AR500 Armor

AR500ArmorLogo

Credit: AR500 Armor

Body armor is one of those pieces of gear that can be vitally important to your life, training and preparation, but it’s also very often overlooked. One of the main reasons it’s overlooked is just the immense cost of it. You can easily spend a couple thousand dollars for a vest rated for rifle protection with no extra features and that’s not including any soft armor. That’s where the guys over at AR500 Armor come in. They have a product that maximizes protection and value.

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Credit: AR500 Armor

Recently I got my hands on a 6×6″ AR500 armor plate. I didn’t get the large chest plate since I already had ceramic plates in my inventory and my intention was for this plate to serve as a trauma plate in my Point Blank concealable body armor vest for enhanced handgun and rifle threat protection. When I held the plate I was struck by the weight of it. It’s only 2.5lbs but it’s heavy for it’s size as very dense materials often are. The coating on the plate is very well done, AR500 coats all of their armor plates with Line-X coating to help reduce spalling. Spalling is the rapid fragmentation and spread of the bullet after impacting the plate. Spalling presents a fairly serious issue in that you may survive the actual round impact but the fragments of the round may penetrate vital areas of your head and neck. In the testing that I have seen, the Line-X helps greatly with the problem. They also offer a thicker build up of Line-X on the armor plate as well for increased protection from spalling at an increased cost of course, but that also equals increased thickness and weight.

photo 2(1)The plate I got was just a little bit large for the trauma plate pocket in my vest but with a little careful forcing it fit right in and won’t be going anywhere any time soon. The plate weighs in at 2.5lbs which does add weight to the front of the vest but if you have your vest correctly adjusted and it’s worn correctly, the small increase of weight is noticeable but has no negative impact. This size of plate is sold as a “side plate” but is made from the identical material and is the exact same threat level with multi strike ability. My intention for this plate is to serve as a trauma plate for mostly defense against the handgun threats the vest itself is rated for however, having my vital organs covered by stand alone level III rifle protection is a huge plus in my book.

Credit: AR500 Armor

Credit: AR500 Armor

Now for the best part of all, the cost of this plate comes in at $30 for both it and it’s 6×8″ brother. If you look at other trauma plates available for concealable body armor, the prices are more for far less protection. The Protech Impac line of plates comes to mind. For far less protection you pay $40 more for your plate. They also offer rifle threat plates in a similar size at a whopping 10x the cost of the AR500 plate. For me the choice is very clear. If you need armor that isn’t going to bankrupt you, all I can say is give AR500 Armor a look. I’m certainly considering replacing my ceramic plates with the AR500 large plates to cut down on bulk in my gear. As for now stay safe, train and have a good un’.


Gun Store Guys

The many personalities you will run into hanging out in a gun shop:

If you’ve been gun shopping in a legitimate gun store and spent any time there then you have surely run into some interesting characters. I was out earlier today and ran into a few myself. So I figured I’d talk about a some of the personalities that I have run into more than once over the years. One is your run of the mill “Gun Shop Rambo” type. All he wants to look at or discuss is the biggest and baddest weapons he can find.  He then proceeds to repeat verbatim what he has read in a magazine or seen on TV. Basically he makes himself look even more ignorant and self conscience than he may be. Guys, your gun isn’t a way to make up for what you lack in other areas that don’t require a holster. Sure, you can carry a 454 Casull as an everyday carry piece, but it isn’t practical nor is it tactical. Please don’t be this guy! He is annoying and no one wants to be around him because ruins your shopping trip.

big-gunThere is also the guy that knows everything about everything that is related to guns in any way shape form or fashion (yep, I ran into “that guy” today). I really enjoyed how he proceeded to explain to me how my gun was exactly like two other guns. Spoiler alert, IT ISN’T! He considers himself an intellectual authority on all things firearm related, everyone else considers him an asshole! Only his favored manufacture is acceptable and worth buying. Ok, so he has a favorite gun company, so do I. What I don’t do is completely discredit all other companies or consider them garbage. I have a top 5 favorites list that most of my semi automatic handguns have come from. If you’re interested, they are Heckler & Koch, Sig Sauer, Glock,  and Beretta. Why these manufacturers you may ask, well I have carried guns from each of them on duty as a police officer and found all of them to be of extremely high quality. Are there other companies that are just as good? I’m sure there are, but those are my favorites. My personal opinion is the best gun on God’s earth is the one that you have on your person that is working without malfunction!  Guns have been a daily part of my life for nearly two decades, but I am in no way an encyclopedia of gun knowledge. I learn new things everyday and enjoy doing so. No one is the final word when it comes to what gun is best or will work best for you. You are the final word on that, because you are the one carrying it.

gun-storeThe final personality is probably the most annoying to me. It’s the guy who is completely lost but wanting to be cool. Most of the time this guy is actually very successful in other areas, but knows next to nothing about guns. He usually is decked out in the most expensive gear, wearing high speed equipment, and can’t hit the broad side of a barn. In many cases he is a person that wanted to be police or  in the military but took a more financially rewarding and less dangerous path in life. Hey, if I’d had any sense I would have done the same thing and avoided broken bones, etc. Just be you, there is no need to put on a fashion show or recount the time that this or that happened. So what you don’t have real war stories, no one is judging you for that. If this guy gets the training he really needs then he will be respected. Bullcrap stories, a $4,000 1911, and no skill just pisses people off.

3pd424You are going to run into all walks of life at all income levels when gun shopping. Some of my best friendships have been made standing around talking about guns in local shops. Gun shops are just a microcosm of society. I’m extremely passionate about guns and the culture that surrounds them. The best advice I can give anyone is feed your hunger for knowledge about guns. Seek out the guys that really know their stuff and pick their brains. Don’t get caught up in the trap of being any of the personalities above, because you are not going to get the knowledge you need to be proficient with the one tool that can save your life and the lives of your family. Train smart, train hard, and train with the best (us!).

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.

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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!

 

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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!

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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’

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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
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’

 

 

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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!

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Musings on Current Events and Concealed Carry

English: Taken by Paul F. Maul, an original ph...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a guest post from a very good friend of mine, Dave Windham. Dave has spent his entire adult life in the company of firearms much like myself. He is a former law enforcement officer and corrections officer and he and I worked together in some of the worst spots in central North Carolina without the luxury of backup.

Let me start by saying that I am in no way an attorney, nor do I claim any legal expertise in any area of the law. I’m not attempting to provide any legal advice or tell you what you should legally do or not do.  I am strictly writing this as a citizen that carries a firearm regularly and attempting to convey some concerns that I have as well as my personal observations and opinions.

Having said that, the Brew haha surrounding the Zimmerman incident and subsequent trial has raised a lot of questions and concerns with those who conceal carry on a regular basis. I personally have carried regularly since the age of 21 and I’m now pushing the big four-O. Some of that was while on duty as a police officer, corrections officer or as an armed guard. The majority of the time I carried off duty and I continue to do so.

When you are forced to use your weapon in self defence, some of the many things that will be called into question after any use of a firearm are { 1) type of weapon used, 2) the caliber of the weapon used, 3) state of carry, 4) features of the firearm used, 5) training of the user of the firearm, etc.} This is by no means all encompassing, but it’s a good foundation of what you can expect to be questioned by a prosecutor or attorney in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Let’s start with the type of weapon you carry. Most of us that carry concealed tend to carry smaller firearms of smaller calibers so that they are easily hidden and you have the maximum amount of ammunition.  I personally don’t subscribe to this logic as I carry a full sized duty gun chambered in 9mm with a twenty one round capacity. If you carry a larger caliber or one with a ton of ammunition on board, expect to be questioned on why. Study up on past shootings from both civilian and law enforcement. You need to have a well thought out and researched answer. Your choice of firearm doesn’t need to be arbitrary and ignorance is never a defense.

Patronen: 9mm LUGER; 7,62 TOKAREV ; .357 SIG; ...

Patronen: 9mm LUGER; 7,62 TOKAREV ; .357 SIG; 10mm AUTO; .40 S&W; .45 GAP; .50 AE; (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now let’s talk a little about the caliber of your chosen weapon.  If you decide on an oddball or large caliber it will definitely be called into question. In other words if you carry a 10mm Glock, .38 Super, 7.62 Tokarev, .50GI,  or 1911, people will ask why. Worse yet, if you carry a revolver in .44 Mag, expect to be called “Dirty Harry”. I personally like any of these choices for any type of carry. They are great stopping rounds that were developed to do just that, stop an aggressor. That is the goal in a life and death situation after all. Again, just be willing to explain why you carry said caliber. I personally carry a 9mm, and I do so for a couple reasons.  First, it is a very well-known caliber that doesn’t set off alarm bells if I have to use my gun. Second, it is a great round for stopping an opponent (modern ballistic testing has proven 9mm, .40S&W, .357 Sig, and .45ACP to be almost equal). This isn’t the movies, and people don’t fly off their feet in real life when they are shot. I read a recent article where a suspect was hit in almost every vital organ with .45ACP and continued to fight and he actually emptied multiple magazines of ammunition after being hit. There is no magical caliber, so don’t put yourself at risk legally under the assumption that your chosen oddball caliber will save your life over another effective round.  If you dare to be different, then be able to articulate your choice to do so and have good reasoning behind it.

Thirdly, the state of you gun will be called into question as well.  Do you carry a 1911 style gun that is cocked and locked? Do you carry with a round in the chamber and the safety off?  Does your gun even have an external safety? The correct way to carry any 1911 variant is with one in the chamber and the hammer back and thumb safety engaged.  The entire firearms training community advocates carrying your gun with a round in the chamber, and many modern firearms don’t even come equipped an external safety. It doesn’t matter how you carry or what you carry, you need to know why and you need to be able to explain why to a person that has never touched or seen a gun before in their entire life.  The media or ignorant will see you as gun happy and ready to kill because your 1911 was cocked and ready or because there was a round in the chamber. There is a huge divide between those that own guns and those that do not. If you aren’t educated then you have no chance to defend yourself in a legal manner. The way you carry your weapon should be backed by training and the person or business that trained you needs to be willing to testify on your behalf as an expert if needed.  This is one of the many reasons that training is so important. If you don’t receive professional training then you are leaning on your own opinions.  Your opinions will never stand up in a court room, because you are the accused!

When I say features of your weapon, I mean additions or custom work that has been done to your carry gun. I’m referring to optics, custom finishes, contouring or chopping of the grip, trigger guard indexing or anything else that makes you carry gun look like a professional race gun or something from Star Trek.  This even extends to the internal parts. If you’ve had trigger work done and now have a “hair trigger”, then you’ll have some difficult explaining to do. The external work just isn’t easily understood by non-gun types so, yet again have a reason and be able to explain why. You and I know that the holographic sight installed on your M&P helps you find your target and fire accurately, and that the work done to the grip makes the gun an extension of your arm, and so on and so forth. You have good reasons, but you need to find a happy medium that is easily explainable if needed.  Don’t go all Captain Kirk and hope people get it, they won’t.

Finally we should address training. Shooting in your backyard is NOT training. Get training, and I mean real training from a real instructor. The level of training in the concealed carry classes is laughable.  The basic training for most law enforcement and military is barely passable as training. If you are falling back on, “I can it a tin can 9 out of ten times” I hope you enjoy your cell block. The other thing that I touched on earlier is that a true firearms instructor can testify on your behalf and will have connections in the gun community that you don’t.

The bottom line is that carrying a gun is a huge responsibility. With every passing day you come closer to having to use that gun on your hip or in your purse. Don’t carry a gun blindly with no plan. Talk to an attorney, have a plan in case you do need to actually use that weapon you carry to protect yourself.  Lord willing you will never need to pull the trigger, but if you do your life will never be the same. Stack the odds in your favor so that you come out relatively unscathed after a critical incident.  You will be treated as a murder suspect, accept that. You may even spend some time in jail until you can be bailed out, you need to accept that too. You are going to be treated guilty until proven innocent, get over it! You are alive!!

Do your part to be responsible, know what you can and can’t do, and know what is just plain smart. I hope this made you think a bit and if you need to make changes then do so quickly. You may need to use that gun very soon. This world isn’t getting any better. As for now stay safe, train and have a good un’.

 

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