Concealed Carry: Some Food for Thought |

Concealed Carry: Some Food for Thought

Concealed Carry: Some Food for Thought

Carrying a concealed weapon is a right or privilege (depending on your point of view) that most other parts of the world do not enjoy.  If you are thinking of obtaining your CCW/H (Concealed Carry Weapon/Handgun) permit, then there are a few things that you should know about carrying.  Please keep in mind that we will not be covering any laws or legal aspects of Concealed Carry in this article. You should always know the specific ordinances for the area in which you are living and/or traveling to/through.  Instead, we will be covering a few areas about the actual act of carrying a concealed weapon and introducing you to a few of the things I have learned from my years as a CCW/H holder.

First off, carry an extra magazine.  If possible, carry an extra BIG magazine.  When you tell people this, they sometimes look at you with a very strange expression while saying something like, “Well, if nine rounds won’t do the job then…”  That is very true, it is unlikely that you will need an entire magazine to stop an attack but that is not the point.  You want to carry an extra magazine in case your primary magazine fails.  I have seen magazines fail for many different reasons.  Sometimes they get debris jammed in the follower.  Perhaps the floor plate formed a crack the last time you practiced your reloads and dropped the magazine on a hard surface.  Then, your weapon discharges, the crack finally gives way and your magazine spring shoots out the bottom along with all of your ammunition.  I once saw a very experienced shooter moving to cover while returning fire but somehow did not get his magazine ‘clicked’ in fully.  When he fired his second shot the entire magazine flew out the bottom propelled by the escaping gases of his last shot.  His momentum carried his body to cover but the weapon was now empty.  Worse, he didn’t realize it since the loss of the magazine caused the slide to snap forward (the gun appeared to still be in battery and good to go).  He quickly learned what had happened after  taking aim and he got a ‘click’ when he wanted a ‘bang’.  Luckily our shooter followed this rule and had a spare magazine within grasp.  What if he hadn’t?  Then his only option would be to run back into incoming fire and retrieve his jettisoned magazine.  Obviously there was no danger with this being a training exercise but what if it isn’t the next time.  This guy had tens of thousands of rounds under his ‘training belt,’ but he made the simple mistake of not slamming his mag home on the last reload.  Trust me, it can happen.

Your backup magazine should be larger.

(left) Glock 27 (center) Glock 27 Magazine with Extention (right) Glock 22 Magazine

You may be asking, “What do you mean by ‘carry an extra BIG magazine.’?”  No, I do not mean that you need to have a spare 33 round Glock 18 magazine tucked under your shirt.  However there is a happy middle ground.  Let’s say you carry a Glock 27 (Subcompact .40 cal, 9 round standard magazine).  You can easily pick up a Glock 22 magazine (Full frame .40 cal, 15 round standard) to use as your backup mag.  It is only a hair over an inch longer and the only drawback is that the magazine will stick out of the bottom of your subcompact IF you ever have to employ it.  But who cares how it looks, when it is a life or death encounter you don’t worry about ‘style points’.

Now, what is the point of an extra magazine if you can’t get to it in a hurry?  Remember our ‘experienced shooter’ from earlier?  He made a mistake but was able to use his spare magazine to get himself back into the ‘fight’.  The spare was located directly on his left hip (nine o’clock) which is the fastest place to keep it.  What if it had been in his boot?  He would have lost precious seconds getting to it which would have been his second mistake of the exercise.

It is amazing how many people carry a concealed firearm but do not regularly practice employing it.  I am not talking about shooting practice, I mean getting the gun out and into the fight.  During a gunfight your greatest ally is going to be lightning quick muscle memory reflexes.  The only way you can build muscle memory is to repeat the desired action over and over again.  The more you do it, the quicker and smoother you will become.  At the minimum you need to get a solid hour of practice in every week, although I recommend running through your training regimen every day.  Often, I see people practicing while wearing just a t-shirt, jeans and their holster of choice.  If that is what you are normally wearing on the street then that’s great.  But what if you are wearing a big winter jacket or a suit when the times comes that you need your weapon to save yourself or another human being? Your muscle memory reaction will have an obstacle in the way that your conscious [slow] brain is going to have to figure out.  Practice as closely as possible to the way you carry.  If you normally carry a briefcase in your right hand then practice dropping it and then proceed to draw your weapon.  If you have a holster that allows you to tuck in your shirt and that is normally how you carry then implement that into your repetition as much as possible.  If you carry a single/double action weapon, (revolver, Beretta M9, Sig p226, etc) then draw your weapon and take the first shot in double action mode.  You most likely will not have time to cock the hammer back and fire from single action when time equals life.  Time and time again I see people at the range running a revolver and pulling back the hammer every time.  This is fine if you are training for target shooting but not practical for defense shooting.

Let’s talk a little bit about carry positions.  I recommend to everyone that they carry on their strong side [weapon side] hip.  If you are right handed then that is your right hip somewhere between 3 and 4 o’clock.  If you are left handed then that obviously means on your left hip between 8 and 9 o’clock.  There is no quicker location to have access to your weapon.  Shoulder holsters or cross draw holsters can conceal a weapon very well but remember two things. 1) If you are drawing in this manner then at some point the weapon is pointed at YOU and it is possible that in the ‘excitement’ your finger could find its way to the trigger. 2.) Most concealed carry engagements happen within five to zero feet and a cross-draw is a long draw.  Any criminal with half a brain that sees you telegraphing your draw in this manner is going to close the distance between you and him as quickly as possible and pin the weapon to your chest.  At this point you are in a life or death struggle for the weapon and you have lost any advantage you may have had because your gun is likely to become his gun.

What about ankle carry?  Let me say this about that… Don’t. It is likely the most useless form of self defense carry that there is other than ‘in my other pants’ carry.  Now, if ankle carry is the only option you have (and I mean ONLY option) then it is better than nothing and of course ankle carry is fine for a backup weapon.  Let me paint a picture for you.  If someone threatens you with a weapon, and your gun is on your ankle, what does conventional wisdom tells us that they are going to say?  Provided they don’t just shoot you.  “Hands up!”  Well now you are reaching for the sky with your hands and your weapon could not be farther from them.  Any movement downward to retrieve your weapon is going to invite a volley of hot lead.

Here is another scenario.  It starts out the same way with a bad guy threatening you with a weapon.  Anyone who has ever taken a defensive tactics class knows that a moving target is much harder to hit than a static target.  So if you have decided to fight then you will most likely be exploding off the X as they call it or moving laterally while drawing your weapon.  Can you imagine attempting to draw from your ankle holster while also trying to quickly move in any direction?  If the story didn’t end up with you being dead then it would almost be funny to watch.  If you must utilize the ankle carry method then at least do it correctly.  Always place the weapon on the inside of your weak side ankle.  If you are right handed, use the left ankle.  Your right hand making contact with your left ankle creates much more stable platform (your body) than if you were using only appendages on your right.

Glock 27 with a Glock 22 Magazine

Using a larger magazine, like the Glock 22 mag pictured, as your backup is a great way to increase your ammo capacity.

Lastly, let’s talk a little bit about the weapon that you choose to carry.  No, I am not going to say “This weapon is good while this one is bad…”  Let’s look at it strictly from an ammo capacity standpoint.  I have heard this argument many times with the proponent of a smaller capacity weapon usually resorting to the statement; “Well, you just have to make those rounds count.”  Really?  Remember that it is an accurate estimation that you are only half as good under stress as your best day at the range and this is for someone who practices a lot.  You also will most likely not be counting your own rounds while you are in the middle of a near death encounter with an armed assailant.  If you are planning on reloading when your small magazine goes dry then it will most likely surprise you when it does.  I will leave you with this third thought;  do you think even the most efficient and skilled gunfighter in history ever wished he had less rounds at the ready?  Because of these reasons I have a real problem trusting my safety to only a six shooter or a low capacity semi-automatic.

Practice safe and practice often.  Remember to always keep up with your Dry Fire Practice and learn to Maximize your Range Time.

~Brent Keltner
Mission Spec, LLC

published 6/14/12.  If you would like information on reprinting this article please use the contact information above.

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