25 Jul Ten Questions for Skip Lyttle
Meet Skip Lyttle. He is our beloved village armorer and MacGyver. He’s a self-described voluntaryist, Skip and I have been friends since near the beginning of the new millennium.
Skip has been a student of martial and other fighting arts, and dozens of weapon types, since a young age. He’s been to several survival schools, teaches survival arts, and was a serious prepper long before prepping was cool. He is a self-taught gun builder, and has attended numerous schools including Front Sight and Massad Ayoob Group (I don’t recommend it and neither foes he, we attended at the same time). If you ever visit him, he’s always working on a Kydex project, gun build, or modifying his Landcruiser. He’ll teach you how to throw a tomahawk or knife in his back yard. He is married to the most tolerant woman on the planet, with three teenagers who can probably out-shoot most of the people you know. At no time will he ever refer to himself as an expert because he is always expanding his knowledge. He enjoys bugging out to the mountains and his favorite color is Flat Dark Earth (FDE)… seriously. -BB
What is a home armory?
The home armory is whatever arms are needed to secure the home from besiegement by bad actors. It should include pistols on your person, so you can fight your way back to your rifle, which you shouldn’t have left behind in the first place (Thank-you, COL Jeff Cooper). It is recommended that arms access, training, and usage span the entire, capable/responsible family, should it occur while one or both parents are not home. The home armory is merely one layer of the security of a home, which should include a place to shelter, physical security barriers like locks, gates, a driveway alert, and an alarm system.
What is the recommended basic load for the concerned subject in America?
The basic load begins with your Every Day Carry (EDC) and extends based on the anticipated threat. A pistol, a spare magazine or two, a light, and a knife are the minimal for EDC, the pistol for sudden and close threats, a knife to back up that primary weapon system in the event of a failure. One or two spare magazines and knowledge of a tactical and combat reload procedure should be practiced often to include a realistic under-stress scenario to inculcate the importance.
Let’s do a gear check of what’s on me right now: Glock 22 and Streamlight TLR-1 in an OWB hand-made Kydex holster, 2 spare 15 round magazines in a hand-made, Kydex magazine pouch, Fenix E12 in front, left pocket, CRKT M21-04 front right pocket, Casio Pathfinder watch, 550 cord bracelet, GI-issue handkerchief, Firestarter, and a Space Pen. That’s pretty much standard for me every day.
What pistol platform and why?
I chose a Glock pistol for its simplicity, ubiquitous magazine availability, and proven reliability. I chose .40 S&W because it has commonality with nearly all local police agencies, which may provide me additional magazines if they were injured or killed during an active shooter/zombie apocalypse scenario. As a secondary capability, I use Storm Lake 9mm conversion barrels to double the calibers of common ammunition without doubling the number of pistols and it also saves money for practice sessions with the family. It did require additional Glock and MAGPUL magazines in 9mm, which are also ubiquitous, even during a periodic and typical gun-panic shortage.
There is nothing wrong with using 9mm, I just chose .40 for current interoperabilty reasons.
What rifle platform and why? Tell us about the evolution from the FAL MBR to the AR platform.
About the time that Bill and I met in 2001, we were both in the Army, there was a resurgence of FAL parts kits and .308 M-80 NATO available in the markets… so, over the course of a few years, I built over a dozen for myself, Bill, and other close friends… but eventually, I became slightly annoyed by their finicky gas tubes, high-carbon-producing pistons, and aged/weak magazines and looked back to the AR platform as soon as MAGPUL developed the .308 PMAG magazine.
One of the major forces behind moving to the AR platform was that I was getting remarried and having children that would all want to shoot something lighter than a .30 caliber battle rifle. I opted for the Stoner design in both 5.56mm and 7.62mm, however, I did lots of study and built the guns, part-by-part, based on a broad range of research and experimentation.
What I ended up with for the 5.56 fleet was a mid-length gas, Bravo Company upper, a standard Spikes lower, with MAGPUL and Troy furniture. I have yet to find a better rear Back Up Iron Sight (BUIS) than the Knight’s Armament rear sight, thanks to watching famed Chris Costa, and his opinion of them in Art of the Carbine.
When I built the 7.62 AR platform, I wanted a shorter barrel than the M110, so I opted for the 18.5” Criterion barrel sold by Fulton Armory because there was a balance between weight and accuracy, plus it was chrome-lined for longer-lasting durability. Since it was built off the DPMS platform, parts were fairly inexpensive leaving room in the budget for a decent optic, the Vortex 2.5-10×50. And other required items for shooting farther more accurately than the typical battle rifle, but for less money than a sniper rifle.
Should one be a gunsmith or have some of those skills?
Having gunsmith training, especially when you want to build or maintain your own pistols or rifles is certainly a plus. At some point, weapons maintenance and repair will be treated as an invaluable skill, so if you are handy with a Dremel and understand how to put things together after you’ve disassembled maybe something you shouldn’t have, you may have a shot at becoming a DIY gunsmith. The best trick I can share with the audience is always cut on the cheapest part when modifying something. It is also important to remember that every skillset learned is less you have to pay or barter for down the road. In a worst-case scenario, one may have to fix or modify non-functioning weapons or to cannibalize several non-functioning firearms as a last resort.
Tell us about EDC? What comprises an individual load and what are your mission profile variations? How about a vehicle load-out for both urban and off-road?
In truth, The ‘Every’ in EDC is a variable. Most people won’t say that, but it’s true. As an important side, EDC is the most basic items you would not be caught dead without, but the terms of those items are often dictated to us by social norms within society or oppressive prohibitions. As we depart those norms or dictates and wander farther off the beaten path, the items we really want with us are more accepted as we feel more comfortable outside those social norms or government regulatory framework. I’ve happened along men with rifles on their shoulders and foot-long knives hanging from their belts, while we know some federal tax agent or hoplophobic store manager would come unglued at the thought of them in more “civilized” places. Because of this, they become normalized, when the opposite could not be more true… while in the back 40 you are far less likely to need those six spare carbine magazines, than when you are driving or walking somewhere in “civilized” urban/suburban America. In other words, the closer you are *to* civilization, the more likely you are going to see trouble of every flavor. No matter the criminal enterprise, the larger the population the higher the likelihood of trouble.
Pre-collapse/Mid-Police State EDC is where I find myself today. The SH[n’t]HTF, just yet, and there’s a modicum of polite order, even if its merely paper thin.
This means I have to be prepared for two things:
1. Crime from a criminal element. This may mean a few rounds and a police report, and may even end up with quiet applause from the local Sheriff, at best. There are volumes written about how that doesn’t happen often enough.
2. Crime from a political/criminal element will absolutely, positively, be something completely different, and life as I know it, will never be the same.
Being prepared for this involved three steps. First, the traditional EDC must be in effect at all times in preparation for the criminal element. Second, a backup plan if the threat is badder, bigger, and uglier, than the average person prepares or walks into, unknowingly. This could be a small Bug-Out-Bag (BOB) with a few essentials to get you through a worse situation than you expected. Oftentimes, this is called a 72 hr bag and should accompany you nearly everywhere.
Lastly, the bag and kit needed to get you past the attempted murder by the political/criminal element in the Pre-Collapse/Mid-Police State times we find ourselves. This is extensive, it requires planning, pre-positioning, and OPSEC.
What’s your recommended training regimen? What about dry fire?
I do my best to make a realistic scenario with some fundamental reinforcement at least once a month. In addition, I have dry practice once a week, where I try to focus on specific areas revealed in prior training sessions. I think this is probably the bare minimum and anyone looking to learn news skills or new to this way of living will require much more practice until they reach a routine maintenance-level. The important thing to realize, is once someone reaches that level, they always want to add new skills and it is very seldom you see someone quit training altogether.
For pistols, I like two basic drills that can be built on as time allows. First, is a standard sight-alignment and trigger control drill using circles. These are designed to 3 yards for immediate shooter feedback.
For example, begin at 3 yards and have the shooter place one round in each circle.
The object of the drill is to provide the shooter immediate feedback on trigger control, sight picture, and anticipation of recoil. These are the leading causes of misses.
In most cases, the front sight post should be held on the bottom third (just below half) of the target to place near the center. Sights may have to be adjusted, but a low hit is usually anticipation of recoil, left or right is normally poor trigger press, depending on left or right handed shooter.
Next, to balance speed and accuracy is another circle drill that places two smaller circles interrupted by a larger circle for speed. Begin with the small circle as before, however, the larger circle gets three faster shots, followed by a slowdown and well-placed shot in the second small circle.
My daughter has recently taken up IDPA at 13 years old, and each time before “Shooter Ready?”, I reiterate, “Front sight, press!”, I believe the result is her groups are smaller and centered nicely. I’m trying to drive this into her mental foreground, and it switches off her pre-performance stress jitters. It is a mindset, pure and simple.
A drill I’ve learned recently from a friend is another excellent skill-builder, so once you master these other two, give this advanced drill a try: It’s called the 10-10-10 Drill and involves 10 rounds in the IDPA A-Zone, at 10 yards, in 10 seconds. It is considered in high regard by shooters like Ken Hackathorn and Larry Vickers.
It helps bundle all the basics listed above into a “I’m ready for a gunfight” skill.
You and I both fly with guns domestically and have much cracked the code. What is your load-out?
Since I travel often, I chose the following items for my EDC. The Pelican case secures my Glock, magazines, and CRKT M-21 knife for checked baggage during airline travel with two locks. Everything else can fit into my pockets on the plane. I’m a fan of the CRKT Tao pen, which is approved for airline carry and doubles as a formidable defensive implement. Remember for airline travel, if you keep each magazine loaded and in a pouch, they will be ready to go when you reach your destination. If you visit the handicap stall of the restroom, you will find there’s enough room for your luggage, so you can open it at the airport and “gun-up” prior to getting your rental car. Rental car lots are usually outfitted with video surveillance, so be careful loading a gun or removing it from your suitcase in the trunk.
Your weapons selections are echeloned by distance. Tell me about your thoughts on a Hard Target Interdiction Rifle (HITR) that shoots at 800 meters plus.
Yes, I look at my sphere in terms of 50, 300, 800, and 1600m range rings based on my days as an M-2 .50 BMG machinegun crew NCO in the Army conducting a defense. Everything was based on sectors of fire, target reference points, dead space, maximum engagement line, weapon or gunners reference point, and left and right limits in reference to Magnetic North.
Additionally, a Squad and Platoon sector sketch provides how the different weapons systems and each field of fire becomes coordinated in the defense of the Squad and Platoon.
Since I don’t have the luxury of filling dead space with a Mk-19 or M-203, I need to reach something before it gets into those dead spaces to use as cover against me. This means range, and in Arizona, we have lots of it. In order to benefit from that range, we need observation using elevation. In some cases, a small hill can extend your defense’s maximum engagement line to the effective range of your farthest shooting weapon system, for anti-material or anti-personnel, which is likely to be a Hard Target Interdiction Rifle (HTIR), which could be a .50 BMG, a .408 CheyTac, a .338 Lapua, or a .300 Win Mag.
Based on that range, you work back to your position using each platform like the .308, to the .223, based on the anticipated avenue of approach, while maintaining the ability to shift fire, or go on the Counter-Attack.
In Arizona, it is still legal (for now) to conduct FTF weapons purchases from the classifieds or other mediums of exchange. Should anyone ever use a gun store since they are non-funded BATFE field offices?
The two best options is to build using 80% receivers or to purchase using the buddy system. What this means is that you complete a non-firearm legally, and keep it. You are prohibited from selling, it is yours forever, with no record of transfer, whatsoever. Buy purchasing a previously transferred gun, it just means the guy you bought it from may or may not remember who he sold it to in a private sale. However, purchasing in a private sale from someone you do not know, usually results in them keeping your name somewhere, or asking you to sign a bill of sale to keep them off the hook, should that particular gun show up at a crime scene. This is still better than the worst option:
If you purchase a firearm from an FFL, just know that you can always find yourself with a visit, it will surprise the heck out of you, because there is no warning, worst-case, they can drive straight to your front door with whatever raiding party they deem necessary (for officer safety, of course) the day that particular gun becomes prohibited by the tyrants that reside in Mordor on the Potomac or your local tyrants in your statist kapital. Even if you sold them, lost them in an Arizona lake while drunk, fishing, or had them stolen in the parking lot of a pre-school, they will demand a report, a receipt, or an explanation while your family is zip-tied, face down on broken glass, and your family pet is blood-stained and denied medical care. These are the facts no one wants to face, but you are playing the negative lottery with your families’ lives.