September 28, 2023
Skills and Drills: The Mozambique / Failure Drill
Skills and Drills: The Mozambique / Failure Drill

U.S.A.-( Mozambique, failure drill, or failure to stop, is likely the most prevalent piece of training in the world.

Even before I first picked up a handgun at roughly age 11, I was familiar with this, despite not knowing the name. Two to the chest, one to the head! We hear this in television, film, and video games. Although we may not know the history or the concepts behind that phrase, nearly everyone in America can claim to have heard that line. There are many explanations as to where this came from. Some claim it came to be after the North Hollywood Shootout where officers were faced with armor-clad bank robbers. Others say it came from the world of espionage, where spies needed to quickly put down threats.

What most people agree on it isn’t quite so new or mysterious. Once we dive into history a little bit, the drill begins to make sense. In short, this drill comes to us from the height of the Mozambican War of Independence, hence the name. During one battle, mercenary Mike Rousseau, armed only with a Browning Hi Power, came face to face with an adversary wielding an AK rifle. Despite firing two rounds on 9mm into his opponent’s chest, the threat stayed vertical, with a firm grip on his rifle. Not one to be defeated, Mike re-engages, firing a single round toward the head. Years later, Mr. Rousseau relays the story to Colonel Jeff Cooper, who then later includes it in the Gunsite curriculum. From there it spread like wildfire across law enforcement, the military, and civilian defenders alike.

Setting Up the Mozambique / Failure Drill

For this drill, shooters will need a silhouette target with an 8-inch chest scoring zone and a head scoring zone. An IPSC, IDPA, or IALEFI-Q target are all excellent examples of this. This time I opted to use an IDPA torso for my target. Next, you’ll need a timer, your pistol, a holster, and three rounds in your magazine.

idpa torso Mozambique
IDPA Practice Targets are great options for the Mozambique drill.

Start by placing your target at seven yards. Ensure you have two rounds in your magazine and one in the chamber, then holster your pistol. There is no set par time for the Mozambique/Failure drill, so don’t worry about setting one. Starting position is typically hands relaxed at sides or above the shoulders in a “surrender” position. In short, put your hands where you want them to be.

Scoring the Mozambique / Failure Drill

Scoring is a little abnormal with the Mozambique/Failure drill. There is no par time, and there aren’t procedural scoring rings. Either you get your hits or you don’t. A round outside the chest or head rings counts as a miss, and a failure of the drill. Typically I see “passing” times hovering around 3 to 5 seconds, though that varies wildly depending on your source.

Focus on getting your hits, then slowly work on improving your times.

Firing the Drill

In the past, when shooting the Mozambique/Failure Drill, I never timed myself nor kept much track of hits and misses with a Shot Timing tool. More recently, I ran through the drill a few times with a variety of guns to see how they compare.

As is the tradition, I started with my own Hi Power, picking the gun up from the table as I lack a holster for this gun. After this, I made a few runs using my Glock 19 with a Holosun 509T red dot, along with a Smith & Wesson 640 Pro snubbie. Both the Glock and S&W were fired from appendix concealment. The latter two guns were chosen as they are my typical carry choices based upon the outfit and situation of the day. The Glock 19 is carried in a PHLster Pro Holster, and the 640 Pro in a JM Custom Kydex AIWB holster, supported by a Magpul Tejas belt.

Glock 19+509T Hi Power S&W 640 Pro
Run 1 2.96 4.89 5.78
Run 2 2.70 5.08 5.32
Run 3 2.77 4.14 4.30
Average 2.81 4.70 5.13

Unsurprisingly, my best performances come from the Glock. I’m most familiar with these, and the design as a whole is geared towards better performance. My times aren’t terrible, but nothing impressive either. Ammo droughts be damned. I don’t regularly shoot the Mozambique, but over the past few months, my times have remained consistent with my Glock 19 from the appendix. While there’s always room for improvement, consistency is a good sign.

Times are a bit slower with the 640 Pro, ensuring that I get a good double-action trigger press, along with proper sight alignment with the shorter sight radius. We can see I steadily improved with each repetition, but I doubt I’ll ever see comparable performance to the G19. There’s more work to be done here, and I’m sure I can cut off a bit more time with proper practice.

Training Tips: Mozambique / Failure Drill
Mozambique / Failure Drill Results

Final Thoughts on the Mozambique / Failure Drill

The Mozambique/Failure drill is a solid, low-round count drill, offering more than what most think. In only 9 rounds you can get three reps in, making for a decent average of performance. With this, we can test our draw to first shot, recoil control across all rounds, emotional and throttle control as we shift from the generous chest to the more restrictive head, target transitions, and more.

All of this is before we take the real-world implications into consideration. The cliché “two to the chest, one to the head” is an effective means of stopping a lethal threat who isn’t responsive to repeated rounds in the chest. More than one serious gunfighter has used this method to good effect, saving not only their lives but of those around them as well. For those wanting examples, I recommend checking out Darryl Bolke’s “Training Habits of Successful Gunfighters” lecture. The Mozambique worked wonders for his agency, even among officers who weren’t “gun guys”, leading to many successful officer-involved shootings across many years.

After shooting the Mozambique/Failure drill again, it’s going to make a return to my regularly scheduled programming. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you add it to your roster as well.

About Dan Reedy

Dan is an Air Force veteran, avid shooter, and dog dad. With a passion for teaching, he holds instructor certifications from Rangemaster, Agile Training & Consulting, and the NRA. He has trained with Darryl Bolke, Mike Pannone, Craig Douglas, among several other instructors, amassing over 400 hours of professional instruction thus far. In his spare time you’ll find him teaching handgun, shotgun, and less lethal classes.

Dan’s work has been published by Primer Peak, and The Kommando Blog, and he has been featured as a guest on Primary & Secondary.Dan Reedy headshot

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