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Departments : The Winning Edge

Patrol Rifle as Close Quarters Weapon

If you haven't trained to engage a suspect at less than 100 yards with your patrol rifle, start now.

February 05, 2010  |  by Michael T. Rayburn - Also by this author

If we learned anything from the North Hollywood Bank Robbery of 1997, besides the fact that law enforcement officers in this country possess uncommon courage, it's that we sometimes need the ability to "reach out and touch" our adversaries with superior firepower. This incident proved our handguns are no match against a fully automatic assault rifle in the hands of someone willing to use it.

As a result, new calls were heard to better arm law enforcement, calls that hadn't been heard since the days of Al Capone and other notorious criminals who armed themselves with the Tommy gun. To meet this modern-day challenge, many departments across the country opted to obtain patrol rifles for their officers.

Being able to "reach out and touch" someone at a greater distance, however, is not the only advantage of a patrol rifle. Its superior firepower, light weight, ease of use, dependability, and overall functionality make it a great weapon at close distances, as well. The problem is that most law enforcement patrol rifle training centers around skills, or tactics, designed for greater distances than are experienced in most street confrontations. Look at the case histories when these weapons have been used. Is the long distance shot sometimes being taken by officers? Yes, but the majority of the time the patrol rifle is deployed at much closer distances.

Necessary Skills

If you look at the circumstances surrounding the use of the patrol rifle by law enforcement, they are most often put into action at traffic stops, as in a high-risk stop, where the distance is not more than a car length or two ahead of the officer, or across a roadway. You'll also find that patrol officers and tactical teams most often deploy the rifle within a building, usually a residential building, where the distance is measured in a few feet, and not the hundreds of yards on a rifle range.

Even if you do find yourself at that long distance, can you make the shot? Are your skills where they need to be? When was the last time you fired your patrol rifle at that distance? Can you tell, with the naked eye, if the subject still poses a threat at 300 yards, 200 yards, or even 100 yards, in low light? More importantly, do you have a safe backstop to make that long distance shot? Remember, we are accountable for every round we send downrange.

Whether you're shooting your rifle a short or long distance, you need to be able to place the shot as safely and effectively as possible.

Comments (9)

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

tpd223 @ 2/9/2010 11:27 PM

I seriously wish that Police magazine would quit publishing articles by Mr. Rayburn.

This is the same guy who advised officers that to win a close range fight using their duty pistols they should forget their sights, use point shooting, and jerk the trigger "as hard and as fast as possible".

While some of this article is correct, other parts are way off base. Now he is advocating virtually the same thing with the carbine, while also recommending that they not utilize proven gunfighting gear such as Aimpoint sights.

Perhaps you could have a counter point article by other trainers far more qualified to render and opinion, such as Pat Rogers, Scott Reitz, Vince O'Neill, etc., advice which would be completely opposite of Mr. Rayburn's.

I seriously hope Mr. Rayburns articles aren't taken seriously by any coppers or military folks as he is going to get a good guy killed.


Lt. Chuck Haggard

GrumpyGrizz @ 2/10/2010 12:39 AM

The only thing I learned by reading this article is that the author hasn't been paying attention to CQB technology or tactics in the past 10 years. Remove the RDS or optics? Why? I find it odd that in the same article I read, "we are accountable for every round we send downrange" and " you don't even need your sights". Come again?

Punisher @ 2/15/2010 12:57 PM

Really? Agencies are just now getting rifles? What era is the author in? My Department of just four Officers has had patrol rifles for the better part of a decade and are all trained tactically on them. We don't grab a shotgun anymore, we grab the rifle (and every magazine we can stuff into our emergency bag. I carry my own rifle and have since graduating the academy. Yes, you can "reach out and touch someone" @ distance w/ a patrol rifle. But why? At that distance, you have time to look for other options. Training and thinking behind the gun should be stressed. Working out problems. Transistioning to your secondary weapon. Clearing malfunctions. This article hits on none of that. Outdated is what the article is. Optics are another great tool to have on a rifle with good back up training in iron sights. Trigger control. And why on earth would you fire from the hip like the picture of the article portrays? You may hit the guy close but his buddy who is out 30 more yards behind cover will have the drop on you has you flail about trying to shoulder the weapon. poor poor tactics.

Stro @ 2/23/2010 5:05 PM

Being a 20 year NYS "Road" Trooper, I will back up Mr. Rayburn and his training tactics.
Lt. Haggard, I believe you may be too far removed from the road to understand close combat - we are trained in this manner and Mr. Rayburn never advised anyone to "jerk" the trigger.
GrumpyGrizz and Punisher, we are just beginning to see patrol rifles on our job, we have ONE per station assigned to one person. We are still waiting for the funding to get them, and you are dreaming to think NYS will buy us "optics". Iron sights only.
I don't know what dream agencies you guys work for with unlimited budgets, but I would like to work in one of them.
Mr. Rayburn deals in the realities of our line of work. Not TV and movie combat. Most shootings are so fast and so close that sights are a luxury. We train point shoot at anything 15 yards and closer.
With practice, 25 yard point shoot is accurate enough to win the fight.

Punisher @ 2/25/2010 6:38 AM

Yes, agencies are facing budget problems. Yes, not everyone has patrol rifles. We have them available to us. I personally carry my own and purchased it myself as well as the optics, magazines, and all teh bells and whistles that go with it. I see it like this; everyone should be trained on as many things as they can. Shotgun. Rifle. Tape measures. Less Leathal. Accident. Homicide. Anything we can learn will help us do our job better. There are thousands of different ways to train or to learn and do things. Agreed. Consistency in training between all weapons as well as realizing and understanding HICKS Law is best. Again, with patrol tactics becoming more and more "tactical" in nature (as they should be), why not train to the most up to date methods and those that are fastest efficiency wise. Less movement, less thinking, more training. Put yourself in training situations that are more real world.

Sergeant L Huckstadt @ 5/3/2012 12:31 PM

For over 35 years I have heard the point shoot crowd verbally fighting it out with the sights always in line gang! Its no wonder new officers pay thousands of dollars to attend Zen like masters who teach them techniques that administrators have nightmares about only to find a lone voice or two like Pat Rodgers or Clint Smith offering some common sense. Why can't we learn to blend the two camps together and accept each jurisdiction will have its own methods that protect their officers. Semper Fi!

Mike Rayburn @ 8/31/2016 5:23 AM

For well over 20 years, every time I write about point shooting, whether it's with a handgun, rifle, or shotgun, I've been told I'm "going to get guys killed" just like what Lt. Chuck Haggard has stated, and yet every time just the opposite happens. Every time I write about point shooting I'll get anywhere from 20 - 40 phone calls and emails from guys that have been involved in an officer involved shooting (OIS), with some having been involved in multiple shootings. They thank me for "having the courage to tell the truth" about what happens in an OIS. The conversations most always start off with them telling me about their shooting incident, and then they tell me, "what you said in your article, is exactly what happened to me". So go ahead and keep telling me I'm going to "get guys killed", because I know the truth, and the truth is you've got your head buried in the sand, or somewhere else, and you refuse to look at the facts of an actual OIS, but instead pretend to be all knowing.

Carl Dodd @ 3/19/2017 11:02 PM

Point shooting does have its uses. Before going to Viet Nam many us infantrymen were taught how to do it while going through a course titled "Quick Kill Training." Look it up. After we got to Nam some of us went through more point shooting and high speed shooting training. I now have over 43+ years in law enforcement and teach firearms and shooting techniques to younger officers. Both point shooting and aimed, deliberate fire have served me well. The key is being smart enough to know which one to use and when to use the right one.

letssay @ 10/10/2018 4:38 AM

lets say you think optics and other crap could 'save your life by being so good for you'. Do you value you life for a single paycheck? Go buy your own. Dont complain about lack of funding. What are you children?

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