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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
I usually work in a “business casual” environment, and so I have spent years carrying around a compact .380 pistol and not a whole lot more. I’ve had to learn just what a pocket .380 can do and can’t do, and while I’d like to carry around more with me, the fact is, I can’t, so I work within the reality I’m dealt with, not the one I want.
Which is why I’ve clung to the idea of a trunk gun for so long. The lack of decent sights and small size of a compact .380 means that a 25 yard shot is theoretical at best, and even 10 yard shots can be a challenge, so it’s nice to have something nearby that treats 25 yards as point-blank range.
Trunk guns are, by their very nature, in the trunk of your car (duh), which means that you’ll need a minute or so to get to it. Also, unless they’re locked away in a strongbox or something similar, (which will increase your access time to the gun even more), they’ll be the first things stolen if your vehicle is broken into. Both of these are not the sort of thing I look for in a self-defense firearm.
Also, I’ve been re-thinking the gear that I stow away in my car. I’m moving the emphasis away from a “do anything” pack that will keep me alive for an indefinite amount of time, and moving towards a “get home” bag that’s more limited in scope but is right there when I need it. That same concept of “if it ain’t handy when you need it, it ain’t your primary” is also changing what I carry in my car for defensive firepower.
We have all heard that “a .22 on you beats a .45 in the truck,” and the car gun corollary to that is “a pistol you can deploy right now is better than a rifle that’s in your trunk.” As such, I’m switching out the trunk gun with a backup pistol that’s secure but yet reachable from inside the passenger compartment. Yes, I am giving up something in firepower to do so, but it makes little sense to me to have a gear bag that I can grab quickly but a defensive weapon which takes me a lot longer to get my hands on.
As such, I’ve put my backup Shield into a Hornady Rapid Vehicle Safe, and the primary means to open it is the RFID chip on the back of my phone case. Because I use my phone for directions and listening to podcasts while on the road, it’s usually in the console right next to me as I drive. I can grab it, open the Rapid Safe and retrieve my gun for use in just under four seconds.
Try doing that with a rifle in your trunk.
Right next to the safe in the passenger foot well is my get home bag, which means I can grab gun and bag and head out in just a few seconds. Yes, the bag is out in the open, but it’s black on black, which means a potential car thief will need to be eagle-eyed indeed to spot it as he saunters past my car.
The 9mm Shield gives me more thump than my LCP2, and can be used as a backup for when I’m carrying my primary Shield. Inside the get home bag is a Sticky Holster that can fit both the Shield and LCP2 and yet serve as a pocket holster or an IWB holster if needed in a pinch. Yes, a dedicated holster is better choice for IWB, but we are talking about a situation where something that can do 80% of more than one job is better than carrying two tools that can do 100% of their dedicated job.
So between the get home bag and the gun safe, I think I’ve finally settled on a system that will keep me and my loved ones safe, no matter where we roam. Hopefully, I’ll never have to find out, but I ready if that day ever arises.