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Your Tactical Training Scenario- Dealing with Molotov Cocktails and Fire Bombs

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Written by Greg Ellifritz


I posted this video on my Facebook page the other day and asked my friends to comment. If you haven’t seen the video, it is footage of an attack on innocent motorists in Palestine. A massive (more than 40 people by my count) group of masked and hooded attackers began throwing Molotov Cocktails at an Israeli armored vehicle, but quickly transitioned into throwing them at any car driving down the road. Take a look at the short video below:

I asked my friends how they would handle an attack like this. Before you say “Don’t live in Palestine,” think about this…


What would happen in the USA in overpopulated urban areas if the EBT cards stopped working? I could see large groups of disadvantaged youths “protesting” in a similar manner. The firebombing attacks would be organized through social media sites like twitter or Facebook. 100 teens show up at a set place and time. Each throws 2-3 firebombs, then runs. The cops could never catch up. It could be a very serious problem.


So, back to my question: What would you do if came under an attack like this?


Obviously, the best course of action here is to maintain good situational awareness and drive away as soon as you notice the attack underway.  Even if your vehicle is hit by a fire bomb, keep driving.  The car’s movement will allow the burning liquid to drip off of your car and any additional distance you can create between you and your attackers creates a more favorable outcome for you.


But what if you were daydreaming and didn’t notice the attack in time? What if your escape route is blocked by disabled or burning vehicles? What if your vehicle is hit by a firebomb and catches on fire? Too many bad outcomes can happen if we solely rely on the “I’d just drive away” mentality.


If you couldn’t drive away, what would you do?


Some friends advised turning the car towards the attackers and trying to run over as many as possible, under the theory that it is always best to “attack the ambush.”


That may not be a wise idea. Military ambush doctrine works well when you are ambushed by a smaller number of fighters and/or you are armed with similar weapons. It also depends on having a lot of armed friends as backup. You don’t have those conditions here.


Surely, you’ll run over a few people, but unless you drive a monster truck, your car will probably sustain significant damage and become disabled after running down a couple people at high speed. Ever seen what kind of damage a 150 lb deer will do to a car? Why do you think that hitting a 200 lb. human will be any different? If you do have to run over someone, it may be best to be driving in reverse in order to minimize damage to your car’s most vital structures.


Besides potentially disabling your car, driving into the attack means that you will most certainly become a prime target for the firebombs. Do you want to be trapped in a burning car? I don’t think “attacking the ambush” is a good strategy here. You are alone and there are simply too many attackers. The odds of you prevailing aren’t very good.


Some other friends suggested bailing out of the car and grabbing a rifle and a vehicle “bug out bag” before fleeing. If the attackers gave chase, they could be picked off at a distance with the rifle.


I don’t think that’s a very good idea either. I carry a rifle and a pack of emergency supplies in my car trunk most of the time.  I wouldn’t grab them in a situation like this. It just takes too much time. Every extra second I spend in the kill zone increases my chance of becoming a human BBQ. Even if you are able to get your gear before being hit with a Molotov cocktail, that gear will weigh you down. It will slow your escape. Being slow or in a fixed position as you are assaulted with fire isn’t a good survival strategy. Have you considered that much of the “cover” you would hide behind as you are playing urban sniper doesn’t work well to stop flaming liquids?


Other folks suggested bailing out with a pistol and engaging any targets of opportunity as you flee the scene. I like this option better, but this isn’t the “shooting on the move” you practiced on the square range. Slowly walking backwards “Groucho Marx” style while shooting your pistol simply won’t get you out of the kill zone fast enough.


No, I prefer running away as fast as possible. I won’t be grabbing any extra gear. My pistol will probably be in my hand, but I won’t be taking time to shoot unless a target pops up in front of me and is blocking my escape route. It’s my goal to get out of there as fast as possible. Any other strategy is likely to get you turned into a crispy critter.


Here are some other things to think about:


– When is the last time you’ve sprinted? Could you run away fast enough to avoid the flying flaming bottles? Some of you need to be doing more sprinting and less surfing on gun forums.


– When in your vehicle, do you carry your gun on your person? Or do you keep it in the glove compartment “just in case I need it.” I have news for you. You won’t have time to access your piece from the glove box or locked safe in an environment like this. You will either try to get it and be fried or escape into hostile territory without it. Neither are good options. Carry your gun on your person!


– What if you have infant(s) in car seats or young children? Have you ever figured out how to run while carrying a baby in a car seat? Put a 20 lb. sack of rice in a car seat and give it a try this weekend. Figure out the best way of doing it.


You obviously won’t leave your young children as you flee. how would you position your car so that you can safely remove your child/ car seat? I think the best option is turning the car broadside to the attackers with the side opposite the child towards the attackers. Do you have your child seat on the same side of the car as the driver’s seat or do you buckle it in behind the passenger seat? Either location can have both strengths and weaknesses. Make the placement of your child seat in the car a conscious decision and not a matter of whimsy.


– Distance is your friend.  The Molotov Cocktail is an unusual weapon…almost like an extended range contact weapon.  If you can get out of throwing range, you will be safe.  That should be your prime goal.  No one is throwing those things more than about 50 yards.  if you can get that far (and the attackers don’t advance) you will be safe.  Why are you worrying about doing anything other than running?


As you make your escape, have you thought about clothing considerations?  Could you run away in high heels or dress shoes?  Do you wear clothes made of synthetic fibers that will quickly catch fire and/or melt?  If I saw even one of these attacks in my area, I wouldn’t leave the house unless I was wearing shoes I could run in and all natural fiber (cotton and wool) clothing.


Sometimes it’s useful to pay attention to even the most unlikely attack scenarios.  Looking at them as a thought experiment will provide some insight into more mundane self protection events.






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(2) Greg Ellifritz 2014-10-21 23-41-54





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