From the American Rifleman archives. Part I FBI Firearms Training: The Shooting FBI by J. Edgar Hoover From the July, 1945 issue of American Rifleman Law enforcement officers without guns in this modern day would seem paradoxical, yet not so many years ago Special Agents of the FBI were without statutory authority to carry weapons. Then came the “Bloody Thirties,” when gangsterism reached its apex. The early years of this era saw gangs of hoodlums spreading terror with flaming guns across the length and breadth of the United States. They committed murders, kidnappings, bank robberies, and gang killings. They robbed and pillaged with no respect for law and no regard for human life. Vultures in human form, they were courageous only when they stood behind a machine gun, shotgun, revolver, or pistol. The only law those gangsters understood was a law backed by guns and straight shooting. The country needed men clothed with the power of arrest and men who could shoot it out, if necessary, with those hoodlums. Citizens became incensed and demanded action. The American People looked to Congress to act as it was apparent that local and state governments could not compete with the gangsters who, after committing a crime, fled from state to state or in many instances from one end of the country to the other by train, plane, and automobile. Congress took the needed action by passing new laws and putting teeth in old laws in the spring of 1934. The months of May and June, 1934, are red-letter months in the history of law enforcement in the United States. On May 18, 1934, Congress passed an act providing punishment for the killing or assaulting of Federal officers, and that same date a revised kidnapping statute was approved. Soon other laws relative to assault, bank robbery, and interstate flight to avoid prosecution came into being. On May 22, 1934, the National Stolen Property Act was enacted and on June 18, 1934, Congress empowered Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to carry firearms and make arrests. This series of laws spelled doom for the flourishing gangsters. The Federal Bureau of Investigation immediately inaugurated a special firearms training program for its agents. The best available weapons were selected and the finest firearms experts in the country began teaching the Special Agents during those early years proved their worth and turned gangsterism into a dangerous and extremely unremunerative “calling.” The FBI adopted as its official handgun a .38 caliber revolver which is issued to every Special Agent of the FBI on his first day in training school. A great portion of the work of Special Agents involves cases in which firearms are unnecessary, yet it is important to have a gun which can be carried inconspicuously of light weight, and yet with plenty of power. In most of the cases in which firearms are needed by agents they are used at close range, usually ten to twenty-five yards, and for that reason it is not necessary to carry guns with a long range. There are cases, however, in which rifles, machine guns, and shotguns must be used and, therefore, all agents are trained and must qualify with an average of 85 per cent or better with the repeating shotgun, a .30 caliber rifle, a .45 caliber machine gun, and the .357 Magnum revolver in addition to the .38 caliber revolver. Each field office keeps a number of .357 caliber Magnum revolvers. The estimated effective range of this gun is 200 yards, while its maximum range is 2,700 yards. Because of its terrific power, it is used only in emergency cases when maximum penetration or shooting force is required. The powerful penetration or shooting force is required. The powerful penetrative effect of this gun can be more fully understood when it is realized that a bullet fired from it will pierce an automobile’s structure. An excellent example of the use of the .357 caliber Magnum revolver occurred in a case handled by the FBI in Mississippi several years ago. At that time two FBI agents were in pursuit of two bank robbers who were shooting at the agents. The agents had fired their service revolvers at the back of the fleeing automobile with no effect. These two agents had been practicing with .357 caliber Magnum revolvers that morning and, therefore, had them in the glove compartment of the car at the moment. As soon as it was realized that the service revolvers were having no effect on the feeling car, the Magnum was used and one shot from this gun penetrated the trunk , the back seat, the front seat, the driver was killed instantly and the automobile wrecked. With respect to rifles, the FBI first used the .30-’06 rifle because it had been proved satisfactory by the military forces for long range shooting and because cartridges were readily available. Experience over the years, however taught the FBI that this gun was too powerful for the work at hand and, therefore, a .30 caliber rifle with an estimated effective range of 300 yards was adopted. A rifle of this kind can be used with much effect in the western states and mountainous country where, in trailing a fugitive, it might be necessary to shoot at 200 or 300 yards. The rifle in use at the present time by the FBI is a .30 caliber autoloading rifle which is light in weight easy to carry, accurate, and a powerful weapon, having a muzzle velocity of 2,250 feet per second. Another gun used by the FBI is the 12 gauge, cylinder-bore, repeating shotgun. This gun was very effectively used by an agent in recent years when standing at the bottom steps in the house of a fugitive. The fugitive suddenly darted down the steps and snapped a .45 caliber Colt in the agent’s face. In his desperate hurry, however, the fugitive had thrown the cartridge out of the barrel in his attempt to cock the weapon and, therefore, the agent’s life was saved. The agent immediately fired the shotgun and at that close range the fugitive was killed instantly. The Thompson submachine gun is an additional powerful weapon used by Special Agents. This gun has an effective range of 100 yards, and on full-automatic fire will shoot at the rate of 600 shots per minute. The FBI has adopted the box-type clip for use of with this gun, as the clips are easy to carry and have thus far served all purposes necessary in Bureau work. From the July, 1945 issue of American Rifleman To make each man in the FBI service superior to any opponent in speed and accuracy, an exacting program is followed. For this purpose, outstanding experts in the field of firearms are on our staff. These men have for many years made a study of the art of shooting under every conceivable circumstance. Under these instructors, officials and Special Agents learn quick, straight, and accurate shooting. The training is based on the knowledge that an agent’s life, as well as the lives of his fellow agents, might some day depend entirely on his ability and skill in handling a revolver, a rifle, a machine gun, or a shotgun. Hours are spent learning the mechanical operation of these guns in order that the individual parts of each gun, and their particular functions are thoroughly mastered. The more knowledge an officer has concerning the gun he carries with him, the greater respect he has for that gun and its danger. Such respect lessens the possibility of accidents to himself and to others. Before an agent is permitted to shoot on the range, he is given a course in sight alignment and dry firing. Sight alignment is, of course, essential to good shooting. Through dry firing, the agent becomes familiar with the firearm he is to use, and learns the “feel” of the gun properly seated in his hand or against his shoulder. In addition, he learns the all-important factor of “trigger squeeze.” By the time he is ready to go up to the firing line, he knows his weapon and how to shoot it.