Thursday, July 31, 2014

In other places..

I do still write. Having picked up the occasional writing gig for the NRA and what seems to be an escalated travel schedule have caused for neglected duties here. Everytime I climb onto a plane I think "this would be a good time to write that new Dark Arts article.." and then I either open my moleskine to see the work ahead and behind me, or I close my eyes until I hear "prepare the cabin for arrival..."

All that said, the link below goes to Shooting Illustrated were we look at staying skilled in the absence of ammo or range time.


p.s. sharpen that tactical folder in your pocket I can see the lint from here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Rifle over the Hashtag.

Photo: Local Borno village women's group repels Boko Haram attack on their communities - See more at:

How the women of Nigeria are beginning to respond to the Boko Haram.

A hashtag hold's no power. It is a sanctimonious chant that words can save people. Yet, as many people around the world, who have been left at the hands of bad men and terrorist know, that "help" is only a bureaucracy and months of paper work away. Therefore the rifle does indeed matter and may still turn the tide in the war against evil.

"the rifle has no moral stature, since it has no will of it's own. Naturally it may be used by evil men with evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."
Jeff Cooper Art of the Rifle.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A return to the dark arts

The mind is a funny place, because rarely are we ever "done" with something like we may imagine.

For all intents and purposes I was done with the Dark Arts for Good Guys series. There were a couple of articles that I had always intended to write, there were two more I wanted to write more than anything but... good judgement won out. Who knows maybe someday in an underground form I will but until then they lay dormant in my mind.

As for the other two I have decided that I would very much like to see them written and for whatever reason where I once struggled to gain a foot hold on the thoughts, that become the words, that end up here have formulated.

They will be in classic fashion I assure you. In all likely hood there will be a gear review first and then the Dark Arts for Good Guys: Just.....


You'll see.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Practactical 101: Short stroke kit

The worst notions in the modern age are those which are preconceived. Even if some are unspoken.

Those such as, the immediate availability of dozens of rounds of ammunition in one's firearm will guarantee success in a fight. Or that someone is possession of that amount of rounds is destined for evil acts.

Though most of us would agree that the later of the two statements is not unspoken but, rather one spoke with unyielding beratement amongst the hoplophobes. "Educated" or otherwise.

For the better part of twenty years (or more) the personal defense community has said the revolver is dead. One might conclude that it did not "die" but, rather proceeded to excel in the twenty-first century in smaller form.

The small framed .38 Special and .357 Magnum lives well today in light weight frames, though having experienced the titanium-scandium-fun-to-carry-hell-to-shoot recoil of the .357 Magnum from a not quite so two inch barrel I'll keep mine in all steel. Thank-you-very-much.

Of my three normal carry pieces, two of them are revolvers, the Colt's Commander in the large Automatic Colt Pistol cartridge being the first. The other two being both Smith & Wesson's in .38 Special and .357 Magnum. Whenever one (or two) of these are being used the others rest in the gun safe.

However, I tend to keep my normal carry spare reloads all together. Where I keep all the other things that fill up my pants pockets for everyday usage. A few years back I made myself a small front pocket"system" that was designed to hold my flashlight and a 1911 mag. It turns out it does a semi-decent job of holding a speed strip, or five shot speed loader, in their proper place.

All was essentially fine with this "system" until I bought my Smith Model 66 a few years ago. Due to over penetration concerns as a general rule I carry both my revolvers loaded with .38 Special standard loads (my 442 is not +P rated anyway) but, with the Model 66, when I do carry it, I like to have a set of full house .357 Magnum loads as the reload.

Generally I use the speed strip to handle the reload because of the bulk of the cylindrical speed loader. Then one night I came home and took off my Model 442 (in .38 Special) and as I retrieved my reload/flashlight combo from front left pocket something looked off.

And there it was.

I had shoved .357 Magnum spare reloads into my pocket. Which no matter how hard you cram them into a .38 Special cylinder they just aren't going to fit.

So in order to remedy this from happening again I dug out a pair of scissors and cut the "tail" off the speed strip that holds the .38 Special reloads. Now, if I have to, or just so happen to, for one reason or another grab my spare revolver reload from it's place where all of my other EDC gear sits, I can tell by instantaneous feel.

Tail on the Speed Strip = .357 Magnum Loads

No tail on the Speed Strip = .38 Special Loads.

It is a simple and effective way to tell the difference. One could also apply such a tactic to tell the difference between standard and plus P loads if they were so inclined.

Lastly, one who carries the venerable .three fifty seven revolver with a short barrel, and equally short ejector rod, might gain a small advantage in carrying the .38 Special cartridge in the cylinder. In the event that a reload should have to be performed with deftness and social negotiations otherwise having failed, shaving a tenth of an inch off the start of a reload might make a difference in the end.

Firepower is a fine thing to have but, if all you brought to the gun fight is a gun you've already lost.

Fight Smarter.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Carjack Intermezzo

I've long held this fascination with how fast the human brain can process information, especially how fast it can process, threat assess, come to a conclusion and initiate the appropriate response.

Having spent my entire adult life observing people with intent, whether running a surveillance or standing quietly on a protection assignment, you learn to read how the point of a toe can give you direction an aggressor is about to take. The opening of a mouth before taking a step can display personal doubt about a course of action.

On the short journey home last night from my in-laws, The Wife and I were talking about the general stuff of life. The Mouse was asleep in the back and we were just cruising down the second to last stretch of road home. We topped a hill and began a descent towards a stop light a hundred or so yards ahead. Late on Easter night, traffic was almost non-existent and, placed us as first car at the light.

In my time on this blue marble we call earth I have seen what I call one truly classical ambush. It was traveling through India, in Maharashtra I think, with some Clients. Driving down a long stretch of rural road we came to the first intersection that mattered when a Land Rover sped past us, angled in and blocked our driver. It was, despite the threat, beautifully executed. Of course I'm still here so...

The second most truly classical ambush began as we headed for that light last night.

You will have to understand that as you read this (and I write this) there are several long moments from start to finish. Yet as it occurred, it at the most was ten seconds long, with the large and heavy portions lasting about 1 second.

As we approached the light, maybe ten yards out I noticed a young man off the passenger side door, on the corner and two lane widths from me. Back lighting him some sixty yards away perhaps, was a small convenience store that he appeared to be walking from. Yet as the car slowed to a stop his hands were empty.

"No purchase. Interesting" my brain told me.

He stands at the curb. The Car stops.

"White pants, blue polo, black ball cap (flat brim), hipster styled web belt like my old canteen belt with the holes.....shirt partial tuck..noted."

Then it got interesting.

He took a step.

"Left hand goes to belt as if to ensure support, left foot takes step of curb and angles toward passenger side door, followed by a quick step from the right foot, then full fast step. Right hand now goes to center point of waist band where shirt is untucked...felony carry...... (old Jeff Cooper slang) = Gun."

My index finger straightens off the steering wheel to proceed to gun. "If it goes this way, get muzzle to glass".

Finger fully flexed. Memory reminds me that we just came from ****** ******* Illinois.

".357 is locked in rear of vehicle. Drive."

I touch the accelerator and the Family SUV makes a smooth lurch forward. He stops in the intersection. I stop only to make sure I don't get hit going through the intersection. He's now confused and now not so sure of himself.

Grin to self.

Accelerator pressed for controlled departure. The Wife, with her hand on dash because of the stop-start-stop-now-go-while-amid-sentence looks at me confused. "That kid is going to try and car jack us" as we go on through the red light.

We crest a second hill. "There are his friends" I say as we pass a Mitsubishi two door pulled off on to the side of the road. Lights on. Engine running. Chase car.

Wolves travel in packs.

As we sat at the next light, with The Wife on the phone talking with police dispatch, I did what you really do after the fact.

Think about how you damn near screwed up.

Had I not lurched the vehicle in order to check the intersection, which caused a hitch in his giddy up, I would have gotten us into a low speed broadsided accident. That same side where my daughter's car seat is, and where she slept peacefully in it.

The moral of it all.

You can possess the latest in tactical gear, have the best polymer-striker fired-damn-the-1911-pistol on the market, with a bug out bag in the back. But, if you can not....and listen to me because this is the important part.

If you can not, assess and make a straight line decision about what you should, should not, and can not do in the blink of an's all for naught.

Tactical mag changes are a useful thing. The ability to react to a situation in it's very initial stage is paramount, and may keep you from ever having to execute a mag drop to begin with.

Stay savy my friends.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A quick thank you

So this happened...

The Sound of One Hand Shooting | Shooting Illustrated

Thank you to you all who read my scribbling here on the internet, it encourages me to write more, and apparently now for other people as well.

I've got a new post coming sometime this week for the Practactical 101 series, so stay tuned.

On a side note..

If you happen to be a boy who reads Straight Forward in a Crooked World and you sit everyday in school dreaming about guns, hunting trips, and wild adventures only to hear a teacher tell you to stop "wasting your time day dreaming".

Pay them no mind. And one day prove them wrong.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Practactical 101: Off of body experience

The human is interesting in that amongst God's other creations he is not limited in his means of defense. One could of course argue that a naked human out on the Tundra is as at a clear disadvantage over, say the Polar bear. Of course you could contend that the Polar Bear would be at a far greater disadvantage in Miami. We can concluded with somewhat relative certainty that both situations are almost non-existent.

The old adage of "the greatest weapon is your brain" is remarkably true, followed by your hands.

True we can fight and defend with our feet but beyond heavy boots and hard kicks the feet bear no ability to be weaponized like the hands.

Yet for all of this ability we still must suffer at points in our existence, times of physical vulnerability to an attack. It can be something as simple as when a mother puts her child into a car seat, or having to go someplace while being sick and running a fever. Mentally, in such situations you can be fully aware of potential dangers but from a physical aspect you are weakened or left exposed.

I encounter this very situation three to five times a week when leaving the gym. That the very time I use to invest in the care of my body, to strengthen it in the long run, leaves me somewhat under powered and short of breath in the short term, is not lost on me.

Couple that with on no less than four times this winter did I walk out to the gym's parking lot to find it cloaked in a couple of acres of pitch black because someone on the cleaning crew hit some switch in the process of closing down for the night.

A dark parking will give pause in the realm of one's personal security. Especially when the muscles are shaky.

This is not to say I am unarmed. Far from it in fact.

Every trip to the gym includes the carrying of my smaller "go-bag". Filled with everything from my phone, moleskine, water bottle, pens and sharpies, to a forty-five automatic and a discretely-yet-at-the-ready Cold Steel Brave Heart fixed bladed knife.

Could I carry a mouse gun, like the Beretta Bobcat, on my person as I worked out?

Have done and don't care for the method at the gym, for a few reasons, to be honest. Threat assessing almost everything in life, I have worked out over time and evaluation that the larger concern at this particular place is a mass-shooting scenario, as opposed to a potential street crime scenario in the parking lot.

Don't conclude erroneously here. That possibility is not being dismissed and will bear merit here shortly.

Rather what I see as the larger concern in this environment is potentially larger and more violent in scale, and for that the "mouse" or back-up gun is not a wise choice based upon this perceived possibility.

The gym has multiple levels, and covers almost every demographic in America. Ergo, since spree shootings start with someone with a grudge to bear and there is, at this location, a large potential of people in this immediate area who unbeknownst to me could be under threat of such a grudge (or whatever reason a spree killer has). I do not desire a smaller, close range, short sight radius, poorly sighted defensive handgun.

So my choice is to carry a larger bore, longer barreled, bigger gripped pistol that is capable of delivering accurately placed shots-on-bad-guy-at-potentially-long-distances handgun.

Should things go bad and a bad guy has to be engaged when I am shaky, short breathed and just recently adrenaline dumped from the weight bench, treadmill or pull-up cage, I want a full size pistol I can grab deftly with both hands, look down the barrel and see nice big sights and squeeze-jerk a smooth and appropriate trigger.

In that fight I want a fighting handgun.

Inside the building hallways can run twenty yards long. The main entrance around seventy-five. Add to the mix you have innocent people running around, fleeing and trying to get to cover, this is no place for T.V. Land fiction where a barrage of bullets from the good guy are fired. Instead you are looking to achieve one to five rounds, all on target and, all center mass.

The secondary reason for the big gun, is since it is in a bag, tactical though it maybe, I don't want to have to shove my weak hand (the bag rides on my weak side), in a weakened now amped up state, to dig around to locate some bitty little handgun. I want it in, found, and out.

And let's be honest. If you are carrying off body in a "gun bag" WHY would you carry a small gun?

Thus we come to the crux of this article.

Off body carry is my least favorite way of carrying a defensive weapon of any type. Yes one could argue that a messenger back slung over your body is in effect a closed holstered system on the body. Until placed next to the weight bench or at the feet at a restaurant and is off the body.

I avoid it whereas possible. The gym being the exception and not the rule.

If there is a reasonable amount of distance, time, or cover in which you can activate the deployment process known as "the draw" and, pull the handgun from it's bag, then great!

I'm sure there is some off-body/go-bag carry expert out there who can deploy his handgun faster from the bag than the rest of us can from a conventional In-the-Waistband or hip holster.

As for the rest of us....

There is the problem of a bad-guy-in-question, for one reason or another, being able to close the gap, or worse perform a complete blindside attack, preventing a reasonable and effective draw of the handgun from the bag. Or worse, targets the bag itself for theft. Man-purse snatching as it were.

In the mere blink of an eye you may find yourself in a struggle to maintain control of your precious "go-bag" in order to retain your weapon. The very argument some folks make against open-carry can just readily be applied to any off body carry system because clearly you have something of value in that bag that a bad man could want. Not to mention if you have a gun or tactical wear savvy badman. In which case he decided to target YOU because of the bag.

Hence, fighting to regain control of that bag is just as paramount as any law-enforcement officer fighting on the side of the road to retain his weapon. In such dire circumstances the attention of the fight is centered around the bag and, thus you are going to have almost no possible way to deploy the handgun from the bag. So it is time to restructure your defensive decision making paradigm to a secondary weapon or Plan B.

There are reasons you carry a modernized single bladed "tactical" folder. And at the core of those reasoning is a scenario such as this. We mentally rely on the knife here in the 21st century to be deployed as a weapon only in a last ditch effort when we can not reasonably access a firearm in which to defend our life. But what about unreasonable means?

No doubt there is some diabolical irony in having a handgun with you, while simultaneously being in the dire straits of having to rely upon a weapon from the first century to safe guard it AND you.

But as they say, here you are.

Your response has to be fluid in motion while delivering upon your assailant a barrage of counter attacks. Kicks, punches, and stabs.

I see the wheels turning.

"What if this is a simple snatch and grab?"

It is not.

For starters, in most cases criminals who commit robbery in the form of "purse snatching" with no intent to do physical harm to the victim are men and boys targeting women who pose little physical ability to stop them. Sorry ladies if that offends you. I didn't write the staging for the world's mechanics, I merely live in it.

That said, almost every person I know that carries a firearm let alone a firearm in a modern tactical bag has a certain "death stare" or "I'm tactical" look to them. So if you are a guy and, you get a criminal intent on targeting you and/or your personal belongings rest assured he is not only physically capable of handling himself, he is most likely experienced in doing so. Possibly more so than you.

No criminally minded male targets another male unless he feels assured of a victory and does so knowing a very thorough assault will likely have to be given. Hence, if a man attempts to pull that "go-bag" off your shoulder and, you make your play to stop him, understand that most likely the two of you are going to be within eight to eighteen inches of one another at the start, with a maximum distance of a yard.

How so?

First, he has to make contact with the bag in order to take it from you. This is well withing the eight inch distance. Second, you have the point where he has peeled the bag off you. This will become the length of the strap (provided we are talking about a bag and not a day planner or briefcase type carry). Our potential eighteen inches.

Lastly, we have the movement where his arm is at almost full stretch to pull the bag from you and you at almost full stretch to keep the bag with you. This being the probable yard.

The given in this situation is going to be movement away from you, in true human mind set of possession you will want to pull back to maintain. Instead you need to step with and into his direction. Slack in the line will throw him off balance, even for a split second, next you need to cover that ground and begin a counter strike.

Conventional, law-abiding-hippy wisdom states that "nothing in your bag is worth your life". If your gun is in that bag, it is worth everyone's life and your responsibility, moral or otherwise, to maintain possession of it.

You may find, while rapidly deploying that knife of yours, he may not be 110% committed to the fight & theft after a blade buries into flesh and bone a couple of times.

Lest your desire to know more about the where's and how's of deploying a knife in gruesome and realistic fashion I'll point you back to  here and here to further your education on such matters.

People who sell "things" whether it's a blender, a Smith & Wesson M&P or Ruger LCP want you to believe that they have the corner market on solving the problem that product is tasked with doing.

In the real world, away from slick marketing, there are no "perfect" solutions to life. Simply solutions. Something either works or it does not. The width and breadth of solutions are of course dependent upon the problem in which they resolve.

One who needs to build a fire in order to keep from freezing to death does not much care if that flame comes from road flare or match. The same maybe said about any instrument utilized to save your life or prevent the murder of others.

We all have points and times in life where we are seemingly well armed but, not necessarily well aware or physically well placed to run with our beloved "Plan A" should things go awry. Therefore Plan B is of the same equaled and valued importance lest it be necessary to "go with it".

In some cases that Plan B just maybe a knife.

Train, fight and live accordingly.