View Full Version : The secrets of reality-based gunfighting

Seppo Vesala
04-06-2004, 12:19 PM
Publisher: Suarez international, 2004

Author: Gabe Suarez

Book size: 11”x 8,5”, 122 pages

Let me begin this review by stating that at first, I was a bit hesitant about writing it at all. That´s because I feel somewhat uneasy to criticize Gabe´s work in his own forum (as if to criticize a master in his own house). But then, I strive to present constructive criticism, and I believe that is more useful than just telling that the book was excellent and the best book anyone has ever written. That said, lets start the review.

As I have already written in a “pre-review”, in my opinion the physical size of the book is not optimal. I think that the 11”x 8,5” size is too big to be handled comfortably, especially when the covers are not very sturdy. I would prefer something around 8,5” x 5,5”. As I stated, the covers of the book are not very sturdy, which does not create a very wear resistant package. And because the book is spiral-bound, it is not easy to increase the durability of the book by applying a self-adhesive film into covers. I managed to do it, but it demanded precise work. Perhaps I am nitpicking, but I want to keep my books in neat condition. One answer to this would be to include extra covers made of transparent plastic. I have one such book (Magnuson: Strategies & tactics of patrol stops), and it seems to work fine.

The book has a very interesting, analytical way of handling the issues presented. Suarez does not settle for thinking the issues conventionally. Rather he starts by analyzing the problem, and starts to solve the problems from ground up, sometimes using totally different approach than what is the “industry standard”. Sometimes, when you re-think issues this way, you can find totally new and innovative ways to do things. I think that Gabe´s earlier books have had more conventional approach than what is used in this book. I like this new approach very much; there is no sense reading book after book, if they do not provide new answers and perspectives.

For the most part, the book is comprised of writings published in newsletters and discussions in Warriortalk. That is fine, but that causes the book to be somewhat uncoherent. If the book were totally rewritten, rather than just edited, the result would have been more consistent. Now the outcome is not as solid product as it could have been. Rather the chapters are somewhat isolated discussions of separate issues. But then, if I understood the introduction correctly, Gabe was not even trying to create a comprehensive combat system, but rather to present several techniques from which the reader can choose the best for him.

The chapters are very short for the most part. But on the other hand, the scope of the chapters is limited, therefore the length is not an issue. For the most part, each issue is handled in enough detail to get the point across. On some occasions I would have preferred if the issue would have been handled in more detail.

There are some very interesting issues, like the chapter on alternative force. I believe it would be possible to write a whole book (and a thick one, at that) on this subject alone!

On some issues, the text is not as analytical as you would hope. One example is the issue on pelvic shots: Although the story told is somewhat witty, and it reminds us all the importance of safe gun handling, it does not prove anything (except maybe that the stopping power of any hit is very much dependent on how the target feels about being shot). One incident is an anecdote, five is a coincidence, fifty is a statistic. There is an old saying in Finland: “a lie, a whopper, a statistic”, but still it would be much easier to prove your stance towards an issue if you could use statistics to back up your claim. (BTW, I would be very interested in hearing if there are any statistics on how a hit location affects stopping power of a given round.)

To sum it up, I think that this is a very good book, and recommend it to anyone who is interested in increasing his knowledge in real life gunfighting.

Al Lipscomb
04-06-2004, 02:00 PM
FWIW the issue on pelvic shots has been covered on other forums and the opinions of those in the trauma field have all seem to agree that this would be a low percentage shot. A lot of people die from a broken pelvis but it is not a fast incapacitiation.

Seppo Vesala
04-16-2004, 03:12 AM
How does the approach in this work differ from say the earlier volume The Tactical Advantage?

It´s been a while since I read The Tactical Advantage, but I recall that the information in Tactical Advantage was more conventional.
I have a police backround and the information presented in that book was not different to my training and experiences. Of course, for a civilian the tactics presented in TA could be something totally new, and there really are some issues and/or techniques that are not covered in most books. But still, the approach and thinking were conventional. And as I recall, that goes with all Gabes´ earlier books I have read (perhaps Tactical Pistol Marksmanship was a little step in more unconventional direction, but still that book also is more conventioal than it is unconventional).

I would have to re-read the earlier books to answer your question in more detail, but that is my gut feeling. (Of course, re-reading the books would be good idea anyway and I´m planning of doing it, but I´ll have to postpone that for later).

When it cames to this book (The secrets of reality-based gunfighting), the thinking reminded me of Ralph Mroz´s works. In my opinion, Mroz is perhaps the most unconventional thinker I know in this business, as he constantly questions the standardized ways to do things. In this book, there was very much the same attitude.

Don´t get me wrong, I like also the earlier books, as Gabe has a talent for writing and it´s always a pleasure to read his text. But I think that you can find the information presented in his earlier books (or most of it, anyway) from the works of other writers as well. Not so with this book.

Seppo Vesala
04-16-2004, 03:28 AM
FWIW the issue on pelvic shots has been covered on other forums and the opinions of those in the trauma field have all seem to agree that this would be a low percentage shot.

I also believe that the pelvis should not be your preferred target, but that was not my point. Generally, you should aim for upper torso, head being secondary target.

What I meant was Gabe should have handled issues like:

- If pelvis should not be even "perhaps your third choice" of target, what should?
- If it is a general concensus among doctors etc. that pelvis is a poor target, he should have stated so, instead just telling an anecdote
- I believe that the concencus is that the target´s attitude towards being shot is very important in determining the stopping power of the hit (that is the case in the presented case, also). Gabe should have at least mentioned that, rather than to give an impression to the reader that based in this single event, pelvis is a poor target. (Remember, that you should not assume that the reader is familiar with the subject handled, unless the text is at least of intermediate level).

I emphasize that I do not necessarily disagree with Gabe with this issue. Instead I think that if you write a book, you should be more thorough than this.

bill clancy
04-16-2004, 10:56 PM
I love it when my shooting books get all dogeared...even to the point of pages falling out! (Chuck Taylors "Combat Handgunning"). It shows me that I use the material, and I must be using it enough to be wearing it out. May more of my books wear out.