Tactical Lessons from Benghazi’s Heroes

In July, Americans celebrate the birth of our great nation, the greatest nation in the world. We as Americans are both privileged and blessed to live here. Our national anthem proudly depicts the fight men and women have endured, as well as the sacrifices made with a nation in the making.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key has powerful verses of what he was witnessing as the British attacked Fort McHenry so many years ago.

[su_heading size=”30″]
“O say can you see, by the dawn’s
early light,
What so proudly we hailed as the
twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright
stars through the perilous fight
O’er the rampart we watched
were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the
bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that
our flag was still there
O say does that star-spangled
banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the
home of the brave?”
[/su_heading]

Sadly, many Americans do not know there are many more verses to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I wish to share the last stanza with you, my fellow Americans:

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“O thus be it ever when freemen
shall stand
Between their loved home and the
war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace may
the heaven rescued land
Praise the power that hath made
and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our
cause it is just,
And this be our motto: In God is
our trust,
And the star-spangled banner in
triumph shall wave,
O’er the land of the free and the
home of the brave.”
[/su_heading]

Americans have had a long history of standing their ground in the firm belief in righteous causes for the love of God, country, family, and for the freedoms of their fellow man.
So strong in all of the above attributes, noble Americans pushed to violence become the fiercest warriors on God’s planet in internecine conflicts.

ONE SUCH STORY of magnificent bravery and absolute heroism was conducted on the night of September 11, 2012. On this day, a group of terrorists attacked the U.S. State Department Special Mission compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya.
Unless one has lived in a cave for the past couple of years, the majority of Americans are fully aware of this story, as depicted in the best-selling book and popular movie by the same name, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.
From the book: “Against overwhelming odds, Mark ‘Oz’ Geist, Kris ‘Tanto’ Paronto, John ‘Tig’ Tiegen, Jack Silva, Dave ‘Boon’ Benton, and Tyrone ‘Rone’ Wood went beyond the call of duty, performing extraordinary acts of courage and heroism, to avert tragedy on a much larger scale.”
I have personally had the honor of meeting with Oz, Tig, Tanto and Boon at several different functions. And when I was given the personal opportunity to train with both Tanto and Boon through their newly formed training company, Battleline Tactical, well, that was a no-brainer.
Some may ask, other than the fame and notoriety of the Benghazi heroes, what reason would the average American citizen pay hard-earned money to learn from these experienced gun fighters?

My answer to that is plenty! These men were and still are highly trained personal protection specialists, aka bodyguards, who protect high valued government diplomats.
Bodyguarding means protecting.
Protecting means defending.
Defending means it could lead to fighting. Fighting is a prime requisite for toughness.
Fighting is a sanguinary affair of the highest order; naturally this proclivity will be associated with a lifelong understudy of the most advanced weaponry on the market, and in the business of self-preservation, adds to aid in the longevity of protection and survival.

So, my question to the average American citizen is, do you not have the same duties and responsibilities protecting your own loved ones? Of course, the answer is a resounding yes. So wouldn’t any training session from some of the best and most elite bodyguards in the world and the lessons they learned in their hardfought
exploits be of value to your family?
Can you even put a price tag on such good training? And aren’t you and your family worth every penny? Of course, the answer is damn right!

WITH AN INVITATION from Bill Orndorf, Bruce Corey and Israel Matos of Defense Marketing Instructors, LLC (more on them later, as these men deserve their own article), I along with around 23 other seasoned responsible gun owners received some very intense handgun and rifle training from Battleline Tactical at the Nail Ranch in Palm Bay, Florida.
As one would assume of any professional trainer, Battleline Tactical’s dynamic duo of Paronto and Benton emphasized safety.
-Topics of the pistol course for day one included different carry positions in holsters and advantages of each, drawing the weapon from said holster positions from concealment, repeating the fundamentals of pistol marksmanship, target acquisition, how to engage threats from 3 to 25 meters (once again from concealment), close-range shooting from concealment, shooting from simple cover, strong side and support side shooting on the move, multiple target acquisition, low-light shooting, as well as a discussion on pistol ballistics.
-Day two focused on the rifle with pretty much the same kind of topics covered with more detail in loading and unloading the rifle under stress, sight alignment, sight picture, discussion of various optics, breath and trigger control stance, grip and
points of contact, and follow-through.
What impressed me was Benton’s classroom and range presentations.
He demonstrated great patience with all of the students, as there was a range of skill levels. Benton worked assiduously to the late hours of the closing day, ensuring everyone met the qualifications to the instructor’s standards.

If Benton is the yin of the Battleline Tactical training group, then Paronto is the yang. After I had trained with these men for two solid days, many associates asked me to describe Paronto. I had remembered reading a book on Wild Bill Hickok by Richard O’Connor and his description of the shootist was thusly: “Wild Bill was one of the best revolver shots ever produced in the west. He certainly was the best shot in the fight. It is one thing to shoot accurately at a target and another thing to be able to shoot accurately at a man who is shooting at you …
He was devoid of nerves; his mind was clear, his hand steady and his marksmanship certain in the most desperate situation. He never became excited. A cool man is often a phlegmatic man, but Wild Bill was the reverse. He was not only perfectly cool, but he was always alert and nimble of wit, and in action as quick as lightning.”
One could easily substitute the name Kris Paronto for Wild Bill, and substitute semiautomatic pistols for revolvers, and that would be an accurate description.

WHILE ALL THE shooting was intense, the drills set by the hardened Battleline instructors all came from firsthand personal accounts of real-world
experience and not on theory or conjuncture. Benton and Paronto’s military
backgrounds are thoroughly discussed in the New York Times bestselling book 13 Hours, and if the reader thinks this is a shameless plug to buy said book, that would be correct.
Having been in this business for over 35 years myself, I was driven to get into the heads of these two modern Spartans and to understand what motivates them.
After rereading the book, the reasons why made perfect sense.
In the class, one drill was a stress-induced one, which required us participants to run a pretty good distance and then find our personal gun that we had previously placed on a table.
Only that was wrong, because of course the instructors mixed everyone’s guns up. So, you’re scrambling under time to get your gun, sprint back to the range, and
before you could shoot targets you had to put a tourniquet on yourself with one hand as if you were wounded, and get back in the fight.
Tyrone Woods was the Senior GRS Leader for Benton and Paronto’s Protection team in Benghazi. Not only was Woods a Navy SEAL, but he was both a paramedic and nurse.
He drilled this into his team’s heads and it paid off in huge dividends when fellow GRS teammate Mark Geist was badly injured by a mortar round, and that is exactly what he had to do for himself!
If you’re around guns, it makes sense to have as much medical training as you can get, which led to another discussion of carrying personal medical kits, with clotting agents, sterile Kerlix dressing and tourniquets. Of course, for the same
logical reason.
While shooting platforms at the range are different from real-life situations, it was drilled into the class that one can never practice too much in a variety of positions, as the flow of the engagement will dictate how and what shooting
position is used.
Students showed up with a wide variety of rifles, and I was happy to get a chance to shoot three different types of rifles that I have had my sights set on for some
time now: Knight’s Armament, Daniel Defense and Bravo Rifles.
I did marvel at Paronto’s Maxim Defense AR-Pistol Platform and Benton’s personal AR-Pistol platform from Veritas Tactical.
An entire book could be written about how great the training was from Benton and Paronto. All I can say is that in all my years in the field, it was one of the best training experiences I have ever had and would fully recommend Battleline Training to everyone.
Moreover I am proud of these fine men; they are true American heroes.
These gentlemen stand for everything America represents, honoring God, honoring their country, honoring their family and honoring their Battle Buddies with their mantra: “No one gets left behind, even if it costs them their lives.” Ladies and gentlemen, this is what type of men Francis Scott Key was talking about in his national anthem, and these men are why our country truly is the land of the free
and the home of the brave.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY PAUL PAWELA
Editor’s note: For more information on Battleline Tactical, go to kristantoparonto.com.

Steyr AUG – Die Hard Fans

Let’s say I wanted a rifle, chambered in 5.56, with a 16-inch barrel, and I wanted it to be about the same size as an SMG.
Well, look no further, the Austrian Steyer AUG fits that need.

The Steyr AUG is a bullpup rifle that manages to pack a lot in a little space. It does this by placing the action behind the trigger group. This includes the magazine, bolt, and ejection port.

Steyr AUG

Steyr AUG

Prices accurate at time of writing

What the engineers at Steyr did was create a simple rifle, that incorporated a 16-inch barrel in a gun the same size as an SMG. Seriously, let’s use Die Hard as a reference because we’re Die Hard fans.

The Steyr AUG is only 28.15 inches with a 16-inch barrel and its chambered in a rifle caliber. That’s a pretty substantial rifle in a tiny package. That’s the magic of a bullpup.

AUG Vs. 7.5 inch AR
AUG Vs. 7.5 inch AR

Smaller guns are easier to handle in close quarters, but in rifle calibers that usually means a shorter barrel.

A shorter barrel in a rifle caliber usually means less range and a drop in ballistic performance. The Steyr AUG is the best of both worlds in many ways.

AUG Vs. 16 inch AR-15
AUG Vs. 16 inch AR-15

Table of Contents

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My AUG

The Steyr AUG’s current incarnation is the Steyr AUG A3 M1. This particular rifle sports a 1.5x optic, but is available with a 3x optic, or no optic and a scope rail. This is the NATO model, so it does accept AR 15 magazines.

Best Magazine
Magpul 30 Round PMAG Gen M3 .223/5.56 Magazine

Magpul 30 Round PMAG Gen M3 .223/5.56 Magazine

The downside is that you lose the ability to swap the gun to a left-handed configuration. With the standard model you can do that, but has to use the less common AUG mags. Although, the 42 round semi-transparent AUG magazine has a place in my heart.

The gun weighs 8.8 pounds with an optic, and in the world of lightweight ARs, it’s a little hefty. However, once you pick it up the balance is perfect. The slightly heavier than average weight isn’t that significant.

AUG Plus Pew Pew SWAG
AUG Plus Pew Pew SWAG

The optic on the gun sports Pic rails for attaching a small red dot, or whatever else you may want. There is also a small section on the left-hand side for an accessory. It is perfect for a light attachment.

A Streamlight TLR-1 with a simple switch lever works well here. It’s made for a pistol, but due to the rails placement near the support hand, it’s easy to turn on and off.

Not much room for accessories...
Not much room for accessories…

Other than that there isn’t much room for accessories. You can’t load this thing down like a traditional AR, but do you need to?

One of the cool features is how easy and quick you can remove the barrel. Right above the folding pistol grip is a small button, you move the button forward with one hand and pull the barrel with the other. Bam, it’s off.

In the past Steyr produced the AUG para kit which allowed you to convert the gun to 9mm with just a few changes, the barrel is one of them. Those kits seem few and far between these days.

You can swap the barrels out though. You can add a 20 inch, or even a 24-inch barrel to your AUG. This allows to convert the AUG to a DMR style weapon or pretend it is the squad support model of the AUG.

Ergonomics

This is my first real experience with a bullpup. I’ve played and toyed with some in the past, but this was my first time running and gunning with one. I’m keeping that in mind as I judge ergos.

Base Ergonomics

Everything feels right about this gun. The stock is nice and full and fits comfortably into the shoulder. The 15-inch LOP is excellent with or without armor. (Disclaimer I’m also 6’4” and have gorilla arms.)

The grip angle is perfect, and it better be because it can’t be changed. I’ve always like vertical foregrips, and this one works as intended. Without it, you wouldn’t have much space to grip the rifle.

AUG ADS
Aiming down the AUG optical sight

Since this gun doesn’t have a proper forend trying to rest it on barriers is almost impossible. Also if you don’t like the location of the VFG… Well too bad, because it can’t be moved.

Lastly, the gun is equipped with two QD sling swivels for right-handed users only. Perfect for my favorite Blue Force Gear Vickers sling.

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling

Blue Force Gear Vickers Sling

Reloading

As a Marine and AR owner, I’m used to a more standard layout, and my muscle memory was clinging to that style. It took a lot of practice both dry and live fire for me to master the ergos. Admittedly reloading is nowhere near as intuitive as an AR or standard layout rifle.

I did a lot of practice reloads and eventually found my way of reloading efficiently, but I don’t feel I’d ever be as fast as I am with a standard rifle. The gun has two mag releases and both work depending on your style of reloading.

Reloading the AUG isn’t the most natural of movements…but you can train into it

The first is a small button forward of the magazine well. The second is a rear lever placed right behind the magazine. I prefer the rear lever. If I keep my thumb pointing up on my fresh magazine my thumb presses the lever up and releases the magazine.

I grip it with the same hand, remove it, reload, and carry on.

Controls

The controls used outside of reloading are very simple and intuitive. The charging handle is placed on the left side and easy to reach and use. That being said it takes a little force to get that bolt back.

AUG Safety
Square cross bolt safety located back and above of the trigger

The safety is just a square push button, and it works as intended, is easy to use, and provides a tactile method of knowing what state your rifle is in.

Live Fire

The gun points exceptionally well. It feels so natural to take it from low ready to high ready and fire. It’s short size, and excellent balance comes into effect here. It points so well it’s honestly easy to fire with one hand.

I’m no physics buff, but the fact that most of the gun is to the rear and barely any barrel is forward of the shooter means the muzzle is much easier to control. Remember the exaggerated C-Clamp so many guys use with ARs?

AUG ADS Side
AUG cheek weld is easy to aquire

The same theory is in effect here. Recoil is typical of a 5.56 caliber weapon, so there isn’t much to say other than its minimal and pleasant.

The most prominent downside to the AUG is its trigger. If you run Timneys in your AR, then you will be aghast at the AUG’s trigger. It’s functional, but far from the match grade performance many of us are accustom to.

It’s squishy, the pull is long, and it’s quite gritty. It’s 9 pounds, and you feel every ounce of it. I wouldn’t take it to an NRA High Power match, or a precision rifle contest. With that said it’s not bad enough to make you miss, just bad enough to open up your groups a bit.

Uses

This rifle could be used for a wide variety of purposes. It’s certainly an exciting gun to bring to 3-Gun, albeit reloading may be a little tricky for speedy purposes. It’s certainly a great home defense weapon.

The compact size is perfect for inside the house and close quarters use. It’s balanced well, in a competent caliber, and even equipped with a suppressor it’s still roughly the same size as a standard AR 15.

AUG ADS Rear
Careful of that ejection port, lefties beware of righthanded rifles!

As a duty gun, it’s served several countries exceptionally well. At one point it was even adopted by the Department of Homeland Security. The AUG is one of the longest-serving bullpup rifles out there and its proven in terms of reliability and usefulness.

It’s an excellent gun for smaller shooters who want to exercise the most control over their weapon possible. It’s got a great length of pull, gives the shooter an excellent degree of control over the gun, and with a little time and effort put into training, the controls are flawless.

The last use is, of course, the best one, it’s fun. It’s fun to shoot, it looks like a space gun, and its a dream to shoot. Plus, it’s excellent for shooting glass. (last Die Hard reference I promise.)

Upgrades

We all like accessorizing our guns, but unfortunately, the AUG doesn’t have a massive aftermarket. There are a few companies producing some excellent, high-quality upgrades. Corvus Defensio comes to mind immediately.

The big problem is that the AUG itself doesn’t leave a lot of room for customization. It’s a simple weapon, and it was designed over thirty years ago.

AUG taking a nap on a tree
AUG taking a nap on a tree after a long day at the range

By the Numbers

Reliability 5/5

The thing never went click when it should have gone bang. I went through everything from nice TAP ammo to cheap Tula and it worked. No issues ejecting, loading, or firing. The AUG has been around long enough that any such problems would be corrected by now.

Ergonomics 3/5

The gun gets really high marks in some areas and low marks in others. The trigger kinda sucks and I’m taking a point away solely for that. Reloading is an iffy proposition, and will never be AR fast, but with practice, it’s intuitive enough. The other big flaw is that should the gun have a failure the placement of the ejection port makes squick access difficult.

Accuracy 4/5

The gun is quite accurate and capable of producing respective groups. It well beyond Minute of Bad Guy accuracy and out to several hundred yards I can hit the chest area of my targets. The trigger is kinda crap takes a point off.

Accessories and Upgrades 2/5

I’m going to give it one point for the barrel and bipod options and 1 point for potential. The Steyr AUG is so simple it seems like it would be easy to do caliber conversions, offer different forward grips, and really change things up. Unfortunately, the rifle isn’t popular enough in the US to receive the AR treatment.

Looks 5/5

So this is obviously subjective and my 5 rating is clearly based on a lot of inherent bias about this gun. It looks cool to me. Sorry, but it always will. Objectively I can say the finish is nice and evenly applied, and looks smooth and classy. The stock’s FDE mixed with the black metal gives a nice balanced look of colors.

Bang for Your Buck Value 2/5

This is not a cheap gun by any stretch. It’s not even really a cheap bullpup these days. On average it’s at least 500 bucks more than the base model of the Tavor. Compared to the AR market it’s even higher than some nice Daniel Defense AR rifles. I’m giving it a 2 because if you want an AUG it’s really your only option… and it’s not FN SCAR money.

Overall 3.5/5

The Steyr AUG is a great gun. It does have some flaws, and if it was available for around 1,500 bucks it’d be a real winner. This particular model typically retails for over 2k and that’s a hard sell. It’s a straight-shooting, compact, and well-designed platform that shows us what a bullpup can really do.

Do you have an AUG? How do you like it? What other bullpups do you love (Best Bullpup Rifles & Shotguns)? Most importantly, what is your favorite Die Hard movie? Let us know in the comments!

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