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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

Good Tactics

In a recent case, a subject armed with an assault rifle opened up a barrage of gunfire on a New York State Police officer at a traffic stop near Albany. The trooper was able to retreat to a safe location with the help of a retired officer who just happened to be driving by. Other officers responded to the scene and hunkered down more than 400 yards away while the subject continued to fire wildly. At that distance the backup officers, from a 22-man police force which at the time only owned one patrol rifle for the entire department, felt that the distance was too great and lacked a safe backstop.

Two of these patrol officers, along with their chief, flanked the gunman's position to a wooded area on the side of the highway where they had a safe backstop, and quickly ended the confrontation with five well-placed shots. This department not only had the foresight to see the need for a patrol rifle, but after this incident the agency was able to find the funding to purchase two additional rifles.

On the other hand, the New York State Police still do not have patrol rifles in all of their vehicles and only carry buckshot in their shotguns, which they found out is not very effective at 400 yards.

Change Range Training

The shotgun is a devastating tool at close distances, but the patrol rifle is just as deadly given the right training. Therein lies the problem. We focus too much on that long distance shot, and not the close distances where we find the patrol rifle most often deployed. Is there a need to know how to make a head shot at 100 yards? Considering the human head can move four inches in one-sixtieth of a second, is it even possible? Should we spend our limited training resources on a shot that may not ever happen, or that is close to impossible to make in the field?

The answer is yes, because those shots do sometimes happen and we need to be prepared for them. The New York incident was terminated at a distance of roughly 70 yards. But we also need to be prepared and train for the close quarters shot where the rifle is most often deployed.

This is where some firearms instructors will advise you, "If they can hit the target at 100 yards, then they can hit it up close." But that's just not true. The dynamics of a gunfight at 100 yards are totally different from a gunfight occurring at five yards, 10 yards, or even 20 yards.

At 100 yards, we look for precision. At close distances, depending on the circumstances, we look for quick hits on the target. When that gunman pops out of a bedroom at the end of the hallway, we need speed and hits to end the fight quickly. When that driver exits his vehicle at a high-risk traffic stop with his gun blazing, we need to end the fight quickly.

Ending the fight quickly means placing effective rounds into your adversary as quickly as you can. This is actually very easy to do if you're willing to think outside of the box. The "box" I'm referring to is that square range you go to with your patrol rifle to qualify. We need to do more than just "qualify" on the range with the patrol rifle. A lot of time and effort went into the research, development, design, and manufacture of this weapon. Yet very few officers are aware of its true capabilities as a close-quarters tool.

Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

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.

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