Two Often Forgotten Components of Your Gun Cleaning & Maintenance Routine

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 3.57.27 PMI am a vocal advocate for regularly cleaning and ops checking your concealed carry firearm. When you really need it, there aren’t any second chances. It will either go bang or click with the latter leading to some very unpleasant ramifications. So if you aren’t at least performing monthly cleaning, oiling and operational checking of your firearm(s), you should start doing so immediately.

Your regular routine to ensure your firearm is running smoothly shouldn’t end with the firearm itself; after all, there are other critical components to your concealed carry system. Two of those components that need as much attention as your gun are the holster and the ammunition. Both have to work flawlessly when called upon or those unpleasant ramifications will rear their ugly head.

When inspecting your holster, ensure that there are no cracks or tares, no missing or loose screws or rivets and make sure the firearm is held securely in place without any unnecessary play. And lastly, make sure the firearm will come out of the holster when needed. If you are using a leather holster and it gets wet, there is a chance the leather will shrink making the firearm hard, or down right impossible to draw. I know of an individual who never separated the firearm and holster, he just took the holster off with the gun in it to store it. There came a time when the gun and holster found themselves out in the rain while this individual was on duty. A few weeks passed and while at the range, the staff wanted to inspect all the weapons. When this individual attempted to remove the gun for inspection, it would not come out of the holster because the leather had contracted. The firearm was so stuck that the holster had to be cut off. Now imagine needing that gun in an emergency.

I store my gun in the holster to protect it, but I always remove it before I put the holster on and further draw the gun out a few times to ensure everything is in working order.

If you have a holster with some kind of mechanical retention system, every time you strap it on, you should be ops checking the holster to be sure the retention system releases when it should and retains the gun properly when it should. Also be sure to clean out the mechanical device should it become dirty while in use.

The next component to be regularly inspected is the ammunition. The gun and holster can be working fine, but if the ammo is bad, the pesky unpleasant ramifications will poke their head out.

First of all, I strongly suggest you use ammunition manufactured for personal defense for everyday carry as opposed to ammo made for target practice. While both are generally manufactured on the same assembly line, the quality control standards are higher for your “duty” ammo. When I find bad ammo, it’s almost always practice or target ammo, but on occasion you will find “duty” ammo with flaws. Some you won’t be able to detect, but most you will. Look for missing primers or primers that are pressed too far into the casing to be struck by the firing pin. Look for ammo with a bulge in the casing. Sometimes the bullet isn’t perfectly lined up when it is pressed in causing the casing to protrude out ever so slightly. This will cause the round to either not feed or if it does feed, it won’t eject properly. I recently saw a casing like this get stuck in the barrel requiring a vice and mallet to free. So when you load from the box, take the time to inspect for defects.

Lastly, humidity can create issue with the ammunition over time. Even if your gun doesn’t get wet, if you carry it next to your body, the moisture from your body will create a humid environment. In and out of the heat can also create issues with humidity building up on the firearm and the rounds. So inspect for any signs that humidity has damaged the round and rotate you duty ammunition yearly replacing it with a fresh box.

So remember, its good practice to regularly clean and inspect your gun(s), but don’t neglect the other key components to you firearms successful operation, the holster and ammunition. Remember, a click during a gun fight is the loudest sound in the world.

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.

Four Gun Safety Rules to LIVE By

Four firearm safety rules to live by presented by Team Glock.

Don’t just survive, thrive!

Dennis

 

Its Not Your Gear, Its Your Training

Green ear muffsGreen ear muffsI recently read two articles that each targeted a specific piece of equipment stating that they were unsafe for use. The first article spoke specifically about the Blackhawk Serpa holster and the second about handgun mounted lights. Both articles which were totally unrelated to each other point to the fact that both the holster and the gun mounted light encouraged accidental discharges and thus should not be used. Having extensive experience with both this particular holster and with handgun mounted lights, I have to disagree wholeheartedly with the conclusions of both the articles authors. (I will say, however, if you don’t feel safe using a particular piece of gear, then don’t use it. I only speak for myself based on my personal experience.)

I will be doing an article soon to address some of the other issues that are alleged to accompany the Serpa holster, but for now I will stick to the issue of accidental discharges. Let me first explain how the retention system on this holster is disabled for those not familiar with it. The Blackhawk Serpa has a button on the side that is activated with the index finger to release the holsters retention mechanism allows the firearm to be removed. It is the depressing of this button with the index finger, the very same finger used to pull the trigger that is the source of concern for those who don’t like this holster.

I have used the Serpa holster for open carry while on the job and have trained, and trained with hundreds of other using this holster with no issues what so ever over the last 5 year. If activated properly with an extended and ridged index finger, it is impossible for the finger to accidentally engage the trigger causing an accidental discharge. It simply cannot happen. A square peg won’t fit into a round hole.

As for the gun light, the issues some have appear to arise because some have been trained to engage the gun light with the same index finger used to manipulate the trigger. In a high stress situation, it is possible to overdo it with the index finger and inadvertently hit the trigger. It is also possible during this same kind of high stress situation to completely miss the gun lights activation button hitting the trigger inadvertently instead. In both instances, an accidental discharge is possible.

In the case of the gun light, manipulating the gun lights on / off button with ones trigger finger is bad technique and should not be taught. The proper way to activate the light is with the thumb of the support hand making accidental trigger manipulation an almost impossibility.

In both the holster and gun light scenario, poor technique encouraged by poor training was the real cause of the increased incidents of accidental discharges, not bad equipment.

I harken back to the early days of the Glock pistol when its distractors believed that the lack of an external safety and the lite trigger pull was the reason for so many perceived AD’s. It had nothing to do the either, rather, it was caused by the trigger finger being on the trigger when it wasn’t supposed to be. Again, poor technique and or training.

As in so many other areas in life, we always look to blame the “object” when bad things go wrong instead of the person in control of the “object.” It wasn’t the SUV that ran over the pedestrian in the crosswalk, it was the person driving the SUV, and it is the gun that kills, it’s the person pulling the trigger. But the SUV and the gun are always to blame when bad things happen.

As a responsible gun owner, be it a private citizen, law enforcement officer, security guard or member of the military, it is on you to receive proper training in the safe handling of firearms and to practice said training always. It is also incumbent upon you to point out an unsafe condition when you see it. Guns do not shoot themselves; it is the person behind the gun who initiates the firing sequence. It time that this fact is accepted. Absolutely there is bad gear out there, but not every bad thing that happens is a result of bad gear. Sometimes when things go wrong, the answer to how and why can be found in the mirror.

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.

 

Should I Fire a Warning Shot?

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 3.08.38 AMWhen I teach new shooters the basics of everyday concealed carry, one point I make during my lecture is to always shoot center mass in an effort to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible. Almost without fail, a hand will go up and the inevitable question is asked. Dennis, why can’t we just fire a warning shot or perhaps shoot the bad guy in the leg or arm? Isn’t either of those two options better than shooting a man in the chest or stomach which could result in death?

Here is my response to both the warning shot and shooting to “wound” questions. No, and here is why.

Anytime you fire your gun during a self-defense situation, you are utilizing deadly force. I don’t care if you point the gun straight to the ground, death or grave bodily harm is always a possibility when a firearm is discharged around others. Firing a warning shot means you are either pointing the gun over the bad guys head and shooting a projectile aimlessly into the air, or pointing it down and firing it aimlessly into the ground. In either case, you cannot be sure that the bullet will come to rest in a safe place. Doing this is not acting in a responsible manner which can result in the death or grave bodily harm of another human being, one that may not be engaged in threatening you, but might just be innocently going about his daily business.

Aside from not being the responsible thing to do, firing a warning shot is actually a felony in some states and I will guarantee, you will have your firearm permanently confiscated by the government.

When you fire your weapon, be it at the range, on the street or in your home in a self-defense situation, you are responsible for each and every round you fire. Where that round goes is your responsibility whether you are shooting at the bad guy or just firing a warning shot. You must know your target and what surrounds it and know when you can and cannot shoot. A warning shot increases the chances that the bullet will end up someplace you didn’t intend it to go and it is bad tactics to boot. If deadly force is justified, and that’s the only time you should be firing your weapon away from the range, then aim for the bad guy and eliminate the threat as quickly as possible, don’t just try and scare him.

Now, for the shooting to wound scenario. I believe this has become an issue for two reasons. One, because Hollywood loves to depict its “hero’s” as being able to hit anything, no matter how small a target without even aiming during a gun fight. It’ looks cool on film to see a gun shot out of a bad guys hand, but the reality of the situation is that in the real world, that kind of thing doesn’t usually work. Statistics tell us that three quarters of the shots that are taken during a high stress armed encounter will miss the mark, even when the one making the shot is a trained law enforcement officer shooting center mass. The center mass of a person, even a small person is a pretty big target, especially considering the fact that most armed encounters occur at arm’s length or slightly farther. If you can’t hit a large target, how are you supposed to hit a smaller target like the leg or arm, especially considering that the legs and arms will be moving around a lot. From a tactical standpoint, shooting at anything other than the largest area of a target, in this case the torso during an armed encounter is just plain dumb and most likely will result in you coming out on the short end of the fight.

The other reason I think that some people would rather shoot for the leg or arm instead of the torso is because they cannot wrap their minds around the fact that there are times when taking the life of another person is justified. I cannot blame these people because taking the life of another human being is not a natural act. It completely goes against how we are wired. For most sane people, taking a life is a learned behavior. So these people say that they would rather shoot to wound than to kill. If that is the case, you should find another means of self-defense and not even bother to bring a gun to the fight. Odds are you won’t be able to fire it giving the attacker an opportunity to take it and use it on you or another innocent person. To arm yourself with a firearm is one that must be made by each individual based on their own abilities and moral compass. If you have not made up your mind to use your firearm resulting in the potential of another person losing his life, leave the gun at home.

So to wrap up, it is irresponsible to fire your firearm into the air in an effort to scare away a bad guy. Guns aren’t made to scare people, and shooting somebody anyplace other than center mass, also known as the torso is tactically a bad decision in 99.9% of the situations you might find yourself in. (A terrorist with a bomb is a good example of a situation when you will need to shoot in the head to shut down the brain fast.) Understand that taking the life of a bad person to save the life of an innocent person is justified, but if that doesn’t work for you, pepper spray might be your best bet.

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.

 

Firearms Training: Trigger Control Drill 1

Trigger control is perhaps the single most import aspect of good shooting, and bad.  It doesn’t matter what else you are doing wrong, if the sights are on target and you are able to manipulate the trigger without disturbing the sights, you will hit your target.  Conversely, you can do everything else right, stance, grip, sight picture and so on, but if you can’t pull the trigger smoothly and without disturbing the sights to the point that they are no longer on target when the gun goes off, you will fail to hit your mark every time.

One of my favorite drills to bring to light any trigger control issues a student who is struggling to consistently hit the target is having is to employ dummy rounds.  I load the magazine for the student with a dummy round every second or third round and then have them shoot a complete magazine while I video them.  When they have shot up the entire magazine which usually contains between 3 and 4 dummy rounds, I review the video with them so that they can see what they are doing wrong.

In the video below, you will see one of my students who is having issues hitting the target at the 25 yard line.  At that range, optimal trigger control is critical.  The second round is a dummy load and you will see the pistol dip down slightly as the student anticipated the shot.  This round would most like hit low on the target or impact just below.

Two things to note.  First, this student is an experienced shooter who had not idea she was anticipating the trigger.  Second, using video is a great way to show somebody, or even yourself that there is a problem in a way that leaves no doubt what is going wrong. (Yup, there are those who pay me good money to train them and then argue with me about what I tell them they are doing wrong.  I love video because it doesn’t lie) In the above example, the issues with anticipating the shot isn’t even detectable without the use of video and the dummy rounds.

I cannot stress strongly enough how invaluable the use of video and dummy rounds is to your training.  Add both to your toolbox of training drills.

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.

 

 

Home Tactical Readiness Bag

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 12.11.07 AMI am absolutely not a morning person.  That explains why most of my professional career has been spent working the evening and night time hours.  I feel most comfortable after the sun goes down and I generally catch my second wind after 10pm.  But, there are times when I have to wake up and be out of the house early.  When I do, it is imperative that I have set out everything I need for the next day or I will forget something.  Happens all the time.

If I forget to bring something because I had to be up and out early, it is generally just an inconvenience that I can usually work around.  But in a tactical life or death type situation, such as a home invasion robbery, forgetting something is not optional.  Enter the Home Tactical Readiness Bag.

<<<<<Tactical Readiness Bag>>>>>

When I go anywhere outside of about 5 miles from my home, I always bring a get home bag, also known as a bug out bag. In that bag I have everything I need to survive 72 plus hours away from home.  Or if I’m home already, I can grab the bag and get out of dodge should SHTF.  In my bag is extra ammunition, a method to make a shelter, a water purification device and multiple ways to make fire along with food and first-aid supplies among other things.   Clearly you don’t need all of that in a home tactical readiness bag, but there are some things that will be useful to you should you come under some kind of assault at home.

The first priority in the bag is a flashlight.  Since bad guys tend to hunt at night, and because it is irresponsible to shoot anything you cannot see first and identify, you have to have a way to illuminate the threat.  I suggest you have a tactical handheld flashlight along with a gun light.  The reason I recommend a gun light is because there may a time when you need your other hand to open a door or carry a child and that cannot be done if you are holding a flashlight. Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 11.44.30 PM

Next, extra ammunition and magazines should go in the bag.  Most home invasion robberies involve multiple bad guys so the more ammunition the better.  And since most malfunctions with a semi-automatic handgun are magazine related, extra magazines are the fastest and most efficient way to correct that problem.

A first-aid kit or IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) is also included for obvious reasons.

I put a rubber door stop in my bag.  Not for propping a door open, but for helping to keep one from being opened should I have to hunker down in a room or perhaps secure a bad guy in a room while I deal with another threat or wait for the calvary to arrive.  These door stops won’t completely keep somebody, especially a motivated somebody from gaining entrance into a room, but it might slow them down or even give the false appearance that a door is locked causing them to go in another direction.

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 12.27.02 AMAn optional item for your bag are small keychain strobes.  These can be used to mark a room as clear or one as unsecured as you clear your home.  These strobes come in multiple colors so I suggest red for uncleared or unsecured and green or blue for cleared.

Lastly is the bag itself.  My Home Tactical Readiness Bag has a single shoulder strap with multiple pockets and molle webbing on the outside.  It’s about the size of medium sized women’s purse and of course is black in color.  Seems to be more tactical if it’s black.

I keep my bag readily accessible in the room I’m sleeping in and have my gun secured inside a paddle type holster in the bag at nigh along with my cell phone.  If something happens, I can get up and grab the bag and sling it over my shoulder and have with me everything I need to defend my castle without having to think about it because I have set everything up in advance, when things are calm and I am thinking clearly.

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.

You Gotta Train!

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 12.22.35 AMIt is not enough to purchase a gun and a holster and take a concealed carry course to call yourself a responsible gun owner.  To be responsible, you must obtain and constantly be refining the skills necessary to deploy your firearm is a safe and tactically sound manner.  But beyond being responsible, you are doing yourself a huge disservice if you are not competent in your weapons deployment and handling capability.

From a standpoint of being responsible, you must become proficient with a firearm and versed on the laws governing the use of said firearm, especially the laws governing use of force.  From a personal standpoint, it is a waste of time to go through all the trouble and expense of buy gear and carrying it daily if you are not able to skillfully utilize it if and when the time comes.

                    <<<<<CONDOR 3 DAY ASSAULT PACK>>>>>

To obtain the proper skills necessary for effective everyday carry, routine training is necessary.  Just like any other physical skill, deploying and utilizing a firearm takes practice to learn and master and continued practice to maintain proficiency.

I recommend live fire at the range at least twice a month with a minimum of 50 rounds being fired each time.  When not at the range, it is as important if not more so to practice your draw from concealment.  This is just as critical as actually being able to shoot and hit the target.  Practicing your draw can be done while at home with an unloaded firearm and should be done multiple times per week for about 10 minutes each time.

In addition to practicing your draw, I highly recommend the addition of some dry fire training. Dry fire utilizes an unloaded weapon teaches proper trigger control and sight alignment without the added worry of the recoil or the added expense associated with utilizing ammunition.  Don’t be fooled though, dry fire training has a direct and positive impact on your live fire abilities and is utilized often by professional shooters.

Develop and plan out a training regimen utilizing the above elements to ensure that you are not only a responsible gun owner, but that you acquire and master the skills necessary to become a proficient shooter and practitioner of everyday concealed carry.

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.

 

When Should You Carry Your Gun?

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 11.14.23 PMOne of the topics that comes up in all of my concealed carry classes is a discussion on when to carry a gun. There are generally a lot of different opinions on this amongst the students. Some will say only when going on long trips. Others will say only when out with the family. And some suggest that you only need to carry a gun when you are expecting trouble. I could not disagree more with all of those opinions.

Since none of us are clairvoyant, and thus can never predict when trouble will occur, the answer to when you should carry your gun is simple, and obvious. All the time.

I use the seatbelt analogy during my classes. I ask the students to consider a different question. Instead of asking when should I carry my gun, ask when should you wear your seatbelt? Well, lets change the question slightly. You will only need your seatbelt during a car accident, so the question isn’t when should you wear your seatbelt, the real question is, when will you be involved in a traffic accident? That is a question you will never be able to answer, so, since you can never know, it makes scenes that you would wear your seatbelt every time you are in a car.

Now back to our original question, when should you carry your gun? The answer is, all the time, because just like driving or riding in a car, you can never know when something bad will happen that will require the use of the gun. If you engage in the practice of only carrying your gun when you think something bad will happen, you are really gambling with your safety. And just like the lottery, the odds are far greater that you are going to lose, then they are that you will win.

So, ensure that the odds are in your favor and carry all the time. It’s the smart way to approach your safety and security.

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.

 

The Proper Way to Carry a 1911

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 9.50.37 AMMany people are ignorant to the correct way to carry a 1911.  Well, John Browning, may you have heard of him, designed he 1911 pistol to be carried in a specific manner.  This video explains.

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.