So This Happened.

So This Happened.

I am the last person you’d describe as a “Tactical Timmy.” However, a few months ago, I wound up owning a couple of soft IIIA bullet-resistant armor plates, and rather than have them sit around on a closet shelf, I bought something to carry them in. Yes, it’s Condor gear, but it will suffice for now as this is my first plate carrier and I’m still figuring out what works for me.

This will NOT be a regular use item for me. At best, it’ll sit in my safe room until needed, or taken to the range for a class. The two smaller pouches will probably contain a handheld light and a spicy treat dispenser, and I may swap out one of the rifle pouches for a tourniquet.

AR500 plate carrier

It’s a start.

The Marching Morons.

The Marching Morons.

A friend of mine posted a link on social media to yet another Antifa/Black Block armed defensive league that’s popped up as of late. I’m not going to link to them because I see no reason to give them any more notoriety, however, that’s their photo up there at the top of the post. These guys look a lot more squared away than others I’ve seen who have showed up to demonstrations with airsoft rifles, but that’s really not saying much, is it?

When these wannabe revolutionaries first started showing up on the scene, my initial impression of them was that they are pretty much a joke. However, the shooting of Rep. Scalise should serve as a warning to us that while they might be a joke, that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. Groups like this look and act like a bunch of pathetic losers, right up to the point where they shoot a sitting Congressman, park a Ryder van outside of a federal building or fly a plane into a building in New York.

And then suddenly, they’re not losers, they’re a serious threat.

One thing that did pop into my mind, though, is that while most of the people in groups like this (and their polar opposites in the Threeper / Militia movement) will eschew any formal firearms training and look down at the rest of us from their perch high upon Mt. Stupid, there will be a few who realize that their skills at violence are not up to fulfilling their dream of violent revolution, and they’lll seek out better training.

As such, it might be a good idea for my friends in the firearms training community to do a quick glimpse at the social media footprint of everyone who signs up for their class from here on out, just so you can say you tried to screen out the nut cases. While it probably wouldn’t have helped in the case of the most recent incident in Las Vegas, if one of the people in your Intro To AR class spends his time on social media complaining about the worldwide Zionist conspiracy and asks around for places to get Tannerite in bulk, you might want to think about refunding his or her class fee.

There probably ain’t a whole lot of firearms trainers out there who would like be known as an unindicted co-conspirator (or worse) for the rest of their lives. Yes, some sanitation of background is possible, but at least you can testify in court that you did your due diligence. It kinda sucks that we have to worry about such things, but that’s the world we live in now.

And Tam, Of Course, Is Correct.

And Tam, Of Course, Is Correct.

As someone who’s had to learn how to integrate various levels of armed self-defense into a white-collar working environment for almost a dozen years now, let me just add “HELL YES.”

“‘Dressing around the gun’ is the single dumbest godd*** concept the industry has ever come up with. Espoused principally by two groups; those who carry under color of law and those who don’t have real jobs. That is to say, not on the same planet as the rest of us.” –Claude Werner
There are people who work daily in non-permissive environments with dress codes, where a gun may be legal to carry, but would be a firing offense. Telling a 5’4″ woman in a skirt with no belt loops to “dress around” a Glock 19 in an IWB holster makes one sound a little dense.
There are people who have social lives who like to dress normally around their friends and peers at dinners or cocktail parties. There is a place for a gun that can be carried very discreetly.

IDPA knew this from the very start, which is why they came up with the Back Up Gun division, a division that’s now officially a part of that sport.

Firearms trainers? They’re still working on it. There are precious few pocket-gun specific classes out there, even though the LCP and its successor have been selling like hotcakes for the last ten years.

To me, “Reality-based” firearms training for new gun owners has to start by training beginners to use the guns they own, not the guns the trainer thinks they should own. You want more students in your class? Teach them how to shoot, not how to buy a gun you like.

How Do You Change The World?

How Do You Change The World?

I dunno, let’s ask Steve Jobs how he changed the world. Maybe there’s answers here for us as well.

Playboy: How about some concrete reasons to buy a computer today? An executive in your industry recently said, “We’ve given people computers, but we haven’t shown them what to do with them. I can balance my checkbook faster by hand than on my computer.” Why should a person buy a computer?

Jobs: There are different answers for different people. In business, that question is easy to answer: You really can prepare documents much faster and at a higher quality level, and you can do many things to increase office productivity. A computer frees people from much of the menial work.

Playboy: Those are arguments for computers in business and in schools, but what about the home?

Jobs: So far, that’s more of a conceptual market than a real market. The primary reasons to buy a computer for your home now are that you want to do some business work at home or you want to run educational software for yourself or your children. If you can’t justify buying a computer for one of those two reasons, the only other possible reason is that you just want to be computer literate. You know there’s something going on, you don’t exactly know what it is, so you want to learn. This will change: Computers will be essential in most homes.

Playboy: Was the initial market hobbyists?

Jobs: The difference was that you didn’t have to be a hardware hobbyist with the Apple II. You could be a software hobbyist. That was one of the key breakthroughs with the Apple II: realizing that there were a whole lot more people who wanted to play with a computer, just like Woz and me, than there were people who could build their own.

Let’s pause for a second and re-write those paragraphs a bit.

Playboy: How about some concrete reasons to buy a gun today? An executive in your industry recently said, “We’ve given people guns, but we haven’t shown them what to do with them.

Jobs: There are different answers for different people. In law enforcement, that question is easy to answer. You defend your life and the lives of the innocent much faster and at a longer ranges than just your fists, and you can reduce the danger to yourself. A gun frees people from much of the fist and nightstick work.

Playboy: Those are arguments for guns in law enforcement and the military, but what about the home?

Jobs: So far, that’s more of a conceptual market than a real market. The primary reasons to buy a gun for your home now are that you want to do some recreational shooting or you want you to protect you and your children from a real and specific threat. If you can’t justify buying a gun for one of those two reasons, the only other possible reason is that you just want to be feel safe. You know there’s something going on, you don’t exactly know what it is, so you want to learn.

Playboy: Was the initial market hobbyists?

Jobs: The difference was that you didn’t have to be a hardware hobbyist with the Glock 17. You could be a training hobbyist. That was one of the key breakthroughs with the (product that hasn’t been developed yet… or has it?): realizing that there were a whole lot more people who wanted to enjoy guns, just like Woz and me, than there were people who could build their own.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Guns have the same place in society right now as computers did in back in 1985. Most of us know we should have a gun around, but we struggle to come up with a reason why.

And this part is interesting as well: Jobs was predicting the home internet in 1985, back when the Internet was Arpanet and the .com had just been rolled out.

Jobs: The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people—as remarkable as the telephone.

Playboy: Specifically, what kind of breakthrough are you talking about?

Jobs: I can only begin to speculate. We see that a lot in our industry: You don’t know exactly what’s going to result, but you know it’s something very big and very good.

What will happen when the personal safety empowerment that a gun provides (and the skills, attitude and courage to use it wisely) gets connected?

Can it get connected? Will connecting gun owners like we connect computers change society, or will it be something else?

Prep Work.

Prep Work.

I picked up an assignment, many years ago, to take pictures of Magic Johnson right after he gave a speech at a luxury Phoenix resort. I knew his time would be limited, so I arrived early, scouted a good location, and my assistant and I set up four high-powered strobe lights to properly expose him and wonderful Arizona sunset that would happen just as the shot was scheduled to happen.

But what DID happen was that the resort’s circuits weren’t up to the task of handling my strobes and their outdoor lighting at the same time, so my first test shoot blew a breaker and everything went dark.

I had to take a picture of Magic Johnson, and I had to take it NOW, no matter if my primary light source just went into the crapper.

Fortunately for me, I knew that resort pretty well and I knew the outside breezeways looked pretty good and went east-west so there was still light in them even as the sun was going down. I grabbed my assistant, my tripod and a flex fill, and away we all went for an impromptu available light shoot as the light slowly faded in the west.

And the chromes turned out pretty good. Good enough that I picked up two more assignments from the agency who assigned me.

Now think about it… if I hadn’t been familiar with the environment around me and I didn’t have that reflector and/or assistant with me and was inexperienced at slow shutter speed photography, I’d be completely out of luck and would have p!ssed off a basketball legend and not gotten paid by my client for the job.

Familiarity with your surroundings… having a backup plan and backup gear… recognizing what the issue is and working around it on the spot… why does that all seem so familiar? 😉

Oh, and if you get a chance to take photos of Mr. Johnson, do so. He was, BY FAR, the most approachable and laid-back celebrity I’ve ever photographed. It’s not an act with him.

Las Vegas Will Viva Once Again.

Las Vegas Will Viva Once Again.

Yes, I’ve heard about the horror in Vegas.

No, I will not comment on it. Not for at least another 24 hours.

I will say that the people shot were fish in a $@!%ing barrel, and that the LVPD had a breaching team on-site in under 10 minutes.

That’s a helluva response time. Well done.

And as usual in situations like this, people banded together to save lives. Hotels used shuttle vans to send people to the hospital. People stood up when it mattered most, and once again, they realized that they, and not the cops or the paramedics, were the first responders.

I love you Americans. I really, really, do.

We’ll get through this. But right now, pray for healing and comfort.

And watch your six.

The Top Ten Guns Preferred By Professional Gun Users.

The Top Ten Guns Preferred By Professional Gun Users.

The title of this post at Petapixel irked me somewhat: The Top Ten Films Preferred By Professional Photographers.

Umm, ok, so what? Why does it matter if Morty The Wedding Photographer (hey, he makes his living at it, so technically, he IS a professional photographer) likes to shoot 100 ISO color neg film? Does that affect my preference for Fuji Provia over Ektachrome? And just because Pete Turner could make Kodachrome sit up and dance, should I have used it when I was a “professional photographer” instead of relying on the speed and flexibility of E-6 process films?

Of course not.

Bottom line is, find out what works best for you and how you take photos, and make it your own. However, don’t be afraid to adapt to a new system if the situation demands it.

And yes, this post was a metaphor for defensive firearms.

P.S. Tri-X RULES. Maybe the greatest film in the history of everything. You ain’t a sports photog until you’ve rushed back to the darkroom 15 minutes before deadline, ran your TX400 pushed two stops in 110° Rodinal for two minutes and then printed the suckers wet and slapped them on your editor’s desk with two minutes of deadline to spare. You kids and your chimping these days.

Product Review: Holosun HS503C 2 MOA Circle Red Dot Sight

Product Review: Holosun HS503C 2 MOA Circle Red Dot Sight

red dot with circle reticuleAdvantages: Always on, great reticle, long battery life
Disadvantages: Finicky battery compartment
Rating: 5 out of 5

I was shooting a 3 Gun match a few years ago, and I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I had forgotten to turn on my red dot sight before I placed it in the staging barrel, meaning I had to take a few extra seconds to turn it on before I proceeded to shoot the stage. This was embarrassing at a match, but potentially lethal if I needed to defend myself with my rifle.

So I decided to try out some options. First up was a Sigtac CP1 3x scope which did the job, but the reticle was far too confusing for serious work. I then swapped that out on my SU16 for the Leupold 1.5-4x scope I originally got for 3 Gun, and it’s working out just fine.

But that left out my .300 Blackout pistol., and for that, I reached out to Brownells for a Holosun HS503C 2 MOA Circle Red Dot Sight. I was particularly interested in this sight because of it’s auto-brightness, solar cell recharging capability and ridiculously long battery life.

And so far, 3 months into it, I am very impressed with this sight. The sight illumination is always pretty much spot-on, although it does have some issues when I’m in a darker spot and pointing out to a much brighter sport. The reticle itself is clear and sharp, with a 2 MOA center that’s surrounded by a 65 MOA circle. I found that the circle fit neatly inside the torso of a standard USPSA target at 40 yards, making  rapid shots on close targets a breeze, and the 2 MOA dot was a nice, round circle, which, because of my astigmatism, doesn’t happen all that often for me.

I can’t speak to the ruggedness of the sight, as I’ve really not torture-tested it in anyway, but I did run into a spot of trouble when it came time to slide in a battery for the first time (and by “spot of trouble” I mean “I actually had to read the directions to see how things were supposed to work”). The battery itself, after three months of being left constantly on, is still going strong, where by this time, the battery in my Bushnell TRS-25 would have been a useless lump of metal.

I likey.

Bottom line is, if you’re looking for a 1x red dot for defensive or competition purposes, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better combination of features and pricing than this little sucker, and it’ll be my first-choice for such things from here on out.


FCC Notice: Brownells gave me this to review, not Holosun. Did I write a glowing review of it because of their generosity? Heck no, I wrote good things about it because it’s a good optic!
Duh.

Know When To Say When.

Know When To Say When.

Say when.

John Correia of Active Self Protection brought up an interesting idea in the midst of a recent interview on the Safety Solutions Academy podcast: For the armed citizen, it’s usually going to be us who initiates the fight, not the bad guy.

“In a law enforcement setting, the cop initiates contact with the bad guy. The fight starts when the bad guy decides to start fighting, and the fight ends with either the bad guy in cuffs or the cop is dead. In a CCW gunfight, it’s almost the exact opposite. The gunfight in the middle is almost the same, but as a CCW holder, it’s your actions, in a territorial violence situation, that initiates the fight, and the fight ends when you break contact with the bad guy.”

It took me awhile to figure it out, but I can see his point. The bad guy is going to want something from us that, unless we run into an asocial predator who wants nothing more from us than our death, is NOT going to be our life and limbs. They are using the threat of violence to get our money or car or something else from us, and they don’t expect us to fight back. As such, while the bad guy initiates the threat, the fact of the matter is, it is US that initiates the violence.

Is that empowering? You better believe it is.

You are no longer the victim in this scenario: YOU get to decide how the scenario will play out, and by being patient and then willing and able to counter the threat of physical violence with an overwhelming amount of actual violence if needed, we take away his (or her) power in one swell foop.

Waiting your turn for violence fits in well with a de-escalation strategery which should be (and is) our preferred method of dealing with “monkey dance” violence, but it also adds in another fear-reducing element: WE are the ones who are in charge of how violent an encounter will get. The crook is NOT expecting violence: He’s expecting that the threat alone will be sufficient to produce the desired reward, and the minute that doesn’t happen, WE have the upper hand.

That’s hellaciously empowering.