Shooting Myth: A Laser Will Only Give Away Your Position!

The benefits of surefire aim in low-light conditions and flexibility for shooting from unconventional positions far outweigh any realistic risk of "giving away your position" when using a firearm-mounted laser.

The benefits of surefire aim in low-light conditions and flexibility for shooting from unconventional positions far outweigh any realistic risk of “giving away your position” when using a firearm-mounted laser.

I’ve been a big fan of lasers on handguns for years. At first, this was because they sounded great on paper. After actually running around shooting in the dark at various training events and nocturnal competitions, my “fanboy” meter has maxed out.

But to be really clear, I want to stress that I am talking about gun laser applications for home defense and self-defense. Not door kicking in Afghanistan. Or serving no-knock warrants with the Department of Education’s new SWAT Team. Or anything else “offensive.” See what I did there?

I’ve had all sorts of responses to my discussion on lasers for home defense. One commenter informed me that a laser would clearly show my position and a sniper positioned 600 yards away, who would subsequently easily take me out. I don’t know about you, but I don’t anticipate this event in my home defense scenario—at least until civilization breaks down into a post-apocalyptic battle zone. I’ll take the risk that my burglar has not had the foresight to set up sniper overwatch in the nearest cell tower.

To put the discussion in perspective, let’s walk through a potential home defense scenario. It’s the middle of the night. It’s pitch-dark. You are sound asleep in your bedroom. You are awakened by the sound of crashing glass, which indicates someone has just entered your house. By the time you wake up and figure this out, they are probably already in your house. This is a defensive, not offensive, situation.

Now what? I don’t know about you, but my goal is simple. Get that person and/or their friends out of my house before they cause harm to me and/or my family. If that person happens to get hurt in the process of achieving the goal, then that’s an occupational hazard of breaking into peoples’ homes in the middle of the night. But that’s not my primary goal. Encouraging them to turn tail and leave is far easier for all involved than splashing them all over my new duvet cover.

Pretty simple goal right?

In order to think through my best plan for home defense, I’ll take this goal into consideration first, then apply the most likely scenarios I might encounter. Most likely scenarios. This is where folks get all wrapped around the axle when it comes to using gun-mounted lasers.

Stop and think for minute about the most likely scenario you could encounter in your home. Who is that person that just broke into your house? Is it a team of trained ninja marksman who intend to engage in a cat-and-mouse running shootout in your home, just like on TV? Were you waiting in your laundry room sniper hide anticipating their arrival? Maybe, but not likely. The more likely scenario is that some crackhead is looking to steal your Xbox to fund their next fix. And they woke you up. And they’re already in your house by the time you get your wits about you and get moving.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

10 Worst Examples of Gun Advice From the Internet

Apparently I’ve taken on a task that is simply not possible without violating several laws of our physical universe – picking only 10 of the worst pieces of shooting advice from across the vast and vacuous expanse known as the internet.

I stopped counting at 32,987,412,318. But no worries, I’ll persevere.

If someone starts talking to you about "knockdown power" they better be talking about one of these.

If someone starts talking to you about “knockdown power” they better be talking about one of these.

Here we go, drum roll please…

1. A weapon light or laser will just give away your position!

If the self-defense scenarios swirling around your brain involve moving ninja fights in the dark that emulate Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon moves, you’re absolutely right!

A weapon light will give away your position, and your tactical pose hanging from the chandelier will be compromised. (Tweet This)

In real life, the benefits of seeing where and / or what you’re shooting at far outweigh any realistic disadvantages of “giving away your position.” One more thing, make it a point to tell the hundreds of thousands of military and law enforcement personnel who mount weapon lights and lasers on their guns specifically for the purpose of fighting in the dark that this is a tactical blunder. What do they know anyway?

2. To defend your home, blast your shotgun through the front door!

We all know that politicians are (self-defined) experts in all things. Some of the best (worst!) gun advice in recent history comes from our very own Vice President. “If you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.” While blasting your shotgun through the door may help you drill a hole for one of those handy peep holes, it won’t help your legal cause in any way, shape or form. Most likely, this strategy will send you straight to jail. Just ask the Virginia Beach man who actually did this when confronted with two armed and masked home invaders. The bad guys escaped, but the Biden disciple was charged with a crime. The “Biden Defense” is just not likely to yield a positive outcome. Come on, we all know politicians are immune from repercussions of bad behavior. It’s an expected part of the job.

3. Don’t use an AR-15 for home defense!

With all this negativity, we should offer some helpful advice: Always keep one hand on the wheel while shooting a tactical rifle from a golf cart.

With all this negativity, we should offer some helpful advice: Always keep one hand on the wheel while shooting a tactical rifle from a golf cart.

You might have heard from internet commandos that a “high-powered” .223 round will go clear through your interior and exterior walls, Margaritaville machine, and most of Montana!

Or maybe that if you torch off a .223 round indoors, the building will explode! (Tweet This)

Actually, most standard AR-15 ammunition will only go through a few pieces of interior drywall with any significant energy. The projectiles are light and traveling extremely fast. This combination results in rapid tumbling and fragmentation when barriers are hit. While there may be other factors in the pro / con debate of using AR-15′s for home defense, over penetration is not one of them – especially when compared to pistol ammunition and buckshot. Of course, exceptions apply if you choose to use ammunition designed to penetrate.

4. You should carry your self-defense gun with the chamber empty.

Unless your self-defense gun is a single-action revolver with a hammer mounted firing pin, that’s almost always bad advice. If you think you can simply keep an eye on things around you so you have plenty of time to draw your gun, and rack the slide, in the event of an attack, try a Tueller drill sometime. It’s enlightening and will quickly relieve you of any security gained by carrying with an empty chamber.

Also, please write Hollywood and tell them to stop racking the slide every time someone is about to fire a gun. It’s a waste of perfectly good pretend ammunition. (Tweet This)

5. I only train for head shots.

Some of the couch commando elite speak of training for head shots to defeat body armor and perhaps save ammunition during these tough economic times. On the range, a cardboard target is pretty darn easy to hit anywhere you like. Now try that while running full speed. Then try that while you and the target are running full speed. Then try it when everyone is running full speed, shouting, and the target is trying to kill you. Enough said.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

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

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 Ammo

I had a lot of fun with the “Seven Deadly Sins of Handgun Shooting” series a couple of months ago, and hope you did too. I got to thinking about other sins—yeah, I know, thinking can hurt your brain—and it occurred to me that there are plenty of deadly sins when it comes to concealed carry. There are way more than seven, but as “Seven Deadly Sins” is kind of a thing, I’ll pick out seven interesting, and relevant, ones.

Ready? Let’s get started.

If you’ve ever seen a Wallace and Gromit movie, then you know that The Wrong Trousers can get you in a lot of trouble. So can the wrong ammunition. Using inappropriate ammo can ruin not only your life, but someone else’s too.

Good self-defense ammunition comes in all shapes and sizes. The fourth round standing from the left is a 9mm full metal jacket practice round. The one on the far right is a Federal Guard Dog expanding full metal jacket round.

Good self-defense ammunition comes in all shapes and sizes. The fourth round standing from the left is a 9mm full metal jacket practice round. The one on the far right is a Federal Guard Dog expanding full metal jacket round.

Don’t use practice ammo

Good self-defense ammunition is designed to expand, deform, or otherwise slow down when it hits things.

Good self-defense ammunition is designed to expand, deform, or otherwise slow down when it hits things.

I would classify “practice ammo” as anything designed to be frangible (for indoor or steel target shooting) or with a full metal jacket. Don’t get me wrong, practice ammo is not sub-par—it’s just designed for a different purpose than self-defense ammo. You can buy excellent and accurate practice ammo from all the reputable ammo companies. Some of it is designed especially for matches and is exceedingly accurate—with a corresponding price tag.

Good self-defense ammunition is designed to expand, deform, or otherwise slow down when it hits things.

As good as it might be, practice ammo is designed to follow a straightforward sequence of events: go bang. Fly straight. Punch a hole in a piece of paper. Plow into a big dirt, rubber, or steel backstop. Practice ammo is not designed to deform, fragment, or expand when it hits an organic target. While it may still have fatal results, it’s less effective at stopping a determined attacker rapidly.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub!

Is The AR-15 Appropriate For Home Defense? Part 1: Penetration Issues

To find out how an AR-15 penetrates interior walls, I built some---and then shot 'em up with a bunch of .223 Remington ammo.

To find out how an AR-15 penetrates interior walls, I built some—and then shot ‘em up with a bunch of .223 Remington ammo.

Is an AR-15 appropriate for home defense? That’s a really big question, isn’t it? Way too big a question for a single article to address in adequate detail. So we’ll look at one issue at a time.

First, since AR-15 rifles cause all nature of mainstream media histrionics, we’ll consider the “high-power” issue, which in a practical sense, translates to penetration. If you torch off a .223 Remington or 5.56mm round indoors, will the building explode? Listening to the news, you might think so.

More rational, and less pants-wetting thoughtful consideration yields a different conclusion when we look at penetration specifically. If you shoot an AR-15 inside your home or apartment, and miss your target, will the projectile continue to pass through interior walls, exterior walls, cars, dump trucks, and eventually the nearest ocean before embedding itself deep under the sea floor?

These are curious questions. Being curious, I decided to build some very small walls and shoot them with an AR-15. I shall call them mini-walls.

I shall call them…mini-walls. I built four in total, each with drywall on both sides.

I shall call them…mini-walls. I built four in total, each with drywall on both sides.

When considering home defense options, from strictly a penetration point of view, the basic question is: what will over-penetrate through walls, furniture, and your shiny new Ninja Blender? A heavier and slower pistol round, or a very light and fast rifle round?

The thing about light and fast bullets is that they tend to get upset–specifically, fragment or tumble—when they hit harder things like walls or furniture. Tumbling and fragmenting both result in a very rapid loss of velocity and energy, therefore a lightweight rifle projectile going somewhere around 3,000 feet per second may actually have less unwanted penetration than a pistol round traveling in the 1,000 feet per second range.

Before sharing results, I should present a couple of disclaimers.

  • I suck at construction, so if you are a professional carpenter, just hold your lunch down while looking at the photos of my mini-wall construction efforts. I’m only shooting them to pieces, not putting them in my house.
  • I didn’t paint the walls. This may sound trivial, but several coats of dried paint are hard, and likely to make some difference in the rate that lightweight, high-velocity bullets break apart.
  • The walls are close together. As you’ll see, some of the projectiles started fragmenting pretty quickly. If they had more time to spread out before hitting the next wall, I suspect they would have lost a lot of energy. Think of a shotgun pattern. When the pellets are still “clumped” together at short-range, there’s more penetration than when they spread out to a three-foot pattern a little further out.
  • I’m not a ballistic scientist. I just got curious, decided to do some basic testing, and share what I found. Do with the findings what you will.

With all that said, I looked at two different “interior wall” simulations. In one scenario, I used drywall (Sheetrock) only. I assumed the projectiles only hit drywall material of multiple walls. For the other scenario, I added a piece of 3/8-inch particle board between walls one and two—just to simulate junk inside walls like cross beams, furniture, or any number of other things besides wallboard that may be inside a home. All shooting was done from “indoor” ranges of five yards.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

Lessons From The Playhouse: A LaserMax And Gunsite Adventure

What can you learn from a playhouse? Life-saving tips, actually.

Step 1 of the house clearing exercise - opening the door. The Glock is equipped with a Simunitions conversion and the new LaserMax Native Green laser.

Step 1 of the house clearing exercise – opening the door. The Glock is equipped with a Simunitions conversion and the new LaserMax Native Green laser.

I just returned from a few days at Gunsite Academy – one of the nations premier shooting academies located just outside of Prescott, Arizona. That’s pronounced more like “biscuit” by the way, not “Scott.” You may also know of Prescott as Sturm, Ruger and Company builds most of their pistols there. It’s a gun friendly place to say the least.

I ended up at Gunsite thanks to the good folks at LaserMax. They’ve got some big news that will ripple through the laser sighting industry over the next couple of years – Native Green technology. We’ll talk more about that next week when I write a separate article on Native Green laser technology. For now, just be aware that green laser light is currently generated by shooting an infrared laser through some ‘magic’ crystals to “create” green light. Native Green lasers generate bright green light right off the bat with no conversion required.

Chris is not telling me how awesomely tactical I am. He's telling me to stop "water skiing" and that I just shot the bad guy in the hand.

Chris is not telling me how awesomely tactical I am. He’s telling me to stop “water skiing” and that I just shot the bad guy in the hand.

The LaserMax team enlisted the Gunsite staff to help us test out the new LaserMax Native Green lasers in a variety of scenarios, one of which was clearing the famous Gunsite Playhouse. The Playhouse is a specially constructed building designed to simulate a home or business with multiple rooms, hallways and hidden corners and nooks. In other words, it has lots of places for innocent bystander and bad guy targets to hide. The Playhouse is set up to handle either live fire from real guns or Simunitions marking projectile rounds. We used Glocks configured with Simunitions conversions so we could easily see hits. Using Simunitions in the Playhouse also allowed us to take pictures from a catwalk above during the exercises without risk of losing photographers to friendly fire.

I’m an experienced shooter and have taken a number of self-defense shooting classes. One predictable outcome from every training experience is that there are always leaning epiphanies. This time was no different.

First, I must stress how much our Gunsite Rangemasters, Mike Moore and Chris Weare, emphasized that you never, ever, ever, ever want to clear a house on your own. It’s a bad tactic and you’re at a major disadvantage from the start. The purpose of this drill was to learn some basic clearing techniques in the event you had to “clear” a building in order to get out of it, or perhaps reach a loved one in trouble. If you ever arrive at your home or business and see signs that there’s been a break in, back up and call 911. Don’t go in on your own.

We were given minimum instructions: open the front door and “deal” with things. That’s it. At the end of my three or four minute house clearing, I thought about what went right and what went wrong.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

10 Things I Like About the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield

Less than one inch wide, the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield packs up to 8+1 rounds of 9mm.

Less than one inch wide, the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield packs up to 8+1 rounds of 9mm.

Much has been said about the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Shield. A true pocket-sized 9mm, it’s smaller in almost all dimensions (except height) than a Glock 26 and can easily be concealed in a milliondy-seven different ways. Pocket, inside the waistband or outside the waistband holster, ankle, purse, fanny pack, crotch carry holster, you name it. The less-than-one-inch width goes a long way to making this handgun exceptionally portable.

Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1963 Even with the Crimson Trace LG-489 Laser installed, it weighs almost exactly the same as my morning cup of coffee. Coincidence? I think not. Both are life-saving devices and daily necessities.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1935 I like that it’s a 9mm. Of course you can now get the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield in .40 Smith & Wesson. Although 9mm and .380 ACP have lot’s of similarities on paper, I see a noticeable performance difference when each load is shot through tough clothing barriers. The extra velocity of the 9mm helps it expand more reliably than most of the .380 loads I’ve tested. I’ve found the Shield to be a very controllable gun, even with its small size and light weight. It’s a gun that’s enjoyable to shoot just for fun, unlike many other pocket cannons.
Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1960 The Shield has a positive safety. Without getting into the debate of whether or not you need one on a striker-fired pistol, I will say that it’s comforting on a gun that may be carried in a pocket holster. The safety lever is inset to the frame and unlikely to move without deliberate action, so you can choose to carry with the safety engaged or not. Moving from safe to fire position is very easy with the shooting hand thumb, assuming you’re right handed. The safety is not ambidextrous, so lefties have a little more work to do.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1933 I like that the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield will fire with its magazine removed. I don’t really appreciate that the lawyers at Smith & Wesson chose to print “CAUTION – CAPABLE OF FIRING WITH MAGAZINE REMOVED” right on the slide of an otherwise very attractive pistol. Can someone please put the lawyers back in their aquarium?
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1928 I like the capacity options. The more concealable standard magazine gives the Shield 8 (7+1) rounds of 9mm while the extended magazine adds one more for a total of 9 rounds. This is a great compromise of capacity versus size.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1940 Both front and rear sights are dovetail mounted and easily adjustable for windage. I found elevation on the test gun to be right on target. Notice how the rear sight surface is grooved to reduce glare around the sighting dots.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1937 The trigger on the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield simply rocks. For a striker-fired pistol, it’s exceptionally smooth and crisp. It’s got just about 1/4 inch of take-up prior to a 6.5 pound crisp break. If you like to keep your finger in place until reset, you can count on just about 1/4 inch forward travel before a positive reset click. The Shield has one of the best striker design triggers on the market.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1936 The flush magazine configuration with 7+1 capacity makes this a true pocket gun. Try it with a Galco Pocket Pro holster! I like this configuration with the extended magazine stowed elsewhere as a backup.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1931 I dig the grip texture. It’s sure, even with sweaty hands, but you don’t lose traction during shots. Even more importantly, when using an Inside the waistband holster like the Galco Stow-N-Go, it won’t abrade your insides nearly as much as Gilbert Godfried’s voice abrades your ears.
Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1962 How about a grip-activated laser? The Crimson Trace LG-489 Laser for the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield mounts just in front of the trigger guard. Just grip the pistol and the laser is on. Couldn’t be simpler.

Ammo Test: Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 Grain Self-Defense Ammunition

One thing I’ve found testing thousands of rounds of ammunition through a wide variety of traditional, and sometimes non-traditional, targets is that you can’t generalize. Broad generalizations just don’t hold up. I mean, there’s the obvious exception of Justin Bieber – ALL of his songs are roughly comparable to pre-gelatinized narwhal poop, but in most other things, you need to evaluate each and every unique circumstance independently.

It’s the same with ammunition. You can just say Brand X is a good performer in each caliber and each specific loading within a caliber. So the 9mm ++P+++ 124 grain load of Fire-Breathing Death Harpoon Ammo expands every single time, but does the .380 90 grain load of that same brand perform as it should? Not necessarily. You need to test your desired carry load, in your specific gun to know how it performs.

So, even though I’ve had great success with all of the Speer Gold Dot loads tested to date, I’m gradually working my way through the product line to try them all.

Speer Gold Dot 40 SW 155 grain self-defense ammo

Expansion performance of the Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 grain load was excellent and velocity was just as expected.

Recently I spent some quality time with the Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 grain load. At the lighter end of the .40 caliber spectrum, I expected to get some serious velocity out of this one. And with expanding hollow point ammo, velocity is king when it comes to consistent expansion performance.

Standout features of the Speer Gold Dots include a bonded-core construction and a two-stage hollow point cavity construction. Bonded-core construction “melds” the copper jacket and lead core so they are not two separate layers. This allows the projectiles to stay together regardless of barriers encountered. Penetration is boringly consistent as almost all projectile weight is retained. The two-stage hollow point core construction process allows the gurus at Speer to control both diameter and rate of expansion. Basically, they can match projectile performance to caliber and expected real-world velocity.

Speer Gold Dot 40 SW 155 grain

That black stuff in the hollow point core is leather. So the projectile got completely clogged, yet still expanded perfectly.

I shot a bunch of this out of a Beretta PX4 Storm. The PX4 Storm full-size model features a 4.0″ barrel, so I expected measured velocity to approach, but not quite meet the factory specs.

First I checked actual velocity out of the Beretta PX4 Storm. Using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet downrange, I clocked the Speer Gold Dot .40 S&W 155 grain load at an average of 1,169 feet per second, or just over 30 feet per second below the factory spec of 1,200 feet per second. This works out just about right assuming the factory tests velocity using a standard 5″ test barrel. That extra inch should easily account for 30 feet per second velocity improvement. So, doing a little serious math, the actual energy of this load, out of my Beretta PX4, works out to 470 foot-pounds actual measured energy. This compared to 496 on the Speer Gold Dot website.

I also wanted to get an indication of expansion performance when projectiles were shot through common and expected barriers for self-defense situations. I set up two layers of leather and 4 layers of light canvas in front of a pile-o-wetpack – a fancy word for soaking wet newspaper. I snapped photos of a few representative samples, but every single projectile demonstrated excellent expansion performance. This has been a consistent observation with the Speer Gold Dot line. The bonded projectiles don’t seem to suffer from heavy material barriers. The three projectiles in the photo measured .583, .685 and .652 inches in diameter after expansion. Not too shabby.

Like the other Speer Gold Dot loads we’ve tested so far, this is excellent self-defense ammunition.

You can get it at Brownells

Cci/Speer Cci/Speer Gold Dot Handgun Ammunition
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Holster Review: Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder Holster

The original design behind the Galco Miami Classic II shoulder holster is way older than Don Johnson’s Miami Vice character. In fact, it was launched by the Famous Jackass Leather Company (Galco’s former name) in 1970. The original models were made for the Chicago Police Department.

But Hollywood does have a habit of latching on to cool things. In James Cann’s 1981 movie Thief, he wore an original Jackass rig. By 1984, a weird series of events led to actor Don Johnson carrying his Bren 10 (and later Smith & Wesson 645 and 4506) in a Jackass shoulder holster rig for the hit series Miami Vice. And the Miami Classic holster was born.

Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder Holster

Galco Miami Classic II Shoulder Holster shown with a Springfield Armory 1911 TRP

I’ve been wearing a Galco Miami Classic II shoulder holster almost daily for several months and I’m starting to get spoiled. Wow. This is an incredibly comfortable setup — even for carrying a large, heavy gun like a full-sized Springfield Armory TRP 1911. And the design lends itself to carrying spare magazines with equal comfort and ease.

Galco Miami Classic II front

Galco Miami Classic II shoulder holster in use

The Miami Classic II shoulder holster is really a holster system. A “spider” harness consists of a custom Kydex panel in the back with 4 swivel joints. Leather straps are connected to the Kydex plate. These leather straps form two “loops” that go around your arms. From the back, you see an “X” pattern of leather straps, but the front just has a single strap coming over each shoulder and disappearing behind each arm. The idea is that you wear a jacket or blazer that’s open in the front to hide the leather straps, holster and magazine pouches.

The gun winds up positioned in a cross draw position — horizontal with the muzzle pointed straight backward. The magazines hang on the strong side and are accessible with your support hand.

As this is a system, Galco offers interchangeable holster and magazine carrier modules. You can buy one harness system with different gun holsters and different magazine carriers. Our test model included a 1911 gun holster with a dual single-stack magazine carrier. The magazines were also positioned horizontally and we found access to be consistent and fast. As a side note, Galco offers a 4 magazine carrier option if you need to gear up.

Galco Miami Classic Belt Straps

The optional belt straps really increase overall stability.

Comfort with the Miami Classic II rig is outstanding, whether standing, sitting, walking, running, biking or driving. Having the gun on one side and magazines on the other resulted in a very balanced setup with all the weight easily distributed across both shoulders.

If you’re going to use this setup, there are a couple of things to be aware of. Muzzle and trigger discipline are the first. In the carry position, the muzzle points straight behind you. Also, when you do any sort of cross draw, the muzzle can cover people and things that are located on your support side. Practice with a muzzle down swing can minimize this risk. Just be aware of these issues before considering a shoulder or cross draw carry option.

Obviously you’ll need some type of appropriate cover garment for the Miami Classic II shoulder holster. Blazers, suits, and open jackets are perfect. We found that the Miami Classic II shoulder holster encouraged us to “dress up” a little more than usual. While you may not get scouted for a starring role in a new detective series, you’ll still look suave while carrying.

You can find the Galco Miami Classic Holster at Brownells.com

Galco International Miami Classic Shoulder System
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The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - Now available at Amazon.com

The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters – Now available at Amazon.com

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