Sunday, December 16, 2018

Three years! Three years THREE YEARS, MAN!! THREE YEARS!!!

Dang...five years since I blogged. Sooo much change in that time. I'll give a run down of that shortly, but here's what's still the same: I'm still into guns and knives and all that, but I haven't picked up anything new in quite a while. Basically, if you have a duty quality firearm, you don't need a whole lot of them because they just don't break very often. I've pretty much standardized on 5.56 and 9mm, and got rid of alternate platforms; the MnP worked great for me but all my others are Glocks, so I sold it off along with its different mags and support gear.

So, the changes right quick. I don't work at ATS anymore, as of 2015. I've been working for the state of TN since 2016 and am in HR now. Music has become a huge part of my life again. In January of 2014 I picked up bass again, and three or four months later I got a gig with Christian rock band Threshing Floor. We did original music that was mostly in the post-grunge vein, did a little recording and didn't play out as often as I'd like. A couple songs are still out there on Soundcloud and the like, and some Yoot Ube clips exist as well. Due to life getting in the way that band ended in 2017. In reality it ended before that, but 2017 was when we knew it was done and accepted that. We're still friends and are still in contact with each other, which is as good an ending as there is for bands; they don't all end that way.

Over the summer I got contacted by one of the best musicians I know: Jonathan DePool, formerly of AVA, Exobox, and The Barbie Conspiracy, among others. He asked if I was interested in putting together a 90's cover band, which sounded like fun to me. A short time later he had a great guitarist on board, Chris, and we were searching for a singer. Oh, the saga of the singer situation. We spoke with 18 + candidates who expressed interest in doing this gig. Of those, we scheduled 9 for auditions. Not one showed up. Nine people and NOT ONE actually showed up to the audition they agreed to.

Because of the singer situation not working, Jon was playing drums and singing. After doing that for several weeks, he called and asked if I could help him take his drums to be traded in for guitar gear. So he went from being a singing drummer to a singing riddim guitarist and I took over the search for drummers. I posted on a couple musician finder groups on the farcebook and got 7 hits within a couple hours. Of those, one was able to make our next rehearsal. Bear in mind, this was Friday night. Rehearsal was Sunday late afternoon. He nailed the three songs we asked him to audition with, and then played the rest of our set. On top of that, he was a cool dude, and wah lah, we had Max on drums.

Our first show is likely going to be Feb. 9th at Autograph Rehearsal Studio in Murfreesboro. After that we're looking at a couple tentative opportunities that need to fall into place first. Overall, things are pretty interesting these days.

Maybe it won't be three years before I do this again. Ya never know.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Duty Pistols: Where We Are Now

Sometimes the Intardweb is awesome, sometimes it's clown shoes. One of the times that it's clown shoes is when people start talking about getting out of a particular weapon system because somebody else reported a problem and then some others said they had similar (or sometimes radically different) problems. Here's something that we tend to forget: guns are ALWAYS a law unto themselves. What is needed is a moderately large sample size in order to see any useful data; otherwise, it's just anecdotal comments. Sure, five people saying they bought a particular gun in a particular time frame having similar problems bears watching, but it's not enough to dump everything and go to another platform based on that.

These comments are inspired by the hand wringing and consternation over the Glock and M&P of late. These two platforms especially have a very very large number of guns in duty gun situations, with large metro Police Departments and Sheriff's Offices, as well as high stress users in less well publicized places. They've been tested and proven, in statistically significant numbers, enough to earn the right to be recommended guns. Until HK decides to make a striker fired world beater-and I have a hard time believing they haven't done that yet, it so obvious-the current duty guns are what to look at: Glocks, SnW MnP, Sig Sauer (even if I would rather beat myself in the head with one rather than shoot it) and even a couple Beretta models. The ones that have been tested and chosen for duty use are still the guns to be your life on..adding the HK, because for some reason they don't seem to care a whole lot about getting those contracts, even though they make the most out of the box accurate and durable pistols going overall, even if they are using state of the art of 1981 firing systems.

Here's the thing: those of us who've been shooting the same guns for a long time tend to be somewhat out of touch with what's going on in the firearms market. Once you have the gun and all the support equipment, and maybe one or two spares of the same model (I didn't used to believe in that, but...I currently have three Glock 19's), its rather common to lose sight of what's going on with the rest of the gun buying public. Lots has happened recently: Gun Culture 2.0 has become a major segment of the new gun buying public, there have been two runs in four years on everything with a trigger, and a WHOLE LOT of people that wouldn't "normally" be in the gun owning group are now because they feel a real pressure that their elected officials aren't listening and are thinking about infringing on their right to own, use, and bear arms.

What that does is put a lot of new buyers in the marketplace, and manufacturers are selling everything they put out the door. Something has to give, and often there are changes made to allow increases in production. Whether that's outsourcing to new parts suppliers or changes in QC/QA, those adjustments get made to try to meet demand. Most people shoot maybe a thousand rounds-and probably significantly less- in their lifetime; those that shoot a multiple of that in a year are a very small segment of the market. Even guns that I wouldn't own if you gave them to me will probably stand up to that light firing schedule.

So what we have are guns that are available and durable enough for what they're designed for, even if they'd literally shoot themselves apart if they were taken to a high round count training class. The Intardweb magnifies both successes and failures beyond their actual status frequently. That said, the number of guns being put out are, by a simple function of the number of guns being bought, going to show some problems here and there. No company can make a perfect product every single time; that's just not realistic. As long as that company keeps its failures to a small fraction-the best of them are under 1%, which is pretty amazing all things considered-that's all we the consumers can realistically ask for. Does it suck to have a new gun that doesn't work? Yes, of course it does. But customer service is often stellar in this day and age, and problems get fixed quickly and relatively painlessly.

I heard it put like this recently. Although this is overstating on a rather grand scale, there is a grain of truth to it: "Every gun out there sucks right now." There is no easy to modify, easy to maintain, easy to shoot well, well supported, durable gun that is guaranteed trouble free. So what to do? Choose a gun that is heavily used as a duty gun, well supported with availability of parts and support gear, in a caliber you can get and shoot enough to be proficient, and be done with it. Don't worry about what the buzz is so much as being worried about investing in being a smart shopper. When you're looking for a tool to defend the life of you and yours, that is NOT the time to be an individual.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Return to Blackhawk Down

This has been making the rounds for about a week now, so you may have already seen it. In case you don't know, Jeff Struecker became a Chaplain sometime after the battle, and was my friend M4 Guru's Chaplain in the 82nd. Keni Thomas went into music after leaving the service. If you like country, check out his stuff. He's pretty dang good.

This is a piece of the story of Keni and Jeff heading back to Mogadishu 20 years after The Battle of the Black Sea (Battle of Mogadishu). Its pretty awesome.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cutting the Cable: my version

It got to the point where I had to cut my costs. The cost of everything going up and a change in taxes making my paycheck a little smaller-I'm gonna go ahead and say "thanks a lot Osama...Obama"-I just had to find a way to reduce my monthly costs. Not being able to source ammo consistently has been an ersatz cost control, but I don't like it. I looked at what was going out every month, and there were two areas I could reduce: power consumption and cable TV. Turning off lights and not turning them on until they were required and shutting down the computer regularly made a huge difference in the power bill, and turning off cable TV while keeping cable internet cut $75 out of my cable bill.

I looked around a bit for alternatives, and found a way to get rid of cable TV without going batty: I bought a Roku 3. In order to use it, I also needed to get a router, which I found on Amazon as a factory refurb for about $50 with shippin'. The Roku 3 cost me $89, and shipped for free. I had a little trouble getting the disc for the router to work correctly, but I got that squared away by literally unplugging everything in the chain and plugging it in one step at a time following the boot disc directions. After that, setting up the whole thing was cake.

Using the Roku is really easy, too. Its well thought out and intuitive. That info is all over the net, so I'm not gonna rehash it again. Instead I'll run down how I typically use it.

I've tried pretty much all the premium services (Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime) and keep finding that I keep going back to Netflix. I either didn't use them enough-as with Hulu Plus, although I may try again sometime soon-or just didn't get to see what I wanted, as with Amazon. They have the most content, but much of what I want to see on that channel is a paid show. That's no big deal for the convenience, but I don't wanna pay $79 a year and then have to pay a few bucks per on top of that to watch a movie or show. So, in order to reduce my costs the most, I stick to Netflix and manage to keep myself occupied with finding movies I haven't seen and some older shows I dig, like Battlestar Gallactica and Miami Vice. There's a ton they don't have, but I'm debating changing my account to get DVD's as well. At this point, though, the desire is keep costs low, so its the one service I'm using now.

I can still watch some shows streamed on their producer's website as well, such as Defiance, and regular TV programming on I tried to run a VGA splitter so I could send that signal to my TV as well as my monitor, but for whatever reason, the splitter isn't working, with the TV saying that signal isn't supported. My computer is pretty old, so I only have a single VGA out on it; only one monitor output. I think the right solution will be a video card that has two outputs, but again, the idea was to keep costs low, so for now I watch on my 'puter. At least I have a decent sized monitor.

To get local stations, I got a tip from a buddy of mine: after I took out the cable converter box and returned it, I took the cable that was going into said box and plugged it directly into my TV. I went to the antenna set up on my TV, set it to "cable", and searched. I came up with 38 channels, about 20 of which are visible. I get all my local programming, and in fact I'm watching the Spurs get a third quarter lead going against the Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals now. I miss out on some sports that are on TNT and ESPN, but the national stuff I still get. Oddly, I still get The Food Network, too. I'd trade that for FX or Fox Sports, but overall, I'm pretty satisfied with what I've got.

My boss said a couple months ago that he was sure that cable TV was on it's way out. With all the stuff that's available on the Roku-there's a lot on there I couldn't care less about, but some 20 channels have caught my attention so far-I can see cable TV going away and having all programming come over the net. At the time I wasn't so sure, but now I can see it happen. The programming will have to catch up; you're gonna have to be able to get all those channels online, and they're not all there yet. Once that happens, though, it'll be on like Donkey Kong, because the cost of programming will drop dramatically, and commercials will still be commercials. If the costs of the commercials doesn't drop significantly as well, then there won't be more of them than there already are. Honestly, I don't much care about commercials; if having a couple breaks during the show mean I don't have to pay out that $75 for cable TV, I'm OK with it. For what I'm saving, I'm pretty dang happy with the decision to dump cable TV.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to fit an M&P sight set Man Style.

My home boy USMC03 posted this tutorial on how to fit an MnP sight set, and it was too epic not to share. I didn't tell him I would so I hope he doesn't murder me too much. He's a former Marine; profanity ensues.

The how-to:
Dude no worries. Fitting an iron sight in a dovetail is not a complicated process...that being said lets see here...

Yes i used a file on the underside flat to fit the sight, no i didnt use loctite.

My process is highly detailed and goes something like this...

1.)Ensure pistol is unloaded and field strip it.

2.)Place slide in magical clamping tool of precision..aka a bench mounted vice.

3.)This next part is mission essential...Pound rest of beer and throw in a half a can of copenhagen snuff.

4.)Realizing you are an Merican WECSOG alumnus and thus do not own any type of universal pistol sight adjustment tool (left it at an old job and HATE everyone there bad enough you wont call to have them mail it to you)..remove brass punch/hammer/and apex tactical plastic dealio (dont recall the name) that allows you to drift and remove sights without losing the M&P's striker block and assorted parts.

5.)remove front and rear sights with brass punch and hammer.

6.) Pour a crown and coke.

7.)Attempt to install rear sight. Bend first brass punch while doing so.

8.) curse loudly

9.) Remove files and stones from toolbox and proceed to spend 2 hours filing and test fitting sights to your slide while heading back into the house to pour more drinks and grabbing another can of dip. Assure household 6 that you will be in before midnight and that she should spend her time catching up on her chicks flick tv shows while you are out in the shop.

10.) Take the dog out to drop a duece and let her in shop.

11.) Keep drinking/fitting sights/throwing the slide across the shop in fits of RAGE and freaking the dog out. At this point realize that its 14 degrees in the shop, the dog has hypothermia and is chewing the sh*t out of everything not nailed down and go start a fire in the shop stove.

12.) Take the dog back in the cabin, pour another drink and return to trying to make round pegs fit in smaller rounded holes.

13.) Chew more copenhagen while BLARING Slayer, yell at and question the manhood of the retired Squid across the road in front of his wife when he asks you to turn the music down at midnight. \m/.

14.) FINALLY get everything installed and pert near lined up windage wise..then realize you have had 14 cocktails and decide to make finer adjustments when you hit the range in 2 days.

15.) Go back in the house at 0100 and try not to murder the dog that's eating one of your socks/shoot the TV with some gay ass teeny bopper high school show about nerds in a choir with a 1 oz grizzly defense 12 guage slug/and or blow your stack when HH6 asks how it went.

16.) 2 Days later...head out to the range with a buddy that's trying to burn up 6k rounds of factory ammo so his OCD ass can reload it to his higher accuracy and reliability standards than pretty much any factory is capable of churning out.

17.) Turn on GoPro headcam while running drills for critique later that day.

18.) Engage paper at 5/10/20 yards to check zero. GTG so move to engaging steel at 35 yards.

19.) Proceed to fire a total of 12 or so rounds and realize it is in fact the gun this time and not yourself.

20.) Look at front sight which has drifted left and consider the chain of events in your life that have led to this. Narrowly avoid trying to figure out many rounds of 9mm ball from your Glock it would take to turn this S&W into a puddle of melted goo and steel and pissing on it for spite.

21.) Sitting in Afghanistan and considering making a moto video of said sight falling off the gun with Slayer blaring "War Ensemble" dubbed over...and then watching it before going to work each morning.

That about sums it up. I aint about to start drilling hole's in my slide to mount a f*cking iron sight, the motherf*cker is going to L&M precision gunworks for an RDS on the ATOM goodness so i don't have to f*ck with it anymore.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Thou Shalt Not Kill: missed the translation on that one!

I've been trying to read through the Bible about once a year, but it usually ends up taking me a little longer than a year, or has so far. I'm on my third reading right now...and behind schedule, I think. Its the journey, not the destination, so I'll be OK no matter how long it takes.

For some reason, I seem to be seeing references to the 10 Commandments quite a bit lately. I think they've been there anyway; its not something new where its all of a sudden in front of me more often. However, I am seeing more reference to it around me. I believe that God does that for me to get me thinking. I don't always know exactly why, but it shows up somewhere, every time.

So I'm reading the Old Testament now, and have just completed reading the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. They've been settled for a little while now; ballpark they've been there 150 years total. The whole history of the 40 years in the desert and the events of that time are all in there. Its not been a terribly long time that Moses brought the 10 Commandments off the mountain.

And here's what strikes me about them: the 6th Commandment can't possibly be translated correctly. In both of my Bibles, a New American Standard and a Revised Standard Edition, both use the word "kill": Exodus 2:13, "You shall not kill". But read the rest of the Old Testament and that word can't be right...unless its a word being used that has multiple definitions. If it was simply killing that was prohibited, then God would be going against his word, which does not happen. Killing can't be wrong in and of itself. A couple of examples: as Israel is being set up, God commands them to set up "safe cities", where a man who causes the death of his neighbor by accident can go until a trail can be held; sort of protective custody where he's sequestered away from the family of the deceased. This only applies in accidental deaths, which I think we call manslaughter now. Then there's the entire peoples that were "delivered into your [Israel's] hand." What's that mean? It means God not only sanctioned, but ordered Israel to kill off an entire people. That's what "put to the edge of the sword" means: quite literally putting the edge of the sword with force and extreme prejudice on a body and taking it's life. So "kill" can't be the right word.

Replace "kill" with "murder". Now it makes a lot more sense. says "murder" is defined as "Law. the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder)  and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder)." It also says that the word's origins come from between 1300-1350, which means that "kill" would be the only word available at the time, and that's why its translated that way. 

It's clear to me, though, that there is such a thing as righteous killing, and that "some people just need killin'" is also true. I don't think I need to go into a big explanation of how murder and killing are different; both the readers of my blog should already get that, and it'd make this post a lot, lot longer. Suffice it to say, not all killing is murder, and while murder is against God's law, killing isn't. As distasteful as it is, sometimes it's the right thing to do, is righteous, and needs to be done.  

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Quite possibly the best yet: Pizza Scam!

Just got this in my work e-mail, which gets quite a bit of spam. Come of it is a little bit convincing, especially the stuff that uses the art work from the Bookface and UPS. If they work  on the actual text a bit, they'll be on to something. The rest is the same stuff everybody else gets and that isn't very interesting anymore. Today's, though, is novel and different. I knew it was a scam because I can't think of a single pizza lover that I know that would ever order easy on the cheese. "Im always screwing up some mundane detail!" - Michael Bolton.

You??™ve just ordered pizza from our site
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- Chicken
- Pork
- Pineapple
- Onions
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- Chicken
- Green Peppers
- Diced Tomatoes
- Onions
- No Cheese
- Extra Sauce

Pizza Supreme with extras:
- Beef
- Ham
- Chicken
- Green Peppers
- Easy On Cheese
- Extra Sauce

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- Beef
- Italian Sausage
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- Onions
- Extra Cheese
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- Italian Sausage
- Bacon Pieces
- Chicken
- Pineapple
- Pineapple
- Diced Tomatoes
- Easy On Cheese
- Extra Sauce

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- Bacon Pieces
- Green Peppers
- No Cheese
- Extra Sauce

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- Bacon Pieces
- Pineapple
- No Cheese
- No Sauce

- Lift x 6
- Pepsi x 4
- Dr. Pepper x 2

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If you haven??™t made the order and it??™s a fraud case, please follow the link and cancel the order.

If you don??™t do that shortly, the order will be confirmed and delivered to you.

With Respect To You
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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Getting Better: some tools that helped

I was talking recently with the home p's about shooting, improving, and what's made the most difference in getting to the goals. There have been a few things that changed things for the better for me, and I don't think I'd be as good as I am (and make no mistake, I still suck. A lot) if not for a few different tools. Some just got me out of my own way, some make things easier to do, and some were helpful in changing my way of thinking and practicing. Since I'm in need of something to write about, I decided I'd throw a list out there and maybe it can help one of my two readers.

The first big improvement for me was switching to a 9mm, which cut my ammo costs, which meant that I could shoot more for the same amount of money. .45 has gotten almost obscene in cost, and it's kept me from shooting it much. I considered classifying with it a couple weeks ago, but decided against it because I realized I was unlikely to compete with it anytime soon. If you can afford to shoot the .45, more power to you; I envy you because I just can't swing it. Granted, ya gotta shoot whatever you can get these days, and I'm thankful I didn't get rid of my .40. Luckily, I was pointed to Glocks early on, and I moved to them from a 1911, so I was already familiar with a short stroke trigger. If I was still shooting my old Taurus PT99 (the gun rags said it was a good gun, and I've learned since that gun rags are generally more miss than hit) or the SnW 4006 that I had for a short while (traded it at a profit for my first 1911) moving to a striker fired gun would have been another quantum leap. They're so much easier to shoot that I wonder why DA/SA trigger mechanisms still exist...and that people buy them.

In addition to shooting more, getting duty quality support gear helped me a TON. Quality gear stands up to constant use. Most of my stuff is Safariland, which is engineered, designed and built for duty use. That stuff lasts for YEARS. I just have to fight my lack of ability now, and not my gear being sub-par or failing while I'm using it. The great thing is that good gear pays for itself in a relatively short time, and the difference in price between minimum level gear and top quality stuff isn't that much. There's about a ten dollar difference between the SERPA and the Safariland ALS, and the ALS is a proven performer that will last longer than your shooting career in most cases. But beyond the durability is a general improvement in design and build quality. Your gear will do what it's supposed to do, rather than not quite being right, such as holding your mags at a weird angle or something along those lines. It's a worthwhile investment, but not dirt cheap, so do your due diligence and research and make sure you're buying quality. It's always about best value, not lowest price.

In terms of the improvement of my actual skills, the thing that made the biggest difference was getting a timer. I have a PACT Club Timer, which does quite a bit of stuff and is a very good value. Competition Electronics Pocket Pro II and the CED 7000 from Competitive Edge Dynamics are also timers I've got varying degrees of experience with. I think my favorite is the CE Pocket Pro II, for ease of use and programing, as well as having a very loud, easy to hear buzzer. A close second goes to the Club Timer, which is not quite so flexible, but does a lot for a reasonable price. If you have a smart phone, the Surefire timer app is probably still available. It was supposed to be a short term availability, but was still out there last time I looked. It works pretty well, and for the price of Free.99, ya can't really go wrong. The downsides are that the buzzer isn't anywhere near as loud and sensitivity can be a problem if you're not shooting alone. The timer don't lie, though. When you think something is working, the timer allows you to test it and prove whether it really is or not. Its caused me to refine my technique by things being proven better by the timer.

Electronic ear pro makes training easier, especially if you're getting professional instruction. If you can't swing electronic muffs, which have quite a wide range of prices (and quality, obviously) then there are ear plugs like the Surefire EP7's that I blogged about a while back that allow low intensity sound through while blocking high pressure sounds like gunshots. I prefer the Peltor Comtacs that I've been running for several years for classes and for when it's cold. The EP7's are quite a bit more comfortable when wearing glasses that aren't flush with your temples.

The last major area of improvement I found is also one that saves money: shooting rounds that matter. How? By shooting "standards". Most of these are designed around 50 to 100 rounds, some less, but all are tests of various skills. The beauty of shooting standards is that you have a quantifiable level to which you can compare your skills. I wish the standards were all published in one place, but there's a pretty good reason why they're not. I sent Mike Pannone a message through the Bookface to inquire if he'd ever considered doing a book of standards in the same form factor as his Glock handbook and the M16/M4 Handbook (both of which are very much worth the investment). He said he had considered it, but that it would be put on the net shortly after release which would make publishing it a waste of time and money. As it is, the standards are out there, and you'll just have to seek them out. Start with the 10-8 Standards, the Hackathorn Standards, and Kyle Defoor's 500 Point Aggregate. That's not necessarily his drill, but he was the one who exposed me to it, through YouTube and then through shooting them with Matt E, who was in Defoor's class about a year ago. Wish I'd gone.

I want to also mention shooting competitively as a method to improvement. There are a couple reasons to shoot competition: first, it gives you a gauge to see where you stand against other competitors, and secondly it puts a little stress on the shooter that is hard to replicate on the range alone. It can also put you in touch with other shooters, and percentages say that some of them will be able to help you. Percentages also say that you'll want to stay away from some of them, but that number is usually very small. If you've never shot a match, go try it. There are lots of gun games, so it's gonna be hard to find something that doesn't appeal to anybody that really wants to shoot. If you don't care for it, at least you gave it an honest shake. Try another game or don't compete, but by all means, give it a chance.

Those are some of the things that have helped me, and I recommend them to shooters looking to improve. This applies to both new shooters and veterans, but these things made a big difference to me. The only single thing that makes a bigger difference is getting professional training. Get trained!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Answering questions re: Thoughts on concealed carry II: pimpin' aint easy

Bob asked several good questions on Thoughts on concealed carry II where my answers started taking up quite a bit of space in the comments on that post, so rather than have a huge block of text there, I decided to answer them as another post because it made more sense, and there's a chance that a third reader of my blog will see it and hopefully it'll be useful. So, here's my answers. Bear in mind, these are my thoughts, and its a way, not the way. YMMV.

What I'm wondering is why do you feel the person Open Carrying was 'drawing unneeded attention'? Bear in mind, I was speaking of an incident in TN. In that state, open carry is only legal with a permit; the very same permit that allows concealed carry. Because of that, open carry in TN is VERY rare. Its almost an invitation to get FI'd (Field Interviewed) and perhaps detained in handcuffs by Clarksville PD. In a state where open carry is common, it's not a big deal. In a state where its not, open carry, when one could be carrying concealed, is opening oneself up to be harassed. Its a case of "just because you can doesn't mean you should". That's not to say that's going to happen, but the possibility is certainly there, and a lot more likely than if one is doing a decent job of concealed carry.

I actually was FI'd once while I was carrying concealed. The alarm at the shop had gone off, so I went to reset it. The alarm company called the Police to respond, who showed up as I was locking up the building again. I explained who I was, what caused the alarm, and that I'd reset it. The responding officer verified who I was, because he and the other officer that responded were probably the only guys in the area that I didn't know yet, or at least didn't know who I was. The whole time while he was calling in my information. I kept my hands in front of me, fingertip to fingertip, looking a lot like a very tall Spock. I gave him my license, but neglected to give him my permit at the same time, which I should have. He didn't ask, I didn't tell because he didn't ask, and the whole situation went down with no drama at all. Same would have happened if I had given him my CCDW license, because I was where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do. Carrying means being even more vigilant than the average person to be within the law.

I understand some people feel that Open Carry puts a target on your back but isn't it just as likely that Open Carry means people will leave them alone going for the easier target?
Who's the easier target? The guy who's carrying concealed and you can't tell, or the guy who you know has a gun? What if there's three of 'em and they see this particular guy doesn't have his head on a swivel (I've seen it a lot from people carrying, both open carry and concealed). Doesn't that make him the easy mark now? There's really nothing beyond supposition that says it's any kind of deterrent. Lots of very experienced members of the law enforcement community have as many examples where it was no deterrent at all as when it might have been. It falls under the "facts not in evidence" heading. Many of the people I see open carrying are carrying non-duty quality firearms in cheap holsters, which generally means they haven't invested in getting trained, either, and aren't invested in their protection in any other way. Carrying a gun isn't the Ark of the Covenant, it's just another tool in the force escalation continuum.

Second, why would you assume someone carrying "might" be breaking the law?
Again, bear in mind where the incident in question happened: in a military town on the border of two states with fairly different laws concerning the carriage of defensive weapons. Chances are good, based on nearly ten year's experience working with the military community, that this person in question was ignorant of the law. That store isn't all that far inside TN, and what's legal a couple miles down the road isn't legal there. If he doesn't have a permit from a state with reciprocity, carrying a gun open or concealed is illegal. If he does, why open carry, which I stated before is very rare in TN, when he can carry concealed? Again, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Would you assume someone walking down the street with a child might be abducting the child?
Maybe. That would be totally situation dependent. Circumstances surrounding would determine whether something in need of investigation would be required, and there are several ways to handle that if it is. I have a lot of local PD officer's cell numbers saved in my phone. If there's something worth investigating, they can get a unit sent to check it out, with probable cause.
Or someone with a camera might be taking cihld pron (deliberate misspelling) ? I appreciate that; thanks. Again, it would be a totality of the circumstances that would determine that. It's a matter of developing the situational awareness to be able to see what's what. That takes practice, and I learned it a couple ways: first, nearly 25 years in retail, and several more years in the service sector. Second, I made it a point to watch people and observe without being observed. I learned that by walking around and taking a seat at malls, parks, amusement parks, sporting events, and like that. It takes effort, but it pays off.

Remember, with rights come responsibility, and just because the state issues you a permit after completing the class on the law regarding carrying, doesn't mean you're now an expert on carrying. You become expert through practice and repetition.

I find that sentiment to be at odds with the impression I'm getting of Open Carry.
How could he become an expert without practice or repetition? There is no other way. There's information to be had from experienced and expert people, and I'm blessed to have much better sources to get information from than most everyone else, but it is out there if diligent searching is undertaken. What is generally found is that expert and experienced people have a lot of agreement in what they do. Add to that practice that involves careful observation and examination of what one is doing, and eventually expertise is gained. That's equipment choice, situational awareness, and other tools to use in personal defense; all that stuff matters and has to be examined. Some people just stuff a gun in a holster and go about their daily lives in blissful ignorance of what's going on around them, just like they did before they get their permit. The ones that become expert in it treat it like any other field of endeavor and become students of it, get trained to do it. What I was getting at is that the class teaches the law regarding carry, not the logistics and all the ins and outs of actually carrying every day. But, if the option to carry concealed is there, why open carry? Doesn't make sense.

Thanks for the questions, Bob. Hope that helps explain where I'm coming from. As always, YMMV.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Spammity Spam Spam

I get some pretty decent spam submitted in the comments of my blog. Since I approve all the comments, both my readers don't see them, but they're still there. I don't know why exactly that happens, since you'd think that it'd make more sense to spam places with a lot more traffic, but I guess it works because they keep doing it.

Sometimes I get some really interesting ones that I'd publish if it wasn't for the spam factor, and sometimes I get some, like the one I'm gonna C&P here in a moment, just don't make even a bit of sense. If you can interpret what this means, by all means let me know, because while the words are English in origin, I can't make heads or tails out of what it's supposed to mean. Something about Gaga...
What i do not understood is in fact how you're now not actually much more smartly-preferred than you might be right now. You are very intelligent. You understand thus considerably in terms of this matter, produced me personally believe it from numerous various angles. Its like men and women aren't interested except it is one thing to
do with Lady gaga! Your individual stuffs great.
At all times deal with it up!

Thoughts on concealed carry II: pimpin' aint easy

Yesterday was a pretty good day, for being so cold. I was wearing a lot of layers and still found I didn't have enough for that particular range day. Cold and windy is a brutal combination. Of course, I carry to and from the range, and since I had a couple stops to make (Books a Million for the latest issue of SWAT that features a couple of ATS chest rigs, and Red Top Barbecue in Guthrie, KY because it's awesomely greatly awesome), I made sure I had a cover garment. I was carrying my standard load out: cell phone, SAK Classic in the left pocket, folder (Spyderco Endura 4 that day) in the right, G19 (one day I'll list the mods and the why's; I know nobody cares, but I gotta post something, don't I?) in the Safariland 529 and a G17 spare mag in a Safariland 074 pouch. I mention that only to have a baseline for the sake of the post.

As I mentioned previously, I had several layers on; a couple black base layer long sleeve shirts, a black Marmot Powerstretch fleece zip up (been getting a LOT of use of that garment this year!) and a dark gray Gander Mountain GSX shell that was a Christmas gift from friends a couple years ago. Been wearing the heck out of that, too. Since I was wearing thermal bottoms, I had one of my baggier pairs of pants on, a fairly old pair of Royal Robbins 5.11's in very dark blue. Incidentally, the holster, belt and pistol are all black, too.

Now, the color being black isn't really significant, except in terms of whether the gun is seen or not. I've never been one to put an excessive amount of weight on "printing". Its just not that important, because people have a hard time seeing a couple inches in front of their face, much less recognizing a concealed weapon. But a little attention must be paid to contrast, and here's what brought this whole post on.

I should have clicked a photo, but I couldn't pull it off surreptitiously, so I'll have to describe what I saw. I was in the Publix in TN (which is significant, due to the state it's in) getting some protein because their meat department is a lot better than Wally World's. While I'm checking out, I'm looking around; I try to be conscientious of looking around constantly, in order to be aware of what's going on around me. In the next lane over, there's a young man, probably a Soldier judging from his appearance (haircut and what he was wearing), checking out with a pretty large order. He's wearing a long sleeve thermal type shirt and blue jeans on a regular black pants belt. Why would I notice the belt? Because of what was on it: an open carried Taurus 1911 in a Fobus holster. Now, I'll get into the choice of weapon in a different post, but what's relevant here is twofold. First, the black pistol and black holster against blue jeans and a white shirt draws the eye of those looking for it like a moth to a flame. Secondly, he was open carrying in a state with particular laws on that issue. In TN, the permit to carry is a handgun carry permit. Carrying at all without a permit in TN (a shall-issue state), open carry or concealed, is illegal. Yes, you can carry either way with the permit. So, either this young man was breaking the law, or drawing unneeded attention.

He might have been breaking the law; I didn't talk to him, because nobody else seemed to notice and I didn't wanna be the one to point it out. If he wasn't, all the notice I was paying him could have been avoided by wearing a long sleeve shirt, baggy sweatshirt, jacket, or almost any cover garment other than a 5.11 vest (they only blend in at an IDPA match) and carrying concealed. If he'd been wearing a black shirt instead of a white one, the noticeability of what he was carrying would have been cut dramatically. I would still have seen it, but the casual observer surely wouldn't have. I've watched that over and over again: groups of people going about whatever their task at hand is are oblivious to what's going on around them. Go to a supermarket or the mall or whatever and watch people. You'll see in short order how unaware of what's going on around them they are. You should do that anyway, although you can just incorporate it into your day to day activities after a little while; it becomes second nature rather quickly. Remember that old saying "be kind, be courteous, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet"? Yeah.

Deep carry is overrated, but if it makes you as the person carrying concealed more comfortable, then go for it. Just be sure you are practicing out of your carry gear and can actually access your pistol or other weapon when you need it and without undue stress and histrionics. Get good out of your carry gear, or you're putting yourself at a major disadvantage. It's just your life we're talking about.

The bigger point, though, is that if you're going to carry, you have two things that you need to do. First, put a little thought into your wardrobe. You may need to buy some new clothes, but that's doubtful unless you're one of those skinny jeans wearing emo people. You do need to consider it, though, because your goal is to be the grayman (or woman; grayperson sounds stupid so I won't use it)  and avoid trouble as much as practicable. Secondly, be very aware of what the laws are concerning carry where you are, especially if you're like me and live in a border town. You've got to know that you're within the law; carrying illegally is a great way to get popped in a high stress situation, for you and the arresting officer) for a completely avoidable crime. Remember, with rights come responsibility, and just because the state issues you a permit after completing the class on the law regarding carrying, doesn't mean you're now an expert on carrying. You become expert through practice and repetition.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Holster thoughts for Concealed Carry

One of the great things about living in a "shall issue" state is that citizens come to realize that they are responsible for their own safety, and they take steps to do something about it. There are a lot of missteps, of course, but steps are steps and as long as you're trying to learn and grow and keep moving forward, that's all that matters to me. Its not easy to remember, sometimes, that everybody starts at zero, regardless of how much you know now or how good your sources of information are.

I've noticed, though, that a lot of holster customers don't really have the information they think they do when they're looking for a way to carry their chosen weapon. For every upside, there is a downside, and that's doubly true for carrying a pistol because all these different areas work together...or against each other if you're not aware of what's up with the what's up. To that end, I wanted to share some thoughts on holsters and the pluses and minuses of them. Hopefully I'll be able to show that unconventional carry is unconventional for a reason, and it's not always a good one.

So where do you start this journey? With a belt. You must have a belt that's built for supporting a pistol. Lots of people hate wearing belts and want to use a paddle holster instead. Well, guess what: a properly designed paddle holster, that's built not to come out with the gun when you draw it, is meant for use with a belt. A good belt is an investment, because quality lasts. They don't have to cost a ton, but the "you get what you pay for" axiom holds true here, too. There are lots of choices: great leather is available from commercial sources like Galco and Bianchi and custom leather makers like Mernickle Custom Holsters, C. Rusty Sherrick and Haugen Handgun Leather. If you want something dressier than nylon without being leather, there are Biothane belts from Maxpedition, who offer the Liger Belt line, and First Spear. There's lots of good nylon, too, from The Wilderness, Ares Gear and others. No matter what you choose, you have to have a belt that will support a holster and the gun that's in it, so stiffness from edge to edge is critical. Flexibility from end to end will generally make a more comfortable belt, but it HAS to be stiff enough to support your holster. Get a belt specifically designed for the purpose and you'll experience way more comfort and far less fatigue, and fatigue is one of the things that will keep you from carrying all the time. The gun you don't have with you when you need it doesn't help you.

The first general category is what I will call belt scabbards, and those can be inside the waistband (IWB) and outside the waistband (OWB). OWB holsters are generally a lot easier to draw from because there's a bit of stand off from the body, at least in comparison to IWB. IWB are generally a good bit easier to hide but hide the gun a good bit more, which is handy when in places where lots of people tend to be, like a movie theater or at church. There's a ton of different materials available, and all of them work while having different characteristics. Leather and synthetic leather will generally be the most comfortable because they eventually break in and mold themselves to you. My main holster is a synthetic belt slide, a Safariland 529 that I've been using for a couple of years now. Incidentally,
those belt loops are snapped, and they work in the easy-on, easy-off method that most people think a paddle will. There are also all-Kydex holsters from Raven Concealment Systems and everyone that's copying their design and making refinements and changes to it (some good, some bad, depending on how much those makers know about carrying a gun). This is the go-to type of holster that is money in the vast majority of situations.

IWB has the advantage of hiding the gun "deeper", but at the expense of making the draw a little more difficult (or a lot more, depending on whether the designer has drawn guns from IWB concealment before) because the gun's grip is held closer to the body. Still, a well designed IWB is very comfortable and hides the gun exceptionally well. My primary IWB is a Bianchi M135 Allusion Suppression which is a great holster with a terrible name. It's a hybrid in that it's a leather base with a kydex/leather pouch for the pistol. The flange of the holster makes it wrap around the hip and is super comfortable, but is easier to draw from and return the holster to because it doesn't collapse.
It's also tuckable, which means that you can tuck your shirt in behind the belt loops to cover the gun even more, but I don't want to make the gun that hard to get to; I don't tuck shirts in. In an office situation where you're in a suit and have to take that jacket off from time to time, you may not have a choice. My friend Greg Peters at Peters Custom Holsters makes a great IWB holster from Kydex called the Hold Fast that's great, and there are many, many others.

The above are the common methods because they've been proven to work in the widest arrays of situations. Sometimes situations call for alternatives, but they should be seen as alternatives in special situations, rather than primary modes of carry. Why? Because other modes of carry have significant downsides to them, and one must balance those downsides versus what is to be gained. Often, those other modes aren't necessary and put the gun carrying person at a disadvantage. That doesn't make them wrong; far from it. They may be suboptimal for your requirements, and unnecessarily handicapping you. I'm just gonna point them out and give the upside and downside to them. As always, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV).

Lately a lot of people I know have been using Appendix Inside the Waistband carry (AIWB), which puts the gun on the front of the body on the strong side (whichever the dominant hand is). The plus side to this is that it puts the gun in position to be drawn quickly with little extra movement, and it hides the gun really well, especially with the very minimalist holsters used in this position. There are a couple downsides, too: you're limited by comfort and practicality on what guns you can carry this way;  subcompacts like the Glock 26/27 don't have enough muzzle to them to stay put well (obviously depending on holster design) and large guns like a 5" 1911 (the only 1911's as far as I'm concerned; I'm pretty old school in that regard) can be quite a load in that position. Additionally, forget sitting down like a normal human; you're going to have to recline or get jabbed by the gun's muzzle, or carry a much smaller gun with less barrel. I'm not a fan of carrying the smallest possible gun, but I am a fan of carrying the smallest gun YOU CAN EFFECTIVELY FIGHT WITH. Another downside: its not for plus sized people, so if you're carrying a decent sized flesh doughnut, this method isn't going to work optimally for you.

More or less opposite of AIWB carry is Small of the Back (SOB) carry. Again, the plus side is deep carriage of the gun, but there are two significant downsides: first, having a gun in the small of your back may make sitting down very uncomfortable, so i you spend a lot of time seated, this is probably the worst option for you. The other significant downside is that when you go to draw the gun, an adversary can put you in a hammerlock position with just a little pressure on your drawing elbow.

Shoulder holsters work well for carrying under a jacket, and in crappy winter weather are somewhat easier to get guns out of than a waist holster is. The downside is that if the gun is horizontal, your muzzle is constantly sweeping others, and if its vertical, its more difficult to draw from.

Ankle holsters are often seen as the deepest cover position, and in some cases that's true. It's one of the best options for carrying in a seated position, such as when you're driving. When it's your primary method, though, you're limited to what guns you can carry (obviously, the bigger the gun, the less comfortable it is) and can lead to all the impediments you can think of that come from having weight on one foot and not on the other. They may not be severe, but that doesn't mean there's no penalty. Additionally, if you're walking down the street and need your gun, you have two choices to get to it: first, take a knee. If you're getting shot at, you have to choose drawing and returning fire for as long as it takes you to get that gun from your knee, and then moving to cover. The other choice is to be on one foot for as long as it takes you to get the gun off your ankle. If you're on uneven ground or on the low ground, that can present its own set of problems.

Ankle carry is a decent option if you're driving a lot or spending a lot of time at a desk where having a gun on your waist is not practical. Carrying a gun in the car is a tough situation, because the laws governing that can vary a LOT. In KY, its legal to transport your gun on the passenger seat, while I don't believe that's the case in TN, and I'm sure several other states. What several friends have done is to screw a holster to the underside of their steering column, and putting the gun there while driving. I'm still examining that option, and I like the idea. There are other options, as well. In KY, I can conceal any weapon I can inflict deadly force with, so I have other close combat options that other states don't have, and some states may be excessively restrictive on a gun but may not be on a baton or a knife. Know your local and state laws to see what your options are. While I don't believe in taking a knife to a gun fight, I always have a knife at the gunfight.

This post was intended to get a shooter new to carrying to think about the options they have to do so. It's not the be all, end all, and it certainly isn't the exhaustive list. While nothing is always true all the time, with some training, practice and experience, most will find that strong side carriage on the waist is the best option. Don't try to reinvent the wheel just because you're new to the scene, learn from those who've gone before and save yourself some headaches...sorta like how every dang holster ever designed is made for the Glock first. In Police work, they call that a "clue".

Pictures courtesy of Safariland and Bianchi.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gun Culture 2.0

There's been a fair amount of electronic ink spilled over what's been termed the Gun Culture 2.0, who are the new-to-the-market shooters, especially the young ones,  that are also embracing shooting and firearms. These are the "hipper" customers with tattoos and piercings, with an alternative lifestyle vibe to their lives. These are probably also some of the same folks that are driving the "paint in day glow lime green and call it Zombie" craze, too. Since one person appeared to ask me what I thought about this movement, here's my opinion.

There's a ton of different angles to the gun culture: hunting, competitive shooting in it's eleventy billion different games with every type of firearm, personal defense, "prepping", plinking, zombie hunting, and perhaps many more that I've never even heard of. Somewhere there's a gun game that a handful of people are having the time of their life playing, and other people who think they're nuts for being into it.

The gun culture 2.0 people are often portrayed as those with full sleeves, gauges, and lots of other body mods. Phil Labonte, a three gun competitor (who seems to shoot pretty dang well) has a day job singing in the metalcore band "All That Remains". AAC, one of the best suppressor makers on the planet, was way out in front of this movement, having their welder Rachel (now in the marketing and advertising dept. as I understand it) in many of their ads. Rachel is what most would call extensively tattooed and her look is usually somewhere between a 40-50's speed shop vibe and a pin up girl. I haven't met her yet, but from what I've heard, she's really cool. Hoping to change that sometime soon; if I can get a minute out of the booth at SHOT I'd like to make that happen.

Hey, Haj, quit boring us and get on with your opinion on the matter! OK, I hear ya. I'll get on with it.

First, tattoos have become pretty mainstream. I don't have one yet, but I'm one of the few people I know of late that doesn't. That'll happen when the population you work with is primarily military. I'm down with tats; the reason I don't have one is simply because I haven't found anything I want to keep forever. They're just not that uncommon and counter-culture anymore. I quit making impressions based on tats a LONG time ago. A lot of America has as well.

I haven't exactly been quiet that what's collectively been called "zombie marketing" is a trend that I find incredibly stupid. There is, however, no doubt that it's a big trend and its driving a LOT of purchases. If people wanna buy that stuff, then by all means, have at it. My employer won't be offering it, but that's simply because that's not what we do. That I support people buying what they want to buy should not be confused with thinking its not dumb.

Having more gun owners is generally a good thing. With the explosion of the availability of CCW permits, there are lots of new customers and enthusiasts that weren't part of the market before. People have apparently gotten to the point where they realize that depending on the State to defend them is bad policy, so they're doing a little something about it. And through that, people are finding that guns and shooting are cool, and they like it a lot, so they're shooting recreationally and collecting guns because they like guns. All that is a good thing.

Where things become of concern to me are in a couple areas: first, there's more to having and carrying a gun than just taking the class that goes over the laws involved and passing an accuracy test that's pretty pathetic in most cases. Second, getting into this segment of activity comes with political implications. There are plenty of politicians that got elected because of, or have a passion for, taking guns away from lawful owners.

Being a responsible gun owner, no matter what type of gun you own, requires being proficient in it's use. America has been called a country of riflemen. Trust me, we're not. We're not born with the ability to shoot, regardless of what the stories you hear are. If you don't practice, you will suck. Additionally, you will not become Audie Murphy when the balloon goes up, you will rise only to the level of training that you've mastered. Read that last sentence again. Not the level of your training, the level of training that you've MASTERED.

How does one solve that? It ain't by "having your buddy that's had a gun forever teaching you how to shoot". What I'm talking about is professional training, from quality trainers. How to find them takes some research, but the info is all out there. Here's one quick way to filter: avoid controversy. There's a ton of recently retired dudes who've been fighting for more than a decade that can teach it to you. When you come across something that looks promising, do your due diligence and check it out, and thoroughly. You aren't doing me any good by having a gun and not being trained nor going months between practicing. You're as likely to shoot me as the guy you intend to. Be professional about it; the criminals out there are criminals for a living. You need to be able to beat them, and fighting fair is for fools.

New shooters and gun owners have GOT to get involved politically. Join the NRA, join other groups that fight for our collective Second Amendment rights, and all the others while we're at it. Call your representatives and tell them how you want them to vote. Even if you "know" how they'll vote, reinforce that with a call to their office. They work for us; get them working for us if they're not already. Be the boss. Politics are a numbers game, and we've got to leave no doubt that if they're going to vote against our wishes, they won't stay in office. YOU MUST GET INVOLVED IN DEFENDING YOUR RIGHTS!

I'm all about bringing new blood into the the gun culture, and I don't care what it is you're into; I support you in it, even if it's that retarded green zombie stuff. Additionally, I support and implore you stretching your horizons. If you're a hunter or some kind of rifle competitor, try competitive shooting with a pistol. Try USPSA, IDPA, bullseye, fast draw...whatever floats your boat. How will you know if you're into it unless you try it? The main reason I'm not into SASS cowboy action shooting is that I simply don't have the money to invest in the guns to do it.