Move And Shoot

Move and Shoot

The motivation for yesterday’s post on slimming down my “get home” bag came from Greg Ellifritz’s excellent article on this topic. Call it your social disruption bag or unexpected tornado bag or whatever you want, it’s the bag you grab when you have to leave your car RIGHT NOW. I’ve always thought that Echo Sigma was on the right track with their pre-packaged 24 hour bags built on a plain ol’ hydration pouch: Something lightweight, low-key and yet capable enough to deal with a wide range of emergencies, and so that’s where I started.

Rather than go with their kit, though, I wanted to build my own, and I based what I carry on the wilderness survival Rule of Threes:

  • You can last three minutes without oxygen (Note: This also includes bleeding out after a traumatic injury like a gunshot wound…)
  • You can last three hours in harsh weather without shelter
  • You can last three days without water
  • You can last three weeks without food.

This is what drives my gear choices. I find no end of amusement in “survival kits” that include fish hooks and fishing line but don’t include some means of purifying water. Priorities, people, priorities! Also, if the medical gear in your “bug out” kit is nothing but a few bandaids and some gauze, you are not preparing for the things that will kill you dead quickly, you are preparing for a paper cut.

I’ve been trying for a years now to compile a small, lightweight 24 hour kit that doesn’t look like I’m headed off to Fallujah. I’ve used everything from an OD Green bag covered with MOLLE to a canvas and leather man-purse, and yet I couldn’t seem to come up with the right combination of utility and ubiquity. After yet another failed attempt, where I bought a cheap, tiny MOLLE sling bag and then added on pouches for a water bottle and medkit, I went back to where I started: The old UTG* messenger bag I bought years ago to serve as the original bug-out bag in my car.

And you know what? It works pretty well. My mistake last time with using this bag was trying to cram in too much gear into it, so once I pared it things down to the bare essentials, it works great. That whole “Two is one and one is none” thing is fine if you’re not humping around your gear, but once you realize that carrying redundant gear means carrying around twice the weight, you pare things down to just the bare minimum.

The contents of the bag are much the same as my previous tactical hipster bag, with a few additions.

  • I’ve a little more up to speed on trauma stuff, so I swapped out the (questionable) SWAT-T tourniquet in my old bag for the proven SOFT-T and a Pocket Emergency Wallet from PHLster.
  • Water. I love these Berkey bottles, as they clean up the taste of nasty-smelling municipal water and, along with a coffee filter and an Aquatab, allow you drink just about any available water, potable or not. I also added in a small stainless steel camping cup, because needing to heat or boil water is always a thing.
  • Greg Eliifritz’s article reminded me of how common airborne particulates are in an urban emergency, so I added in a pair of safety googles and a filter mask, and I also added in some work gloves, because they’re useful.
  • Rain (and lots of it) is my primary weather concern here in SW Florida, so shelter-wise, rather than go with an umbrella that requires a free hand and can break in high winds, I went with a plastic rain slicker. The secondary weather concern is the heat and humidity, and downsizing from a huge backpack to this small bag will significantly decreases my burden if I need to walk for a while before I get to someplace safer.
  • A fixed blade knife (a Mora, because they’re decent and I won’t cry if I lose it) and a nice, bright flashlight, in this case a Streamlight ProTac 2L-X that kicks out 500 lumens and is USB-rechargeable. I also added in some moleskin bandages, because if I’m not able to drive, that means I’m probably walking, and there’s a good chance the shoes I’ll have on at the time are not meant for the long haul.

Inside the back zipper pocket is a holster, namely, a Sticky Holster that fits my two most-common carry guns, the LCP2 with laser and the S&W Shield, and I’ve included a dozen or so extra rounds for each gun in the bag.

The black bag disappears against the black carpet of the passenger foot well in my car, making it inconspicuous and unnoticeable to the casual outside observer. When someone sits in the front seat, the bag goes into the back seat, and if all the seats are full, well, then, it goes in the trunk and we deal with that reality when/if it happens.

I’ve also ditched the trunk gun, because even though I’ve gone to great lengths to make my car as inconspicuous as possible, there is still a non-zero chance it will be broken into and the rifle I had been keeping in my trunk would wind up on the street, which is the definition of a sub-optimal outcome.

And let’s face it: If I can’t deal with what’s happening around me outside of my home with a pistol and some spare rounds, it’s time to go full roof Korean and call up some friends to help me out.

More on my vehicle-based self-defense changes tomorrow.

 

* Yes, it’s a UTG, and no, I don’t care. If I were shooting people in the face more often, then I’d care, but I’m not, so I don’t. So there. 

Shoot And Move

Shoot and Move

I had a conversation with a friend of mine awhile ago who was recently mustered out from combat military duty and is now in the gun biz. When I told him that for me, an AR-15 is at best a tertiary weapon, he paused for a second to process that information. When he was in the service shooting people in the face, a rifle like the M4 was his day-in, day out weapon, but for me in the civilian world, I even if I could carry a rifle on a regular basis, I don’t, because I don’t want to be That Guy. As a result, I am much more concerned about my ability to deploy my carry pistol as the situation requires (or not), because the chances are that’s what I’ll have with me when things get wacky. To borrow from my friend Peter, if it ain’t on you when you need it, it ain’t your primary weapon.

With that in mind, I’ve been re-thinking the gear that I have with me but not on me. I’ve had a large bug out pack in my trunk for years now, but the fact is, that pack is inaccessible to me unless I stop, park, get out my car and lift it out of my trunk. This is great for when I’m camping or traveling far from home, but how does that work on my daily commute? What if Occupy $NAMEOFCITY decides to do something stupid on my way into work? How does a 72 hour bag and trauma kit in my trunk help me when I have no time to get to my trunk?

Answer: It doesn’t.

I’ll still keep the big bug out bag around, though, as it also serves the same purpose that my bug-in kit serves: It will help keep me and my family safe for 72 hours or more, no matter what happens. It’ll will also be useful to have when traveling out of town and also help augment the bug-in kit, but it won’t travel with me every day anymore.

As a result, I’ve put my in-car kit on a diet and pared it down to something that I can easily store inside the passenger compartment of my car, ready to grab at a moment’s notice if things get a little weird and crazy as I’m out and about.

More on this tomorrow.

“My Dad Was A Cop. He Taught Me How To Shoot.”

“My Dad Was A Cop. He Taught Me How To Shoot.”

Oh really?

Cops have a lot of jobs to do, and shooting people is only one (very small) job among many. I’m ridiculously happy that the cops are around and they should be celebrated for what they do, but chances are “firearms instructor” is not one of the jobs they perform on a regular basis.

Speaking of trust icons, let’s talk about the “I know how to shoot, I was in the military” canard. Yes, you may know how to lay down suppressive fire with an M240 Bravo, but that skill (thankfully) doesn’t have a whole lot of application in the civilian world.

Pistols? Pistols have a LOT of application in the civilian world, and the standards for excellence in the military for pistols is not so excellent.

The new Marine Combat Pistol Program Qualifier is designed to be a more “real world” qualifier than their previous one which was pretty much just a bullseye match in olive drab.

Here’s the course of fire for the new qualifier.

Yes, you have FIVE SECONDS to draw and shoot two rounds into center-mass of a target that’s seven yards away, and the rest of the par times are equally ridiculous. If you’re any kind of competition shooter (like D Class or better) or have taken a decent two-day pistol course, you should have no trouble qualifying as Expert on this course of fire.

And it’s not like the target they use is extra-small, either. The 10 Zone, the highest-scoring part of the target is bigger than the already generous scoring area of a USPSA target, and compared its a veritable broad side of a barn compared to the IDPA target in the photo to the right. Heck, I’d bet that 3/4ths of my friends on social media could qualify as Expert using half the allotted time for the drill, and more than a few of them could easily do it in half the time and at double the required distance.

Are their good, nay, great military and law enforcement shooters? Of course there are. Does being in the military or law enforcement automatically make you a great shooter? Probably not.

 

 

 

Optimizing A Walther PPS For Concealed Carry

Optimizing A Walther PPS For Concealed Carry

The Walther PPS is a popular defensive pistol because it’s thin, compact and easy to shoot. The new M2 model is an updated, improved version, but the original PPS is still a terrific little 9mm gun for concealed carry.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t get better, and here’s some suggestions for getting the most out of your PPS.

  1. Spare Magazines. The PPS ships with two seven round magazines, one with flush-fitting baseplate and one with an extended baseplate to give you a better grip on the gun. This is good, but if you’re going to do any training at all with your PPS, you’ll soon find out that you need more magazines. Also, because they wind up getting dropped on the ground and smashed into things, a pistol magazine is, in truth, a semi-disposable item. Get more than what ships with your gun. You’ll need them.
  2. Sights. Three dot sights are common on defensive pistols, and the PPS has a decent set of them. Three dot sights have a downside, though. It’s not unusual for your eyes to dart between the front sight and rear sight, and the sights on the PPS aren’t night sights. That’s easily changed, though, and several manufacturers make sights for the PPS. I myself am a huge fan of Trijicon’s HD sights because they have an easy-to-post dot on the front sight but still have a night sight capability that shows up when it gets dark.
  3. Holster. There are essentially two options for holsters for concealed carry: Inside the waistband (IWB) and outside the waistband (OWB). Me, I’m a fan of IWB holsters because in general, they’re easier to conceal than OWB holsters but is just as fast to draw from. For first-time gun owners, though, I recommend an OWB holster because they don’t require you to wear pants that are an inch (or more) wider than what you you wore before you carried a gun. Galco makes a terrific leather OWB holster for the PPS that I can heartily recommend for everyday carry.
  4. Ammo. Modern bonded jacketed hollow point ammunition is what turned 9mm into round known for punching holes in people to one that millions of people rely on to protect their lives. Lucky Gunner did a very exhaustive comparison of the modern defensive rounds for 9mm pistols like the PPS, and the 150 grain Federal Micro HST round did very, very well in that test.
Abby Normal

Abby Normal

Because I hate wasting good stuff at an away game.

Dear Tactical Abby,

I’ve been told by people on the internet that I must have a “no compromise” attitude when it comes to my personal security, but I worry that I have made a very bad decision. I really think that I’ve compromised my personal security and the safety of my family by not carrying around an M4, a plate carrier and a half dozen 30 round mags, as experience has clearly shown that this is the optimal choice for self-defense. Instead, I’ve foolishly, even recklessly compromised my security, and I’ve decided to carry JUST a pistol. What ever shall I do? How shall I rectify this dangerous oversight on my part? Because of what I’ve done, Abby, I’ve put myself and my entire family at risk!

Signed,
Defenseless in SW Florida.

Dear Defenseless in SW Florida. 

Have you ever considered learning what you can and can’t do with a pistol, no matter if it’s a full-size service gun, compact 9mm or a .380 pocket rocket and then putting that knowledge to use defending yourself and your family? Metal and plastic don’t adapt to changing environments, people do, though, and they do so all the time. That’s what training does for you; it also you to adapt faster than the other guy and come out on top.

A pistol, any pistol is a compromise, and any pistol is also a suboptimal personal defense weapon. This is the reason why the military carries rifles around to shoot people in face rather than pistols. People like you and me, however, don’t carry around rifles because we don’t want to look like those open carry maroons who walk into Starbucks with their rifles at low ready. Instead, we choose a suboptimal platform (a pistol) for our comfort and the comfort of those around us. Get a pistol. Learn to use it well and then most importantly, carry something with you wherever it is possible to do so. Even the wimpiest of .22’s on your person when you need it is a more effective defensive tool than a tricked out Glock that’s nowhere to be found.

Signed, 

Tactical Abby

Current Casual Everyday Carry.

Current Casual Everyday Carry.

Or as I should say, everyday everyday carry, as I’m not working in a office right now.

I update and change what I carry as experience and training demands. For instance, I’ve recently increased my tactical trauma knowledge, and so carrying an actual tourniquet on me is more of a priority. Also, using the PHLSter skeleton holster for my Shield in a training class and in a few matches has shown me that it’s just not right for me, so I’ve changed up my holster game as well.

Top Row
Bandana, wallet, keys, lighter, 9mm Shield with MagFix baseplate and MagGuts +1 follower.

Middle Row
Pocket Trauma Kit, Carabiner/Key ring, Boker AK-74 knife (top), Sabre Mk6 pepper spray (bottom), Blade-Tech Nano holster, iPhone 7 Plus w/ Hornady RFID tag (more about that chip at a later date).

Bottom Row
SOFT-T-W tourniquet in a Blue Force Gear Ten Speed Rifle Pouch, spare 8 round pistol magazine, Coast HP-1 light (top), SOG Mini Instinct knife, Leatherman PS multi-tool.

And yes, all of this either fits on my gun belt (I’m using a Wilderness Tactical Instructor’s Belt these days) or inside the pockets of my jeans, and all of it conceals with an un-tucked t-shirt (although the gun does print a bit, I must confess). In particular, I really like the Ten Speed pouch for carrying a tourniquet, as it’s about the same size as my pistol reload and a breeze to conceal under my shirt, and the MagGuts follower allows me to have 9+1 in my Shield, which is a nice comforting thought.

A Comparison Of Affordable Concealed Carry Insurance Plans

A Comparison of Affordable Concealed Carry Insurance Plans

I’ve done some other round-ups of self-defense legal plans on the blog, but things have changed in this industry to the point where an update is probably needed.

First off, it looks like the Self Defense Association is no more. Their website has nothing but a parked domain and their social media hasn’t been updated in over a year.

Secondly, the USCCA isn’t advertising their Silver introductory-level plan anymore, but it is available if you ask for it.

Thirdly, Texas Law Shield has increased their nation-wide coverage to the point where they’re available in 19 states, and have re-branded themselves as “U.S. Law Shield”.

Finally, the NRA has toned down their marketing of Carry Guard insurance quite a bit. It’s still out there, three levels down on the Carry Guard website, but the current push for Carry Guard seems to be more about the training they offer than it is about their CCW legal insurance plans.

CCW InsuranceAlso, I came across a nice little breakdown of what to look for in a concealed carry legal plan, written by an actual attorney**. His list of things to look for in self-defense insurance are:

  1. Attorneys’ Fees Coverage
  2. Bail Bond Coverage
  3. Access To An Attorney
  4. Freedom To Choose An Attorney
  5. Civil Judgement Coverage

Which is, all in all, a good list. The only thing that non-attorney me might add to that list is the importance of “First Dollar” coverage that kicks in from Day One, versus coverage where you have to pay and then you get re-imbursed by your plan.

Do you have easy access to a half-million dollars or more in loans to cover your upfront costs? I don’t.

If you carry a firearm, I heartily suggest you spend a few dollars and sign up for a self-defense legal coverage plan of some sort. It just makes too much sense. I’ve had a number of friends get in serious legal trouble due to their defensive use of a firearm, and you don’t want to go in front of a judge with a public defender whose legal knowledge is probably limited to defending actual crooks in a court of law. Instead, you want someone who knows how to the defend the truly innocent, and that is going to cost money. Lots and lots of money.

You carry a gun because you planned ahead for a lethal force encounter. Get a legal plan to prepare for a battle inside the courtroom.

CCW Insurance Plans

 NRA Carry Guard
Silver
USCCA
Gold
Second Call
Full Coverage
Armed Citizens
Legal Defense
US Law
Shield
CCW Safe
Bail$100,000$5,000 / $50,000$5,000 / $50,000$25,000 + Merits$2,500 / $25,000$1,000,000*
Your Own AttorneyYYYYNY
Criminal Defense$100,000$100,000$50,000$25,000 + MeritsCovered$1,000,000*
Civil Defense$500,000$500,000$50,000Based On MeritsCovered$1,000,000*
Civil Damages$500,000$500,000$50,000Based On MeritsNot Covered$1,000,000*
Any WeaponYYNYYN
Expert WitnessesYYYYYY
“First Dollar” CoverageNYNYYY
Cost$22/mo
$264/yr
$22/mo
$264/yr
$14.95/mo
$170/yr
$135/yr$16.85/mo
$202/yr
$41/mo
$499/yr
Online SignupOnline SignupOnline SignupOnline SignupOnline SignupOnline Signup

 

* Coverage for CCW Safe includes bail, criminal and civil trial attorneys’ fees and civil damages.
** Do I really need to say that I am not an attorney and that this is not legal advice I’m giving out here? If so, I am. Figure it out for yourselves, and go talk to a lawyer about this stuff, because it’s a good idea. I, personally, have ACLDN and am a USCCA Affiliate.

Optimizing Your Murse-anary Game

Optimizing Your Murse-anary Game

Speaking of gear bags, my family made a trip up to Orlando a few weekends ago to do our usual round of theme park visits. We did something a little different this time, though, and went to the Florida Mall to visit the M&M’s store, because my wife loves those candies*. I like ’em too, but not as much as she does, so I sat outside the store on the bench for 15 or so minutes today, waiting for my wife to complete her pillaging of the store. I took that break as an opportunity to do some people watching and see how many guys passed wearing backpacks, sling bags or man purses.

Now granted, this is a tourist area so men will probably be carrying around a lot more stuff with them than if they were at home, but in that 15 minutes, I counted 12 guys of all shapes sizes and colors carrying some form of pack or bag. Bags ranged from school backpacks (8 guys) to a full-on purse (not that there’s anything wrong with that…) to three guys wearing sling bags, one of which was your typical tactical gear bag.

It’s interesting to note that the guy with the tactical bag looked hipster-ish rather than Hayley-ish, with glasses and hoodie and the whole hipster uniform.

I have no compunction against carrying around an extra bag to hold all my extra stuff, probably because I carried around either a laptop bag or a camera bag** for over twenty years. Whether or not a gear bag/camera bag/tactical man-purse is appropriate to carry around with you depends on the context of where you are. For instance, I have never seen a murse in a grocery store, but I see them all the time in tourist-y areas. I don’t see them in movie theaters, but I do see them in coffee shops. Also, keep in mind that the increasing use of iPads, Kindles and other small tablets means that more and more guys are carrying those gadgets around with them to use them outside of the house, so you’ll see man-purses in places you normally wouldn’t like in church or in restaurants.

Your first option should always be to carry your essential gear on your person, but if that’s not an option, or you feel like you need a little more gear than normal, a man-purse might not be a bad option.

Just leave the leather purse with the chrome clasp to your wife, okay? 🙂

 

 

* I don’t know why she has to obsess about those and not obsess about guns like normal people do.
** Domke or GTFO. Seriously, if you shoulder-carry your camera gear, they are the best, bar none.

A Deeper Shade Of Grey.

A Deeper Shade Of Grey.

I spotted a guy in church this week carrying a black sling bag covered in MOLLE straps, (probably something like Mapedition or similar). The guy carrying it stood out not only because he was carrying a bag, (here are other guys in the crowd doing that) but by the fact that he was 6′ 1″. 210-220 pounds, ridiculously fit and had a short, military-style haircut.

In other words, he looked like a cop or something similar. He was DEFINITELY not fitting in with the rest of the crowd.

There are people who can get away with carrying a military sling bag and not look like they were setting up to invade Fallujah: He wasn’t one of them.

Now I have no doubt that the Maxpedition bag was useful and handy and probably had enough gear in it to stop a small army in its tracks. However, if his intent was to look like just another worshipper in church, he failed. Maybe a little less Tier One and a little more Pier One might be in order when walking around in civvies.

The Cognitive Dissonance O’erwhelms Me.

The Cognitive Dissonance O’erwhelms Me.

Gun instructors: We’re teaching you how to defend your life with a gun, any gun. It’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian. There is no such thing as a dangerous weapon, there are only dangerous men*.

Also gun instructors: You are a fool if you recommend that your students carry a pistol in .380 or a smaller caliber.

So which is it? Are the basic skills of marksmanship and accurate fire under stressful situations applicable to any handgun, or should you skip all that folderol and just get a Glock 19?

Me? I say, if you train with a pocket .380 and you know what it can and can’t do because of your training, go ahead and carry it with confidence.

That statement assumes a bunch of things, though:

  1. That people who own pocket guns don’t treat them as a talisman of self-protection, but rather have the desire to seek out training.
  2. That trainers are capable of teaching how to properly use pocket guns.
  3. That people are aware of drills and quals specifically set up for backup guns (Chuck Haggard ran us through the Atlanta PD Backup Gun qual at TacCon, and there’s one for Georgia State Troopers as well).
  4. Mostly importantly, that trainers realize they are not training student to be exactly like themselves, but rather, they are training students who can adapt their techniques to their own lifestyle. If your methods work only for you, you are not training students, your are raising up disciples.

How many of the assumptions we make about what makes an “effective” carry pistol are based on what is actually effective, and how many of those assumptions are based on what we ourselves are comfortable with and designate as being a minimum requirement for our classes?

Now, to be fair, there is a BIG logistical element at play here. Speaking as someone who regularly takes a 9mm Shield to training classes, it kinda sucks having to swap out mags twice as often as a Glock 17 user, and it only gets worse when I train with my LCP. Also, having just put 1600+ rounds through an LCP and watching its reliability FLY downhill after round 500 or so, they’re just not meant for, say, a Gunsite 250.

But that doesn’t meant that people who own them can’t be trained to a point where they can draw and hit a target at self-defense distances in a reasonable amount of time.

It just means ain’t nobody going to Rogers with an LCP.

 

* Or women. Or whatever.