The Vacuum Speaks For Itself

The Vacuum Speaks For Itself

Greg’s not wrong… there are a lot of flaws in this article, one of the very first things that I wrote for Shooting Illustrated.

But.

It’s also the #1 article in the history of Shooting Illustrated, and by a ridiculous amount (as in 10x the traffic of anything else they’ve posted, ever), because at the time, it was one of the first articles out there to say that maybe, just maybe, a .38 with pink grips isn’t the best gun for a women. That article flew around social media, and I honestly can’t tell you how many women commented with “Thank you! I’ve been waiting for years for someone to write an article like this!”

Now, was my methodology off and were those gun choices very flawed? Yeah, probably. I was new to the gun writing game, and those guns were the guns I had access to at the time. If I were to do it again, I’d add in some caveats about the carry gun, and toss in a G19 or the like.

However, five years after it was published, there STILL isn’t another article out there which covers women choosing their own guns, but yet I can find hundreds of articles on the best way to transition from your AR to a pistol.

Seems to me we have our priorities mixed up a bit…

Advance And Be Recognized

Advance And Be Recognized

Alright, so we know what a basic level of combat pistol marksmanship looks like, so what makes an advanced shooter?

  1. Someone who competes on a regular basis
  2. Someone who qualifies as Expert on the Marine Corps Combat Pistol test
  3. Someone who can shoot the FBI Pistol Qual at the Instructor Level
  4. Someone who can pass the Federal Air Marshal Test
  5. Someone who can hit a headshot on a USPSA target 25 yards away, from concealment, in three seconds or less
  6. Someone with at least 100 hours of classes from a variety of instructors

Now, to be fair, I can and have shot all of those drills at those levels, but to be honest, I don’t really consider myself to be an advanced pistol shooter. While it’s true that I’m rapidly approaching the point of diminishing returns, I still have two hills to climb.

  1. I want to be USPSA B Class in Production
  2. And for some reason, the NRA Instructor Qual is kicking my @$$ right now, and I am less than happy with that. 20 shots into a 5″ circle at 15 yards isn’t THAT hard, but for some reason, I just can’t do it right now.

Am I an advanced shooter? Yeah, kinda, I guess. Am I satisfied with my shooting ability right now? Heck no.

 

 

By Whose Standards?

By Whose Standards?

This photo of a target was posted in firearms-related Facebook group I belong to, and the person who posted it claimed he “knew how to shoot.”

Uh-huh.

Look, we can say we “know how to shoot,” but at some point, we are going to have to back up those words with our actions. Ideally, we should demonstrate our ability to shoot on a range, in a safe, controlled environment before the need arises to defend our lives with our defensive firearm of choice. In other words, we fail on the range so we don’t fail when our lives are on the line.

So when it comes to pistols, how do I personally define someone who “knows how to shoot”?

  1. I never have to remind them about safety
  2. Their carry gear is up to the task: No nylon waist holsters, small of the back carry or similar stupidity
  3. Their carry gun is of decent quality and is loaded with good, name-brand defensive ammunition, with one in the chamber and appropriate safeties engaged.
  4. They have taken a firearms class after their concealed carry course from an instructor who has more than just NRA credentials
  5. They can shoot a 5×5 drill
  6. They can shoot an El Presidente in 16 seconds or less

That’s the baseline for someone who I would consider to someone who knows how to shoot. That first item, knowing and practicing the rules of gun safety is THE most important one. Statistically, the person you are most likely to shoot is your own sorry self, and rock-solid safety habits can take care of a lot of that worry. You can achieve some of items two and three with some money, research and practice at home, but items four through six are only achievable if you step outside your comfort zone, realize that no, you are not a good shot, and make a conscious effort to change.

Everybody wants to lose weight. Not everybody stops eating candy. Everybody wants to be a good shot, but not everyone wants to accept the fact that they really aren’t.

No Brakes.

No Brakes.

One more post on reacting to the calls to ratchet up the violence against conservatives in general and Republicans in specific. Listen for a minute to Jordan Peterson talk about cultural tripwires.

On the right, I think we’ve identified markers for people who’ve gone too far in their ideology, and it looks to me that on the right, the marker we’ve identified is racial superiority… Here’s the issue: We know that things can go too far on the right, and we know that things can go too far on the left. We know what the markers are for going too far on the right, but we don’t know where the markers are for going too far on the left.

We can have a debate on the validity of Dr. Peterson’s work as a whole a later date, but he is spot-on here.

Now, pick up what he just talked about, that the progressive left has no concept of knowing when things have gone too far, and put it down on top of the current progressive urge for violence. I know when I’ve gone too far, when I’ve let my emotions have the wheel, and I do my absolute level best to eliminate those moments from my life, because I know the consequences can be quite literally mortal.

We in the applied violence community understand the need for restraint when it comes to violence and to use it only in “The Gravest Extreme.” This is because we realize that there is huge potential for negative outcomes if violence is used to settle a dispute, and we want to avoid that potential at pretty much all costs.

That concept does not exist right now in the AntiFa movement. To them, the only possible negative outcome is that they will fail, and their idea of what fascism is like will take root in the U.S. Everything else, every courtesy of polite society and restraint against violence must be cast aside in order to prevent that outcome from happening.

The idea that you can be too violent is totally alien to progressives, because if you are literally fighting Hitler and his fascists, why would you want to fight such a horror with anything less than ever fiber of your being? This is fascism we’re fighting, they say, of course it’s a fight to the finish, and we’ll use every means at our disposal to win.

Plan accordingly.

Colt 2000 .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge – Rounds 1796 – 2005

Colt 2000 .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge – Rounds 1796 – 2005

Okay, first the bad news: The Colt Competition that I’m torture-testing really crapped the bed on this outing, with four Failures To Feed with Federal 230 grain JHPs in the first 100 rounds.

But a thought hit me: I’ve not cleaned the magazines on this gun in over a  thousand rounds, and we all know that the magazines are a big choke point with the 1911 platform, and a dirty magazine might just have something to do with a gun failing to feed. To test out this theory, I shot the gun for the next 50 rounds using the mags that shipped with the gun, mags that I’ve used only for Barney-ing up the gun before a stage, and it went the next 125 rounds without a hitch.

Colt Competition 1911

Now that the test is over, it’s time to refurbish this gun and tune it to my specifications, so I’ll be sending it up to KGB Customs to have some work done on it. First up will be new springs pretty much everywhere and I’ll also be checkering on the front strap to give me a better grip. I have a literal boxful of 1911 parts from STI and other manufacturers like hammers and triggers and other parts which I’ve won off of shooting match tables that I’ll send up with the gun as well, just in case they’re needed. Sights-wise, I’m actually quite happy with the Novaks on the gun, so those won’t change, and the grips are also quite good, but I’ll probably add a magwell for faster reloads.

Overall, I’m very happy with the 1911 as a platform and this gun in particular. To be honest, if it weren’t for the word “Competition” in its name and the legal hassles that would come along with that name inside of a courtroom, I’d be 100% confident in using it as a daily carry gun. There are those who say that day of the 1911 has passed. I’m not one of them: I think the 1911 has more than a few years left in it, and I’m looking forward to shooting this gun for years to come.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:
200 Rounds American Eagle 230 Grain FMJ
20 Rounds Hornady 200 Grain XTP JHP

Results:

2005 Rounds Fired
One Double Feed, Round #1347 (Remington UMC)
One Failure To Feed, Round #1568 (MagTech Defender)
One Failure To Feed, Round #1574 (MagTech Defender)
Three Failures To Feed, Rounds #1820, #1863, #1894 (American Eagle FMJ)

It’s Not Me, It’s You.

It’s Not Me, It’s You.

I had a pastor who once said that if you’re being a jerk while talking about God, you’re not being persecuted or treated like a martyr for your faith, you’re being treated that way because you’re acting like a jerk. It’s not your message that is setting things off, it’s how you’re saying it.

So when do we say when, and stand our (moral) ground in this culture war with the NeoJacobins?

  1. When You Are 100% Certain You Didn’t Start Things
    You and your mates carrying on at normal conversational levels for the environment you’re in is one thing. Talking about guns while dropping F-Bombs in the presence of children and drowning out the conversations around you is something else. I don’t care if you’re talking about a subject I really like; if you’re doing it while being a jerk,  you deserve everything you’re about to get.
  2. When It’s About Something Bigger Than You
    If the argument starts with SJW’s getting in your face because what you are saying, it’s about something more than you. If it starts because of how you’re saying it, it’s about you. In that case, it’s yes on one, and no on two.
  3. When You Have Other Options 
    Do you how to block a punch? Know how to wrassle someone to the ground without much fuss and bother? Do you carry pepper spray, a powerful flashlight or something other less-lethal device? No? Change your ways, and quickly. Going to guns when words are the weapon of choice will result in nothing but bad consequences for you. Take Managing Unknown Contacts or a similar training class. Learn how to defuse a situation with words, not with weapons, and yes, if things look to get dicey and lethal force is looming on the horizon, beat feet to someplace safer.

Most of all, be wise as to when and where you make your stand. Being a martyr might be inspirational to others, but it pretty much closes off all your options for the here and now.

Be careful out there.

The Drill That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The Drill That Dare Not Speak Its Name

There are very few drills that incite more conversation than the tried and true El Presidente drill.

The drill itself is deceptively easy:

  • Set up three USPSA targets 10 yards away, with about one yard in between them
  • Load your pistol with 6 rounds, and have a reload with 6 rounds standing by
  • Turn so your back is facing the targets and wait for the beep of the timer
  • Turn and draw your gun, and shoot each target twice, which will empty your gun
  • Reload, and shoot each target twice more
  • Only hits in the vital area (either the center-chest area or, if you’re good, the head box) count for score

Seems simple, right? The problem is, most of the early classification drills for USPSA use something similar, so the El Presidente is forever tied to the “gaming” scene, and its detractors say it’s nothing but a one-way ticket to training scars that will teach you to shoot just two rounds into a target and move along.

But what does this drill actually teach?

  1. Quick target acquisition. Standing with your back to the targets means you have to seek out your first shot as you turn, and then do it again after your reload.
  2. Quick target transitions. Two shots and the moving on forces you to learn to see the target with your eyes first, then bring the gun to bear. Think this applies to hitting a moving target? I do.
  3. Gun manipulation. While I don’t see the value in learning a fast reload to the average person who carries concealed, the fact is, the motions needed to reload your gun quickly are pretty much identical to the motions needed to clear most, if not all, the various malfunctions you might have with your gun.

Sounds pretty handy to me.

The biggest drawback I see with the drill is that it requires a pistol bay and three target stands to shoot, something not every shooter is going to have lying around. Is the El Prez the be-all, end-all of drills? Heck no. Is it an outdated relic that is of little use to today’s pistol owners? Also no.

Bon Voyage.

Bon Voyage.

On a recent Safety Solutions podcast, Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, said that firearms training is not an event, it’s a journey.

He’s right.

But it’s getting people to go on that journey that’s the hard part, because unless they are absolutely forced to so, people don’t like to go on journeys that are not fun. My family and I will gladly travel up to Orlando for two hours in order to go to a theme park, but we are not willing to travel two hours to go eat broccoli.

And I like broccoli.

Also, first impressions matter. I have friends who are seriously into shooting practical pistol competitions, but their first foray into self-defense training was way too “tacticool” and serious for their comfort zone, and they’ve shied away from that area ever since, even though they are great shots and carry a gun on a regular basis.

Making sure the first steps are fun is the key to lifelong learning. Ever watch a preschool teacher? How much of what he/she is teaching involves actual teaching, and how much of what they do is getting their students excited about learning?

That’s why events like Shoot N Scoots are so important. By emphasizing the fun of practical shooting and how you can be safe with a gun on your hip, students think that training and competitions are just as fun as going to the local range and shooting with your friends.

And, of course, it is. We just forget about it from time to time.

However, if the first steps in the journey are difficult and confusing, the student is going to think that the rest of the journey is as horrid. As a result, they’ll put “get more gun training” in the same bucket as “work out more often” and “eat less sugar”… things that we know we SHOULD do, but just don’t see any reason to do so right now.

Want a lifestyle of concealed carry? Make people EAGER to join your classes. Make them not only see a need for training, but also make them feel good about choosing to train with you.

How Does This Gun Make You Feel?

How Does This Gun Make You Feel?

Getting people to live their lives armed means teaching them about an armed lifestyle. Moreover than than that, the lifestyle that we’re teaching has to Be FUN. Yes, we can (and do) encourage people to eat better and exercise by using dire warnings about heart disease and obesity, but the those appeals come down to the simple fact that you will lead a better life if you do such things. Yes, the journey involves a lot of work, but it’s sold as a destination, and that destination is a healthier, happier, life. In other words, eat your broccoli and work out, so you can go to the beach and not look like a beached whale in bathing suit when you do so.

Look at how other lifestyle products are marketed: When’s the last time you saw a TV ad for a family car which rattled off a list of features? TV ads for family cars are all about how people use them and how your family life will be once you buy that car. Beer marketing is all about having good times with your friends as you drink together.

There are exceptions to the rule: Subaru has been all about safety since Day One, and Michelob Ultra and Miller Lite have made low carbs/low calories a cornerstone of their marketing, but both of those are about feeling safety and having good health as part of your lifestyle.

How are we integrating fun and good times into firearms training? Is that even a priority? I agree 100% with Tom Givens in that every round we shoot in practice should have a purpose behind it, but here’s the thing: Most gun owners don’t see a gun as something they need to practice with, they see shooting a gun as a fun, recreational activity to be enjoyed with family and friends.

More on this tomorrow.

Product Review: MagGuts Ruger LCP +1 Magazine Follower

Product Review: MagGuts Ruger LCP +1 Magazine Follower

I’ve carried around a compact .380 for over ten years now, and I’m pretty comfortable with what they can and can’t do. One of the more obvious things they can’t do is shoot a lot of bullets without reloading. The magazine in my old P3AT held seven rounds and my LCP2 holds just six, and while both have a higher capacity than a five shot .38 snubbie, no one ever complained they had too many bullets in their gun after the firefight was over.

I had good luck with MagGuts products in my Shield: Their +1 follower for that gun installed quickly and easily and is proving to be reliable in that gun, so I thought I’d give their version for the LCP2 a try as well.

The MagGuts +1 Follower for the LCP2 is slightly different than the one for the Shield: Rather than a one-piece spring, the +1 follower for the LCP2 magazine has a two-piece spring, with a flat ribbon spring that nestles into a pocket into the top spring, and then that fits into the bottom of the new, slimmer follower for your magazine.

MagGuts +1 Follower

I installed that top spring the wrong way on my first try and couldn’t fit the as-promised seven rounds into my magazine (whoops), but the people at MagGuts quickly set me straight, and yes, seven rounds can fit into a standard LCP2 magazine.

On the range, shooting a mixture of PMC 90 grain FMJ and Hornady XTP JHPs. The follower worked fine for the first 50 or so rounds, and then things started to get a little… weird. Over the course of 150 rounds, I had three failures to extract, and the gun did not lock back of several occasions.

Now granted, the LCP2 isn’t the most rock-solid reliable gun on the planet, but still, one failure every 50 rounds gives me pause. With that failure rate, this is just not something I’m willing to carry on a full-time basis, especially since Ruger now makes a seven-round magazine for LCP2.