RIP Jim Cirillo

Jims card lighter redacted

Today is the anniversary of the 2007 death of Jim Cirillo. He was a wonderful guy and a good friend of mine. His wit, wisdom, and profanity will always be remembered by those of us who knew him.

Jim was a firearms trainer, par excellence. He was also one of the founding members of the NYPD Stakeout Squad. Jim’s book Guns, Bullets, and Gunfights is one that everyone who is serious about personal protection should read.

Jim wasn’t only a highly accomplished marksman; he was also a master tactician. My notes from the lecture where I met Jimmy are attached here. Jim Cirillo notes 05192001. Despite being from 2001, they’re still timely today.

Massad Ayoob wrote an eloquent eulogy about Jimmy, saying more than I can in his article Lessons of Jim Cirillo.

An excellent book about the exploits of the Stakeout Squad is Jim Cirillo’s Tales of the Stakeout Squad, written by Paul Kirchner.

I’ve previously written about one of the Stakeout Squad’s lessons.

An article about the Stakeout Squad appeared in New York magazine in 1972. The Deadly Score of the Stakeout Squad.  The article probably led to the eventual disbanding of the Squad for ‘efficiency’ reasons. The Stakeout Squad was highly ‘efficient’ at permanently removing violent criminals from the streets, which was no more acceptable in 1972 than it is today.

After surviving 18 gunfights, Jimmy was killed in a motor vehicle crash. That’s ironic and another reason I recommend that everyone who is interested in personal protection should take a Defensive Driving Course. The course can pay for itself. Georgia law requires that insurance companies reduce your premium 10% if you take it voluntarily. Many insurance companies will give you a break even if they’re not required to. That’s a good Return On Investment for $30.

claude werner di certificate-001

RIP Jimmy, we’ll always miss you.

16 responses

  1. “Dollar bill methods (2) to demonstrate reaction time (?)”. I think this refers to the “trick” of holding a bill above someone’s open hand and having them try to catch it after it’s released. My Dad used to do this to me when I was a kid.

  2. Thanks for this post Claude. I didn’t get serious about defensive shooting until 2013; by then he was long gone. Couple of questions from your notes:
    1. I listened to Massad Ayoob interview Mr. Cirillo as well as Bob Stasch; both of them were fans of more powerful calibers. I got the impression from their interviews that in their experience, the greater energy tended to decrease the time from “hit” to “stop fighting”. Not to open up the caliber debate but is that the impression you got from him or did he have other reasons? I realize we are 15 years downrange in terms of bullet design and ballistic performance.
    2. Unloading sequence – is your concern that gun owners will potentially forget to clear the round in the chamber if they release the magazine first? I hadn’t spent time considering it before but from a risk perspective, the round in the chamber is more of a threat than the ones in the mag.

  3. Jim did want as powerful a handgun as he could shoot. He might have different opinions today but there’s no way to say. He also liked having a lot of ammo.

    You are exactly correct concerning my reservations about the unloading sequence. I had completely forgotten that Jim said that over a decade before it dawned on me.

    1. Jimmy and I only had one friendly disagreement. He knew I carry small guns. One time he said”if you get in a gunfight, you’re going to be wishing for the biggest handgun you can think of.” I replied, “Jimmy, if I get in a gunfight, I’m going to be wishing for my shotgun not some pathetic popgun I can shoot with one hand!” We both laughed.

      1. “As powerful handgun as you can shoot” makes inherent sense but not so easy to quantify. I haven’t finished yet but decided to use your baseline session as well as your idea of the 5x5x5 drill to evaluate potential carry guns and see which ones I actually “can shoot”. Also threw in 5 rounds at 25 yards to the head to inject some reality into any of my fantasies of stopping the terrorists at the mall. Of course, have to consider context – my bedside gun won’t be used at 25 yards – but has proven interesting and somewhat sobering at times so far.

      2. I’ve always considered the term ‘powerful handgun’ to be something of an oxymoron. In my opinion, if it can be readily shot with one hand, it’s not powerful. A Varon-T disruptor would be an exception to that rule but I haven’t been able to get my hands on one yet. 😃

  4. Gone but not forgotten. RIP Mr. Cirillo.

    Heaven forbid that violent criminals are permanently removed from doing harm to innocents in our society.

    No we need to hug them and let them do whatever they want. Because politicians with body guards say so.

  5. Thanks, Claude.
    Jim was a friend(met him due to his interest in GLOCK pistols), and one of the
    distinct memories I have is that he was a “happy warrior”. He killed several men who were doing bad things to fellow citizens but it was in the line of duty, and he harbored no qualms over his actions.
    He always pursued accuracy(shooting at 50 yards+, designing sights for accuracy and speed) and power-either big bullets or a lot of them. At a dinner years ago, he was packing a G19 and a G26(!) He also looked the 10mm and .45acp cartridges.
    Related note: Walt Rauch of USPSA/IDPA Tactical Invitational fame, passed on last week. We should be grateful such men lived…
    It was a privilege to know them both

    1. I was sad to learn of Walt’s passing. Another good friend gone.

  6. Kathy Jackson

    I still have the target I shot in Cirillo’s Downed Defender class in 2003. He signed it for me, and I took it home and framed it. At the time, I was still new enough to the gun world that I didn’t really know who Jim Cirillo was before I landed in his class — but I did know that he was one of the most charming, engaging, and interesting people I’ve ever known. The world is a better place because Jim walked through it.

  7. Claude, thanks for taking the time to put all this info together, then sharing it. I read every word of every post. Your class notes were very insightful.


  8. […] one of the great police gunfighters of our time, the late great Jim Cirillo, bore the cost. Despite the fact that all his shootings were eminently justifiable and he didn’t […]

  9. I never met Jim but heard wonderful insightful stories from his daughter Margaret and his granddaughters who love him ver much. Ironically, I am an Inspector in NYC and date his daughter. He truly was a legend as I have read his books and discovered his signature on the door of the special weapons room at Rodman’s Neck along with Vinny Allard, his close friend.

  10. Bill Allard…..

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