1986 FBI Miami Gunfight Anniversary

Today marks the 36th anniversary of the terrible 1986 gunfight between members of the FBI’s Miami C-1 Bank Robbery Squad, and a pair of violent bank and armored car robbers who were willing to fight to the death, rather than surrender.

For those unfamiliar with this gunfight, please see last year’s post, here.

The chaff

There have been many words written about the Miami gunfight in the gun press, most of which have focused on issues of equipment, and particularly ammunition.

While there were certainly important lessons to be learned from the Miami experience about equipment, and the gunfight had an extraordinary impact on ballistic research and development, we at RevolverGuy think there has been too much emphasis on this aspect of the fight.

the wheat

Instead, we think the more important lessons from the fight relate to training, tactics and mindset, which haven’t received the attention they are due.

Edmundo Mireles did all of us a tremendous favor with the publication of his book FBI Miami Firefight several years ago, and addressed some of these issues, as only he could. As the man who fired the final shots that stopped the killers from escaping, his personal testimony about the fight is irreplaceable, and the book is a must-read for those who want to learn more about it.

the focus

As many parts of the greater gun and law enforcement communities reflect on “Miami” today, the conversation will undoubtedly turn to equipment in many corners, but we’d encourage RevolverGuy readers to focus on the human aspects, instead.

In the end, it was the courage, commitment, and mental toughness of the involved agents which won the day, more so than the hardware. Ed Mireles’ revolver and ammunition were rather unremarkable, as were the guns and ammo of all the agents embattled that day.

The truly remarkable components of that fight were the men, themselves; The men who risked their lives for each other, who plunged into danger, knowing they faced certain injury or death, because they had to stop the evil pair of criminals from hurting more innocents. The men like Mireles, who, on the very brink of death himself, somehow found the strength to get up and finish the fight.

The gun is an important tool, but it’s useless without the trained and committed man who wields it. As Napoleon Bonaparte once observed, “There are but two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the mind.”

So, today, as we remember and honor the men of the C-1 Squad who fought and died that day, let us commit to sharpening our minds, as readily as we sharpen our swords.

God bless you all and be safe out there.

Author: Mike

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Mike Wood is a bonafide revolver nut, a certified law enforcement instructor in handgun, shotgun, patrol rifle, less-lethal, and diversionary device disciplines, and the author of Newhall Shooting: A Tactical Analysis, the definitive study of the infamous, 1970 California Highway Patrol shootout in Newhall, California. Mike wrote the "Tactical Analysis" column at Police1.com for 8 years, and enjoys teaching both armed citizens and law enforcement officers.

12 thoughts on “1986 FBI Miami Gunfight Anniversary”

  1. Mike, as I talked to John, and Gill today the day comes back. They have all made a miraculous recovery. Ed &I just did a presentation for the Tennessee Sheriffs Association and people are still interested in hear from those that were there. Keep up the good work. Dave

    1. Thank you Sir! And thank you for all you’ve done to turn this tragedy into a powerful tool for teaching our lawmen to be safe!

  2. Amen, Mike.
    A moment for Agent Ben Grogan and Agent Jerry Dove- for their bravery and that of their fellow agents. They had a huge influence on my generation of lawmen.

  3. A positive and persistent mindset won’t automatically translate into prevailing in a lethal confrontation; however, the lack of that mindset most surely will guarantee failure.

    As Ed Mireles proved back in 1986, it wasn’t the revolver that prevailed (although the instrument itself functioned as designed) – it was his determination to adapt, improvise, and overcome.

    It’s something everyone on the job needs to be oriented to.

  4. It’s always important to recall the sheer courageousness that was exhibited repeatedly that fateful day.

    As a side note, Paul Harrell on YouTube put out an excellent retrospective on the incident a few years ago.

  5. Anyone who trains or serves as an Instuctor for LE or CC needs regular reminders of why they do that job and what their ultimate goal is.

    Another a strong reccomendation for Ed Mireles’s excellent book.

    Mike I like your version of that nugget of wisdom more that Napoleon’s.

  6. I’m going to order his book tomorrow but the one thing I’m most curious about is what specific ammunition he was using? Was it 38 spl or 357 mag and what brand round and type of projectile he used? I’ve read so many different stories I don’t know what the truth is. I swear by the Remington 125gr SJHP 357mag and Federal 357b 125gr and always wondered if either of those rounds would’ve made as different or not. It’s just my curiosity getting the better of me !

    1. Robert, Ed used .38 Special +P LSWCHP to end the fight (Winchester, I believe, without looking at my notes). It would have made no difference if the agents’ revolvers had been loaded with Magnums.

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