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Advice from a Pro

Advice from a Pro

One of the most interesting people I have ever met is the late Jim Cirillo. As a member of the New York City Police Department, Cirillo survived over a dozen gunfights. Most of those occurred while Cirillo was assigned to the NYPD Stakeout Squad. Folks, that's 12 more than most people are ever involved in. Following his time with NYPD, Jim signed up as a firearms instructor for U.S. Customs and, following that, taught defensive shooting on his own. As you can imagine, he had some very definite opinions about gunfighting.  Here are some of his thoughts.

Cirillo maintained no hand-held firearm could be depended upon to take a man out of the fight with one shot. On one occasion he saw an armed robber take a body hit from a 12-gauge shotgun slug and stay on his feet. He suggested that, as long as the bad guy was able to fight, it was very wise to keep shooting.

Due to NYPD policy, Cirillo did most of his fighting with a Smith & Wesson Model 10 and an Ithaca police shotgun. He saw crooks take multiple hits from all sorts of guns. Due to this experience, Cirillo was a strong advocate of a person using the most powerful handgun that they could shoot quickly and accurately. In later years, Cirillo had a custom Smith & Wesson .44 Mag., which he would have carried during his gunfighting days if it had been allowed.

Finally, Cirillo was an advocate of training and competition, but he cautioned that a shooter should be very careful about the type of training and competition he followed. He pointed out that under the extreme stress of a gunfight, the shooter will revert to whatever training and practice he has been exposed to. Cirillo believed loading on the run and failure to use cover in a match would result in the same conduct during a gunfight. And frankly, most of the people who suggest otherwise haven't been in a fight since the third grade out on the playground.

For all of the grim duty as a police officer, Jim Cirillo was a happy man who thoroughly enjoyed life. He was undoubtedly one of the best story-tellers with whom I ever had the privilege of visiting. And, bless his heart, on one of our last visits, Cirillo made me an honorary member of the NYPD Stakeout Squad, with a lapel pen to prove it. Jim Cirillo was one of the good ones!

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