Posts Tagged ‘shooting.’

image

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield.

The process of finding a quality single stack 9mm concealed carry gun has been surprisingly difficult. But I think I’ve (again) come to a well thought out decision. Let’s recap.

After a couple weeks of research, and irritating my wife in endless conversations, I bought the Springfield XDs. Im still shocked at what a complete failure this gun was. Countless reviews said an equal amount of glowing things about the XDs, and to have it fail so miserably was nothing short of a surprise. Undeterred, I went back to the drawing board. There was one option remaining and that was the Glock 43. As a self disclosed Glock “fan boy” I knew I couldn’t make a complete decision until I had shot it. Fortunately, the public rental range had one in stock, so after dinner a few nights ago, Beth and I went to go try it out.

My impression was this: the Glock 43 is a fine pistol purpose built for the job of concealed carry. We only ran 50 rounds through it, but it never failed and I could shoot one ragged hole at seven yards. My complaints about the pistol are small, but I think important. First, magazine capacity. This has long been the reason I’ve avoided the G43. The six round magazine is just too limiting. Since my initial post, I’ve learned that there are aftermarket extended base plates available which would alleviate this issue, but I have some concerns about the reliability of those parts. Regardless, it’s a solution. Additionally, I noticed that because of its slim profile and light weight, I found the G43 to be snappy. This means that, to me, there was more felt recoil, making it less comfortable to shoot. I think this contests my requirement that my defensive carry gun should be shootable. Could I run it in a 3-400 round class? Sure, but would I love it? Meh, I’m not sure. Lastly, it’s simply more expensive. This isn’t as serious of an issue, but when you’re committing to buying a gun, upgraded sights, at least one extra magazine, and now base plates for those mags, the cost adds up quickly. It’s not a make or break part of the decision making process, just something to consider.

So why the Shield? The gun I shot had two stoppages in two magazines with of shooting, both of them stove pipes. I can’t explain why that happened, but it did. After those two malfunctions, the pistol ran just fine. There are two things I liked more about the Shield than the G43. First, I found the ergonomics of the pistol to be much more comfortable. As I have evolved as a shooter, smaller guns bother me less than they did a few years ago. Having circus freak small hands aids in this, as does a much better grip. The Shield is only 2 oz heavier than the Glock but that little bit of added weight and just slightly larger frame made the gun feel like a softer shooter. Less felt recoil = more shootability. And then there’s the magazine capacity. The Shield ships with a seven and eight round magazine which means no aftermarket parts to bring it up to a more acceptable level. Again, I’m sure those parts work fine, but for a defensive pistol, I’d rather not introduce any possible weakness into the system. The extra round capacity gives the Shield a slightly longer grip than the G43. That means I am able to get a nearly full grip on the gun, which I could not do with the Glock.

So what sucks about the Shield? The trigger. Holy crap that trigger. The free state version isn’t that awful, but I had the extreme misfortune of testing the Massachusetts compliant version. I didn’t have a trigger scale but having owned a Mass compliant M&P trigger in the past, I can tell you it was pulling upwards of ten pounds. That much weight in the trigger adversely affects accuracy, and that is a problem. Of course I wouldn’t buy that model, but it does mean that even the free state version is going to need the Apex trigger kit to get it under control. If I did nothing else, that would still put it ahead of the Glock. That, and I think an upgrade to Trijicon HD Night Sights would be a welcome improvement to its three dot sight picture.

So yeah, about that trigger. It’s not great. I found myself pushing rounds to the right with some degree of flinch. This is mostly me, but I think it’s im some part a result of the heavier trigger. I know, I know Smith says 6.5 pounds, but I don’t buy it. Unlike my short experience shooting the Glock 43, my groups at seven and ten yards were not great. However, after I started to get a feel for the trigger they did tighten up. I had to ask myself today, what is this gun for: bullseye shooting or self defense. These are two very different things. The stock trigger, paired with short sight radius is not going to afford you award winning accuracy over distance. This is just fact. However, inside ten yards in a defensive application, it will serve just fine. My groups at 15 and 20 yards weren’t what you would call spectacular either, but for the first time getting to know this small pistol and its stout trigger, I was relatively pleased.

Having now completed initial testing of the Shield I can draw some conclusions. This afternoons range practice involved 275 rounds of ammunition varying from the super cheap to super expensive. Here’s what I found. One hundred percent reliability. That’s great. Considering the epic failure that was the XDs I was more than happy to see this gun cycle everything I put through it. I say initial testing because I’m a firm believer of at least 500 rounds through a gun before putting it in a holster. So, while I wait on my holster to ship, I’ll get it out to the range a few more times to put it to work.

The only thing left to do is integrate the Shield into my everyday carry system. Updates to follow.

image

…when I was pretty convinced that Springfield Armory’s XDs 9mm was the sound choice for a single stack concealed carry firearm? As I recall I made a pretty solid case for it. It was like, last week. Memba dat? I know now that it was probably the codeine talking

Yeah, so weeks of research, reading endless reviews, forums, and advertisements, plus test firing the competition, and watching hours of user reviews led me to the gun shop this morning. I found the best price, and felt as confident as ever in my decision. I filled out the form, passed the background check (yeah, that’s right) and walked out with what I thought was going to be my new carry gun. Then, I got it to the range.

Nope.

What? How could that be possible? All the data pointed to this gun as the right choice, didn’t it? The answer: failures. In 150 rounds I had a about a dozen. I’m not talking about your run of the mill failure to feed or eject failures. These were different. I experienced at least six failures to return to battery. That means that after you pull the trigger to shoot and the gun cycles, it fails to return to the firing condition. And what that means is if you have to pull the trigger again to save your life right after that happens, you’re dead. This is a huge deal. Then, and this may be associated, I had an equal number of off center light primer strikes. Sounds bizarre right? That means the firing pin is not doing its job and the result is when you pull the trigger you hear a click and not a bang. I mean, sure, I know what to do when that happens, but if you’re putting a gun into the role of self defense it has to be reliable. It has to go bang every single time. Anything less is unacceptable.

So what now? I’m out $400ish and I’ve got a gun that is utterly unreliable. I don’t feel right selling it to someone who may rely on it for self defense so I will likely trade it in for something else. What, I don’t know.

I don’t fancy myself a gear reviewer. There are plenty of YouTube channels for that. However, I can not in good conscience recommend the Springfield XDs 9mm to anyone who takes their own personal security seriously. It means I’ll lose money on it, and that’s fine. I’ll sleep better at night.

image

Ive been giving a great deal of thought lately to changing my every day carry system. That’s right folks, it’s 2am and you know what that means: time buckle up for another EDC blog. I know you’ve probably read like, eleventy billion of them just this morning, but here it is. Prepare to be amazed.

So right, changes to my EDC load out. Like any good system it has evolved a bit over the years from its initial inception. In fact, as I go back and read my previous post about my EDC items it is apparent to me that nearly everything has changed except the clicky pen, my defensive firearm, and of course the mints. Part of the reason for keeping tabs on my system is to see how my thinking has changed from year to year. What worked for me in 2013 may be obsolete in 2015. Ah, evolution.

I believe in being flexible and accepting of new ideas when they present themselves. Additionally, as I’ve gotten older (maybe not wiser) I have learned to never say never. I mean, never is absolute, right? Why would we want to back ourselves into some ideological corner by refusing to change because, ‘reasons’? Mostly this equates to keeping an open mind. One piece of kit may work great, but as circumstances change there might be a logical reason to update the system. So where do we stand for 2015? Clicky pen and Sharpie, of course. What else?

Spyderco Tenacious – Black
5.11 TMTplx Penlight
Leatherman Juice S2 – Orange
Glock 19 plus extra magazine
Crossbreed Supertuck

The tools have changed considerably. I had no problems with my Kershaw Skyline folding knife, and the only reason it got replaced was simply because I thought I lost it. I was pretty bummed out about that by the way. I mean, seriously. I almost dedicated an entire blog to the crushing loss I felt and the ridiculous amount of research that went into choosing the Spyderco. Aren’t you glad I’m in therapy? Fortunately, in a fit of spring cleaning I found the Skyline again under a dresser and voila, extra knife FTW! The Spyderco is a fantastic blade, and while it is a little heavier, it’s not noticeable and I’ve been happy to have it along.

I tried hard to love the Preon 2. Primarily because it was stupidly expensive for what it did. The tailcap was finicky, and even though it had all these cool functions, I never actually used them. Then, at some point in its life, I made the mistake of dropping it and it never functioned properly again. I kept it for a while after that but whenever I’d talk about my kit and show it to the unsuspecting individual who made the unenviable mistake of engaging me in an EDC conversation, it wouldn’t work. Yeah, there’s nothing more awesome than sounding like you know what you’re talking about only to have your gear not work. So the Preon 2 was out on its ass. It wasn’t a total waste though. Because of the Preon 2 I discovered how well the penlight format works from a size and weight perspective. My search for finding a reasonable replacement was running pretty much in circles when, one afternoon in a gun shop, I came upon the TMTplx. Half the price of the Preon 2 and from 5.11, I figured it was worth a shot. I am pleased to report that it has been a reliable addition to the system and I think a great example of how you don’t have to spend absurd amounts of money for a quality EDC purposed light.

The Leatherman Juice S2. Oh, man. I’m a little embarrassed at how much I like this thing. So much so that when I left it at the range one evening, I got up extra early the next morning to make the 45 minute drive back to retrieve it before someone picked it up. The Juice has all the function of a full size Leatherman in a much smaller, more portable package. It rides in the coin pocket of my jeans, and I simply can’t tell you how many times it has saved the day. As a gift from my inlaws, it is one of my most cherished pieces.

And that brings us to firearms. You might want to sit down, this is gonna get stupid.

I have spoken, and written at great length about my Glock 19. It is hands down one of the finest, all purpose firearms ever made. Concealed carry, duty carry, home defense, competition, it can do, and excels at whatever mission you throw at it. I have put literally thousands upon thousands or rounds through it with 100 percent reliability. Why on earth would I ever consider changing it? First, I’ll be clear about this, I will never sell it. I made that mistake many years ago and regretted it. This one is here to stay. It might just find a new job. As much as I love this gun, I have been giving some thought lately to replacing it in my EDC load out. It started this summer when I purchased Sturm & Ruger’s new Lc9s for backpacking/motorcycle carry. The G19 is a little too big and heavy for those purposes and the new striker fired version of the Lc9s fit the bill pretty well. It’s a nice little gun for specific missions, but I don’t think up to the task of every day carry.

Choosing a concealed carry firearm is all about compromise. The G19 carries 15+1 rounds in a relatively compact platform, but to get that capacity you need a double stack magazine. What that equates to is the overall width of the gun. When you’re carrying IWB (inside the waistband) width can be a real issue. Carrying the Crossbreed Supertuck at the 7-8:00 position (because lefty) it’s not a huge issue if you’re willing to wear a slightly larger pair of pants to accommodate it. But, it you want to wear something that actually fits, you might run into problems. I know female shooters run into this issue quite a bit. Here’s the deal, you want your concealed carry system to be comfortable so you actually carry. Having the permit and the gun is useless if your carry system makes you feel like you’ve got a cinder block tucked in your pants. So that begs the question: what’s more important, having a gun with slightly fewer rounds you carry every day because it’s comfortable, or no gun at all because you can’t stand to put it on? Hold that thought.

My thoughts of changing EDC guns started with my thoughts of changing my carry position to the appendix, or centerline position after I picked up the Lc9s. From a tactical standpoint, appendix carry allows you more control of the gun in terms of retention, and equally important, makes it much easier to access from any position other than standing at the range. I’ve been experimenting with the G19 in this new position, and it works. It’s not super comfortable in fitting pants, but it works. There are, however, some other options that might fit this new carry position better. Remember we said width was the controlling measurement for IWB carry? So that means finding a gun with a single stack magazine. And what that really means, is giving up rounds for comfort. Compromise.

Like the last guy to show up to your party and not bring beer, this year Glock released the G43 single stack 9mm pistol after nearly every other manufacturer had one on the market. What makes less sense than not bringing beer to a party is that they did it with the smaller 6+1 magazine capacity. Yadda Yadda Yadda, I’m not really impressed. The Lc9s has a 7+1 capacity as does the 9mm offerings from Springfield’s XDs and Smith & Wesson’s Shield. So why, when choosing comfort over round capacity, would I choose a gun that’s even more limited than its competitors? Because Glock? No. I love my Glocks, but their addition to the single stack market has missed the mark for me. That pretty much leaves me with the Shield and XDs. I’ve shot the Shield and while it’s not a bad gun, I didn’t love it. I also had the opportunity to shoot the XDs .45. That gun, is ridiculous. Much like my S&W Pro 3″ 1911, it’s a beast to shoot and I struggled to make accurate follow up shots. All that for the placebo effect of having a .45? Not worth it. So that brings me to the XDs in 9mm.

I wrote once that a primary requirement for my carry gun is shootability. I have to want to shoot it, practice with it, and train with it. I have to be able to shoot it so much that I feel proficient with it, because if the day ever comes that I need it, I will be better prepared. A gun you hate shooting and only take to the range occasionally but carry every day is more a liability than insurance.

What about limited round capacity? No doubt, that is an important issue. 7+1 isn’t nearly as comforting as 15+1. What I think it means is now carrying an extra magazine is a requirement. I maintain that for the responsibly armed citizen carrying the spare mag is mostly about fixing malfunctions than it is about more rounds. However, if you’re running a single stack gun with limited capacity, you may find yourself in the position of actually needing those extra 7 rounds. So, carry a spare magazine and be able to perform reloads under stress. And what does that mean? Training. We all talk so much about the physical tools. What doesn’t get nearly as much attention is training and mindset. All the cool gadgets and fancy guns are useless if you don’t know how to use them. I have said it so any times, training is mandatory for those who choose to legally carry concealed firearms. Mandatory. It is expensive, but like the quality gear you spend money on, its worth it.

Lastly, in talking about mindset, I think we all can agree that situational awareness is something so many people lack in the world. I’m not suggesting living life as though you’re hoping the next mall shooter is going to kick down the door at the Yankee Candle while you’re picking out your fall scents. I submit that we as people living amongst other people should simply be aware of our surroundings and enter into those environments with proper tools and mindset. There are a few exercises I do that help keep me engaged in my environment. For example, I watch the people around me; look for avenues of escape when I walk in a room or store; I read license plates as cars go by and try to pick out the description of the driver, and never ever walk with my eyes down in my smartphone. These are just a few things that keep my mind working. Most of the time life is pleasantly mundane, but keeping up your head up and eyes out just may help you pick out that person in the room that isn’t quite right. This isn’t black ops, secret squirrel, ninja stuff, just a few things I try to do to stay plugged into the world around me. No, I’m not perfect at this, and I don’t always do it right, but I make an effort to stay engaged.

I understand that this may seem long winded and perhaps a bit repetitive, but my goal here is to show the thought process that goes into choosing tools that may save your life, or simply help jumpstart your mom’s Prius in a snowy parking lot. The kit you take with you out into the world doesn’t have to be a combat load out, but a few well thought out tools that do their jobs when you need them too. As for my choice of firearms, I remain on the fence pending future testing. There is much to consider.

And so ends the EDC update for the near end of 2015. If you’re still here, I’ve got a great therapist I can recommend.

image

I stumbled on this quote a couple years ago while reading a book about GySgt. Carlos Hathcock. The Gunnery Sergeant served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, and in the course of his multiple tours of duty, became one of the most lethal snipers in military history. If you’re into shooting, it’s a good read.

Anyway, the quote is actually by Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbltes, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

It’s obviously a pretty famous quote, and simple Google search will show that it’s pretty much all over the interwebs. I’ve been trying to work it into the blog for a while, and just now it occurred to me to let it stand on its own. Maybe, just one person reading this little blog of mine hasn’t seen it before and will find some value in it, as I did.

Enjoy.

Rifle Evolution

Posted: July 30, 2014 in Shooting
Tags: , , ,

This is how my rifle started its life, a standard, no frills DPMS AP4 Carbine. Nothing really interesting to see here, right? I agree. It wasn’t super flashy, but it was my first real rifle, and I was pretty happy with it.

image

Like all things in life, the evolution of my rifle was inevitable. After doing a fair amount of research on the AR platform, I decided it was time to start making some changes. The transformation began the following spring when I installed a 7″ Troy drop in quad rail and this absurdly large fore grip by Tango Down.

image

I thought that looked pretty cool, and the only thing missing was a red dot sight to replace the carry handle. I ordered a Primary Arms Multi Reticle sight as I was trying to keep to a budget and I had heard good things. (I’m happy to report that I still have nothing bad to say about the Primary arms optics. I’ve run them pretty hard and they have always held zero and I have found the battery life to be more than adequate.)

Ok, I’ve got a quad rail, this giant fore grip and an optic. Tacticool FTMFW! But it still needed something. Obviously it was time to class it up by adding some magpul accessories. You can’t be tacticool without some magpul gear. Enter the MOE stock and grip and XTM rail covers.

image

Yeah ok, that got a little out of hand. I ended up removing the top rail covers for a Blackhawk low profile rail cover. I threw the AFG on for good measure and I thought I was good to go.

Then I discovered ambi parts for standard right hand rifles.. What the…? Parts that will make running my rifle so much easier for the left handed masses?? Sign me up. And so more parts got swapped out for the Magpul ASAP sling plate, Troy ambi mag release Rock River Ambi Safety and the ArmaDynamics ambi charging handle made their way into the picture. And let me tell you, that shit was expensive. It ain’t easy being a left handed man in a right handed mans world. Adapt and overcome.. Check.

Finally, a Geissele SSA-E trigger group completed the mods, (Worth. Every. Penny.) and I was done. Really… I swear.

image

Why shouldn’t I be done? I had a decent rig. It was reliable, accurate and a blast to shoot. But, I have problems (admitting it is the first step). Like most gear nerds, I continued to look for the next best thing to customize my carbine. I mean, there just HAD to me something else I could do. In admitting that I really only used the dot in my multi reticle sight, I decided to lose the weight and go to the Primary Arms MD07 Micro Dot. I didn’t really love the AFG, so that came off and I put a short Magpul fore grip on instead. So far things were looking up.

Then, I made the mistake of taking a three day tactical carbine course. The training was outstanding, and it was great to check out and shoot other rifles with all manner of different options. The bad news was that I knew it was time to start working on it again. (Hi, my name is Matt, and I have a gear addiction) By the end of the week I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted my rifle to look like.

Cosmetics are optional, but malfunctions make you have to change things, right? After several out of character failures to extract, it became obvious that after nearly ten thousand rounds, my extractor spring had finally failed. Not really the best timing ever, but thanks to the kindness of one of the guys in class, a borrowed extractor kept me running. Then the gas rings went. Well, one of them any way. I mean, it actually disappeared. Can an AR15 run on two gas rings? Sure, but you know, not that well. Add that to the list.

Then the cosmetics. Standby AMEX, this is gonna hurt. Let me start by saying that I never liked the A2 Front Sight Base. After five good years I decided it was time to part ways and go with a free float VTAC Alpha Rail. So I did what anyone else would have done, I got some punches and tried like hell to get the pins out… They didn’t budge. Not even a little. And for my troubles, I managed to mangle them to a point where I was pretty sure they were going to come out it at all. Hmm. Ok, I have an idea. So I bought this:

image

Oh yeah, this is gonna be just fine.

image

Nope… Not actually. Looks like I’m gonna need a new barrel.

Son of a… I wasn’t counting on that. Of course the bright side here is that a new barrel would mean a new mid length gas system and low profile gas block. Enter the BCM 16″ 1/7 twist barrel and his buddies the gas tube and gas block. Huzzah.

image

Finally, I replaced the buffer tube and castle nut as they got pretty banged up when I initially installed the sling plate. Strictly a cosmetic fix, but it always bothered me.

image

As of summer 2014 here it is in it’s “final” configuration:

image

The stats:

BCM 16″ Barrel Mid Length
BCM Mid Length Gas Tube
BCM Low Profile Gas Block
BCM Extractor Spring Kit
13″ VTAC Alpha Rail
Magpul MOE Stock
Magpul MOE Grip
Magpul Ambi Sling Plate
Magpul Trigger Guard
Magpul Short Fore Grip
Magpul MBUS Sights
Magpul RSA
A2 Flash hider
Rock River Arms Star Ambi Safety
Troy Ambi Mag Release
Armadynamics ACLM Charging Handle
Geissele SSA-E Combat Trigger
Primary Arms MD07 Optic
DPMS Buffer tube – replaced damaged tube
Castle nut- replaced damaged nut

Needless to say, there isn’t much left of my original AP4. The receivers are still the same, as is the bolt carrier group, pretty much everything else has been changed. Aside from some wear on the lower from plenty of use, it’s pretty much a new rifle. I can’t wait to get it to the range and see how it runs.

Semper Paratus

Posted: June 8, 2013 in Life
Tags: , , ,

image

Be Prepared. Is that the boyscout motto? Also, I vaguely remember something about courteous, brave, clean and reverent?

One down, four to go.

Recently, I’ve become mildly obsessed with preparedness. My wife, who I like to believe passively enables me, would probably tell you it’s not so mild. I got back into camping and backpacking a few years ago and since then, I’ve given more and more though to how prepared I am to be out in the world. I’m not talking about doomsday prepping, we can all recognize that as televised ass-clownery (although, I sorta get it). I’m talking about every day, living out your life preparedness. It’s a multi faceted topic that I’ve been mulling over for some time.

Where to start? Lets talk about what I carry with me every day.

Oh wait, this is an EDC blog? Dude, that’s so been done.

Yeah, ok. I get that writing about every day carry items isnt exactly new territory. But it occurs to me that since nearly everything I carry on a day to day basis has at one time or another saved the day, I think it makes it a topic worth discussing. But first, lets talk about my philosophy of every day carry.

I like to think of it as having options. Having options equates to having capabilites to handle unexpected situations. Sure, that means when I hike with my buddy Im humping two to three pounds more than him, but when he says, “I hope the answer is no, but, dude do you have…?” My response is, “Yeah man, I’ve got that covered.” This holds true in my everyday life just as much as it does in the back country. Need a pen? Covered. Your friends daughter has splinter and need some tweezers? Covered. Late night leaving work and dropped your keys in the dark and can’t find them? Covered. Got kitten breath? Yeah, I’ve got that covered too.

So with that in mind, here it is. Some of this stuff is obvious and by definition, not worth mentioning, but in the interest of being complete, ill include everything.

First and most obvious: wallet, cell phone and mints. I remember the days of pulling over to a pay phone to make a call, but screw that, it’s the 21st century. iPhone ftw!… Or droid, or Captain Kirk flip phone or whatever. Also, everyone hates the close talker with rampant halitosis. Don’t be that guy dude. I never leave the house without Ice Breakers. The rest of it looks like this:

– Kershaw Skyline folding knife
– 4sevens Preon 2 Flashlight
– Victorinox Spartan Swiss Army Knife
– Pilot G2 Pen and Black Sharpie
– Glock 19 occasionally with a spare magazine

I’ll start by saying that I have had occasion to use everything on this list, with one notably fortunate exception. In list form it doesn’t seem like much, but each item took a fair amount of research and integration into my EDC system.

First off, you might notice a bit of redundancy here. Keshaw Skyline and the Victorinox Spartan. Two knives? It may seem unnecessary, but I look at the Spartan as a multi functional backup. Because what’s the rule?

There is always a back up for the primary.

The Skyline is the primary knife in my system. Which is to say that its blade that I go to for pretty much everything you would want an EDC blade for: anything and everything that needs to be cut open. I dont think I would classify it as a self defense knife, but if it was all you had, it’s an option. The assisted opening makes its fast and easy to deploy, it is super light weighing in at just 2.4 oz and comes razor sharp out of the box. The Skyline holds its edge well, but like any knife, will need to be cared for with heavy use. Get a sharpener, and learn how to use it.

The Spartan has a few features that your basic EDC blade is missing. Having two extra blades is nice but I find the most value is added with the other features of this knife. Corkscrew, awl, can/bottle opener, screw driver heads, tweezers and toothpick are excellent tools to have available in this small package and have all come in handy at one time or another.

The other big winner in my EDC package is the 4sevens Preon 2. This is a surprisingly powerful little flashlight that not only provides 160 lumens, but several other modes that can be used for different scenarios. By clicking twice through the brightness settings, you access the strobe modes. This includes an SOS mode, high/low beacon strobe, and a high rate flashing strobe. As penlights go, it’s not exactly cheap, but considering how often this little guy has saved the day, I wouldn’t think twice about advising someone to pick one up. You don’t really realize how often a flashlight comes in handy until you’re in the dark, and need one.

The last noteworthy items on the list are the Glock 19 and spare magazine. I discuss in another post my philosophy behind carrying a gun for self defense, and also how I arrived at the Glock 19 and Crossbreed Supertuck as my primary concealed carry option. While I won’t go through those details again, I will reiterate that if you’re looking for a gun for personal protection, try as many as you can get your hands on, and then make an informed decision. This will save you untold amounts of time, money and effort.

In regards to the spare mag, I admit that I haven’t committed to this yet. Mostly, I just carry the gun and the standard capacity 15 round magazine in it. What some people may not understand is that the spare magazine isn’t really about needing 30 rounds in a self defense gun fight scenario (although it never hurts to have more ammo), its actually about malfunctions. The magazine is the weak point in the gun and as a result a lot malfunctions that occur can be magazine related. The point of having an extra magazine in a pocket or mag carrier is that if you have a failure with your gun, in diagnosing the problem, you can remove the perceived faulty magazine, replace it with the spare, and get your gun back into the fight. If I followed my own rule of backing up my primary, I should have a spare magazine. It’s something I need to work on integrating into the system.

At the end of all this, the message is simple: like the boyscouts we once were, be prepared. Give yourself options and the capability to handle the unforeseen issues of every day life. Not just for yourself, but for your friends and family.

Especially the guy who needs a mint.

Amat Victoria Curam

Posted: June 2, 2013 in Life, Shooting
Tags: , ,

image

I carry a gun. Everyday.

(As local laws, restrictions, and my travel schedule allows.)

I mentioned this briefly in a previous post. On a daily basis, I carry a loaded and concealed firearm for the purposes of self defense. I know what you’re thinking, what would prompt me, a relative nobody, to feel the need to carry a firearm for personal protection? Have I become paranoid? Am I just rebelling from a liberal upbringing? Mall ninja in 5.11 gear? Or have I opened my eyes to the world I live in. A dangerous place where real evil exists, and can rear its ugly head at a time and place we least expect. Therefore, it stands to reason that it’s better to be prepared for such an event, however unlikely, rather than become a victim because “it’ll never happen to me.”

This is not a popular topic. I understand that. But it’s something worth talking about. In the recent push for gun control, gun and ammunitions sales have surged to record levels. Whats the most common reason people give for becoming new gun owners? Personal protection. Hmmm.. Maybe there’s something to that. And maybe, just maybe, its not just me.

Now, there are those that will tell you that they don’t want private citizens to be armed. They don’t want people “playing hero in the street” because there are police and there are courts of law. The police are there to protect you. If someone is breaking into your house, just call and they’ll be there. They’ll be there right? Sure, in whatever time it take them to respond, which guaranteed, is longer than its going to take for an intruder, or attacker to severely impact your safety. A recent example is the unfortunate case of a young woman in Washington state, whose ex boyfriend was breaking into her house to attack her. Naturally she called 911, but was told that there were no police that could come to her assistance. She was on her own… And was later taken to an area hospital to be treated for her injuries.

It’s not paranoia, it’s being prepared.

We are on our own. Its an uncomfortable thing to hear. I’m not being down on law enforcement. The fact is that police officers simply can’t be everywhere we are all the time. The police will come pick up the pieces, apprehend and prosecute the offender(s), but in that moment of violence, the only person responsible for your safety is you.

“You’re crazy dude, its never going to happen.” Ok, I will concede that it is unlikely. At the same time I will also point out that it is unlikely for an airplane to have a dual catastrophic engine failure in flight. Unlikely, sure, but not impossible. So we make sure our pilots know exactly what to do if that unlikely scenario presents itself. If that makes sense, then applying the same logic, one could argue that while it is unlikely for your home be invaded or for you to be mugged walking to your car at night after work, it might happen. And if it might be possible, we should have a plan for responding to such an event.

We don’t want to believe it. We as human beings have a difficult time coping with the reality of someone trying to hurt us. Referred to as the Universal Human Phobia (ref. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman: On Combat), it is incredibly difficult for us to accept the concept of another human being actively trying to do us harm. Difficult though it may be, we need to recognize the reality that it can happen. Crime has no borders. Crack heads needing money to score don’t know there are nicer houses than yours to rob. They see an open window or door at night, and see an opportunity.

I’m not a doomsday prepper. I’m not waiting for some fictional zombie apocalypse or EMP/invasion from a hostile foreign (or domestic) government. That’s something best left for the discovery channel. However, I have chosen to be aware of the danger in our society and have equipped myself with the tools and training necessary to protect myself, and more importantly, my family. Whether they share my beliefs or not.

When people ask, I say this: If I go my entire gun carrying life and never have to deploy my gun in a defensive situation, I will consider that a great success. I believe that to my core. I’m not waiting for it to happen, and I certainly don’t want it to happen, but I’d like to think in that worst case scenario, I’d have a better chance of survival than the guy that’s unarmed waiting for the police to respond.

The last line of defense is you. Plan accordingly.

Shooter Ready

Posted: May 31, 2013 in Shooting
Tags: , ,

image

Unlike a lot of people I meet at the range, I don’t come from a family that embraced gun ownership as a way of life… Or as something even remotely acceptable. My parents, bless their misguided souls, raised me to be a pascifist. Turn the other cheek, talk your way out of problems, don’t start fights etc. To be fair, I credit that upbringing to my ability as a teenage male, to avoid, and escape many potential fist fights in school. Not an easy task. Although, all these years later, I think I probably could have used a good ass kicking.

At any rate, part of that upbringing involved the “guns are bad and only police should have them,” philosophy that persists in my family to this very day. So how did it start? I never shot a gun as a child, I wasn’t raised in the hunting/sporting tradition that much of the firearm supporting country embraces. So how did I become a gun owner? And how did that gun ownership lead me to become an instructor and supporter of Second Amendment rights in this recent fevered push for gun control? I blame Roger Fitzgerald. (Name changed to protect the innocent)

Roger was a buddy I knew college, who for a period of time crashed on my couch. He was a gun owner and if memory serves had a Springfield 1911. While I doubt he would remember, it was Roger that took me to the shooting range in Van Nuys for the first time and showed me how to shoot… Or more to the point, how to go to the range and not shoot myself. Needless to say, I was hooked. Not long after, to my parents dismay, I bought my first gun: a Glock 19. I’d go to the range with my friends when we had time and turned our hard earned money into noise and small holes in paper. Life was good….

Until my car got broken into. I was broke, and realized that if I was going to fix my busted ride, I was going to have to sell my Glock. Drag. So, I sold it to a friend of mine for half of what I paid for it, and fixed my car. Before I moved out of California to start my aviation career, I offered to buy it back from him for more than he paid, but he wanted to keep it. He still has it 15 years later. I’m still a little pissed.

Over the next decade, I would shoot here and there, but because of my transient life, I never settled long enough to get back into shooting as a hobby. About ten years ago I met my wife, and settled back in New England. Not exactly a firearms Mecca, but she was (and still is) pretty awesome, so we set our roots and here we are. Once we settled on a town, I decided that I wanted to explore the licensing process in Massachusetts (no small task), and again become a gun owner. So I did some research, emailed a lot of very kind strangers who offered good advice, and went through the process of getting the License to Carry (LTC-A).

Carry a gun? Who ever needs to carry a gun? There are police to protect you. You don’t need one of those things. More on this later.

I was approved for the unrestricted license and could now legally carry a firearm loaded and concealed on a public way. Awesome. But, there was a small problem. I had no idea what I was doing. Sure, gun goes in holster, holster goes on belt, and all that, but I had never really received any formal training never mind instruction on what kind of gun to carry, caliber choices, what kind holster, how to conceal etc. So I did what a lot of people do. I bought the 1911 I always wanted (Smith & Wesson variety.. thanks Roger) for the range, and a Walther PPK for concealed carry (CCW). If it worked for 007, it’ll work for me.

No so much.

Its important to note that the gun you choose to carry is a very personal choice. Your buddy’s free advice is worth exactly what you paid for it, and you need to try out a lot of guns before you make a decision. Its kinda like dating. Only you get slapped a little less…

With that in mind, finding the right gun to carry involved a great deal of experimentation. While its good to find out what you like, its as important to find out what you don’t. So I eventually arrived at the conclusion that I hate… HATE… tiny guns. Sub-sub compact for “deep concealment.” It’s all nonsense. With the appropriate equipment, you can conceal a full size handgun just as easy as a small one. There’s no need to carry “The Noisy Cricket” just because it’ll fit in your pocket. This learning process started with the PPK, later a Ruger LCP and finally a Sub Compact 1911. All are fine guns and are great for CCW, but they just weren’t for me. My philosophy on choosing a carry gun goes a little like this: If you are going to carry a gun, you have to practice with it, which means you have to shoot it. If you have a gun that you hate to shoot because of recoil, or feel, or whatever, how proficient are you going to be if, god forbid, you ever had to use it. Not very. After much trial and error, I settled on the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm compact. After a much needed trigger job, it was a fantastic gun. Accurate, easy to carry, and reliable. I still had a crappy holster, but the gun was great.

When we finally moved north into New Hampshire, less ridiculous gun laws allowed me to become reacquainted with Glock. I started shooting International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) matches, and picked up a Gen 3 Glock 34. What a fantastic gun. As I shot more competitions, it occurred to me that it would make sense to have a carry gun that had the same feel and features as my competition gun, so I sold the M&P. Re-enter the Glock 19.

Oh, hello.

I stopped buying handguns after I picked up my second G19. Now, people will say that for CCW you need the sub compact G26 because of its smaller grip and ease of concealment. With my limited experience at the time, I decided that the slightly larger gun was worth three extra rounds, a consistent grip and a longer sight radius. Now that I found the right gun, I needed better equipment.

By way of confession, I have to admit that I love 5.11. I know, as a civilian, it makes me a tacti-nerd (I just made that up) But it’s true. Tactical pants, polos, boots, gloves, whatever, they make great gear. I tried one of their leather belts and while it was a solid platform I couldn’t get the fit right, so I went to a reinforced nylon belt. It’s sturdy, carries the weight well and it’s perfect for dialing in the fit. Not the best looking thing ever, but its concealed. Function over form ftw.

In my search for the right holster, I tried several makes and models, and in that process, accumulating a pile of holsters, I discovered that I preferred kydex (plastic)over leather. Leather holsters are slow, require break in, and I found the draw stroke to be less consistent than kydex. The next obvious step was to try out some belt mounted kydex holsters. while a decent improvement, I found they didn’t conceal as well as I would have liked. So the search went on. Finally, my research led me to Crossbreed Holsters. An inside the waistband holster, the Crossbreed Supertuck is a leather platform with a kydex holster. Genius. It is, hands down, the most comfortable holster I have ever carried, and conceals my Glock 19 exceptionally well.

Ok, so, ive got a decent gun, holster, belt, and fancy tactical gear…. Whats missing? Oh that’s right, training. Lots of training. Basic Practical handgun, intro to/and defensive handgun courses, carbine courses, a basic pistol instructor certification, and combat focus shooting/advanced pistol handling. Thousands of rounds down range, rain, cold, hot weather, shredded hands, stone dust EVERYWHERE…. That kind of training. The truth is this, as responsible gun owners, we have an obligation to train. Thats right, I said it. An obligation. We have to learn safe gun handling, learn how to efficiently present and recover the gun to and from the holster, become proficient at clearing malfunctions, and equally important, understand what it means to carry a gun. There are endless sources of information on this topic. No doubt, firearm training is expensive, but well worth the cost in tuition and ammunition. In my evolution from a novice to shooter to instructor, I’ve learned that money spent on training is money very well spent.

Its been a long road since the days at the Van Nuys shooting range in the late 90’s. When I talk to people just getting introduced to shooting I always say that like anything in life, we are never done learning. Every time I take a course I learn something I didn’t know before. While some techniques may differ from class to class, the message is always the same: be smart, be safe, and never stop training. We owe it to ourselves, our families and our community.