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Operationally Ready

There are many ways to do something right the wrong way. For instance, carrying a handgun for self defense is the right choice for many people, but with an empty chamber is the wrong way.

Comfort is a State of Mind

This came about through conversations I recently had in two different states. It was interesting this subject could be brought up within a week across so many miles. Both conversations were centered around carrying concealed and both had comfort at their core. The users were not comfortable carrying with a live round in the chamber. This is a more common occurrence as we see more people entering the concealed carry world. I don’t see as much wrong with this idea for the simple reason many who would not carry are carrying. Granted they might not be doing it the way I would, but it is a start. My belief is as they grow as a student they learn more about the best way to manage their carry loadout. With time they realize there is a better way.

In One Ear and Out the Other

It is important to understand why folks are not comfortable. You can tell them what they are doing is not ideal, even wrong, but you more than likely will not make any headway. When I was asked this question I wanted to understand the reason so I could better address the issue. If they are afraid to carry a live round in the chamber because they don’t feel safe is it because of their holster. If they don’t like the idea of carrying a live round in the chamber holstered inside the waistband then carrying on the waistband may be a good way to breach this obstacle. If they are concerned they may shoot themselves then explaining how to safely draw from the holster is a great place to start. Many times what seems simple to many is overly complex and intimidating to others.

Highest State of Readiness

In some cases, there is the notion during a lethal force encounter you will be able to chamber a round to bring the handgun to the highest state or readiness. My suggestion is to always holster a handgun for self-defense in the highest state of readiness. Make this part of your loading procedures; which will help build familiarity. This familiarity will bring confidence in the process. The reality is while there may be some who can do it scripted and planned they are largely based on having both extremities available. While you may be able to use a one handed technique why would you engage “hard” mode so early in a critical incident. Time is of the essence and no matter the technique, all things being equal it is slower.

The Ready Position

Perhaps the biggest issue for me is how carrying an empty chamber greatly reduces your ability to draw your handgun to a ready position. All to often we forget this very important skill. Yes, you may need to draw your handgun and go straight to the target to stop the threat. If you opt to carry an empty chamber you give up the utility of drawing to the ready position. You of course, could charge the handgun and return to the ready, but then what will you do if the threat is stopped and you have to holster up. If you were willing to holster a loaded handgun in that situation, why not start that way. Of course, the flip side is you are not and then feel compelled to unload to re-holster. Something else to consider is if you do charge the handgun have you escalated the situation. If you are looking at charging the handgun akin to racking the action of a shotgun there are bigger issues beyond the scope of this article.

If you have concerns about carrying a handgun then try to address the root cause. Use education and training as your roadmap to overcoming anything that could give you a false sense of security.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

On the Mark…or not

I get asked what I carry on a regular basis. I try to deflect the question or ask it back by getting to know their needs.

The Good, the Bad and the Bullet

At some point the conversation will evolve to defensive ammunition. For self defense, whether in the home or out in public you will need to consider some type of high performance round designed to fit your needs. When we define our needs, we narrow the field of options. More importantly, you identify what is important. What you should focus on, to the point it is a “go/no go”. If it doesn’t meet certain performance objectives you look for better alternatives despite all the hype or “celebrity” endorsements.

The Return of the 9mm

We have seen the ammunition world evolve big time over the last couple of years. First, when the FBI announced they were going back to the 9mm service wide. It didn’t take long for just about everyone else to follow suit. There are still hold outs here and there, but they will come around with time. Of the current selection of high performance defensive rounds; which ones best fulfill the average citizen. Most defensive ammunition is designed for law enforcement who’s mission or needs might differ. The possibility of penetrating intermediate barriers is very unlikely so do you need a round that excels in this capacity, but gives up ground on other fronts.

Possible, but not Probable

For the average citizen defending his person, loved ones or home it may be possible, but not probable they will have to shoot through an intermediate barrier such as a car door, interior wall or safety glass. One thing to remember is you will have to justify your actions for using deadly force. While you might have chosen ammunition that performs well here, was it the best choice. I am far more likely to recommend looking for a defensive round that reliably goes bang every time you pull the trigger and penetrates to a minimum depth of 12 inches. The often overlooked piece to this puzzle is our ability to hit the target with the defensive round.

Trust, but Verify

While you might have selected the most awesome defensive round currently available what if you fail to hit the target. Will it really matter how cool the box looks or a clever marketing slogan. Probably not. Yes, you will have to train and train hard to have reliable skills for deadly force encounters. This includes knowing the performance of your defensive ammunition selection. I encourage you to buy enough of your intended selection so you can test it yourself. Maybe not elaborate gelatin testing, but you can test for reliability and functionality through your chosen defensive handgun. If it doesn’t feed reliability or function in your handgun, you need to look hard at your choice.

What’s Point of Impact

Once you start shooting the defensive rounds you may notice something different. Typically they will have more felt recoil due to the rounds be loaded for higher velocities; which should equate to improved terminal performance. You may also notice less flash since most use powder with flash retardant properties. The most interesting attribute you may notice is a difference in accuracy. While most defensive rounds are built to be more accurate they are still not match grade. The biggest difference is the shift from point of aim/point of impact between your training round. It is not often you see these two sync up so the best solution is to shoot them enough you understand the difference so if you need to take a high percentage shot you know precisely where to aim.

Nothing is free, you cannot expect much from your gear if you don’t know the gear’s limits. Take the time and make the investment to learn not just about the performance, but where the performance ends.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

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