A few weeks ago Baxter wrote a piece on the release of The Gadget, a device that allows someone using a Glock pistol to block the striker mechanism when holstering the weapon. I ordered two Gadgets through the IndieGoGo campaign and in the future I intend to keep a Gadget on any Glock pistol I’m using.
I first started carrying Appendix Inside the Waist Band several years ago after being asked to shoot an HK45 that Todd Green was running an extended test on. The HK45 is a big pistol but to my great surprise I was able to comfortably and effectively conceal the gun when carrying in a good AIWB holster from Custom Carry Concepts. Immediately after that I ordered my first AIWB holster from CCC for the M&P 9 I was carrying and I started training with the new carry setup. I found I was able to more comfortably and more effectively conceal my pistol, too, which meant I carried it more frequently. There were a number of occasions where I would have ordinarily carried a J frame where I could now easily conceal a lot more gun. I was a convert.
Over the next several months I continued to work on my presentation from the holster and I even took a couple of classes. One of the classes took place on one of those hot, humid July days that are typical of summertime in the south. Nearly 100 degree temperatures, humidity in the high 90% range. It’s worth noting that when those conditions struck Europe some years ago tens of thousands of people died as a result. That’s one of the reasons why we are big fans of air conditioning down here…it gets lethally hot at least a few weeks every year. By the end of the second day of class I was sunburned (SPF 30 doesn’t cut it for me), mildly dehydrated, and just plain tired. I had just fumbled a reload and I was pretty ticked off at my performance as I reholstered my pistol. I performed this reholster FAR too fast. Immediately after the gun was seated in the holster I knew I’d messed up. The little voice in my head that keeps me out of trouble spoke up “You’re lucky you didn’t just shoot yourself, moron.”
I was pretty familiar with the dangers of inattentively reholstering before this moment due to experience and training. I had actually been in a class with a police officer who experienced an unintentional discharge of his striker-fired pistol when reholstering. He was part of a task force looking for a violent criminal. He and two other officers were in plain clothes setting up surveillance on the bad man when the guy walked right into one of the other officers. This led to a foot chase. When the officer I trained with arrived on scene he found the first officer trapped on the ground taking blows to the head. He reholstered his sidearm in his department-mandated plainclothes holster and BOOM. The retention snap on his holster had found its way inside the trigger guard of his Glock and as he attempted to reholster under the influence of adrenaline he didn’t notice any extra resistance. In the moment he didn’t even realize he had been shot. He told me he thought at the time that the officer taking the beating had fired to stop the vicious beating. It took those three police officers and two more uniformed police officers to get that guy subdued. It wasn’t until the fight was over and everyone was taking inventory of the injuries that anyone noticed that “Bob’s” jeans were bloody and had a hole in them…and that a chunk of the holster was wedged into the trigger guard.
I have personally experienced a similar close call (thankfully without a loud noise) at a low light class when the lanyard from a flashlight I was carrying found its way into my holster. It was pitch black and I was reholstering my M&P and something felt wrong. I stopped immediately and had another student use his flashlight to see what was going on. We moved to a berm and I contorted myself so that if the weapon did fire I wouldn’t end up with a racing stripe down my leg and I slowly and carefully backed the gun out of the holster so I could sort out the problem.
All of this was flashing through my brain after that bad reholster…and that was when I made the decision that I would acquire a pistol with a hammer I could block with my thumb as quickly as possible. I could have tried to convince myself that I was being paranoid, or even patted myself on the back for probably being more aware of the potential for problem than many others would have been…but that would have been foolish. I had been lucky a couple of times. I did not plan on being lucky anymore.
With dangerous machines, bad things happen fast. Even the most well trained person is capable of a moment of inattention with a dangerous machine and that’s all it takes to produce a negative outcome. Like this:
That clip features Randy Probst, a professional driver who has set a number of records at various race tracks in addition to being an instructor who has taught a lot of people on tough tracks like Laguna Seca. He’s also a professional racer, in that clip racing a Nissan GTR up Pike’s Peak. Randy and his team had worked on that car for months and had done a fair bit of testing on the actual Pike’s Peak run…but even with all that training, experience, and preparation he was still human enough to make one mistake at speed. One little mistake and his car is launched off of an embankment, placing him in grave danger. I’ve had the personal experience of being a passenger in a powerful car driven by a professional racer, spinning at triple digit speeds because he made a little bit of a mistake in his approach to a corner on the track.
Even the most well-trained pilot in the world goes through a checklist before flying. Even the most highly trained, highly skilled orthopedic surgeon in the world will ask the patient he is working on to actually mark the limb being operated on before a surgery. Why? Because there is no amount of training or skill that completely eliminates the human factor. In every risky profession from a helicopter pilot to being an engineer at a nuclear power plant you will see every possible approach adopted to minimize the risk of a negative outcome. I used to work in a manufacturing plant with some very dangerous machinery that occasionally had to be repaired or maintained. We had to do a procedure known as lock-out, tag-out on this equipment to work on it. This required powering down the equipment, ensuring that there was no stored energy left in the equipment, and engaging multiple redundant mechanical safety mechanisms to prevent maiming or killing the people crawling around in these powerful machines. Some people at the plant complained about the time it took to perform these tasks…but I never did. If I was going to stick my arm into a press capable of tearing it completely off my torso, I wanted to engage every mechanical safety I could find on the damn thing.
I’m human enough to make a mistake. The training I’ve obtained over the years has not made me invincible…it has merely familiarized me with the limitations inherent in being a human creature.
The Gadget is a risk mitigation tool. It allows me to have one more layer of separation between a mistake and a gunshot wound.
I’ve had a pre-production Gadget for a couple of years now, and I’ve never needed The Gadget when reholstering one of my Glocks. Careful reholstering procedure observed every time has worked to this point in the same way that careful driving has kept me from needing the airbags in my car. That doesn’t mean, though, that I’m incapable of screwing it up the very next time I try to reholster.
I’m not depending on a Gadget to keep me from experiencing a self-inflicted gunshot wound. I am just damn glad to have one as a last layer of defense against it in case everything else fails.