Tactical Vs. Practical

I thought I’d break down the Louland match from a few weeks ago where I shot my subcompact Shield versus my normal gamer gear to see how much equipment actually affects performance. I’m comparing my scores to another “C” class shooter at the match who was running a Glock 19 with full mags to give some idea of what difference carry gear and drawing from concealment makes in a match.

Stage One
This stage traditionally has a lot of falling steel, mini-poppers and plate racks, meaning accuracy is at a premium. It was also the first stage I shot in the match with a gun I hadn’t practiced with for months, which led to some expected results.

Competitor One
Points: 110 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 32.48
Points: 80 – Points Down: 60 – Time: 79.69

Yeah, screwed the pooch big time on this one, leaving 6 targets un-shot. Moving on…

Stage Two
A more traditional steel stage, with some run and gun elements. The targets were bigger (A-C steel and poppers) and I’d settled down a bit and gotten used to the gun after the first stage. Here’s a photo and a stage diagram.

Stage Description: Shoot the lettered targets from their corresponding area.

Competitor One
Points: 120 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 16,42
Points: 120 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 54.10

Still slow, but getting better. As a way to judge the skill level of the other competitor and myself, I re-shot this stage the next day with my gamer rig, and did it in 20.69 seconds.

Stage 3
You’ve seen this one in the video, so let’s get to it.

Competitor One
Points: 95 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 19.44
Points: 98 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 28.54

Took me a while longer to shoot, but my comfort with the small gun was definitely improving.

Stage 4
The stage from the last part of the video, the one with the pond. Very fast, with few targets.

Competitor One
Points: 56 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 11.25
Points: 58 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 18.36

Having to reload and work from concealment really hit me on this stage.

Stage 5
All steel, with hostage-target and a bunch of tiny little rabbit auto poppers.

Competitor One
Points: 95 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 19.66
Points: 95 – Points Down: 0 – Time: 28.35

Again, having to reload twice as often and draw both my gun and magazines from reload affecting things there quite a bit.

All in all, I’m glad I shot the match with my carry gear because some of the targets (like the hostage shot) were quite tricky, and knowing that I can make the shot with my carry gear, on-demand and under stress, is a big confidence booster.

Current Every Day Carry

I’ve made a number of changes to what I carry on a daily basis, so I thought a review is in order.


Clockwise from upper right left:

I carry the belt gear on a Uncle Mike’s tactical instructor’s belt, and I really like it. It’s infinitely adjustable and holds my gear in-place throughout the day. I don’t carry everything I *might* need, I carry the basics of, well, everyday carry. This is bare minimum needed to keep me safe and functioning on a daily basis.

Well that, and coffee.

The rest of the crap I need to live a day on my own I have near me in another bag, and an even bigger bag (and gun) to deal with the really bad stuff.

Your gear?

So just what is a “training scar”?

Judging by this conversation, a training scar is best defined as “a process or style that a student has which a firearms teacher cannot integrate into his teaching”.

Look, I know I have a tendency not to look around after a course of fire is over. Despite that, every time I’ve ran through a “blind” shoot house, where I didn’t know where the targets were or how many targets there were, I stopped only when the instructor told me the exercise was over.

Yep, despite not doing a “scan and assess” after shooting a stage, when it came time to replicate things in as real of environment as possible, I kept my guard up and kept treating it as “real”, even though it wasn’t.

It’s almost as if my mind and body know when I’m gaming, and when I’m not.

For me, the benefits of regular competition, namely, being able to deliver the shot quickly and accurately under stressful conditions, outweigh having to deal with integrating that into a “tactical” environment like a training class. Let’s stop worrying about “training scars” and start worrying about making the shot, no matter what happens before during or after the trigger press.

Match Report – Louland Pistol Match, 9-24-15

Once a year, I like to shoot my carry gear in competition to see how it performs in a stressful situations, so I brought my Smith&Wesson Shield in 9mm, Crossbreed Minituck and a pair of mag pouches to the Louland pistol match last week.

Shooting a match with a gun that holds 8+1 means you get a LOT of opportunity to practice your reloads, and despite this (and the super-short sight radius of the Shield), I did ok.

Here’s a video of another shooter running a stage with a Glock 19 versus my Shield. There is something to be said for having 15 rounds in a mag, as we shall now see, with special bonus footage of what happens when you set up a match, then have a Florida monsoon roll in the morning of the match.

Not enough gun for the round

One of the trends I saw while working behind the counter at the range was the tendency of people who are new to concealed carry to chose a gun with too much power and too little size to make it controllable. They’d come in, and even though they’d never shot a gun before, they’d immediately gravitate to pocket 9mm’s like the Glock 43 or a Shield. Now, I own a Shield, and I absolutely adore it, but it’s not a gun I’d recommend for first-timers because it has a steeper learning curve than, say, a Glock 19.

The smallest, most powerful hand-cannon in the world does you SQUAT if you can’t hit the target with it, and people tend to over-estimate just how good of a shot they are, especially if they’ve never shot under stressful conditions. This is why I steered people towards the more-controllable LC-380, Glock 42 and Sig P238 in .380 ACP instead of a 9mm (or even .40) pocket rocket. The smaller cartridge and extra mass of those guns make them eminently shootable, and with the right cartridge, (I prefer Hornady XTP’s), .380 will deliver enough oomph to get the job done.

And now there’s a new .380 pocket gun out from Rock Island that seems to tick all the right boxes, especially if you’re into the 1911 platform. I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of safeties on a carry gun, but they make a whole lot of sense if you appendix-carry or carry off-body, and this new gun looks like a great combination of power, concealability and accuracy.

Memo to Martin Tuscon Tuason: Thanks for this gun. Now, can you PLEASE make the .22 TCM AR-15 upper I’ve been wanting from you for over a year now?

Gear Review: SOG Instinct Mini Knife

Advantages: Easy to grasp and deploy, scabbard fits almost anywhere
Disadvantages: Small size
Rating: 4 out of 5

I’ve been looking for a good way to carry a self-defense knife for quite some time now. I started out carrying a CRKT Pazoda clipped to my weak-side pocket, switched to a Boker AK-74 and tried out a Kershaw Shuffle, but I never liked any of them as they were either too big and took up too much space in my pocket or too clumsy to deploy quickly.

I normally conceal my pistol with an un-tucked shirt, (Memo to Florida lawmakers: Pass open carry, and soon), so there is plenty of room around my belt line to conceal the gear that I’m already carrying, so it made sense to move my knife up from my support-side pocket to my waistline and use a knife that didn’t require an activation beyond pulling it out of a sheath.

The SOG Mini Instinct is tiny. Not small, tiny. Maybe a little too small for effective use, but I’ll need more experience with it to determine if that’s true or not.


That’s the Instinct Mini compared to the Boker AK-74 it’s replacing, and here’s one of the Mini Instinct versus a Kershaw Shuffle.


Like I said, tiny. The good things about this new knife are its scabbard, which is easily configurable to allow for carry just about anywhere on your person and its small size, making it easy to carry.

The reason I carried a knife in the support side pocket was to help with weapon retention, but carrying it up front makes more sense, as I can access the knife with equal ease with either my left or right hand. So far, the Instinct Mini has been completely inconspicuous on the front of my belt under my shirt, and feels like it’s not there at all, which is all you can ask for in an everyday carry knife.

The Delicate Balance of Concealed Carry

Grant Cunningham talks about the convenience of off-body carry for women (and others) versus the very real risks of carrying a pistol in such a manner.

As someone who carried one of these on his shoulder for hours (if not days) on end, I understand the convenience and appeal of off-body carry. I carried cameras, lenses and other gear in my bag, but you know what I didn’t carry in my camera bag? My wallet. My car keys. All the things that were essential to my life.

I understand such things are not an option if you carry a purse, because you carry a purse to carry the things that ARE essential to your life. Your firearm, however, is there to protect yourself and what’s important to you, and therefore should be kept separate from the things that are attractive to crooks.

It’s like planting a gun safe in your front lawn. Sure, technically, it’s secure there. It is a safe, after all. This is not a good idea, though, as it places the items you’re need to protect yourself outside of where you’ll need them most.

Now, despite years of (quite frankly, very sexist) study of the female form in my youth, I am not an expert on the best way for women to carry a gun on their person. The results of a poll I did awhile back on this subject surprised me, so take these results into account when it comes time to shop for something that’s not a gun purse, and carry your gun in a location where it’ll be in your hands when you need it, not in the hands of crook.

2.4 Million Dollars Worth of Bloomberg’s Tears

Congratulations to Bill Brassard and everyone at the National Shooting Sports Foundation for this coup:

The NSSF has been awarded a two-year, $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide firearm-safety education messaging and free gun locks through NSSF’s Project ChildSafe program to communities throughout the country. This program from the gun lobby encourages responsible firearm storage and works with gun owners to reduce firearm accidents, theft and misuse.

Look, it’s not surprising that the NSSF has this program and it works: As I’ve said before, biggest advocates for pool fences and watching your kids around water are the pool builders themselves, so it makes sense that the shooting sports industry advocates for safe gun ownership.

After all, it wasn’t Sarah Brady who came up with the fundamental rules of gun safety, it was Jeff Cooper.

Keeping your guns secure from prying hands just makes sense, and it doesn’t slow you down one second, as we shall now witness.

Michael Bloomberg’s Coalition to Stop Fun Gun Violence is positively apoplectic with rage, though.


I believe that gloating is a sin, but let’s just say that I am taking an extreme amount of satisfaction from this result.