Essential Skills

A really great run down of what a well-prepared, well-protected civilian would need in training, mindset and equipment, over at Revolver Science. I like this list because rather than concentrating on “The Seventeen Ways YOU Can Stop Terrorism With Your AR-15 (And #12 Will Blow His Mind!)!!!”, it lays out, pretty clearly, what our threats are and what can be done to stop them. I really like that “defensive driving” is on the list. Want to avoid a road rage incident? Try not to be a jerk on behind the wheel, and never escalate the situation when someone cuts you off.

Gee, maybe those same principles of heightened awareness, conspicuous politeness and de-escalation might also work when he have a firearm on our waist and well as when we’re behind wheel.

Now that my family’s moved, “Getting into shape in order to help me live longer and with less creaking joints” needs to be on my version of this list.

Product Review: Coast HP1 Flashlight.

Coast HP1Advantages: Small, Very Bright, Inexpensive
Disadvantages: A Little Thick For a AA Light
Rating: Five Stars Out Of Five

Seriously, this thing costs less than ten dollars? It outshines everything I own except my dedicated weapon lights, yet it takes one AA battery. It’s small, it’s lightweight, it’s got a simple on/off interface, it focuses to throw a beam for at least 100 yards and also spreads out to bath a large area with light. If I have one complaint, it’s that the focusing lens makes it a little wider than other lights, which means it takes up more space in my pocket, however, it’s great to toss into a gear bag or take along on a hike.

And did I mention it was bright? Here’s a while garage door, illuminated by the flashlight on an iPhone 6+. The photos were taken as there were before, with a Nikon D70, f5.6, 1 second at ISO 400, or about 1/1000 the light that’s out there during the daylight hours.

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The same door, lit up with the Coast HP1 on focused spot mode.

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Bazinga!

For ten bucks and a AA battery, you can’t go wrong with this light. Sure, there may be brighter lights out there and lights that are designed to fly to the moons of Pluto and back which cost more, but if this light craps out on me, it’s a sawbuck to get a new one.

That, to me, is the very definition of a good value.

Failure Is Always An Option

I hate dry-fire practice with my strong hand only and weak hand only*, because it shows just how much I suck at such things. But I do it. Not as often as I should, but I do it nevertheless. I’m ok with sucking at something for a while if I know I can get better at it with effort and practice. It’s the sucking at something and not improving that I hate (and I do that far too much for my liking).

Which is why I can’t figure out why you wouldn’t want to do a night shoot. There’s a very good chance you’ll need to defend yourself at night, so why not get good at it now, when the stakes are just 17th place in a match, not your life? Better a bruised ego now than deep penetrating trauma later.

*Go ahead. Tell me there’s no such thing as “weak hand”, just “support hand”. I dare you.

The Stupidity Triad.

I know trainers who poo-poo the idea of situational awareness, preferring instead to concentrate  on dealing with the after-effects of being ambushed. While I understand the idea (they are, after all, firearms trainers, not zen awareness trainers), but the fact is, you win 100% of the fights you don’t get into.

I’ve some more ideas on John Farnam’s classic dictum on avoiding bad things before they happen over at Ricochet.com.

It’s A Family Affair

“De l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace” – Georges Danton

The paradigm of the personal protection/bodyguard might not be the right one for people like me who want to keep our families safe. Maybe it is all about winning by being on the attack, not on defense.

On this episode of Ballistic Radio, Melody Lauer talks about stopping the threat to our families by… stopping the threat. Not shielding our kids, not putting ourselves in between them and the line of fire and dealing with things, but making stopping the threat the priority, as that’s the safest and quickest solution for everyone involved.

*thoughtful pause*

There’s an element of truth what Melody talks about on which I need to ponder, because it squares nicely with what I’m learning about individual armed self-defense. However, I can’t help but wonder how such ideas square with the methods used by people who are paid to protect people for a living, rather than myself, who does it for free, as part of my job of being a Dad. Is their training wrong, or is it focused more on large attacks by a group on one individual, and not keeping two or three people safe from street crime or an overzealous ex-spouse?

If nothing else, this proves that the science of familial protection is not settled, but rather, it’s just beginning.

Product Review: ThruNite TI4 Flashlight

Advantages: Small size, powerful output, common battery type
Disadvantages: Confusing controls
Rating: Four out of five stars.

I’ve been carrying a SigTac flashlight for a year now, and I like it because it’s bright (enough), small and it takes one AA battery. Yes, this means it isn’t as bright as an equivalent flashlight that uses CR123 batteries, but it also means I can find batteries on the Moon if need be.

However, it’s a thick flashlight, and that thickness is something that I need to deal with when I take other things out of my pockets. Sometimes, it’s not about the gadget itself, but how that gadget plays well with others. Also, I wasn’t really satisfied with the output of the SigTac light, so I started to look around for a slimmer light with a bit more candlepower.

I settled on a Thrunight Ti4 LED light. It’s powerful, easily surpassing the output of the SigTac. It’s also light, slim and becuase it looks like a pen, it doesn’t scream “I have a tactical flashlight on me!” when it’s clipped in my front pants pocket.

2xAAA LED flashlight

If I have one complaint, it’s the controls. The light has four modes: Firefly (very weak), Low (good for navigation), High (good for dazzling someone) and Strobe (good for triggering epiletic seizures). The light starts out in the dimest mode available when turned on and then the other modes are accessed by double-clicking the end cap, twisting the lens barrel or pressing and holding the end cap. It works, but it’s a bit kludgy. I’d much prefer some way to set up the light so that it starts up in my preferred mode every time I turn it on, rather than having to cycle through all the modes to get to the one I want. Also, an “emergency switch” of some sort would be nice to quickly turn on the strobe function when I need to use it stop a potential bad guy from doing me further harm.

Overall, though, for the price, it’s a great light, and definitely an upgrade from the SigTac light I had been carrying or the Streamlight MicroStream I carried before that.

Production note: As an experiment, this post was created entirely on my iPhone 6+ using an iWerks Bluetooth keyboard and the Camera+, Tilt/Shift Generator and Resize Image apps. It took me about twice as long to write than if I’d used a full-size computer, mainly because the layout of the keyboard is slightly different and toggling between browser windows is tougher on a smartphone than it is on a desktop, but I found out I can write a blog post on gear I can fit into my pockets. Cool.

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.

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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?

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.

instinct_vs_ak74

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.

instinct_vs_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.