10 Reasons To Consider A Light On Your Concealed Carry Gun

I’m a fanboi.

Of lights on guns.

I used to be a super fan of lasers on handguns. Then I shot the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational. After what I learned there, I’m a fan of lights AND lasers on guns – like the Crimson Trace Lasergrip / Lightguard setup. To me, having a light and laser combo on a home defense gun is kind of a no-brainer. Of course you’ll also want a quality flashlight like this one on the nightstand strictly for looking. Having one mounted on the gun also speeds and simplifies target confirmation and aiming.

In fact, with today’s weapon-mounted light offerings, there is no reason not to have a light on your carry pistol as well. The only real drawback is holster availability and/or not being able to use holster you already own.

My daily carry setup: Springfield Armory TRP with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Crimson Trace green Lasergrips. Shown with a White Dog IWB holster.

My daily carry setup: Springfield Armory TRP with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Crimson Trace green Lasergrips. Shown with a White Dog IWB holster.

I got to thinking of reasons to mount a weapon-light on your carry gun, and here’s what I came up with:

1. According to the FBI, the busiest hour for crime is midnight to 1am. Remember what Mom used to say – nothing good ever happens after midnight! Need proof? 93.72% of Lindsay Lohan’s arrests were after midnight.

2. Daylight savings. Or maybe you’re just burning the midnight oil at work. What time do you get home from work? Yeah, I know, later than you want. But is it dark when you get home? At least during the winter months? Might be nice if the gun you have has a light. If Sasquatch is hiding in your dark garage, you want to be ready with more than a Jack Links jerky stick.

3. If you have to use your light-equipped gun in the daytime, who cares? Worst case, you burn some battery, and batteries are cheap when doing a spreadsheet on life and death cost / benefit considerations. If you’re just practicing, the Crimson Trace Lightguard has an on / off switch so you can save your battery.

4. Powerful lights are now really, really small. I’ve got a number of Crimson Trace Lightguards on Glocks and 1911s. They add no width or length to your pistol. The placement just in front of the trigger guard means that there is no real impact on my ability to conceal a Lightguard-equipped gun – even using an inside the waistband holster. You get 100 lumens of light with no additional storage requirement. Why not?

5. Theaters. Remember Aurora? Enough said.

6. Restaurants (where legal) for the same reason. The good ones tend to be all romantic and dark. That’s great for foreplay, but no so good for gunplay.

7. Adding a light to your gun gives you an excuse to buy a cool new holster. Like this one. Or this one.

8. Light over 60 lumens has the possibility of temporarily distracting or disorienting an attacker. Don’t count on it, but a surprise flash in the eyeballs just might buy you a couple of seconds of much-needed time. Of course, since the light is mounted on your gun, this scenario only applies if you are in a position where pointing your gun at someone or something is warranted.

9. Even in reasonably well-lit indoor environments, a weapon mounted light will dramatically clarify both your target and your gun sights. Try it.

10. Your carry gun is also your home defense gun. Hey, if your carry gun lives on or near your nightstand while you’re sleeping, you definitely want a light on it. Yes, you want a separate flashlight nearby too for pure “looking” purposes. If you find any bad surprises, you’ll want that light on your gun.

An alternate carry setup: Glock 31 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips. Too big? The same configuration works on a Glock compact like the 19, 32 and 23.

An alternate carry setup: Glock 31 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips. Too big? The same configuration works on a Glock compact like the 19, 32 and 23.


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

A Handgunners Holiday Gift Guide

Giving season is almost upon us! And when it comes to handgun-related shooting gear, it’s better to receive than give, right? So point your loved ones to this article and tell them to break out their wallet. You’re worth it!

And you rifle aficionados? Never fear, the folks here at OutdoorHub.com are doing a special gift guide just for you. Stay tuned…

Let’s get to it. Here are some of my favorites. Some are old, some are new, but all are awesome.

BLACKHAWK! Diversion Courier Bag ($139.99)

The BLACKHAWK! Diversion Courier Bag is a master of disguise. All business on the outside, tactical on the inside.

The BLACKHAWK! Diversion Courier Bag is a master of disguise. All business on the outside, tactical on the inside.

The BLACKHAWK! Diversion Courier Bag looks like an ordinary briefcase, but makes for a truly outstanding and infinitely versatile gun bag, range bag, bug-out bag, daily carry bag, or just about any other bag type you can think of.

In the picture to the right, I have it configured like a pistol range bag. Since it’s in this handgunner gift guide, you can correctly assume that it’s got a concealed carry compartment—large enough to carry a Desert Eagle if you want. My full-size Beretta 92 fits in there with room to spare. The concealed carry compartment features side-access zippers on both ends of the case to accommodate righties and lefties alike.

The front exterior of the bag features a full-width multi-purpose pocket for magazines, tools, or whatever else you may want to store. It’s covered by the messenger bag flap, so the contents are still invisible yet immediately accessible via a zipper slot in the top of the bag. Adjustable dividers and elastic tabs allow easy and secure storage of pistol magazines, rifle magazines, and all sorts of other gear.

The main compartment has a primary divider, zipper compartments, mesh pockets, and elastic loops to organize your gear. The inside of the main cover flap has a clear plastic zipper compartment for documents or maps—no need to open to read your protected paperwork.

I love this bag. It’s freaky flexible. Get more info here.

Crimson Trace Lightguard ($159)

Here’s a Glock 31 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips. The Lightguard-ready holster is a DeSantis Speed Scabbard.

Here’s a Glock 31 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips. The Lightguard-ready holster is a DeSantis Speed Scabbard.

I’ve been a huge fan of pistol-mounted lasersfor home defense and concealed carry guns. Now, I’m an equally big fan of weapon-mounted lights on those same handguns.

Last year, there were great options for pistol-mounted lights. My favorite is the Crimson Trace Lightguard. Why? It’s small and light, yet blows out 100 lumens of light—plenty enough to identify your target in a pitch-black environment. The Crimson Trace Lightguard mounts under the dust cover and just in front of the trigger guard for supported pistols. It’s also narrower than the slide of your pistol, so it adds no “carry penalty” in terms of size or weight. But, last year, holster options for Lightguard-equipped pistols were few and far between. Thankfully, that problem has been solved. With options from Galco, DeSantis, CrossBreed and more, you can carry your pistol and your Lightguard, too.

Learn more about available Crimson Trace Lightguard options and compatible holsters.

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel Ammunition (roughly $25 per box)

Note the perfect expansion of these Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 9mm projectiles after passing through two layers of leather and four layers of fabric.

Note the perfect expansion of these Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 9mm projectiles after passing through two layers of leather and four layers of fabric.

Spoiler alert! I’m finishing up this gift guide with an actual short-barreled pistol, so I figured I out to highlight ammunition built specifically for it.

Yes, purpose-built ammunition for those of us with short barrels is important. If you shoot the same ammo from a pistol with a five-inch barrel and one with a three-inch barrel, you might see a reduction of up to 100 feet per second in velocity from the shorter gun. Modern hollow-point bullet performance relies on proper velocity to drive the desired level of expansion.

Speer Ammunition has developed a complete line of ammunition optimized for real-world velocities in short-barrel guns. The bullets are specially built to expand at lower velocity, yet still penetrate to the desired depth. Available in 9mm, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .44 Magnum, .45 ACP, and .22 WMR, there’s a Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel offering for most any pocket gun. Don’t use it in full-size guns as it will over expand and penetration will suffer. You can read more about Speer’s Short Barrel technology here.

Spyderco Des Horn Folding Knife ($199.95)

The Spyderco Des Horn folder is about four inches long closed, and 7-1/4 inches long open.

The Spyderco Des Horn folder is about four inches long closed, and 7-1/4 inches long open.

Even a handgun gift guide has to feature a cool knife, right? I picked this one up recently and find it insanely practical, yet elegant. It’s ultra-lightweight with a comfortable pocket clip, so it’s easy to carry all day.

It’s got a super-pointy tip, which means this knife is lousy for non-knife chores like hammering and prying things open. But the sharp point makes all those mundane activities like opening boxes and envelopes a snap.

In case you have state laws unfriendly to useful pointy tools, and need to check against your allowable length, the blade itself is 3-1/8 inches long. Learn more at Spyderco’s website.

Find more great handgunner gifts in the rest of the article on OutdoorHub.com!

Choosing Ammunition for the Springfield Armory XD-S & Other Short Barrel Handguns

The performance of any gun is only as good as the ammunition you put into it. And I’m not just talking about using any quality self-defense ammunition.

One of the reasons that 9mm guns are more effective today than ever before is the performance of modern 9mm ammunition. Of course, improvements are not limited to 9mm – .45 ACP performance, at it’s lower velocity, is also in a golden age.

How do you choose ammunition for short-barrel pocket guns like these Springfield Armory XD-S pistols?

How do you choose ammunition for short-barrel pocket guns like these Springfield Armory XD-S pistols?

Before we talk about some great ammunition options for the Springfield Armory XD-S, we need to spend a minute discussing bullet design.

Modern self-defense expanding ammunition considers opposing factors to gain the best overall performance – penetration and expansion. Both of these attributes are impacted by velocity. More velocity tends to drive expansion at a faster rate. At any given velocity, a bullet can expand less rapidly and penetrate more, or expand more rapidly and penetrate less. It’s kind of like diving into a pool. If you enter the water vertically, with your hands pointed in front of you like an olympic diver, you’ll go deeper. If you jump off the board and do a spectacular belly flop, you won’t go very deep, although you may wish you would quietly sink to the bottom, thereby ending your misery.

When ammunition companies design a specific round, say a 9mm, they will create a bullet that will travel a certain depth into standardized ballistic gelatin at an expected average velocity for the caliber in an “average” gun. So, as an example, ACME Road Runner Blaster 9mm ammo might be expected to fire at 1,150 feet per second from something like a Glock 17. ACME might design the bullet to penetrate somewhere in the 10 to 14 inch range while expanding fully.

Why all this diversion into ammunition design? Here’s why. While there are numerous ifs and caveats, the shorter a handgun barrel is, the lower the velocity of any given bullet. A rule of thumb is that a handgun will generate 50 feet per second less velocity for each inch lost in barrel length. The Springfield Armory XD-S has a 3.3 inch barrel, so when compared to a full size gun with a 5 inch barrel, you might see velocity for any given ammunition reduced by as much as 80 to 100 feet per second. So, when fired from a shorter barrel, a bullet designed to expand properly at 1,100 feet per second may not expand at all when traveling at 1,000 feet per second. Conversely, a bullet designed to expand properly at 1,000 feet per second may over-expand, and not penetrate enough, when fired at 1,100 feet per second. Is this bad? No, just different.

With the huge popularity of compact pistols similar to the XD-S, some ammunition companies, like Speer have designed ammunition optimized for proper performance in shorter barrels. For example, rather than designing a bullet to expand at a desired rate when traveling 1,100 feet per second, they design bullets to expand at the desired rate when traveling at 1,000 feet per second.

What does all this mean? It’s not enough to just buy any old self-defense ammunition off the shelf. You need to carefully choose your ammunition, considering the gun you’re buying it for. In my testing, I’ve found that Speer’s Short Barrel ammunition line is an outstanding option for guns like the Springfield Armory XD-S. Let’s take a look.

Speer Gold Dot 9mm 124 grain Short Barrel Hollow Point

I wanted to test multiple Speer Short Barrel loads, in multiple calibers, from the same gun. The Springfield Armory XD-S presented the perfect opportunity. Except for caliber, capacity and a very slight weight difference, the .45 ACP and 9mm XD-S are identical.

Almost any bullet will expand almost every time if you just shoot it into water, gelatin or even soaking wet newspaper. As I care about at least trying to replicate some degree of real-world performance, I always shoot through some type of barrier like layers of clothing.

For the Speer Gold Dot 9mm Short Barrel test, I got somewhat cranky and put two layers of leather and four layers of fabric in front of my super-duper sophisticated soaking newsprint bullet catcher. That’s a pretty tough barrier, but when you consider things like jackets and coats in cold weather environments, it’s more realistic than nothing.

The Speer Gold Dot 9mm Short Barrel load performed perfectly with this 9mm XD-S. Expansion was perfect after passing through two layers of leather and 4 layers of fabric.

The Speer Gold Dot 9mm Short Barrel load performed perfectly with this 9mm XD-S. Expansion was perfect after passing through two layers of leather and 4 layers of fabric.

As you can see from the photo, the projectiles expanded perfectly – even with the leather and fabric barrier. Being a bonded design, where the jacket of the projectile is chemically bonded to the interior lead core, none of the bullets came apart. Just what you want.

Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel Hollow Point

I’ve found that full weight .45 ACP ammunition is tricky when it comes to expansion. Given the “standard” velocity of a 230 grain .45 ACP projectile at somewhere in the neighborhood of 850 to 900 feet per second, expansion is tough. Every few feet per second of velocity matters when you want the metals in a projectile to spread apart as it travels through tissue. Of course, lots of folks don’t really care as the .45 ACP is a large and heavy bullet even when it doesn’t expand.

But hey, we’ve got modern ammunition technology at our disposal, so I tend to favor ammunition that expands anyway – big .45 bullet or not.

These Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel bullets were shot from an XD-S through four layers of denim and still expanded properly.

These Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel bullets were shot from an XD-S through four layers of denim and still expanded properly.

The Speer Gold Dot .45 ACP 230 grain Short Barrel hollow point has advertised velocity of 820 feet per second out of a three-inch barrel gun. The difference is that the projectile itself is designed to expand with less velocity. I fired the bullets shown here through four layers of denim into a big bucket of thoroughly soaked newsprint. As you can see, expansion was right on target. Pun intended. Like all other Gold Dot projectiles, these bullets are bonded so they stay together except under the most extreme circumstances.

Other Ammunition Options

I test a lot of ammunition and continue to be a big fan of most Speer Gold Dot loads, because they work. I’m especially impressed with the Short Barrel offerings based on how they perform in the Springfield Armory XD-S.

With that said, there are plenty of other options out there. Generally speaking, in a gun with a short barrel like the XD-S, I would personally choose a lighter weight .45 ACP bullet in the 160 to 185 grain range. Why? Velocity. All else equal, a lighter weight bullet is easier to push faster. As we discussed earlier in this chapter, velocity aids expansion. So, in theory, a 160 to 185 grain bullet, moving faster, is more likely to expand when shot from a short barrel gun like the XD-S.

We’re entering opinion territory here and I’m just sharing my personal preference based on the testing I’ve done. Non-expanding, full metal jacket .45 ACP ammunition has performed well for over a century, so you may not care whether your particular choice of bullet is an easy expander or not. That’s OK. My goal here is to help you make a more informed decision, as all ammunition is not the same.

This article is an excerpt from our soon to be released Rookie’s Guide to the Springfield Armory XD-S. Be sure to check out 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

Do You Suffer From A Short Barrel? Try Speer Gold Dot 9mm +P 124 Grain SB!

Look, it’s OK. If you have a short barrel, you need to compensate. The sooner you face that fact, the happier you’ll be. My barrel is about 3 1/2 inches and I’ve learned to deal with it.

But just because your barrel is short, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to achieve great performance. Time after time after time. You’ll be popular, good-looking and fun-loving. Just like in the commercials.

Actually, I have several short barrels. I have a Springfield Armory XD-S. I’ve got a Springfield Armory EMP. And I’ve got a Glock 26. The longest of the bunch is about 3 1/2 inches.

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel ammunition is designed for guns with 3 1/2 inch or shorter barrels, like this Springfield Armory XD-S

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel ammunition is designed for guns with 3 1/2 inch or shorter barrels, like this Springfield Armory XD-S

Why the big fuss about the length of your barrel? Shorter barrels mean lower velocity. Modern self-defense handgun bullets are carefully designed to operate within very specific velocity parameters. Designers need to ensure that hollow-point projectiles will expand, but not over-expand. They need to penetrate, but not over or under-penetrate. All of this delicate balance is designed for an expected velocity range.

if your barrel is shorter than average, your bullet is going to travel at lower velocity. There are 362,176 different factors at play, but you can assume that losing an inch of barrel length will reduce your expected velocity by 20 to 80 feet per second in a handgun. That’s a big rule of thumb, so don’t hold me to the specific numbers in every case. Just know that the velocity of a given projectile from a five-inch barrel is going to be more than the speed of the same bullet fired from a three-inch barrel.

The engineers at Speer have addressed this challenge by designing special loads for compact guns with shorter barrels. The projectiles are designed to expand properly and consistently at lower velocities. So, when you use Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel ammunition in guns with 3 1/2 inch barrels or shorter, you’re going to get proper expansion.

But beware of too much of a good thing. If you use these rounds in full-sized guns, they’ll work. But they will over-expand and therefore under-penetrate. That’s why Speer makes many Gold Dot loads for both standard and short barrel guns.

We tested the Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 9mm +P 124 grain bonded hollow point load in a variety of barrel-challenged pistols and found expansion performance to be excellent. Fired from a 3.3 inch barrel Springfield Armory XD-S through two layers of heavy leather and four layers of fabric, all projectiles expanded properly. None suffered from the “clog up and fail to expand syndrome.”

Bullet expansion performance, even through tough barriers, was excellent.

Bullet expansion performance, even through tough barriers, was excellent.

We tested velocity using our Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet downrange with this load fired from a Springfield Armory EMP 9mm. The EMP has an even shorter barrel than the XD-S at 3 inches even. Average velocity worked out to 1,159 feet per second.

This load performed exactly as advertised, so do yourself a favor. If you suffer from a short barrel, just admit it, and use the right tools for the job. You’ll be more satisfied.

Gun Holster Review: Blackhawk Day Planner Hides Your Gun In Plain Sight

The Blackhawk! Day Planner Holster is available in small and large sizes to accommodate your choice of carry gun. We’ve been testing the large model which has been able to handle all of our full size handguns like Beretta 92s, full size 1911s, full size Glocks, and more.

The Blackhawk! Day Planner Holster - a nifty way to hide your gun in plain sight.

The Blackhawk! Day Planner Holster – a nifty way to hide your gun in plain sight.

The case itself is dedicated to the gun and a spare magazine. There are no compartments for office supplies. This makes sense as you don’t want to be opening this case unless you really, really, need to.

From the outside, it's just an ordinary day planner.

From the outside, it’s just an ordinary day planner.

The day planner features a dual zipper design, so you can configure it to open from either end. Or, keep both zippers centered if you prefer. The two zipper design is important as it allows you to configure the unit specifically to your needs. You can decide on specific orientation of your gun in the case, and which side you want for primary access. Every time you open the day planner, your gun will be oriented in a consistent direction.

The case itself is made from 1000 denier CORDURA® nylon outer material, whatever that is. The important thing is that the material is sturdy and tough. This day planner is not going to wear out until long after the Housewives of Los Angeles stop pole dancing. It also features a form-fitting canvas strap across the spine. It’s just big enough to get your fingers through, but small enough that it doesn’t flop around and catch on things.

The gun is retained by an adjustable strap that attaches to the velcro backing. Did I say velcro? Sorry, I meant to say hook and loop. That’s what all the tactical folks call velcro these days. This strap is made from thick canvas-like material and is adjustable to fit different pistol widths. This band is wide enough to cover the trigger guard area of your pistol or revolver and hold it firmly in place. There is an adjustable elastic cord that can go around the grip or rear of the slide to keep your gun solidly tucked in to the band. A separate velcro-backed piece with an elastic loop is used to secure a spare magazine. Both components are velcro (hook and loop, right?) backed so you can place them independently wherever you like. Just place each in its desired location, test your placement and access with an unloaded gun, and you’re ready to go.

Insanely Practical Tips Guns and Shooting

Insanely Practical Tip

Do NOT leave this behind in the conference room! Staple the carry strap to your hand if you need help remembering!

If you’re the church going type, and it’s permitted in your locale, this makes a great Sunday go to meetin’ carry method as the day planner looks very much like a bible case. Just sayin’ you know?

More gun holster info in our book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters!

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

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

Get the print edition!

Get the Amazon Kindle edition!

Get the Barnes & Noble Nook edition!

Gearing Up for the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Event: Handgun Selection

The “lots and lots of 9mm” vs. “a handful of big .45’s” debate is about as likely to be settled as Michael Moore speaking at the NRA 2014 Annual Meeting.

While most discussion focuses on real-life pros and cons of a magazine full of 9mm ammo vs. seven or eight big and fat .45 ACP’s, I have an opportunity to consider the tradeoffs in a less threatening manner.

Hmmm. Tough choice. Both pistols have compatible light and laser features.

Hmmm. Tough choice. Both pistols have compatible light and laser features.

This August, I’ll be shooting in the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational competition and I need to start thinking about equipment choices. The only constraint I am placing on my decision is the use of Crimson Trace only light and laser gear. Other than that, I’m open to possibilities.

I’m competing in the Range Officer and Media pre-event, so my decision on gear won’t have any impact on the big prize potential. I’m not that fast anyway. So I’m looking at this event as an opportunity to explore viable options for home defense setups and get some dead-of-night practice with light and laser equipped pistols, rifles and shotguns. During the actual competition, I’ll be free to cover the real competitors and report on their gear selections and match performance.

So far, I am strongly considering two handgun options. There’s a third possibility, but it’s a little bit silly. Fun, and certainly dramatic, but silly. I admit it.

Option 1:  Springfield Armory 1911 TRP with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Master Series Lasergrips

Does it make sense for 3 Gun? Not really, but it's SO sweet!

Does it make sense for 3 Gun? Not really, but it’s SO sweet!

This is a high-quality .45 ACP 1911 – we reviewed it a while back and found it to be lacking, well, nothing. With standard factory magazines, it offers 7+1 capacity. Granted, that’s not ideal for the high round count sport of 3 gun shooting.

Right now, I have a set of rosewood Crimson Trace Master Series Lasergrips on this gun. This set features a traditional red laser, which will be fine for nighttime use at the match. However, I just got a set of LG-401G green 1911 Lasergrips. These have black polymer side panels, so they won’t look quite as spiffy as the rosewood grips. On the other hand, the Springfield Armory TRP has a black frame and slide, so there would be that trendy black on black color combination…

This gun also features the Crimson Trace LTG-701 Lightguard for 1911 pistols. While also front-activated, the button is on the underside of the trigger guard. This means that it’s compatible with the Lasergrips. The bottom of your middle finger activates the laser while the side of the same finger activates the light. Nifty.

While I would be severely handicapped by necessity of more frequent magazine changes, isn’t there some benefit to the really satisfying sound that .45 bullets will make hitting those steel targets? And of course, the holes in the paper targets will be impressively large compared to those wimpy 9mm perforations made by my competitors.

Option 2: Glock 17 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips

The safe choice? A Glock Gen 4 with Crimson Trace light and laser?

The safe choice? A Glock Gen 4 with Crimson Trace light and laser?

This one is the safe option. A 17+1 standard magazine capacity, means hardly any, if any magazine changes. I guess that depends on my panic under the clock miss-rate performance though.

I’ve got the Glock 17 Gen 4 configured with a Crimson Trace Lightguard and Crimson Trace LG-850 rear-activated laser. As the Lightguard is front-activated and the Lasergrip rear-activated, these two components are made to work together.

Clearly this is the safe choice. Even now, 9mm ammo is available and (relatively) cheap compared to the other options. Capacity is grande and recoil is minimal so even a moderate shooter like me can do fast follow-up shots. As the steel targets just need to “clang” and not get knocked over, so 9mm has plenty of oomph.

Option 3: Glock 31 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips

Ok, this option really makes no sense at all, as it has less capacity than the Glock 17 9mm and a lot more recoil to manage. I just have a fetish with the .357 Sig cartridge for some unexplainable reason. And it’s my nightstand gun. Remember when I said earlier that one of the goals was to run some realistic home defense gear through the match course?

Although there is one potential benefit to shooting the Glock 31 with its .357 Sig cartridge. The gigantic fireballs and muzzle flash just might temporarily blind the other competitors, allowing me to coast to an un-contested victory. Here’s hoping.

Given my goals for the match, what say you?

A Brief History of Guns: Early 20th Century

Here’s another excerpt from our latest book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting


In the year 1911, John Moses Browning, may God rest his soul, invented the most powerful handgun ever to be created – the 1911. 1911 pistols have been known to take down both a Japanese Zero fighter  and German Storch observation plane in World War II. In fact, some believe that a stray 1911 .45 ACP round inadvertently destroyed the city of Dresden. Technically, Browning produced a similar design in 1905, but the 1911 was deemed “just about six years better” by industry press.


Marquis Nazi Belt Buckle Pistol - NRA National Firearms Museum

Marquis Nazi Belt Buckle Pistol. Photo: NRA National Firearms Museum

The Marquis Belt Buckle pistol, also known informally as the Power Pelvis Gun, was conceived by Louis Marquis while interned in a POW camp during World War I. Frustrated by long chow and loo lines, Marquis was consumed by a desire to exert his authority over other POW’s without drawing the attention of guards – hence the idea for a concealed weapon not requiring the use of hands or traditional holsters. Named the Koppelschlosspistole, the design was patented before the outbreak of World War II.

In order to gain approval for broad scale deployment, Marquis had to prove that average soldiers could easily be trained to use the weapon effectively. As the pistol had no sights, and relied entirely on groovy pelvic gyration to aim, it was assumed that biological instincts would overcome any training obstacles. And of course, the natural male instinct to aim for the toilet.

Not so, according to WWII historian Basil Exposition. “Training soldiers to charge, while aiming with their pelvises, proved more difficult than anticipated” commented Exposition. “Not only was it nearly impossible to run while aiming one’s midsection, it really looked quite effeminate. The enemy was not at all intimidated.”

Recent tests have determined that accuracy and effectiveness are increased if Elvis Presley songs are played at loud volume. Unfortunately for the Germans, Presley was not available to train soldiers in proper hip-aiming techniques.

“The Nazis were quite disappointed with early field trials” explained Exposition. “Until they elected to actively recruit accomplished Salsa dancers. However, there were few Salsa dancers in Nazi Germany at the time, and the program was not considered scalable.”

Stories of experimental crotch rockets, hula hoop grenade launchers, monocle lasers, and garter garrotes persist; although surviving specimens have yet to be found.

1914 − 1918

World War I marked the advent of the machine gun. Unlike mythical “assault weapons” lamented by politicians and their press corps, actual machine guns often require complete crews to operate and supply them. While most machine guns were heavy and placed in fixed positions, some more portable automatic rifles appeared at the end of the war.

One example was the Browning Automatic Rifle. Designed by John Moses Browning, may he rest in peace, the BAR, or M1918, was intended to be operated by a single soldier. Make no mistake, BAR’s were still heavy and cumbersome. In addition to being considered total bro’s by their squad mates, BAR men came to war equipped with a cup, as all good privates should. This allowed privates to better protect their privates. Early BAR men were issued an automatic rifleman’s belt with a special metal “cup” between the BAR magazine pouches and pistol magazine pouch. This cup was intended to support the BAR’s stock as the shooter fired from the hip in a concept called “walking fire.”

The idea behind this was to make an automatic weapon portable enough to accompany advancing troops. The Vickers Machine Gun was a tad too bulky and heavy for this use, even by hunks like BAR men, and the Chauchat Machine Rifle, which was portable, was entirely French in terms of reliability and performance. Enough said.

1929 − 1931

The iconic Walther PPK was introduced by Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen in 1931. The slightly longer and taller Walther PP had been introduced 2 years prior. Considered by many as the one of the first successful double-action semi-automatic pistols, the Walther PPK quickly gained the approval of spy novel author Ian Fleming. Still produced today, the Walther PPK inspired many modern double-action pistols.


Smith & Wesson introduces the .357 Magnum. Is it coincidence that the Black Sunday dust storms that destroyed the midwest occurred in April of that year? We think not. With the .357 Magnum’s muzzle energy exceeding 500 foot-pounds, we think muzzle blast stirred up the dust clouds. Dust storms were immediately banned in all buildings in New York City, with the exception of Department of Motor Vehicles offices.

Stay tuned for the the next phase in firearm history…

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition is available on Amazon.com now!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

A Brief History of Guns: The Smokepole Years…

Continuing on with an excerpt from our new book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition


American pioneers have great success with long, rifled-barrel flintlocks known as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky rifles. Meddling politicians influenced the design of the California Rifle around this time, but adoption was limited due to the fact that it had no barrel, stock or bullets. As guaranteed 30 minute wild game delivery required great accuracy, early riflemen developed skills with their long rifles.

1858 Remington Bison

This reproduction 1858 Remington Bison is an example of a percussion cap revolver. And proof that size matters!

Also during the 1700’s, flintlock pistols replaced swords as the personal defense weapon of choice. In fact, flintlock pistol sets were commonly used for dueling. Dueling was a practice where stubborn men shot at each other from close range in order to settle arguments like “tastes great” vs. “less filling.” Dueling fell out of vogue in the 19th century when astute practitioners figured out that it really, really hurt to get shot.


Scottish Clergyman and international arms dealer Reverend John Forsyth develops the percussion cap. In addition to providing a fine beat to marching bands worldwide, Forsyth’s invention allowed for more reliable ignition of firearm charges. The percussion cap was a small metallic cup, treated with mercuric fulminate – a highly explosive compound that ignites with sharp pressure. With the advent of the percussion caps, guns could be reliably stored in a ready-to-fire condition.


Samuel Colt receives a patent for his revolver design. Horses celebrate as cowboys no longer have to carry the weight of 6 separate single shot flintlock pistols. The Colt design features a revolving cylinder that holds 5 or 6 bullets. Revolvers capable of holding more than one cartridge are immediately banned in New York City. As a result, times are tough for the fledgling Colt company and doors are shut in 1841.


In a corporate resurgence, Samuel Colt teams with Captain Samuel Walker Texas Ranger and introduces the most powerful handgun of the day, after Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum of course. Not wanting to cross Clint Eastwood, the two Samuels abandon plans to name their creation “The Most Powerful Handgun in the World” and call their revolver the Colt Walker. It remained the second most powerful handgun in the world until the introduction of the .357 Magnum 90 years later, at which point Clint Eastwood had shifted focus to making touching romantic films.

1840 − 1870

Up until this time, nearly all guns were “muzzle loaders.” This means that powder and projectiles had to be dumped into the muzzle (front end) of the gun, then stomped like wine grapes down into the barrel. Efforts to stomp powder charges and lead bullets down dirty rifle barrels with bare feet greatly slowed down many important battles. While the invention of the percussion cap made a big difference, things were still slow and cumbersome.

Politicians often had great influence over government arms development.

Politicians often had great influence over government arms development.

Starting in 1840, with the invention of the pin-fire cartridge, guns made the leap from muzzle-loading to breech (back of the barrel) loading. With a self-contained cartridge, shooters could load rifles and revolvers from the back in one smooth motion. No longer did folks have to worry about three separate components – powder, projectile and percussion cap – for each shot.

During this era, Colt held the patent for the revolving cylinder concept, which is still the basis for modern revolver designs. However, it was another partnership between Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson that increased popularity of the self-contained cartridge for revolvers. Smith & Wesson obtained a patent for their design and enjoyed a virtual monopoly on cartridge revolvers until 1869.

As a side note, Horace and Daniel dabbled with a lever-action pistol design, but soon scuttled the idea and sold the rights to Oliver Winchester, a shirt manufacturer. Having had his clock cleaned by low-cost clothing firm, Men’s Wearhouse, Winchester decided to give firearms manufacture a go.


Overjoyed at scoring two suits for the price of one from Men’s Wearhouse, Oliver Winchester releases a series of repeating, lever-action rifles including models 1866, 1873, 1876 and 1886.


Colt begins shipment of its famous Single-Action Army Revolver 1873. Production actually began in 1872, but seeing as Federal Express had not yet been invented, Colt was forced to rely on the Pony Express to fill its distribution channel. This slowed down retail availability considerably. Dubbed The Peacemaker, the Colt Single-Action Army Revolver was featured in many great western movies. And many not very great western movies.

Actor Roger Moore is issued a Colt Single-Action Army Revolver for the upcoming James Bond movies, From Carson City With Love and Gold Rush Finger. Movie production is placed on indefinite hold when Moore fails to come up with a believable cowboy accent. Production assistants also blame the fact that Moore had difficulty walking in chaps without debilitating chafing.


The French Lebel bolt-action rifle is placed into military service. The 8mm Lebel ushered in a new era of military history in that the French actually fielded a weapon. Oh, and the Lebel was the first military rifle to use smokeless powder. Up until this point, battles were often called on account of smoke as opponents could not see each other, or the scoreboard, through the voluminous clouds of black smoke created by gun powder. The advent of smokeless powder allowed battles to proceed in a more orderly fashion. A side benefit of smokeless powder was the ability to propel bullets faster than ever – allowing for longer range and more accurate shooting.

1889 − 1896

Revolvers were here to stay. During this period, both Colt and Smith & Wesson introduced early versions of modern double-action revolvers. The two most important developments were a swing-out cylinder which allowed for easy ejection of spent cartridge cases and load of fresh ones and true double-action operation which allowed shooters to operate the handgun by simply pulling the trigger.


Speaking of swingers, British secret agent James Bond is born in this century.

Stay tuned for the the next phase in firearm history…

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition is available on Amazon.com now!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

Single-Action Handguns: Not Much To Do With Chance Laundromat Encounters

Here’s an excerpt from our brand new book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s the second in the Insanely Practical Guide Series

Single-action is a pretty simple concept. And it has nothing to do with online dating sites, chance encounters at the laundromat or a night on the town with two wild and crazy guys.

A pair of single-action handguns

When a handgun is single-action, whether it’s a pistol or revolver, it does one thing, or action, when you pull the trigger. The descriptor, single-action, must be entirely coincidental right?

While I’m sure there’s an exception out there, in most cases, pressing the trigger of a single-action gun will release a hammer or striking contraption of sorts, allowing it to strike a firing pin that whacks the back of a cartridge and ignites it. So, pressing the trigger does one action – which results in firing the gun.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Some single-action guns need to be manually cocked between each shot. Perhaps the best example of this is the traditional cowboy six gun, or single-action revolver. The shooter must “cock the hammer” to prepare it for the single-action release by a trigger press. In old western movies, this is done really fast – sometimes with the shooter smacking the hammer with one hand while holding the trigger down with the other.

Gun words explained - Insanely Practical Guides

Hammer [ham-er]

- Noun

  1. The part of a firearm designed to provide energy to the firing pin in order to strike the primer of a cartridge. Some hammers, such as those on older revolvers, have the firing pin attached to the hammer and directly impact the primer. Others, generally on more modern designs, impact a transfer bar or mechanism to provide energy to the firing pin. The hammer of a gun does not have to be exposed or visible. For example, the Smith and Wesson 642 revolver and M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle both have internal hammers.
  2. Easily confused with similar terms. For example, Hammer Time is not an appropriate usage in the context of guns. Unless you got slick moves and a pair of parachute pants capable of providing wind power for San Francisco or maybe smuggling dozens of illegal immigrants across the border. Otherwise, you can’t touch this.

Important Safety Tip: While it’s OK to cock your hammer, don’t ever hammer your… Ummm. Never mind.

However, just because a gun is single-action does not mean it has to be manually cocked between each shot. Some single-action designs, like the 1911 pistol, are cocked for the first shot. Each subsequent shot uses the recoil action to automatically cock the hammer for the next shot. Since the trigger still does only one thing, release the hammer, these guns are still considered single-actions.

Ruger single-action revolver

So what’s the big deal about single-action handguns?

Generally speaking – again, I’ll bet a nickel someone will find an exception – single-action guns have relatively light triggers since the trigger only serves to release the hammer. That doesn’t take a lot of pressure. A light trigger pull makes for a gun that is easier to shoot accurately. It’s not technically more accurate, just easier to shoot accurately. This is because the force of your finger is less likely to pull the sights off target. If it takes 8 pounds of pressure to press the trigger, and the gun only weighs 2 pounds, then the shooter really has to concentrate to keep that gun perfectly still during a trigger press. On the other hand, if the trigger press requires 2 pounds, and the gun weighs 3 pounds, then the shooter is less likely to pull the gun off target while pressing the trigger.

So, all of that is a fancy way of saying that many folks like single-action guns because they can be easy to shoot accurately.

There’s a lot more to consider when deciding whether to use a single-action gun, so for now, let’s just stick to the definitions. We’ll talk about pros and cons later in the book.

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

A Brief History of Guns, The Early Years…

Here’s an excerpt from our brand new book, The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition. It’s part of the Insanely Practical Guides series and is loaded with light-hearted education, lots of helpful photos and some comedic relief. Hope you enjoy!

Before there were guns...

Before there were guns…

Guns have been annoying politicians longer than you might think. Before we jump into modern day firearm knowledge, let’s take a look at the long and winding road of gun history…

1,100 BC

Legends of the earliest known uses of guns have been passed down through generations of Zoran women. Historians believe that many women folk of Zorah, then near Philistine, gushed and swooned at the sight of Samson’s guns. According to the folklore, Samson had two guns, of exceptionally large caliber. Also according to history, he used those guns on more than one occasion – smiting at least one lion and many Philistine warriors. Sadly, the Zoran Congress, led by Senator Delilah of Timna, Philistia, soon enacted an assault hair ban and Samson was stripped of his guns.


1250 AD

Most historians believe that the key ingredient required to make all those useless guns work was invented around this time. In fact, NRA National Firearms Museum Director Jim Supica claims that Franciscan monk Roger Bacon wrote of the mixture shortly before 1250 A.D. That was an awfully long time ago – just after the birth of Joan Rivers.

Anyway, according to Bacon’s ancient texts, the lute and dulcimer trio of Guns and Roses discovered gunpowder while searching for better ways to wow the crowd at outdoor concerts. The forward-thinking band found that a mixture of charcoal, sulphur and salt peter provided plenty of noise and flash for bitchin’ stage theatrics. Salt Peter, Saint Peter’s long-lost stepbrother, was not at all happy about this recipe and he immediately started work on development of smokeless powders that did not require any of his bodily parts. Progress was slow as smokeless powder was not invented until the late 19th century.



The earliest cannons appeared on the scene. After all, what good was the newly invented gunpowder without something to shoot it from? Early cannons were quite simple – nothing more than a tube open on one end and closed at the other. A small hole near the closed end allowed cannoneers to light a powder charge inside. Crudely constructed from iron, wood and sometimes Mighty Putty, these weapons applied the same basic principles used by guns today.



While loud and impressive, early cannons did little to meet self-defense requirements. Since gun holsters had not yet been invented, concealed carry was not feasible. Hunting with the newly invented firearms was also problematic as many animals were reluctant to stand in front of cannons long enough to be converted to SPAM. In response to complaints of supermarket butchers everywhere, the “hand-gonne” was invented. Simply a downsized cannon mounted on a pole, the hand-gonne struggled for popularity mainly because no one knew how to pronounce the word “gonne.”


1400 to 1639

Clearing up name confusion, people stopped making “hand-gonnes” and replaced them with matchlocks and wheellocks. Matchlock guns featured an exposed flash pan filled with fine – and easy to ignite – priming powder, which would light the main charge to fire the gun. A dangling, and lit, fuse was suspended over the flashpan. A mechanical linkage was used to lower the smoldering fuse into the highly combustible flash pan. Occasionally, the matchlocks would fire when the user wanted, but usually before, after or not at all.



The gun company Beretta is founded in the Foccacia region of Italy, in a town called Brescia. Having made guns prior to this date, company founder Ben Cartwright achieves his first commercial success with production of 185 Arquebus Matchlock barrels for the Arsenal of Venice. The British Secret Service, Double-0 branch, is issued the 186th Arquebus. England quietly canceled the Double-0 program when it was discovered that matchlock rifles concealed poorly under dinner jackets.



The first kinda, sorta reliable flintlock was built. Some astute marketers even guaranteed their flintlocks to be 31% reliable, 67% of the time. Offering major advancements in luxury and comfort, such as heated drivers-side seats, the flintlock allowed shooters to carry their guns pretty much anywhere, except schools and government buildings, of course. As the flintlock features a covered flash pan for priming powder, users could even take their guns into rainy conditions. No longer would major World Wars endure rain delays, thereby minimizing network television scheduling challenges.

As a side note, the phrase “keep your powder dry” came into vogue during the flintlock era. As guns of the time relied on ignition of two separate powder charges – one in the flash pan and one in the barrel – keeping powder dry and flammable was a requirement of guns going bang instead of fzzzlpphhtt.

Stay tuned for the the next phase in firearm history…

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition is available on Amazon.com now!

The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition from Insanely Practical Guides

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