The 1986 FBI Gunfight and Adoption of the 10mm Auto

Back in 1986 in Miami, a team of 8 FBI agents decided to execute a felony car stop on a pair of armed and volatile bank robbers named Platt and Matix. The ensuing gunfight has become a classic case study of a law enforcement gunfight, with more than 140 rounds fired leaving 4 men dead and five more wounded. When the FBI analyzed the event, one of their main conclusions was that the 9mm hollowpoint ammunition used by the agents had underpenetrated, and this drove the agency’s decision to adopt the 10mm Auto pistol cartridge as a replacement (which didn’t last long, and in turn led the the mass adoption of .40 S&W by law enforcement departments nationwide).

I happened to find a copy of one of the FBI’s internal after-action reports on the event which someone has copied from VHS tape and posted to YouTube.

Edited to add: the fellow who posted the video is Rob Reed, who also assembled a great collection of print information on the event here:

The video includes interviews with the surviving FBI agents, and a pretty accurate reenactment of the event. It’s a long video, but well, well worth watching for anyone interested in real-life tactics and circumstances in shooting events. Everything is covered from some of the mind-bogglingly poor decisions to the grit and determination of agent Ed Mirales.


  1. I’ll watch the video later. I read the after action report a few years ago. Grit and determination are good descriptors of Ed Mirales work that day.

  2. Jonathon Ross examines the incident in some detail in “unintended Consequences” though I’m unsure whether he restricts himself to the key facts or weaves in a little more fiction. For example why two of the FBI were not fully clothed.

    From what I’ve read and from what I’ve seen on animals, pistol bullets out of a pistol length barrel have very unpredictable effects – there doesn’t seem to be a single pistol which can be relied upon to “stop”.

    The same bullets out of a carbine are a somewhat different matter.

    That said, I’ve put a .308 softpoint (out of a .308 winchester) through both chambers of an unsuspecting deer’s heart, and it has remained conscious for almost a minute and been capable of running and reacting during that time.

    Conversations with people who’ve “been there” suggest that the personality of the target has a lot to do with what happens next. If the individual panics and hyperventilates, then they will become incapacitated sooner than one who remains calm, perhaps takes a few seconds to apply an improvised pressure dressing to the wound, and seek to get to some safe cover, or even better, away from the scene, so that they can take the time to control the bleeding and replenish some fluids.

  3. One thing folks forget about the FBI’s adoption of the .40 S&W is how long it took. They didn’t drop the 10mm for the .40. Instead, they dropped back to 9mm. It then took several years for the FTU to approve a .40 round and pistol for agents who personally purchased their own. It took even longer for the adoption of an official issue pistol in .40.

    • Slight mistake above. The FBI only went back to the Nine for female agents at first because the ten was too big for them to get a grip on and had too much recoil. Then the recoil problem and frame cracking led to their ordering so called “Soft ball” loads for their tens. It was a 180 grain slug at about 1000 FPS, IIRC.
      After that, they did more tests and found that the above load would do for everybody and work was done to shorten the round to fit in guns with LOAs the same as nines. Thus the new .40 S&W cart was born and a host of nine were converted to fire it.

      • No, the full-power 10x25mm loads were never standard issue with the FBI’s S&W 1076. These were dismissed as nonviable before a 10mm pistol was even selected. They went straight for the mid-velocity 180gr loads, and later switched to the Federal 190gr Tactical, another mid-velocity load.

        The first 40 S&W load that the FTU approved for agent use was a mid-velocity 165gr, not the original 180gr load that duplicated the ballistics of their issue 10mm cartridges.

  4. Wow.Interesting look inside the Bureau’s own analysis.

    I took a look at the aftermath at the time, and talked it over with friends in law enforcement. What this shows is that our conclusions were fairly close to the Bureau’s.

    Not in any particular order (and just IMHO), the lessons are;

    1. The shotgun; It needs to be in the front seat, not the back. A detective unit should use a horizontal lock (maybe with a folding/retracting stock) for concealment purposes; with a bench seat (if they still have such things) it might go along the front of the seat under the legs.

    While buckshot (from 00 down to No.4) has the reputation as a stopper, the slug load is superior. The shotgun needs to be used like a rifle, with aimed fire, and a projectile with enough KE to get the job done.

    Whether the shotgun is a pump or self-loader is a matter for debate. The Benelli “dual-mode” may be the best answer.

    2. The sidearm; Reloading under stress is much harder than it looks on TV or in competition. The more rounds your primary weapon can hold, the better, as long as they have enough power per shot. And the magazine-fed self-loader is more instinctive to reload than the revolver, even with a speedloader.

    The fastest reload of all is a second, fully-loaded sidearm. I was taught to carry at least two, with two to three complete reloads for each.

    It is both logically and physically impossible to carry too many reloads.

    Forget “one-shot” stops. The signal to cease fire is when the target is on the ground and no longer engaged in hostile action. His probable demise is an unavoidable adverse consequence of this situation.

    3. Power; The much-maligned .223 is a very destructive round at close range. Keep this in mind when choosing protective vests (trauma plates are a very good idea).

    The 9mm, .45, 10mm, .40, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG/Auto, etc., have all been claimed to be “ultimate stoppers” at one time or another. I tend to lean toward .355-.357in bullets of about 110-130 grains at 1,100 FPS+, but I don’t delude myself that this is an “ultimate answer”. If I can’t have a heavy MG, my first break will be to the slug-loaded shotgun, or better yet a rifle as per Keith’s Third Law. (“Never bring a pistol to a rifle fight”- which is what basically happened here.)

    4. Accuracy; It must be noted that Agent Mireles (who darned sure should have gotten a citation for his guts here) ended the fight with six shots from a .38 Special, loaded with (IIRC) 158-gr LHP “FBI” or “Metro” loads. And head shots.

    Bullet placement counts. As an old Western marshal is reputed to have said, “Speed’s fine, pard, but accuracy is final“.

    5. Physical and psychological factors; Practice one-hand shooting, and especially weak-hand shooting, a lot. And remember that the so-called “border cross” (changing the handgun from the injured to the uninjured hand) was developed by Old West “shootists” for very practical reasons.

    If (like me) you need corrective lenses, practice shooting without them. If you can see the front sight and identify a hostile target, you should at least be able to see a good enough sight picture to aim for center of mass. (Grogan “couldn’t see ten feet” without his glasses. The range of engagement here averaged seven feet. Q.E.D.)

    Use a holster you can reach in just about any position. This avoids the possible loss of the weapon at the wrong moment, as happened to one agent here.

    Since I’m retired, I’ll ‘fess up; I carried my primary in an FBI-rake holster, behind the right hip, and the backup in a vertical shoulder holster under the left armpit. In an emergency, I could do a “cavalry”-style “twist draw” to get the backup out with my left hand. Reaching around back to get at the primary with the left was more difficult, but doable. In either case, I never took the weapon out and “cached” it anywhere else, especially not in a moving vehicle that might have to stop suddenly.

    Finally, the speech by T.R. has it right. Never give up- whether he’s determined to live, or a nihilistic type who either is determined to die or just doesn’t care- you can just about bet the bad guy won’t give up if he thinks he can still kill you.

    This is just my opinion, take it for what it’s worth.



    • Great analysis! The quote is from Bill Jordan a real life bad arse Boarder patrol agent involved in, if my memory serves me right, over 30 gun fights who dies in ’76, or ’80? IIRC, the actual quote is “Speed is fine, but accuracy is final!” He was American hand gunner of the year back in the ’70s, again IIRC.
      But if I have screwed any of this up, do not hold it against me as my memory is shot all to hell. Get his book, “No second place winner” to get the whole story.

  5. One of the lessons I took from that fight, as well as the later one in North Hollywood and a couple others is that sometimes the criminals decide to stand and fight and that makes an enormous difference. That difference might even be of greater affect than what everyone is armed with. The other lesson is use enough gun, and BODY ARMOR.

  6. The gun press concentrated on the gun stuff, and jumped on the FBI’s 10mm adoption as an excuse for new toys.

    However, the recommendation for a more powerful pistol was only a small part of the whole story. The FBI identified – and corrected – serious training deficiencies, which most people didn’t find as interesting as new toys. The FBI’s old system had minimal firearms training and no real tactical training at all; an agent’s primary weapons were subpoenas and spreadsheets; most agents spend their time tracking accounting and corporate memoranda, not engaging in gun battles. So rank-and-file agents got minimal firearms training and they called in special units for dealing with situations where violence might occur.

    Modern FBI training is *much* different than back in 1986.

  7. I was just down the road when this happened i saw a black
    olds make a uturn in front of j byrons and head down the road by the farm store followed by several blue sedans later when i got home i learned what happened.

    • Interesting you should mention this. So many people still don’t realize that a lot of the apparently crazy incidents featured in “Miami Vice” were actually an accurate reflection ( with some artistic licence thrown in ) of what was actually going on in real life in Miami back in the late 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s. A time where art imitated life, rather than the other way around.

      I have lived in Martin County, far from Miami-Dade County, all my adult life, and of course life in this largely rural area was, and still is, completely different from that of urbanized South Florida, but I have spent enough time in the latter to understand and appreciate its many colorful aspects. Unlike most people I know, if I had to choose to live in a big city, Miami would be my first choice for its sheer incredible variety, vibrancy, and co-mingling of cultures, cuisine, music and outright stoicism combined with a restless determination to grow spiritually, artistically and socially. In spite of it all, and in spite of the hard veneer engendered by city life, social and economic inequity, ethnic differences, often absurd politics and all the vicissitudes of big-city existence, I have also noticed much personal kindness among the people of Miami, a kindness very different from what one would experience in many other similar places, and which transcends all barriers. Perhaps this is part of the spirit, apart from the sheer panache, that sets Miami apart from all others.

  8. I am a retired police officer who retired from a mid-sized(900 man)police dept. in a metro area. If you look at the tactics those FBI agents used, and how poorly several of the agents were prepared for a “felony stop” the outcome should not be surprising.
    Two thoughts. First, I looked into applying for the FBI early in my police career. Visiting the Atlanta FBI office, I was told that at that time the FBI was only hiring people with law degrees or degrees in accounting. They were apparently wanting people to work “white collar” crime. My history degree was not needed. Almost immediately after the incident in Miami, the FBI started hiring trained police officers to go into their academy. I know this because my dept. lost several officers over a period of time to the FBI.
    Secondly, from a ballistic point of view, the Winchester Silvertip 9mm ammunition the FBI was using at the time was given a bad name because it didn’t penetrate deep enough into one of the bad guys to destroy vital organs and stop the fight. As you might recall, at the time everyone was concerned about over penetration of the 9mm. Winchester designed their 9mm Silvertip to rapidly expand with reduced penetration. Winchester gave the customer exactly what they said they wanted with the 9mm Silvertip, and then was castigated when the bullet did exactly what it was designed to do. Suddenly the FBI wanted a powerful round that would penetrate deeply. Thus the interest in the 10mm and later the S&W .40 caliber.

  9. If the FBI decided in 1986 it needed the 10mm, why did whole swathes of European police and military decide that the 32acp was all they needed in the first part of the 20th century? I have always puzzled over why major designers and producers and governments adopted side arms like the 1903 hammerless, PPK, HK 4 in these small calibres. Was it technological in that early auto’s could not handle the larger bores? This does not seem to be the case if you look at the 1911 however Europeans continued with mouse guns until WWII.

    • Remember, at that time American police, if they were armed at all (and many Eastern PDs issued nothing more than “nightsticks”, i.e. batons), the usual issue weapon was a .32 S&W revolver. Departments worried about “stopping power” issued .32 S&W Long revolvers.

      It wasn’t until the “gangster years” of 1932-35 (the brief heyday of Bonnie & Clyde, Dillinger, etc.) that many departments took a look at their issue weapons with an eye to increased hitting power. And the main reason wasn’t “bulletproof vests”- it was automobiles. Even the cars of that era were tough targets for the pistols in common police use.

      It’s hard to believe today, but the answer to the increased power and penetration demands was… the .38 Special. No, seriously.

      It quickly proved to be better than the .32s, but still not quite up to the demands of the day. So, in 1935 (and largely at the urging of civilian and military experts like Elmer Keith, Col. Calvin Goddard, and then-Col. Julian S. Hatcher), Smith & Wesson and Remington introduced the .357 Remington Magnum; a stretched-out .38 Special with a heavier powder charge. The fact that it was mainly intended for law enforcement rather than sport is strongly indicated by the fact that the first production example was presented to J. Edgar Hoover, then head of the FBI.

      Incidentally, the Bureau and other LEO had at least a few incidents similar to the Miami gunfight in that era, too. Look up “Kansas City Massacre”, “Baby Face Nelson” and “Battle of Barrington”, and “Bonnie & Clyde”.

      Miami was an eerie echo of those bygone days.



      • Hi, Eon :

        Interesting to read your digressions — as always, they are quite complete and reflect the thought and effort you have put into them.

        However, Miami in the 1980’s, the era of the “Cocaine Cowboys”, “Miami Vice’ and all these implied in real-world terms where art imitated life ( and not the other way around ), was far from a mere reflection of the “Roaring Twenties”, et al, and their heroes and counter-heroes. The Miami FBI gunfight of 1986 was but a mere facsimile of many such incidents, for better or worse, largely publicized or not, engendered by the free-booting, free-living, free-enterprise system, driven mostly by the burgeoning illicit drug trade and political corruption, that enveloped much of South Florida at that time. Add to that a healthy dose of local social, cultural, ethnic and political turmoil and the immigration issues of the time ( including the many Cuban immigrants fleeing their homeland ), and the scene was ripe for many “perfect storm” incidents.

        One other thing — even if you go back solely to the era of “Bonnie And Clyde” and their peers, a little diligent historical research will turn up many larger-than-life characters who featured prominently in early 20th-century South Florida history at no less a level of notoriety, such as the Ashley-Mobley Gang, and William Frederick McCoy, who eventually became the well-known gentleman rum-runner Bill McCoy ( and whose name would live on in history as the progenitor of the term “the real McCoy’ on account of his legendary sense of fairness and dedication to hard truth ). This search will also reveal many well-known protagonists on the other side of the law such as William E. “Pogey Bill” Collins, a one-time wild-and-wooly Okeechobee catfisherman and hell-raiser turned sheriff, philanthropist and community organizer who was rightly mourned by all and sundry when he passed away. Even when stripped of all myth and glamor, it is incredible how colorful, rich and often, at the same time, despairing, all these lives were in many ways, engendered by a period in time and a social context that would be impossible today.

        • ‘The real McCoy’ more likely came from Elijah McCoy’s oil-drip cup system in early locomotives and the idea that railroad engineers would avoid cheap knock-off systems by inquiring if the locomotive was fitted with ‘the real McCoy system.’

      • Slight error in your analysis. The .38 Special was adopted by the U.S. Army in the late 1880’s, or early in the 1890s. It replaced the Colt Single Action Army and S&W Schofield in .45 Long Colt with squib loads of 28 grains of black powder pushing a 225 grain slug at about 860 FPS, at least some of the time instead of the original load of 40 grains with a MV at well over 1,000 FPS with a 255 grain slug. ( Both loads in service more or less all the time.) I got 1,050 FPS! Measured from my grandfather’s original .45 LC ammo. The reason was that the recoil of the heavy load was much to much to handle for the average soldier.
        Adoption by the Army was all that was required for wholesale adoption by most Police Departments in America long before 1920.
        In spite of that, the Moro insurrection in the Philippine Islands left a bad taste in many Army Vets some of who could still remember the last of the Indian wars and the .45’s undoubted effectiveness. The Army specified a .45 caliber round when it went looking for a new automatic pistol. JMB came up with a new gun that shot 200 grain, .45 caliber slugs at 1,000 FPS for 444 FPE. During testing, it was found to be both to powerful as determined by the recoil perceived by average soldiers and not penetrating deep enough to reliably kill a horse. The Army suggested a heavier slug at lower velocity to fix both problems and the famous 230 grain ball at 830 FPS load was born. ( only 352 FPE) This reduced the recoil more than a little and gave deeper penetration.
        Meanwhile, the .38 Special was becoming the number one load for police use in America, such that by 1940 more than 80% of all police used it. Mostly WO problems. You see poking a bullet hole in somebody is very lethal, regardless of caliber. What the shootee does afterwards did not matter a whole lot back then. The .22 LR, an anemic rim fire round, is still the number one all time one shot stop round in military service. ( Virtually 100% instantaneous stops with 100% lethality.)
        What matters to us today is what happens after perforating some bad guy. Statistically speaking, all hand guns require an average of ~4.7 hits to stop a gun fight. (IJL-FBI) Regardless of caliber! It seems that the larger the caliber, the lower that number gets. Down to about 4.4 rounds per felon. The smaller the bullet, the larger the number goes, to about 5.2 for .25s and .22s, with various 9s right at the median number above.
        But the most strange thing the FBI found out in their myriad studies is that single action guns averaged less than 3 rounds per felon while double action guns other than magnum revolvers pretty much made the numbers above. (The magnum revolvers were typically carried by better shots? Just guessing?)
        As an aside, the British Government came to the exact same conclusions when they equipped their elite forces with the P-35 Browning and a load known for it’s ability to perforate most soft body armor and helmets.
        So what does all of this boil down to for you and me? Learn to handle a .45 ACP with full house, 185 grain JHP+P loads. It’s not hard, just time consuming! Half an hour at home watching TV five days a week. Spend your money on a Para-Ordinance P-14 LTD. It is the finest out of the box reasonably priced, under $1,000, hand gun your department can buy and it fits all the bullet points. It has high magazine capacity of 14-16 rounds of .45, great sights, better trigger, perfect cycling, great ergonomics and if you do your part, can hit golf balls at 50 yards! No other side arm that can be had for under $1,000 comes close.

        • …The .38 Special was adopted by the U.S. Army in the late 1880′s, or early in the 1890s…

          No, that was .38 Long Colt, .38 Special was first time made by S&W in 1900-1902 IIRC.

          • The .38 Long Colt was surprising weak cartridge for military use. What in interesting in terms of muzzle-energy it is similar to .38 S&W (not to be confused with .38 Special) but has much lighter bullet. The .38 S&W was adopted as a “380/200 Revolver Mk I” by Great Britain in 1922, when the .455 Webley was standard – they must considered it powerful enough with 200gr bullet so probably the heavier bullet can solve the stopping power issue.

          • Daweo, don’t forget that it was a time that most of Europe moved to even more anemic (if somewhat better penetrating) 7.5-8mm revolvers.

        • I understand that the .38/44 was built on the N-frame mainly for insurance reasons. S&W didn’t want people putting the .38/44 rounds into smaller guns like the Military & Police (Model 10), having a “problem”, and suing them. (litigiousness in the firearms business in nothing new, even if you subtract Rollin White from the roster.)

          My father, a police officer and county constable, used Winchester-brand .38 “Superspeed” (same as Remington .38/44) in a Colt Police Positive Special his entire career. (he had small hands.) I carried the same revolver as backup early on, ad used ammunition he hadn’t (several boxes full, in fact) both as duty rounds and in practice.

          The 158 grain LRN bullets went over the chronograph at exactly 1,050 most days, yielding 390 FPE at the muzzle. (Yes, the recoil was a bit noticeable, due to the PPS’ small butt.) The Stoeger listing (1939 ed.) credits them with 1,075 and 405 (probably from a 10″ test barrel). (BTW, that is the same FPE as the standard 255-gr. .45 “Long” Colt load at 850.)

          The same catalog lists the Remington-Peters .38/44 as 158 gr. at 1,125 for 445 out of a 6″ barrel. In effect, both loadings (WW and RP) were delivering low-end .357 Magnum performance.

          Colt advertised the PPS as accommodating all .38 Special loads (“full and mid-range loads”), including the “heavy” .38/44s. This in a small-frame, 22-to-26 oz. revolver.

          When I ran through my father’s sequestered ammunition, I loaded the Colt with 158 gr. LHP +P “FBI” loads. Ballistically, about the same but with a better bullet shape. The Colt didn’t seem to notice; no frame shake, etc., and I checked frequently.

          The .38/44 and its “clones” were certainly “hot” loads. But except for very weak, poor-quality arms, I’m not really sure the “heavy” frame revolvers (N-frame S&W, New Service-frame and Official Police-frame Colt) were as vital as thought at the time.

          Metallurgy was, and is, the deciding factor. And the major American makers have always been pretty good at it.



    • From WIKI: The battle of Barrington.
      As Nelson regained his feet, Hollis, possibly already wounded, moved to better cover behind a utility pole while drawing his pistol, but was killed by a bullet to the head before he could return fire. Nelson stood over Hollis’s body for a moment, then limped toward the agents’ bullet-riddled car. Nelson was too badly wounded to drive, so Chase got behind the wheel, and the two men and Nelson’s wife fled the scene. Nelson had been shot a total of seventeen times; seven submachine gun slugs had struck his torso and ten shotgun pellets had torn into his legs.[8] After telling his wife “I’m done for”, Nelson gave directions as Chase drove them to a safe house on Walnut Street in Wilmette. Nelson died in bed here, with his wife at his side, at 7:35 that evening.[9]
      Seven .45s out of a Tommy gun at 1,050 FPS in the torso and ten OO Buck shot in the legs and it took him six hours to die? I think this tells it all! Placement is everything and caliber is almost nothing?

      • Not “almost nothing”, but even a peripheral hit from a massively-destructive round (as Agent Mireles’ horrible arm wound from Matix’ .223) may not “stop” an opponent who is (a)high on drugs, (b) running on 120-octane adrenaline, and/or (c) is so honked off that all he can think of is “I’m gonna kill you, you @#!&*%^$@#!”

        Which was pretty much Nelson’s attitude, from all indications.

        On the “good guys'” side, going back to Mireles, he wasn’t going to (a) run out on his friends or (b) lie down and give up, because he’s just not that kind of man. And there’s the whole “esprit de corps” factor, too; if you’ve ever been in such a situation, you know what I mean by that. You don’t “let the side down”, as the British say.

        As John Plaster relates in The Ultimate Sniper, John Wayne says, in The Shootist, “It isn’t always bein’ fast or even accurate that counts; it’s bein’ willing.”

        A man (or woman) who’s “willing” is a good one to have at your back, and a bad one to face. Nelson seems to have been very, very “willing”, and Platt and Matix were in the same category. As were the agents who took them down. Especially Edmundo Mireles.

        The moral is, carry and use the most powerful weapon you practically can and more importantly can hit with, repeatedly and in rapid fire. And aim for vital spots.

        My mother (one time auxiliary sheriff’s deputy) was a proponent of what Jeff Cooper later called the “Mozambique drill”; two shots to the center of mass, and if he’s still standing, elevate front sight and put two more into the eyes.

        BTW, her weapon of choice was a .45 Colt New Service. I was the family proponent of automatics.




    • First we should try to separate law enforcement and military needs. Like eon reminded us, in a rifle fight, if you are not packing a long gun, you are going to be outgunned. A 7.65 mm Browning (which I like to call it since it was always more popular in Europe) pistol works as officer’s symbol of power and intimidation tool in an emergency as well a .45 ACP pistol. It may not work quite as well for self defense, but officers who lead from the front (up to and including company commanders) started to carry rifles, carbines and in WW2 SMGs in combat during that period. Also, by WW2 9mm was becoming more common in military use, but it did not have the time to replace weaker calibers.

      As for law enforcement: really violent firefights against determined criminals with good weapons were simply not that common in Europe. Some countries also had paramilitary forces such as the French Gendarmerie or the Italian Carabinieri with military weapons to deal with violent criminals. For the regular police officers an FN M1900, M1910/22, Walther PP or similar was usually sufficient. The .32 ACP pistols were accurate (blowback operated with fixed barrel), usually reliable and had a reasonable magazine capacity with the single stack magazines of the day. Recoil is mild and with FMJ bullets the penetration is sufficient. 7.65mm FMJ bullets tend to tumble quite often at close ranges, which makes them somewhat more effective than the caliber and muzzle energy would indicate. For what it’s worth, it’s significantly more potent than .25 ACP and not far from .380 ACP. While not the greatest pistol cartridge by any means, it usually did what was required.

      • Good analysis — nowadays, there seems to be a general tendency towards “feature creep”, i.e., the tendency to progressively gravitate towards more powerful and larger-caliber rounds on the basis of “what if” and “just in case” until the end result is often out of all proportion to what is actually needed in practice. Case in point : I personally know of far too many hunters who are actually convinced that a .300 Winchester Short Magnum round is the minimum caliber needed to consistently ensure a clean kill on a full-grown deer at typical hunting ranges ( 100-250 yards ). Talk about the height of absurdity and successful gun / ammunition salesmanship.

        • My “go-to” rifle for just about everything animate larger than a stray dog that might need attention is a sporterized Swedish Mauser 6.5 x 55. Ballistically, about equivalent to a .270 Winchester out to about 300 meters, and I believe that most people rarely shoot at anything much beyond 100. I know I’ve only ever had to do it on a target range.

          For any “problem” east of the Mississippi that can’t be handled by a 140-grain Federal @ 2700, I’d suggest the best solution would be a good pair of track shoes and a 200-meter head start.



          • Good choice and good call, Eon. And a good example of more than one representative and effective all-around caliber that would serve any user very well.

            As for the the bit about problems east of the Mississipi — :):):):):)!

    • Thanks for posting the .pdf, my hard copy is Christ knows where.

      The TV movie got the cars more correct than the FBI reenactment did. In fact, the FBI video seems to use a brief clip from the TV movie. However, I believe the full-auto AC556 in the movie is not right.

      Platt and Matix were rare in that they were criminals that practiced with their guns.

      As far as “bring enough gun” goes, both of the bad guys were mortally wounded within the first <1m of the fight. They killed two good guys about two minutes after that. Looking at the ballistic tests the DHS recently did, there's no way a .40 kills them any deader than the .357/.38/9mm did. Disabling hits are a function of bullet placement, not caliber.

      What this incident did do is kill the revolver as a cop gun. Yet the guys with double-stack nines were no more effective. Jerry Dove had one and he was murdered anyway.

  10. After studying the case for years, I think the big take away was that guns ought to be handy.

    The bad guys had two handy long guns: a sawed-off shotgun and a folding stock Mini-14. The FBI agents that came on scene had two shotguns, full-size jobs that rode in the back seat. It did not show up on scene, but there was an AR-15 (not a Comando or a CAR-15), a full size back seat queen. The only compact long gun was an MP-5 that was in one of the vehicles that did not come on scene in time. Ed Miriles, in the video, alluded to a need for guns to be handy. There is an audio recording of an interview Massad Ayoob had with one of the agents a few years ago, and said that later on he got a CAR-15 and that he wished he had it that day. Ed brought his shot gun to bear, and used it to kill the bad guys, after being wounded and after the two agents were killed. If O’Neil’s shot gun had been compact and in the front seat and if he had fired that instead of his snubbie, I really think it would have been over almost before it started.

    Training materials from the FBI at the time showed shot gun instruction with fixed stock 20″+ shot guns. Now they use 14″ shotguns, and colapsable stock AR’s.

    Suspect the problem was that the range instructors at Quantico could put on great shooting demonstrations with full-size long guns, and full-size long guns didn’t slow down any of the drills. It is easy to tally up numbers like velocity, capacity, group size, etc., but not so easy to quantify how handy something is.

    The other lesson there was that every agent with a back up gun, ended up using it. And had there been more back up guns it could have made a difference–agent Dove, after delivering a non-survivable but non-stopping wound to a bad guy, had his pistol disabled when a bullet struck it. He had no back up and was then killed at close range. Also, in a car guns need to be holstered, one agent ran around the whole fight with no gun after losing his unholsteted gun in the initial car wreck.

    There were two of the best trained and most evil bad guys that day. Years earlier they killed both of their first wives, one of them brutally. They were spotted by the two agents who died, and it was surely not how the agents wanted to take them down, but they did so rather than break off the trail. Platt and Matix secured get away cars by murdering the car owners. When the trail was blown, if they had not taken down the suspect car, then someone would have been murdered for a new get away car. The agents who died that day did so in the place of one or more civilians, and they deserve to be remembered for that.

  11. I have another take away: shot placement. It matters little what does the hitting if the hit did not disrupt something completely vital. True for hunting, true for combat.

    • Agent Dove had very good shot placement, and that was probably what burned away at the FBI and led them to question the bullet that did not perform with proper shot placement.

      My point was that good placement is a lot easier with a long gun, and the bad guys had them from the start. Once an FBI agent brought a long gun to bear, the two bad guys were dead in a mater of seconds.

      And on the subject of shot placement the bad guy who did all the damage ended up doing what some people do in gun fights – he did most of his shooting at guns and hands. Agent O’Neal was shot in the hand (and then could not reload–blood and bone filled up the cylinder), Agent Dove’s gun was shot, and Agent Miriles was shot in the left forearm. In addition to having a back up gun, the ability to shoot, and to reload, with one’s off hand is important.

      In the end, Agent Miriles adapted to the situation, he managed to reload and shoot a shot gun one handed and he saved the day. Nothing against their memory, but I have the impression that the agents behind the car (one without glasses, one with a broken gun, and one out of ammo if I recall correctly) did not adapt to their situation and just hunkered down and either did not survive or were badly injured. Run and get some distance, throw rocks, knock on a door and see if they have ammo — it was Miami, restart a car and ram the bad guy when he exited the vehicle, just do something. Miriles had been a Marine–that may have had something to do with him improvising a solution.

      • Mireles’ one handed use of the shotgun served to additionally debilitate, however Platt was still able to get out of the commandeered FBI car, stalk across and fire three shots at minimal range at Mireles.

        Bear in mind that Platt was bleeding profusely from a Brachial artery, severed by a silvertip – it was an injury which he would have died from – just not quickly enough to put him out of the fight. He was also carrying two more silvertip hits in his chest, four 00 buck pellets in his ankle, six 00 buck pellets in his face, and had numerous nicks and grazes from other bullets.

        Mireles was apparently unaware of Platt’s three shots being fired, despite the minimal range. Platt’s weak hand point shooting resulted in three misses, again despite that short range.

        Mireles, who was also suffering severe blood loss from his severed right forearm, then drew his .357 revolver, and approached Platt and Matix, firing the actual killing head shots, aimed, and from his weak hand.

    • You are absolutely positively right about that! Read Bill Jordan’s book, “No second place winners”! He gets down to all the nitty-gritty details and states some very powerful truisms. One of his best is quoted above “Fast is fine, but accurate is final.”

  12. Some short quotes from ( the official Dutch site): “Officers learn in training how to use their weapon. Besides that they follow a training a few times a year and their knowledge gets tested 2 times a year”. No surprise that questions were asked in parliament. This a quote from one of the answers: “for these 2 tests the officer gets the opportunity to train at least 32 hours a year. Part of the tests are on violence control, self defense, ability to arrest and ability to shoot”. So most of those few hours are not used to practice with their pistol (9 mm para)! Mind you, to renew my shooting license (just for shooting at a range, no carry laws here) I have to shoot at least 18 times a year.

  13. I’m the one who reposted the FBI training video and survivor interviews. Both videos were on the web, as they are public domain, and I decided that putting them together would mean more people would see both. (The interviews are really overlooked in favor of the “Firefight” reenactment).

    I wrote a general description of the FBI Miami firefight for my online “Michigan Firearms Examiner” column last April.

    I won’t claim to have any great insights, but I did try to summarize the action clearly and I made it a point to include links to the best sources and info I could find on the web. This includes the PDF’s of the FBI report, Dean Spier’s excellent pages on the event, and other info. It’s really “one stop shopping” if you want to find out what’s online.

    Here’s the URL, if you don’t mind a plug.

  14. Know that this is an old thread, but for anyone interested, Ed Mireles wrote a book late last year on the firefight. It is fairly inexpensive and can be ordered from his web site:

    Read it a while back and it was worth every penny.

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