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?

Leave your thoughts and ideas on the Facebook post below and we’ll randomly pick a winning commenter Wednesday 12/11/13 at 8pm EST!

Win this Crimson Trace Edition Fobus Paddle Holster!

Win this Crimson Trace Edition Fobus Paddle Holster!

Remember, comments here won’t count, just comments on this Facebook post!

The Seven Deadly Sins of Concealed Carry: Showing Your Gun Booty

A simple reach can out you when you’re carrying. Here, an inside the waistband holster, or a little more awareness, would have solved the problem.

When it comes to inappropriately showing your gun booty, there are really two different scenarios. One is a legal issue and the other a tactics consideration.

In most states, if you have a concealed carry permit, it’s against the law for your gun to show. It must be invisible to others, or concealed, at all times. That’s the legal issue. The other scenario involves whether your concealment strategy is obvious to people “in the know” or otherwise. For example, gun folks poke a lot of fun at what they call “shoot me first” vests – those bulky photographers vests with more pockets than talk show hosts recently fired from MSNBC. Others insist that fanny packs are a dead giveaway that the wearer is carrying a gun – assuming they’re not trying to win the award for Ultimate Disney Tourist. In these scenarios, your gun is completely invisible, but there are other cues that you’re carrying – at least to people familiar with concealed carry strategy. We won’t get into those discussions here. Instead, let’s focus on ways that you might be showing more than you know.

Bending over

People that sell those industrial back support belts you see at warehouse stores make a living talking about the dangers of bending at the waist to pick things up. People like me derive untold hours of free entertainment trying to spot other concealed carriers when they bend at the waist to help their child, tie shoes or pick up that heads-up penny in the street.

Why? Bending forward at the waist can not only put strain on your back, but on your concealed stealthiness. When carrying anywhere on the waist behind the three or nine o’clock position, the grip of your gun will show a picture perfect imprint as the back of your shirt gets drawn in towards your body.

So what to do? First and foremost, make a habit of bending at the knees – every time. You can also try a holster that is more aggressively canted – one that angles the rear sight forward, thereby minimizing the distance the grip extends to your rear. You can carry a gun with a smaller height, meaning the distance from the bottom of the grip to the top of the slide. Some guns like some Smith & Wesson eSeries 1911s have a rounded butt, which minimizes printing and improves firing hand comfort. A number of the new Walthers (and other models of course) also feature rounded butts. Eliminating a sharp corner at the rear base of your grip makes a surprising difference when it comes to hiding a giveaway imprint.

Reaching for the stars

Remember that scene in the movie Animal House when Donald Sutherland walked into the kitchen wearing nothing but a long cable-knit sweater and reached up high to get a coffee cup? Yeah, I know, that was really disturbing. But it provides a great example of the dangers of over-reaching. So bending forward isn’t the only activity hazardous to your concealment strategy. Depending on the type of holster you use, reaching up, or even forward, can out you.

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: Using the Wrong Holster

There isn't a single "right" type of holster. As long as you consider the three criteria for an effective concealed carry holster, there are many good options.

There isn’t a single “right” type of holster. As long as you consider the three criteria for an effective concealed carry holster, there are many good options.

There are an infinite number of factors that have influence on which holster to use for concealed carry. I wrote a whole book about gun holsters and even that just begins to scratch the surface. The bottom line about gun holsters is that there is no cut and dried option for everyone. The right choice depends on each individuals lifestyle and specific needs. What’s perfect for one may be completely dysfunctional for another.

However, I believe there are three criteria that a concealed carry holster needs to meet:

  1. A good holster helps you access your gun quickly, yet safely.
  2. A good holster protects the trigger.
  3. A good holster ensures that your gun remains under your control.

With that said, let’s take a look at some “wrong holster” topics.

The Un-Holster

There are different definitions of “the wrong holster” and one of them is “no holster.” This simply refers to sticking a gun in your belt or pocket without use of  holster.

I do not like this Sam I am. For two different, but often intertwined, reasons.

First, using a holster is a good way to make sure that you and your gun stay together. A good holster should have retention features – whether that’s achieved by friction, fit or positive retention devices. As they say, the first rule of gun fighting is to have a gun. If you rely on just the pressure of your pants or belt, you may find you don’t have a gun when you most need it!

Second, your gun trigger is completely unprotected when you are not using a proper holster. When carrying in your belt, you certainly don’t want your trigger exposed. The problem is even worse with holster-less pocket carry. Keys, change or that roll of breath mints just might get caught up in the trigger.

Strangely enough, reasons one and two frequently go together. Case in point: NFL star Plaxico Burress, 2008. While only he knows the exact details that led to his “leg-o-cide” it appears that he was carrying his pistol sans holster when it started to slip down his leg. He inadvertently yanked the trigger while groping to catch his gun and shot himself in the leg. A classic example of reasons one and two playing together with malice.

Unfortunately, I could fill up this entire story with nothing but links to news stories of people negligently shooting themselves, and sometimes others, simply because they were not using a holster. Of course, every single one of those cases also involved a different deadly sin – keeping your finger off the trigger. Of course, most un-holster incidents are the result of a desperate grab to catch a falling gun, not an intentional trigger discipline issue. The point is that a good holster that protects the trigger will not allow a gun to be fired while holstered.

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

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