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.
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.
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.