For decades now, I’ve done a series for American Handgunner magazine called “The Ayoob Files” in which we dissect and analyze actual gunfights.  Some are historical, but most are contemporary and include interviews with the survivors.

I recently reviewed this one.  That September/October 1991 issue covered a classic and tragic incident in Baton Rouge. A young policewoman was murdered, and a particularly determined cop-killer finished off at last by the sole survivor.

Lessons: Some bad guys take a lot of lead before they stop committing mayhem and murder. Body armor can be a life-saver…if you’re wearing it.  Armed people need to full grasp both gun disarming and the flip side of such struggles, weapon retention.

Lots of other useful material in that issue, too.


    • Larry, “Amen” to the Mag80 class. This monumental, classic Ayoob Files article is a class in itself, too, as well as a horror story fit for any Halloween. My own first round to fire from my spur-less five-shot .357 revolver, though, generally starts with the .38 Special +P like the one in the story. I use the option of a .38+P as a concession to it being “quieter” than a full .357 load. On a close aggressor my first shot would usually be one-handed, with my off hand warding away a grab. My target is likely to be the article-mentioned central spot that temporarily shocked the cop killer back, similar to where Lee Harvey Oswald appeared to be hit. A veteran ultrasound specialist once discussed with me the high bodily reaction to a bullet in that area. My second round, though, is a very hot “light” .357 hollow-point, for more of a “stopper,” if necessary. My third round is a 158-grain JSP, for dealing with aggressive predators like my neighborhood’s coyotes and sometimes the up to 50-pound wildcats that jump over my six-foot high fence into the back yard to hunt pets, or 125-pound-and-plus cougars, with distemper (a disease now getting rampant in Phoenix), rabies, etc., that might get through my first two shots. My fourth round is a penetrating, 180 grain cast-core load for “insurance” when meeting an aggressive bull or bear out in the country. My fifth round is a maximal, 180-grain hard-cast for braining any animal that the previous rounds did not drop. I can probably fire the whole cylinder accurately in about two seconds. I carry either spare speed-loaders or speedy-strips. I have been in several critical situations, both with drug-loopy aggressors and with vicious animals, where a handy, sturdy, compact .38/.357 can be a wise defensive choice against a close-quarters ambush. I obviously carry a variety of cartridges for rational purposes, not out of ignorance or a lack of ammo! I also often pack a compact 9mm semiauto and spare mags for general firepower and accuracy, especially for dealing with armor-wearing felons. My long-barreled, single-action Ruger .45 Colt with heavy loads will drop a bear or a Cape Buffalo. I am thus capable of delivering a message in spades, appropriate to the infrequent, but seemingly inevitable, active adversary. The evil habits of some of our politically-related leadership of creating crises in order to promote chaos that camouflages “elite” crime, through cooperation from a well-greased Media Mob, seem to have taken root. The inevitable may be happening, though. Evil can come back full cycle. The hammer that recently clobbered Mr. Pelosi is too reminiscent of the hammer and sickle of the Soviet Banner so apparently admired by Nancy’s Dad. And beware the scythe of the Grim Reaper coming for everybody via Power Politics! Meanwhile, the need for our 2nd Amendment is no less, while under greater attack.

  1. As before, a lotta good information in one place. I’ve no idea how many firearm retention/disarming systems there are, but beware the dojo dance routines. I was trained in the PPCT system when I attended Lethal Threat Management for Police and was exposed to the Lindell system. Lindell is a much more powerful system, I later became a certified instructor in the system. Was worth the time & money if you can find a trainer.

    As private citizens, we have neither duty nor obligation to close with threats. Maintain your distance, create it you have to. The duty to retreat-or the ability to do so- can allow you to find a safe backstop.

  2. I remember this particular Ayoob File. It was one that you selected and published in your book entitled “The Ayoob Files: The Book”. (Published by Police Bookshelf, Copyright 1995). It was the listed on Page 48 as “The Terminator: The Steve Chaney Incident”.

    It was buying this book, and reading it, that first got me interested in your Ayoob Files. I have been a fan of the lessons that they teach for many years.

    One lesson from this incident is how variable the reaction can be when a human is shot. The female police officer took a single hit to the center of mass. She was instantly stopped, fell down, and was dead withing seconds.

    Meanwhile, the criminal was shot multiple times, battered, and lost huge amounts of blood. Yet continued to fight until his body simply could not fight anymore. When I first read this story, this contrast in reaction is what jumped out at me.

    It is why they teach one to continue to shoot until the threat is neutralized.

  3. How timely, with the MAG120 courses coming up in a few months. As always,the Ayoob Files are among my favorites of your writings Mas

  4. Isn’t there a contradiction on the cover? A badman can soak up bullets, but the FBI are withdrawing the 10mm?
    Like with all the criticism of the US army switching to 6.8 x 51. it’s heavier, bulkier, has more recoil, expense and barrel wear, less mag capacity, easier coroding ammunition, less choice of roiund…..
    All true.
    And the 10mm is a beast for small people to handle.
    But none of that matters if the alternative doesn’t stop the badman.

  5. I’d love to see you to do an Ayoob File for one of Larry Correia’s short story collections. Maybe it could be presented as something that you submitted to American Handgunner but got censored by MCB and now resides in a bureaucrat’s file cabinet.

  6. Thanks Mas, this story is well told. It’s as impactful today as the first time I read it 31 years ago (jeez we get old).

  7. After reading the detailed description of that intense combat situation, I think I might have a touch of PTSD myself. What an incredibly horrific situation to find oneself trapped in. God bless the men and women who lay their lives on the line for us every day!

  8. Somewhat off the topic, but we issued the 1006 and full power ammo. After a couple of years we were able to discontinue the “qualification enhancement program” for those who’d been shooting in the 70th percentile for years. The primary issue with the 1000 series was the N frame like reach to the trigger, but even our smaller statured folks did quite well with it.

    No, it wasn’t the ideal sidearm, the powers that made the decision had a bad case of me too ism. But, this isn’t the time or place to hash over long past bad executive decisions and the flawed reasoning behind them.

  9. Also a bit off topic, but Wow….I went through the entire issue and it was like getting sucked into a wind-tunnel back in time. I remember buying this issue back then, I was just about to leave the Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. to go to work for the US Dept. of Energy’s Pantex Plant outside of Amarillo. I had also been doing reserve patrol work for several years with the Potter County Sheriff’s Office and, given my choice in professions, was very much trying to soak up all I could about firearms training, equipment data and ballistic info.

    AH was tops on my list, with a few other magazines, that I’d pick up every time they came out. Mostly it was your articles that I looked for, but I appreciated a lot of what we now call ‘content’ in a lot ’em. They were the YouTube & Instagram channels of their day, there wasn’t really anywhere else to get that kind of information, so I tried soaking up all I could from what appeared to be reliable sources. And you Mas, was at the top of the list.

    But what really shot me back were all the ads! LOL, seeing so many companies having come and gone, so many new ideas breathlessly touted as the latest, greatest thing, now left only to reside in the historical pages of a firearms magazine. Also to see how young the faces were of some of the biggest names in the gun rags at the time, and how many have gone… weird how time works on the human brain, isn’t it? 1991 seems just like yesterday in so many ways, but in others, it seems like it was 500 years ago.

    Pardon my misty nostalgia, but for those in their mid-fifties or older, I know you get what I’m blathering on about. For those in their tender twenties or thirties? Just wait. You will.

  10. I remember reading this 31 years ago and thinking how odd it was that the officer tried to empty both guns into the floor and then throw them away. Still waiting on the short shorts and giant fanny packs to make a comeback…maybe alongside the big top-mounted revolver laser. Still looking for a nice old PPC revolver but they have been selling for ridiculous amounts on Gunbroker.

  11. RSD,

    Everything you wrote, and especially that last paragraph, hit the bull’s eye. Technologically speaking, before July 1994, most of us had personal computers which were not connected to the Internet. I remember in the July 25th, 1994 issue of Time magazine, (Vol. 144 No. 4) there was an article about the Internet. It seems to me that from that time on, almost everyone was surfing the web, and using email with our dial-up modems. That began the modern era for me. Before 1994, only nerds could find their way onto the Internet, which the Department of Defense created in 1969. Those are my memories, anyway.,9263,7601940725,00.html

  12. Great article, Mas. It was so well-written, I could follow the action with my mind’s eye. What a nightmare. It sounds like a Hollywood movie, not something which happened in real life. I love learning valuable lessons from other peoples’ horrible experiences. Here I am sitting in a warm house, access to plenty of food and water, while I can see information from all over the world at my fingertips. I’m spoiled, and I hope I stay that way.

  13. I’ve downloaded and saved ALL of the online FMG American Handgunner [and Guns magazine] “classic” issues to go along with my stack of print magazines. They’re a great aid to quick research look-ups without having to wait for the slow download and the PDF’s are searchable.
    Starting from scratch now would take some time — but worth it.

    And then: Is there a retention technique for pocket clip carried tactical knives the pictures show Mas wearing?

    I read an article warning of the danger of pocket clipped knives 30 years ago, and took it to heart.

    Supposedly, as with the Folsom Roll, prison crime colleges taught methods to take knives away from cops. Slap the handgun. While the officer performs his retention technique of choice, take his knife.

    While there has not been an epidemic of knife attacks since, I wouldn’t want to be the one.

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