Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

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Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

Post by Darkstar117 on Sun 2 Oct 2011 - 17:39

First off, I apologize for the wall of text. I thought this would be helpful for those deciding on whatand how their OCs would carry.



2 rules of firearm safety (Yes, there really are only two):

1) Always keep a firearm pointed in a safe direction.

2) Finger off the trigger unless it's being fired. "Booger-picker off the bang button".

Fuck either one up and bad things happen. There are a few more recommendations, but these two are absolute. Others include 'Always keep unloaded', "Be sure of your target and what's behind it", and a few more.



Training:

To start with, there is no way to bypass training. There is no 'stepping up to the occasion'. Under stress, a person always falls back to their last level of training. If you have none, well, you will make mistakes. Sometimes more than a few steps back if it has been a considerable amount of time from the last effective training session. Draw practice and practice reloads under stress are invaluable (Get your heart rate to near max, then practice. Practice when you’re tired.). Practice until the action has become an unconscious thought. Once this happens, do the same actions in total darkness. You will have to 'relearn' actions in the dark. Take professional classes, and listen to the instructors. Remember that you're paying them to teach you. Don't be an ass and argue with them. My class's scenarios are always backed up by something that happened in real life. Watching a DVD doesn't substitute range time or a decent training class. A 'square range' (standard firing range where you cannot move) does not provide a good training area. Marksmanship (when I get appointed war czar, I will eliminate that word) practice is fine there, but good training is usually not allowed. 4 things should be happening. Shoot, Move, Reload, and Communicate. Hints: Shoot when you're shooting, move when you're moving, reload when you're reloading. When working with others, COMMUNICATE! Bad communication kills. Practice shooting until it becomes boring, because you hit your intended target every time.

Learn to shoot with either hand under stress. Shit happens; you may not be able to use your dominant hand.

Remember, you can't fuck up fast enough to fix anything.

Situational Awareness - All the training in the world is meaningless if you're too distracted to use it. Pay attention to your surroundings. Body language is important on both sides. Can you tell the difference between someone looking at you and someone watching you? Something I've noticed from working with law enforcement is both sides (criminal and police) tend to do the same things. Eye to eye contact, followed by watching body language. Cops always look at hands. Criminals always look for your mental awareness. Like a lion watching a gazelle, they look for you to de distracted enough to not notice them before they make their move. Always be paying some attention to your surroundings.

It may be cliché, but your mind is the most dangerous weapon. Be diligent and train, because having to learn when it counts may take the rest of your life.



This is leaned to the concealed carry side, as tactical carry is completely different.

Pistols:

I always recommend carrying the largest pistol you can carry. This may mean different things to different people depending on a lot of factors. I have big hands. I prefer to carry a firearm that fits my hand well. If the pistol doesn't fit your hand well, you will not shoot it well. Can it conceal well?

My summer CCW is a Sig P239 in 9mm. It's the smallest firearm that fits my hands well. I've given up capacity for concealablity. We'll get into this later. I can conceal it completely with just a t-shirt.

My winter CCW is a Glock 17 with a Surefire X300 weapon light. If it wasn't so hot where I live, I would carry it all year. But 110* means shorts and a t-shirt. I cannot effectively conceal it wearing just a t-shirt. Winter means a hoodie or a coat, and that allows for a better holster and a bigger gun. If I'm taking a tactical class, it's my sidearm. It also serves as my 'nightstand' gun.

Night Sights - You will never always be in a well-lit area. Unless you have super muscle memory, night sights are an excellent option to have on a pistol. If it can't have night sights, put a light on it. You know, put a light on it anyway. If it can't take a light, carry a bright flashlight (and practice using it while shooting, it's harder than you think). Know how to use a tactical light? Take a low light class anyway. Practice shooting in the dark using a light.

Make/Model - Choose a well-made & reliable pistol.

I'm a little strange when it comes to this. I dislike mechanical safeties. I want a firearm to be ready the instant I have it in my hand. This includes having a round chambered. Remember those safety rules? With a double action/single action (in DA), you can't pull a 10-lb trigger 'accidentally'. With a Glock (or Glock-type, includes M&P, XD, and others), attention to the 'booger picker off the bang button' is very important. If you must have a safety, practice it's use until it becomes second nature. Whatever your choice, make it's use second nature. Practice with it. Practice with it often. There is a reason why training was among the first things covered.

Make sure the system can deliver an effective round. I would consider this to be a round that passes or exceeds the US FBI spec. Check the ammo primer in the caliber/ammunition section.

Make sure you have reliable magazines. Magazines are the weakest link in a pistol. Make sure you can feed your gun.

I generally do not recommend revolvers. The new trend of super lightweight guns shooting full-powered rounds makes follow-up shots difficult (or painful for some female shooters). Reloads, unless you're very well practiced, are time consuming. If you choose to carry a revolver, practice harder than you would with an auto. You will need the practice.

Carry what's best for you, and withhold judgment of others who don't feel the same way you do. What works for one person may not work for you.



Caliber/Ammunition - You are not giving up anything by going with a smaller caliber. Sorry guys, bigger is not always better. I say that because if you look around the U.S. you'll find that there are police departments who issue 9mm handguns with good ammunition that are killing lots of bad guys with them. There are departments who issue .40 caliber handguns with good ammunition that are killing lots of bad guys with them. There are departments around the country who issue .357 sig handguns with good ammunition that are killing lots of bad guys with them. There are departments around the country who issue .45 ACP handguns with good ammunition that are killing lots of bad guys with them. Seeing a pattern?

As long as you pick a good service caliber with good ammunition, what caliber you choose is largely irrelevant in terms of the results you can reasonably expect out of a handgun. The cumulative wisdom from a bunch of testing and autopsies shows that any of the major service calibers will do the job assuming you can do your part on the sights and the trigger. If you can, you'll ruin a bad guy's day. If you can't, inflicting a minor wound with a .45 ACP is no better than inflicting a minor wound with a 9mm.

For an excellent primer on ammunition and performance look here. http://ammo.ar15.com/project/Self_Defense_Ammo_FAQ/index.htm

Remember the 12 inches of penetration requirement. Most rounds smaller then 9x19mm rounds do not pass.

My P239's carry load is the excellent Speer 124-gr +P Gold Dot Short Barrel. Which passes FBI spec.

My Glock 17's carry load is also from Speer. 147-gr Gold Dots. Which passes FBI spec.


Capacity - Let me sidetrack for a moment.


Well some smart people in a large federal agency have made it a practice to gather video footage (which includes police dash cam footage and video of regular folks in shootings like stop-n-rob security video) of every shooting they can possibly find and have studied it frame by frame trying to figure out what really happens in gunfights. They came to some conclusions.

There are essentially two types of incidents: Shootings and Gunfights.

A shooting is an event where only one party fires a weapon. These incidents tend to involve producing a weapon by surprise and firing a small number of shots...generally no more than 5. An example would be an incident used in lectures by Tom Givens. A small Asian lady working at a convenience store went through one of his classes after being robbed. Not long after going through the class another bad guy came in to rob her convenience store. When the bad guy stuck his gun in her face, she side-stepped while drawing a .38 revolver and shot the guy in the face, dropping him. Action beats reaction, tunnel vision is a bitch, Asian lady wins.

A gunfight is an event where at least two parties exchange rounds. These incidents look VERY different than shootings...because the actors in a gunfight tend to shoot until they run out of ammunition. The first person to run out of ammunition either gets the hell out of dodge (assuming they can move) or they end up in really bad shape. Gunfights tend to last in the range of 3-5 seconds. It's also worth noting that the same study of shooting footage shows that under stress people tend to fire 1 shot every .25 of a second whether they can hit anything that way or not. That's essentially their cyclic rate of fire...as fast as they can fire the gun. So now if we consider that a 2 way exchange of gunfire lasts 3-5 seconds and that the average person under stress fires a shot every 1/4 of a second, we can start to see that capacity becomes a potential for offensive action. In other words, if I'm carrying a 5 shot revolver I have 1.25 seconds of outgoing fire and a minimum 4 second reload (and I'm being really, really generous for the minimum reload time...I doubt there are more than a handful of people in the world who can reload a J frame from a speed loader in under 4 seconds) for an incident that is probably going to last a minimum of 3 seconds. Hmm....no es bueno. With a Glock 17, on the other hand (with 17-rd mags with factory +2 extensions, for 19-rd capacity), I have 5 seconds of outgoing fire with a 2 second reload (again being generous with the reload times, as there probably aren't too many people who can do a sub-2 second reload from concealment under gunfight stress). Even if I don't hit anything with the Glock 17, I have 3.75 more seconds of sending reasons for the bad guy to fuck off and leave me alone with the Glock 17 than I do with the 5-shot .38 revolver.


I don't know about you, but if I'm in that kind of a situation I'm going to want those 3.75 seconds.

The math, of course, doesn't factor in all the dynamics of a fight like how many bad guys there are (usually between 1 and 3, sometimes more...multiple bad guys is very common), how well you can perform under stress (which most people have never trained for) or the like. Still, it's not an insignificant thing to consider. Assuming we're talking about a caliber and load that gives reliable penetration and expansion, having more bullets on tap is going to be better than having fewer bullets on tap. Some people out there have the insufferably stupid habit of viewing 19 rounds as "a lot" of ammunition. They typically view it this way because they've usually never confronted just how fast a human being can go through 19 rounds. When faced with someone who is trying to kill them, most people will point the weapon in the general direction of the bad guy and pull the trigger until the bad guy drops, stops, or kills them. They react out of blind panic and fear. The well trained react like the well trained and tend to fall more into the making the bad guy drop range of things...but while they are more deliberate in their actions and get better results on target, they tend to pull the trigger a lot too. Most of the guys I know who have been in fights and prevailed shot their opponent multiple times...sometimes emptying an entire mag into someone...even though each hit was a good one that struck vital organs. Why? Because unlike the movies, bad guys don't always fall down when you hit them...even if it's with a wound they cannot survive. A shot directly through the heart will kill someone, but not instantly, and so you are going to keep pulling the trigger until they stop what they are doing. If you want to drop somebody instantly, head shots are the way to do it...but not many people spend the time developing the skill necessary to deliver head shots on demand under gunfight levels of stress.

Now consider the same with the Sig P239 with an eight round magazine.



Holsters - Concealability & Comfort above all. It should allow the covert carry (this means no one but you should know ou have it) of a pistol on your person. It should be as comfortable as possible.

Remember how I like my pistols? I dislike concealment holsters with retention mechanisms, thumb breaks, snaps, buttons, levers; they may hinder you under stress. If you must have a retention mech on your CCW holster, train on it's use until you can disengage it without thinking about it. Make sure your holster securely holds your firearm without coming out while running or whatever it is you happen to be doing.

I'm a big fan of Galco, Comp-Tac, and Crossbreed holsters. My Sig sits in a Galco Summer Comfort holster, Galco Concealment Belt holster, or a Crossbreed Supertuck (combat cut) holster when it's being worn. Truth be told, for the P239, I like the Crossbreed better. The Glock (when CCW'd) gets carried in a Comp-Tac Belt Holster.

http://www.usgalco.com/HolsterPG2.asp

http://www.crossbreedholsters.com/SuperTuckDeluxe/tabid/90/List/0/ProductID/1/CategoryID/1/Level/1/Default.aspx?SortField=ProductName,ProductName

http://www.comp-tac.com/product_info.php?products_id=137

I would recommend on keeping stuff away from the small of your back. If you fall the wrong way, you end up with a lumbar injury. Plus, SOB carry tends to be very difficult to conceal.

Never 'speed holster' a pistol. Always ensure the holster is clear of crap before you put your firearm back. For the most part, the only thing that matter is how fast you can get your gun out of the holster. An object in your holster may accidentally discharge your pistol. If you did your part, you'll have all the time in the world to put it back in. It sucks when you holster your pistol with your shirt stuck in the holster. Your pistol becomes difficult to remove after that.

Oh yeah, before I forget, going to the bathroom while carrying a pistol IWB (inside the waistband) can be very interesting in it's ability to make an everyday task somewhat difficult.



Magazine Pouches - The same as your holster, it should allow the covert carry of spare magazines.

The magazine is the weakest link of any firearm. But how many spare magazines should you carry? Refer back to the Capacity section. Then decide on what you would like to carry.


Even in the military, I've never met a soldier who said "I wish I had less ammo during that firefight". Anyway, I usually carry two spares regardless of what I'm carrying. With the P239 it gives me an extra 16 rounds. With the Glock 17 it gives me an extra 38 rounds.

The same as your holster, look for a pouch that retains the mags enough to keep them from falling out if you're running, or upside-down, or doing whatever it is that you may be doing. But not too tight that extracting a mag becomes difficult. Remember, the intention is pulling a mag under stress. There are a plethora of good magazine pouches. I like the ones from the same companies that make my holsters. Galco, Crossbreed, and Comp-Tac.

Keep your flashlight (if you carry one) away from your magazines. Ever try to insert a flashlight instead of a mag during a reload? Twice in one day? It was funny to learn that lesson in a shooting class. It was embarrassing, and I got laughed at pretty hard. At least it wasn't during anything serious. Learning occurred.



Anyway, this is just some info that I have learned over the years. I hope it's helpful to some of you.


Last edited by Darkstar117 on Sun 2 Oct 2011 - 17:50; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Spelling)
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Re: Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

Post by Officer_Charon on Sun 2 Oct 2011 - 18:08

An OUTSTANDINGLY written primer. As a Marine, as a cop, as a SWAT prospect... I applaud you, sir. FanTASTic info here. Even if some folks may not agree with certain of the points (caliber, for example), no-one can argue that you have not done your homework on this one, to say nothing of drawing upon personal experience, which is ALWAYS the best teacher.


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Re: Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

Post by Darkstar117 on Sun 2 Oct 2011 - 20:51

Yeah, Make/Model/Caliber/Ammunition choices are usually very personal decisions. People can get quite animated on those choices.
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Re: Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sun 2 Oct 2011 - 20:59

Sounds like the kind of stuff a new handler would be responsible for training his recently awakened cyborg. More advanced training could be provided by other staff...Amadeo, Georgio or Charon's OC John...but those first few lessons are an intimate affair best handled by the cyborgs direct supervisor.

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Re: Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

Post by razschi on Mon 3 Oct 2011 - 8:15

Very well written... Thank you!
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Re: Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

Post by John_234 on Thu 10 Jan 2013 - 20:44

I believe revolvers are still a very strong option for carry but like any gun they need to be picked with consideration of the situation. Revolvers are a nice option when you're working with someone with a very light wardrobe or a figure that doesn't really allow carrying a service handgun or even a compact piece like a P239 or a Glock 19. Given a Keltec P3AT or a J-frame, I think my decision is pretty obvious.

Revolvers are not 100% reliable - no guns are. But they can't be limpwristed and don't need an IA for duds. They can also be contact shot easier than auto. Reloading is definitely an issue, but my point is when you get to a certain point with compact handguns, the weaknesses of revolvers are laid out against some really, really bad subcompact autoloader pistols.

Personally, I like to train with what I use to learn how to clear jams. Revolvers are harder to reload with one hand and all that - so, if I just had one gun, it'd probably be a 1911, or a Cz83 or a Glock 19. Something big and dependable.

Increasingly, I find two-gun carry more appealing. Especially with the tiny guns, a second gun is probably not that much bulkier than a reload. One configuration I experimented with a bit was appendix for the backup gun and strong-side IWB for the larger handguns. If you gotta do an IA or reload, its faster just to get out that second handgun and lay down the pain.

On the topic, another big reason to carry spare magazines is not only running out of ammo, but malfunctions. If you get a really bad double feed and tearing out the mag bangs up the feed lips, do you just stop fighting? Nah, you bust out that reload which is probably going to work and keep the gun running. So even if you don't expect or want to fire all those rounds, spare ammo is just essential.

With night sights and such, I find its really important to stress that night sights are not an answer by themselves. If you can't see and identify the target, you should probably not try to gun it to death. I like them, I use them, but I know they're not a crutch. As far as lights go, I have them on the weapon whenever possible. Using a handgun and a light with one hand? Reloading a handgun with a light in your off hand? Not fun. So, I want lights on the gun.

Plus a good flashlight in the pocket. If I think there's something in an alleyway but don't want to draw a weapon, I pull out the handheld from a pocket. If it's something bad, I just draw the handgun and use the light. If I have a light on the handgun, I just drop the handheld and use the gun and its light. The bottom line is I train to use every single piece of gear I carry.

Finally, this is just my opinion but I think all new shooters should start out on kydex holsters and pouches Razz

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Re: Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

Post by taerKitty on Fri 11 Jan 2013 - 0:39

Why Kydex?

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Re: Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

Post by John_234 on Fri 11 Jan 2013 - 1:51

@taerkitty wrote:Why Kydex?
More rigid and durable than leather. Doesn't look as nice, but requires less maintenance and holsters very well. It doesn't suffer issues like holsters collapsing as leather does, either.

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Re: Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

Post by taerKitty on Fri 11 Jan 2013 - 11:35

Thx. All your other recommendations you backed up with very good reasons, so I was curious about the Kydex. As always, I appreciate your expertise.

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Re: Practical Pistol Carry, a primer

Post by John_234 on Fri 11 Jan 2013 - 13:45

@taerkitty wrote:Thx. All your other recommendations you backed up with very good reasons, so I was curious about the Kydex. As always, I appreciate your expertise.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtLt74y5QwY This is a bit of a flamboyant example, but you get some good detailed footage of how easy it is to draw and holster, how the holster retains shape. The holster even makes an audible noise when you draw and holster, which is nice for knowing your gear is secure without looking down.

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