Minimalist Training.

Minimalist Training.

My current job is a casual dress environment, so for the first time since I started carrying on a regular basis, I’m NOT pocket-carrying a .380 four days out of seven, I’m carrying something more substantial pretty much all the time.

Do I feel more safe now that I have more firepower with me? No, not really. I know what each of the guns I carry on a regular basis is and is not capable of, and I adjust my worldview accordingly. We preach that it’s not the tools, it’s the training and mindset, then we tell people that if they don’t carry at least a Glock 19, they’re not taking things seriously.

But.

I think some of that reaction is actually “If you show up to my training class with anything less than a Glock 19, you’re not taking things seriously,” and there’s an element of truth to that. Taking classes with a tiny 9mm or less sucks: I accept the fact that I am not going to win the coin or find myself $5 richer. All humility aside, though, I shoot my Shield well enough to take it to a good class, and as a result, I get training that is 100% relative to what I carry.

However, for the average schmoe, unless it’s one of Claude’s or Chuck’s classes on pocket guns or something similar, showing up to train with a snubbie is an invitation to a lot of frustration.

So what needs to change? The standards for what a “responsible” gun owner should carry, or the training that teaches them to be responsible?

The White Stripes.

The White Stripes.

There are reasons why martial arts dojos hand out stripes to the white belts: They help build confidence and encourage people to come back for more training beyond the basics.

Which got me thinking. What are the post-CCW stripes out there? What incentives do you give your students to do more besides a printed-out Microsoft Word Template that says you completed the bare minimum of training needed to carry a gun around in your state?

Standards matter. You and I may know what a clean Dot Torture says about your ability to shoot, but to a person on the street, it doesn’t seem that hard, and more importantly, it’s not a badge of recognition that is immediately identifiable as a significant accomplishment. The various state-level concealed carry tests scattered throughout Claude’s book are a great start, and it’s got me wondering if there are more tests out there that are recognizable outside the gun community more than a clean 5×5 is, but are less demanding than an FBI qual. Think if it as the qual you shoot before shooting the FBI qual.

The various military and police qualifiers come to mind. The Marine Corps test ain’t that hard, but it’s one of the very few that has something that even approaches testing the skills that armed citizens learn in their classes.

So what tests are out there that a guy on the street can immediately identify as being legit, but are able to be shot fairly well by a new shooter?

Flash Site Pictures

Flash Site Pictures

I did the writeup on the new Springfield Armory XD-S MOD2 for Shooting Illustrated. I honestly don’t get all the hate for the XD platform, but then again, I only shot 300 rounds through it. However, I think it’s great choice for people who will never go to Gunsite or Rogers.

I overheard someone talking about their experience at the same knife defense class I went to, and the response they got was “You carry a gun: Why do you need to learn how to use a knife?” Well, this is why you need to learn how to defend yourself from 1 inch on out to 100 yards and beyond.

Google bans firearms sales apps. Kinda surprised they allowed them in the first place.

Everyone who’s new to concealed carry thinks that everyone around them can see that they’re carrying a gun. And everyone is wrong about that.

This isn’t going to end well.

As I’m going to a class on long-range shooting next week, I’ve been reading a lot about ramping up your long-range game, including this article on how to determine wind direction and this one on at-home precision rifle drills.

 

Speed. Rocks.

Speed. Rocks.

The Sharp Dressed Shooter is a great resource for those of us who want to protect ourselves whilst wearing something other than jeans and a t-shirt. He’s got a great video on Instagram showing the right way to draw from a tuckable holster. and by my count, it takes him about 2.5 seconds from the decision to draw to when the gun is up on target. This is quite fast for such a holster, and it’s obviously a product of hard work, practice, and a dedication to his craft.

But.

The movement required to lift and clear your cover garment, get a good firing grip on the gun and then get it into play all scream out “HEY EVERYONE, I’M DRAWING MY GUN NOW!!!!!,” which is just fine for times when drawing a gun is really, really needed.

But.

We know from listening to John Corriea’s narrated videos that a smooth, stealthy draw is needed almost as often as smooth fast draw is needed. Hence the problem with relying solely on a tuckable holster for (really) discrete carry: They’re a very good way to carry more than a pocket gun, but they are not a good way to get your gun out discretely if you need to.

Which is why I pocket-carry a .380 if I need to be a little more subtle than normal. My pre-draw routine with a pocket rocket is me casually putting my hand into my pants pocket, which looks exactly like me… casually putting my hand into my pocket. This is different than a tuckable holster or an ankle holster or any of the other options for really discreet carry: The pre-draw routine for all of those looks like someone trying to get a gun out from hiding, which is exactly what they are.

If you carry something bigger in a tucked-in tuckable holster, that’s great, you’re ahead of almost everyone else out there. Just consider adding something to your mix that allows you to get your gear into play without looking like you’re getting your gear into play.

(Insight)^2.

(Insight)^2.

Take a few moments to read David Yamane’s review of “Citizen Protectors,” Jennifer Carlson’s book on the sociology of guns in America.

Two big takeaways:

“Guns solve problems for the people who bear them.”

This. A gazillion times this. I, along with millions of other responsible gun owners in America, take the time and effort to maximize the benefits of owning a gun, while minimizing the drawbacks. I want my guns to SOLVE problems, not cause them.

Secondly is this quote:

“The National Rifle Association is a quasi-regulatory agency governing concealed carry in the United States.

The VAST majority of concealed carry instructors in the U.S. get certified to teach concealed carry in their state because they are certified by the NRA as a qualified instructor. As such, NRA Training is pretty much the standard (how rigorous of a standard is a topic for another post.

 

What We Are Not.

What We Are Not.

I’m not sure if Concealed Nation is trolling us or not here, but this is pretty much everything you don’t want to do if you’re an armed citizen. All that’s missing is a Concealed Carry badge.

The funny thing is, though, that aside from some bad decisions about ammo, handcuffs, holsters and a useless micro cassette recorder, I carry variations of what he carries. Instead of a SIG 229, I carry a Shield. I carry a multitool, and a knife, and a flashlight, and pepper spray.

It’s not WHAT you carry, it’s why you carry it. This gentleman obviously proud of his law enforcement training and sees his role as an armed citizen to be a cop, sans badge.

This is not my role. My role is much more personal. I’m concerned about my health and the health of those dear to me. I’m not carrying a gun to right society’s wrongs, I carry a gun so I can emerged unscathed should bad things happen to me.

Why, it’s almost as if the mission drives the equipment, or something…

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 801 – 1000

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 801 – 1000

Halfway there! I shot the weekly practical pistol match at Louland last week with the Colt 1911, giving it a chance to show its stuff in its natural environment, a practical pistol match. The match there is lightweight and easy to shoot, with the stages being all-steel and shot from designated shooting boxes.

It’s not really friendly to 1911’s, though, and there was one stage where there was ten, (count ’em) ten shots to be had from one shooting box.

Standing reloads suck.

The good news is, aside from my reloads, I’m really starting to get a handle on how this gun shoots. I had a great Stage One, where my split times were pretty much identical to my CZ times, although my reloads continue to be a dumpster fire.

That used up about 120 rounds, and I shot the remaining 50 or so rounds qualifying for the NRA Basic Pistol Instructor training, and the rest after that was over.

But that’s another story.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:
200 Rounds Remington UMC 230gr FMJ .45ACP

Results:

No issues.

Thanks again to Lucky Gunner for providing the ammo for this test.

I Am A Expert (Ex-Spurt?) Pistol Shooter.

I Am A Expert (Ex-Spurt?) Pistol Shooter.

I decided to put my money where my memes are, and shoot the Marine Corps Combat Pistol Program Qualifier with my carry gear, from concealment.

Now, as I shoot a 9mm Shield with a max magazine capacity of 8 rounds* and not an M9A1 with 15 rounds, I had to alter the ready magazine routine a bit and shoot from multiple mags. Also, I didn’t score, paste and repair in-between strings because I wanted to see my results all at once.

And what were those results? First, a review of what the levels of Qualification actually are.

Expert: 364/400
Sharpshooter: 324/400
Marksman: 264/400

I shot a 376, and qualified as Expert.

Now Kevin, I hear you say, there are only two holes outside of the 10 point scoring zone on that target. How could you have scored only 376 and not 396? Well, the truth is, on the last string of fire on Stage One, the one with the Tactical Emergency Reload, I got my cover garment (a loose t-shirt) stuck on my tourniquet pouch and it took me 14 seconds to make the reload which resulted in two shots that were on-target but outside of the par time and therefore count as misses.

Whoops.

Other than that, I found the par times were ridiculously long for each course of fire. I didn’t quite shoot each string in half the required time, but I was shooting them in 2/3rds the time or less. I also learned a valuable lesson about practicing with your carry gear: Practice with ALL of it, rather than just the shootey bits. My t-shirt got hung up on something (my tourniquet) that I’ve never had on me in a class or at a match.

Lesson learned.

Knowing that I qualified at the Expert level is an ego boost, and it’s potentially a boost in the courtroom as well if I shoot it under supervision. It also gives me another baseline to measure my progress on my ability to defend myself with a pistol, and gives me a platform to reach up even higher.

 

* 9 rounds if I’m using the magazine with the MagGuts +1 follower.

Which IWB Holster Material Is Best: Kydex, Leather Or Hybrid?

Which IWB Holster Material Is Best: Kydex, Leather or Hybrid?

Ok, I’ll admit it. For years, I carried my Shield around in a hybrid holster, a Crossbreed Minituck. I bought the holster because it seemed like a good compromise between comfort and retention, and at the time, I had little experience with other holsters.

Things have changed, though, and I know longer carry in a hybrid, for pretty much the same reasons that John Corriea lays out here:

And so, about a year ago, I switched from the hybrid to a PHLSTER Stealth Kydex holster, and I’ve not looked back. As for the supposed extra comfort of the hybrid, I have spent the last four months carrying my Shield one month apiece in a Galco Summer Comfort leather IWB holster, a Blade-Tech Nano Kydex IWB holster, a Blade-Tech Klipt Kydex IWB holster and I also drug out my old Crossbreed Minituck to complete the set, just to see how comfortable each of them are to carry around.

So, what have I learned after wearing different holsters for the same gun for a month apiece?

  • I really prefer holsters with an “FBI cant,” where the holster tilts the gun forward slightly. The Klipt is the only holster that doesn’t have that feature, and I found it very uncomfortable to wear on a day-in, day-out basis. I’m not going to wear it anymore, and in the future, I’ll avoid IWB holsters without the cant.
  • The hybrid holster was just as comfortable to carry as the other two holsters. Hybrid holsters are marketed to be much more comfortable than holsters made from other materials, but my experiences is that cant and position on the belt (straight up 3 o’clock in my case) made much more of difference than what the holster was made of.
  • Safely re-holstering my gun in the leather holster was a challenge at times. While the holster does stay open on the waist to allow it to be re-holstered, but there isn’t the smooth transition between “out of holster” and “in the holster” that there is with kydex.
  • The Florida heat made no difference in which holster was most comfortable, but then again, I’ve been wearing an undershirt since I first moved here, which provides an extra layer of padding.

All of this is subjective, though, so I thought I’d do a test to see which is fastest on the draw. I setup an IDPA target inside and then drew and fired one “shot” close to the Down Zero zone three times from each holster from three yards away, recording the result with the iDryFire2 app. I set up this test to remove accuracy on the draw, and isolate on how fast I could get the gun into play and get off a decent shot. Also, the tests were shot without drawing from concealment as I wanted to get an idea of how the holsters themselves behaved, rather than testing how well I cleared my cover garment.

The results:

 KydexLeatherHybrid
Shot 11.431.551.93
Shot 21.471.511.7
Shot 31.571.641.63
Average1.491.571.75
Percentage Slower-4.89%15.02%

A few notes:

  • Getting a good firing grip on the Crossbreed required a lot more legerdemain than the other two holsters. Even though the holster has a “combat cut” that facilitates a faster, easier grip, it just wasn’t as easy to grab the gun securely than the other two were.
  • The leather on the Galco held onto gun a little more than the other two holsters, resulting in a slower draw time compared to the Kydex, but faster than the hybrid. Now, I haven’t lathered any Draw-EZ into that holster (yet), but that might help even the. score a bit.
  • The “click” you hear re-holstering in a Kydex is a real comfort. No, it doesn’t substitute for watching your gun back into the holster, but it is yet another indication you did it the right way.

So is Kydex the be-all and end all of all holsters? Maybe, maybe not. As I said before, I didn’t smooth out the draw on the Galco leather holster before this test, so that might level the playing field a bit and help smooth the fussiness of re-holstering with that holster as well. However, if you’re currently carrying in a hybrid holster because you think it’s super extra-specially more comfortable than kydex or leather, I suggest buying a quality kydex or leather holster and find out for yourself what you’re giving up in return for pretty much nothing at all.

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 701-800

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 701-800

I made a trip last week up to the local public range (the official name for it is the “Cecil M. Webb Shooting Range,” but I like to call it the “Dunning-Krueger Exhibition and Fairgrounds”) to sight in a new rifle scope (more on that next week) and to put some more rounds through the Colt Competition 1911.

I decided to up the workout I was putting on this gun and shot 100 rounds of Federal Aluminum-cased 230gr .45ACP FMJ through it, and because the range bans “rapid fire” (and with good reason, I might add…) I worked on one-handed shooting and accurate shot placement.

All 100 rounds of ammo fed into and out of the pistol with no issues, except that my arms wound up covered in bits and flakes of charred paint or something similar. How much of this is inside the gun and how it will affect performance is anybody’s guess.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:
100 Rounds Federal Aluminium 230gr FMJ .45ACP

Results:

No issues.

Thanks again to Lucky Gunner for providing the ammo for this test.