10 Things You Learn Carrying A Gun Daily

Berettas and holsters-1

Reflecting on my experiences carrying a gun daily for near a couple of decades, I figured out that I’ve learned a couple of things. Here’s a short list.

1. How clueless the average person is.

I don’t mean this in an offensive way at all, I mean it quite literally. When you first start carrying, you manage to convince yourself that every person you see in public will spot your gun. After a couple of weeks, you begin to realize that people are far more immersed in their phones than your appearance. The folks that do make eye contact with you almost never look for telltale bulges around your waist.

2. How quickly anti-gun folks can change their views – at least temporarily.

My wife was out for dinner one night with some friends, some of whom are decidedly anti-gun and can’t understand why someone would carry. Walking to the car after dinner, the group noticed a couple of suspicious characters hanging around a dark corner of the parking lot. Looking to my wife, the group asked the same question, “You do have your gun with you, right?”

Moral of the story: everyone loves a sheepdog.

3. The value of a good belt

Physical fitness starts with a strong core. A skyscraper requires a deep foundation. Carrying a gun safely and securely requires a proper belt. A quality gun belt, like the Galco SB-2, will hold the weight of your gun, keep it close to your body and prevent the holster from flopping around due to belt flex. If you’re having trouble with a holster, make sure you’ve got a proper belt underneath.

4. The value of a good holster.

Once you have a solid foundation with a proper belt, you need to continue building on that with equal quality. A good holster does three things:

  1. A holster helps you access your gun quickly, easily, and safely. It will hold your gun in a fixed position. If you ever need to reach for your gun, it will be exactly where you expect. It won’t move around and you won’t have to constantly check the position of your gun.
  2. It protects the trigger. By necessity, you may have to find and grip your gun quickly while under stress. A safe holster keeps the trigger completely protected until you have a proper, and safe, grip. Many things in your daily routine (chairs, seat belts, keys, etc.) have the potential to push through clothing hard enough to move the trigger.
  3. It ensures that your gun remains under your control. Retention features in a holster aren’t just for law enforcement professionals. Make sure you invest in a holster that will keep your gun secure through your range of daily activity whether that includes getting in and out of cars, working outside or any other sort of physical activity.

5. Bending over can get you in trouble – in more ways than one.

It doesn't look like much, but the extra weight of a couple of loaded magazines really adds up during a long day carrying.

It doesn’t look like much, but the extra weight of a couple of loaded magazines really adds up during a long day carrying.

A number of carry methods can cause printing dysfunction if you’re not careful. Most belt holsters, inside or outside the waistband, can cause the gun grip to press against the back of your short or cover garment if you lean forward too much. If you carry a gun daily, you quickly learn how to reach low things by bending your knees and keeping your back straight.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

 

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5 Tips for New Concealed Carriers

One of the first steps is to get a proper holster, like this Galco King Tuk.

One of the first steps is to get a proper holster, like this Galco King Tuk.

Maybe you have recently completed the NSSF First Shots program or recently acquired your concealed carry permit. Alternatively, perhaps you are considering getting a carry permit. In any of these cases, there are a few things you need to know in terms of your next steps.

1. Get The Right Holster!

The right concealed carry holster will inspire confidence. You should be able to go about your daily business, whether your style is sedentary or active, without worry that your gun will move or fall out of your possession.

What do you look for in a “good”concealed carry holster? That’s simple. Focus on three things.

First, a good holster will help you access your gun quickly, easily and safely. It will hold your gun in a consistent position, so if you ever have to reach for it under stress, it will be exactly where you expect. A good holster will not move around and won’t require you to “check”the well-being or position of your gun as you move throughout your day.

Second, a good holster protects the trigger. No matter what your method of carry (waistband, ankle, purse, pocket or other), your holster needs to prevent stray objects or fingers from engaging the trigger. It is amazing how keys, change, chairs and other items can interfere with a trigger, potentially causing a negligent discharge.

Third, a good holster will ensure that your gun remains under your control at all times. It will not allow your gun to work its way out. It will not detach itself from your belt or clothing. If you have an active lifestyle, you may even want to consider a retention holster that requires a specific operation to release the gun from the holster.

If you don’t know anything at all about holsters and different ways to carry a gun, you might check out this book.

2. Practice with a purpose!

If you need to use your gun for self-defense, it won’t be much like your outings to the range. Most attacks are sudden and unexpected – initiated and resolved in seconds. Your attacker will be moving. You will (hopefully) be moving. If guns are involved, that means hitting moving targets while moving, and all while under enormous stress.

Standing at the range plinking at cans and paper targets is fun and satisfying. By all means do it! Just don’t think that prepares you for self-defense. If you want to start practicing skills that might help you in a defense situation, be sure to practice drawing from a holster, evaluating targets and what’s behind them, shooting quickly, but accurately and dealing with malfunctions in your gun. Have a friend load your magazines with random numbers of bullets so you might have to unexpectedly change magazines. Get some snap caps and have your friend insert them in your magazines randomly so you can practice what to do if your gun goes click instead of bang.

You also might create scenarios to track your progress. Try using a paper plate for a target and seeing how fast you can hit it from a draw with 5 straight shots at certain distances. Track your progress and set goals for improvement in both time and accuracy.

The very best way to practice is to make sure you complete step 5 in this tip list. Your instructor will give you lots of ideas for effective practice after your class.

Read the rest at NSSF First Shots!

 

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10 Things You Need To Know About Flying With Guns

How to fly with guns

Here’s a bold statement.

When you fly the friendly skies, you’ll experience more invasion of privacy, groping and unwanted scrutiny when you walk through the TSA checkpoint than when you try to check guns in your baggage.

I fly enough that the majority of currently employed TSA agents are intimately familiar with every square inch of my body. But groping aside, I’ve found checking guns by following the rules to be a simple and straightforward process – as long as you carefully follow the rules.

Be aware that there are always two sets of rules: those set by the TSA and those set by your airline. In a perfect world, they will be consistent with each other, but be aware, that doesn’t always happen.

Let’s review a checklist for hassle-free flying with guns.

1. Buy or borrow a lockable hard case.

Per the regulations, it can be a case with integrated combinations locks, but I prefer a case with multiple holes for heavy duty padlocks of my choosing. Do NOT use TSA locks on your gun case. This is a misunderstood area of the law and, technically speaking, it’s illegal for you to do so. Per the letter of the law, as discussed in the footnotes of this article, you alone must maintain possession of the keys or combination to open your gun case. You cannot lock it in such a way that others have access. By using TSA locks on your gun case, lots of people, just about anyone in fact, technically has access to your guns. TSA locks are NOT secure and not even TSA agents are supposed to have access to your case, once cleared, without you being present to unlock the case.

One more thing about cases. If you travel with a pistol, you might want to get a larger than necessary case, like this one. You can legally place other items besides your gun in the case, like cameras or computer equipment.

2. Check your airline’s website to review their policies.

While most are essentially the same, they don’t have to be. Print out the policy page to bring with you. With all that ticketing agents need to know, not every agent will have a complete understanding of their airline’s gun policy.

3. Review the TSA policy website for the latest information.

It can, and does, change. That’s your tax dollars at work folks. Print this out also, as different TSA agents have different understandings of their own policy. Really.

4. Unload your gun and magazine.

Complete this step while still at home! Check the chamber to make sure that’s empty. I like to pack my guns in the case with cylinder or action locked open so it’s very apparent the gun is in a safe condition. That’s not required, just good manners.

5. Weigh your gun case and ammunition.

Most airlines will allow up to 11 pounds of ammunition. And, like any luggage, you will be charged more for any baggage weighing more than 50 pounds. This sounds like a lot, but when traveling to the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun competition last year, my case with shotgun, rifle, pistol and ammunition tipped the scale past the 50 pound mark.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

8 Reasons You Need Professional Help

There are words and ideas that pass right through our brains like truthful reporting zips past the network news. In the shooting world, one of those words is “training.” Lots of respectable people talk about the importance of training. In response, we nod our heads and think “Yes! I need to get some professional training! I’ll get right on that!” But the moment passes, we go back to our daily life, and the next thing you know, we’re back to the normal routine – visiting the range once a month and perforating paper targets with great enthusiasm and vigor.

Pro Shooter and Trainer Todd Jarrett has the class moving fast and trying to hit small steel plates. It's an enlightening experience!

Pro Shooter and Trainer Todd Jarrett has the class moving fast and trying to hit small steel plates. It’s an enlightening experience!

You Need Professional Help!

Once you’ve made the decision to carry a firearm for self-protection (you can read more about it here), nothing can improve your ability to protect yourself and your family like professional training. Not equipment. Not ammunition. Not lights and lasers. Not watching Steven Seagal movies. Nothing.

I know for a fact that I need professional help – just ask my regular readers! But you need professional help too. Here are eight reasons why, in the form of easy-to-absorb concealed carry tips:

Concealed carry classes… aren’t.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of eight million Americans have concealed carry permits. Most of those folks had to complete some form of “firearms training.” Unfortunately state-required concealed carry permit training mostly addresses legal issues and carry regulations. Very, very few of those programs cover self-defense strategy and tactics training. If your concealed carry class does not have you out on the range drawing, moving, shooting, working on malfunction drills, and more, consider your concealed carry class as a starting point only. Please, please, please do not assume that your concealed carry class prepared you to carry a gun for self or home defense.

If it ain’t rainin’ you ain’t trainin’.

If you ever need to use your gun in a genuine life and death scenario, I can guarantee the participation criteria will be different than your decision process as to whether to go practice on any given day. Raining? Cold? Tired? “Nah, I’ll hit the range another day,” you think. None of that will matter in real life. If you have to defend yourself or family, you get no choice whether or not to participate based on your feelings or the weather. One of the best training classes I ever did took place in the pouring rain. The instructor didn’t wait it out. In fact, he was thrilled that we would have the opportunity to learn our deficiencies and improve our skills in less than ideal conditions. Wet and slippery hands, mud in our magazines, and soggy cover garments – it all was genuine. And enlightening. And did I mention, wet?

You too can learn how to create a triple malfunction.

A training class will induce just a little bit of stress, and this is a good thing. It won’t recreate the stress of a real-world encounter, but it will get your blood flowing and nerves off kilter. A little training stress can easily cause you to revert to your lowest level of performance. Trust me, I know.

In one of my classes, I managed to create a triple malfunction. The instructor was hollering at me, but it was all in good fun. I was slightly cocky about my accurate shooting and the instructor wanted to create some stress and urgency to throw me off-track. I managed to dump a full magazine on the ground, eject two live cartridges and inadvertently engage the safety before getting off a successful shot. After the class stopped laughing at my expense, we had a great learning moment. Real training, with some pressure, can show you how your “quiet range” skills might suffer in a real world encounter.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

Five Ways To Carry A Full Size Gun

I’ve just started a new gig, as if juggling 17 projects at a time isn’t enough… I’m honored to be contributing a regular column at Beretta USA’s new blog. I own a number of Berettas, both pistols and shotguns, and will be talking about training, practice, recreational shooting and having good old-fashioned fun with shooting sports.

Here’s a link to the first article with suggestions on how to concealed carry a full-size gun like the Beretta 92FS:

A small gun like a Beretta Tomcat is easy to carry, but a large gun, like this 92FS is oh-so-nice to shoot!

A small gun like a Beretta Tomcat is easy to carry, but a large gun, like this 92FS is oh-so-nice to shoot!

Got big guns? I do.

Because I like big guns and I cannot lie. While liking big guns may sounds like a macho thing, it’s really the opposite. Two of my favorite big guns, the Beretta 92FS and the Px4 Storm, are the same caliber as plenty of smaller guns chambered in 9mm and .40 S&W respectively. They’re just larger. And that’s where the reverse macho element comes into play.

A larger gun is easier to shoot. You can get a good, solid grasp on it. It’s got a longer sight radius, so aiming is easier. The larger weight and size soak up felt recoil. When you add all that up, big guns shoot lighter and more comfortably than small guns. Heck, when I take a new shooter to the range, the first thing I steer them to, after some practice with a .22LR like the Neos, is the biggest gun they can properly hold – ideally chambered in 9mm. Why? Because I know it will be kinder and gentler to them. Less blast, less muzzle jump and less felt recoil.

As far as I’m concerned, there are lots of benefits to big guns, but only one drawback. That disadvantage is ease of concealment. If you carry a concealed gun on a daily basis, a large gun is more work. Not just in terms of weight, but the longer grip and barrel present more “bulk” that needs to be hidden away in your clothes. Depending on your lifestyle and daily activities, there are a number of ways to comfortably, and effectively, conceal a larger gun. Let’s consider a few.

Hybrid Inside-the-Waistband

92-96-IWBMy personal favorite general purpose carry method for large guns is a hybrid-style inside-the-waistband holster. Beretta makes them for my 92FS and Px4 Storm. Here’s why they’re such a good solution for full size pistols:

  • The large leather back panel distributes the weight over a large area, so it tends to “feel” lighter.
  • The large surface area against your body also helps stabilize a heavier gun. Remember that Newton guy? One of his laws has something to do with body motion, mass of your pistol and stability. I think.
  • The kydex mold for the pistol itself has a tight snap fit so your heavy gun is locked in place.
  • Notice how the gun is aggressively angled forward. The angle directs the full size grip upwards, instead of backwards, so you’re less likely to print from the back when carrying a gun with a tall grip.
  • Last but not least, carrying inside-the-waistband makes barrel length a moot point as the barrel is inside your pants. From a concealment perspective, it doesn’t matter if your barrel is three, five, or 19 inches long, provided it’s not so long that it interferes with your knee joint!

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

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The Seven Deadly Sins of Concealed Carry: Not Cheating Enough

Sometimes it's OK to cheat. Maybe not at cards, but when it comes to self defense, absolutely!

Sometimes it’s OK to cheat. Maybe not at cards, but when it comes to self defense, absolutely!

As the old saying goes, if you’re fighting fair when defending yourself, your tactics suck!

But cheating isn’t right, is it? It’s kind of slimy and Knights of the Round Table never did it. Politicians do it all the time, and that’s reason enough to drive the rest of us away from a cheating mentality. But when push comes to shove, whether cheating will get you expelled from the Augusta National Golf Club or not depends on the circumstance.

If most of your life competitions involve polo, dressage or lawn croquet, then cheating would certainly be considered poor form and you would easily qualify as a Bond movie villain. If your competition is a fight for your life, or that of your loved ones, then cheat like the classic 1960′s rough and raw James Bond. You remember that scene in Goldfinger where Sean Connery scooped up Goldfinger’s lost golf ball right? Technically he was cheating, but I think it was OK as he was saving the world in the process.

Even a pocket-sized gun like this Springfield Armory XD-S can be equipped with a laser, like this LaserMax Mini.

Even a pocket-sized gun like this Springfield Armory XD-S can be equipped with a laser, like this LaserMax Mini.

So when it comes to concealed carry, don’t commit the deadly sin of thinking you have to compete fairly, like dueling patricians or jousting knights. In a self-defense contest, the winners get all the blue chips, the honor and respect and the damsel in distress. The second place finisher not only fails to get a consolation prize, they don’t even get a certificate of participation. So disregard fair fight etiquette like Timothy Geithner disregards the tax code.

So how do you become a better cheater? Off the top of my head, I can think of at least four ways you can stack the concealed carry deck in your favor.

1. Lasers

Addition of a laser can make a dramatic difference in your ability to put shots on target quickly and accurately in low-light conditions, thereby giving you a potential advantage in a self defense situation. Lasers don’t make you a better shot, but they provide two benefits:

  • Effectively aim your gun while your eyes are focused on the threat.
  • Effectively aim your gun from non-traditional firing positions.

When looking for threats, your eyes are focused exactly on that – the potential dangers nearby. As human eyes can only focus on one plane at a time, by definition, your eyes will not be focused on the front sight while you’re busy searching – you’ll need to transition to a front sight focused picture when a threat is identified. One more thing to note. When your gun is in a proper shooting position, it’s obstructing much of your forward view. Use of a laser, with practice, allows you to aim and shoot, even while your gun is in a low ready position.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

The Seven Deadly Sins of Concealed Carry: Not Carrying When You’re Not Carrying

Securing your gun when you're not carrying is cheap and easy. Locks like this one come with every new gun.

Securing your gun when you’re not carrying is cheap and easy. Locks like this one come with every new gun.

Not carrying when you’re not carrying? Huh?

So maybe there was too much holiday egg nog, but let me try to explain what I mean. When you carry a gun, it’s under your complete and absolute control at all times. That’s part of the definition of carrying – it’s on your person. When you’re not carrying your gun, you need to figure out ways to secure it that are safe and secure as when you are carrying. One story about a child accessing an improperly stored gun at home is one too many, especially when prevention is so inexpensive and easy.

So how can you develop the same level of “control” over your firearm when you’re not carrying?

First, let’s define “security” in this context. For now, we won’t talk about ways of preventing your gun from being stolen from your home. Gun safes are great for that, but that’s a whole different discussion. We’ll focus on “securing” your gun from unauthorized use by children or guests while it’s not in your immediate possession. The most common gun security scenario is getting home and going to bed. Most folks probably aren’t using an inside the waistband retention holster in their jammies, so they need to figure out a way to safely store their gun at home. Let’s look at a couple of home security options.

The cheap and easy method.

Since 2005, as part of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms act, every new gun manufactured or imported for civilian sale must include a safety lock. Usually these locks are some combination of padlock and cable that are designed to prevent operation of the gun action, thereby rendering it incapable of firing. If you already own a gun, or bought a used one, you can still easily get a safety lock, usually for free. The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe program provides free locks across and many gun stores will give you a free trigger lock if you ask.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Be sure to check out our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. It will teach you all the major methods of concealed carry and walk you through pros and cons over 100 different holster models. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Now available in print! The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

The Seven Deadly Sins of Concealed Carry: Not Going Through the Motions

Hey, if you're gonna practice at home, don't make it too easy. Cover that gun up with your regular concealed carry clothes!

Hey, if you’re gonna practice at home, don’t make it too easy. Cover that gun up with your regular concealed carry clothes!

Usually the phrase “going through the motions” carries a negative connotation. Like feigning interest hearing about Uncle Stanislaw’s commemorative spoon collection. Exciting as that may be, some of us would have to gen up a bit of enthusiasm to inspect his most recent purchase from the International Tea Set and Doilie Museum.

When it comes to concealed carry, not going through the motions can be deadly.

What do I mean by going through the motions? The motions of practice! Practicing drawing your concealed gun. Practicing changing magazines. Practicing clearing malfunctions.

Most people assume they will rise to the occasion with relatively simple and basic skills like drawing a gun, changing magazines or clearing a jam. There’s a real easy way to disprove that notion. Enter a local shooting match. Steel Challenge, IDPA or USPSA – it doesn’t really matter. The first time you have to perform an action under the stress of a clock running and crowd watching, you’ll most likely see how quickly you fall right back to the level of your most frequent practice. And that’s with an infinitesimal level of stress compared to any real armed conflict. The first time you do that I can almost guarantee you’ll mess up at least a little. Heck, in one of the training classes I took, the instructor was hollering at me (just for fun and to try to induce a little pressure while I was shooting) and I managed to dump a full magazine on the ground, eject two live cartridges and inadvertently engage the safety before getting off a successful shot. He and the rest of the class had a great laugh from that experience. It wasn’t unprofessional or malicious – just the opposite. You see, I was feeling kind of cocky because I was the guy shooting awesome groups at a whopping range of 7 yards, so our opportunistic instructor saw a chance to teach us all a valuable lesson. By tormenting me, he showed the class how easy it is to revert to your lowest level of skill with only a little bit of induced stress.

Fortunately, developing some muscle and brain memory through practice is easy. And you can do it at home with your carry gun if you practice safe dry fire procedures. After all, dry firing is not as dirty as it sounds. Or, you can get fancy and invest in a practice gun like the S.I.R.T. training pistol. That’s money well spent as it provides visual feedback on where your practice shots hit.

Here are a few of the scenarios I like to practice in my home office and man cave.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

 

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Seven Deadly Sins of Concealed Carry: Not Carrying

Piece be with you! But if it's at home, and not with you, it won't do you a whole lot of good.

Piece be with you! But if it’s at home, and not with you, it won’t do you a whole lot of good.

The fourth deadly sin of concealed carry is… not. Not carrying, that is.

Crazy has roamed the earth for about 65 million years – several decades before Joan Rivers’ first plastic surgery. Consider that we live in a world where  people proudly claim they are “Beliebers“, faux celebrities name their cute babies North West and despotic Korean dictators have family members executed for missing a Black Friday Blu-Ray player sale. The scary part is that the current level of human crazy barely makes the nightly news.

So forgive me if I disagree when people tell me they aren’t carrying for reasons like this:

  • “I’m just running to the store.”
  • “I’ll only be out for a few minutes.”
  • “I won’t need my gun.”
  • “I won’t be in any bad areas.”

It’s an insanity-filled world out there and there is no such thing as a perfectly safe public outing. If you were really able to predict when and where you might be a victim of violent crime, why on earth would you ever be there in the first place, armed or not?

While the cause of spontaneous and violent crazy might be bath salt dessert parties, crystal meth fueled enthusiasm or just plain evil intent, you never know what’s going to happen out there. A quick look at news stories will tell you exactly why you must carry all the time if you carry at all.

The big news is frequency. According to the FBI, a violent crime of some type occurs in the United States every 26 seconds. A murder occurs every 35.4 minutes; a forcible rape every 6.2 minutes and a robbery every 1.5 minutes.

Zombies? Yeah, they’re the rage on TV and shooting accessory products, but I’m talking about the real kind. A Miami man permanently maimed another with just his teeth before being killed by a responding officer. A Texas man attacked friends and neighbors before eating the family dog. Admittedly, the odds of becoming the victim of a zombie attack are similar to Honey Bo Boo editing the Harvard Law Review. But it’s a classic example of the need to expect the unexpected.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Be sure to check out our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon:

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Wanna Win This Fobus 1911 Rail Paddle Holster Crimson Trace Edition?

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Win this Crimson Trace Edition Fobus Paddle Holster!

Win this Crimson Trace Edition Fobus Paddle Holster!

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