Choosing the Best Handgun for You

For the ladies, and the guys too: Deciding which gun is best for you.

How many times have you walked into a gun shop only to be greeted by a gun store Rambo with too much testosterone and not enough common sense? It’s happened more than once to my wife and I. Most of the time they have a personal agenda and try to steer you to this gun or that gun regardless of how it fits you personally. If you want a compact gun it has to be this Glock or Sig Sauer and if you want a full sized gun it has to be this 1911 or a Heckler & Koch. This may be because they have the most mark up on this weapon and get more cash when they are sold or it may be because they just prefer this brand or that the other. The truth is far too few people know or understand the basics of purchasing a weapon for a specific use.

English: A Smith & Wesson Military & Police ha...

Smith & Wesson M&P(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My wife and I recently purchased her first handgun. We looked for a very long time and to be honest, I got rather frustrated doing so (one of the reasons for our consulting service). She is tiny and wanted a tiny gun to go along with her tiny frame. The problem is that she also wanted an effective fighting sidearm that would protect her and our family. Things got difficult very quickly when she had her heart set on several guns that simply didn’t fit her. We looked at a lot of guns from sub compact Glocks to smaller caliber guns like the Walther PPK and PK 380. Nothing seemed to fit her and accomplish the end goals we both had in mind.  One of these guns was a Walther PPQ. This is a great gun, but it didn’t fit her hand well and the ergonomics of the frame didn’t disperse the recoil well through her upper body. It was actually painful for her to shoot it. She went through a few others and even shot my Beretta 92 several times. This process turned into several weekend trips and visits to almost every reputable gun shop in the Raleigh/Durham area.

Credit: LampostCCW

Credit: LampostCCW

One thing that most first time buyers don’t consider is that the smaller the gun the more recoil it has, even in a smaller caliber. It’s simple physics, and a compact .380 will have as much or more recoil than a larger 9mm on a full sized frame. The smaller the gun, the less ammunition it will also carry. So think about the purpose of your handgun. My wife is of the same mind as I am. If either of us has resorted to using a gun, then the situation has gone terribly wrong and we want as much firepower as possible. So after shooting many guns and having several long discussions with both myself and the owner, Rob, at Clayton Guns, she ended her search with a Smith and Wesson M&P Pro in 9mm. Yes this is a full sized gun, but with careful consideration it can be concealed easily.  Fortunately, after dealing with the general bravado from many gun shops, we met Rob who is a wealth of information and had no agenda other than to get my wife the right gun for her.

This brings me to my first point; find a shop you can trust and have someone with you that really knows  their stuff when it comes to the basics of handgun manipulation and control . Just because a gun looks cool and comes highly recommended by a magazine article doesn’t mean it will fit you and be the best gun for you.  Shoot or at the very least hold as many guns as you can to test fitment to your hand. Many of the newer polymer guns have interchangeable back strap panels. Try them out and get a feel for the guns.

Then decide on the purpose of the gun. Are you carrying it in a holster, purse or pocket? Do you open carry or do you always carry concealed? Will this be your only gun or will you have multiple guns for multiple situations. Only after you decide how you will use the gun can you purchase a weapon that will fulfill its main purpose.  You then need to make sure it isn’t what I call an orphan gun. Orphan guns are more unusual or unpopular guns that don’t have huge aftermarket support. If you buy one of these guns then accessories will be difficult or impossible to find. In the best case scenario you will pay top dollar from a custom holster maker so that you have equipment that fills your needs. The only other option is to build your own holster system with Kydex or use a one size fits all nylon holster that isn’t what you really want or need.

9mm-357sig-40sw-10mm-45acp-45gapThe caliber of your gun is the next thing that you really need to decide on. For the guys, buying the largest caliber possible to compensate is just plain silly and really dangerous. Male or female you need to choose a caliber that you can easily control, especially if you are not an experienced shooter. If you can’t make quick follow up shots or you need to adjust your grip after shooting several rounds, then it isn’t the gun for you. I’ve said this before and I will say it again, there is no magic caliber. The “one shot stopping power” of a particular round is somewhat a fallacy that causes people to make decisions that hinder their ability to learn the basics and become competent marksmen. I’m a really big guy and can handle anything you put in my hand, but I choose to carry a 9mm due to the fact that I am at my best when shooting this round. I can cut the 10 ring out of a target and transition between multiple targets quickly and it has more than adequate stopping power when using modern ammunition.

So now you have a gun that fits you, you know how you intend to use it, and you’ve decided on caliber; what’s next? Now it’s time to train, try different holsters and modes of carry. Make your weapon an extension of your body. Your life depends on your ability to be proficient with your new purchase, so get to work!

20 Rules of a Gunfight, Reloaded

This is the Laymen’s Tactical version of the rules for gun fighting. If you’ve been in the military they may look a little familiar, but in law enforcement it is MUCH different. Survival is the only thing that matters in a real life shooting situation.

  1. Your number one Option for Personal Security is a lifelong commitment to three skill sets: Avoidance, Deterrence, and Situational Awareness.

  1. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns

  1. Decide to be aggressive ENOUGH, quickly ENOUGH

  1. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.

  1. Only hits count.

  1. Close doesn’t count.

  1. If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough nor using cover correctly.

  1. Move away from your attacker. (Lateral and diagonal movement are preferred.)

  1. Distance is your friend, but cover is a better one.

  1. If you are not shooting, you should be doing 3 things: Communicating, Reloading, and Running.

  1. Accuracy is relative: most combat shooting is more dependent on “pucker factor” than the inherent accuracy of the gun in your hand.

  1. Use a gun that works EVERY TIME

  1. In combat, there are no rules: Always Cheat; Always Win! The only unfair gun fight is the one you lose.

  1. Have a plan.

  1. Have a back-up plan, because the first one won’t work.

  1. Use cover or concealment as much as possible. The only visible target should be the one in your gun sights.

  1. Don’t drop your guard.

  1. Always tactical reload and threat scan 360 degrees.

  1. Watch their hands. Hands kill!  Gun Fighter’s Motto: In God we trust! Everyone else, Keep your hands where I can see them.

  1. The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.

Did you see some terms that you don’t use in everyday life? Have you really thought about a plan for different situation that you find yourself in often? Is there a way to avoid the fight?

Think about these rules, then think about what you need to do so that you are actually as prepared as possible when “it” does hit the fan.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What Happens After you Shoot?

Gran TurinoAre you prepared for a critical incident? When I speak of critical incidents I am referring to you as a concealed carry permit holder or gun owner being put into the position to use your weapon. So many people think that if it’s a “good shoot” that all will be fine and life will go on as normal. They think the law will do it’s job if they are in the right. Nothing could be more idealistic. Let me explain things from the point of a law enforcement officer and someone that has been a part of many trials.

What you think will happen

  1. You call 911 and report the incident.
  2. The cops show up and ask questions.
  3. There is an investigation that you cooperate with.
  4. You are cleared of any wrong doing.
  5. No charges are made against you.
  6. Life goes on and you deal with your own personal issues from the shooting

What really happens

  1. You call 911, and make a full confession that is recorded and later used against you by the DA and investigators.
  2. The cops show up and put their guns in your face, force you to the ground, and put you in cuffs.
  3. You are asked everything but when your last bowel movement was by officers and detectives. Did they read you your rights? Do you remember?
  4. You spill your guts full of expletives and other unpleasant words.
  5. You are taken to the police department locked into a room and observed.
  6. They play the good cop/bad cop games for hours while asking you the same questions over and over while you get to the point where you can’t remember what you told them the first time.
  7. Because you have no idea what you said and who you said it to, they book and charge you.
  8. A huge bail is set after you spend way too much time in a cell and your family has to put the house up as collateral to a shady looking bail bondsman while you sit next to a smelly guy named bubba that wants to be your boyfriend.
  9. You appear in court and they put a pretty bracelet on your leg (provided that you came up with the bail and aren’t a flight risk)

home_invasion_81I could continue or go into more detail, but you get the idea. Are you seeing where reality greatly differs from what’s in your mind’s eye? This isn’t NCIS, where all crimes are solved within the hour or LL Cool J is the detective. This isn’t legal advice; this is just some common sense advice from someone that has seen the legal process at work and has been the officer that arrived on scene. When 911 is called, you don’t need to outline every detail of the incident or give commentary on what just happened or how it just happened. I wish I could give you an exact script on what to say to the dispatcher but this is something that you may want to discuss with your attorney (you’ve contacted an attorney already right….right?). Anything you say WILL be used against you. In the heat of emotion and stress, expletives may be used on your part or comments that will bury you in court later may be uttered. Basic information is more than enough for the dispatcher. Stating your name, location, description of both yourself and the suspect, and what type of incident just occurred. Saying to the dispatcher that you “shot a mother f#@*er that broke in your house” will do nothing but hurt you. Nothing that could be considered a confession needs to be said until you have a lawyer present and are speaking directly to the investigator assigned to the case. Once the police arrive, expect to be treated roughly. They don’t know what just happened and they don’t come to the call with a clean slate. These men and women bring their experiences from every call they have ever been dispatched to with them. This “baggage” is what keeps them alive and returning to their families. It is of course in your best interest to follow the commands of the responding officers.

Once all parties have been identified they will start asking questions. At this point you really only need to provide your information (ID) and that you will be happy to answer their questions when your lawyer is present. If you have an attorney that is willing to come to the scene then you are a very lucky person. A call to your attorney should be the second call you make after 911. An example of what to tell the police on the scene is, “I wish to cooperate with your investigation but at this time I am very shaken and need time to compose myself and to speak with my attorney. Once my attorney is present with me, you will be provided with the information you need for your investigation.” You have to be very cautious about what you say until you have an attorney with you. If you say the wrong thing you WILL BE CHARGED! After the initial interview on the scene with the responding officers you will be brought to the department or other location for further interviewing by the investigator assigned to the case.

interrogatorBy calling an attorney, the police may assume guilt, but it’s their job to poke holes in your story and discover if a crime has been committed. In a heightened state of emotion after a shooting, the facts will blur and it won’t be too difficult for them to have you completely turned upside down. Having an attorney present that is an objective third party may mean the difference between charges and a trial or you going back to your family. Just because you are going home doesn’t mean that you are out of the woods though. It was four months before George Zimmerman was charged with any crime and it was only after tremendous political pressure on the department that charges were filed. In other words you need to start working on a defense immediately and be prepared for the worst. There are many factors that will play into if you are charged with a crime or not. You need to know the laws in your state so that you know if you are within your rights to self-defense. Until recently, in North Carolina (my home state) you could shoot an intruder outside your home who was attempting to break in, however once he was inside you had the legal obligation to retreat and you had to prove that your life was being threatened. How stupid was that law? That’s right, you could shoot at an unseen target legally, but you had to watch him steal your TV unless he attacked you with it! If the Castle Law in your state is similar you can easily be charged with 2nd Degree Homicide for shooting an intruder in the night. Know your laws before you use your weapon or you will more than likely call a prison home for a very long time. At best you are tempting fate.

lawyer2It’s your responsibility to have a plan in place if something ever does happen. You need to have a lawyer to call and you need to meet with them and ask questions long before the worst case scenario happens. They also need to know who you are, so send them a fruit cake every Christmas and make sure you use them for any other legal needs you have(starting a business, writing a will, looking over a contract). There are also networks in place that you can join that will recommend attorneys and even cover your fees if you haven’t broken any laws. Do some research and be prepared. Make sure your family knows what to do and who to call. It may not be you that the incident occurs to, make sure your wife also knows what should and shouldn’t be said. Criminal and civil lawsuits are a reality that you need to be prepared for as well. Using common sense and having plans in place may mean the difference between freedom and prison or keeping your home and being homeless. Having a gun and carrying it is a huge responsibility, just ask George Zimmerman. Although cleared of criminal charges, I am sure a civil suit will be filed. He and his family have received death threats. This man’s life will never be the same, but he is alive and that is the point of having your weapon and being trained in its use. Be safe, train, and hope for the best, but prepare for the worst case possible!

How to Disengage During a Conflict or Armed Confrontation.

womanccwIn my last post I discussed a personal situation where I had the need to disengage while I was armed and how you can avoid such a situation. My bottom line was don’t get into a situation at all if you can avoid it, but what if you are already in it? How exactly do you successfully break contact and what are the reasons why you should? The reasons for breaking contact are more numerous that I can even count, but the biggest reason, and most important to me, is to stay on the right side of the law, and avoid taking the life of another human being if at all possible.

It really doesn’t matter what city or state you live in, if you are the aggressor in any armed confrontation then you are at risk for being charged with a bare minimum of manslaughter if it comes down to pulling your trigger. The reason for carrying a defensive handgun as a civilian is to protect yourself and your loved ones, not be Betty Jane or Billy Joe badass! So if you carry a handgun, do it right or not at all! Leave confronting bad situations to the men and women that get paid to do it if at all possible.

Now let’s discuss some techniques on how to break contact. The first is verbal de-escalation. You may or may not have heard of “Verbal Judo”, a standard technique that is taught for police officers. It is really nothing more than learning to effectively communicate during a stressful situation. There are books on Amazon, videos on YouTube, and seminars regularly in just about any city. Using your verbal skills to take control isn’t about being aggressive. What it’s about is getting the other person to listen to your words and concentrate on their meaning and what’s being said. In many cases taking the focus off their emotion and onto the conversation ends any type of aggression.  Sales people use this technique on a regular basis. As a business owner I try to take control of the conversation and erase any previous negative experiences the prospective customer has ever experienced. This isn’t rocket science, it’s good old fashioned common sense.

A second way to de-escalate verbally is to simply just agree. That’s right, agree with any nonsense they spew and apologize, then break contact. DO NOT do this in a condescending juvenile way; this will only add fuel to the fire. What I’m referring to is taking the higher road in the hope that they will remain calm enough for you to walk away.  The goal here isn’t to be right; it is to remove yourself from a volatile situation. Most confrontations are fueled by emotion, and by keeping your emotions out of play you are already on the winning side. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Just the facts Ma’am”, and there’s a reason for that. Police officers deal only in facts, and emotions should never come into play. The facts are what determine if you have or haven’t broken any laws. If your actions are wrong then your reasons have part in determining fault. Emotions don’t make you right, but the facts will, if you keep those emotions in check.   

If your verbal skills aren’t up to par then it will be extremely difficult to physically remove yourself from a confrontation that is going south. If things aren’t going well and your verbal techniques aren’t calming the situation then your only choice is a tactical retreat. A tactical retreat is acknowledging a small defeat in the short term to gain a long-term advantage.  Ok, so you let them win this round, again emotion has no place in any of this. Your goal is to safely remove yourself so that this doesn’t become a violent incident that ends with gun fire and blood. Don’t look at this as a defeat as you are doing the only thing possible in the moment. You are moving to a place that gives you cover and therefore an advantage, or you are trying to save both their life and your own possibly. Unless you are a stone cold killer, this only makes sense. If you are moving to a place of cover then you have acknowledged that the situation is more than likely going to end badly. Always prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Never just turn your back and walk away, this is the most dangerous action possible! Remain aware of your surroundings and your situation. Just because you are finished, doesn’t mean the other person is. If you have managed to break contact, the first thing you should do is alert authorities of what just happened. Even if no laws have been broken, making them aware and having a report on hand will place you in a better position if any further incidents occur. Always cover your 6 (watch your back) as no one else is going to.

1911You may question my opinions in light of the controversy surrounding “Stand Your Ground” laws these days. I support them, they open the self defense laws to make people more secure in their homes, places of work and communities. That being said, I believe that it is always better to try to avoid the fight in the first place, and in doing so may gain you a more favorable outcome in the following investigation. I feel that you don’t want to be walking a very fine legal line while in a highly emotional state, and playing attorney is never safe, even if you are an attorney, after an deadly force encounter. You are personally involved in this situation and allowing an attorney to speak for you may be your best bet. It always looks and sounds much better for witnesses to say that you tried to speak calmly and walk away from the fight, but that the other person pursued you. It needs to be clear that there was no other choice but for you to defend yourself.  You need to be able to articulate that you did everything possible to end the confrontation in a non-violent manner, but had no choice but to fire your weapon.  

Keeping all of this in mind, it is very important that you always remember to be prepared at any stage of this to use your weapon to defend yourself from attack. Stay vigilant with your situational awareness, body positioning, and surroundings. You need to know who is doing what and where they are. An attack can come from any direction and this confrontation may be used as a distraction to an actual attack.  That’s a discussion for another post, and until then keep training, your life depends on it!


Enhanced by Zemanta

Avoiding the Fight

This is more social commentary than what I would normally write about, but I feel like it needs to be said.

concealed-carry-holstersLast night at about 1am while trying to sleep, my wife and I were disturbed by loud talking and laughing outside our window (we live in a townhome community). I looked out the window and saw roughly ten teens in the parking lot. One of which was a neighbor’s son, so I figured I’d give them a chance not to get in trouble by just asking them to move the party inside.  After slipping on my shorts and shirt, I put my gun in my waistband holster and proceeded outside. I motioned for the kid I knew to come talk to me, he refused so I approached the group. I was met with several racial slurs and a curse or two. This wasn’t my first rodeo, and they made it obvious they were looking for trouble. There was no way I was going to bite and be drawn into a pissing contest. I already knew how it would end. My training kicked in before I even went outside, and I had several plans in case something went wrong. I didn’t want a fight, I didn’t think there was even one to be had, but I was aware that it could go terribly wrong very quickly hence my gun being on my person.

Now these kids had no idea of my background, or that I was carrying a weapon. What they did know is that I was an “old” white guy telling them what to do. One of the guys was bouncing around like a boxer and wouldn’t break eye contact, another called me a hillbilly (I rock a pretty healthy beard these days), and there was even more colorful commentary that I don’t see a need to repeat. It was very obvious that they were begging for me to do or say anything that would act as an excuse for them to become violent. Honestly, I was more disappointed in them than anything and I certainly wasn’t intimidated. When approaching I positioned myself with a brick barrier on the other side of the group in case I did need to defend myself with my firearm, and I kept enough distance to allow a good amount of reaction time if needed. This was a precaution based on years of experience, training and the fact that I would never want stray bullets flying around my neighborhood.

copsinneighborhoodWhat I realized after disengaging and re-entering my home is something I never considered before going outside. I saw myself as being a nice guy for not calling the cops from the start and just asking for some common courtesy. What they saw was completely different and dangerous for me. Because of my race, I was perceived as the enemy and a threat to their rights right from the start(their perceived right to be where they wanted, when they wanted to be there). I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut, remain respectful even after being disrespected, and walk away. If I had not walked away, things without a doubt would have gotten heated very quickly. Calling the cops was without a doubt the best option for all involved.  I asked my wife to do so, and told her about what I had just experienced.

Now the point of telling you this story is to illustrate a few lessons that I re-learned from this experience. Even with my years of experience and training I placed everyone involved in danger needlessly because I didn’t see a dangerous situation when I should have. So what are the lessons I learned?

  1. Always think before you act.
  2. A situation may not be as benign as you assume.
  3. Your perception may be completely the opposite of your reality.
  4. Never put yourself in a situation where you are the cause of an incident.
  5. Let the Police do their job and remember that they are seen by the law as doing their job, not as being the aggressor.
  6. No matter how confident you are in your skills, 10 to 1 odds suck!
  7. A simple noise complaint isn’t worth anyone dying for.
  8. Never fall victim to instigation by an opponent.
  9. If things had gone badly, I would have been seen as the aggressor and instigator. I also would have more than likely faced charges because the situation could have been avoided by picking up the phone rather than going outside.  

The current social climate doesn’t allow us to base our decisions on common sense anymore. We have to look at the big picture of how society as a whole will perceive everything we do. The country is divided down the middle on politics, race and religion. Just because we don’t see a problem with any given decision doesn’t mean that someone from another view point won’t.  As gun owners we need to not only train ourselves in the use of our weapons, but how not to use our weapons. The best way to not be in a shooting incident is to avoid the situation all together if possible.

arrestI did everything right tactically to give myself any possible advantage, I was armed, I positioned myself well, I allowed distance and cover, and so on and so forth. What I didn’t do is give myself the ultimate tactical advantage…avoiding the situation all together!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hammered Knifeworks

I’ve always loved knives. I carry one or two every day, and I’m sure you do as well. As far as I’m concerned they are one of the greatest tools mankind has ever created. Finding a quality knife is fairly easy these days, a simple hop on the web and a little research will find you a few outstanding and budget friendly blades, one of my most favorites is the CRKT M21-14G.

Horseshoe Tanto

Buying an off the shelf knife is great and all, but that’s boring. I’ve been wanting something more, something special. Enter John Buck and Hammered Knifeworks. Hammered Knifeworks is a small one man operation located in Burlington, NC. I contacted John and arranged to get my hands on a couple examples of his work. John is an artist and knifesmith, his blades are great to look at and feel great in the hand. Beyond being pretty, they also work. John makes blades that are made to be used and used hard. These are true “working man’s” blades. It’s difficult to really pin down a type of blade he makes or specializes in because of his versatility in styles and materials. One of my favorite examples of his work is a tanto blade made from a horseshoe. This blade has a heft to it that is almost hard to explain, it’s heavy for it’s size and the curve of the handle fits very well in the hand. Being a mild steel, the blade does tend to dull faster than a harder steel blade but that also means it will take an edge faster as well. He does harden all of his blades which makes this less of an issue though. I discussed with John a few different options to finish the handle off and he suggested a paracord wrap, which can be easily done. John is able to make leather sheaths for his blades as well, we also discussed using Kydex in the future as well.

Railroad Spike Blade

Railroad Spike Blade

Materials available for blades is about unlimited, he prefers to use carbon steel and tool steel in the 1095 and A10 varieties respectively however, if you have a specific request for a blade he is very willing to accommodate. John is able to 3D model custom  blades and cut them out to customer specifications. He also does extremely well at re-purposing material into blades. As shown above a blade made from horseshoe is a beautiful thing, another example is a very utilitarian blade made from a railroad spike. The railroad spike blade features a standard drop point blade that offers a great cutting surface and plenty of power into the material to be cut. Much like the horseshoe, the spike is made from a milder steel but goes through a lengthy hardening process to ensure it keeps a razor edge. He can even work with materials that you provide, as long as it is a steel that lends itself to hardening and forging. I have a bayonet for a Mosin-Nagant that I will never use in it’s current form that will soon be getting the Hammered Knifeworks treatment to be turned into a modern and usable blade. John is also working on creating his own billets of damascus steel. There is also some discussion about hand forged camp axes and tomahawks in the future.

Japanese style "katana" knife made from a file, with hand carved wooden handle.

Japanese style “katana” knife made from a file, with hand carved wooden handle. This blade took John a couple weeks to make due to the hardness of the material.

John hand forges, hardens and polishes every blade he makes. It takes him a fair amount of time to produce a blade, but his attention to detail is worth every man hour he puts into it. The end result you get is a fine hand crafted blade that won’t cost you a fortune and will serve you well for years to come. Currently he doesn’t have a store front website up and running. He does however, take orders through his Facebook page and is very prompt in contacting his customers back. So head on over to his page and shoot him a message and he will make you the blade you’ve always wanted. As for now stay safe, train and have a good un’

Enhanced by Zemanta

Holsters on a Budget 101


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…my gear, my way.

It’s kind of humorous if you ask me, but people want the “right” gear so they look cool at the range, while carrying concealed or during training. While I can absolutely understand this feeling, this isn’t high school people! This is real life and what works well for one person may not work well for you. Body types, personal styles and budget vary and you have to do what is right for you. Mr. Ingersoll touched on this a few posts ago and pretty much said that what you can afford and works for you is what you should buy. I’m just expanding upon his observations in this post and sharing my personal set up. I’ll share links for the makers of my gear and let you look around for yourself.

My personal preference is to have a holster for each specific purpose when carrying my Beretta 92FS. To this end I have two outside the waistband holsters (OWB), one inside the waistband holster (IWB), and one trigger guard style holster. Mr. Ingersoll has at least that many holsters for his Beretta 8040 to include a Safariland duty holster and a few others. I personally prefer a paddle style holster over belt holsters as they are easily removed when needed and are very stable on my frame. Speaking of frames, I’m over 6ft and pushing 300lbs. I am a very big guy, so my set ups may not be the perfect set up for you.

blackhawkYou may ask why I have two different OWB style holsters. That’s a good question and I will explain my logic and how it came to be. The first holster is an Uncle Mike’s paddle set up with no retention of any kind other than friction. I have had it for years and it was cheap. I have used this holster for concealed carry and training only because it has no retention level protection in case of a gun grab situation or fight. The second OWB holster I have is a Blackhawk! SERPA.  I carry in this holster in situations when it’s appropriate to open carry. The SERPA is an affordable holster with lots of options. It comes with both a paddle and belt attachment when purchased and it’s designed to work with both a shoulder rig and tactical thigh rig with no modifications, just a few screws. There is a lot of bang for your buck with this holster. Is it the end all, be all holster that some say it is? Not by a long shot, I would definitely prefer several others but just can’t justify spending the money. It ‘s a level 2 retention holster where a button must be depressed to release the handgun and the tension is adjustable so it meets my need for open carry. It’s minimal protection, but it is protection from someone walking up and pulling your gun out of the holster or it falling out during a struggle.

OldFaithful-Empty2When it comes to inside the waist band (IWB) carry I carry an Old Faithful that I built from a kit. This is a hybrid style holster that has a leather backing against the skin and one side of the gun combined with a Kydex shell on the other side. It makes for a very durable and comfortable holster. There are quite a few of different companies that are making this style of holster these days since it gained so much popularity in the CCW crowd. I’m not sure who started the design but certainly the first one I heard about was the CrossBreed Supertuck however, this is a far more expensive and their lead time is fairly long. So by buying this easy to assemble kit form Old Faithful, I saved a ton of cash and now have an intimate understanding of my gear. Without a doubt I recommend trying the kits on the market.

Now I may have failed to mention this, I carry every holster in the appendix or modified appendix position. So make note of that if you plan to order a similar holster. This particular holster is cut for that positioning and is very comfortable for all day wear with only slight adjustments when sitting or getting in and out of a vehicle. Some people may ask why I carry in this position when so many other positions work well and  are more comfortable. The answer is simple, I don’t want people to see my gun (if it is printing) when I can’t see them. In other words if you know I have a gun, I want to know that you know! Secondly I have much more control over the weapon in this position during a struggle or just in general.  I even carried in this position while on duty as a police officer and kept the duty holster tension screws on my belt loose enough to adjust the location as needed.

Credit: Aegis Armory

Credit: Aegis Armory

The final holster I have for my Beretta is a trigger guard style holster from Aegis Armory. This an absolute minimalist style holster that only covers the trigger so that it isn’t engaged accidentally.  This is my T-shirt, shorts, and flip flop gear. You basically stick it in your waistband and go, another word for this is “Mexican carry” but with this holster there is some retention on the firearm. It comes with a lanyard that you attach to a belt or belt loop. When drawn the holster just pulls away because it is only held on with a small amount of tension. On a smaller weapon this would be a great pocket holster or even a neck holster. This also makes a great “car carry” holster. Wrap the lanyard around your emergency brake handle or whatever you have available and tuck the pistol between the seats.

So there you have it, my gear for my needs and on my budget. Would I love to have several Raven or G-code holsters? Oh yes I would, but I just can’t justify buying the high dollar gear when what I have fits my needs rather well. I’ll upgrade one day but for now I definitely don’t care what others think about my choice of holsters or even my beat up old Beretta. The guy wearing all the latest gear and shooting the H&K SOCOM 45 at the range the other day couldn’t hit the ten ring to save his life. I on the hand tore one big ragged hole with 50 rounds in the target.  Buy what works for you and save the money for ammo and training!

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Case for a Full Gun Safe

Just how many guns do you need?!?!?

Has your wife ever asked you, “Just how many guns does one man need”? A couple of mine have, yes I said a couple. They weren’t at the same time, don’t judge me, I was a cop! Well I am going to make my case to you that every man should have a minimum of five guns, based on legality and needs, to protect his family and home.

Gun Wall
Gun Wall (Photo credit: Mike Saechang)

Guns are tools of the trade just as a mechanic has a tool chest or any other tradesman has what he needs to accomplish a myriad of jobs that may come his way. I’ll start off with a great analogy I once heard from a good friend. If you were going to plant flowers you wouldn’t go out and buy a back hoe, or if you were going to dig a drainage ditch you wouldn’t attempt to do so with a garden spade. Why in the world would anyone feel completely protected with only one gun in all situations?  

So how many guns does one man need? I say at least one for every need you have, depending on your location and budget. For me that would consist of two handguns (one full sized and one compact), a shotgun, a carbine, and a long range rifle, not all at the same time though. Each weapon has a specific job that it is created for and does best. So I will discuss those jobs and how I have come to this conclusion and stellar argument for buying more guns.

English: modern revolver Ruger SP101 cal .38 S...
English: Ruger SP101 cal .38 Special (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I always need a very small compact gun for those times when deep cover is needed. The .357 J frame S&W is my all-time favorite. Why a revolver? My answer is simple, and it’s because this gun’s primary use will be as a backup to my primary weapon. If I have gone to my back up, then something very bad has happened. Either I have run dry with my primary weapon or it has had a catastrophic failure of some sort. A revolver is as close to fail proof as a gun can be. From 0 to 25 yards a 2inch revolver is very accurate and extremely effective. The ultra compact 9mm handgun has come into great popularity lately, as well as the .380 ACP models as well. It’s hard to beat a Kel-Tec PF9 or a P3AT for the money and concealability. We generally don’t recommend going below a .380 ACP but if your needs can only be met by a .32 or smaller round, there are some other excellent options in these calibers as well.

Beretta 92FS
Beretta 92FS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to my primary weapon I prefer a quality gun with plentiful parts availability. If the need should arise I want to have the ability to rebuild this gun at a moment’s notice without any issues. Hence my personal choice of a 92 series Beretta or Glock chambered in 9mm. Both guns are reasonably priced and there is huge parts markets to repair of improve them. Semi-auto handguns are extremely complicated and have many parts. One spring or small part can cause a failure. It only makes good sense to be prepared. Not to mention both of these guns are easy for novice owners to repair even if they have no prior gun smith training (please note I don’t advocate disassembly of your gun if you aren’t trained). Any duty sized handgun is made to be accurate out to 25 yards and beyond, so it is a must have in your personal arsenal of weapons. In fact, this category is probably the most important one. A full sized handgun can be concealed and with their accuracy at range will fill most defensive needs.

Mossberg M500SP
Mossberg 500 (Photo credit: mr.smashy)

One of my favorite short to medium range weapons is the 12 gauge shotgun. You just don’t get any more all American than a Remington 870 or Mossberg 590. Pump guns are definitely my preference as they will feed almost any ammunition you throw in them and the sound when you rack one into the chamber is unmistakable. That sound alone gives you an advantage over your opponent because of the psychological effect it will have on them. Shot guns can also be used as door breaching tools or even crowd control. Properly outfitted a shotgun can be the best choice all the way out to 100 yards. They really are a do it all gun. Another firearm to put in the back of your mind in this category of short to medium range is the pistol caliber carbine. There are a few well reviewed and durable carbines in most common pistol calibers, some have the capability of using the same magazines as your chosen duty style handgun, which makes things much more simple when it comes time to purchase ammo and magazines.

AR15 (Photo credit: Section_Eight)

A short, quick handling centerfire rifle or carbine is a must have for everyone.  From hunting small game to being used as a defensive weapon they are good for everything. For those of you that have been around firearms for the last decade or so it’s become very apparent that an AR-15, Kel-Tec SU-16C or Ruger Mini 14 are super great choices. All three are extremely accurate and affordable. Equipped properly they can even be used to clear a house or short range sniper work. Again, they are great all around weapons that have a ton of uses. The AR platform has endless possibilities and can be converted for many uses and calibers can even be changed relatively easily. An AK variant  falls into this category beautifully as well and would provide a lot of power to quickly end the fight. For that matter an AR platform can be used all the way up to a .458 SOCOM round. That’s the reason everyone love an AR-15, they are so customizable based on your needs. All the way out to 200 yards any centerfire carbine will get the job done, so it is a great medium to long range option for protecting your family. This category isn’t limited to the “black rifles” though. The venerable lever action carbine from almost any maker has proven itself over it’s very long history to be a perfectly adequate defensive tool as well as a hunting arm and is certainly worth your consideration.

English: The US-made Remington 700 .308 Winche...
Remington 700 .308 Winchester. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For long distance work, a Remington 700 in 308 or 300 Win Mag is my weapon of choice.  There is no smoother action on the market for the price in my opinion.  There are endless choices that this gun can be outfitted with from the factory and the aftermarket is flooded with anything you could ever want. Are there other options? Of course there are, the Savage model 10 and Winchester 70 are both fantastic choices for a long range precision rifle. Honestly just about any quality hunting rifle will do the job neatly. When it comes to this type of rifle, you can spend as little or as much as your heart desires, but remember, you get what you pay for. No amount of geegaws that you attach will turn a crap rifle into a long range beast. You don’t become a sniper overnight, and a ton of training is needed if you intend to pursue any type of long range shooting. Depending on the gun this type of weapon can be a show stopper into quadruple digit distances. If the truth is really told, you can go to Wal Mart and purchase a $300 Ruger American or Savage Axis in .308 and it will exceed your abilities for a very long time to come and serve as a great way to learn the art of long range precision shooting.

So there you have it, my weapons of choice and why I NEED them in my gun safe. The best part is you can double the number of guns just by explaining to your wife how she needs to be out fitted in case something were to happen to you. What mother doesn’t want to protect her children, right? As for now stay safe, train and have a good un’



Enhanced by Zemanta

The Modern Mosin-Nagant

The Mosin Nagant series of rifles. List goes t...

The Mosin Nagant series of rifles.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So why in the world am I writing about a rifle designed in the 1890’s and why is it interesting to you? Because it’s cool!!, and after all these years it’s still a relevant and useful firearm in today’s world. I just saw an amazing report earlier this week that the Mosin-Nagant is in current use in the fighting in Syria. Who would have thought that after all this time the rifle that defended Stalingrad against the Nazis would still be in use in 2013 as a “military” arm?

When someone mentions a Mosin-Nagant, they could be talking about any one of the many variations that have existed since it was adopted by The Imperial Russian Army in 1891 as the Model 1891 interestingly enough. Most commonly encountered in the United States however, are three models: the 91/30, M44 and, The Chinese Type 53. The Type 53 and the M44 are both almost identical to each other with the major difference being the country of origin. The most common of these three models is the 91/30. The M44 and Type 53 are both carbine models which have a much shorter barrel than the 91/30 and an attached side folding bayonet. All variations are bolt-action and have a 5 round integral magazine that can either be loaded one round at a time or by stripper clip. There are so many different incarnations of Mosin-Nagant that were produced, it’s not worth me going into great detail here as there are so many great resources out there. When I refer to the rifle here, I’m talking about the three models listed above. If you’re curious about the history of this rifle your best bet is to head over to There you can find the entire documented history of the rifle and all the different models produced.

Enough with the history lesson. How is this old Russian rifle relevant to me? Well, frankly there are a few good reasons but in my opinion the most important of all is that it is a dirt cheap and accessible firearm. This rifle can be had for sub $200 all day for a 91/30, even in today’s strange gun climate. The other two models come in at a little under $300 usually. What that gives you is a completely usable and reasonably accurate rifle out of the box with decent iron sights. What’s almost as good as the rifle itself being cheap is that the ammo is also cheap. A tin of 440 rounds of surplus ammo can be had for under $100. New manufacture commercially made ammo is decently priced as well. These old rifles have proven themselves to be adequate hunting arms for quite some time now and have put literally tons of meat on the tables of families all over the world. Hunting is by far the most common use for this rifle other than being a range plinker since it can be fed so inexpensively and the cartridge is powerful enough to take down nearly anything on 4 legs in North America.

I wanted to breathe a new life into this rifle though. Now if you’re some kind of purist and you feel that the Mosin-Nagant is deserving of being a collectable firearm to be kept in it’s original form, turn back now. I do not consider myself a purist at all. This rifle is immensely common and it lends itself very well to modifying or sporterizing. The Russians took rifles that would be considered fairly valuable today and re-arsenaled them, modified them and covered them in cosmoline and stuck them in a warehouse in Siberia somewhere and they have turned into the rifles that we see being imported today. There are rare models and I feel as though they shouldn’t be touched, if you’re not sure whether or not you’ve got a rare model please head over to and double check.

As I stated before, you could leave the rifle alone in it’s completely stock form and have a completely serviceable and useful rifle with only a few tweaks and adjustments to the iron sights but I’m incapable of leaving good enough alone. I suppose I’ll start by addressing the things about the Mosin-Nagant that I personally don’t like so much. The total length of the 91/30 is about 48.5″, that’s just over four feet long and the bayonet isn’t even a part of that. That’s a ludicrous length for a rifle to be useful in the woods but that can be remedied. You could either hold out and get a M44 or Type 53 which is totally a rational work around or you could have a gunsmith shorten the barrel. The Mosin-Nagant is also a heavy rifle, not ungodly so but at a little over 8lbs it’s hefty enough to be a little difficult to chuck around in a hurry, particularly at full length. To put weight into perspective though, it’s not entirely uncommon for AR-15‘s with rails and optics and various other toys to tip the scales at over the weight of a loaded Mosin-Nagant. I’m also not a huge wood stock person. Thats not to say that I can’t appreciate them, I just tend to be hard on gear and a synthetic stock just makes more sense for me. I guess that’s about it for the “dislikes”.

Each of the above listed “problems” is easily changed to more suit personal need. Since the Mosin-Nagant has established itself as a sturdy, reliable and reasonably accurate rifle, I’ve found that it lends itself well to becoming a scout rifle. Scouts are essentially lightweight rifles around 36″ in length and under 7.7lbs with a forward mounted low powered scope in .308 or equivalent. Col. Cooper specified a specific sling to be used, the ability to use iron sights, detachable magazine feeding or reloading with stripper clips. I chose to transform the Mosin-Nagant into a scout rifle because of the all around utility of the concept. It makes a handy and capable hunting rifle, a great brush and recreation tool as well as a defensive tool if necessary. To accomplish the task of turning this ancient battle rifle into a modern scout rifle isn’t a very difficult one. There are quite a few readily available aftermarket parts that allow for an easy transformation.

So here we go, the Mosin-Nagant is going to become a scout rifle. We will need a new stock, optic mount, optic, a little gunsmith work to cut down and re-crown the barrel, and a way to reattach the front sight. What follows is a list of parts that I think further suit this useful rifle to modern use.

  1. ATI Mosin-Nagant Stock.
  2. Brass Stacker Scout Scope Mount
  3. Brass Stacker Front Sight Adapter Ring
  4. Stripper Clips
  5. Ching Sling
  6. Sling Swivel Studs

This certainly isn’t an all encompassing list of what you may need for the conversion, or you may choose to use different parts to suit the rifle to your individual purpose and needs. There are a lot of nice products from Rock Solid for Mosin-Nagants that are outstanding and very high quality and trigger modifications to tame the beast so to speak as well however, if you follow the guidelines you will end up with something similar to the rifle pictured below. It is now a handy and lighter rifle with a hard hitting and fairly accurate and cheap round that is well suited for hunting and any other purpose a handy rifle like this can fill.

Credit: "Pirate" from

Credit: “Pirate” from

So if you’ve got an old Mosin-Nagant sitting in the gun safe or you don’t have one yet but are in the market for an inexpensive but versatile rifle,I hope I’ve offered you some inspiration. As for now train, stay safe and have a good un’.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Caliber Considerations for CCW

Beretta 92FS

Beretta 92FS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s post comes to you from Dave Windham again. Dave’s knowledge and experience with concealed carry, firearms implementation and associated equipment is a valuable asset.

What’s in your pants???

Did that get your attention? Good, now please read on so that you understand the question.  I’m really exhausted of (primarily men) purchasing the largest caliber gun possible because it’s the manly thing to do while ignoring the basics of firearm handling and simple logic. They ignore the simple fact that despite their manliness, they may not be able to effectively control a large bore handgun. I’ve seen people purchase guns that don’t even fit their hand so that they have a “45” as opposed to any other caliber handgun.

Let me start by saying I don’t advocate or consider mouse guns an option. I don’t even like these mini guns as back up weapons. Personally a .38 +p or .380 is about as small as I feel is an effective caliber in any gun fight and many folks in the industry agree. What I am addressing is 9mm, through 45ACP. Many novice or inexperienced shooters just don’t consider 9mm as being a good round in a gun fight and think that bigger is always better. Let’s look at the evidence, and you make up your mind.

The chart above shows the penetration of the handgun rounds that we are discussing, while the page linked to next shows the expansion of the said rounds upon penetration.  Please note that manufacture and bullet type, weight, etc. do cause dramatic changes in these findings.  Do your own research or study the research of professionals to make your own choice and reach your own conclusions.

As you can see, there isn’t a clear and simple “best round” or “magic bullet”.  With different manufacturers or slightly different bullet styles the results are almost identical from 9mm all the way up to 45 ACP.  With this knowledge there are several other factors that you need to consider.

The first factor is what really happens in a gun fight. A real life gun fight isn’t anywhere close to static marksmanship practice on a range or even competition shooting. Your body goes through all sorts of changes when lead starts flying in your direction. Your heart rate rises, your motor skills are significantly decreased, and your vision is greatly affected.  Now ask yourself, do you want a smaller amount of ammunition and all the recoil you can handle or do you want something easily controlled that you are a very good marksman with?

To get the feeling of what it feels like to be in a critical incident, try this. Run around the block twice in all your gear, fully clothed in the middle of summer, then drop and do 25 push-ups and then 25 sit ups. Now stand, draw your weapon and engage multiple targets at multiple ranges running between cover and concealment points. Make sure you have to reload so that you make a magazine change and experience all aspects of your loss of motor skills. If you can, even induce a feeding malfunction during this drill.

Ok, so now that you know that your 3 inch groups at 10yrds on the range don’t amount to a hill of beans in real life you now have to consider what really ends a gunfight. Almost all accounts of these incidents and personal accounts from police and military personnel, as well as personal experience I know that hydraulic failure is what normally ends the fight. That’s just a nice way of saying the aggressor has bled out and can no longer function.  Do you really think that .12 of an inch in expansionor a fraction of an inch in penetration is going to make a huge difference?  The truth is that it really doesn’t. What’s far more important is shot placement.

In my opinion having a gun that I can make extremely quick follow up shots with, and that carries several more rounds only makes sense. Both I and my wife carry full sized duty style weapons in 9mm. She carries a bone stock M&P Pro with a 4.25in barrel and I carry a slightly customized Beretta 92fs that was once my duty weapon with two police departments. I have 20 rounds on tap while she has 17 rounds at the ready if needed. Now you may ask, is it concealable? The answer is hell yes. It’s all about holster choice and clothing choice. I’ll discuss some of my holsters in a post at a later date.

The point of this is to make you think. Why do you carry what you carry? Is it the best choice or a compromise? Could you be more effective with a different gun? Your life truly depends on your choices for your ccw defensive firearm, so take the time to do some research and make solid decisions.   Happy training and be safe!

Enhanced by Zemanta