12 Reasons I Carry A Gun


1. A fire extinguisher is a lousy self defense weapon.

No one seems to have an issue with folks keeping a fire extinguisher in the house, right? I mean, people don’t question your paranoia level even though there are fire departments just about everywhere. So I thought about just carrying a fire extinguisher for self defense too. I figured I could foam at least three people in the face before it emptied, and then it becomes an excellent impact weapon. After discovering that finding a concealed holster was near impossible, I gave up.

2. I don’t know when I might need it.

While crime rates continue to fall over the long haul, there’s still plenty of evil behavior to go around. Read any paper and you’ll see that crimes happen all over, not just in “high risk” places. Speaking of high risk places, if I ever thought I was going somewhere I might need to use my gun, you can be darn tootin’ sure I wouldn’t be going there in the first place.

3. Because 186,873.

According to USA Carry, that’s the number of warrants outstanding for felons across the US. They walk among us.

4. An Abrams tank gets horrible gas mileage.

Before you write off this idea, think of the benefits. Although a tank has great offensive weaponry, you probably wouldn’t ever need it. You’re pretty well protected from just about anything other than rust. Just drive it into your garage and be sure to shut the garage door with your clicker before exiting the hatch. Be sure to lower the main gun barrel first.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!


Try Competitions To Become A More Effective Shooter

Competition shootingThere’s a big difference between good and effective.

If you are involved in shooting purely for recreation and the joy of punching holes in paper or tin cans, then being a good shooter is, well, good enough.

If you intend to use your gun for self or home defense, then you need to think about how to become a more effective shooter.

What’s the difference?

When you’re enjoying a range outing with family and friends, you can be really, really good. Your shots impact where you want and they’re all impressively close together. When it comes time to reload or change magazines, no worries, you can chit chat about that new gun you want while leisurely preparing for the next round of shots. Hurrying or running around while trying to shoot would put a real damper on your ability to make pretty target patterns. You’ve got all day, and when time isn’t a factor, you are one impressive shooter!

That’s good, as long as you aren’t planning to use these “impressive shooter”qualifications for self-defense needs. If you intend to have a gun for personal protection or home defense, then you need to be effective, not just good. You need to safely operate your gun and get shots on target when the conditions are the worst imaginable—exactly the opposite of those fun days at the range.

One way to become a more effective shooter is to introduce a little bit of pressure and stress into your shooting routine. In this issue of First Shots News, Barbara Baird talks about various types of competitive shooting, so I’ll focus on what those competitions can do to make you more effective.

Even though some shooting competitions, like International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) mimic self- or home-defense situations, they won’t help you much with specific defensive tactics. They will, however, help you master core skills that can contribute to your ability to use a gun in a defensive situation. Let’s consider some skills you can improve by shooting competitively.

Read the rest in the National Shooting Sports Foundations First Shots Newsletter!

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

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

Which Foot Is Legal?

gun free zones

One foot in this photo is in a legal concealed carry zone, while the other is in a gun free zone.

Make sense to you? Me neither.

Useless, pointless, ineffective and ill-conceived legislation gets people killed.

Write your congress leech.

Ammo Review: Winchester Ammunition Train and Defend

Two varieties of the same ammo: one for practice, the other for self defense.

Two varieties of the same ammo: one for practice, the other for self defense.

When it comes to designing ammo, many of the objectives conflict with each other – you can’t have them all. For example, perfect ammunition would have all of the following:

  • Low recoil
  • Low blast and muzzle flash
  • Low noise
  • Reliable expansion, even after passing through tough barriers like 10 copies of the New York Times Sunday edition
  • Deep penetration
  • No over penetration
  • High velocity
  • Weight retention
  • Auto replenishment. Ok, no one has figured that out yet, but I did say “perfect” ammunition, right?

Given that you can’t have combinations like Mach 7 velocity, 4x expansion after passing through Iron Man and no measurable recoil, ammunition manufacturers decide in advance what performance they want and for what purpose the ammunition will be used.

Both 9mm and .40 S&W Defend loads were tested with bare gelatin and multi-layer fabric.

Both 9mm and .40 S&W Defend loads were tested with bare gelatin and multi-layer fabric.

Winchester Ammunition launched its new Train and Defend line with some pretty clear goals. According to the company, Train and Defend is aimed (see what I did there?) at “new shooters interested in training to become more proficient with their personal defense ammunition.”

What does that mean?

First, there are two varieties of the ammo: Train, and, you guessed it, Defend. Both are loaded to yield the same basic performance and feel. If you fire a round of Train ammo, followed by a round of Defend, you won’t be able to tell the difference. This is kind of a big deal.

Winchester Train ammo

Usually, practice ammo is lower powered and, therefore, much more mellow to shoot. When you load a round of full powered self-defense ammo, you’ll feel it. The blast and recoil will be substantial in most cases. Not so with Train and Defend – both rounds feel the same and perform similarly. The Train version is loaded with full metal jacket bullets which result in a much lower cost per round – appropriate for practice. On the street, expect to pay less than half the price of a Defend round for each Train round. It’s easy to identify as it has a big “T” logo on the box.

Winchester Defend ammo

When you’re finished practicing, load your magazines up with Defend. This is what you want for personal protection and home defense applications. The Defend ammo uses bonded projectiles that ensure the bullet stays intact and retain its original weight. The cases are nickel-plated for corrosion resistance and improved feeding. You’ll spot the Defend version by the big “D” logo on the box.

I tested the 9mm Defend load with a Beretta 92FS. Using the SilencerCo Octane suppressor was added fun as this load is subsonic.

I tested the 9mm Defend load with a Beretta 92FS. Using the SilencerCo Octane suppressor was added fun as this load is subsonic.

I got all geeky about how the Train and Defend ammunition is put together and posed some questions to the product manager. Are the Train and Defend Loads identical except for the projectile? Do they use the same powder?

Here are the answers from Winchester:

The Train and Defend loads do not use the same powder and there is a good reason for that. We utilize low-flash powders in our Defend options, because a defensive situation is likely to occur in low-light conditions; it is important that night vision not be impacted due to a bright muzzle flash. HOWEVER, these low flash powders have a tendency to be slightly dirtier burning, so they are not great options for our Train round. We developed Train to be a great high-volume training round so we utilize some of our cleaner burning propellants in these loads. Train would be great for competition, low recoil, 180 grain in 40 S&W will make for a great competition load.



As part of the design goal of Winchester Train and Defend ammunition is to offer lower and more controllable recoil, they’re manufactured to travel at lower velocity. I measured both 9mm and .40 S&W versions using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet down range.

40 S&W Train, fired from a Glock 22: 885.3 fps
40 S&W Defend, fired from a Glock 22: 907.7 fps
9mm Defend:, fired from a Beretta 92FS: 936.3 fps


I shot both 9mm and .40 S&W loads into Clear Ballistics 6x6x16 inch gelatin blocks. According to the manufacturer, the blocks are calibrated to 10% ballistic gelatin standards as used by the FBI for ammunition testing.

Assuming that penetration of these lower velocity rounds would be less than 16 inches, I only brought one block to the range. You know what they say about assuming right? Exactly. All of the 9mm and .40 S&W rounds tested exited the block and were stopped by my expired Kevlar vest backstop, so the only penetration measurement I can offer is “more than 16 inches.” That’s plenty.

For both 9mm and .40 S&W Defend loads, I fired two scenarios. For the first, I used bare gelatin. For the second, I covered the front of the gel block with the new standard light denim, multi-layer fabric designed to simulate average street clothing layers.

The 9mm projectile surprised me somewhat. Projectiles fired into bare gel and those shot through the test fabric all expanded properly. The bare gelatin bullet expanded to a smaller diameter than the one fired through fabric layers. That might have been caused by gel anomalies or perhaps the lower overall resistance allowed the bullet to travel at higher velocity, thereby pushing back the petals further. I measured expansion of this projectile at 0.535 inches. The projectile fired through the fabric layers expanded to 0.605 inches diameter.

The Defend .40 S&W rounds expanded beautifully in bare gel and after passing through fabric barriers.

The Defend .40 S&W rounds expanded beautifully in bare gel and after passing through fabric barriers.

The .40 S&W Winchester Defend projectiles also expanded properly in both test scenarios. The bare gelatin projectile expanded to 0.690 inches while the projectile fired through fabric layers expanded to 0.685 inches diameter.

In summary, I found this ammo comfortable to shoot and performance matched its design goals. Expansion worked properly after passing through “normal” clothing layers. Winchester Train and Defend ammunition is a great option for newer shooters where the reduced recoil will help keep shots on target and allow for faster and more accurate follow-up shots.

How to Handle A Traffic Stop When Carrying a Concealed Gun

Here’s some useful advice, and straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak, but don’t tell my friend William I mentioned his name and “horse’s mouth” in the same sentence. He spent years in law enforcement and made his share of traffic stops – always a potentially high-risk endeavor. Here are his thoughts on how you, as the concealed carrying driver, can help safely manage the situation for all involved.


One of the most frequent questions that I get as a CWP instructor and former police officer is what to do if stopped by a police officer while legally carrying a concealed handgun. The answer depends on the local and state laws where you live, but I think that most situations merely call for a little common sense.

You have to understand that when a police officer approaches a vehicle, they have no idea what they are going to encounter. It may be a 16 year old girl crying because it is the first time she has been stopped, or it may be someone who just robbed a bank who has made up his mind that he is not going to jail. Every traffic stop has the potential to be deadly, and every officer has been through hours of training reminding them of just how serious of a situation it can be.
So what does this mean if you get stopped while carrying? The first thing is that you have to do to make the situation easy and clear for the officer. Pull off the side of the road far enough, if possible, to give the officer enough room to approach your vehicle without having to worry about oncoming traffic. Roll your window down, place both hands on the steering wheel and leave them there until told to do otherwise. The first thing the officer is going to want to see is your hands, because that is where any threat is going to come from. If it is dark outside, take the added step of turning on your vehicle’s interior light; it is just one more thing that shows you’re looking out for his safety. I will tell you from experience that approaching a dark car with blackened windows is not fun. It’s common courtesy as a CWP holder to remove as many perceived threats as possible from the situation.

This is not the time to start digging in your glove box or center console for your insurance card or wayward registration. To an approaching officer, that looks surprisingly like someone reaching for a gun. This is especially true in states that allow one to carry a pistol there legally without a carry permit.

This is also not the time to jump out of your vehicle and walk back towards the officer. Although your tag number, vehicle description and location should already have been called in before the blue lights come on, there may be radio communications occupying his or her attention. Seeing a driver exit their vehicle and start walking back raises all kinds of warning alarms as the officer thinks back to their training on how many deadly encounters started that way.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

My Favorite Concealed Carry Shirt

This Blackhawk! 1700 Warrior Wear shirt is built for concealed carry. Image: Blackhawk!

This Blackhawk! 1700 Warrior Wear shirt is built for concealed carry. Image: Blackhawk!

I absolutely love the Blackhawk! Concealed Carry Shirt! Here’s why:

It’s designed from the ground up to help you cover either an inside the waistband or outside the waistband belt holster. The patterns are medium plaid to help break up outlines of a concealed gun. The cut is boxy, again to help naturally cover a belt-carried gun. Small vertical slits on the bottoms of both sides make access easy and snag-free.

Even without the concealed carry optimized design, the shirt is pretty handy. It’s made from 62% cotton and 38% polyester, so you can yank it right out of the dryer and it looks pretty darn good. It’s dressy enough to be respectable, doesn’t look tactical but is still comfortable to wear on hot days. In addition to the front left exterior chest pocket, there is a zipper compartment accessible from the outside. It’s really discreet and most folks won’t notice it. The weight of the shirt (light) doesn’t allow carrying a gun in this zipper pocket, but it’s great for other gear, like cell phones, that you don’t want to fall out while you’re out running around.

Highly recommended!

Be sure to check out our new 2nd Edition for 2014 book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters, 2nd Edition 2014. 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, 2nd Edition 2014

The Top 10 Concealed Carry Holsters

Galco's Miami Classic II shoulder holster rig.

Galco’s Miami Classic II shoulder holster rig.

Holsters have been around a long time, almost as long as Cher has been using doilies for costumes. Over centuries of use, innovation has flourished. We’ve come a long way from the times when Scottish warriors carried sharp objects and their Visa debit cards in their sporrans.

Like Moore’s law for microprocessors, which states that computing power doubles every 18 months, holster innovation is also growing at an exponential pace. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen established companies and garage engineers alike develop entirely new ways of carrying a gun everywhere on the body. And I mean everywhere.

Let’s take a look at my view of the top 10 concealed carry holsters.

napoleon-flashbangThe Flashbang

Since the Flashbang is accessed by pulling up the shirt, then drawing from the chest area, you can use your own imagination to work out the origin of this holsters name.

This one works best if you have some form of breasts. Technically you don’t need them, but the holster is designed to mount to a bra, so there’s that.

The holster itself attaches to the center of the bra, and the gun is held in place, oriented horizontally, by a clamshell molded kydex pocket. To draw, simply grasp the handgun grip and pull straight down – this releases the gun from the clamshell mount.

I can vouch for concealability, but not comfort, as I’m not equipped to use a bra. I’ll rely on the dozens of women I’ve met who swear by this design.

Galco KingTuk

The Galco KingTuk IWB holster.

The Galco KingTuk IWB holster.

Do you know how, when you get in a really sweet luxury car, the doors make that firm and satisfying “click” instead of “clank” when you close them? That comes from attention to the finer details of product design. If you’re into that sort of quality, then you’ll love the Galco KingTuk IWB Holster.

It’s a hybrid inside-the-waistband design, like others on the market. It features a large leather back panel that goes between your gun and tender body parts. A kydex shell is molded to the contours of your specific gun model. The difference between the KingTuk and others on the market is the quality. If you live in a warmer climate where humidity and sweat are common, you’ll notice that the leather backing holds up over time. You’ll also notice that the kydex shell is made from a thicker material and that someone at Galco took the time to buff and smooth the edges. I carry a full size, and full weight, 1911 in one here in the swamp sauna of South Carolina and after more than a year of heavy abuse, it still looks brand new.

N82 Tactical

Here’s one that surprised me. I almost passed it by as it looks so simple and, quite frankly, boring. That was almost a big mistake. After taking the time to evaluate the N82 Tactical holsters, I found there’s serious engineering in this one that really makes a difference.

A pair of N82 Tactical holsters with Springfield Armory XD-S pistols.

A pair of N82 Tactical holsters with Springfield Armory XD-S pistols.

Like hybrid designs, it has a large panel that separates your gun from your body. Rather than a horizontal panel orientation, it’s more of a vertical egg shape. The backing itself is three layers of different materials that accomplish different things. Next to your skin is a suede lining that breathes and provides some friction to help keep the holster stationary. Next is a layer of neoprene. If you’ve seen Jaws or been to Sea World, you’ll know that’s the stuff they use to make wetsuits. This middle layer keeps body moisture and rust-inducing sweat away from your gun. It also keeps stray gun oil or preservatives away from the suede lining and your body. The layer closest to the gun is leather to provide a little cushion and protection for your gun.

This holster is insanely practical and comfortable to boot. I find myself using it quite frequently with a Springfield Armory XD-S.

Oh, by the way, N82 is pronounced “Nate squared” as a couple of guys named Nate founded the company.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!


Grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips. It will help make you a better shooter and the envy of your range in no time.

Tennis Anyone? The Award Winning Blackhawk! Diversion Concealed Carry Rifle Case

Talk about the ultimate diversion!

We covered some of the Blackhawk! Division concealed carry products in the brand new 2nd Edition of the Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters. Just today, I saw that the Blackhawk! Diversion line won the prestigious NRA Shooting Illustrated Golden Bullseye award for 2014. Well deserved – these products are fantastic and will blend right in to the urban and suburban lifestyle.

We saw the Blackhawk! Diversion rifle case at SHOT Show 2013 and it’s stunningly effective for toting an AR type rifle. It looks like a tennis racquet case, so un-enlightened neighbors won’t freak out and call Mayor Bloomberg when you pack your car for a range trip.

The bag itself is padded and features an internal divider, so you can carry two firearms. The case holds a gun up to 29 inches long, so the idea is to carry a separated upper and lower receiver. The zippers are lockable so you can secure the bag from children or nosy line judges.

The Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Racquet Bag. Image: Blackhawk!

The Blackhawk! Diversion Carry Racquet Bag. Image: Blackhawk!

As of this writing, the cases are available in two-tone red/grey and blue/grey color schemes. Word has it that a black/grey one will be out in the future.

This is a fantastic idea and a great way to discreetly carry your rifle in plain sight.

Tennis anyone?

Be sure to check out our new 2nd Edition for 2014 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 Looper Prohibition Capone Holster

The Prohibition Capone holster is an inside the waistband hybrid design, featuring a tough leather backing and Kydex mold for the gun pocket. Metal clips, fastened at the bottom only, fasten to the belt, allowing your shirt to be tucked in over the gun and behind the clips.

Only you will see it, but you can choose red or blue stitching for the Capone hybrid holster. Image: Flashbang Holsters.

Only you will see it, but you can choose red or blue stitching for the Capone hybrid holster. Image: Flashbang Holsters.

I’ve been using a top-secret version of this for a large gun and have found it to be comfortable and solid. The leather backing is stiff and will require a little break-in period to adjust to your body shape. This is a good thing – you want tough leather for longevity and support of your gun.

Like the other Looper products we’ve tested, this one is highly recommended. The fit, finish and attention to detail are outstanding.

Open Carry Ban Leads To Concealed Carry Win in California?

California Shall Issue Permit ProcessBack to back Second Amendment victories emerged from an unlikely source – the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In two cases filled with irony, it turned out that California’s recent ban on open carry paved the way for the concealed carry victory. Huh?

Yes, an anti-gun decision in California enabled a pro-gun court ruling. (Tweet This)

Monkeys are now flying out of my… well, never mind.

While California bans open carry at the state level, concealed carry policies and restrictions are determined at the county level. Frustrated by permit refusals from San Diego County, five residents sued, challenging the county’s requirement for “proof of need” to obtain a concealed carry permit. Apparently, if you’ve been murdered more than once, you “might” be eligible to obtain a carry permit in some locales.

On February 13th, the appeals court ruled on the Peruta v. San Diego case in favor of the residents and ruled the “may issue” concealed permit policy unconstitutional.

“We are not holding that the Second Amendment requires the states to permit concealed carry,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, a Reagan appointee, wrote for the panel. “But the Second Amendment does require that the states permit some form of carry for self-defense outside the home.”

With no open carry option on the table, and concealed carry effectively banned in many California counties due to arbitrary permit issuance policies, the court agreed that citizens were effectively prevented from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

If you can’t carry visibly or concealed, that only leaves parallel universe carry, which is a difficult skill for most people to master. (Tweet This)

In a follow-up case, Richards vs. Sheriff Ed Prieto, Yolo County, California’s “may issue” concealed carry permit policy was also shot down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court rejected the county argument that the case circumstances were materially different than Peruta vs. San Diego.

“Today’s ruling reinforces the Second Amendment’s application  to state and local governments, and will help clear the way for more California citizens to exercise their right to bear arms,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “California officials have been put on notice that they can no longer treat the Second Amendment as a heavily regulated government privilege.”

According to the San Jose Mercury News, permits permit applications have been flooding in to a number of counties since the ruling, with many seeing double the annual average of applications in the past few weeks.

The bottom line? These two cases have solidified the position that Second Amendment rights apply outside the home – at least for California residents. At the national level, the Ninth Circuit decision is contrary to similar cases in the Second, Third and Fourth Circuit courts, so Supreme Court intervention is likely at some point.

Keep the pressure on folks!

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture