Poor Training or Poor Grip Angle? The Answer is Both

SEPTEMBER 5, 2015 BROOKLYN, NY: WHILE TRYING TO APPREHEND A FUGITIVE, POLICE FIRE 82 SHOTS AND ONLY HIT SUSPECT ONCE IN THE LEG.

 

What went horribly wrong? People in the area could have been killed or at least wounded.

After many years in the firearms business, I have a learned opinion. Stepping back a hundred years, John Browning said that for a handgun to be a proper defensive weapon, it should fit the shooter like a glove with the bullet going where a thrown fist would. In this case, a grip angle of 16 degrees above perpendicular is proper for most people.  But the handgun of choice for the NYPD and most police departments is not right in this respect.  The grip angle on these guns is often quoted at 22 degrees. In the real world this disparity translates to high shot placement in intense shooting situations, which all shooting situations are.

Think I’m wrong? Try this simple test. While holding a gun in your hand with your eyes closed, thrust it forward and then open your eyes. If your firearm was designed with an intuitive grip angle like John Browning described then you should be looking down the sights and at your target.  If instead you find the gun pointed slightly high, then you’re probably holding a gun the NYPD would love to buy for officers.   

Having a weapon that generally, and with most people, points slightly over their targets is not a problem if you make a slight adjustment before shooting.  This is not a problem on the range.  But in the heat of passion, shooters often don’t make the necessary split-second adjustments and instead fire over their adversary’s head.

Of course it doesn’t help that the police fired their pistols as fast as they possibly could.  In the case sited above, the New York Daily News reports that the suspect was wearing red pants and running down the street, and that officers pulled their cars in front of him to block the road.  As the suspect in red pants approached, two officers emptied their sixteen round clips and hit him once.  This 32 round burst happened after several other officers had already fired 52 rounds at the man in red pants.

The Daily News story provides audio of the incident.  Listen to how quickly the police emptied their magazines.  It’s probably a miracle that somebody hit the man at all, or that someone else wasn’t shot.  The question that comes to my mind is how can anyone expect to hit a moving target if they’re firing so quickly?