Category Archives: Concealed Carry

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!


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!


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.

<<<<<<<<<<Combat Shooting with Massad Ayoob>>>>>>>>>>

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!


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!


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.


I Can’t Believe This is Happening!

Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 10.14.58 PMWhen the average person is faced with some kind of traumatic situation, be it a car accident or a physical assault, generally the first thought they have is, “I can’t believe this is happening.”  That thought creates a moment of hesitation, or worse, complete panic.  It may not be a big deal in a traffic accident, but if you are about to get robbed or rapped, that hesitation or panic will result in bad things happening to you.  The bad guy will have the upper hand, because any hesitation on your part allows him to gain an advantage that you will most likely not be able to overcome.

Panic and hesitation are products of lack of training and preparedness.  If you are confident in your ability to defend yourself and you have prepared yourself by acquiring the skills needed, you will be less likely to panic and hesitate.  I remember when I was younger and absolutely hated public speaking.  The solution for me was to prepare and practice to the point that I could deliver the speech in my sleep.  My confidence improved so much that I now thoroughly enjoy public speaking and teaching as long as a prepare beforehand.  (It’s a good thing, because teaching firearms to a large group of people kind of requires some public speaking.)

So work on your personal defense skills, including your handling of a concealed carry firearm, and you will be less likely to panic and hesitate in the face of adversity.  But that’s not the end of the conversation, we also have to develop a different mindset when it comes to crime, and the probability that it will happen to you someday.

Lets take a look a an everyday scenario as an example.  You walk into a room and as you break the plain of the door, somebody jumps out and scares you.  You, not expecting somebody to leap out, jump back and let out a scream.  Now, take the same scenario, but this time you are expecting somebody to leap out and try to scare you.  Instead of jumping back in fear, you laugh at them for their failed attempt at humor and continue walking into the room as you shake your head.  Same set of events unfold, the difference is that in the second scenario, you are expecting it and thus aren’t surprised when it happens.  You don’t hesitate or panic, you just continue on with your business.

Same set of circumstances except in the second instance, you are prepared because you are expecting it.  The same kind of preparedness can occur in your everyday life when faced with a confrontation that the bad guy is thinking will result in him getting the upper hand.  If you are expecting it to happen, when it does, your mind will not say, “I can’t believe this is happening” and you won’t hesitate because you have already reconciled that it is going to happen.  Your mind will say, “here we go,” or, “it’s on,” and your training will take over and you will prevail.  In fact, because most violent criminals don’t expect any resistance or fighting back, their brain will think, “I can’t believe this is happening!”

So prepare and train for “it” to happen and accept the fact right now that sometime in your lifetime, “it’ will happen to you, the odds favor it, and when the day comes, don’t hesitate and don’t panic, just take care of business.

Don’t just survive, thrive!


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.


Are You Really at Risk?

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 5.05.18 PMThere are millions and millions and millions of firearms currently in the hands of private citizens in the United States, and that in my opinion is a good thing.  We in the U.S. have a unique relationship with guns because it was firearms in the possession of private citizens that was the key to securing our freedom from the tyrant King George III.  And it is these same privately owned firearms that continue to keep America free, not only from tyrants in government, but the tyranny that results because of violent criminals and their willingness to rape, rob and murder without regard for the impact on innocent people.

It is a verifiable fact that the violent crime rate in the United States is significantly lower than in most of the rest of the free world.  What can be debated I suppose are the reasons why, although I firmly believe it is firearms in the hands of law abiding citizens.  With that said, I am continually amazed at how many people use the excuse that violence isn’t likely to happen to them as a reason for not taking an active role in their own safety and security, whether it be firearms ownership or some other form of personal protection.

Lets take a look at how likely it is that you will be the victim of violent crime.  (Note that where you live and your lifestyle does have an impact on your likelihood of being a victim.)

According to FBI crime statistics for 2011, there were 1.2 million acts of violent crime.  You are 58 more times to be assaulted than to be injured in a residential fire.  Even so, most people have working smoke detectors in their home and many have a fire escape plan, but many of these same people do not have a plan for personal protection.  Did you know that there has never been a child killed in the United States at school because of a fire?  But, there has been several killed at the hands of violent criminals.  And yet, there are smoke detectors, fire alarms, sprinklers and regular fire drills in every American school, but not a plan to deal with violence.   So why  don’t we do more to protect ourselves and our children from violence?  That is a question I really don’t have a good answer to, but I suspect it’s one, people don’t think it will happen to them, two they think the police will protect them, and lastly, they have a fear of firearms which is usually rooted in ignorance.

I advocate a multi-pronged approach to personal protection and security with firearms being a part of that approach.  There are circumstances in which a firearm is not an appropriate response to violence, and there are times when they are.  But given the statistics I just shared, if you have a smoke detector in your home, you ought to also have a firearm, it just makes perfect scene.  If you have a fear of firearms that is the product of ignorance or your inexperience with them, don’t worry about it, it is never to late to educate yourself, your safety and security may someday depend on it.


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.




Your Primary Weapon

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 12.37.30 AMIn an armed encounter, what is your primary weapon?  A Glock 19, a Smith and Wesson M&P, how about a Springfield XD-S 9 or a Ruger SR9c?  All fine weapons and all suitable for everyday concealed carry, but none of them are your primary weapon during an armed encounter.  Your primary weapon is that gray matter between your ears better known as your brain.

Unless you walk around with your gun in your hand, when bad shit happens, you will first have to mentally process what has just happened and what your best response to the bad shit that has just happened should be.  Should I run, should I engage verbally or physically with the bad guy, should I draw my weapon and go to work, or is my best option to stand down and give the bad guy what he wants?  Each scenario will be different and each scenario will require a unique response which begins with you sorting out what is happening and what is the best course of action to take to survive and thrive.

You hear it in sports all the time whether its golf, or baseball or football, all the experts will tell you that it’s a mental game.  One of the things that has made a guy like Tiger Woods so dominate on the PGA tour is his mental approach to the game.  Tiger gets into the heads of the other golfers before they even hit their first shot and when the going gets tough on Sunday, Tiger usually finds a way to be mentally tougher than the rest of the field and more times than not prevail in the end.  I would submit that life itself is a mental game with those who a thoughtless usually ending pulling the short straw.  Armed encounters are certainly no different.

It is critical to your survival that you mentally prepare for the day when bad shit comes knocking on your door.  It can be an armed encounter, a car accident, a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, all require a certain mindset to prevail in the end.  And I’m not necessarily talking about specific actions you will take because how you respond to an armed robber will be different than how you respond should you find yourself caught in a natural disaster.  The details will be different, but your mental attitude and your commitment to surviving and thriving will be the same.  Decide now what your optimal outcome will be and commit to achieving that outcome from the moment you realize that “it” has just happened.  Make sure your primary weapon is in good working order and you will come out on top in the end, not matter what the situation you find yourself in.

Dont’ just survive, thrive!



The Case for Carrying Extra Ammo

spy_packing_some_heat_800_clrIn the world of firearms and personal protection, there are few topics that garner more enthusiastic debate than the debate over which caliber is best.  Despite all the studies that have been conducted on the topic, to include a recent one by the FBI which has concluded that the 9mm in 115 grain is the best round for personal protection, the debate will no doubt rage on.

I was surprised to find out, however, that there is debate surround ammunition that has nothing to do with caliber, but which can often garner just as much spirited debate.  I’m talking about the debate over ammunition capacity, and whether or not to carry extra ammo.

In the pages of this site, when I speak of firearms, I do so as it pertains to the civilian side of personal protection, but from a perspective that comes from the law enforcement side.  More often times than not, the end game of an armed encounter will be very different between the two.  As a peace officer, the mission is to not only stop the threat against oneself, but also to stop the threat against innocent citizens, which often times means engaging a threat longer than would be advisable for a civilian.  As a civilian, you should be trying to stay out of trouble; a law enforcement officer often times must put himself in harm’s way.  And if you find yourself in the thick of it as a civilian, you need to be finding an expeditious way to get out trouble.  Cops, well, cops can’t run and hide, they have to stay in the fight and go toe to toe with badguys because it’s what they have sworn an oath to do.

Okay, I’ve gotten myself a little off track, but I do have a point.  It is expected that law enforcement officer are going to carry extra ammunition, and often times even more than one gun.  But when it comes to concealed carry for civilians, the idea of carrying more ammunition and extra magazines usually is met with some skepticism, thus the spirited debate I mentioned earlier.

During my classes to civilians, especially my concealed carry class which is often given to novices, I always encourage the addition of an extra magazine to the list of accessories that should accompany the firearm.   My reasons, I believe, are well thought out and come from basis of solid facts based on circumstances that civilians have found themselves in for which I have personal knowledge of.

As it relates to semi-automatic handguns, the single most prevalent equipment malfunction is magazine related.  (Dirty guns, bad ammunition and operator error no doubt account for more malfunctions, but we are strictly speaking about malfunctions related to equipment.)  Given this fact, it makes sense to carry a backup magazine that can easily be substituted for the malfunctioning magazine.

Next, it is important to understand that in most cases, badguys will work in teams of 2 or 3, meaning you may have to shoot multiple times, even if the first shot eliminates the target because there will still be 1 or 2 other guys.  And don’t think that just because you shot one badguy, that the others will run off.  Shooting their buddy sometimes just pisses them off more.

Lastly, I’m tired of hearing people say that if you can’t take care of business with one shot, then you need to practice more at the range.  In the vast majority of shootings, numerous rounds are fired by the good guys.  There are two reasons for this;  first, statistics say that during an armed encounter, because of the high level of stress, you will miss the target three quarters of the time.  You may be able to punch holes in a paper target with ease, but let the paper target shot back, well that’s a completely different game.  If you empty a ten round magazine, statistics say you will miss your target completely 7 times.  I don’t mean that you will hit low or wide, I mean you will completely miss the target.  (Incidentally, this is why one of the cardinal rules of firearms safety is knowing your target, and what’s beyond it.)

Now, let’s assume that you have determined that you need to use deadly force, and that you are justified under the law in doing so, (A standard that must be met no matter who you are, civilian or law man.) and you fire a good and accurate shot at the badguy.  You aim center mass and your bullet strikes the badguys chest, pierces the skin, and navigates the rib cage and impacts said badguys heart.  You have delivered a lethal shot, but is the fight over?  Again, I rely on those pesky things known as facts.  Even if shot in the heart, a motivated person can continue to function for 15 seconds before the necessary blood has left their system causing his body to shut down.  During this 15 second period, are you going to stand there and hope that this motivated bad guy misses all his shots?  Ah, no, you are probably going to continue shooting, in fact, you aren’t even going to know that you have delivered a fatal shot, you just know that said badguy is still in the fight.  And so you should be as well.

For the reasons I have described above, I always carry extra ammunition, and I always recommend others do so as well.  Even if you carry a revolver for personal protection, you should consider carrying more ammo in the form of a speed loader.  I don’t have any delusions that this settles the debate on carrying extra ammunition, but it’s at least food for thought.


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.

Which is The Right Caliber for You?

Ford or Chevy?  Coke or Pepsi?  9mm or 45?  We have all heard people debating these issues before, in fact, if you are like me, you have had some pretty heated arguments in the past involving those questions.  (Okay, perhaps the Coke and Pepsi debate isn’t so much of a hot button issue, but come on, who hasn’t gone nose to nose over the issue of Ford vs. Chevy?)

If you carry a firearm for self-protection, be it as a concealed weapon or open carry, you undoubtedly have heard the arguments over which caliber is the best.  Ive  been there myself and at one time had very strong opinions on the issue as I’m sure many of you have.  Well, I don’t know if I will be able to persuade you either way in this short post, but I hope to at least offer some suggestions when it comes to choosing the right handgun caliber to carry, be it concealed carry or open carry.

First let me say that I for many years have carried a concealed weapon.  I made the choice a long time ago to be an active participant in my safety and security along with the safety and security of my family.  Let me also say that I have been a big proponent of the 45 ACP, but have almost always carried a 9mm concealed.  I always thought that 45 ACP was a better round for taking down a bad guy, but that 9mm afforded my the ability to carry a smaller gun with more ammunition.  I never really gave it much thought beyond that.  That was until recently.

It seems that recently I have been getting a lot of questions from my students during the concealed carry class that I teach about which round was best.  I really didn’t have any scientific answer to give them, so my default answer was to carry what ever firearm, in what ever caliber, makes you comfortable.  Since that answer didn’t seem to sit well with many who were hungry for answers, I decided to do some research on the topic.

Drum roll please!  The answer I have come up with after months of looking into which caliber is best, is the answer that I was already giving.  Pick the weapon in the caliber that works best for you.  Same answer, but with an explanation.

When you look at the two rounds, 9mm and 45 ACP, you will see that when you compare their size to that of the human body, there really isn’t that much of a difference.  The 45 is bigger than the 9, but not so much that it make that big a difference when it impacts a 200 pound man.  So in this instance, size really doesn’t matter.

When we discuss the topic of which caliber has the best stopping power, we need go no further in our research than to look at what has happened in the past when a person gets shot.  But not just the average Joe, we need to be looking at a well motivated attacker who, when he demands your wallet or your purse, won’t take no for an answer.  I general, a well motivated attack keeps attacking after being shot, no mater which caliber round he is shot will.  In fact, even when shot in the heart, a person can still function for 15 seconds before going down.  And even then, once on the ground, a person can still function well enough to be able to pull a trigger should they be armed themselves.

So the term stopping power is really nothing more than a myth, with the exception of two instances.  One, you shot them with a rifle, or two, you shot them in the spine, thus taking out their central nervous system.  Well, for the purposes of concealed carry, forget about a rifle, and to be realistic, shooting a person in an area that takes out their central nervous system is extremely difficult and not really even worth taking about here.

So given the myth of stopping power, what happens most in the real world is that you will have to shoot a bad guy multiple times, you must wait for them to bleed out, which could take awhile depending on where you shoot them.  So instead of stopping power, it is more accurate to take about the lethality of the round, meaning, which round is the best at killing a bad guy.

To answer that question, we go to the experts in the field of ballistics testing in terms of bullet lethality, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The FBI is the premier organization in the world when it comes to ballistics testing.

According to the agent in charge of their ballistics unit, when it comes the lethality ammunition, there is no difference between the 9mm, the 40 cal or the 45.  In fact, the FBI is saying that the 9mm is actually a better handgun round when it comes to killing a bad guy.

(Note:  In the above comparison of the 9, the 40 and the 45, we are talking about hollow point ammunition designed for self-defense, not ball ammo for target shooting.)

Now, keep in mind that there are many different 9mm rounds made by many different manufactures and coming in different weights, so this isn’t the place to discuss all those different bullet nuances.  For purposes of this article, when we say 9mm, we are talking about 147 grain hollow point bullets.

So, if there is no difference as far as killing a bad guy between 9mm and 45, we have to look at some of the other considerations.  In the case of concealed carry, those considerations are the size of the weapon, the capacity of the weapon and the recoil.  Lets forget about the size of the weapon because the ability of a person to conceal a particular size weapon depends on that persons size.  What works for a 210 pound man wont work for a 110 pound women.

So that leaves ammunition capacity and recoil.  For the most part, a 9mm semi-auto has a greater ammunition capacity than does a 45.  I have a compact 45 cal Glock and a compact 9mm Glock.  The 9mm holds 5 more rounds and is for the most part the same size.  If I carry an extra magazine, which I do, that give me 10 more rounds in the same amount of space.  So from a standpoint of ammunition capacity, the 9mm wins.

Lastly we look at recoil.  Again, the 9mm wins as the recoil is less than it is with a 45.  And less recoil allows the shooter to get the sights back on the target.  And since we know that we are most likely going to have to shot a bad guy multiple times, this is extremely important.

To conclude, the FBI says that through their testing, they determined that there isn’t any difference in the lethality of the 9mm compared with the 45.  In fact, 9mm might be even a little better.  The 9mm affords you the ability to carry more rounds, and, the recoil is more manageable.  In my humble opinion, that makes the 9mm a better concealed carry round.

With all that said, I still believe that you can’t go wrong if you went with a 45 over a 9 or even with the 40.  To me, your life is on the line, so do what makes you comfortable.  Me, I’m sticking with my 9.

Don’t just survive, thrive!


Note:  In the below videos, both bad guys are shot, and shot, and shot again and continue to fight proving that a well motivated bad guy isn’t going to let a bullet hole or two stop him from staying in the fight.