Today we talk TTPs, technology, and the Electric Koolaid Magpul Test. Read Up. Mad Duo
Early Adopting Idiots, Running Behind the Curve, and the Electric Koolaid Magpul Test
Most of our BreachBangClear readership consists of current and former law enforcement and military members. Those same attributes are reflected in both the authors and ownership—with many of them wearing both hats at some point during their lives. As such, we feel a great burden of responsibility to report accurate results and not sugar-coat anything. This is true regardless if a product comes from a sponsor (you know, the people that help pay our bills) or is purchased completely independently.
It’s not our job to sell you things. It Is absolutely our obligation to bring you the best information we have at the time.
This mindset has likely made a handful of us somewhat less amenable to much of the aftermarket. After all, if we’re talking gear that might be used on the battlefield, patrol beat, or street for defensive use, it pays to be a little cautious. Being a Luddite has its virtues, but also holds obvious downsides. It can lead to institutional inertia and the “because we’ve always done it that way” syndrome. Which would be all fine and good, if that didn’t mean ultimately being well behind the curve at some point. Think: Law Enforcement officers who still carry revolvers for daily duty. Fighting at night without weapon lights or NODs. Relying on tins cans and a string instead of a radio.
Are you old enough to remember the phrase, “An AR is good so long as you remember the ABC’s. That is: Armalite, Bushmaster, or Colt”?
How about, “Any caliber is good, as long as it starts with a 4”?
We can feel the cringe from here.
It’s not Just Guns and Gear
More tactics, training, and procedures changed during the first five years of the War on Terror than in the fifty prior. These TTPs continue to develop to this very day, and no doubt will do so well into the future. That is, until we have an extended period of peace and have to do this shit all over again.
But What Exactly Is ‘The Curve’?
What we call ‘the curve’ is actually the technology adoption lifecycle, which also directly applies to TTPs.
Those innovators and early adopters on the front end are seeking maximum performance, which usually involves more money, time, and commitment. Since we’re talking emerging technology, failure is always a possibility; there is some amount of risk involved. A given piece of technology will hit “mainstream” once it’s proven reliable/effective–and importantly, when the cost goes down. Then people get it for a solution or convenience.
First coined by Geoffrey Moore in his book, The Chasm is a gap that can exist between innovators/early adopters and the majority, provided that a new technology is disruptive or discontinuous. That is, if it rocks the boat too much or only has intermittent progress. There’s a very good example of The Chasm we can look at right now: Red Dot Sights on carry or duty pistols.
Though competitive shooters had been using them for years (if comp shooters are anything, they’re always wanting performance) it wasn’t until the mid-90’s that they were advocated for duty use by Kelly McCann. Somewhere in the 1990’s Iain Harrison, Steve Fisher, and a few others started using them. More early adopters got on the train around 2007. But it wasn’t until two decades after McCann first began advocating them that Glock released the MOS-series and Sig released the P320 RX.
Two things had to happen for the pistol RDS to jump the Chasm: Micro Red Dot Sight technology had to improve, and more people had to see the benefits for themselves. Though we’re nowhere near the “late majority” side of the curve with a RDS-equipped pistol, we’ll get there soon enough.
Where Do You Fit?
For those not on the bleeding edge of the spear, there’s a balance that needs to be struck. You don’t need to be an early adopter of every [supposed] innovation, but you do need to understand that the information and technology curve does exist.
On a unit or department level, where this line falls on the curve is often frustratingly penciled in for you in the form of authorized or issued gear, training officers and other leadership, and SOPs. On an individual level it can and will vary, but it doesn’t happen without one pivotal action:
A circumspect route would be to ask yourself who/what/where/when has used and adopted said new piece of gear or TTP, consider the context, and by what means it applies to your own situation. Give it a go, and make demanding evaluations. But always, always keep in the back of your mind that a good idea or good piece of gear can come from anywhere—not just from the people or companies you covet. Just because you like company X doesn’t mean the product is automatically gold, and just because you hate person Y doesn’t mean they don’t have valid points.
Right now, look back and ask yourself when was the last time you changed your mind about something, and analyze why you did it.
To fight the urge toward rash dismissal, I like to use something I call “The Electric Koolaid Magpul Test.”
Here’s the procedure: Assuming you like Magpul (and if not, insert some company you do like), when you look at something and reject it outright, ask yourself “If Magpul made this, would I still immediately dismiss it?”
If you wouldn’t, perhaps you see some potential that you aren’t acknowledging. It can make for an alluring thought exercise, perhaps with some cognitive dissonance mixed in.
Conclusions and Loose Rounds
Yes of course, companies with better track records of higher quality products are more likely to produce high quality items than some new company with no track record to speak of; that’s why we have to use that thing between or ears. But new companies do come out with decent products, so from time to time allow yourself to be cautiously optimistic. The 2017 SHOT Show is just around the corner, and soon we’ll be inundated with all manner of items–much of it vaporware and more of it ill-conceived. But like scrounging through a thrift shop, every so often you’ll come up with a diamond after going through a box of shit.
As the skeptical maxim says:
Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
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About the Author: A combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Dave “Mad Duo Merrill” is a former urban warfare and foreign weapons instructor for Coalition fighting men. An occasional competitive shooter, he has a strange Kalashnikov fetish the rest of the minions try to ignore. Merrill, who has superb taste in hats, has been published in a number of places, the most awesome of which is, of course, here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He loves tacos, is kind of a dick and married way, way above his pay grade. You can contact him at Merrill(at)BreachBangClear.com and follow him on Instagram here (@dave_fm).
“War on Terror”…how long have we been in the war on terror? We’ve always been at war with terror, Winston.
The only drawback that prevents the wifespread adoption of RDS equipped duty pistols is the complete lack of duty holsters with adequate retention for pistols other than a rmr glock. The ability to keep the target in focus while aiming is groundbreaking for LEOs. The current generation sights and the widespread move back to 9mm with its lower recoil impulse has shown the less sights to be acceptably reliable. My agency recently adopted the 9mm P320 and while a good pistol and available in the RX model I was unable to source a duty holster for the RX model to equip the SWAT team with the new model.
This brings up an interesting point in that innovation in tactics or equipment is not usually uniform or supported by the manufacturers of the supporting ancillary equipment. i.e. Holsters. It’s a chicken or the egg problem, I spoke with a major holster manufacturer recently about adapting a current holster to the P320rx from an rmr glock model and was told the holster in question was designed at the request of a military unit and the company would not mold a new holster until the could be reasonably sure to sell several thousand holsters. While I understand the fiscal sense the weapon will not be adopted in large numbers by LE agencies without appropriate holsters. Ergo the chicken or the egg.
The early days of the Army’s RFI program and the army centers for lesson learned is another example of piecemeal adoption of new tech and tactics. In 2004 while deployed to Iraq my battalion was issued OTV vests in woodland pattern and no MOLLE load carriage. The issue of the ACH was delayed by months causing problems with the PASGT helmet and vest and we were never issued enough radios to properly execute the tactics described in the newest TTPs. We adapted and some guys purchased their own kit, me included, and overcame in Baghdad, Najaf and Fallujah. It’s just another example of early adopters who don’t have the clout or funds to drive innovation having to evaluate new tech and tactics not just on their merits but on sustainability and support ability in their organizational environment.
CDI will never die!
I hope I’m not getting too old school at 32 years of age but then again maybe I just think about this differently.
When I look at new products or products that are new to me my analysis is virtue vs drawbacks. For example I love me some SureFire flashlights but they’re expensive. So generally I carry a Fenix PD22 because it’s not as good as a SureFire but at ~$45 a pop I don’t care as much if it grows legs as I do if one of my expensive SureFire lights does. The price outweighs the small jump in quality to carry my SureFire light as a primary.
I apply this kind of thinking to guns/accessories too. I don’t like the idea of a red-dot on a duty/EDC pistol. Why? Because batteries. Now I’m not against battery powered wonder-tools as a rule but generally I prefer to reduce my reliance on them as much as I can, especially when various items run on different batteries. One-two 123A batteries for your weapons light plus whatever your red-dot runs on plus whatever your carbine optic runs on… it starts to get to be a pain and it worries me that you’re just adding more things that can go wrong when everything is already going wrong (hence your need for the gun in the first place).
I’m guessing everyone here is familiar with the concept of “stacking tolerances”. Well, in this case I just feel you’re “stacking” potential problems which means you’re giving Mr. Murphy more opportunities to show up and kick you in the dick while at the same time inviting him to kick you in the dick harder and harder with each piece of battery operated gear you rely on.
So, I’m generally against a red-dot on a pistol. I don’t want to deal with the batteries and, on top of that, I don’t want to get comfortable with something that’s relatively fragile AND requires batteries both of which are not draw-backs my iron sights have. Now I’m carting around spare batteries and I need a schedule to change them out, I could always get a bad battery that leaks and damages the unit etc etc. And then if the unit goes down while I actually need it I’m going to have at least a moment of figuring out what’s going on and transitioning back to my irons and I’m gonna need to incorporate doing something like this (call it a malfunction drill) into my training to insure I can do it competently and quickly. This is starting to sound like a real pain in the ass and I’m wondering, in real terms what advantages I’m getting from this device that outweigh all of this extra crap I have to deal with?
I simply don’t see them as adding the level of functionality required to overcome their potential drawbacks in terms of a defensive weapon. For a competition gun, have at it. In fact I LOVE the idea for a competition gun. For carry where that bangstick coming out means lives, including my own, are on the line… KISS.
Sorry for the length of that rant.