absence of their (evacuated) owners, the property of the individuals and groups concerned (e.g. farm gasoline and diesel supplies, the inventory of motor vehicle dealers, suppliers of foodstuffs, tarpaulins, etc.) have been commandeered and used by law enforcement and relief workers, without permission, receipts, reimbursement, etc. Protests have been met with denials, threats of arrest, insinuations of being “uncaring” and “un-co-operative”, etc.
Lesson learned: if you’ve got what officials need in a time of crisis, forget about Constitutional protections of your property! Sure, you can sue after the fact, but if you need your goods and facilities for your own survival, you’re basically S.O.L. Those of us who stockpile necessities for potential crises like this might want to consider concealing our stockpiles to prevent confiscation: and if you need certain equipment for your own day-to-day use (e.g. tractors for farmers, generators, etc.), you might have a hard time retaining possession of them. This applies to relief workers as well. I’ve had several reports of private relief workers (e.g. those sent in by churches, etc.) having their vehicles and supplies commandeered by “official” relief workers, without compensation or receipt, and being kicked out of the disaster area with warnings not to return. The fact that the “private” workers were accomplishing rather more than the “official” workers was apparently irrelevant (except to annoy the latter).
4. If you look like you know what you’re doing, you may be a target of those less prepared. There have been many, many reports of individuals who were more or less prepared for a disaster being preyed upon by those who were not prepared. Incidents range from theft of supplies, through attempts to bug out with these persons (uninvited), to actual violence. It’s genuinely frightening to hear about these incidents, particularly the attitude of those trying to prey on the prepared. They seemed to feel that because you’d taken steps to protect yourself and your loved ones, you had somehow done so at their expense, and they were therefore “entitled” to take from you what they needed. There’s no logical explanation for this attitude, unless it’s bred by the utter dependence of many such people on the State for welfare, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, etc. Since they’ve always been dependent on others, and regarded this as an “entitlement”, in a disaster situation, they seem to automatically assume that they’re “entitled” to whatever you’ve got! In one case the family’s pet dog was held hostage, with a knife at its throat, until the family handed over money and supplies. In two cases, families were threatened with the rape of their women unless they co-operated with the aggressors. In four cases that I know of, children were held hostage to ensure co-operation. There have also been reports of crimes during the bug-out process. Families sleeping in their cars at highway rest areas were a favorite target, including siphoning of gas from their tanks, assaults, etc.
The lessons to be learned from this are obvious. One family can’t secure itself against these threats without great difficulty. It’s best to be “teamed up” with neighbors to secure your neighborhood as a whole, rather than be the only house with facilities in an area filled with those less prepared. If you’re in the latter situation, staying put may not be a safe option, and a bug-out plan may be vital. When bugging out, you’re still not safe from harm, and must maintain constant vigilance.
5. Those who thought themselves safe from the disaster were often not safe from refugees. There have been many reports of smaller towns, farms, etc. on the fringe of the disaster area being overrun with those seeking assistance. In many cases, assistance was demanded rather than requested, and theft, looting and vandalism have been reported. So, even if you think you’re safe from the disaster, you may not be safe from its aftermath.
6. Self-reliance seems to draw suspicion upon you from the authorities. I’ve mentioned this in a previous e-mail, but I’ve had many more reports of it from those who survived or bugged out, and it bears re-emphasizing. For reasons unknown and unfathomable, rescue authorities seem to regard with suspicion those who’ve made provision for their safety and have survived (or bugged out) in good shape. It seems to be a combination of “How could you cope when so many others haven’t?”, “You must have taken advantage of others to be so well off”, and “We’ve come all this way to help, so how dare you not need our assistance?” I have no idea why this should be the case, but there have been enough reports of it that it seems to be a widespread problem. Any ideas from readers?
7. Relief workers from other regions and States often don’t know local laws. This is a particular problem when it comes to firearms. I’ve had many reports of law enforcement officers sent to assist in Louisiana from states such as New Jersey, California, etc. trying to confiscate firearms on the streets, etc., when in fact the armed citizens were legally armed, under local law. One can’t reason with these officers in the heat of the moment, of course, and as a result, a number of people lost their firearms, and have still not recovered them. In the chaos of the immediate post-disaster situation, they may never do so, because I’m not sure that normal procedures such as logging these guns into a property office, etc. were followed. I understand that in due course, steps were taken to include at least one local law enforcement officer in patrols, so that he could advise officers from other areas as to what was legal, and what wasn’t. Also, in Louisiana, law enforcement is conducted differently than in some other states, and officers from other states who came to assist were sometimes found to be domineering and aggressive in enforcing a law enforcement “authority” that doesn’t normally apply here. So, if you’re in a disaster area, and help arrives from elsewhere, you may find that the help doesn’t know (or care) about local laws, norms, etc. Use caution!
8. Relief organizations have their own bureaucratic requirements that may conflict with your needs. A good example is the Red Cross. In many cases across three states, I’ve had reports that locals who needed assistance were told that they had to register at a particular Red Cross shelter or facility. The help would not come to them – they had to go to it. If they wished to stay on their own property, they were sometimes denied assistance, and told that if they wanted help, they had to move into the shelter to get it. Also, assistance was often provided only to those who came in person. If you left your family at home and went to get food aid, you might be denied aid for your whole family, because there was no evidence that they existed. Only the number that could be physically counted by relief workers (who would not come to you, but insisted you come to them) would be provided with food. Needless to say, this caused much anger and resentment.