A brave dad armed with a pistol stopped what could have been a mass shooting inside an Alabama McDonald’s. READ MORE
Last Saturday the unidentified father was leaving the establishment with his sons when a masked man walked into the Birmingham fast-food restaurant and started shooting, WBRC-TV reported. The father returned fire and, during the ensuing shootout, the gunman, the father and one of the man’s teenage sons were struck, according to the station.
The gunman, who was not identified, later died of his injuries. The other two injuries were not considered life-threatening.
Markus Washington, one of the McDonald’s employees, told WBRC-TV he was making two quarter-pounders when bullets started to fly. Washington said he ran into the freezer, where he heard about 15 shots fired. “I’m feeling grateful,” he told the station. “Wrapping my head around it all, I was just wishing someone would come wake me up from this nightmare.”
Washington feared the worst as the shootout unfolded outside the freezer door.
“All we hear is like different gunfire, so in my mind, I’m imagining everybody is dead. He’s looking for us,” he said. Washington added he was thankful the armed customer was there. “He’s my hero. Because I can only imagine how it would’ve went if he wasn’t armed. We might not be here having this interview,” Washington said.
The father is not expected to face charges, police said.
Authorities are now working to determine if the gunman intended to rob the restaurant, was targeting an employee or planned something more nefarious.
“Things like this are difficult for both families. The gentleman who unfortunately lost his life, the teenage boy who is in the hospital recovering from his injuries and the father who is also recovering from his injuries,” Birmingham police spokesman Sgt. Bryan Shelton said, according to WVTM-13. “It’s not easy being a father and watching your child get injured, get hurt like that. It’s a really heartwrenching experience.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Interestingly enough, here’s a short excerpt from a 2013 Business Insider story regarding McDonald’s policy on concealed carry. Following an announcement from Starbucks denouncing and disallowing legal concealed carry, both McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts supported “adhering to local, state, and federal laws.”
McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb gave Business Insider this statement: “We recognize that there is a lot of emotion and passion surrounding the issue of firearms and open carry weapons laws.
While we respect the differing views of all our customers, McDonald’s company-owned restaurants follow local, state and federal laws as it relates to open carry weapons in our restaurants.
For franchisee-owned restaurants, operational decisions regarding open carry weapon laws are made by the independent franchisee.
That said, as with all aspects of operating a McDonald’s restaurant, we expect our franchisees and their crew to follow local, state and federal laws.”
In contrast, Starbucks issued a statement that said: Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners. For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas — even in states where “open carry” is permitted — unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.
The martial arts offer an age-old perspective on something critically important to your shooting performance — reaction time. Employing a punch, a round kick, an edged weapon or a firearm in self-defense means that you’re reacting to a rapid and dynamic escalation of force. Your objective is to stop or gain control of that escalation. The single most important factor in meeting that objective is time.
Both your dearest friend (when in ample supply), and adamant foe (when turned against you), time, in any self-defense situation with or without a firearm, is a double-edged sword.
“Reactionary Gap,” is a term applied to the amount of space at your disposal in response to a real-world active threat. The greater the reactionary gap, the more time you have. The smaller gap, the less time.
Physical violence that causes you to go to guns in defense of life or limb, usually means a minimal reactionary gap. Relying on precision shooting when fighting for your life at extreme close quarters, may not be your very best bet. However, having true reactive shooting skills in your tool kit will help make optimal usage of time.
REACTIVE SHOOTING SCHOOL
Founded (more than 40 years ago) by former FBI Special Agent and renowned professional competition shooter, Bill Rogers, this is a reactive shooting school that trains you to do just that — shoot reactively.
If you’re a student of defensive handgun and you’ve never been, the Rogers Shooting School, located in Ellijay, GA, is a very worthwhile training investment. Reactive shooting is unlike any other, in that, just like the real world, you don’t have much time to react. The Rogers system demands alacrity in both effective gun handling and marksmanship.
According to Bill, we humans have an average “Unit of Human Reaction” (UHR) time measured to be approximately .25 seconds. It’s the measurable amount of time your computer (brain) needs to process stimulus response. Although the aggregate may be about a quarter of a second, this is a very subjective measurement and can vary from shooter to shooter.
One way to find your UHR is to use your shot timer. At your next practice session, face down range. Load up. No target required. Point your muzzle into the berm and take up as much slack in the trigger (if any / as possible) without sending the round down range.
With the timer set to random (to provide more of an unknown variable — like the real world), have a buddy hold it to your ear. When you hear the beep, break the shot. Beep — boom, it’s that simple. The time registered between beep (stimulus — your sensory input followed by computer interpretation) and boom (response — signal from your brain box down the neural pathways leading to your trigger finger) is your approximate UHR. Run it several times to find your average.
Taking this average as your par time, you can use it to measure that initial critical step (interpretation and processing of life-threatening information) in making rapid and accurate round placement from concealment. Depending upon your skill level, running this drill repeatedly will better familiarize you with operating in fractions of a second and, in the long run, eventually lower your reaction time (UHR).
Reducing your UHR allows you to get to your gun faster because it lessens the amount of time required in decision making — which is a significant and contributing factor in the processing time from initial stimulus to response.
Given that the purpose of defensive shooting is to make combat-effective round placement in a timely manner when reacting to an active threat, time is not on your side. Reducing your UHR by even one tenth of a second shortens your overall time in placing a warranted first round on threat.
In addition to using a shot timer at the range, look for and run other “drills” or training opportunities in your day where you may be able to work on reduction of your UHR. Such innocuous training as opening the microwave door during the countdown just as you see the one-second display, but prior to the beep, is a good drill.
Another training opportunity is when driving and sitting first in line at a red light. With your foot on the brake and your eyes on the traffic light — not on your cell phone — the split second you see the light change from red to green, move your foot off the brake pedal, faster than you normally would, but with good control to not stomp on that gas pedal. In fact, you want to make very light placement on that gas pedal. This action is similar to getting on your trigger quickly from the holster, in rapid control, but without disturbing muzzle alignment with the target.
Using these and similar reactionary gap training drills can help you to continually be cognizant of and work on reducing your reaction times. After a couple of months of running these, remeasure your presentation times. You may be pleasantly surprised with the performance benefits of cutting your UHR.
To learn more about training conducted by Steve Tarani, go to Steve’s websites:
About the author: Steve Tarani is a former CIA protective services subject matter expert who served on Donald Trump’s pre-election protection detail and is the lead instructor for the NRA’s new Non-ballistic Weapons Training program offered nationally to 2.3 million members. Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operations Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), and others.
The word “printing” has a whole different meaning for those with a concealed carry permit… Of course, it refers to “giving away” the fact you’re carrying because of an obvious gun outline or shape glaring away. This is one of the major mistakes you want to avoid and can land you in some pretty sticky situations if you fail to follow certain practices. Instead of taking a “let’s see what happens” approach, it’s best to spend time practicing specific forms and techniques.
WHAT CONSTITUTES A CONCEALED CARRY FIREARM?
There is somewhat of a debate among firearm owners and those with concealed carry permits. What constitutes a concealed carry firearm? For example, does it have to be a small, pocket-sized firearm? Or, can it be a larger model that is still hidden from view? While concealed firearms are generally considered to be “small,” the reality is that it just has to be hidden from sight. Regardless of whether you have a small or large firearm, hiding it from plain sight requires that you avoid printing.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING PRINTING
As said, “printing” refers to the visible outline of a firearm underneath an individual’s clothing. Regardless of the size of your firearm, printing is a very real possibility. To avoid this, it’s important to consider the following solutions:
ONE: Wear the right clothing. The number one cause of printing is a poor choice of clothing. While it’s fairly easy to conceal during the winter, it is more difficult during the hot summer months. Consider buying loose shirts and tucking in when possible.
TWO: Choose the right holster. Everyone’s body type differs, so it’s difficult to claim that one holster is better than another. For best results, try out multiple types — including over the shoulder, waist, and ankle holsters — to see what works best for you.
THREE: Pay attention to movement. The way you move is just as important as what you wear. When concealing in your waistband, try bending with your knees instead of your waist. When wearing an ankle holster, avoid situations in which you are required to stretch or reach.
FOUR: Ask for advice. Before leaving the house, ask a friend, spouse, or family member whether they can spot the outline of your firearm. If they know what they are looking for and can’t immediately find it, this usually indicates that it is concealed well.
FIVE: Consider size. While there are ways to conceal large firearms, some select a smaller size. No matter what size of firearm you decide is the best fit for you, be sure to use the correct holster and clothing to conceal it.
One of the old mantras many of us continue to see and hear is that the sub-compact firearm is, “Carried often, but shot little.”
Let me just go on the record right now stating that I TOTALLY DISGREE with this old adage. Like many of you, my every-day carry (EDC) companion is a sub-compact handgun (the dark-earth framed 9mm Springfield Armory® XD-S® ), and I shoot it on a regular basis.
It seems this adage is often repeated by instructors because, in their experience, many of the subcompacts of the past were difficult to manage and the recoil was harsh. These “cons” resulted in little practice time with the firearm.
With the smaller versions of the Springfield XD® series though, I do not find this to be the case at all. I actually enjoy practice sessions with these small pistols.
SPECIAL CONCEALMENT ASSIGNMENT
Quite often I get requests from friends in the security business requiring assistance with multi-day protection details. A few days prior to receiving the Springfield XD-S® Mod.2® for evaluation, I answered one of these calls. After obtaining some of the specifics related to this executive detail, it was clear that a suit and tie were the “uniform” of the day. Knowing that 1) dress belts are not the best rig when carrying full-sized firearms and 2) blending in and concealment were the high priority, I opted to carry my sub-compact 9mm Springfield Armory® XD-S® as my primary firearm. My Springfield Armory® SAINT® was relegated to the trunk of my transport vehicle as the “back-up” weapon. Good choice, I know…
RANGE TIME REQUIRED
With the protection detail a short week out, I focused my range training specifically to the XD-S® 9mm and the .45 caliber XD-S® Mod.2® that I had not yet shot.
I decided to drill / practice three techniques:
One: Movement while drawing, with a concealment garment. Two: Multiple round engagements, more than the traditional 2 shots per target Three: “Failure drills”; multiple rounds to the body, followed up by rounds fired to the head.
DETAILS ONE: Drawing from Concealment with Movement
Practicing the draw, and specifically drawing from concealment if this is your EDC mode, is a MUST. Incorporating movement during a draw is an additional skill set that should be practiced and perfected. Movement makes you a more difficult-to-track target and is therefore worth the investment.
As with all new shooting skills, If you haven’t previously practiced concealment draws or concealment draws with movement, dry draws are HIGHLY recommended first.
When dry drawing / dry firing, the gun is UNLOADED and condition VERIFIED. NO ammo should be allowed in the practice area. And, find a SAFE backstop (that’s able to stop a potential negligent discharge). Dry practice can also be done at the range if your facility permits.
Back to my drill…
There are several methods of drawing from concealment. Some of the more popular are:
Sweeping the cover garment with your strong hand.
Pulling back on the garment with your support hand.
Pulling up on the garment with your support hand.
I personally prefer the “sweep” method. This approach allows my support hand greater freedom to perform any of the numerous defensive empty hand responses, such as a palm heel strike, shielding technique, or deflection.
The Sweep Draw Sweeping the concealment or cover garment involves only your holster-side (strong) hand:
The hand starts with an open palm, similar to your normal draw, however, the fingers are spread apart more than normal and the pinky and ring fingers curve in slightly.
Use those two fingers to hook the front of the garment and sweep it to the rear and behind / past the holster and firearm. Some instructors teach that during this process the cover garment is also “flung” back (which might clear the gun and draw better). Try both approaches and see which is best you, your carry rig, and the concealment garment you most often use.
With the holster area clear of the garment, draw the firearm as you have trained.
Appendix note: If you prefer appendix carry, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to first practice just the draw portion of this with an unloaded gun! Get that down before you live fire and/or add concealment and movement.
TWO: Multiple Round Engagement
This drill does not have to be complex. One target is all that’s needed. I most often use cardboard USPSA or IDPA targets, as I like the zone markings.
Start close — 3 yards — just beyond contact distance. Move the targets out 3 yards at a time as your training progresses, and you master each distance.
The goal is to draw and fire 4 rounds in quick succession. Keeping all hits in the “0” zone or top half of the A zone is what I expect.
At this close range, even a shooter with a moderate skill level, should be able to accomplish this with some practice.
Use a shot timer and start with 1 second splits (time between shots). Decrease your split times by .25 seconds when you can repeatedly put all shots in the “center zone” on demand.
Remember, at this close distance perfect sight alignment is not required. The sight index, “flash sight picture,” or whatever term you use, should deliver good hits on target as long as you do your job keeping the gun aligned with minimal grip pressure increase or hand/wrist movement.
When you make it to the .25 second split time speed, you will have to move the trigger FAST. To do this, you will most likely be “banging the trigger,” but that’s okay. Learn to work the gun at this speed in training; especially when the threat is CLOSE.
THREE: “Failure Drill” If you are justified in using deadly force on another human being and body shots are not stopping the lethal threat, then face or head shots could be one of the best ways to end the confrontation.
Using the previous drills as a base, after firing 4 rounds in the body at 3 yards, move the shot placement to the face or head area and fire 2 more rounds.
Given the limited rounds in the magazines in your carry sub-compact gun, shot placement is even more critical. Work at speed, but have the discipline to hit the center of the head zone area; the A zone on a USPSA target and the “0” zone on the new IDPA target are a good go / no-go standard.
Again, once you have made improvements at 3 yards, move the target distance out 3 more yards.
DETAIL DRILLS COMPLETED
In my several training sessions through the noted week, I fired over 300 rounds of .230 grain ball and 50 rounds of duty / self defense .230 grain jacketed hollow point .45 ACP ammunition. As I expected, the Springfield XD-S® Mod.2® was enjoyable to shoot and had zero malfunctions!
So, ”Don’t be that guy…” The one who carries regularly but practices irregularly, especially if your EDC is a sub-compact firearm. Practicing with a sub-compact firearm might even assist with your focus on the fundamentals of shooting.
Once practiced up and proficient with your sub-compact pistol, check your local ranges and their match schedules for International Defense Pistol Association (IDPA) matches. The events are set up with defense-minded scenarios and drawing from concealment is required on most stages. Additionally, there has been an increase in the popularity of back-up gun (BUG) matches, directly designed for your carry gun. Either event, IDPA or BUG, is great for confirming your ability to shoot your sub-compact carry gun under a little pressure.
And what could be more perfect? Take advantage of someone else setting up a match, so you can practice your pistol skills, all while enjoying a variety of challenges and courses of fire.
As a matter of fact, I’m one of those “someone elses” (match directors). If you ever visit the Phoenix area, I’d be honored to have you attend one of my events — 2nd Wednesday night of every month at Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club. DETAILS HERE
This is a great free resource compiled by some of the best. Get it, read it, practice it! MORE
SOURCE Team Springfield
When and where legal, there are many positives to carrying a pistol concealed. Chief among them is the lowered visibility to the outside world. The whole point of concealed carry is to be discreetly armed.
When it comes to drawing your concealed firearm, though, how do the experts do it? What’s the safest and most efficient way?
Our e-book, “Anatomy of a Concealed Carry Draw,” demonstrates:
The two-handed draw and re-holster
The one-handed draw and re-holster
Safety guidelines for firearm handling
Our top recommendations for concealed carry pistols
IF YOU WANT TO CARRY LIKE A PRO, MAKE SURE YOU CAN DRAW LIKE A PRO.
DOWNLOAD the Springfield Armory e-book now, and our experts will show you, step by step, exactly how to draw like a pro.
This is one of the first questions any new handgun buyer has to answer, and here’s Jason Anderson’s take on finding your own answer. READ MORE
by Jason Anderson
I’m often asked which type of handgun is better, a revolver or a semi-automatic? Well, the truth is there are pros and cons to both — it all depends on which one you’re more comfortable using. So allow me to break down the facts to help you decide which type firearm fits your needs best.I’m often asked which type of handgun is better, a revolver or a semi-automatic? Well, the truth is there are pros and cons to both — it all depends on which one you’re more comfortable using. So allow me to break down the facts to help you decide which type firearm fits your needs best.
First, let’s go over some of the reasons people prefer revolvers for self-defense:
1. They’re easy to fire. A typical revolver has a cylinder that rotates with each fired shot. There is no need to feed the next round, and each round is separate, so there is no way for the rounds to jam or double-feed. Anyone who shoots often has at some point experienced an ammunition malfunction or feeding issue with a semi-auto. While it’s not something that happens all the time, it does happen. And if you don’t know how to fix it, you could be in trouble.
2. A revolver is simple to reload. It’s easy to reload a revolver, because all you have to do is push the cylinder out and remove the expended cartridges. Then reload each chamber with fresh ammo and push the cylinder back into place. It’s not exactly a quick process, but it’s very basic. Reloading a semi-automatic weapon can be difficult for some people, because first, you have to pull back the slide to chamber a round. Someone who is elderly or has weak hands may not be able to manipulate the slide very well, which is another reason to consider a revolver.
3. They require less maintenance. I’m a big believer in keeping your guns clean and properly oiled. Even if you don’t shoot often, it’s important to make sure you oil your semi-auto to keep the contact points lubricated. While this is especially important for a semi-auto, it’s less important for a revolver. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you never need to clean or oil a revolver, but you don’t need to do it as often as with a semi-automatic. When semi-autos first arrived on the scene, most people agreed that revolvers were more reliable and dismissed them. But over the years, handgun manufacturers have improved the durability and functionality of semi-automatic weapons.
Now here are the top three reasons to consider a semi-auto:
1. They have a higher capacity. Most revolvers have a five- or six-shot capacity. However, semi-autos have a much wider range of magazine capacity — usually anywhere from 7-19 rounds depending on the firearm. Obviously, if I was in a gunfight, I would rather have more rounds. In fact, when police departments around the country began switching to semi-autos, one of the biggest reasons was so officers had more rounds in the event of a shootout.
2. They’re quicker to reload. There are people who will tell you that they can reload a revolver faster than you can reload a semi-auto. And someone who has practiced reloading a revolver can probably do it pretty quickly. However, the average person will likely always be faster at reloading a semi-automatic than a revolver.
3. They have better accuracy. The majority of people will be more accurate shooting a semi-automatic than a revolver because of the more modern design. Most semi-autos have less recoil and muzzle jump than revolvers. Also, semi-autos tend to have a smoother trigger pull than revolvers, and when you combine these factors, they usually allow for better accuracy.
When it comes down to which type of handgun is better, it really depends on personal preference. If you suffer from arthritis and can’t pull the slide back on a semi-auto, then you might want to consider a revolver.
However, if you carry concealed often, you probably want a semi-auto that can hold more rounds. To figure out which side of the fence you’re on, I recommend going to your local gun range. Rent a few different guns of each type and see what works best for you.
Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, visit SpyEscape.com.
I am often asked about my handgun carry position and the reason for my choice. There are some subtle, yet important, differences in the defensive draw process versus the competitive draw process. There are several crucial steps to performing a lightning-fast concealed draw.
While drawing a handgun quickly under the stress of an attack is important, there are other critical factors in accessing your handgun.
THE CONCEALED CARRY TASTE TEST
In previous years, I always used some sort of strong-side carry method, including belt-type concealed carry holsters in leather gear made by Bianchi and Safariland, as well as duty holsters when I was a police officer in Knoxville, Tenn. I also carried in a custom shoulder holster for a bit of time after I moved on to the Federal Air Marshal Service and spent a significant amount of time in a seated position.
It was during that mission that I began to consider the downsides to carrying a handgun in the typical strong-side position, simply because accessing the gun while seated was so difficult. I began my first experimentation carrying in the appendix position at that time. In the end, I had key reasons I ended up picking the appendix position as my primary carry method.
The appendix carry position offers me more flexibility — the pros vastly outweigh the cons. Whether seated at a desk or in a car, it’s my position of choice. And with shorter, more compact guns like the XD® Mod.2™ Sub-Compact, comfort and concealment are not an issue. Appendix carry allows me to draw the handgun quickly, efficiently and with my support hand if necessary.
Finding the ideal holster that allows for safe re-holstering is a primary consideration when appendix carrying. If safety rules are violated in any way, you will get hurt. Years ago, I took a class with Todd Green that was specific to the appendix carry position. He taught a very deliberate method of re-holstering that stressed keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times. In my own classes, I make students that wish to carry in the appendix position demonstrate safe re-holstering several times with an unloaded gun before allowing it in the class.
The bottom line? The one risk to the appendix carry position is that the gun can be pointed at the lower extremities while re-holstering if the shooter is negligent. This carry position requires attention to detail and training. If you are not committed to both, select a different carry method. Remember:
Select a high-quality holster designed for IWB (“inside the waistband”) carry, and never try the appendix carry position without a holster.
Keep the muzzle pointed away from your body while safely indexing the muzzle in the holster.
Keep your finger indexed along the slide — not in or on the trigger guard.
Use the support hand to clear your cover garment.
Be very slow and deliberate — there’s no rush to put the gun away once it is out.
On February 24 CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes asked the question, “For a woman, where are you going to hide that gun during the day?” He continued with another question, “If you wear a dress, if you wear a skirt, are you going to have to wear a jacket everyday with a belt and a holster the way a detective on duty would do?”
Yes, he actually asked those questions on national television in 2018. Dave Marris captured Tom Fuentes’ comments; see the clip HERE.
It is unfortunate that someone with such a public persona and lengthy career in the FBI is so ignorant about women and our ability to carry a firearm. Never before have their been more products available specifically tailored to women’s needs. There are holsters designed for all areas of a woman’s body that can be easily and safely concealed under everyday clothing. The traditional OWB holster that Mr. Fuentes references is used by some women who prefer to wear jackets or overshirts to cover the firearm, but that is only one option. There are quality holsters for inside the waistband (front, side, or back), corset/bellyband, bra mounted (both front and side), thigh and ankle holsters, boot holsters, and others. Millions of women know how to evaluate a concealed carry holster for EDC safety and functionality.
Secondly, firearms themselves have become smaller and easier to conceal. It is not uncommon for women to have a variety of pistols that conceal better with different wardrobe choices or activities. We recently compiled a list of the best concealed carry handguns that our female pistol instructors carry on a daily basis. There are dozens of quality firearms on the market that are perfect for on-body carry for men and women to easily conceal. These firearms are secured safely in a holster unless the person determines, under the law, that lethal force is required.
Finally, firearm safety is not a gender issue. All people must always follow the 4 Rules of Gun Safety. There are 3 safe places for a self-defense pistol and all men and women must adhere to these principles. Mr. Fuentes jested that a woman would leave her concealed carry pistol in her desk drawer and he showed his ignorance to the emphasis that our organization puts on the safe storage of firearms.
We invite Mr. Fuentes and his colleagues at CNN to become more familiar with female gun owners, our gun-carrying lifestyle, values, and abilities. Many women come into gun ownership with the primary purpose of protecting themselves. Thousands of women turn to organizations like A Girl & A Gun for holster information and responsible firearms training. We welcome them to the mindset of being their own first responders by carrying handguns and taking charge of their personal safety and the safety of their loved ones. We welcome Mr. Fuentes to learn more, too.
Find out more about this group. Reach A Girl & A Gun HERE
On my 21st birthday, the prospects of being able to finally purchase alcohol weren’t nearly as interesting to me as my ability to now acquire a concealed pistol license (CPL) and carry a handgun on a daily basis.
So a couple of weeks after I turned 21, I received my CPL and strapped on my carry pistol.
At the time, it was a compact stainless steel 9mm. It didn’t take long for me to realize that, despite having been raised with guns and literally shooting my whole life, I knew nothing about carrying a concealed handgun for self-defense on a day-to-day basis.
LEARNING THE ROPES
From that moment forward, I became a student of concealed carry, studying everything from shooting, tactics and techniques to mindset, modes of carry and how to function on a daily basis while carrying a concealed handgun.
While there are many variables to carrying and living with a concealed handgun, I have found that there are three basic areas that require thoughtful consideration before taking that first step:
Mindset Clothing Holsters/supporting equipment
All of these subjects have numerous variables and facets that can vary based on the individual and circumstances. However, each will factor greatly in not only your ability to comfortably and conveniently carry a pistol on a daily basis, but also, potentially, your survival and dominance in a fight.
Simply put, your mindset is your thought process about how to go through each day responsibly armed. A proper mindset requires the discipline to be forward-thinking enough that, if an event occurs, you don’t have to hesitate as it is unfolding in front of you. This type of mindset can be hard to teach and instill, but, once in place, it is the greatest tool we have to not only to deal with potential threats, but more importantly, how to avoid them all together.
A major factor of a proper mindset is personal awareness, often referred to as situational awareness, and the general practice of staying alert to your ever-changing environment. It’s about keeping your head and eyes up, looking for potential problems, anticipating how these problems may transpire and establishing various courses of action should they occur.
Think of it this way:
If you were driving your car and you anticipated a potential accident up ahead, logically, you would modify your route in an attempt to minimize or avoid the accident all together. Carrying a concealed handgun is no different. Everything you do as a responsibly armed citizen should be in an effort to avoid confrontation and the problems that will follow. The concealed handgun is a last-resort tool to solve a problem that can be solved by no other means. A mindset that supports and reinforces personal awareness and avoidance is the key. The more you use this mindset, the less you’ll be likely to have to employ personal tactics.
Depending on your preferred mode of carry, you may be required to change or alter certain clothing sizes or disregard some items you wear all together. One of the best examples of this is inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster users. If your pants fit your waist perfectly and do not require the use of a belt to hold them up, trying to stuff a gun and holster into your waistband might not be doable.
If you use IWB holsters as much as I do, selecting the correct pants size based on this mode of carry will become your new normal.
The same logic can be applied to correctly selecting shirts. Whereas you may not normally buy your shirts one size too big, it will quickly become apparent that tight-fitting or closely cropped shirts tend not to “drape” over the holstered pistol and thus reduce the concealment advantage.
In general, the key to successfully concealing a handgun is to dress around the gun.
It’s my recommendation that when you go shopping for new clothes, you should let logic be your guide and make sure to have your carry rig on or with you. This will help ensure correct sizing when considering new items of clothing and save you repeated trips back to the store to exchange items that “don’t work” or a closet full of items you simply can’t wear with your gun.
First and foremost, let’s establish that in order to safely and successfully carry a concealed firearm you must have a holster. In today’s marketplace, it has never been easier to buy a quality holster, and there is virtually an unlimited array of designs, materials, construction and pricing to choose from. Yet even with the countless options in holster designs available, I still encounter some people who simply shove the gun into a pocket or their waistband. Stupid.
A holster is a must, because it allows for constant and reliable positioning of the gun on one’s body. A properly designed holster will retain and protect the concealed handgun while also allowing for a consistent draw stroke and relatively rapid access to the pistol if needed. Furthermore, a correctly designed holster will cover and protect the trigger from inadvertent access, something doubly important with guns that lack a mechanical safety.
Once more, let logic be your guide, and consider the fact that you’re not only going to have to live with this holster on a day-to-day basis, but you may also indeed bet your life on this holster in a fight.
So don’t be the guy who goes out and buys a multi-thousand-dollar pistol only to shove it in an ill-fitting and poorly designed “one-size-fits-all” holster. If your holster collapses every time the gun is drawn, allows the gun to flop around like a rag doll and costs less than a burger and fries at a fast-food restaurant, it’s probably not the best piece of kit for serious work. In most instances these types of holsters will not only prove less serviceable, but also less comfortable.
While a quality holster is important, a proper belt is key to making your concealed carry system work. It was once said to me that, “a good belt can make a less than optimal holster work, but a good holster can never make a bad belt better.”
In the past, all of the good gun belts were crafted out of leather and made to size. While my personal preference is still a leather belt, the expanded use of nylon and other synthetic materials has made the availability and quality of size-adjustable belts better than ever before. The materials and construction of synthetic belts have also resulted in a comparatively lower price point. Simply put, it now takes minimal effort to get a good belt that is suited for everyday carry that is also able to support even the heaviest concealed carry loadout.
How you’re going to carry your spare ammo is another consideration with a myriad of options. You can simply opt to put spare ammo in your pocket or choose belt-mounted magazine pouches, as is my personal preference.
In either case, you’ll have to consider what else might be carried in the same proximity and how that affects access to your spare ammo. If you carry spare magazines in your pocket, do your wallet or car keys get in the way? For belt-mounted magazine pouches, do the belt loops on your pants require positioning in one place or another?
No matter how you choose to carry spare ammo, its placement on your person should result in it being accessible, comfortable and consistent to carry.
ONE LAST THING
Even with the best equipment, most people who are new to concealed carry may find that it’s not tremendously comfortable at the start. I know that was the case for me.
There is a bit of a “comfort curve” when starting to carry a gun on a daily basis that will take some adjusting.
Much like the first time you ever wore a suit or put on a watch, when we strap on the extra weight and bulk of a gun and spare ammo it becomes immediately noticeable. However, once you get used to the feeling of the gun being on your person you’ll likely find that you really don’t feel it at all.
Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory®.
There are a staggering number of choices available to the first-time buyer. Here’s a solid guide to help find the right gun for you!
SOURCE: NRA Family, by NRA Publications Staff
For several years, women have been the fastest-growing demographic of new gun owners, but many (and some men, too) don’t have a knowledgeable network of personal contacts that can help them acquire the information they need to choose their first gun. This is especially true when that first gun is a handgun for home defense or concealed carry. Fortunately, there’s a rational process they can follow to choose a handgun that fits their needs, familiarity level, and budget.
Step 1: Determining Your Needs
Why do you want a handgun? The answer to this question will determine many of your new gun’s characteristics. If concealed carry is your goal, you’ll want a gun that is short, small and light, while one for home defense may be larger and heavier. Understand that no one gun can do everything well. While there are a few double-duty handguns suitable for both home defense or concealed carry, it’s best for new owners to determine their handgun’s single most critical function and let that guide the selection.
Step 2: Choosing Between a Semi-Automatic or a Revolver
Two types of handguns are widely relied upon for self-defense: semi-automatics and revolvers.
By far the most prevalent are semi-automatics, also called self-loaders, which use the gas pressure generated when a cartridge is fired to cycle the gun’s loading mechanism. First, the slide moves rearward, which in turn, ejects the empty case and cocks the firing mechanism. When a spring returns the slide forward, it feeds a fresh cartridge into the gun’s chamber from a detachable magazine, which may hold anywhere from six to 20 rounds. There are various types of semi-automatics, but all share the same advantages over the revolver: more rapid reload-ability, greater cartridge capacity and, for citizens with carry permits, a thinner, more concealable profile. Compared to a revolver, however, the semi-autos may be a bit more complex to operate. The beginner will need more practice to gain and maintain proficiency. Also, the semi-automatic is potentially less reliable than the revolver, and shooters with limited hand strength may find slide retraction and magazine loading difficult. Finally, while the semi-auto functions best with ammunition of a certain power level, the revolver digests everything from light target loads to heavy defensive loads.
Modern revolvers have a cylinder that swings out to the side. The cylinder has five or six chambers into which cartridges are loaded, and the cylinder rotates with each shot to bring a fresh cartridge in line with the barrel. Firing is accomplished in either single-action mode (the hammer is manually cocked and then released by a short, light trigger pull) or double-action mode (a single long and relatively heavy trigger pull both cocks and releases the hammer). Defensive firing with a revolver is always performed in the double-action mode.
Step 3: Selecting the Proper Caliber
Next is the selection of the caliber of your defensive handgun — that is, the exact cartridge it is designed to fire. This choice is critical, as it determines both the level of recoil you’ll have to manage and the effectiveness of the handgun/cartridge combination in a defensive situation. Caliber choice also influences gun size; a 9mm Parabellum pistol, for example, can be made smaller and lighter than one for the physically larger .45 ACP.
In general, as bullet diameter, weight, and velocity go up, so do cartridge power, recoil, and effectiveness in a defensive situation. Thus, 9mm Para. is not as powerful as the .40 S&W, which in turn is bested slightly by the .45 ACP. Also, each cartridge is offered in a variety of loads featuring different bullet weights and types at different velocities. The beginning handgunner will usually shoot faster and more accurately with one of the lower-recoil cartridges suitable for self-defense — such as the .380 Auto or 9mm Para. in semi-automatics or .38 Special in revolvers — than with more powerful choices such as the .357 Magnum or .45 ACP. Remember, shot placement is more important than sheer cartridge power.
Cartridge choice is not made in a vacuum: A person unable to handle a 9mm Para. in a small gun may still be comfortable with a .40 S&W or .45 ACP in a heavier, large-frame pistol. Thus, an informed choice involves firing guns of different sizes, barrel lengths, and grip configurations in different calibers.
Step 4: Hands-On Shopping
Once you have established a preference for a particular gun type in a specific caliber, your best bet is to test-fire that model. Various makes and models of guns of the exact same type — say, medium-frame 9mm semi-automatics — will differ widely in how they operate, feel, handle and shoot. It’s important to experience all that firsthand.
However not all gun stores have the means for such test-firing, and if a would-be buyer doesn’t have personal contacts who can help, hands-on research may be a difficult proposition. But because it is important, we’d recommend making an effort, and there are a few ways to do so.
Whenever possible, identify nearby gun stores with in-house ranges. Frequently such shops have test or rental units of the most popular models, and in fact many indoor ranges rent guns to customers. Quite likely, those rentals will include examples of models that interest first-time buyers of carry or home-defense handguns.
Another option would be to sign up for an NRA Basic Pistol or Personal Protection Course. The instructor may be able to help arrange for a student to test-fire different models of the type of pistol being sought. Whether a gun has already been purchased or not, these courses are very beneficial and highly recommended for every new gun owner.
Of course it’s also possible that the gun-owning friend of a friend or family member would agree to let a newcomer shoot his or her gun. Most handgun owners understand perfectly why gun ownership is so important, and many will be glad to help mentor a new shooter.
Step 5: Test-Firing Potential Candidates
The first thing to consider during your test-fire session is safety. Applying lessons learned from personal contacts or from a basic pistol course, is the gun easy to operate safely? Are safety or decocking levers positioned within finger reach, and are they easy to manipulate? Integral safety locks, available on some guns, may be worth considering as they may foil inquisitive children, but they can be a hindrance if the gun is needed to meet an immediate threat.
Reliability is the most important characteristic of a self-defense arm. Test any gun under consideration with at least 50 rounds of defensive ammunition. Semi-autos should be scrutinized for their ability to feed, fire, and eject with a wide variety of loads. Also, the magazines should load securely, then drop freely when released.
Ergonomics and ease of use are also important in a defensive handgun, which may have to be handled and fired in a fast, natural manner. Does the gun fit the shooter’s hand comfortably and point naturally? Does his or her trigger finger engage the trigger properly, about halfway between the tip of the finger and the first joint? Are all the controls smooth to operate and can your fingers reach them easily? Is the gun easy to load and unload? Is the gun’s recoil controllable, enabling rapid shot-to-shot recovery?
Finally, if the gun is to be carried, does it conceal well in a pocket, purse, fanny pack, or holster? When you practice drawing it — unloaded, of course — does it catch on your clothing? Does its weight cause your clothes to bulge or droop?
Step 6: The Final Decision
When the decision boils down to multiple viable alternatives, make the final choice by considering other factors: finishes, options, reputation of the manufacturer, and the specific model. Price is another important factor; one can expect to pay from $350 to $750 or more for a new, high-quality handgun. But it’s false economy to let a concern for saving a few dollars heavily influence the choice of what will be a lifetime — and possibly life-saving — investment.
You should take advantage of all the information resources at your disposal, including gun store employees, NRA Certified Instructors, manufacturers’ catalogs and websites, videos, books, and periodicals. As is the case with every subject, the Internet is awash in info on defensive handguns, but much of it ranges from highly opinionated to ill-informed to virtually worthless. So be careful of what’s there.
Websites like NRA’s contain many handgun reviews and always strive to be fair and evenhanded.
Owning and learning to use a defensive handgun is a big responsibility, but it also can bring peace of mind, knowing that you now have the means to defend your life and your family.