Can Can Concealment: Doing it wrong

cancanconcealment derp

I wonder how the marketing conversation that produced this photo went…

“Guys, I’ve got a great idea for our feature image! Let’s have it be a photo of someone demonstrating our holster and how to use it, you end up pointed a loaded gun at your hand!”

Gun Nuts and 1911s

As you know, I’ve pivoted a lot of our coverage lately to high round count tests of 1911 pistols. So far on the new Gun Nuts 1911 Review system we’ve done a Taurus PT1911 Review, a Wilson Combat CQB Review, a Springfield Range Officer review, and most recently wrapped up a review of the Rock Island Armory Ultra FS. I’m also currently testing a Dan Wesson Valkyrie Commander, and have two more 1911s on their way to me.

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Lessons from real life: The Potato Chip Assault

A friend recently posted a story on social media:

“Breland, who appeared to be in “a highly agitated state,” entered the store and made a purchase before berating the store clerk, using racial slurs, Ruple said. The clerk, who is of Middle Eastern descent, ordered Breland, who is white, to leave, and threatened to call police, authorities said.

He left but re-entered the store several times, becoming more aggressive each time, Ruple said. The clerk then called police.

The armed customer, who was inside the store trying to make a purchase, tried to calm the situation by telling Breland to leave, according to the police account. Breland left again but returned and threw what appeared to be potato chips at the clerk.

The customer followed Breland outside to get his license plate number for police, but Breland got out of the vehicle and attacked him, Ruple said. The man drew his weapon, ordered Breland back and tried to retreat into the store. Breland followed and continued the attack, grabbing for the gun, Ruple said.

The man warned he would shoot if Breland did not stop, and he retreated into a corner of the store while still under attack. He then fired one round, striking Breland, and fired twice more when Breland kept coming at him, Ruple said.

Police Chief Rick Richard said the customer was lawfully carrying the firearm on his side in plain view. “Louisiana is an open-carry state. The guy was straight-up legal,” the chief said.” 

The wise man learns from the experience of others, and I believe there are some things we can learn from this story.

The power of anger: 

Many people have never dealt with a truly angry person before, and have never themselves had experience with genuine anger. When I say “genuine anger” I mean something like this:

Note how flushed the individual’s face is. Note his body language…the almost primate like displays. Note that he’s screaming himself hoarse.

Do you think this guy was amenable to a reasonable discussion? That it was possible to talk sense to him? Even when other people he apparently recognized showed up to the scene telling him to chill out, he continued to be aggressive. It took someone with more stripes on his uniform showing up and exerting some authority to begin to get a handle on the guy.

If you are watching somebody commit a serious breach of social order, odds are pretty good that they are doing so either because they believe they will face no serious consequences for their actions or because they are so enraged that they don’t give a damn about consequences anymore.

In that kind of state the rational part of the human brain is essentially irrelevant. When someone is at this level of anger, their brain function has essentially shrunk down to the amygdala. This is often colloquially referred to as our “reptile brain” or “monkey brain” which plays a critical role in our fight-or-flight response to a threat. We’re used to discussing it in terms of the fear or stress of a lethal threat in both mental and physical terms, but it can be every bit as powerful when inflamed by anger.

You literally cannot talk sense to someone who has crossed that threshold. It seems, though, that the would-be Good Samaritan in the news story attempted just that after the deceased chucked a bag of chips at the clerk behind the counter. This did not have the desired effect of calming the man down. It just shifted his focus from the convenience store clerk to the would-be Good Samaritan instead.

When you witness someone in such an agitated state that they are throwing things, odds are pretty good that you will not succeed in calming them down by appealing to reason…because there is no Dana, there is only Zuul. What you are likely to do is refocus their rage on you. This is, to put it mildly, inconvenient.

You probably aren’t intimidating: 

Let’s return to what I said earlier about displays of aggressive behavior when there is no expectation of serious consequences. Often displays of anger are happening at least partially because of estimations of vulnerability. I’m willing to bet that the guy throwing the fit didn’t see the convenience store clerk as a potentially fearsome opponent. If the clerk had been 6’6″ and built like a professional NFL lineman, I doubt the deceased would have spun up on him.

When the would-be Good Samaritan intervened, I’m guessing he wasn’t very intimidating either. And he had a gun.

So let’s deal with some unpleasant truth: Guns don’t scare everybody. The fact that you have one is not going to impress a certain percentage of the bad-guy population. When I see open carry discussed on the web and even in real life, the default assumption of the pro-open carry camp is that bad men will see the gun and be scared or intimidated by the mere presence of it.This is a foolhardy mindset to slip into.

The ability to intimidate a potential assailant is exceptionally useful and can often prevent the need to use violence altogether…but everyone isn’t capable of being intimidating. You do not magically become more intimidating to bad men when you put a gun on your hip.

In talking with a number of people who regularly openly carry, I get the feeling that a lot of them are hoping that showing the gun makes them sufficiently intimidating that they don’t have to fight…and this comes through loud and clear in the way they carry themselves.

Having the gun does not make up for not knowing how to fight, and if you pin your hopes on display of the gun intimidating the other guy into not wanting to test you on that it’s setting yourself up for disaster. Nobody who does this admits to themselves that they are doing it, of course…but lying to yourself doesn’t change the reality. You can’t Stuart Smalley yourself into being the sort of person who scares off bad guys.

Intimidation is a complex strategy that relies on a number of factors, some of them unique to the circumstances of the confrontation, to be effective. Having a gun doesn’t automatically check all those boxes for you.

Do not behave as if the other guy is going to be too intimidated to hurt you just because you have a gun. The would-be Good Samaritan’s decision to follow the agitated assailant out of the store to record his license plate was likely due to being overly confident in the intimidation power of the pistol on his hip. Had he realized that the agitated assailant wasn’t terribly scared of his gun, he might have played it smarter and stayed inside the store and maybe wouldn’t have had to shoot this guy.

Keep your options open:

The open display of the firearm in this situation removed options from the table. As soon as the agitated assailant started getting physical it became a lethal force situation because everybody knows there’s a gun involved…but that’s not the only way it can go wrong.

Say this agitated assailant had left the scene and called 911 reporting that he had been threatened with a gun…including giving an accurate description of the firearm in question to the police. I know of two occasions where something very similar has happened, one resulting in a normal nice guy looking down the barrel of multiple police-issue firearms.

I would much rather have the presence of my firearm become public knowledge at the moment of my choosing rather than leaving it out there for the other guy to factor into his actions. That gives me more options in a worsening situation.

I also make a habit of carrying OC spray with me because that’s another option. Would this fight have gone lethal if the would-be Good Samaritan had given the agitated assailant a snooter full of Sabre Red? It’s impossible to say for sure, but there have been many fights ended or prevented altogether by the judicious application of some liquid pain.

If the gun is the only plan you’ve got for hostile behavior from another human being, you are painting yourself into a pretty unpleasant corner. If this individual had more options he might have avoided the life altering  decision of to killing another human being.

There’s a lot we can learn from this story if we are inclined to do so. I think this is a perfect example of where abiding by the proverb “Not my circus, not my monkeys” would have been a much better idea. The urge to help is laudable, but we have to be sophisticated enough to recognize exactly when a problem can be genuinely helped by our relatively modest capabilities and resources.

It’s one thing to fight when a violent criminal assault leaves you no other choice. It’s another to end up in a spiraling dance of stupidity that ends in gunfire.

Defensive Ammo Testing with the Dan Wesson Valkyrie Commander 9mm

The Dan Wesson Valkyrie Commander test is officially underway, and after it successfully passed the 10-8 Performance Test, I decided to take it to the range and test it with some more defensive ammo. Like I said in the video, I get that 15-20 rounds isn’t an exhaustive test, but I wanted to make sure I could simply go to the store, grab some defensive ammo, and expect it to run in the gun. As it turns out, that expectation was 100% correct.

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Five awesome guns to shoot before you die

We’re all enthusiasts at some level. Sure, some of us are more serious about competition, some of us are more serious about defensive shooting, but not a single person that’s deeply invested in our hobby won’t admit that some guns are just cool. If I had to create a simple five-stop bucket list of guns you have to shoot before you die, this would be it. Some of the guns are on this list because they’re historically significant, others just because they’re cool and I like them.

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Project Lumen – Part 3

This is the third installment of Project Lumen and things are moving along nicely.  Today I offer up data on a cheap piece of crap, a former superstar and a modern LED light that is all polymer to keep cost and weight down.  As with the previous article, I will review the notes and data points from the first three lights I tested.

One thing common aspect with each light tested is the fact everyone should perform a similar test in THEIR home.  Don’t fall into the trap of presumption.

NEBO Classic

To be frank, this is a 100 lumen turd.  The illumination was underwhelming, as was the switch activation.  In full disclosure I bought this flashlight for $9.00; that is NINE dollars, spent for the sole purpose of illuminating my tinkering with my Lee Pro 1000 Press.

As with the ProTac LED and Microstream the color was a vibrant white hue and overall provided a minimum of light to do the job.  That is not what made it underwhelming.  The part that was truly stupefying was that it had twice the lumens of the Microstream with only about 10% of the light improvement.

As with the Microstream it was better than nothing, but only by a slim margin.  I included this flashlight in the test because it provided a data point.  It led to a wasted test day.

Streamlight NF-2:

This is the first of three incandescent flashlights I am testing.  It has 78 lumens and is an outdated, discontinued model.  It was included here for the sole purpose of comparing incandescent illumination to LED.


The good part: it didn’t affect my night sight at all.  Unfortunately the light provided was sub-par.  The yellow coloration was a non-issue, but the overall light quality was poor and cast a lot of shadows.  I actually cleaned the lens, installed new batteries and tried again the next morning.  Poor lighting was the same result.

I have two more incandescent lights to test, but my suspicions are we will get similar results.  Incandescent lighting just can’t compare to a quality LED.

It is worth noting that this light was considered to be at the top of its class when I bought it…. in 2004.

Streamlight PolyTac:

With 275 lumens out of the C4 LED, the Streamlight PolyTac was the brightest light tested so far.  The light quality did not disappoint.

Let me briefly discuss the actual PolyTac itself.  As the name describes, the entire light is polymer.  It is probably not the light you want to take on an excursion to douchebagistan, but for EDC it works splendidly.

Sidebar:  I actually keep this light installed on my AR, attached with a Viking Tactics mount.  Yes I know, polymer light on an AR.  Whatever; I live in this thing called reality.  If I have to use my AR in defense, especially more than a few shots, I will be famous.  I keep the light on there for one reason –   varmints on my property.   Since I don’t plan on a Chupacabra returning fire, I feel safe in my choice.

Now, back to the discussing the light quality and effect…

Upon initial activation the brightness of the flashlight did affect my eyes briefly.  This was the first time this has happened during the test and my reflex was to close my eyes and squint for maybe five seconds.  I think this is important.  When identifying someone inside of your house, five seconds is an eternity.

The light quality was, as I said above, great.  No weird shadows.  The LED and reflector design cast a smooth, even light across the area of coverage.   Just awesome illumination – once my eyes adjusted.   Out of those tested so far, this is the one I would choose today.


Will the brighter lights cause greater reflex squinting?

Will the squint time increase with the lumen output?

Will the 550 lumen Nitecore cause me to convulse?

Stay tuned for the next episode we test an old tech Mag Light 3D Cell light, the discontinued Streamlight TL-3, maybe a Streamlight Stinger and the 550 lumen Nitecore SRT3.

Are police use of force statistics good baselines for civilian CCW training?

I was recently involved in a thread with an “instructor” who maintained that students should primarily train for shootings that occur at ranges of 10 feet and less. He based this assertion on the fact that most police shootings occur at extremely close ranges, and so that was the distance we should train for. I don’t agree with that assessment, and believe that the pure civilian CCW shooter should train for longer ranges and complex shots.

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What caliber for dinosaurs?

Have you seen this photo? It’s been widely shared on Facebook, because some ranchers in Florida had what is clearly a dinosaur eating their cattle, so they did what any reasonable person would do in that situation and killed it.

15 foot alligator

And that’s when the drama began, because people On the Internet don’t like it when you kill things, even if those things are an apex predator that lived through the K-T extinction. Physically unchanged for a hundred million years, because it’s the perfect killing machine. A half ton of cold-blooded fury, the bite force of 20,000 Newtons, and stomach acid so strong it can dissolve bones and hoofs.

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We don’t bash guns

I get accused from time to time of being biased against certain guns, or unfairly targeting certain brands for “bashing,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. That’s not really true, although I can sort of understand why people would get that idea. I certainly am biased against certain types of guns, but I’ve come by that bias honestly through experience. I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide “lolscrewTaurus” or something like that.

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