Saturday, July 26, 2014

30 days with the New York Reload...

I've carried a lot of different guns in even more different holsters over the years as a law enforcement officer in the 1980s and 1990s... to concealed carry in the 2000s, almost every day for over ten years now here in Ohio. I've carried full-size revolvers, snubbies, derringers, pocket-autos, 1911s, wonder-nines, and more... Rugers... Smith and Wessons... Glocks... and others.

I've carried in every hour on the clock from one to noon... small of the back, thigh, high, low... angled, canted, straight... leather, nylon, kydex... no retention to can't-get-it-out-of-the-holster with a tow-truck retention... ankle... shoulder holster... pocket carry... fanny pack... glove box... boot... you name it, I've probably tried it in  my continual quest of life-long learning.

My primary Every Day Carry (EDC) gun the last few years has been either the Ruger SR9 or SR9c... and mostly the full-size variant the last year or two. I typically carry the SR9 on my strong side hip and one spare seventeen-round magazine on my weak-hand side which gives me thirty-five rounds.  In my EDC routine... I typically carry a cell phone, knife, keys, wallet, flashlight, and... sometimes a SabreRed Spitfire Pepper Spray... and sometimes a Back-Up Gun (BUG).

While the New York Reload... grabbing a second gun when the first runs dry, rather than reloading... lives mostly in the movies and gun-ninja blogosphere... I decided to give it a real try this summer... for thirty days. Shoot... ENDO even has a t-shirt out celebrating it.

I practice shooting with my weak-side/off-side regularly... and I practice occasionally with my gun holstered on my weak-side simulating my strong-side being out of service  I've carried a BUG on my weak-side before and this past spring I started thinking about what would it be like to carry a full-size pistol on each side... at the same time... where I usually carry my spare magazine.

Two Ruger SR9s... two loaded seventeen-round mags for thirty-six rounds on board (you do carry with one in the chamber right... two chambers)... and one right-side Comp-Tac MTAC and one left-side Comp-Tac MTAC... and we've got the New York Reload ready to go... well, kind of.

There are inherent problems with this carry method... including concealment, drawing from the concealed weak-side, and how do you grip a gun when you're already gripping a gun. I have a pretty soft mid-section... and far more girth than when I was in high school... and have no problems wearing two full-size guns at three and nine without them showing through my clothing or cover garments.  In fact, it wasn't until the third week of this experiment that my good friend noticed the gun on my left side while I adjusted my belt and asked when I switched... not noticing I still had a gun on the right side.

Drawing from the concealed, weak-side is not really a big problem as I've practiced that on and off anyway. The real problem is drawing a gun with your weak-hand when you still have a gun in the strong-hand.  Now most of this also applies if you're carrying a BUG too... and you have to look at your options.

Option 1: Re-holster the empty gun, then draw the second gun. This is OK if you have time, but if your actively engaging a real threat, it is slow and that creates a problem.

Option 2: Drop or ditch the empty gun, then draw the second gun. It's hard to toss a good gun to the ground or throw it at the threat... even if it's empty... but in a real SHTF situation... an empty gun is about as useful as a brick... so maybe you want to use it like a brick and throw it.

Option 3: Dual-wielding by drawing the second gun with just your weak-hand. Oh... come on... every action-movie, tactical-ninja, fanboy wants to dual-wield two handguns and blast away, but remember... you're drawing your second gun as your reload so what good does the gun still in your strong-hand do for you when it's empty and the slide is locked back? Drop it like you would any empty magazine you stripped from your gun... and leave the dual-wielding fantasies to your day dreams while you're scarfing potato chips in your BVDs watching Chuck Norris' Delta Force movies.

The other problem you may find in the real world is how to you secure and retain two guns in a close encounter situation. Well, standard weapon retention techniques will likely still work... and it is unlikely your threat can go for both guns at the same time, but you have to be aware of that possibility. Also, just like a knife or other weapon, if you're using a retention technique on one gun, you can use the other gun as a secondary weapon against your attacker. It's no different if you're carrying a Back-Up Gun.  You have two guns to think about retention or protecting in that situation.

What about carrying spare magazines too? Well, you can do that. It ultimately comes down to what I say about AR accessories... how much can you hang on to a gun before you can't hang on to a gun... how much can you hang on to your pants before you can't hang on to your pants. Each person has to make their own decisions.

Would I recommend the New York Reload for EDC... nah... not for me. I'll stick with my SR9 and a spare magazine... maybe a Ruger LCR or Ruger LCP for a BUG on occasion... but you know what... it was fun to try... and I learned that I still need more practice with my weak-side... so it was worth it... a summer learning experiment... 30 days with the New York Reload...

So, what are your thoughts?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Keeping your doors closed...

Most folks enter homes and buildings through doors... it's how we're trained since we could walk. Bad guys enter the same way most of the time. I'd like to suggest a few easy and inexpensive ways to slow down the bad guys when they try to get into your home or property through your doors.

Now, this advice will not prevent a determined and capable person or persons from breaching your door with enough time, effort, and tools. This advice will help reinforce what you have and slow down bad guys. Of course... you could always build a concrete home with ICFs and commercial steel doors with bracing embedded in concrete... but that is not the reality most of us live in... so here is are some basic tips to protect you at home and delay bad guys entering your home... maybe just enough of a delay to get your gun and take an implement a defensive strategy.


You would be amazed at how many times bad guys have accessed homes simply by turning the door knob and opening the door. Most of us lock our doors when we leave our homes... but do you lock your doors while you are at home? The gals and I lock our doors while we're at home. We lock our doors while we're out mowing the lawn. If you're out in the back yard mowing grass.... and your garage door is open... and your door from your garage to your home is unlocked... and your kids are home... who is protecting them... what is protecting them... a bad guy can just walk right in.

2. Install good dead-bolt locks and quality lock-sets.

The regular door knob/lock-sets are easily defeated and a good deadbolt lock will slow down the bad guys with a stronger locking point for the door. Yeah, I know a lot of lock sets from local hardware stores and big-box home improvement centers are easily picked, but most average bad guys are not lock-pickers, they're door kickers. Oh, and if you just moved into a new home or apartment... make sure you CHANGE THE LOCKS or have your landlord do it as part of your lease.  Who knows who has keys to your old locks.

3. Reinforce the doors you have.

Most residential doors, even "steel" entry doors, are very weak compared to commercial steel doors in many commercial buildings. The key areas of weakness are primarily found in the hinge attachment points and the locking points on each side of the door. Most residential doors, even "steel" doors are just a thin steel or laminate covering over a wood particle or even foam and wood core. Here you can see a typical locking plate for a deadbolt lock for a "steel" entry door as it comes in the door frame from a lock big box home improvement center:

There is barely a three-quarter of an inch thick pine or poplar wood door frame/jamb holding the locking plate for the "steel" entry door.

This area typically breaks right out and splinters when the door is "kicked" in.

The easiest and cheapest door reinforcement you can do is replace the standard three-quarter-inch or one-inch screws holding the hinges and locking plates in place with two to three-inch long screws that go through the door frame/jamb and into the two-by-four or two-by-six wall studs that frame the doorway.

An additional step would be adding a heavy-duty lock plate with longer screws.  The heavier gauge steel lock plate with four long screws securing it to the studs behind the jamb will hold far better than the thin door jamb by itself.

The most thorough reinforcement of existing doors would probably the installation of a kit such as a Door Devil or EZ Armor by Armor Concepts.  If you have a door that has already been kicked in, if most of the damage is just the door jamb being broken out, many of these types of kits can be used to repair and reinforce your existing door.

Again, these tips will not prevent a door from being kicked in or being breached, but it will help buy you time and slow down many bad guys. If you are in the process of new construction, there are many other steps and purchasing choices you can make to have stronger, more fortified doors. but for now, the gals and I hope this helps you with... Keeping your doors closed...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Under construction...

Several folks have emailed and sent Facebook messages wondering if I had given up on blogging... the answer is no, I still enjoy blogging, but the reality is two-fold.  The gals and I have launched some ambitious new projects here at home and I'll likely have several big announcements by the end of summer and some terrific blog posts to share with ya'll.

First, due to some changes with accreditation requirements... my graduate degree will no longer qualify me to to continue teaching at the university in the fall of 2016. With that pending change, my gal and I decided accelerate a five-year plan of ours that will build my marketing and design consulting business, increase my offerings as a firearms instructor, and expand my work with security and safety consulting and training.

Taking from the God, Gals, Guns, Grub moniker... G4 Personal Safety is under construction and will formalize the training and instructing I've been doing for decades under a professional business name and brand. I am passionate about continuing to help every-day folks increase their personal safety, self-defense abilities, and self-reliance capabilities. We also hope to bring in some terrific instructors here at our facility to provide some quality instruction at a reasonable cost with small to medium class sizes... no thirty-five students and one instructor here.

After having a successful commercial and advertising photography and design business for years before going on to teach the same at the collegiate level, I'll be leveraging that expertise in my consulting work with various businesses and to build opportunities to help regular folks increase their personal safety, self-defense abilities, and self-reliance capabilities. So paperwork, business plans, banks, permits, government forms, web domains, web sites, Wordpress templates, HMTL, CSS, new materials, new equipment, insurance agents, attorney... it is endless.

Additionally, we've decided to build an additional barn on our property... insulated, heated, air-conditioned... and smaller than the big barn, but big enough to use as a classroom, training facility, etc. with internet, computer projection system, and all the important amenities such as coffee production equipment. I've also been working hard at some range accessory improvements including some movable walls using six-foot high vinyl privacy fence panels and stainless-steel hinges... more to come at a later date.

Now gals, my gals know that your average porta-john found at many outdoor ranges leaves something to be desired... so we now have a brand new half-bath constructed that will make you feel just like home and we'll warn the guys with a sign above the toilet that says, "If you can't hit the target at this distance, don't even bother shooting on our range!"

Second, regarding the blogging... I sometimes wonder why anyone would want my opinion or thoughts on anything with so many good folks out there offering theirs. Then again, I've been at this shooting stuff for over forty years now and we've got a private range where we can even practice firing from and around our personal vehicles if we want so... a post on that will be coming up later this summer or fall... so maybe I do have something to share that may be of interest to ya'll out there on the interwebs.

Well, we've been working day and night on many things... and I still work out and lift weights three days a week, and the dogs, and mowing, and shooting - yeah, if I have a choice between blogging and shooting, well you folks can chat amongst yourselves for a while if I'm shooting... or better yet... stop on by and we'll shoot together.

So don't worry... the gals and I are still here... we've just been busy 'cause we're... Under construction...

Friday, May 2, 2014

Five guns for gals who carry...

What gun should I get?  If I had a dollar for every time I was asked that question, the gals and I'd be living on a ranch out west by now.  There's an endless number of blog posts, gun magazine articles, online reviews, and opinions out there on this topic... so why not one more.

As a firearms instructor for almost three decades now... I've had the opportunity to shoot just about every handgun out there including a few shots recently through an SCCY 9mm, a Glock 42, and Remington R51. Now, a few shots of a gun is a great introduction, but when it comes to recommending a gun to someone... I have a simple philosophy... I education, YOU decide.

So with some discussion with my gals, we'll take a look at five of our personal guns for all of you gals to consider for concealed carry. So without any more delay, from our collection... the gals and I recommend you consider three compact pistols including the Glock 26, Ruger SR9c, or Smith & Wesson M&P9 Compact... or for something a bit more slender... consider two compact, single-stack pistols... the Ruger LC9 or Smith & Wesson M&P Shield in 9mm.

Why you ask, well... here are ten things to consider:

1. They are all 9mm... which is an acceptable self-defense cartridge with ammo widely available in many configurations.  The ammo is not expensive to practice with and the recoil is controllable for most folks and significantly less than similarly sized guns in .40S&W or .45ACP.

2. All the guns have usable sights with enough of a sight radius (the distance from the front sight to the rear sight) to allow for decent accuracy and precision when acquiring sight alignment and sight picture in a hurry or stressful situation.  No little "nubs" on these guns like a Ruger LCP or Kel-Tec 3AT.  Additionally, the sights are all replaceable with aftermarket options if you want something different than the stock offerings.

3. They all have a trigger pull that most gals will find acceptable.  All are striker fired except the Ruger LC9, which is double-action-only and has an easy trigger pull, but some might find it a bit long.

4. Three of the guns have interchangeable back-straps to allow you to customize the size of the grip to better fit your hand.

5. All of the guns are compact enough to be easily carried concealed without printing through your clothing or they can be carried in a purse... although I don't recommend off-body carry for a number of reasons.

6. All of the guns have slides with spring tensions that are easily cycled by most folks.

7. All will accept and have higher capacity magazines available so you can carry a ten-round magazine in your Glock 26 with a fifteen-round spare magazine from the Glock 19 if you want.  Carrying a higher capacity magazine or adding the extended grip floor plate to your magazine for these guns also offers a "pinky perch" for a full grip with most folks.

8. All of these guns are popular enough to have a wide variety of IWB, AIWP, OWB and other holsters from many manufacturers and concealed carry options such as Crimson Trace laser sights available.

9. These guns are available for between $300 and $600 which make them affordable for most folks who want a quality gun that will last a lifetime. It is really hard to find a new, quality handgun under $300 to $400.

10. All the guns have good track records and the manufacturers have excellent reputations for service and repair.

Hey... wait... what about my gun... or that gun... or XYZ gun?  There are other guns out there that will work just fine.  The Springfield XD Compact and XD-S come to mind... the gals and I just don't own any... but we've shot them... and look at the criteria discussed in the ten things listed for you to consider... there are other guns out there that meet those considerations.

So if you're a gal (or even a guy) and your looking for a gun to carry... from my gals and I to you... Five guns for gals who carry...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bullseye and combat accuracy... you need both!

My friend and I were out back on our shootin' range putting some lead downrange and the discussion of bullseye verses combat accuracy came up after some recent blog posts out there on the interwebs. I think both are important and I've used a lot of different drills I've found online, but here are some drills I've developed myself.  We started out shooting some bullseye targets with our everyday carry guns at fifty feet.

The protocol was to draw and shoot one-round into the black bullseye of the MidwayUSA free, printable pistol target in under five seconds at fifty feet. Repeat this five times. This is a drill to check and enhance fundamentals such as grip, sight alignment, trigger-squeeze, breathing, follow-through. Think carefully about your draw too... and carefully looking and re-holstering your gun.

Next, we did a similar drill at fifty feet... but now you have to draw, aim, and fire one round into the bullseye, strip the magazine (you can drop, we strip), reload and fire a second round into the bullseye... in under seven seconds.  Your time does not count, you just have to be under the time-alloted and have EVERY round in the bullseye. Slow and smooth are the keys... and you'll likely find yourself having far too much time at five and seven seconds for these drills.

The next drill we worked on for accuracy was a kind of dot-torture test at twenty-five feet using an International Benchrest Target for 50-yard Rimfire. Loading ten rounds into two of your magazines and then nine rounds and one random dummie round into one magazine, you then mix up the mags so you don't know which one has a dummie round in it.

There are twenty-nine bullseyes on the International Benchrest Target... and you have twenty-nine rounds... put one round in each bullseye circle.  Using a shot-timer, like our PACT shot timers, you draw (or from low-ready if you can't draw on your range) and begin firing at the beep.  This will involve two reloads and one failure-to-fire malfunction clearing. This is about accuracy under pressure... so add five-seconds (ouch) to your time for each miss. Try to complete the drill, shooting clean, in less than sixty seconds as an initial benchmark or goal.

After some fundamental refreshers with my accuracy drills, I like to mix it up with some combat-accuracy drills... and I don't shoot with just any Tom, Dick, or Harry! Our Tom, Dick, and Harry are nicknames for our three one-quarter sized armor-plate targets from Arntzen Targets.  We have some full-size targets from Arntzen, but I figure the quarter-sized targets force me and the gals to be better with our shot placement... we're not going for bullseyes... we're shooting for incapacitating hits on people... for combat - or as we call it - self-defense accuracy.

I won't run through our various drills because we have some regular ones to check our progress and we constantly visualize and set up various scenarios to challenge ourselves. We always try to incorporate some reloads and malfunction clearing while using cover and concealment. Shooting and moving are done to raise our heart-rates and stress... all while under the timer.

There are a lot of good drills and practice scenarios from far more skilled and smarter folks then me... but these are some of the things we do... to keep up our skills... because... Bullseye and combat accuracy... you need both!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Buck Knives X-Tract

The second knife I ever had as a kid growing up was a Sabre scout knife... or camping knife as we called it back them. That was a time when a child having a knife didn't result in a school lock-down and SWAT showing up. There are updated versions of that ol' scout knife available today... and there are some variations that have evolved since then.

Last year for my daughter's graduation, I had given her several items to mark the occasion, including a couple of knives. The one knife was for every-day-carry in a collegiate environment where knives are weapons and weapons are not allowed or limited to knives with a blade less than three-inches in length. The one knife I gave her was a blue Buck Knives X-Tract... as blue is her favorite color.

The Buck X-Tract is an inexpensive knife-slash-multi-tool that functions fairly well as a locking, thumb-opening knife and has some decent quality tools built in too. For Christmas, I received a twenty-five dollar gift card to Bass Pro Shops... and since I didn't need anything in particular... and they had red Buck X-Tracts on sale for about that amount, I picked one up for myself. Red may not be as tacti-cool as black, but it sure is easy to see when you drop it in the gravel or dirt out by the barn or in the woods.

While most Buck Knives are made right here in the good ol' United States of America... this one is made in China to Buck's specifications. It appears to be well built, as does the one my daughter has, and the knife blade has kept it's edge so far with regular use over the last couple of months. The thumb stud lets it flip open easily without any play in the pivot and locks in place tightly.

The pliers slide out and lock in place. The spring loaded pliers makes using them really easy and the wire cutters are very effective in my experience so far. There is a quality, slotted screw-driver blade and also a Phillips head that slides out the opposite direction. The bottle/can opener also locks in place and has been handy to open a can of tuna or soup at work. There's a place to attach a lanyard too.

This knife/multi-tool is a bit thick to be carried in the average pocket and it doesn't have a clip... so Buck includes a black, molded nylon sheath that has a snap closure and has loops for both a belt and MOLLE attachment. I know clip-knives are all the rage these days, but this ol' country boy carried a Buck 110 Folding Hunter for a couple of decades in a leather belt sheath, so I still appreciate a well-made belt sheath.

Now I must admit my bias... I've owned and used Buck knives for over thirty-five years now and they've always been a quality product, but more importantly, they're made by quality folks. The Buck family are Christians who operate their business with integrity and beliefs that ultimately led them to leave California for greener grass in Idaho. Every knife comes with a statement of their beliefs and has the Gospel of Christ for anyone who needs Him. As a Christian, that is something I can support and they admit they are not beyond mistakes, but they will make it right for you if they do mess up.

So if you're looking for a knife with some tools or an updated replacement for that old scout or camper knife...and you don't need a cork screw... for about thirty-five bucks or less on sale... you can pick up a... Buck Knives X-Tract

Monday, February 17, 2014

Training, Practice, and Conditioning for those of us who don't operate...

"Bro, do you even operate?" says the bumper sticker of a local tactical wanna-be type... on the back of his jacked-up, never-seen-mud, black tactical Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with all the subtlety of an M1 Abrams tank in a McDonald's drive-thru during lunch hour. Fortunately, he carries his cocked and locked .45 almost out of sight in a Serpa holster tucked under his black 5.11 shoot-me-first vest.

Now I probably shouldn't pick on folks and their lifestyle choices too much, because most would not likely make the choices the gals and I make, but when it comes to guns, prepping, and self-defense... I'm guessing there are a lot more of us average, non-operator types out there. I worked in law-enforcement for a few years a couple of decades back, but the gals and I have day jobs as educators that have nothing to law-enforcement, SWAT teams, security contractors, or operating in any way, shape, or form.

The gals and I are not going to be buggin' out with hundred-pound ALICE packs on forty-mile hikes anytime soon, but that doesn't mean that we want to give up our God-given rights, liberties, or freedoms.  With that in mind, we do like to budget some training, practice, and conditioning into our daily lives to help with self-defense and family protection needs.

I don't have four hours a day to lift, run, dry-fire, shoot, prep, hike, prepare food, read, study, train, and pay for it all.  Rather than just give up without even trying, I do try to spend some time every day and throughout the year, budgeting time and funds to train, practice, and condition to keep my EDC skills, abilities, and mindset on a slow and steady, but continuous pace of improvement.

Training is important and to me, that involves learning from others.  You need instruction from others with better or different knowledge to help you improve or modify your knowledge and skills. We try to combine efforts when possible like last year when the gals and I spent a three-day weekend together at TDI's Handgun Levels I, II, and III course as a family activity and mini-vacation. We do try to get to training at least two or three times each year... definitely at least one firearms training course... sometimes more, but sometimes it involves medical training or prepping-related training.

Sometimes my training is active and other times it is passive. I spend thirty minutes a day, three times each week, working out on a Schwinn Airdyne and often use that time to watch training DVDs or other shows and DVDs that increase my knowledge and improve my mindset. You can accomplish two things at once to save time and be more efficient in our busy lives. I then try to review and incorporate what I learn in my practice routines. I've watched some of our training DVDs several times each over the years, but don't think a DVD can completely replace the training and feedback of a live instructor... balance is the key.

Practice involves applying your training and becoming proficient with what you've learned. It doesn't necessarily take hours. Every day when I take my EDC gun, knife, and flashlight off at the end of the day... I practice for at least a few minutes. I empty and clear my gun... cycling the action and checking it three times to make sure it is empty.  I practice drawing and dry-firing five to ten times from concealment with a practice reload on the last draw and dry-fire using empty magazines.  On Sundays, I do everything with my off-hand. When I'm done, I reload my gun with ammunition, top off the magazine (you do top off your magazine, don't you?), and get it ready for use.

Fortunately, we have our own shootin' range out back and so at least a couple of times each week I can walk out and put a few rounds through my guns. I don't necessarily shoot a lot, maybe a magazine worth, maybe two or three magazines with two to six rounds in each to practice shooting and reloading with both my strong-side and weak-side. Maybe an occasional transition from my handgun to carbine and vice-versa since we keep both our 9mm's and AR's handy for home-defense work.  I also usually practice drawing and opening my EDC knife a few times with one hand and then the other hand each day.

Conditioning involves getting your body and mind in shape for practice and training. I'm not in great condition when compared to athletes and real operators. I've managed some significant weight-loss in recent years and hope to lose more, but for now my conditioning consists of taking this half-century old body to the gym for weight-lifting three days each week and spending thirty minutes on the Schwinn Airdyne three days each week. I realize that's not at Navy SEAL levels, but it's what I have time to work into my life with all my other commitments and I'm able to maintain it.

Integrating conditioning into other everyday life activities is important too. I exercise my hands and grip during my hour-long commute to work. I try not to park in the closest space to the door and be random in my parking and routines. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is standard for me these days while walking for short trips rather than taking the car or truck is now the norm for me. I also practice several basic, physical self-defense moves three times each week to make sure they are ready when needed.

Preparing and conditioning for the proper mindset is also important. To condition my mind... I enjoy reading, studying, and visualizing. I can visualize every step and part involved with taking apart every single firearm we own in detail. I visualize threats and self-defense scenarios I've read about, seen on TV or Youtube (yeah, admit it... you watch the videos and dashcam vids on youtube too), and encounter in my every day life.

I try to think through each scenario to evaluate my awareness, preparedness, opportunities, capabilities, potential actions, and possible outcomes. I also try to reduce my daily stress and achieve some inner peace by conditioning my mind with some daily Bible reading and devotions. Maybe mediation or some other mind-relaxing technique works for you, but don't underestimate the harm and fatigue mental stress can cause you. Conditioning your mind is as important as conditioning your body.

So when it comes to training, practice, and conditioning... what are you willing or able to do? Are you overestimating your capabilities... most of us do. There is a reason our Bug Out Bags are kept at thirty-five pounds or less... because as Dirty Harry said, "A good man knows his limitations." I think it's also important to include your family and partners in your training, practice, and conditioning... at least as much as you can or as much as they are willing and able. Let's face it, the fastest reload you'll ever see breaking into my house is my redhead reload... that's when my gal continues steady fire into your center-mass while I reload.

I think the key is to do something... and I recommend starting and increasing incrementally. Chances are if you start next week trying to spend three hours each day when you're doing nothing now... you will fail. You will likely be better off committing fifteen minutes a day and gradually increasing your time... staying consistent and dedicated to an attainable goal, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't push yourself occasionally.

So, with all that being said... WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND SUGGESTIONS about... Training, Practice, and Conditioning for those of us who don't operate...