Yes, You DO Need To Worry About That Little Guy.

Yes, You DO Need To Worry About That Little Guy.

NRA Instructor QualAs I mentioned earlier, I shot the NRA Instructor Qual with the Colt Competition 1911 that I’m running through a 2000 Round Challenge.

I had (*had*) been doing dry fire up to the day of the test with one of my tricked-out CZ75’s, in anticipation that shooting the qual with a gamer gun that has a wonderful single action trigger would give me a little edge, but seeing how I had a bunch of ammo left over after the Louland match, I went with the 1911 instead to shoot up the extra ammo. I did ok, right up to the point where I had five shots outside of the eight-inch circle at 15 yards, over the maximum of four that the test requires. To make matters worse, that one shot I pulled low and left not only DQ’d me because it was the fifth shot outside the circle, it was outside the six-inch max group size required by the test.

Whoops.

Look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the 1911 platform itself: It’s a gun that wins bullseye matches year after year after year, and it wins them because it’s stupid accurate. However, my experience with the 1911 is pretty much limited to the 1000 rounds I have through my test gun, while on the other hand, I passed the 1000 round mark with a CZ75 long before we had smartphones.

Lesson learned.

I’ll shoot the qual again, (probably next week) because I want to get my certs re-upped and start teaching CCW (more on that later) so I’ll shoot it with something I already know how to use accurately, not something I’m learning to shoot.

Sorry, I Got Nothing.

Sorry, I Got Nothing.

I’m liking the new job, but the tempo of operations is a lot quicker than what I’ve been used to for at least five years, so my energy when I get home is not where it was. And last weekend, we went to SeaWorld, so there went one of my usual writing days, right out the window.

Plus, as I write this, I have seven articles in the queue for the NRA, 2 of which have deadlines in the next week or so.

Yikes.

Go read Greg’s Weekend Knowledge Dump. It’s usually really good.

Farce On Farce

Farce On Farce

One of the interesting takeaways from my knife defense class was some of the comments in a Facebook group where Jeff Street posted a link to the article.  Another instructor in the group didn’t believe that the class taught anything worthwhile because it didn’t teach us how to then press the attack with a knife, it taught us how to get away from the knife and therefore was of little use.

The thing is though, I really, really don’t want to get into knife fight when I fight: I prefer not to get into a fight at all.  If I have to get into a knife fight, I want it to quickly evolve into a gun fight, because I’m much better that I am with knives.  A pistol fight also gives me the wonderful option of running away screaming in terror, which is the most effective defense against the knife there is.

The trainer who was complaining that our class was “unrealistic“ was a big proponent of force on force training to prove that his theories were correct, and the videos he posted to bolster his arguments showed that yes, they did indeed work.

As long as you play by the rules he set up prior to the start of the fight, and that’s a mighty big if.

I’m not really interested in force on force training which proves that your system works: I’m more interested in scenarios that show where it breaks and where we need to improve.  Force on force training works because we have to improvise on the fly when we’re in the fight. Force on force in training helps us improvise quicker, better, and more often, not repeat the patterns of training we already know, that’s what drills are for.

There are many trainers out there who denigrate the use of practical shooting as a way to improve your pistol skills. They say that the minute you define the rules of the match, it no longer becomes effective combat training.  Personally, I think you can thousand years of human civilization argues against this back. From the ancient Greeks on Mount Olympus to the Roman gladiator games to knights of olde jousting to samurai attacking each other with wooden swords, mankind has always used sport as a way to improve our combat ability.

Are there more rules in a sporting event than there are in real life? Of course there are! Those rules, however, are there so sport becomes a learning event, not a literal life-and-death struggle. We learn the rules, we master them, and then we learned to break them when necessary.

Upcoming Training: Long Range Rifle Immersion Level One

Upcoming Training: Long Range Rifle Immersion Level One

I’ve had my Savage 116 for years now, but I’ve never taken the time to really learn how to use it. It’s an MOA or better gun, but I’m not an MOA or better shooter.

Time for that to change, which is why I’m enrolled in Florida Firearms Training’s Long Range Rifle Immersion class in August.

The class is designed to give students a grounding in the long range game that can be built upon to push things out to 500 yards and beyond. If it’s anywhere near as fun and informative as the hog hunting class I had with them, it’s sure to be a blast.

 

After Action Report: Introduction To Basic Knife Defense

After Action Report: Introduction to Basic Knife Defense

I signed up for an “Intro to Knife Defense” class with Step by Step Gun Training, taught by Paul Rosales and his two assistant instructors, all of which have an extensive background in Escrima, Muy Thai and a bunch of other martial arts I know nothing about.

I walked into the classroom with my usual open mind about what I was going to be taught, but I will confess that in the background, I kinda had a “Yeah, how good could this REALLY be?” attitude.

Boy, was I wrong. Although the class was only three hours long, I learned A LOT about staying un-stabbed in a knife fight, and what I learned fit perfectly with both ECQC and what I’ve learned about concealed carry.

Which shouldn’t surprise me, because Paul created this class as a way to bring the worlds of civilian civilian concealed carry and the world of knife-fighting together. The point of the class wasn’t to turn us into world-class cutlery wielders, the point of the class was to give us a basic knowledge of how knife attacks happen and what we can do to get out of a bad situation as quickly as we can.

And it did just that. The class was tremendously informative and left me wanting more. As I’ve written before, martial artists tend to see ever problem in terms of a punch or kick solution and gun people tend to see BANG as the solution to every situation. This class integrated the two, and it works nicely as the bridge between the ground work and grappling of ECQC and the quick draw and retention work of concealed carry.

 

A few notes from class:

  • Civilians tend to keep both a knife and their gun on their right side, which is not the optimal location for a self-defense blade. I wonder if that’s because we see it as a utilitarian tool more than we do as  a weapon. 
  • There are the knives you use to open up a package, and the knives you use to open up a person. Don’t confuse the two.
  • Never bring a gun to a knife fight. The reverse is also true.
  • Quick movement to the knife side in a fight opens up more space than movement back or to the left, which is also consistent with firearms teaching about getting off the X. Go figure.
  • Rapidly deploying a folding knife in a fight is theoretical at best. Go with a centerline fixed blade.
  • More than that, set up your blade so you can draw and strike in one smooth motion. I carry a centerline blade (an SOG Mini Instinct) but the handle on it faces left. Not no more. I turned it around this weekend so I can grab it with either the left or the right hand and slash upwards on the draw, giving me a chance to either gain space or go on the attack.

All in all, it was a highly informative three hours that gave me a good basis for both keeping safe outside of the home and integrating the other means of self-protection that I carry on a daily basis. Really looking forward to what Paul and his team have in store for further training.

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.

Done With The Trunk Gun.

Done With The Trunk Gun.

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.

But.

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 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.

Factoring into this decision is that I’m pretty comfortable with my ability with the 9mm Shield I carry around in more casual settings. I’ve shot the FBI qual twice with it and scored at the Instructor level both times, and I know I can consistently make first-shot hits from the holster with it out to 50 yards within three seconds. A rifle it’s not, but then again, I’m not looking to solve rifle-sized problems, I’m looking to get the hell out of dodge with what I can lay my hands on this very moment.

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.

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.

Flash Site Pictures, Monday Edition.

Flash Site Pictures, Monday Edition.

I’ve been busy.

Really satisfied with how my hog hunting with an AR-15 article for American Hunter turned out, and I’m also really satisfied how the hunt itself turned out. We had the backstrap from my hog for dinner last week with some mixed vegetables and rice pilaf, and it was some of the best pork I’ve had in my life.

My take on handheld lights vs. weapon mounted lights (Spoiler alert: Is it too much to ask for both?).

The ancient Greeks invented the Olympics as a way to practice beating each other up without beating each other to a pulp. Other cultures have also figured out that sport is useful way to practice combat, so why is there any doubt as to whether competing in practical shooting is a good thing or not for the person who carries a self-defense firearm?

A round up of 10mm handguns out there right now. I find it somewhat interesting that 10mm is back with a vengeance, and the cartridge designed to replace it, the .40S&W, is quickly fading from view.

And now some stuff not written by me.

It’s always the guns and never the mess we’ve created (in a Chicago paper, no less…).

Even Canadian-style gun control isn’t enough for some Canadians. Yes, there is a slippery slope, and yes, it is to be avoided at all costs.

A nice little 40 round practice drill for precision rifle. The tetonic plates are shifting here, and I might MIGHT!) get a chance to shoot some .22 precision in the near future. Looking forward to it.