Am I Being Careful Enough?

Am I Being Careful Enough?

The Sig Sauer Academy has a class in “Civilian Response to Terrorist Threats”.

No, really.

“This one-of-a-kind course is specifically designed for the responsible citizen and will educate the student about Islamic Extremist Terrorism. The student will be taught the mindset of a terrorist, the methods and places in which we are most likely to be attacked and then the tactics and weapons skills that can be used to save the lives of their families and themselves. This training school is a balanced program that will not only give the student a wealth of knowledge but it will also teach and improve the student’s firearms and tactics abilities. The lessons learned from this school can be utilized not only in countering terror attacks but also in other deadly force encounters. The attendee will be given the latest information/intelligence available in regards to terrorism tactics, plans and methods of attack.”

Now, I don’t even own a Glock, much less one with a Bar-Sto barrel in .357 Sig, but I can see the attraction for such a course. And I can also see that my money and time would be better spent in other training courses out there.

Unless your business is getting paid to counter terrorist threats, you’re not going to be up-to-date on “the latest information/intelligence available”  because that information is going to change the instant you leave the class.

For me and who I am, it’s much more important for me to have a skillset that is flexible to be adapted to a worst-case scenario like a terrorist attack or a mass shooting than it is to know what Al-Qaeada may be up to at this very moment.

One thing I learned as a photographer is how to improvise on the spot. If your location shoot is on hold because of a broken lighting accessory, a few A-Clamps, copious amounts of gaffer’s tape and a Leatherman on your hip are MUCH more useful than a big tool kit back in the studio.

A class in civilian counter-terrorism is the photographic equivalent of learning to light automobiles. Sure, it’s fun, and sure, you get some amazing results, but the fact is, the people who are good at specialized areas of photography tend to be good at just that area of their business, and no, you and your Nikon D70 will probably never be called on to shoot a bevy of supercars (Although I will say that having done such a shot in my career, they are a TREMOUNDOUS amount of fun and really push the limits of your logicstical and photographic abilities.).


Play the numbers. “Black swan” events like Aurora or Mumbai are horrible, but they are not likely (thank God!). Despite that, there’s probably going to be a lot of people out there signing up for a class in counter-terrorism abnd they’ll probably have a rockin’ good time doing so, but that sort of thing is not my bag, baby. It seems to me that if you’re concerned about counter-terrorism, CPR certification, a CERT class and an alert mind will go a long, long way to keep your community safe, and leave the counter-intelligence to the pros.

For me and mine, I think some time on the range with Massad Ayoob or Larry Vickers would do me a lot more good than learning specific counter-terrorist techniques…

… at least until Mrs. ExKev finishes sewing that extra ballistics plate onto the back of my armored vest, that is.

Quote Of The Day

Quote of the Day

“Took my kid to see Spiderman yesterday evening. That could have been us. And California refuses to let a 25 year Army infantryman carry a weapon. I shot expert with the M9 last time. I don’t know if I could have stopped it if I was there & armed. I just know I couldn’t unarmed.” 

Kurt Schlichter

In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Colorado today. May they find the solace they are looking for, and may justice be swift and sure for the (alleged) person who did this crime.

As Requested…

As requested…

My friend Vox asked me on Twitter earlier this week:

In the (slim) chance you haven’t seen it, this is what she’s talking about.

And here’s a link to the story.

I’m not a big fan of Monday-Morning-Quarterbacking this sort of thing because violent encounters are chaos situations and no two incidents will EVER be the same, but based on what I saw here, my initial reaction is Mr. Williams (the CCW holder) did almost everything right.

1. He walked away from a gunfight with the same amount of holes in his body he started the gunfight with.

2. He saw that the biggest threat was the guy with the gun close to him, saw an opening, and took it. The INSTANT he saw things were happening, he went to his gun, but did not draw until the opportunity presented itself. This is one advantage of a pocket pistol: Until you draw it, it looks like someone putting their hand in their pocket. I’d also note that he had a clear shot from less than five feet at center-mass with a .380ACP, and the shootee was able to scamper away.

3. He shot until the threat was stopped and then stopped shooting, which is EXACTLY what we’re supposed to do. Could the shots at the fleeing crooks be considered excessive force and come back to haunt him if one of the bad guys didn’t survive this encounter? Maybe. But in this case, Mr. Williams thought it was needed, and it worked.

4. I will say that Florida Internet cafes (which are really nothing but small legalized gambling halls) seem to attract a lot of armed robberies as of late, and that means you have a higher chance of being robbed if you go to one than if you go to, say, a library. That’s a risk/reward decision we all have to make for ourselves.

I could ding him on sitting with his back to the door and his lousy grip and stance, but I won’t: Unless we walk around in a state of quasi-paranoia, sometimes we do stuff like that because life happens. And that funky Weaver grip and point shooting at the end? Well, not everyone is Rob Leatham.

As to when and if to respond to a threat like this, that depends. In this case, given the outcome, I’d say Mr. Williams got it right because he and everyone else who wasn’t a crook walked away. In other cases? Don’t know, and I can’t know, because the next situation will be different. What I do know, to quote the Bard, is the readiness is all. Rather than say “Ok, if he does THIS, I’ll do THAT”, work on a set of loose guidelines. What are your options for an armed attacker at 21 feet or more? Less than 21 feet? What about a unarmed attacker? Do you know how to de-escalate an encounter with an irate drunk?

As for situational awareness, that didn’t really come into play here as the encounter went from peaceful “Condition Yellow” (or White) to bright shining Red in just a few seconds. Not a lot to be aware of here besides “Ok, do I do something or not?”, and in this case, doing something worked. In other cases, giving up your wallet and letting the robber walk might work. Which one is best? That depends on what is going on, and how you perceive the situation.

And look how many people JUST SAT THERE as a gunfight happened right in their laps. Their brains just weren’t up to the task of dealing with what was going on, and they were stuck in the “Observe” part of the OODA loop.

In this case, what Mr. Williams knew, he used to his fullest extent and came out on top of a close-range gunfight. That’s a win in anybody’s book.

Product Review : The Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network

Product Review : The Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network

At the end of last year’s post comparing of self-defence insurance policies, I wanted to make signing up for one of the plans a priority for me once my employment situation settled down.

It has, and I did.

After talking with a local attorney who’s known nationwide for firearms-related legal matters, I settled on The Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network, for the following reasons.

  1. Quality of available expert witnesses. If Massad Ayoob be for us, who can be against us?
  2. Performance. If the initial deposit and legal firepower behind the network isn’t enough, there’s the legal defense fund that’s available if warranted.
  3. Price. $85 a year versus $127 a year doesn’t seem like much, but it’s easier to justify to Mrs. Exkev (aka The Office Of Planning and Budget), and some is better than none.

And the icing on the is the DVD series they provide.

I just finished Disc Four, “Pre-Attack Indicators” with Marc MacYoung, and it’s fantastic. I shared some of the tips from it as I watched it with Mrs. ExKev, who’s a middle-school teacher so she could watch out for troublemakers in her classroom, and she suggested I teach what I told her to the other teachers at her school. This one DVD alone would be worth the $85.

I’m very happy so far with what The Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network has to offer. For about the same price as 400 rounds of 9mm, you’ll get the backup in the courtroom that your pistol can’t provide you.

There’s A Fine Line Between Stupid And Clever *

There’s a fine line between stupid and clever *

I started reading this article from the United States Concealed Carry Associated on defending yourself in your vehicle with great eagerness, as I realized that entering and exiting from a vehicle is a popular time for criminals to attack.

But then my inner Wonka started a-twitchin’. Do I really need to plan for an attack in my car beyond “keep an eye out for bad guys and have a plan if something happens”?

Probably not.

The mere fact that I’m usually aware of my surroundings should be deterrent enough to a goblin, as muggers aren’t going to go after hardened targets who seem to know what’s going on, they’re going to look for someone to sneak up on.

So yeah, it’s a good article, but no, I don’t think it’s for me, as I don’t think that I need to take it to that level.

And if you think you do, then I won’t say differently. We all live in our own worlds.

* Yep, it was a Spinal Tap reference


A Beginner’s Guide To Choosing Defensive And Practice 9mm Ammunition

A beginner’s guide to choosing defensive and practice 9mm ammunition

So you just bought your first defensive pistol, and you walk out of the store with your gun in its case, a box of defensive hollow-point ammunition and a box of cheaper Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) ammo for practice. No problem, because as long as it’s not +P ammo (which essentially means “more powerful than normal”), 9mm ammo is all alike, right?


Well, let’s find out.

First, a brief note about bullet weights. Bullets are just the thing that goes flying out the gun: The whole thing together is called “ammunition”, and bullet weight is measured in grains, with 437.5 of them in an ounce. As you’d expect, heavier bullets like 147 grain 9mm rounds shoot the bullet out at slightly slower speeds than lighter bullets, but because the rounds we tested are all “normal” 9mm ammunition and not “+P” (or “+P+”, which means, you guessed it, even more powerful 9mm rounds), at the end of the day, the energy of a lighter bullet going faster should be close to the same as a heavier bullet going slower and everything should even out.

Should, that is. Should. We’ll find out if this is true in a bit.

You can buy 115 grain FMJ grain ammo from any gun shop or online ammo store out there, and while it’s a very common choice for practice ammo because of its price and availability, it’s a poor choice for defensive purposes because the round nose of the bullet tends to punch through the target and not deliver its energy into what’s being hit, and when it comes to defensive ammo, you want to drop all the energy of the bullet into the target as quickly as possible and not have the bullet go through and hit something else. Hollow-point defensive ammunition is designed to do just that by expanding and slowing down when it hits something substantial, delivering its energy all at once and creating what’s known as “stopping power” onto the target. Stopping power is at least another four or five cans of worms to open up, so we’ll leave that for later. How does four years from next Tuesday work for you?

I digress.

Hollow-points are also more expensive, usually costing about twice as full metal jacketed round nose ammunition, so it’s very common for people to practice with FMJ’s and shoot their defensive ammunition sparingly, if at all.

So let’s find if there is a difference:

Given the same bullet weight, does commonly-available full metal jacket practice ammunition feel different to shoot than hollow-point defensive ammunition?

Ruger LC9 and Springfield XD9

We’ll do a blind test with two common 9mm handguns, a Ruger LC9 and a Springfield XD9, and since I can’t do a blind comparison by myself, (well, I could, but my local range refuses to allow me to shoot blindfolded. Go figure…), we’ve enlisted Robert and Jaci of help to shoot the test.

Ruger LC9 Test

This is good, because they’re both at a very similar level of shooting skill: They’re both “C” Class USPSA Production competitors and Sharpshooter in IDPA ESP, which is also about the same skill level as I am myself, so I’m very interested in seeing how this test comes out. They didn’t know what they were shooting for each test: I loaded their magazines for them and the boxes for the test ammo were nowhere in sight.

The Test:

Fire five rounds of each type of ammunition with each pistol at a 8 inch steel plate that’s 24 feet away. Start position will be pistol aimed on target, finger on trigger, and the shots should be taken as fast as possible while maintaining good hits.

Springfield XD9 Test

So let’s see how we did!

Test #1: Federal 115 Grain FMJ
1180 FPS – 356 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total (secs) Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.98 .83 2.29 1.34 .83 .69
Robert – XD9 3.16 .26 .64 .75 .91 .60

Jaci: “Straight push, light muzzle flip, recoil felt like a shove and not a hammer, not snappy at all”
Robert: “Soft, light push, slow felt recoil”

Test #2: 115 Grain Hornady XTP Hollow Point
1155 FPS – 341 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.35 .79 1.57 .79 1.41 .85
Robert – XD9 3.86 .26 1.06 .79 .67 1.06

Jaci: “Poppier with more muzzle flip, less push-back in my hand, louder report, still manageable”
Robert: “Soft, with not much felt recoil, easy to shoot, would use it in competition”

Test #3: 147 Grain American Eagle FMJ
1000 FPS – 327 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.32 1.17 .82 .84 1.70 .79
Robert – XD9 4.46 .32 1.35 .90 .78 1.11

Jaci: “Felt like gun was jumpier, more recoil, stung hands, barely manageable follow-up shots”
Robert: “Manageable, sharp push into hand, more flip, felt like it was a heavier bullet”

Test #4: 124 Grain Speer Gold Dot – 1150 FPS
364 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.00 1.16 .95 .94 .98 .97
Robert – XD9 4.14 .49 .92 .84 1.06 .83

Jaci: “Sharp recoil, lots of muzzle flip, snappy, hot”
Robert: “Stout recoil, drove gun into hand noticeably hard, felt like a punch in the hand”

Test #5: 124 Grain American Eagle FMJ
1150 FPS – 364 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.15 1.13 1.06 1.01 .98 .95
Robert – XD9 3.90 .30 1.02 .98 .85 .75

Jaci: “Snappy but light, some flip, manageable, comfortable and easy to shoot”
Robert: “Medium-soft, comfortable, some muzzle flip, would shoot it in competition”

Test #6: 115 Grain Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point
1210 FPS – 374 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.32 .96 1.01 1.57 .91 .87
Robert – XD9 3.65 .51 .96 .79 .75 .64

“Heavy and hot, lots of recoil, felt ‘abusive’, some flip but lots of felt recoil”
Robert: “Not a lot of muzzle flip but a strong push into back of hand, felt the sting afterwards”

Test # 7: 147 Grain Winchester White Box Hollow Point
990 FPS – 320 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.95 1.15 1.08 1.48 1.09 1.15
Robert – XD9 4.08 .54 1.00 .83 .78 .98

Jaci: “Lots of muzzle flip, most of all the tested rounds, manageable felt recoil”
Robert: “More muzzle flip, sharp but not overly heavy felt recoil”

Shot 1, Shot 2, ETC: How long it took to get the next shot shot on target. Jaci had some problems at first with the looong trigger pull on the LC9 versus her usual gun, which is why some of the scores in the first two tests are a little weird.
Red Numbers:
A miss. Oops.
Bullet speed in Feet Per Second, or how fast the manufacturer says the bullet is going when it comes out of the barrel of the gun. This can change with different types of guns, so the numbers quoted here and from the ammunition manufacturers themselves.
Muzzle Energy: The theoretical force the bullet has as it leaves the end of the gun, which equals (Bullet Speed x Bullet Speed x Weight of the Bullet) / 450,240. More is better here, but remember, Newton’s Third Law of Motion means there’s going to be an equal and opposite amount of force to the force that goes out of the end of the barrel and that means more recoil and less control.


All 9mm “normal pressure” ammo is NOT created equal. Even though all these rounds are considered “normal” and not “+P”, there are big differences in how the ammo felt to shoot. We chose “normal” ammunition for this test because of the recent popularity of small and subcompact 9mm pistols: Because of their size, some of those pistols cannot shoot +P ammuniton safely, and even if you could, you don’t want to shoot +P ammo in a small 9mm because the added recoil and muzzle flip makes it a VERY unpleasant experience with little to no upside.

Surprisingly there wasn’t a big difference in the shot-to-shot times between each type of ammunition, indicating that while some brands and bullets weights FELT easier to shoot, and the end of the day, it’s the person shooting the gun and not the ammunition that matters. That being said, ammunition that feels easier to shoot will get shot more often, something to take into account as you choose your practice ammo.

It’s also important to note that we’ve reached a point in ballistics and bullet development that almost ANY of the modern hollow-point ammunition from the “name-brand” manufacturers will work as a defensive round and provide enough “stopping power.” I could link to literally thousands of blog posts and forum comments and reasoned opinions from some really, really smart people, but at the end of the day, with a few notable exceptions (Glaser Safety Slugs and similar “frangible” ammunition being one), all modern hollow-point ammo will do the job it needs to when it needs to it. The point of this test wasn’t to find The Ultimate Manstopper, it was to team up the best defensive ammo for your practice ammo of choice, and vice versa.

Judging by these results, if you practice regularly with Federal 115 Grain FMJ ammunition, you may want to consider the 115 Grain Hornady XTP over the 115 Grain Speer Gold Dot ammunition. If you shoot with 124 Grain FMJ’s, and unless you’re convinced that Speer Gold Dots are The Ultimate Man-Stopper, you may want to pass on them in favour of something with a little less recoil that more closely matches the ammo you train with. However, if you have 147 Grain Winchesters Hollow Points in the 9mm you rely on for personal protection, 147 Grain American Eagle FMJ’s seem to be a good choice for a practice round for you.

As for me, I’m changing defensive ammo as soon as I can afford it. I practice with 115 grain Federal FMJ ammunition, but the CZ P07 I carry currently has 124 Grain Speer Gold Dots in it, which means that if (God Forbid) I have to use that gun with that ammo in it, how the gun will react to the ammo and how I will react to what the gun is doing will be different than how the ammo I practice with reacts. I’ll be switching those out in favour of Hornady XTP’s as soon as I can, because in the end, you want your training and practice to be as close to what you’re training and practicing FOR as you possibly can get it.

Stay safe, have fun,

profile_pic_smHey, if you liked this, feel free to come back often. I write about this kinda stuff almost every day, and the best way to keep track of things is by following the site on Facebook.




Thanks to Lucky Gunner for some of the ammo used in this test, Jaci and Robert of TeamGunblogger for their help, and Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club for the use of their pistol bay and steel target.

Are USPSA And IDPA “martial Arts” ?

Are USPSA and IDPA “martial arts” ?


Last week’s discussion at the Power Factor Show on training for practical pistol covered topics like learning footwork and hand position and drills and training schools.

Which are the same things you talk about in a traditional martial art. And given the martial origins of kendo, karate, kung-fu, krav maga, etc, and the defensive applications of IDPA and the origins of USPSA …

Update: Poll removed because it wasn’t playing nice with our content management system.

The Five Dollar Trigger Trainer

The Five Dollar Trigger Trainer

I’ve been playing around with my son’s cap gun as of late, and durn if I didn’t notice that working the trigger on that cheap little toy gun was a decent approximation of a double-action trigger, including a very distinct reset for helping with trigger slap. No one will ever mistake it for the smooth workings on my S&W K22, but what it does, it does well. And cheaply.

My trigger slap has pretty much disappeared as of late, and I credit a lot of the reasons why it did on this little gizmo. And for five bucks, why not?

More …

Reset Button

Reset Button

I agree 100% with Todd here

Practice the reset. People talk about the DA-to-SA transition but really if you think about it, every single time you reset the trigger it is going to SA mode. So once you learn how to reset the trigger properly, you always follow that up with a light, short, smooth SA trigger stroke regardless of whether the previous shot was DA or SA. While a lot of people get wrapped up on trying to guarantee they reset as short as possible, the most important thing is to maintain contact between your trigger finger and the trigger throughout the string of fire. When people let their fingers move all the way forward to where the trigger would be in DA mode, they lose contact with the trigger and become far more likely to slap it on the next shot. 

Learning to reset the trigger correctly has made the biggest difference so far in my shooting. It (mostly) got rid of my trigger jerk and dramatically improved my accuracy. Learning to ride the trigger from *BANG* to *click* is quick and easy and should be the next thing a shooter learns after “aim, breathe, squeeze”. 

More …

Something That’s BUGging Me.

Something that’s BUGging me.

We’ve had a bunch of good, small 9mm’s arrive on gun store shelves as of late. The Ruger LC9, the Sig P239, the S+W Shield and the Beretta Nano are all first-rate and teeny-tiny defensive pistols that are VERY popular right now. 

And if you want to compete with any of those guns, your choice is IDPA BUG (BackUp Gun) matches … 

… and that’s about it. 

I’m not a big fan of BUG gun matches because they’re one-size-fits all. To quote from the IDPA Rulebook,

All CoF for the Back-Up Gun Division must be limited to five (5) rounds maximum per string (no reloads on the clock) to allow autos and revolver shooters to compete equally.

Which kinda sucks if you own a small 9mm that holds more than 5 rounds, as 5 round stages are BORING.

So BUG matches are 5 rounds only, which leaves pocket 9mm owners without a match to shoot. Even a comparatively short 14 round IDPA stage is a looooooong time to be shooting with one these little guns (even if  you can talk your way into shooting in whatever division you manage to hornswaggle yourself into) and even if you do, you’ll most likely run out of ammo before you run out of targets if you shoot an IDPA stage with these guns. 


How do we “train like we fight, fight like we train” if there’s a dearth of competitions out there in which to train? Maybe something like a Steel Challenge or Bianchi cup for BUG guns, where each match consists of the four same stages all the time, and those stages would be designed to reflect a variety of “Real world” scenarios. 

Something like this… 

BUG stage 1

Limited Vickers count. The idea here is to practice retreating to cover and the need to do a “failure to stop drill” when needed. I specifically avoided the “Put two on T1, three on T2” type of briefing because we just don’t know when we’ll have to do a failure to stop, and leaving it up to the shooter to decide is more reflective of that fact. 

BUG stage 2

An “Oops, what the heck is going on here!” stage, designed to help with opening doors while armed, movement and use of cover. 

BUG Stage 3

A simple mugging defense scenario, based on the classic scene from Collateral (minus the final coup de grace, of course…). 

BUG Stage 4

Again, a “Oh, crap, what’s going on!” stage. I hate stages that are supposed to represent “surprise” real-world scenarios but then have you start out facing your target, knowing where everything is in relationship with where you are. 

And yeah, there’s no distances written on any of these stages, as these are just me spitballin’ what a standardized defensive match format might look like, but figure 10 yards as a maximum distance for any target. 

So that’s just one idea I had to get all those pocket 9mm’s out of their boxes and on to the range. IDPA was created before sales of pocket guns went through the ceiling, so their idea of a “defensive” gun hasn’t caught up (yet) with what we’re carrying, so there’s an opportunity out there for “IDPA V2” to accomodate gun owners and their brand new pocket pistols.