Tag Archives: Concealed Carry

SKILLS: Concealed Carry on the Go

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Dealing with a concealed weapon when you’re out on the road and away from home raises a few questions, here are a few answers! READ MORE

Console storage vault
Console storage vault.

Jason Hanson

LOCATION: Parking lot. Tucson, Arizona
TIME: 8:40 p.m.

An unsuspecting woman had just gotten in her vehicle when a man with a hatchet appeared and demanded her car keys.

The woman retrieved a handgun from her car and told the man to leave, but he ignored her commands. As he raised his hatchet to strike the woman, she shot him. She held the suspect at gunpoint until police arrived to secure the scene and render medical aid.

According to police, the woman stayed on scene and complied with all police requests. The suspect was treated at a local hospital and is expected to survive his injuries. Currently, charges are pending against the man even though he was shot, because the woman shot him in self-defense.

The fact is this woman quite literally saved her life by having an accessible firearm in her car.

Have Permit, Will Travel
With summer here, lots of people will be hitting the roads to visit unfamiliar locales far and wide. So today, I want to share with you some tips for storing firearms in your vehicle.

Just because you are going out of town (or even driving to the store) and can’t carry your gun, you do have options for leaving it in your vehicle. Obviously, I’m a big believer that your gun should always be on your person, but I realize that there are places you may not legally be able to take your firearm — or maybe you don’t want to.

Now, I recommend storing a gun differently based on whether you are in the vehicle or plan on leaving it in the vehicle.

What I mean is if you are in the car traveling, you still want to be able to quickly access your gun in case you need it. However, if you are going into a courthouse for a few hours (for example), you should make sure your gun is secured and out of sight.

Read on for specific recommendations…

You Can Take It With You
There are a number of different holsters on the market designed for use in cars to give quick access to your firearm while you are in your vehicle.

CrossBreed makes a modular holster backed with Velcro so you can conveniently mount it almost anywhere in your car. These types of holsters are a good idea if you spend a lot of time in your car and don’t want to keep your gun on your person.

CrossBreed holster
CrossBreed holsters can have variable use options, including a car mount.

In addition to mounted holsters, you can also find holsters that attach underneath your steering wheel, allowing you to draw quickly while seated. These holsters clip to the piece of plastic that surrounds the steering column.

Another popular alternative is seat drapes. These hang down in front of your seat with a pocket holster to secure your firearm. The nice thing about this option is that seat drapes are easy to remove when not in use.

These are all great options for storing your firearm when you are in the car, but they are not ways I recommend storing your gun when you aren’t there. The fact is these methods usually leave the gun visible, which is the last thing you want to do when you are gone.

Seat drape
Seat drape.

Leave It Behind
On the other hand, let’s say you always carry your firearm but work in a secure building where you can’t have it with you. You need to store it in your car in a manner that will keep it secure, hidden and out of the hands of criminals.

One of the most common places people keep guns in their cars is the glove box. But if someone breaks into your car, this is the first place they’d look. Although if you keep it locked, they might not waste their time trying to get in.

Another option is the center console, which you should also keep locked if you decide to use it. In fact, several companies make locking inserts you can put in the center console to secure your firearm.

Some of those companies are Tuffy, Console Vault, and Guardian. These locking consoles are among the best options for keeping a firearm secure in your vehicle when you are gone.

Another option is to store your gun under the front seat. Some of the same companies I mentioned above also make lock boxes that can slide under the front seat.

Or you could simply buy a small firearms lockbox and secure it to the seat with the cable it comes with. This would prevent a criminal from stealing your firearm even if they did find the safe.

Typically, you are more vulnerable to criminal threats when you’re in your vehicle. It’s critical that you are prepared to defend yourself.

So whether you are taking your family on a road trip or just leaving your gun in your car to go grocery shopping, make sure that your firearm is stored safely and securely.

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 www.SpyEscape.com.

D.C. Political Comedian Robbed At Gunpoint Changes Stance On Guns

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“That level of fear and that level of helplessness that you feel, it doesn’t compare to anything else I’ve felt in my life…” READ MORE

tim young

SOURCE: WUSA9.com, Dori Olmos

Political comedian Tim Young was heading to The Wharf, one of D.C.’s newest hotspots, when his life changed.

He was walking down a well-lit section of M Street at about 7:45 p.m. on a Wednesday when two men approached him — one of them had a gun.

“Terrified. You know, when I talk to people about this…you’re scared. There’s no man card involved. I was defenseless,” explained Young, who’s a political comedian and host of ‘No Things Considered’ at the D.C. Examiner. The men stole his cell phone and then ran off.

Check out Tim Young’s tweet HERE

Young said that 6 to 7 people witnessed his attack, but no one tried to help him while it was going on. Two people called 911 after it was over and the “rest of the folks walked off.”

Young: “They just stood by and watched as I was yelling for help. ‘Help, I’m being robbed!’ They stood by and watched…”

Young grew up in Southwest Baltimore and said that he had been in some bad places in his life, but nothing ever happened to him then. He assumed things would continue to go that way. Now, he said he absolutely plans to apply for a concealed carry permit in D.C., but that’s not easy; D.C. is one of the toughest places in the country to get a concealed weapons carry permit.

Young: “When you’re in an instance where there’s a gun is pointed at you and your life is being threatened for your property and no one’s going to help, and now I know that no one’s going to help, I want to feel more secure. I want to feel safe, and I have something to defend myself with.”

He addressed people who are against conceal carry permits by saying they’ve probably never been in his position.

“I think a lot of those people who are opposed to having a conceal carry permit and being able to own a weapon have never had one pointed directly at them when they have nothing on them,” Young said.

Read the whole story HERE

 

SKILLS: Carrying Concealed: Changes You Can Expect To Your Lifestyle

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A lot of thought and preparation goes into the decision to carry concealed. Here are three things not to be overlooked. Keep reading!

concealed carry

SOURCE: Team Springfield 
Posted by Jason Burton

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.

MINDSET
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.

CLOTHING
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.

HOLSTERS
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.

BELTS
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.

SPARE AMMUNITION
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®.

First-Time Handgun Buyers Guide: 6 Steps to Success

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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!

first time gun buyer

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.

SKILLS: Will You ‘Get Killed on the Streets?’ — Personal-Defense Myths Debunked

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Don’t believe everything you hear… Personal survival depends on planning and preparation, not opinion. Read more…

know it all

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Tamara Keel

Here’s a thing that happens often enough that it’s become a meme, a trope, a truism. Walk into any gun store and listen to the conversation around the handgun counter (or, alternatively, belly up to your favorite online forum) and within a surprisingly short amount of time you will hear someone suggest something that gets belittled by the regulars. More importantly, it will be belittled in a rather specific way, like so:

“You want to do [RANDOM THING]? Don’t you know that [RANDOM THING] will get you killed on the streets?”

It’s to the point where “Killed on the streets” has become something of an inside joke. I’ve been trying to catalog these methods of self-induced demise, partly to debunk them, and partly in the hopes I can publish a phonebook-size compendium some day and profit handsomely. I’ll just go ahead and share some of these with y’all today, though, for free.

Carrying a revolver, for starters, will apparently get me killed on the street. This caught me off guard, because I’ve seen pictures of pre-1980s America, when revolvers were the predominant sidearm for law enforcement and private citizen alike. You’d think the streets in those pictures would be hip-deep in revolver carriers who had been killed in them, and yet they aren’t.

I mean, there’s a reason police have generally moved from revolvers, and yes, I think a quality semi-automatic pistol is capable of solving more defensive problems than a revolver, but that doesn’t magically render a revolver ineffective. There are reasons some prefer wheelguns, including simplicity and the fact that they depend on the trigger finger rather than the ammunition in order to function. For some, those factors outweigh the drawbacks, and some revolver enthusiasts shoot their guns remarkably well.

Similar to revolvers in their ability to apparently cause demise upon the public thoroughfares are reloads, or rather the lack thereof. I will say up front that, if carrying a semi-automatic pistol, then carrying a spare magazine is definitely Best Practice with a capital B and P.

This is not, however, in case the need should pop up for a 35-round exchange with ninjas in the middle of the Kwik-E-Mart parking lot. Instead, this is because the part most likely to go wrong with your pistol is the magazine. The number of ways it can go wrong are legion, and range from double-feed malfunctions to simply falling out of the gun. The quickest and surest way to fix this malfunction is to insert a fresh magazine and drive on.

However, modern pistols are exceedingly reliable devices and the belt and pocket space of the average American who can’t dress like a tactical hobo is finite. There are plenty of other things that you will use more often than a spare magazine, and if it comes down to choosing between a good flashlight or a tourniquet neatly folded onto a PHLster Flatpack TQ carrier and a spare magazine? Take the flashlight or the tourniquet. (And if you’re carrying two spare magazines and zero tourniquets? You’re wrong.) So, no, not carrying a spare magazine will probably not get you killed in the streets.

What about mechanical safeties on pistols? I hear that these will get me killed in the streets, too, because I won’t be able to deactivate them under stress. (In fact, I’m aware of one situation reported by a local detective where a citizen was victimized for exactly that reason.)

Thing is, not all safeties — nor all end users — are created equal. There are safeties which disengage vary nearly automatically with a final firing grip, and there are shooters who practice using those religiously in daily or near-daily dry-fire sessions. Then there are miserable little tabs that you practically need to manipulate with a thumbnail.

If you’re going to carry a pistol with a mechanical safety, make sure it’s one you can deactivate smoothly and automatically as part of the drawstroke, and not some fiddly thing that takes two hands and a jeweler’s screwdriver to manipulate. This should minimize the whole “killed on the streets” factor.

Another surefire killed-on-the-streets cause is carrying a caliber that the dispenser of wisdom feels is inadequate, which is usually any one “wimpier” than what they’re carrying. They’ve got a .44 Mag. and you have a .45 ACP? Killed in the streets. A .40 S&W versus your 9 mm? Likewise.

To hear some folk talk, carrying a certain caliber of handgun bestows bullet resistance to projectiles from lesser calibers. “Ha-ha! That goblin was carrying a .380 ACP, and I had my .44 Spl. …” I have bad news: Just because yours is bigger, dude, doesn’t mean the bad guy’s bullets are going to bounce off you like a spring shower off a freshly Rain-Xed windshield.

Conversely, just because you have a 9 mm or a .327 Fed. Mag. instead of some big-bore wondermagnum, it doesn’t mean that yours will bounce off him. Shot placement works, and there’s no magic chambering that will cause or prevent your getting killed in the streets.

The list goes on and on: Flashlights or lasers giving away your position? Killed in the streets. Retention devices on your holster? Killed in the streets. I could go on, but I only have so much space here. Plus, I need to save some for that big, thick book.

SKILLS: Resolve to Improve Your Self-Defense Skills

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Start the year off with a review of your skills, and take steps to hone them: if you don’t use it you might lose it… Read on!

new years resolutions

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Sheriff Jim Wilson

As a general rule, I’m not a big one for making New Year’s Resolutions. However, for various reasons, I’ve been studying my own personal defense plan and feel the need to focus on improving it and making it better. When we neglect our shooting skills, they degenerate quickly. The same can be said of our personal defense skills. If we are to deal with a deadly encounter, we must stay focused and in practice. So here are some thoughts — resolutions, if you will — about improving my own situation.

I am going to make time to practice more. In most cases, that means practicing the basics. The basics of defensive marksmanship are the foundation that everything else is built upon. A smooth draw stroke and quickly and accurately hitting what I am aiming at will go a long way towards ensuring my safety. There is simply no substitute for regular practice.

Right in line with that, I need to practice what I preach and do a lot more Dry Practice. These winter days, when it may not be comfortable to get outside, are perfect for a few minutes of daily Dry Practice.

I also am going to book at least one defensive shooting school during this year. Good instructors always seem to be able to spot the little things that I am doing wrong and can’t seem to see for myself. Going to a defensive shooting school is just like getting the Jeep tuned up — things just run a lot better and a lot smoother.

I also need to improve my awareness of what is going on around me. The further away we see a potential problem, the more options we have for dealing with it. No one is at their height of awareness all the time but, if we really work at it, we can increase that awareness. A heightened awareness means that I may not get hurt and also means that I may not have to hurt another, and that’s a good thing.

Another important resolution is to seek out ways to help all of the folks who are just getting into defensive shooting. They feel the need to improve on their personal protection but often don’t know exactly how to go about it. They need a kind word, a friendly smile, and a helping hand. I can do that and you can, too.

In line with that, I need to find more and better ways to preach the important message of gun safety. Improving gun safety and reducing negligent discharges — along with resultant injuries — is a critical task that we all should be involved in. “How can I do it better?” is a question that I am going to spend a lot of time pondering.

While not a direct personal defense resolution, I am going to spend more time with the two fine .22 Smith & Wesson revolvers that I have but rarely shoot. Most of us got into the shooting sports because it was fun. Sometimes we forget that simple fact. A day spent plinking charcoal briquettes and other safe targets is good for my soul. It would be a good idea to invite some young shooters along, too.

REVIEW: Springfield Armory XD-E

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This outstanding handgun flaunts a rebirth of a trigger mechanism, and design, that has been overshadowed in the vast array of common striker-fired pistols, but one that has strong merits. Read more…

springfield armory XD-E
The defining feature of the Springfield Armory XD-E is highlighted above, the DA/SA hammer-fired system that signals a return to an action often overshadowed by modern striker-fired defensive pistols.

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Tamara Keel

There was a time, back in the 1970s and ’80s, when giants strode the earth of the desert Southwest. At the time, semi-automatic handguns came mostly in two flavors: Single-action pistols — which were endorsed and carried by these giants –and pistols that were double-action on the first shot and single-action on subsequent shots, which were derided by the giants as “crunchentickers.”

The logic behind these sorts of pistols was that they could be carried safely decocked, yet be ready to fire with just a pull of the trigger. The downside was that the transition between the long, heavy initial trigger pull and the subsequent lighter, shorter pulls required more initial training and sustainment practice to maintain proficiency. So, the “crunchenticker” was seen as the lowest-common-denominator issue gun, while the real shooters used single-action pistols.

And, fast-forward to 1985, then came the striker-fired Glock and soon after all of its market competitors. Featuring only a single trigger pull to master, these pistols quickly became the singlemost-common variant in domestic law enforcement (and, anecdotally, coincided with a jump in qualification scores at police departments across America) and private-citizen use.

Fast forward to the present day, and in some sectors there’s a renewed interest in hammer-fired, traditional double-action (TDA, for short) pistols among a varied spectrum of serious shooters, and for a number of reasons.

In the competitive-shooting world, TDAs started owning Production Division in USPSA and IPSC. This was partially because so many current models were metal-framed and heavier than their striker-fired, polymer competitors. The TDA trigger itself was a big factor, too. As a friend explained to me, “You get one lousy trigger pull and 10 great ones, rather than 11 mediocre ones.”

On the tactical side of things, I know a few instructors who strongly favor the longer initial pull of the TDA in defensive guns for the reason that these pistols are threat-management tools. Guns get drawn — and even pointed — a lot more often than they get fired, they explained, and that longer trigger pull can be an added cushion against a nervous trigger finger getting into the wrong place.

One last reason for the renewed interest in hammer-fired TDA pistols is the increase in popularity of Appendix Inside-The-Waistband (AIWB) carry. When holstering in an AIWB holster, the user can control the hammer of a TDA pistol with the thumb of the firing hand. This serves the purpose of alerting the shooter to any unnoticed obstructions that may have gotten into the trigger guard and snagged the trigger by letting them feel the movement of the hammer.

Unfortunately for enthusiasts of the hammer-fired pistol, the selection on the market isn’t what it used to be, especially in the concealable, mid-priced variety. Furthermore, while Beretta, SIG Sauer, and Heckler & Koch all offer concealable TDA pistols, all but a couple up-market offerings from SIG are double-stack guns, and right now the market is madly in love with slim, single-stack concealment pistols for CCW.

The Springfield Armory XD-E, a single-stack, polymer-frame 9 mm, took the market by surprise early in 2017, representing a new addition to the company’s line of XD pistols.

While it uses the name and familiar styling elements of the XD series of guns, including the prominent “GRIP ZONE” markings on the grip, the Springfield Armory XD-E is pretty much an entirely different pistol. It shares almost nothing but the magazine and sights with Springfield’s existing single-stack line, the XD-S, and even there it only uses the XD-S extended magazines.

XD-E controls
(l.) One trigger, two trigger pulls — that’s the reality of the XD-E’s DA/SA system. (ctr. & l.) A red fiber-optic pipe sets the front sight apart from the twin-white-dot rear sight and makes rapid sight acquisition easier.

In size, heft and overall concept, the Springfield-Armory XD-E reminds one of the long-discontinued Smith & Wesson 3913. It’s just slightly larger than the Glock G43 or Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, since the standard magazine holds 8 rounds and the spare that ships with the gun is a 9-rounder with a grip-sleeve adapter. The magazines both come fitted with pinky rest extensions on their floorplates, but these can be switched with flat floorplates (included) for those who prefer a flush-fit contour for concealability.

The grip is as slender as you’d expect from a polymer-frame, single-stack gun. The widest point of the pistol, measured across the low-profile ambidextrous thumb safeties, is only 1.125 inches.

XD-E details
(l.) Ambidextrous controls and Mod.2 updates are evident in the XD-E. (ctr.) Slim in profile, the XD-E is a natural choice for carry. (r.) Two magazines, one with an extended baseplate, ship with the XD-E

Those ambi thumb safeties function in the same fashion as the classic 1911 thumb safety: up for safe and down for fire. Pressing down further past the off-safe position safely de-cocks the hammer. The magazine release is also fully ambidextrous, but the slide release is single-sided. The slide stop was a little difficult to run when the gun was new, but became easily useable after a few boxes of ammo.

Atop the slide on the Springfield Armory XD-E are sights compatible with the current XD dovetail dimensions (which are, entirely uncoincidentally, the same as the classic SIG Sauer P-series.) There’s a Novak-esque no-snag rear sight with two white-painted dots, and the standard front sight on the gun is a fiber-optic unit with a very visible red light pipe. Between the front and rear sights is the familiar loaded-chamber indicator of the XD-series — a hinged tab that pops up when there’s a round in the chamber.

Springfield Armory XD-E
(l.) A light, laser, or combo unit can be added to the accessory rail. (r.) Thumb-activated, the safety also serves as a decocker.

The slide has six broad, but shallow, grasping grooves on each side at the rear, and forgoes the current trend toward forward cocking serrations, which is probably a good idea on a pistol with a 3.3-inch barrel. All in all, the ergonomics on the Springfield Armory XD-E are solid. The textured areas are grippy without being too aggressive, and it’s not textured where it doesn’t need to be. The trigger guard could be a little larger, though. Folks with big fingers might have difficulty while wearing gloves when the trigger is in its fully forward, double-action position.

While it’s technically possible to carry the Springfield Armory XD-E cocked and locked in “Condition One,” the low-profile thumb safeties don’t exactly encourage it. Instead, the simplest thing is to load the pistol, chamber a round, use the safety/decocker to safely drop the hammer, and then holster up. Personally, I’d be interested in a decocker-only version to avoid the possibility of inadvertently actuating the safety when I didn’t mean to, but enough folks like the belt-and-suspenders approach of both a double-action pull and a manual safety that Springfield Armory chose to introduce this version.

At the range, the pistol shot well — frankly, better than I expected. I was anticipating an experience along the lines of what I’ve had with a G43 or a Shield, but the slightly larger size of the Springfield Armory XD-E pays dividends in shootability, thanks to a larger grip and enhanced recoil control. At the pistol’s launch event in Las Vegas, stages were set up with targets as far as 50 yards, and the better shooters among us were knocking those over with aplomb.

XD-E takedown
Adding a hammer did not change the XD-takedown procedure significantly; the XD-E breaks down easily for cleaning and maintenance.

This was aided by a very usable trigger. My Springfield Armory XD-E test sample’s double-action trigger pull gauged at 11 pounds and, while it stacked noticeably prior to break, it was plenty smooth. Single-action measured 5.5 pounds, with a short take-up before hitting a fairly abrupt “wall,” and then finished in a rolling break. Most impressively, through all the demo guns I fired over the course of the launch event, plus 750 rounds of assorted ammunition through my T&E sample, I have yet to see any malfunctions.

The Springfield Armory XD-E has a niche to itself for now. The only hammer-fired TDA single-stack 9 mm in the same size class is SIG Sauer’s metal-frame P239, which is 5 ounces heavier and has an MSRP nearly double that of the XD-E. Sitting right at the confluence of two trends, AIWB carry and single-stack, subcompact 9 mm pistols, it will be interesting to see how well the XD-E does in the marketplace. If it sells, will other models be spun off the gun’s TDA lockwork? Maybe a full-size, single- or double-stack service pistol? Stay tuned…

XD-E overall

XD-E specs

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REVIEW: 9 Affordable .380 Pocket Pistols

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When ease and convenience factor heavily in choosing a CCW handgun, many increasingly consider among the smallest of effective solutions. Here’s a round up sure to satisfy the bill. Read on!

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Brad Fitzpatrick

The .380 Automatic Colt Pistol (.380 ACP) has come a long way since John Moses Browning designed this little straight-walled cartridge over a century ago. Once considered too small for self-defense duty, the .380 ACP is now much more effective at stopping attackers than it once was thanks in large part to improvements in bullet design. And, since it is so compact, the .380 ACP is easy to carry.

All of this makes the .380 popular with CCW permit holders, but the real question is which of these pocket pistols is right for you? We’ve rounded up 9 of the best compact .380s, all with an MSRP of less than $700.

ruger LCP2

1. Ruger LCP II: Price $349
At 0.91 inches wide and just 5.17 inches long, the LCP II is an easy gun to conceal, thanks in large part to its snag-free rounded edges. The grip design makes it more comfortable to shoot than its predecessor, the original LCP, and a new single-action trigger system reduces the trigger pull from 10 pounds to just 6. The sights are fixed and have a low-profile design so they won’t hang up during a draw, but are also functional for defensive applications. This gun weighs just over 10 ounces and comes with a finger extension for the six-round magazine as well as a pocket holster. Ruger.com

Kahr CW 380

2. Kahr CW380: Price: $419
Kahr’s CW380 measures just under 5 inches long and weighs a bit over 10 ounces without the magazine, making it one of the smallest guns in this class. The polymer frame has textured grips that are quite comfortable, and the rear combat-style sight is drift-adjustable and easy to see. The front sight is a low-profile polymer ramp, and the slide is made from 416 stainless steel with a matte finish. The “safe-cam” design of this DAO (double-action-only) pistol provides a smooth trigger pull. Magazine capacity is 6 rounds. Kahr.com

Glock G42

3. Glock G42: Price $480
Glock launched the G42 as a compact carry alternative to their larger striker-fired guns, and this pistol retains many of the quality features that have made Glocks so popular. The trigger pull is a relatively light 5.5 pounds, and the polymer grips are well-designed and make recoil quite manageable. The rear sight is dovetailed into the steel slide, and although this gun is slightly larger than other pistols listed here (length is 5.94 inches, and unloaded weight is 13.76 ounces), it’s both easy to conceal and comfortable to shoot. The nitrite-treated steel slide has a matte finish that can stand up to the rigors of daily carry, and this single-stack magazine holds 6 rounds. Glock.com

Taurus PT 738

4. Taurus 738: Price $355.66
At 10.2 ounces, the trim Taurus 738 is a light pistol, and with an overall length of just 5.25 inches it’s easy to conceal even under light clothing. The low-profile fixed sights are very basic, but they won’t hang up on clothing when you draw. Capacity is 6+1. This is a DAO (Double Action-Only) design, so trigger pull is fairly long. The polymer grip is comfortable and makes this gun easy to control. And, like other Taurus guns, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty. TaurusUSA.com

SIG Sauer P238

5. SIG Sauer P238 Nitron: Price $651
SIG’s P238 is a metal-framed .380 inspired by the popular 1911 design. As such, it features a single-action-only firing mechanism with an exposed hammer. The manual safety and slide lock are easy to manipulate, but are compact enough that they won’t impede your draw or irritate you when you carry the gun all day. Overall length is 5.5 inches, and the hard-coat anodized aluminum frame and the Nitron-finished stainless steel slide are resistant to perspiration, an excellent feature. The included SIGLITE night sights are very good, and although it isn’t the lightest gun on the list at 15.2 ounces, it certainly isn’t hard to conceal. With an MSRP of $651 (street prices will likely be lower), it makes the $700 cutoff, but this 6+1 .380 certainly deserves a spot on the list of “best pocket pistols.” Sigsauer.com

Beretta Pico

6. Beretta Pico: Price $399
Beretta’s double-action-only Pico .380 is thin, measuring just three-quarters of an inch wide with a weight of 11.5 ounces. That means this pistol is easy to carry under light clothing without printing. Like the other guns here it has a 6+1 capacity. The durable stainless-steel slide is very easy to manipulate, and the dovetailed three-dot sights are excellent. The Pico comes with two magazines — a flush-fit version perfect for maximum concealment, and an extended mag. that allows for a better hold when shooting on the range. Takedown is fast and easy, and the magazine release is ambidextrous, making this a great choice for left- and right-handed shooters. Beretta.com

Remington RM380

7. Remington RM380: Price $436
Remington’s compact .380 features all-metal construction: the frame is made of lightweight but durable aluminum, and the slide is steel. The low-profile sights are quite functional, and the large slide serrations make it easy to manipulate the slide when. It’s a DAO design, so trigger pull is fairly long but consistent, and the extended beavertail helps promote a high grip while protecting the hand from the moving slide. This gun weighs just over 12 ounces and measures 5.27 inches long. Remington.com

Colt Mustang Pistol

 

8. Colt Mustang Lite/Pocketlite: Price $499
Colt’s Mustang is a great option for concealed carry. Like the SIG, it’s based on the venerable 1911, and as such it’s a single-action-only pistol with an exposed hammer. It has a manual safety, a crisp single-action trigger that breaks between 4.5 and 6 pounds. Sights are dovetail rear and machined post front. The Lite version has a polymer frame and weighs in at 11.5 ounces. The Pocketlite (shown here) has an aluminum alloy frame and weighs only one ounce more. Both versions have a stainless-steel slide with a brushed stainless finish, and both measure just 5.5 inches long, making them true pocket pistols. Like the other .380s here, these guns have a capacity of 6+1. Colt.com

S&W Bodyguard

9. Smith & Wesson Bodyguard: Price $379
The Bodyguard is Smith & Wesson’s take on the pocket .380 pistol, and it’s loaded with features, including drift-adjustable stainless steel sights, a stainless barrel and slide, takedown lever, and an exposed manual safety. These guns come with two six-round magazines — one with a flat base for minimum overall size and another with a finger extension for a more comfortable hold, if that’s wanted. The durable polymer grip is comfortable, and for an additional $70 you can opt for the Bodyguard with a Crimson Trace laser sight. At 5.25 inches long and just 12.3 ounces (standard model) this gun is one of the smaller, lighter .380s on the list. Smith-wesson.com

Editors Note:
Even though it’s called a “pocket pistol” put it in a holster… That keeps the handgun accessible and protected from obstructions and general gunk that can otherwise collect in and on it.

Even if it’s little you gotta feed it! Choosing the right ammo really matters to the effectiveness of a .380. Check out Midsouth offerings HERE

4 (More!) Weird Questions People Ask Women Who Carry Guns

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If you enjoyed Tamara’s last article, you’ll love this one! Get ready for a chuckle! (But one with an important message.) Read on…

stupid questions

It’s just after Thanksgiving as I type this, and as the turkey dinner’s tryptophan haze wears off, one of the things I’m thankful for is all the friends I’ve made working in and around the gun industry. The reason I’m thankful for them is they don’t ask all kinds of weird questions about the hows and whys of me carrying a gun.

When I get away from my circle of gunnie friends, though, oh how do I get those questions, and they really put my ability to bite down on snarky answers to the test. Reading an earlier column put me right into story-time mode, because let me tell you, I have fielded some of those same kinds of questions myself. Let me share some with y’all…

Weird Question #1:
“Wow, do you carry your gun to the grocery store?
Snarky response I want to use: “Only on days I’m planning to be robbed in the produce aisle.”

Actually, you can substitute “mall” or “doctor’s office” or “church” or pretty much any other commonly visited location for “grocery store.” It never fails to amaze me that people think that I would only carry a gun to places where I “expect trouble.” If I expect trouble someplace, I generally solve that problem by not going there at all.

Part of carrying a gun, at least for me, is carrying it every day, and everywhere I legally can. It’s not like I drive my car with the seat belt off on Central Avenue because they don’t have many wrecks there, but plan to put it on when I turn on to 54th Street, because jeez have you seen those wreck statistics?

Weird Question #2:
“So, you carry a gun because you think you’re a vigilante? Like Batman?”
Snarky response I want to use: “Yup. You want to see my vigilante badge? I got it in a box of Frosted Flakes.”

First off, let’s address the Batman angle: If Martha Wayne had a CCW permit and a gun, there wouldn’t be a Batman and Heath Ledger never would have won a posthumous Oscar.

Secondly, no, I don’t think carrying a gun makes me any kind of freelance junior cop. I carry a gun for the immediate protection of me and mine. I don’t carry it to go looking for trouble, but rather just in case trouble finds me despite my best attempts to avoid it.

Weird Question #3:
“But…what do you do with it when you have to go to the bathroom?”
Snarky response I want to use: “Oh, I just hand it to someone trustworthy-looking standing by the sinks and ask them if they’ll hold on to it until I’m done.”

A friend recently quipped in an online discussion group that CCW training courses should be a seven-hour block of instruction on legalities and safety and a one-hour block on what to do with your gun in the bathroom. (Note: That thing on the back of the stall door is NOT a triggerguard hook!)

While some styles of carry, such as belly-bands or purse carry, avoid this problem, if you carry a gun in a belt holster, the question of what to do with it in the bathroom will arise. And the answer should be “Nothing.” If you are wearing a quality holster, the gun is not going to fall out even if the holster should inadvertently flop upside down, and the possibilities of the latter even happening are reduced by wearing a belt that is intended to support the weight of a holstered pistol in the first place.

Weird Question #4:
“Is it…loaded?”
Snarky response I want to give: A long hard stare, followed with, “Well bless your heart.”

While I’ve no doubt an unloaded gun has been used to successfully bluff a bad guy before, that’s a thin thread on which to bet one’s life. Of course my CCW pistol is loaded, else it wouldn’t be very useful!

Further, the mere act of pointing a handgun at someone in my state, absent the reasonable fear of an immediate threat to life and limb, is a crime, so it’s not something done lightly. If the gun is coming out, it’s coming out under circumstances that justify its use, and that’s no time to have to say “Oh, hang on, let me load this thing.”

I could go on and on in this vein, but I see the bottom of the page getting closer. How about you? What weird questions do you get? Share them in the comments!

State Attorneys General Back National Reciprocity

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Here’s a follow-up to the news presented here last time on the historic House passing of H.R. 38, The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act… Keep reading!

nra banner

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

Immediately upon passing the House of Representatives, H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, gained support from a coalition of America’s highest-ranking law enforcement officers. Twenty-four attorneys general from across the country signed a letter spearheaded by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley supporting this common sense legislation.

The additional support for Concealed Carry Reciprocity follows House Judiciary Committee approval of H.R. 38.  A full House vote is expected soon.

“America’s highest-ranking law enforcement officers understand that law-abiding citizens should be able to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense while traveling across state lines without fear of unknowingly breaking the law. The NRA applauds these attorneys general for supporting this important legislation,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action.

The letter states that H.R. 38 is a much-needed solution to a problem facing gun owners and poses no threat to public safety. “The exercise of Congress’s power is particularly warranted in this case because too many states refuse to allow law-abiding visitors to carry concealed firearms. These states leave people without any real option for self-defense. Allowing concealed carry across state lines will not result in an increased risk of crime, as those states that have reciprocal concealed-carry agreements have not encountered any significant safety issues.”

H.R. 38 would eliminate the confusing patchwork of state laws that make it difficult for law-abiding gun owners to travel across the country with their firearms for personal protection. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act affirms that law-abiding citizens who are qualified to carry concealed firearms in one state can carry in other states that allow residents to do so.

A copy of the letter signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma*, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming can be found HERE.