Your Personal Protection Tool Box

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 10.04.17 PMMany people, me included at one time, believe that the only personal protection measures they need to take is to purchases a firearm and carry it with them all the time.  Some people who conceal carry have a feeling of invincibility because they think that the gun they have strapped to their body will protect them from any bad things that may come their way.  Many people who think this are in for a rude awakening.

A firearm is but one tool in an individual’s personal protection tool box.  As you live your daily life and go about your business interacting with hundreds of people each day, you have the potential to be confronted by one or more of the bad elements who live among us.  Not every situation will warrant a firearm being introduced and not every situation that does warrant a firearm will afford you the opportunity to deploy it.  It’s for these times that you are going to need other options.

Because discussing every aspect of personal protection isn’t feasible in one article, let’s focus our attention on situations where a firearm is necessary for your protection, but can’t be deployed for one reason or another.

Badguys don’t live by the same rules that you and I do.  Some are prone to extreme violence and they don’t care who, or how many people they hurt as a means to an end. If you are in a crowded theatre, or a store or a restaurant and are confronted by an armed individual, you may not have the option of shooting your gun.  Doing so could result in an innocent person being injured or killed if they unfortunately find themselves as part of your backdrop.  Badguys don’t care if shooting at you results in a child being killed behind you because they either missed or the bullet over penetrated the target.  We are law abiding citizens who care about the consequences of such actions so we must be mindful of our backdrop and if it isn’t clear, you cannot shot, no matter what.  (An active shooter changes things but that’s a subject for a different article.)

Statistics tell us that most gun fights occur at a range of 7 yards or 21 feet.  At that range, an average person can close the distance to zero in 1.5 seconds.  Can you draw your weapon from concealment that quickly?  What if the distance between you and the badguy is only 5 feet or 3 feet or arms length?  What then?  Well, drawing your weapon isn’t going to be an option so you will need to either find a way to increase the time it takes the badguy to get to you or find another way to defend against an attack.  You might have plenty of warning inside your home if somebody tries to break in, but out on the street, well it’s likely you won’t have any warning.  You are going to have to have a backup plan.

So what to do you ask?  First of all, you need to have good situational awareness.  This increases the time you have to react to bad situations, or better yet avoid them all together.  Next, you need to practice deploying your firearm from it’s concealed location.  Don’t just strap on a gun and think everything will be okay.  Lastly, you need to learn some kind of self-defense method that does not utilize a firearm, because as we have seen, your firearm isn’t always going to be available to you.

My suggestion, and if you do some research you will find many options for self-defense, is a system developed by Tim Larkin called “5 Second Survival.”  It’s an easy to learn system that doesn’t get all mucked up in spirituality or complicated physical maneuvers like martial arts do.  Not that there is anything wrong with martial arts, but they are more of a sport type method for fighting and not specifically design for self-defense. The methods Tim Larkin developed are easy to learn and don’t depend on a person being like Bruce Lee to master.  I utilize his methods and believe they are a fantastic complement to carrying a firearm for personal protection.

So if you are like some and believe that a firearm is the be all end all in self-defense, you need to change that way of thinking because the life you save just might be your own.

Don’t just survive, thrive!

Dennis

P.S. – I do not work for or receive any compensation from Tim Larkin or his company.  I have looked into many self-defense systems currently being taught and I believe that what he and his team teach is superior to other systems.  With that said, don’t just take my word for it, do your own research and make an educated decision.

Carrying a firearm for personal protection brings with it an awesome responsibility.  You have the power to change a person’s world forever, and even the power to take their life.  It is you duty as a responsible gun owner to always obey the cardinal rules of firearms safety and to understand the laws where you live and travel with your gun.  Do your due diligence become educated on the use of force continuum and become proficient with your firearm before you leave home.

 

To Conceal, or Not to Conceal?

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 2.10.33 PMThere is a debate out there among some as to whether open carry is a better option than concealed carry when it comes to personal protection.  I had never really given it much thought since I had always carried concealed, but given the recent political environment we in the United States find ourselves in, I figured I’d weigh in on the subject.

There are a couple of arguments that some make as to why open carry is better.  First, the gun is easy to get to and can be deployed in a hurry when one doesn’t have to worry about clearing clothing items away from the firearm.  The advantage of this is obvious, so no further discussion is needed.

Next, those who open carry claim that by having the firearm out in the open, it is a deterrent to crime.  This is debatable and I have not seen a study that answers the question either way.  It is a fact that police officers practice open carry daily, and some police officers, in fact thousands of them are assaulted each and every year.  Now I know that most of the time when an officer is assaulted by a criminal, it is during an arrest type situation, or when an officer has observed a criminal already engaged in committing a crime, so comparing officers getting assaulted to civilians isn’t fair, but it does give us some insight into the criminal mind.  It tells us that some badguys will choose to ignore the firearm and the officer’s ability to utilize it resulting in said badguy being killed, and go ahead and assault the officer anyway.  So since death or imprisonment doesn’t deter them, don’t think that the mere sight of the gun on a civilian’s hip will either.

While I agree that the gun in an open carry posture is easier to deploy than when it is concealed, I do not believe that a firearm openly carried on a person’s hip is much of a deterrent of crime.  But there is a third reason that many in the open carry community cite for why they do it, and that is to affect a political change.  The hope is that the more people who open carry, the more accustomed to seeing guns in public those who are afraid of guns will become and the less of a negative stigma firearms will have in today’s modern society.  While I applaud that effort, and whole heartedly agree with it, from a stand point of personal protection, I tend to side with the camp that thinks concealed carry is a better option.

While it is certainly easier to draw a weapon openly carried, it is also easier to have that gun taken from you.  I have never heard of a person having their firearm taken from its concealed location, but I have heard of it being taken from an open carry location or taken during a struggle after it was drawn.  If a badguy doesn’t know it’s there, he isn’t going to make an effort to take it.  Why would he?  But if you wear it on the hip openly, you now have to become skilled in weapon retention, and, you will need to go out a purchase a holster that is has a level 1, 2 or 3 retention system.  Most law enforcement agencies have holster systems that are at a minimum level 2, and as a civilian who open carries, I strongly recommend you do too.  This adds cost to the holster and results in a new skill set as you will need to learn how to manipulate the level 2 retention systems.

Next, let’s look at open carry from the perspective of a badguy.  Who is a bigger threat to him, an armed civilian or an unarmed civilian?  Obviously it’s the person without a gun, so when a badguy assess the situation, and believe me they do, they will find the threat, or the obstacle that stands in their way and eliminate it.  If I am hell bent on robbing a bank and am willing to let nothing stand in my way, (refer to the Los Angles bank robbery incident) the second I break the plain of the front door, I am looking for threats and will eliminate the closest as soon as I identify it.  Since most banks have elected not to employ armed security, a citizen with a gun strapped to their hip will be the most likely obstacle standing between me, and a several thousand dollar pay off.

There are two other reason why I prefer concealed carry over open carry, first, as crazy as this sounds, there are many locales that allow concealed carry but not open carry.  This defies all kinds of logic but it is what it is.  Second, we live in a society today that fears law abiding citizens with guns more than they do badguys committing rape, robbery and murder.  Again, this mindset flies in the face of all logic and common sense, but it is what it is.  Will open carry change that thinking, perhaps, but for now it tends to create a lot of issues when ignorant people call the police on a law abiding citizen practicing his constitutional rights.  What makes matters worse is when an ignorant officer shows up to handle the call.  For my money it’s just easier to carry concealed.

With all of that said, I will not argue for one second with a person who wants to open carry.  I on occasion still practice it and I feel that concealed carry is only marginally better.  Any down side there is to open carry can be overcome with proper education and training as with any down side there might be to concealed carry.  And there are certainly situations in which open carry is better than concealed and vice versa, and since you don’t know in advance which situation you will find yourself in, it’s impossible to know which is better on any particular day.

How you choose to carry a firearm for personal protection is just as personal as what kind of gun you carry or what type of holster you use.  Just remember, if you carry, carry every day, all day.

Don’t just survive, thrive!

Dennis

Carrying a firearm for personal protection brings with it an awesome responsibility.  You have the power to change a person’s world forever, and even the power to take their life.  It is you duty as a responsible gun owner to always obey the cardinal rules of firearms safety and to understand the laws where you live and travel with your gun.  Do your due diligence become educated on the use of force continuum and become proficient with your firearm before you leave home.

 

 

Holsters: How to Pick Em

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 9.17.53 PMLet me begin this article by saying that if you carry a firearm concealed, you must carry it in a holster.  There are a lot of details about which is the best holster for you to carry your handgun in that we can debate, but what is not debatable is whether or not you should use a holster in the first place.  You absolutely should!  Carrying a handgun on your person that is not in a holster is not safe, and safety is priority one bar none.  Discussion over on that point.

Okay, so now that we have gotten that out of the way, lest discuss picking the right holster for the job.  In my experience, there are three primary things to consider when choosing a concealed carry holster:

  1.  Does the holster secure the weapon properly and protect the trigger from accidentally being manipulated?
  2.  Is the holster comfortable enough to wear all day, every day?
  3. Are you able to retrieve the weapon in a timely and efficient manner when “it” hits the fan?

Any good holsters primary function will be to secure the firearm and protect the trigger.  When we talk about securing the handgun, we talk in terms of retention.  The vast majority of holsters on the market will be classified as either zero retention, level 1, level 2 or level 3 retention.  Zero retention means that the gun just sits in the holster and can basically fall out if turned upside down.  Other than a little bit of friction and gravity, there is nothing that keeps the gun secure.

If you open carry, zero retention is foolish as your gun can be easily taken from you or even just fall out depending on what you are doing.  If it is concealed, obviously it isn’t likely to be taken from you by a bad guy, but it can still fall out should you find yourself in a struggle or you trip and fall walking down the street.  I can’t imagine how embarrassing it would be to fall walking into a store and then have your firearm slide across the floor in front of you, not to mention how freaked out people who witness it will be.  I have two concealed carry holsters that would be classified as zero retention, however, one is all leather and fitted to my gun resulting in a very snug fit that requires a slight bit of force to unholster.  The gun will not fall out of the holster if turned upside down, but it would still be considered a zero retention holster.  In my eyes, it secures the firearm in sufficiently enough to prevent it from falling out and so it qualifies as a level 1 retention.  The other one I have, although molded to my guns specific dimensions still does not hold it in very securely, so I rarely every use it anymore.  It is truly a zero retention holster.  It was the first in the waistband holster (IWB) I ever bought, and it was the last by that particular manufacturer.  Lesson learned on my part.Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 9.16.22 PM

A level 1 retention holster means that you need to manipulate a safety break on the holster in order to remove the firearm.  Generally this would be some kind of strap with a snap that goes over the back of the grip.  Level 2 means there are 2 safety breaks to manipulate and level 3 means there are 3.  You will generally find level 2 and 3 retention systems on holsters made for open carry and usually those are worn by police or military.  Most civilians never go past level 1, and for purposes of concealed carry, I don’t think its necessary to have anything more than that.  But I would recommend that you utilize some kind of retention holster.

Currently me favorite holster for concealed carry is made by X Concealment.  It’s a Kydex holster that is specifically sized for my particular handgun.  The retention system is internal and works by applying tension, adjustable with a screw to the trigger guard of the gun when it is holstered.  The gun snaps into place when inserted and stays secure until upward pressure is applied.  The amount of pressure is determined on an individual basis by the adjustable tension screw.  The firearm stays secure when worn and is easily removed when needed, but won’t fall out should you take a tumble or get into a physical altercation.  I wear mine inside the waistband, but with the X Concealment holster, it can be converted easily to be worn outside the waistband if you prefer.

The other half of securing the firearm properly is protecting the trigger from accidentally being manipulated.  When you carry concealed, your gun will be interacting with clothing.  When that occurs, especially in a high stress situation, it is critical that you be able to retrieve the firearm in a way that doesn’t result in the trigger accidentally getting caught in the clothing or your finger getting caught inside the trigger guard.  There are IWB holsters that basically clip onto the gun and then onto the waistband that don’t cover the trigger. For my money this is a bad idea so I do not recommend them.

One final thought on securing your firearm.  While I prefer some type of retention, there are fine holsters made by reputable manufacturers that don’t have a retention system other than good ole fashion gravity.  For some people that works for them, so if that is acceptable to you, by al means go for it, provided the firearm is comfortable to wear and easily accessible, which brings me to my next criteria, comfort.

A firearm does you no good when “it” happens if it’s locked away at home because it isn’t comfortable to wear.  The number one excuse people who are qualified to carry concealed don’t, is comfort.  In the last two decades, and especially in the last 10 years, there has been an explosion on the market of concealed carry holsters.  We could talk about holsters for hours and still not cover all of your options.  If you cannot find a holster that is comfortable, it’s because you aren’t trying, because there are hundreds if not thousand of options.  Don’t settle for a holster if it isn’t comfortable to wear, because you will eventually stop wearing it.  Comfort might seem superficial when we are talking about your personal security, but it is a huge consideration when we are talking about everyday carry.

Lastly, we need to be able to retrieve the weapon in a timely and efficient manner when “it” happens.  Like I just mentioned, there are literally hundreds of concealed carry holster options that will enable you to carry your firearm just about anywhere on your body.  From your ankle all the way to your upper torso, there is virtually no place on the body that somebody hasn’t made a holster to fit.  And while comfort is important, it also must be functional.  If it takes you 30 seconds to move your clothing out of the way, retrieve your gun and then put the sights on target, you are probably already too late for the fight.  Where you carry is dictated by the size of the gun, what type of clothing you are wearing and your body type, so picking the right holster is going to be a personal choice, just remember you have to be able to get to it quickly.  For the most part, this will be determined by how much you practice.  You can strap a gun anywhere on your body and become proficient enough to get to it fast if you practice.  So to quote Yoda, practice you must.

That’s a lot to digest for now and in my next article, I will talk more about your holster options from a stand point of styles and body placement.  When you starting shopping for one, remember the criteria I have outlined and you will be okay.  Oh, one more point, always remember to spend good money on good equipment.  If you are serious about personal protection, a 5 dollar holster is a huge mistake.  Do your research and spend a few extra dollars getting a good quality holster and you it will last virtually a lifetime.  More on that point latter.

Don’t just survive, thrive!

Dennis

Carrying a firearm for personal protection brings with it an awesome responsibility.  You have the power to change a person’s world forever, and even the power to take their life.  It is you duty as a responsible gun owner to always obey the cardinal rules of firearms safety and to understand the laws where you live and travel with your gun.  Do your due diligence become educated on the use of force continuum and become proficient with your firearm before you leave home.

 

 

 

Situational Awareness

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 10.31.13 PMThe absolute best way to guarantee that you survive an armed encounter is to stay out of one.  I do not care how well you think your training is or how many skills you think you have developed and mastered behind the gun, once you get involved in an armed encounter, the outcome is never certain.  Lets face it, bad guys aren’t exempt from getting lucky from time to time.

Predators, be it a lion, or a wolf or a violent criminal will always try and pick the easiest target.  Why chance defeat when you can all but guarantee victory by going after the weakest, least capable prey.  And just like lions and wolves, violent criminals have a keen ability to spot the easiest targets among us.  Many people make it way to easy.

The “tactical” term for being aware of what is going on around you and making decisions based on your surroundings is situational awareness.  Learning to be situationally aware is the key to reducing the odds of getting into trouble.   If you possess situational awareness, you will be able to navigate even the worse of neighborhoods successfully.  Of course, staying out of bad neighborhoods is probably the first rule to follow if you want to reduce the risk of an encounter with a violent offender.  But I know that there are many reasons that this may not be possible, so reducing your risk is key.

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You first need to understand where you are and what goes on it that neighborhood.  If rapes, robberies and assaults are a daily occurrence, you need to on high alert for trouble, especially if you are there at night as the hours of darkness is the most likely time a violent encounter between strangers will occur.  If you are in an area that has never seen a violent crime, the odds of one happening while you are there aren’t very high.  But be aware that anything can happen, so be alert just the same.

Next, you need to keep your eyes and ears open ALL the time and keep your attention on your surroundings.  I can’t tell you how stupid it is to walk around texting or with earbuds in listening to music.  There are times when those kinds of things are perfectly okay, but while walking out in public isn’t one of them.   First of all, a smart phone in your hand with your attention being focused on it, instead of the world around you is a major invitation to thieves.  Smart phones are a major attraction to bad guys and the reason for many robberies.  I have literally seen people run into stuff and each other because their nose was buried in the phone.  Earbuds are also a no-no because even if you are aware of what is going on around you, anybody can walk up behind you and assault you before you even know they are there.

Now it isn’t enough to just be keenly aware of what is going on,  you must also process correctly that information and make the correct decisions based on it.  It’s not enough to know that a particular location is a bad place to be, you must weight the pros and cons of being there.  If you are aware that an area is high in crime, and you go there without just cause, then you haven’t practiced good situational awareness.  Maybe staying out of trouble is as simple as taking a detour around a particular location that might not be wise to be in.  The route might add ten minutes to your trip, but you will arrive at your destination safely.

Sizing people up isn’t as hard as you might think and it is critical to being situationally aware.   Is that guy down the street with a gun a potential threat?  Well, if he is wearing a police officers uniform, he isn’t likely a threat.  If he is wearing his gun on his hip and pushing a baby stroller, he isn’t likely a threat.  In fact, most armed bad guys hide their guns until they are ready to use them, so when you size people up, let your instincts take over and trust them.  Bad guys come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and yes, sexes, but more times than not, you will know one when you see one.

Now I could talk for hours on the tactics of situational awareness, but you should have gotten the point by now.  Pull your head out of your ass and pay attention to what is going on around you and trust your instants.  If something doesn’t seem right, take action, be aggressive by taking a proactive approach to your personal protection.  If you keep your senses actively scanning for trouble, you will see it coming before trouble sees you.  More times than not, trouble can be avoided without incident, and thats our main objective anyway.

Don’t just survive, thrive!

Dennis

Carrying a firearm for personal protection brings with it an awesome responsibility.  You have the power to change a person’s world forever, and even the power to take their life.  It is you duty as a responsible gun owner to always obey the cardinal rules of firearms safety and to understand the laws where you live and travel with your gun.  Do your due diligence become educated on the use of force continuum and become proficient with your firearm before you leave home.

 

Shoot to Wound?

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 1.46.40 AMI am often asked by students in my concealed carry class if it is ever acceptable for them to shoot a person in the leg or the arm instead of center mass.  Since most of the students in this class are new to firearms, they don’t understand how difficult it is to properly aim a shot at a small target under the stress of a life or death situation.  (Even trained law enforcement officers miss 75% of the time during an armed encounter.) It just makes sense to them that if you can wound a person in a part of the body that is not as likely to cause death as, say the chest would be, why not do so.  After all, it’s the compassionate thing to do, right?

I can certainly appreciate why somebody would be hesitant to shot another person in the chest.  More times than not, a bullet in the chest will result in death.  Since most people are civilized, the thought of killing another person, or in any way being responsible for their death is a vile prospect.  But in a violent encounter with a bad guy, it is unfortunately the nature of the beast.

The reason bad guys come out on top more times than not is because they don’t see a problem with employing violence to achieve their mission.  Violent offenders are not governed by the same moral compass that the vast majority of people live by.  Violence doesn’t mean the same thing to them as it does to you and I, it is just a means to an end.  In some individuals, the violence is the best part.  It’s not about the sex with a rapist, it’s about the power and control over another person.  The sex is secondary in their mind and for the vast majority, it’s something that they didn’t even enjoy.  But what a rush they got from the control they were able to garner over another human being.

The average person who practices everyday concealed carry must understand that the firearm is just a tool to be employed in only the direst of circumstances.  It should be utilized as a last resort and if you have made the conscience decision to shot, you must do so knowing that the likelihood exist that the person on the receiving end of the bullet is going to die.  If you are not prepared for that or if the circumstance does not justify it, then you had no business pulling the trigger in the first place.

In the context of self-defense, a firearm is a tool that once deployed, will most like result in death.  In fact, that is what the firearm is intended to do.  So prepare yourself mentally, physically and spiritually for that eventuality, or leave the gun at home.

Don’t just survive, thrive!

Dennis

Carrying a firearm for personal protection brings with it an awesome responsibility.  You have the power to change a person’s world forever, and even the power to take their life.  It is you duty as a responsible gun owner to always obey the cardinal rules of firearms safety and to understand the laws where you live and travel with your gun.  Do your due diligence become educated on the use of force continuum and become proficient with your firearm before you leave home.