Photo of the day: New Gun Nuts Carry Gun, the Morph 3X

morph 3x

Check out my new carry gun for the remainder of the year, the Morph 3X. The 3X uses advanced polymer construction to keep the weight low, and has a true DAO trigger mechanism. Chambered in 4.5mm, it fires a hardened steel ball at velocities sufficient to penetrate corrugated fiberboard armor. It’s been paired with the excellent Redfield Counterstrike combat optic, which because the Morph lacks a reciprocating slide will allow for rapid target acquisition. I’ve already ordered an RCS Phantom for this new rig, and I can’t wait to try it out in USPSA Open!

10 things only people who carry concealed will understand

You put your gun on every day and go about your business like a normal person. But there are some things that you do a little bit differently because you carry a concealed firearm, and that’s okay. Because you get it. I get it. You’re welcome here.

1. Worrying about printing
You know what I’m talking about. When you first get your carry permit, there’s this little voice in the back of your head that screams “OHGODOHGODOHGOD EVERYONE CAN SEE THE OUTLINE OF MY GUN THROUGH MY SHIRT I’M GOING TO GET THE SWAT TEAM CALLED ON ME OH GOD”.

Relax, no one can see your gun, and most people are too wrapped up in their iPhones to even notice.

boss am I printing

2. Having a drawer full of holsters that you’ve tried out and tossed because they didn’t fit quite right
We have all done this. Turns out, people are all sorts of different shapes and sizes, and what works best for me might not be best for you.

3. Making sure you sit in the restaurant section and not the bar when you go out (certain states)
Some states don’t allow carry in bars, some allow it in restaurants, and some (like Indiana) just don’t care. Regardless, CCW know the pain of wondering “is this place a 51% establishment or not…”

4. Scoffing at “no guns allowed” signs that don’t have the force of law.
Some states (like Texas) have specific laws written for establishments that want to ban guns. If the posted sign doesn’t use the correct phrasing in the law, it’s pointless and has no power. Many places those signs don’t have the force of law at all.

5. Buying all your pants one inch too large in the waist to accommodate an IWB holster
We’ve all done this. Buying new jeans and thinking “Is my carry gun going to fit these?”

6. Having to be careful about hugging new people so they don’t find your gun
Dating and carrying is THE WORST. “Oh man, this girl wants to hug me, good thing I’m carrying appendix so I can give her the Christian Side Hug and she won’t feel my gun.”

7. Planning road trips around which state honor your carry permits
Every. Time. “Hey, we can go here and here, and I won’t have to take my gun off. Sweet, let’s take a vacation to beautiful Missouri, they honor my permit!”

8. Really hating life when your concealment garment is too warm for the weather
We’ve all done this. Thrown on a hoody or something for concealment when going out with friends, then it turns out to be 10 degrees warmer than the forecast. Can’t take your jacket off because you’re carrying, so you spend the day marinating in your own sweat.

9. Taking a knee to pick up dropped items instead of bending at the waist
Related to number 1! You don’t want people to see your gun if you bend over, so you take a knee Tebow-style to pick up things you’ve dropped.

10. Relishing that moment of surprise when someone you’ve been hanging out with all day finally realizes you’ve had a gun the whole time
“I AM A CONCEALMENT GOD”

SHOT Show and the Rule 1 guns

Last week the gun industry put on the SHOT show, a trade show where manufacturers and vendors can show their wares to industry buyers and the press. New products typically make their debut here, especially firearms from the larger manufacturers. If you look carefully at the product debuts and marketing efforts happening at SHOT you can get a read on trends within the industry and what manufacturers are seeing.

The talk of SHOT show this year hasn’t been long guns…it has been small handguns like the Glock 42 (Glock is going to sell those by the boatload) or the Remington R51. Manufacturers see that orders for black rifles are dwindling from the Obama-panic highs and they’re looking at what products they can get in consumer hands to keep the revenue flowing. Glock, who is rolling in money anyway, is betting big on a small .380 handgun. Remington is hopping back into the handgun market with their first original offering in almost a century…and it’s a compact (sort of) single-stack 9mm. S&W still seems to be selling every Shield they produce to the point where it’s nigh unto impossible to find 8 round magazines for the darn things in the wild.

An instructor friend of mine, Claude Werner, wrote a nice article on the trends he saw at SHOT and cited production statistics from the BATFE showing that Ruger has sold over a million of their little LCP pistols.

Rule 1 guns aren't magic, but they haven't sold in the millions for nothing.
Rule 1 guns aren’t magic, but they haven’t sold in the millions for nothing.

Why all this emphasis on little handguns?

When I first went to get my concealed carry permit in Virginia the local court clerk’s office had absolutely no idea what the devil I was talking about. I showed up with all my paperwork in proper order and the it took the office the better part of two hours to figure out that this was an actual thing they were supposed to handle and then how to handle it. The next couple of times I renewed my permit the story was much the same…but then the last time I renewed in person everything had changed. They had signs printed up giving directions, and even a special desk with a dedicated person just to handle permit applications. I asked her what led to this change. “We have been absolutely swamped with permit applications for the last few months. We had to completely reorganize the office just to deal with the demand.” Now renewals just require sending in the forms and the processing time has gone down to as little as a week and a half.

Whether it’s a direct response to an administration hostile to firearms rights or is the organic result of a lot of grass-roots work and changed minds I cannot say, but it seems clear that more people are interested in packing a pistol for self defense than at any time in modern history. The manufacturers have obviously been making moves to meet the demand for smaller, more conveniently carried firearms to fill this niche for some time…although they have been interrupted by the unexpected surges in demand that resulted from the administration’s crass politicization of tragedy.

When you realize that more and more people are wanting to carry, the small gun trend seen at SHOT this year makes sense.

I’m not going to get into a big deal on terminal ballistics because we’ve covered that ground before in this space and the information hasn’t changed. “Mouse gun” cartridges like the .380 ACP, .32 ACP, .25 ACP, or .22 LR simply do not deliver consistently good results in real life shootings, making them a poorer choice for the purpose of stopping bad guys than service calibers like the 9mm or .45 ACP. Still, rare is the person who can pack a Glock 21 and a couple of spare magazines every day of their lives.

I’m one of the apparently one million Ruger LCP owners out there. I bought my little Ruger because there are times (like when I’m at the gym lifting or on the treadmill) that a larger gun simply isn’t practical for what I’m doing. The Ruger fills a gap in my carry that allows me to have a gun on my person when I probably wouldn’t otherwise. The small gun trend at SHOT this year tells me that more people are doing the same thing, looking to carry guns more of the time.

Boiled down, this means that more good people will be armed when facing the threat of criminal violence. That means more bad guys are going to be staring down the wrong end of a gun. That is ultimately a very good thing. It would certainly be better if everyone could pack the equivalent of a Glock 19 loaded with quality ammunition, but the person packing the Glock 42 or the Ruger LCP isn’t usually packing that because it’s being chosen over the Glock 19. It’s usually being carried because the alternative is to carry nothing. My little LCP isn’t the greatest option available, but it’s better than fingernails. When I’m packing it as a primary fingernails are my other option.

The manufacturers are betting on small and I think it’s going to pay off. I expect Glock to move a lot of G42’s. Heck…I’ve thought about getting one myself. Would I prefer a 9mm version of that pistol? You betcha…but I can see it being easier to shoot and a bit less last-ditch than my LCP and perhaps worthy of replacing it as a backup or on those infrequent occasions where the LCP is my primary. More importantly, some people who don’t currently carry are going to handle a Glock 42, like it, and then start carrying it. I wouldn’t encourage people to settle for a Rule 1 gun (Rule 1 of a gunfight: Have. A. Gun.) in every circumstance, but there’s certainly a time and place for them.

In terms of practicality all my long guns put together aren’t as practical as my little LCP or a S&W J frame. I like my long guns as much as the next guy but I can’t go through my daily life with an AR strapped across my chest. People are starting to figure out that a .380 in the pocket is better than the best MK-18 build available sitting in the gunsafe.

If you have a Rule 1 gun or if you’re considering one and you haven’t trained with one before, consider contacting Claude Werner about that. I’ve done a block of instruction with him focused on small guns before and he’s good at teaching you how to get the most out of one. Something you carry and can use well, even if it’s in a sub-optimal caliber, is always going to trump something you can’t carry or don’t know how to use.

If you don’t already have a Rule 1 gun, maybe it’s time to give it some consideration. If you don’t carry regularly now because you think it’s too inconvenient or unworkable, take a hard look at some of the new small offerings on the market and see if you can’t find a way to carry one. Sure, I’d like to see you pack a pistol in a service caliber if possible, but I’m also a realist: I know that for some of you it’s either one of these little guys or no gun, and I’d much rather see you armed with something more effective than harsh language.

First Look at the XDs 9mm 4.0

20140116-094811.jpgLast year at Media Day at the Range, I made a bee line for Springfield’s bay where I fell hard for the XDs 9mm. Truth be told, I was primed to love the 9, since I had been very impressed with the 45 months earlier. This year I wasn’t expecting any major announcements, but what I found may become the sleeper success of 2014. Meet the XDs 9mm 4.0. In comparison to last year’s release, the 3.3, this one has a longer barrel… (4.0″ vs. the original 3.3″) That’s about it. But, as we all know, that really isn’t it, that’s actually the tip of the iceberg.

Continue reading “First Look at the XDs 9mm 4.0”

Finding the Perfect Carry Set Up

Almost anyone who carries a gun has it: the pile of cast-off holsters, the list of guns they’ve lived and learned from, memories of bruises left by carry set ups that were just a little bit off. So how do we know when we’ve found something that works for us? Continue reading “Finding the Perfect Carry Set Up”

Do you know your fear response

20131209-105130.jpgLast week, after one of my posts, I made a comment that started a conversation. The comment was something to the affect of, I’m not sure I could ever point a gun at something with a heart beat. Folks had all sorts of opinions about this statement, but no one offered me a solution that really worked for me. (Two good options that were: mental training and going hunting. To these responses I say, with all due respect, I doubt one could ever think through all the possible scenarios of a threat, and going hunting just isn’t in my near future as I am too much of an animal person.) This conversation got me thinking and has lead to my desire to expand on the question, what would you really do?

Continue reading “Do you know your fear response”

Chicago Illinois Concealed Carry Licenses are Coming, or are they?

20131030-115155.jpgEarlier this week I posted about my trip to Chicago, IL and my plans for self protection while there. Many of you had recommendations for every day carry items that I might use to keep myself safe, and I am grateful. However, Illinois recently passed concealed carry legislation that will change the self defense opportunities for Chicago residents, and I wanted to take a look at what these new laws have to say.

Continue reading “Chicago Illinois Concealed Carry Licenses are Coming, or are they?”

The Capacity Question – Part 2

The capacity question is not defined entirely by the speed with which you can pull the trigger when you believe someone is trying to kill you. There are other concerns, and just as we did last week let’s look at more footage from a real shooting to illuminate the discussion, this week focusing on the idea of managing your on-board supply of ammunition:

The lapel camera is a relatively recent technological innovation that many police officers around the nation are readily adopting as a self defense measure. The footage here gives us the closest thing we’re likely to get to seeing a shooting through the officer’s eyes, and provides us with some invaluable insight into how even a trained person reacts under extreme stress.

First, note how many shots the officer fired. As I stated last week, you do not need a roving gang of bikers or a zombie apocalypse to motivate you into emptying the magazine of a typical double-stack semi-automatic pistol. Just one dude out to kill you is plenty of motivation to work that trigger as fast as you can until you’re reasonably certain that he is unable to continue fighting. The officer in the video fired 16 shots in self defense. The careful viewer might have noted that it took the officer about 4 seconds to fire those 16 shots, falling directly in line with the 1/4 second rule noted in last weeks post. Faced with what he believed was a threat to his life, he drew his weapon (an excruciating 3 seconds after the bad guy pulled his) and fired his sidearm as fast as he could make it work. Note that this tends to be a pattern when you look at footage of actual shootings.

The 16 shots without slide-lock tells us that the officer’s Glock is probably a G17, which most police agencies typically mandate to be carried with a full 17 rounds in the magazine plus another in the chamber. After the officer fires his 16 shot volley (while backing away from the threat) he radios the shooting in and attempts, from a distance, to try and assess the status of the threat he just shot at 16 times. Take a second to ponder the significance of that. We can see from how he interacts with the officers rolling to back him up that he’s not sure what, exactly, the bad guy is up to. Note also that he does not perform a reload. Most likely this is because the officer has absolutely no idea how many shots he’s just fired. It is extremely common under stress to be unable to recall how many rounds you fired in self defense, to the point where many self defense experts who have experience in the legal system advise strongly against ever attempting to make a definite statement about how many shots you fired.

I once trained with an instructor who told the tale of one of his on-duty shootings. Serving a warrant he ended up face to face with a bad man armed with a gun. My instructor was a little bit faster to get his weapon, an MP5, on target than the bad guy and he opened fire first. In the aftermath he said that he told investigators that he thought he had fired 5 or 6 shots, but couldn’t be sure because he was too busy trying not to die to count his shots. In reality he fired 18 shots into the bad guy.

So why does this matter? Let’s return to the situation in the video: The officer has just engaged someone he believes was out to kill him. There’s no backup yet. He’s utterly alone, facing a threat he’s not sure of, and he’s got a maximum of two more shots in his weapon before he runs dry. I hear people talk a lot about how they’ll manage ammunition in a gunfight, but you know what? I don’t believe a word of it. I don’t think the average person is capable of executing a sophisticated ammunition management plan when they believe somebody is out to end them. There’s a significant body of evidence out there to show that the first clue someone is going to have that they’re low on bullets is when the gun stops going bang. This officer’s weapon didn’t stop making loud noises, and with the stress-induced distortion of perception he has no idea how many rounds he’s fired. On top of that, he’s got a lot on his mind.

Note the officer’s breathing after the shooting stops. He’s feeling the full effect of adrenaline. He didn’t move very far or do any physically strenuous activity, and yet he’s breathing like he just busted out a 5th set of squats with a new personal record. Note the officer’s statement after he calls for help…”Son of a bitch!” The average mind will not be in a state of zen in these circumstances. The average mind will be racing with all sorts of questions, emotions, and concerns. “Oh, god! What the hell just happened? How much trouble am I in? Am I going to get sued? Am I hit? Where the hell is backup?”

On top of that, there will be a constant worry about the guy they just tried to stop getting out of the car and trying to finish what he started. The mind with superior training will still be racing, but will be sufficiently innoculated to stress that it is focused on things that increase the chances of survival. Useful actions like seeking cover or checking the status of one’s weapon do not come automatically to the untrained person. Proper training does not eliminate stress, it simply acclimates the trained individual to the presence of stress so they can learn the mental discipline to accomplish useful things while feeling the effect of it. This is why enduring a number of crash simulations is a prerequisite for flying fighter jets or commercial airliners. It’s why advanced emergency medical training sometimes involves slicing a pig’s femoral artery open and requiring the trainee to stop the bleed. It’s why advanced skydiving certifications require simulating a parachute failure.

On the internet I often see people arguing about the “lull” in a fight that’s supposed to allow for a tactical reload. In the video here we’re presented with a pretty sizeable “lull” in hostilities…but here’s the thing about “lulls”: It’s really easy to identify a lull using video footage from the safety of a keyboard. It’s a very different matter when you’re standing a few feet away from someone who just tried to kill you, heart pounding through your chest, mind racing, and breathing like you just tried to backpack a Buick up Everest. Unless you have irrefutable visual proof that the bad guy you just tried to shoot is unable to continue, (like seeing the contents of his cranium on the pavement) you’re going to be pretty darn worried about him resuming hostilities.

With all of this going on, and all of these factors in play, I’m very skeptical that most people are going to be anywhere near as good at managing their ammo supply as they think. Most people toting a firearm for self defense are not as well trained as the officer in the video. It’s absurd to believe that they’ll somehow exhibit the behaviors of the exceptionally experienced and well trained without the actual experience or training that makes those behaviors possible.