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Contrary to popular belief, SOF and regular military that fight overseas are not ‘capping’ bad guys with their 9mm handguns or gutting terrorists with their pig-stickers. Games like Call of Duty (COD) give the public the wrong impression about the uses of pistols and knives by SOF and regular military forces.
These games are breeding an entire generation of fat and lazy kids who want to join the military because they think it would be cool to shoot terrorist in the face while dual wielding MP5s. Sorry boys, but having highly dexterous thumbs isn’t going to keep America any safer.
As a sniper I carried a handgun as a backup and for use when negotiating obstacles. It isn’t very functional to climb the side of a building or ladder while trying to maintain hold of a sniper rifle. I would sling my rifle and climb with a handgun because it was much quieter and gave me more options if I needed to bail and find cover. If the climbing got dicey enough, I would holster my sidearm and get security or coverage from one of my teammates.
As snipers, we would spend a considerable amount of time performing transitions from rifle to pistol. Many refer to this type of training as low-frequency, high-risk. The type of situation that you would need to transition from your rifle to pistol and engage someone with a pistol is very rare, but when necessary, the speed and accuracy of transition is vital to the safety of the men around you, yourself, and the mission success.
A friend of mine, a fellow sniper, was always getting harassed by the rest of the guys in the sniper section because he wasn’t ‘the best’ at shooting the standard issue Berretta 9mm. The name TwoGun came about by another one of our snipers, Donny. Donny used to say that our pistol-challenged friend would probably need two pistols to actually hit anything.
Many years ago, Donny and TwoGun were on a capture/kill mission of an HVT in Fallujah, Iraq. Their job was to cover the assaulting platoon of Rangers. Due to the nature of the buildings where the target house was located, they had to use their ladder to span a courtyard to gain access to the rooftops of the neighborhood.
The houses were arranged back-to-back, with a little alleyway running between. Like most houses in Iraq, the ones in the target neighborhood were flat-roofed and had parapet walls. Once the sniper team was on the roof, Donny negotiated the parapet obstacle and went to the roof of the target house. TwoGun remained on the first rooftop to cover the multiple access points to the roof.
The walls that divided the rear of the houses from the alleyway were very tall and difficult to see over. The team wanted to stay in visual contact with each other, so TwoGun found a higher point on the roof to gain a better vantage point. Following our protocols of negotiating obstacles with a sidearm in hand, TwoGun had his rifle slung.
Moments later three individuals came storming up one of the roof access points. By the time that he turned to see the individuals, the first man was already behind a corner, but TwoGun was fast enough to drop the third individual with three finely placed 9mm rounds. Immediately Donny, who had also heard the men advancing, engaged the second and third man with accurate fires from his sniper rifle.
If asked, many men working in SOF will tell you that they don’t even know anyone who has shot someone with a sidearm during a combat mission. I certainly didn’t before that night in Fallujah. Throughout Battalion and other units of SOF, TwoGun quickly became a legend. I guess all that pistol training and shit-flicking in TwoGun’s direction paid off in the long run.
Train the low-frequency and high-risk situations. You never know when you will need to call upon the necessary skills. TwoGun did it and he didn’t even have to dual wield.
Featured image courtesy of Reddit.
Previously published by SOFREP 04.10.2013 written by Isaiah Burkhart.
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