Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Smart Concealed Carry

Fundamentally concealed carry is a comprehensive approach to predicting the future. No different than the reason we wear seat belts. One realizes that they live in society and several thousand years of recorded case history points out that not all members of society have good intentions toward everyone else. When we walk out the door there are inherent risks and unforeseeable events in the day ahead that may prove detrimental to your over all well being; therefore you take precautions.

Ironically, hoplophobes are always bent on making the world "safer" while simultaneously being the least prepared or capable of responding to a critical situation (but the first on camera after go figure). They also are the least flexible members of society where by comparison most licensed carry conceal permit holders tend to be more tolerant than often given credit.

We tend to be encouraging and welcoming of people with diverse backgrounds and life style choices who have a desire to learn how to shoot. The anti-self-defense people are intolerant and inflexible with attitudes that are borderline paranoid, classicist, and in my opinion often lack good mental fortitude.

The CCW permit is a state's recognition of the individual's positive mental capacity. To which one who does not hold a permit is hardly in the position to make a case against a weapons permit holder backed solely on generalized and, often inaccurate statements that permits are utilized by the ignorant or irresponsible.

For example. The permit holder has to have a decent to exceptional knowledge of criminal, weapon and transportation law. It matters a great deal to know where and how a weapon can be carried, what other states do and do not hold reciprocity with their state. What the consequences are for stalking, or adult abuse, or being intoxicated with a firearm. What places controlled by the Federal Government allow for concealed carry, peaceable transportation or zero tolerance towards weapons all together.

The hoplophobe is often ignorant in such civil matters and it could be argued that they are actually the more ignorant members of the citizenry.Though I suspect this would only lead to further weeping and gnashing of teeth amongst the elite.

No doubt there are permit holders who are bigots, idiots, sexists but, rarely are permit holders criminals (this can be confirmed through state and federal data bases demonstrating the low numbers of revoked CCW permits nationally). Consequently a large majority of violent protests and riots in the United States going back to then of the end of the 19th century with the labor movement stems from hard leftist radicals.

But I digresses; we do not live in a safe world.

We do not.

Some areas see less violence than others, but all areas contend with evil men bent on hell.

After logging in roughly thirty thousand hours carrying a handgun professionally as a civilian one begins to understand that there is a lot that goes into concealed carry. At best it holds an air of continuing education or a part time job. Our mistake can be that in the art of conceal carry and Personal Defense is assuming that when you receive your certificate and plastic ID card your are highly qualified.Knowing how to shoot and being authorized to carry is not the same as living with and understanding the intricate details of daily life with a handgun.

Surviving and thriving through a gun fight may come down to the time it takes to squeezing the trigger, but if you miss the shift in social dynamics, get caught with your hands compromised all that money you shelled out for guns, holsters, and class will have been in vain.

One: Set your own standard for responsibility.

Put it on the calender and get to the range once every three months (at the least) and qualify to your states standard of expectation for getting a permit. Better still go beyond the expectation. Shoot your carry guns at at a variety of distances and then keep the targets with notations on them.

April 8th, 2011 ten rounds .38 special 7 yards from Smith & Wesson model 442

April 8th, 2011 twenty-five rounds .45 ACP 25 yards Colt Combat Commander.

Get an expandable folder and file your targets after each range session. You should be nearly on par with your home states requirement for law enforcement qualification. Don't get high strung about having all your holes fill the size of a playing card (especially if you are new to it). If your level of suck is high and your target reflects it then there is your motivation to do better. It also demonstrates should they ever be called into use your marked level of improvement.The best part is you have a scheduled appointment to go to the range, which is far better than the dentist or oil change.

If your new to shooting and/or your first target for record has a pattern that is minute-of-dinner-table and you get into a self-defense shooting the next week you might be just as wise to burn the damn thing and say nothing to no one about it.

Another area of personal responsibility is that long ago I set up a code system for my brain in contending with keeping a handgun around the home. In a holster means chambered and ready to go. A handgun that is not in a holster is not chambered (on a revolver I open the cylinder), and needs to be manipulated into working order.

Two: Measure out your life

While some threats to our life are random and others are not we generally live under one routine or another. Within those routines are set distances and while the world still preaches that most self-defense shootings occur within seven yards (I still contend that this is changing) you might be surprised to find some very lengthy indoor areas.

The first time I can concretely attest to noticing was on a work place protection detail for an internet firm before the dot-com-crash ten years ago. The floor plan was very modern and open and in three areas existed corridors for 43 yard line of fire.

A few winters ago when I was protecting a wealthy client who was fearful that a hit had been taken out on his life I maintained a two week vigil at his very spacious home. From the kitchen to the first decent form of cover was fifteen yards (again inside).

Lest you think these distances apply only to the rich, the children's area at my church had a hallway corridor of 39 yards with the fire doors closed.

You don't have to have a Rain Man compulsion about it, but its applicable if you carry a firearm in your work place or any day-to-day area to know. Even if it is to good cover (cover not concealment).

Which is worth mentioning as well. Do you actively look at things in your life and say (inwardly) "this is concealment (drywall walls for example) and this is cover (concrete pillars, trash dumpsters)". It behooves you to study what bullets penetrate and what they do not.

Case in point. In a street crime shooting your attacker is likely to have a handgun more so than a long-arm so coverage has some flexibility. Spree shooters show a case history that these murderers have a blaze of glory mind set so there is a high probability that you are going to encounter Rambo who will be armed with a couple of pistols, a rifle and a shotgun.

Sound outlandish? As I am compartmentalizing and studying spree killers multiple firearms are the norm.

My end goal is to get you beyond the seven yard target. Start seeing some of the distances common to your life you'll embrace the idea and set aside the ego of shooting "good targets" at short ranges and stretch things out and start working with your gun...and not against it.

Three: Anatomy 101

We are told “aim center mass” but, do you understand why?

In the simplest of terms gun shot wounds to the lower abdomen generally are not fight stoppers in the same vein as the upper. With the exception of killing a kidney causing rapid blood loss, a fight could last several minutes. The upper chest allows for multiple immediate fight stoppers. A bullet puncture to the lung leaves the target with little or no ability to resupply oxygen to the body, add to it the blood loss that incurs and we get a one-two punch. One round (especially from a service caliber) will likely penetrate through and through. From this we get a potential force multiplier of four when everything goes right. A sucking chest and back wound and, two blood loss locations. Multiple rounds and the rate of destruction increases.

This doesn't take into account if the heart is destroyed. When a bullet smashes through the sternum the heart has to contend with damage from not only from the bullet but bone fragmentation as well.

This forward path of destruction is not over.

Straight to the chest gun shot wounds present potential injuries to the Spinal cord (lacerations, severing, etc.). Shattering the vertebral bones can punctured the spinal cord with a potential result in paraplegia, or full body paralysis below the site of injury to the spinal cord for the attacker.

Removing the actual ability to continue the attack by the aggressor.

The head shot while valuable.... and hittable as a target of potential fight stoppage is not a guarantee. Modern dictum from the arm chair is that a head shot equals death is something like 1/10 of a second. This is talking about a brain shot respectfully. The brain cavity takes up roughly half of the head. Shoot from the nose down and your attacker my lose some teeth but not his ability to fight.

Connect with the cervical vertebrae and death is instantaneous but hitting essentially a violently moving saltine cracker size target is tough.

Four: Turn your gun around

There is no way to deny that this isn't a pet peeve, a valid one, but willfully admitted pet peeve. I'd say this is common amongst new conceal carriers, but when I did my stint in corporate security this was very normal amongst guys who were retired law enforcement.

This method of carry is to place the gun in the small of the back either sans holster or in-the-waistband with the butt facing forward. The problem with this is two fold.

One, the gun is drawn by sweeping its owner. It may sound trite, but Rule 2 of gun safety is never allow the muzzle to cover anything you aren't willing to destroy. Conspicuously and continuously violated, especially with pistols, Rule two applies always under all circumstances

Oh sure I know your not gonna shoot yourself....unless of course you do.

Being involved in a gunfight is more than slightly stressful than you might assume. A negligent discharge when drawing strong side butt reward means at best a round goes into the floor. The worst is it goes into your leg (this happened to George Patton with the 1911 allegedly), but shooting yourself in the leg means you may be down but, not out.

Put a round into your guts from muzzle contact range however and you are your own first and last casualty. Extended beyond that, you just shot the only person able to thwart an attack, thus leaving the attacker to do as he pleases. Whether that is shooting your co-workers or raping your wife.

The second problem is it requires extensive chicken winging getting the gun into action. Should the encounter go into a close proximity fight inside arms reach your aggressor merely has to lock your arm behind your back...because that's where it is.

There is a subsection to this it 2b if you will.

Were you to find yourself in a tight quarters brawl or attack in the midst of drawing the pistol in the conventional manner of barrel top forward butt rearward and your arm was locked low you still have the bad guy's groin or leg being easily targeted. In the opposite direction you are now fighting not to be a target from both yourself and the attacker.

Small things are only small things until they become big things.

Five: Understanding The Tactical Reload

In self-defense circles, IDPA, and the like this is often a hot button topic that in my very very humble opinion is misunderstood. The idea is to fire two to three rounds, then pop your magazine and insert a fresh one, while retaining your partial magazine in the process in case you need it.

You probably will need it ….so leave it in your gun.

The actual idea with tac-reload is to wait for a lull in the fight. A lull is different than dropping behind cover. IF your getting behind cover its generally because you are being shot at. A lull is when things get oddly quiet.

How long exactly? (here come the nasty e-mails) Think ten seconds; one-Mississippi two-Mississippi...... all the way up to ten.

I know you can hit a combat tactical reload in under 1/10 of a second. You know what is faster?

A loaded gun.

My predominate side arm is a Colt Combat Commander with 8 round mags and one in the pipe. If forced to fire off three rounds I still have the same amount of cartridges in the mag as a six shot revolver is starting off with. A modern designed high capacity handgun shooter should really question this mentality.

Why begin disassembling your pistol when you are in the fight of your life?

That guy over there just said “but what do I remember how many rounds I fired?

You won't and seriously don't worry about it. That's why the gun manufacturers were kind enough to add the nice slide lock feature.

Six: Buy snap caps

Everyone will tell you dry firing doesn't hurt center fire handguns. They are right. The gun is fine but you can break the firing pin. I dry fire somewhere around two to three accumulative hours a week and have for well over a decade. I use to fire over an empty chamber. I've also broken three firing pins. Which is considerable considering on two of them I carried day in and day out for at least a couple of weeks before I discovered that my pistol didn't function (read: fire).

*Click* is really something you don't want to here when you expect the gun to go off.

It is worth mentioning (hat tip to tgace and Lead Chucker ) on this re-edit that this tend to be a bigger issue with hammer fired over striker fired handguns. Though the first gun that I broke a firing pin on was an early Kahr E-9 (yes I said E not K ) which is striker fired. Whether it was an early design flaw or excessive dry firing I can't say. I've only ever heard of one Glock firing pin breaking ...and I heard about it didn't see it.

Seven: drop a round from your magazines

The most wide spread complaint you will hear in regards to semi-automatic handguns is that “it's not feeding”.

Some will site a dirty gun or a weakened recoil spring, but more often than not it comes from weak magazine springs. For whatever the reason, and don't ask cause I still don't know even after asking people who make them. The last round in the mag is hell on the spring when compressed for a significant amount of time. This is especially true on high capacity magazines.

Where as drop loading or loading your magazine minus one round is not. For day in and day out I keep my mags downloaded by one. If something comes up, I'm traveling or feel the generalized need for it I take the three rounds that reside in my night stand box and insert them into the mag and go about my business.

I've run various tests over the years on this. Loaded mags, dated them and put in the safe only to be pulled out a year or two later and have the same failure to feed problem (and I use good magazines). The good news is you can easily and relatively cheaply replace the springs all by themselves. Two years ago I replaced six mag springs for $24 from Chip McCormick after twelve years of use.

Another good idea is to rotate your magazines (this is to imply that you have several) I generally rotate in and out of service every six months with a routine cleaning after every range session.

Eight: Wear a very good belt

One that is denoted as a gun belt.

I tried Duluth Trading Company's (great products) heavy duty leather belt but after two years of continuous use it fell apart. My current favorite is a Gould & Goodrich B52 leather pants belt. I just crossed the one year mark with it and it is in fantastic shape. Around $50 (US).

Nine: Wear good holsters

Like everything else in the gun community holsters are one more area where opinions are numerous. The current trend building is to carry police type security holsters, and to each their own. But where I have never had a problem making the transition from one type of pistol to another (i.e. 1911 to DOA automatic or revolver) I can not say the same for holsters.

I've carried enough and am familiar with a variety of handguns that muscle memory assumes control as soon as I get a grip on it. But with a holster your hand never touches it so there is no muscle memory building. May not sound like an issue, but after 15 years of dedicated daily carry it's one where I like consistency.

My belt holsters both in and outside the pant usually rely on tension screws or pinched leather to retain the handgun. The idea most folk fall into is that the strap aids in weapon retention in a struggle (which undeniably it can) but since police officers carry openly their threat is greater as opposed to someone who is carrying conceal.

Should you wind up in the unlikely position of fighting to maintain control of your sidearm it will likely already be in your hand. Conveniently enough you can go ahead and shoot. Thus ending that debate.

Personal preferences as far as holster makers go. I like Galco a lot.

My Jackass rig is very close friend of 18 or 19 years and a variety of countries and assignments.

Shoulder holsters get a lot of very bad press. I think the reason for this is most people wear the holster far far to low where the holster swings (would someone please tell the military this!) Mine rides directly under my arm pit and I like it there thank you very much.

The other advantage for a shoulder rig is going to the bathroom. Gone is the dilemma of catching your pants before they hit the floor with a thud, or sitting with a gun in your hand (I hang mine on the coat hook....and no I've never discharged a round into the ceiling) .

I also have come to appreciate El Paso Saddlery. They have quality holsters for reasonable prices to those of us who prefer leather.

My Smith 442 rides in a Galco S.O.B. (small of back) rig, but after several hours with it on I know its there. Anything heavier than the little snub nose I'll pass. On an up note the little SOB did save me from an otherwise nasty kidney punch on a detail once and it did nothing good for my attackers hand nor wrist.

Ankle rigs.

Where they shine (good ones) are in semi-formal events or situations where a tucked in shirt and no jacket is expected to be worn. Hot summer weddings are a good example. A good rig that is secure passes the dancing test. My Galco (again.....really) has no security strap on it only a tension screw, but I assure you I can do a full and complete hand stand and not have it fall out.

I have also driven across the country on four occasions wearing it for ten and 12 hours at a stretch behind the wheel and never been bothered by its presence. A bad or cheap ankle holster will make you drag your leg like Quasimodo or squint like Jack Elam.

By black it disappears with black socks better than a brown one by the way.

At the end of the day the holster that sees the most use is an old Dillon Leather IWB. Which for the private citizen this is going to be the usual method of carry.

Ten: Be Polite, Be respectful, Be in control but don't be a Pussy.

If you have to engage in a verbal altercation do so with steadiness and surety. Don't mince words with them or apologize. The beautiful thing about the human voice is that its user has volume control.

Use it.

Screaming and yelling looks good in the movies where all the cops swarm in, but when you scream at people you elevate the stress level of everyone involved...and there won't be a swarm of other guns behind you. It's also very very difficult for future potential witnesses to know who the rational one was when both of you are yelling.

And truthfully if you have enough time to delve into a Dr. Phil/Clint Eastwood combination monologue you have time to leave before the shit really hits the fan. And the less you talk the less likely you are to say something stupid.I have found is that the rank and file citizen actually fairs quite poor at confrontations and de-escalation. They either tend to go over board with the tough talk or they come across weak and pathetic. Both can get you killed.

Short sweet, even tones and straight to the point.

Over the top would be “Motherfucker I'm gonna kill you now if you don't put down that gun!”

While just as equally bad is “Can we talk for a minute?”

Any aggressor who creates a situation with brandishing a gun whether he begins to actively shoot or threatens to, needs to be shot.

It is just that simple.

Don't complicate it.

Pull your gun (while going for cover if possible) put your sights on the target and fire.

No talky talk, fire.

A deranged man with a gun who hasn't shot anyone is generally recognized to be within ¼ of an inch as being later identified on the evening news as a deranged murderer with a gun. Shooting a bad man who is armed is preventing murder.

But diagnose the situation even if it requires a mere (or lifetime) of ten seconds. It's important to note that I said BAD GUY with A GUN. With the prevalence of people carrying concealed out there you need to make sure that just because you see a pistol drawn in public that it isn't a fellow good guy reacting to a situation that you may not be seeing.

Currently I am not aware of any CCW law in the country that requires a civilian to issue a verbal command before he or she can fire at an attacker (if I am wrong on this jump in an let me know).

Eleven: ID yourself

I don't carry a badge of any type. In my earlier days I did.

A very nice Blackington one that read PRIVATE DETECTIVE, but my work is a bit more....uh... specialized anymore and to be honest police officers don't appreciate it. I get it.

I worked with a Dade County undercover cop once who told me that if “the shit ever went down” open your wallet and show your ID, that's what undercover police officers do when badge carrying leads to life insurance policies getting filed.

Flashing your wallet open isn't claiming to be a cop it says “please make note I am a good guy”....or they will at least think you have a concussion and be slightly more sympathetic.

To voluntarily carry a handgun amongst the populace is a great and grave responsibility. It is the most serious of social purposes and since it is voluntary we must choose to do everything involving it better.

Lives are at stake.

And not just ourselves or that of the B-I-Q (bad guy in question), but also of any bystander. There is very little room to maneuver legally or ethically that a mother of three was collateral damage when you were forced to fire to stop an attacker.

The short of it is this. Some men are bent on destruction, their end goal is to inflict mental and physical trauma on people, make widows and orphans and take the lives of children from their parents. Know your target, accurately assess the crisis at hand and engage. Men and women who aren't willing to stand up and fight to safe guard life are in the way of those who are.


Our conversation had started with me asking “ So who shot you in the throat? ”, a basic conclusion on my part, b ecause on one sid...