Monday, March 26, 2012

My Gun is Better Than Your Gun! (CCW Part 1)

Part 1 of 3 on CCW or Off Duty carry.

As I said in my last post, the next posting would be from Trek af MDFI. This should help people out when choosing a CCW/Off Duty carry handgun.

This can be found on the MDFI facebook page here:


“My Gun is Better Than Your Gun!

The other day I was at my local gun emporium when I noticed one of the salesmen entangled in quite possibly the most challenging sales situation of an honest gun broker- “What gun should I buy for my first defensive carry option?”

The individual was a pure novice- having recently completed his basic state-required concealed carry course. But unlike many that I witness who have just completed their first firearms course- he had not promoted himself to “Call of Duty: Wal-Mart Ops Specialist” or “Arm-Chair Expert of All Things Firearm.” (Generally preceded with the purchase of whatever handgun was on the cover of some gun magazine recently….or Desert Eagle .50.)

This individual was very interested in learning about the pros and cons of every option available: Revolver or Automatic? Full-size, Mid-size, Compact, Sub-Compact or Noisy Cricket? .22 Long Rifle or 20mm?

Now to save the reader a lot of not-so-important details, we spent quite some time focusing on some popular carry options for the responsible citizen- but more importantly, dispelling so many of the ridiculous drivel-fueled gun tidbits that can be found on

The first and most often encountered is the statement, “You MUST carry a .45- it’s the only caliber that will work effectively.” Riiiiiiiiight….and I heard that .45 caliber pistol vaporizes badguys into a red mist too. Sigh.

Now right now- someone with a .45 on their hip just reeled back from the computer because some guy dared to insult the mighty fo-five! Not so at all- but we do need to get a few things straight.

Bullets have two primary abilities:

1. “Stopping Power.” - The ability to disrupt the Central Nervous System, Skeletal Structure…basically- stopping the actions that caused the use of lethal force.

2. “Killing Power.” - How long and Will the subject expire from the effects of the bullet on the body.

The decision of what caliber your concealed carry defensive pistol is chambered in should be looked at from a multitude of different angles. Firstly- we must acknowledge that handguns caliber weapons are poor choices at stopping/killing man sized animals. Period.

Handgun ammunition, regardless of caliber- generally move at speeds of 800 to 1300 feet per second- speeds that will completely penetrate a human body, but create a very small permanent wound cavity that is caused by the projectile “pushing” flesh out of its way.

Due to this fact, modern handgun defensive ammunition generally incorporates a “hollow-point” that is designed to expand when the projectile strikes the water-filled body of the assailant, increasing the size of the wound, and transferring all of the energy of the projectile to the subject in what is called, “hydrostatic shock.”

When Full Metal Jacketed handgun ammunition (FMJ), bullets that are completely covered in copper are used in a defensive role, the round does not expand, travels roughly straight through the target, and often penetrates the body possibly causing danger to those that were not the intended target. Unless a direct hit to a critical area of the body is scored- FMJ ammunition may not provide a great deal of stopping power to a motivated assailant. (Lack of STOPPING POWER should not be confused with a lack of KILLING POWER…the assailant may bleed out from the wounds, but may have had time to complete their nefarious deeds….like make a sequel to the Green Hornet.)

Rifle caliber weapons on the other hand OBLITERATE flesh due to their speeds of 2500-3000 feet per second. Currently, the American Journal of Wound Ballistics rates the Russian 5.45x39 as the most lethal small-arms cartridge in use today due to the destructive “figure-8” wound cavity it causes as the projectile yaws and disintegrates in the targets body. (This is where Tom F, AK 74 Master, techno dances a bit…)

So now we have this:

1. Handguns are inefficient killers

Undoubtedly, some of you might be saying, “Well then- a 45 MUST be a better choice than a 9mm or .38 Special for defense!”

Fair enough- let’s talk turkey.

This debate is a direct result of war and the ridiculousness of allowing politicians to have their hand in the way it’s fought. Due to the “rules of war,” members of the United States Military are restricted from using “Hollow-point” (a.k.a. Dumdum) ammunition due the “horrific wounds” they cause- and thusly, left to carry FMJ ammunition. (Kinder, Gentler War)

This is not an issue when a soldier is carrying an M16 with a 55 grain FMJ projectile pushing 3300 fps- but when the same soldier is armed with a Berretta M9 with 124 grain 9mm ammunition pushing 1200 fps- they are at a disadvantage.

The M1911 Pistol was chambered in .45 ACP and was the predecessor to the 9mm M9. The users of the 1911 were still required to carry only FMJ ammunition, but it was 230 grain FMJ ammunition that was moving just over 800 feet per second.

What has happened is we (the US) went from throwing a brick at our enemies at just over the speed of sound to launching a needle at the baddies that doesn’t want to stop. Both are LETHAL- but the 45 ballistics produced more stopping power.

Whew….ok. Sorry for that- but it was very necessary! The point of that diatribe was that as responsible citizens, we are not limited to the ammunition type we carry- so we can explore options that don’t have to rely 100% on “bullet size” for our daily carry.

Right about this point in my discussion with the concerned shopper- I was showing a variety of models of automatics that have proven themselves as reliable the world over when another individual, we’ll call him “Mall Ninja 1” to protect his identity. Leans over and says, “Don’t get any of those 9mm handguns- get a .40 caliber. Waaaaaaaay more knock down power!”

I just stared. Counted to 10 in my head and continued.

Yes, the 40 Smith & Wesson does offer more muzzle energy then the 9mm. Yes, a good deal of law enforcement agencies utilize 40 S&W. Yes, I’m not cool enough to carry a .40….wait…what?

I was taken aback at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center during one of the firearms briefings where on the screen was a Mongo….the big, bad badguy that NO ONE wants to ever run into. Here was Mongo holding the placard for his mug-shot…..with a .45 caliber hole in his forehead. Mongo was bad- and was engaged by law enforcement that scored “the” direct hit on this would-be villain…only to knock him out as the round glanced off his dome……would a 9mm or 40 done better? Who knows? Would a 5.56 rifle- you betcha.

The reality is the popular self defense calibers out there: 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, .38 Special, .357 Magnum all share a “1 Shot-Stop” on a target within 10% of each other utilizing modern defensive ammunition.

As an aside- the Detroit police utilize .40 S&W sidearms and recently shot the murderer who ambushed multiple officers at the local precinct. It took the criminal over 30 seconds to die from a “mortal” wound and he never failed to stop his assault until his death.

So now we have this:

1. Handguns are inefficient killers

2. All pistol calibers are not equal, but they are still handgun rounds. (And to the smartass out there who is spinning the cylinder on his 500 Smith and Wesson Hand-Cannon……yes…you win. Good luck.)

So with the above to factoids- we know that whatever handgun we choose will not be as effective as the rifle at home in the closet AND we don’t need to be hung up on calibers (within reason.) What we do need to understand is that regardless of what platform and caliber we choose- we must be able to deliver an accurate, effective volume of fire on any lethal threat.

This is where the personal choice in firearm comes in. I am a Glock man (cause they are the best) but I don’t discount the other fine makers and styles of defensive tools out there. (Yes I do, but I’m writing that I don’t.) What we must do is find a handgun that fits three very important criteria:

1. It must fire when you need it to- It is proven to be reliable.

2. You must be able to shoot it accurately- can you handle it/ afford practice ammo.

3. You must never look at it and say, “It’s too heavy, big, bulky, red, cool, not a Glock, etc. to carry today.”

(4. Must be a Glock)

If you abide by these 3 (4) rules to choosing a defensive handgun, you are on the right track. (If you chose not to buy a Glock, you will eventually….BWAHAHAHAHA!)

So now we have this:

1. Handguns are inefficient killers

2. All pistol calibers are not equal, but they are still handgun rounds.

3. Shots must get to where they need to be.

The last and final step in the user-tool interface is training.

If you take your State of Michigan certified CPL class and call your self good-to-go you are only kidding yourself. If you never remove yourself from the restrictive 180 degree range, plinking soda cans- you’ll be hard pressed to fair well against scum who practice on a 360 degree range daily.

Don’t buy more guns- buy more ammo and training classes. There are some incredible instructors out there locally and around the country. (They carry Glocks) Get involved in your own defense and do it sooner than later.

So now we have this:

1. Handguns are inefficient killers

2. All pistol calibers are not equal, but they are still handgun rounds.

3. Shots must get to where they need to be.

4. All is worthless unless you maintain the discipline.

For any of those who might be looking to buy that first gun for defense- I hope this helped! For those shooting vets out there- Ill see you on the range. For all you Mall Ninji out there- Ninja HQ, over and out.

Best of luck and stay safe!”


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

3 21 2012

Gear T&E Update:

I try out new kit a lot compared to some people. One of the things I finally got around to picking up is a Surefire Mag-60 a 60 round AR magazine. So far I’ve only ran 120ish rounds out of it – 1 mag per range trip. Yesterday it had its first malfunctions, but I believe those are ammunition related, not a magazine issue. First malfunction was a failure to pick up another round and the second was a dead primer. As I was using some reloaded ammo, I believe that there probably wasn’t enough powder in the first round to cycle enough to pick up another round and I know for sure that the last round was a dead primer.

So far I’m liking the 60 round magazine for what is purpose is even at the added weight.

Shot the Federal Air Marshal’s 7 yard or “Old” test for the first time. That’s a hard test to shoot, especially if you’ve never shot it before. Generally skills tests are something that the shooter has to practice to pass. For example, the FAM test has a shoot 1, slide lock reload, from kneeling shoot 1 drill you shoot twice. I’ve not practiced this before but the time difference between my first and second time shooting that drill was noticeable as the second time was faster. I like to shoot tests once in a while as a way to measure skill, but I don’t like shooting only the same test.

I’ve been running Raven Concealment kit for the last 2.5 years almost nonstop for my CCW/Off Duty needs. Most of the time its been a Phantom holster for a Glock 17/22 with X300 or more recently for a G17/22 with X400. I usually run a single mag pouch for my extra mag needs. Recently I started carrying two backup mags. I prefer to carry mags more towards my centerline, and usually run the single mag about 10:30/11:00. I found that the double mag pouch from Raven is to big for my slim body type to be worn in the same 10:30/11:00 area.

What I will be doing is ordering another single Raven mag pouch for carry so I can do one at 10:30/11:00 and one at 9:00.
Here are photos showing the contour of my body in relation to the mag pouches.



What’s Next:

The next blog posting will be a repost of an article from “Trek” of Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute. It’s a well written article on choosing a CCW weapon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chest Rigs vs. Battle Belts

Chest Rig vs. Battle Belt

I’ve had this conversation come up on more than one occasion and I’ve debated that question myself as well. This is really a non/LE-MIL debate as for MIL/LE work, one wears body armor. I will say though that this can also work for a LE officer taking training on his own. I’ll cover what I consider to be some advantages and disadvantages to both.

First off I will cover so called “Load Bearing Vests.” For what its worth I don’t consider load bearing vests to be useful period. Plate carriers are a different subject, but only useful when worn with plates and if your mission demands the wearing of rifle armor.

Chest Rigs:

Examples: Mayflower R&C UW Gen 1-4, Blue Force Gear Ten Speed Gen 1-2 and Eagle “Paul Howe” chest rig.


Carries a basic load of rifle ammunition 4-6 rifle magazines. Can carry 2-4 pistol magazines, multitool, flashlight etc. Some allow carry of extra equipment in a utility pouch or molle webbing for attachement of a trauma kit. Carries gear on chest allowing breathability of back and part of chest. Some rigs can adjust ride height allowing load carriage near the belly or up higher on the chest. Easy to wear in a a vehicle and reload weapons from it.

Reloads are slower than when carried around the waist. Not as balanced as when worn around the waist. Doesn’t work with CCW holsters. Can be somewhat restrictive when worn in hot weather or during strenuous activities like running or hiking. Can seem bulky when being worn.

Battle Belts:

Examples: Blue Force SOC-C, VTAC Brokos, HSGI Sure Grip, ATS Sleeve.


Usually a padded belt – enhanced comfort. Allows one to use the same gear with minimal if any adjustment of webbing in most types of weather. Allows wear of gear in similair location as to CCW equipment as well as additional rifle magazines, trauma kits, etc. Much more comfortable for long term wear – weight can be distributed over hips and shoulders in a 360 degree pattern. For an LE Officer an advantage is that it allows one to duplicate the uncomfortable duty belts with a padded version for training or if allowed for work.
Hard to carry 4-6 rifle magazines without belt being overly heavy and imbalanced. Difficult to wear in a vehicle depending on pouches loaded on it. Mag reloads from in a vehicle are more difficult than magazines located on chest.

I have tried the Paul Howe Eagle chest rig and the Blue Force Gear 10 Speed chest rig. I’ve got to try on the Mayflower rig and was impressed with the layout but can’t justify buying one yet. For my “mission” I’ve found that a battle belt is far more useful than a chest rig. One scenario where I do use a chest rig is when I need to upload my ammunition loadout for a class. I have seen a LE officer who used a chest rig when deploying his rifle and wearing his duty belt. I use a plate carrier for those situations so it isn’t something I would do, but it is an option.

I personally use a Blue Force Gear SOC-C belt with a Safariland ALS holster that is the same model as used on my Duty Belt as well as a Peters Custom Holsters double pistol mag pouch that is similair to the Safariland Slimline double mag pouch on my duty belt. I prefer similarity in my equipment for training vs. work. The max load of rifle magazines I carry on the belt is two though.

Due to my job, I wear a duty belt at work for 12+ hour shifts 3-4 times a week (unless pulling OT shifts as well). If I could have my way, I’d wear a war belt, but not likely to happen soon from what I can tell. When I do training on my own at the range or go hiking, I wear the war belt. Its more comfortable and carries just what I want at the range – pistol, magazines and trauma kit.

Based on my experience with both chest rigs and war belts and coupled with a “mission drives the gear train” mentality, I recommend war belts over chest rigs for LE and CCW use. Of course if needed, one can ad a chest rig to their war belt and have an added ammo carrying load for classes or situations.

The pictures are kind of old, but illustrate what I’m talking about. My gear has changed slightly from pictured.


Work Duty Belt:

Chest Rig:


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Safariland ALS Holster System

Safariland ALS Holsters.

In 2009 I was looking for a light compatible retention duty holster for work. Prior to this I was using a SERPA (didn’t ever shoot myself but had other issues with it) as I liked how it was one button to release the gun and it automatically was secured upon reholstering.

At the time for light compatible holsters, I was only aware of the Safariland SLS (hood) duty holster. Watching even well trained officers struggle to get the hood off and a good grip into a presentation quickly discouraged me from wanting to go the SLS route.

About the fall of that year I saw that Safariland had a new retention system called the ALS or Automatic Locking system on their holsters. It was billed as a Level 2 retention (same as the SLS) only much faster without a hood that had to be moved out of the way and put back on when your gun is reholstered.

I bought one for my G22/X300 duty combo and started playing with it. I noticed out of the box that the quality of the Safariland holster was far better than the quality of the SERPA. The ALS locking system locks into the ejection port on the pistol where the SERPA locked into the trigger guard (one of its many issues). The light compatible version of the ALS also friction locks around the light. The friction lock with the button is what makes the ALS a level 2 holster. *Safariland has since reclassified the ALS as a Level 1 holster unless you use the “hood guard” but in my opinion it’s a level 2.* The ALS also uses a nub that sticks in the barrel of the pistol that’s about ½ inch long to help stabelize the pistol while its holstered. This is something you have to account for when using red/blue training guns as most of them do not have an open barrel. I drilled mine out to allow its use.

I found that I was as fast with the ALS as I was with a open top Raven Concealment Phantom holster do to the ALS button release being activated as part of your attaining a firing grip. I practice my firing grip/presentation throughout the day as I’m working and constantly grip the gun while releasing the activation button and so far its worked %100 of the time.

I was involved in an incident where I had to go from gun out to gun away and hands on in a split second. The ALS retention immediately locked the gun in place and I didn’t have to worry about it falling out like I would have with the SLS as it doesn’t retain the gun unless you have the hood over the gun. This incident sold me on the ALS as a duty holster not just a speed range holster.

Currently I have 3 various ALS holsters for different uses where I need a retention holster. I’m a big believer in the “train as you fight” mantra and as over half my time awake is spent uniform with the ALS holster I spend most of my training presenting from the ALS and about 25% of the time from a Raven Phantom. If I was CCW only, I wouldn’t have a need for the ALS style as having your gun concealed in a quality concealment holster is what I consider a level 2 retention as is. (1 being friction of the holster and 2 being the fact your gun is concealed).

I’m happy to try and answer any more questions I can if I didn’t clarify things about the holster and how it works from an end users point of view.

In the pictures, the 6320/6390 is the brown one on my Blue Force Gear SOC-C Belt and the same holster body with the Drop Flex adapter on my duty belt. The paddle holster is the 6378 only a light compatible version.

Here are photos of the ALS Holsters I own and use.

2.25 UBL


2.25 UBL on a Blue Force Gear SOC-C belt.


Flap lifted on the Blue Force Gear SOC-C belt.


Paddle holster.


Showing the back of the normal 6390 vs the paddle 6378 body. Notice the mounting screws location height difference.


Showing the inside ALS portion of the holster focus on the retention lock. You can see the tip of the nob that goes in the barrel from here.


6390 Holster on War Belt with a Glock 19/X300 in it.


6320 body on a Drop Flex Adapter. Glock 22 in it.



People have been after me to do something with some of the in depth gear reviews I have done on things. I was told to look at doing a blog and here it is. I'm not the greatest at this stuff but will give it a shot.

First off, I am very opinionated. Keep that in mind when reading my reviews.

The reviews or recommendations will be based on "my reality." My reality is a working as a LE Officer and living in a pretty rural area. I have CCW'd for about 5-6 years as well. I try to give gear recommendations to people following the famous Pat Rogers quote, "The mission drives the Gear Train."

I don't have any Military experience so I will avoid giving to much advice in that area. Some gear/training is applicable but thats up to you as the reader to decide.