Condition: Yellow - responsible preparation, and fun, for an unpredictable world

Category Archives

51 Articles

Situational Awareness Advice for Armed Citizens

If you are habitually armed in public, it is necessary that you live your public life aware of what’s going on around you; that you are situationally aware.

Proper situational awareness is not something you simply get after some time as a concealed or open carrier. Rather it is something that you must deliberately develop into habit. Doing so takes time and continual effort until it’s something you do automatically, without ever thinking about it. Ultimately, situational awareness becomes your lifestyle. That doesn’t mean it’s something conspicuous, something you display in your mannerisms. On the contrary, it’s an unobtrusive quality, likely unnoticeable by those around you. At least it should be, until there’s something to respond to.

To become habitually, situationally aware requires that you work to develop some specific habits that at first will intrude upon your daily life. Initially, they’re things you have to deliberately think about and remember to do nearly all of the time until they become unconscious habits. My advice that follows here includes some important components to situational awareness, but once you start paying attention you’ll likely find or develop others.

 

a public place

 

General Habits

Be genuinely interested in what’s happening around you at all times. Actively and passively monitor the situation for your entire 360.
Everywhere you go you should be continually comparing the people and activity around you to what you believe should be the baseline for the location or context. By baseline, I mean “the normal” for the venue. If anything varies from how people should normally behave, move, talk, and engage in activity it should raise a flag to your attention.

Continually monitor for anything new or incongruent. Note when the volume or character of nearby conversations changes; when the background noise varies oddly; when the flow of human traffic changes; when nearby people’s physical attitude changes, when the point of attention for the people around you changes; when an individual or a group of people seem out of place due to physical attitude, dress, facial expression, movement, or other quality. You might even be able to detect when the mood of those around you changes (develop and then learn to trust your gut!).

At first you’ll have to actively pay attention. In time, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to keep tabs on everything happening around you. When you have developed the habit, nearly all of the aforementioned information can be monitored passively. When something raises a flag in your attention, switch to active and evaluate things critically for a moment.

 

a restaurant

 

Move and position yourself strategically. Sit facing the front door or the largest area of the room in public places. Even better, have your back to a wall while doing so.
If you’re going to monitor the situation, it’s best to have a clear view of your surroundings, with your back toward the least-likely direction for ambush. This is an easy habit to develop, but it requires that you enlist your family and friends. For instance, my wife always takes the restaurant seat with her back to the door because she knows which seat I’ll take. Likewise, all of my friends know to leave the proper seat to me when we’re out in public because they’ve been trained (by me) and know that if they don’t, I’ll ask to switch seats. When you’re with someone new, move deliberately to take the proper position in a room or at the table.

This is an important habit and allows for some other important ones…

When in a static position in a public place (e.g. seated in a restaurant, in an office waiting room, in your workplace) briefly make note of every person who enters the room.
Take a look at face, hands, and hips and “clear them” as a potential threat before letting your attention drift elsewhere. While this might sound laborious, it’s really quite easy and can be done in one or two seconds. It’s nothing anyone should notice you doing, as it becomes just a component of your stationary activity and varied attention.

Does the person seem nervous or angry? Are they holding their arms oddly, especially holding their arms against their body or beltline? Are they holding something in their hands? What is it? Are they trying to conceal something in their hands? Are they wearing clothes that are incongruent with the temperature or venue? You should be able to tell from the face, hands, or hips, or combination of them, if that person is about to become a threat.

If you’re then going to respond to the potential or developing threat, you’ll have to already have a plan specific to that location (a topic for another article).

Habits for Moving Around

Take a wide line when going around corners. Check beside and behind you after you turn the corner.
When moving to a space you cannot see, it is important not to make yourself an easy target; either for ambush or for collision with someone else who is equally oblivious and coming toward you.

This habit is most threat-context relevant when you’re in a public space, like on a downtown sidewalk, in a parking garage, in an apartment breezeway or hallway. When you’re going to walk around a right-hand corner, western habit is to hug the right side and take the corner in a shallow manner. Break with this habit and always move to the center of the walkway well before the corner so that you get a view of your new space before you move into it. When you’ve finished turning the corner, reevaluate your immediate 360 after a step or two. Corners—before, during, and after—are common ambush locations.

If you’re approaching a T corner, be sure to check both ways as you’re navigating the turn. Don’t leave an unknown at your back.

 

a hallway

 

Scan right and left when walking through a doorway—any doorway, even in your own home.
Like blind corners, archways and doorways take us from a clear view to an unseen area. Make a habit of moving slowly through portals while you quickly scan right and left; even up, when appropriate. Unless you’re actively evaluating for specific threats, this needn’t be anything more than a quick glance, as anything that might concern you will capture your attention.

I say “even in your own home,” because survival is a habit that is relevant to the activity, not to the public or private context. If you sometimes don’t do it, then you’ve not yet developed the habit.

Never walk while looking at or talking on your phone.
Just never do it. Sadly, this is a common habit and character flaw among people today. This one mistake is responsible for a large proportion of mugging victimhood. One should never do it.

Note that your friends who habitually break this rule are alive at the whim of criminals who could take them at any moment. It’s not okay to live at another’s whim.

 

a parking garage

 

When in a parking lot or parking garage, pay particular attention to your surroundings.
These areas are prime ambush locations so always make note of and evaluate:

  • occupied parked cars
  • running cars
  • all of the other people (What are they doing? Where are they going?)
  • blind spots

Additionally, give parked cars a wide berth while walking to/from yours. Note the spaces in between. Never, ever, assume you are alone.

Automobile Habits

Pay particular attention when approaching a parking spot.
Whether you’re in a parking lot, a parking garage, or approaching your own driveway, turn up your awareness as you approach your parking spot. Maintain heightened awareness after you park. Scan the wider area then the immediate area as you pull up. Before you turn off the engine or unlock the doors, do a quick 360 scan. Then, when you exit your vehicle, pay particular attention to the area behind you as you reevaluate your 360 and leave the area of your vehicle.

Undo your seatbelt before you turn into your parking space.
Parking ambush attacks often come or can be noticed before you stop your vehicle. Smart assailants may have an accomplice in another vehicle that will block your way of escape. If you are strapped into your seat, it can be difficult to deploy your defensive weapon quickly enough to thwart the threat before an assailant can gain the advantage (you will likely die if you attempt to draw your own weapon when the assailant’s gun is trained on you). It can be a useful habit to free yourself of constraint well before you begin parking.

Of course, if you notice a threat before you turn off your engine, driving away from a threat can often be the best course of action—provided you’re not blocked in or acting from the drop (when an assailant already has a gun drawn on you).

Develop Your Gut

At first you’ll have to deliberately practice situational awareness. In time, you’ll simply be aware. Ultimately, all of these habits should be automatic and employing them should bring nothing visibly noticeable about you. You’ll still look and behave the same way, but you’ll be far more in tune to what’s going on around you. If you’re going to listen to your gut, give it something to go on and work to develop the senses that will inform your intuition.

Since you’re the one with the defensive weapon on your person, you should be the first one alerted to something wrong. Be first. Those who respond last usually don’t last very long when things go wrong. So if you carry a defensive weapon, give yourself a chance for that fact to count for something when it’s needed.

The IGFS Trigger Destroyed my Glock 19

I really like a flat trigger and have, since October of 2016 enjoyed the IGFS Enhanced Duty Trigger. In that time I put 19,650 rounds through my EDC Glock 19. This is the only trigger I ever had in this gun, as I bought the frame and the IGFS trigger at the same time. After confirming that the trigger was safe and effective, I made this my everyday-carry gun.

When I noticed last week after 19K+ rounds that the trigger safety was not engaging properly, I removed the trigger and sent it back to the manufacturer for replacement and dropped the stock trigger assembly back in. The pistol no longer worked.

While training at the range yesterday, the trigger began to fail. For the first few rounds it felt odd, but I attributed that to my not being used to the stock trigger anymore. But then it failed completely and would not reset. I got a dead trigger, where I could pull the trigger repeatedly and got no striker fall. Then, after a few pulls, the striker would fall and the pistol would shoot.

I immediately disassembled the pistol and inspected the components, trying to diagnose. Others at the range, familiar with Glocks, joined in; all of us trying to discover what was going on. I carry a components box so I replaced the connector and the trigger spring in succession, and even put a drop of lube on the connector/trigger-bar intersection, re-trying the pistol, in an attempt to find the failure. No joy.

I noticed that the trigger pull articulated 2 clicks: an initial click, then the striker fall. This would prove to be the telltale symptom.

Each or us inspected the frame and slide components, trying to find the culprit. At last, my friend Jason had an epiphany and asked to see the stripped frame again. He looked carefully into the trigger guard and said that he found the problem.

Glock 19 damage

Glock 19 damage

The depression created by the repeated pressing of aluminum against the polymer created a ridge that blocked the stock safety tab from allowing the trigger to reset. The deformation of the polymer can be seen by examining the proper line the polymer in that are should take vs. the line created by the aluminum safety tab:

Glock 19 damage

You can see there how the depression creates a ridge that rises above the proper line for that area of polymer.

Next Steps

So that I could again have a functional gun, I took a small file and removed the damaged-area: the ridge created by the IGFS trigger safety tab. Even so, the damage has been done. I believe it is only a matter of time before the safety mechanism no longer works. A stock trigger now functions, but it feels different. The reset has no telltale “click” like a normal Glock trigger should. So I now have a question every time I pull the trigger. “Will it work this time?” That’s not what a Glock pistol is supposed to give you. Rather, a Glock is supposed to give you 100% certainty; certainty now destroyed by the IGFS trigger. Needless to say, this is no longer my EDC gun.

Luckily I have another Glock 19 frame to use for my EDC. As I now await my replacement trigger from IGFS, I believe I should NOT put it back into the frame. I think this frame is now forever ruined. This is what happens when aluminum abrades polymer. In other words, Innovative Gun Fighter Solutions has a severe design flaw that they must fix, as their trigger will destroy every pistol into which it is installed.

Other Brands of Replacement Triggers

I notice that every flat-face replacement trigger on the market has an aluminum shoe and aluminum safety tab. I cannot say for certain, but it is possible that EVERY replacement trigger will destroy the polymer frame of the pistol. If so, this is bad news.

I don’t have the $ to test every replacement trigger to 19,000 rounds, but I believe every manufacturer should troubleshot its design and ensure their triggers are not destroying otherwise 100%-reliable guns.

Two, I mean Three Bad Guys

Today’s training included some close-range drills with multiple targets. After a few reps we started to regard the second target as a new bad guy who arrived late. In this drill I engaged the second bad guy and was performing an admin reload (to ensure I had a full gun after the initial engagements) and my training partner Dave yelled, “Oh shit!” So I had to go back to the gun one-handed on a “new” bad guy. Wasn’t expecting that.

Good training.

IGFS Enhanced Duty Trigger – Failure After 19K Rounds

Since October of 2016 I’ve been running the IGFS Enhanced Duty Trigger in my EDC Glock 19. The action and function of this trigger was excellent and I was very happy with it in my carry pistol. The flat face makes for a more consistent press action and I find it easier to employ proper mechanics than with the stock Glock trigger.

While doing dry-fire practice this week I noticed that the trigger felt different and took a good long look at it. That’s when I saw that the safety tab was rather shallow on the trigger shoe. I confirmed that the safety mechanism no longer prevented the trigger from being improperly pressed to the rear. Not good!

This is the promo photo for the trigger. Notice that the safety tab protrudes prominently.

 

Here (below) is my IGFS Enhanced Duty Trigger after being installed on my Glock 19 last October. Notice here that the safety tab is prominent. I did confirm then that the safety mechanism worked properly.

IGFS Trigger

 

In the seven months that followed I carried this pistol all day, every day, and trained with it 3 to 4 days per week. I shot 19,000 rounds in that time and thoroughly enjoyed the trigger.

But here (below) is the trigger today after 19,000 rounds, 7 months after installation. The trigger safety no longer protrudes enough to keep the trigger from improper engagement. I inspected the trigger assembly for any impediments or damage and could find nothing. My conclusion is that the spring that engages the safety tab just wore out from use.

 

As you can see here (below), the trigger safety should be protruding more in the front so that the rear catch is exposed enough to engage and prevent the trigger from being improperly pressed to the rear.

 

Here (below) you can see where the mechanism is supposed to be when not engaged. Thousands of trigger presses just wore out the safety spring. No bueno.

IGFS Trigger fail

I contacted IGFS and told them about this. they responded to say that they’ve never heard of such a failure and will replace the trigger. That was a few days ago and I have no return or replacement details yet. I will report when I know more.

I like the IGFS Enhanced Duty Trigger and would like to continue to run it in my EDC gun. But I’d like to know that they’ve addressed this specific issue. This trigger is specifically for Glock pistols, which are known for 100% reliability. This component would not seem to fit the standards. For now it’s back to the stock Glock trigger that came with this pistol. I have stock Glock triggers with 60k+ rounds of use that exhibit no safety malfunction whatever. IGFS should do better.

Pistol Drill: Five Inside Out

For this drill you’ve got 5 targets setup at 10 yards–three 6-inchers, a 10″, and a milk bottle. At the beep, draw from concealment and put one round on each, starting from the middle and then clearing the rest.

I did the drill about 25 times and while I had plenty of clean runs, I also had plenty of 1-miss runs; like this string of five in a row. :-/ Moar training!

Reload and Re-engage Drill

This is a simple reload drill. The target is the little round 6″ steel plate at 10 yards, third from the left.

I’ve got one in the pipe and an empty magazine. Draw from concealment and put one round on target, pistol is empty, move off of the X and reload from concealment, then re-engage the target with two more rounds. Should take less than 4 seconds.

New Watch: Smith & Bradley “Springfield”

Really loving my new watch. The Springfield has a classic look, clear indicators in light or darkness, and rugged construction. It’s not an expensive watch ($175 – $225) and I think it looks amazing.

  • Domed Sapphire Crystal With Anti-Reflective Coating
  • 7mm Crown
  • C3 Superluminova Hour Markers 
  • C3 Superluminova Hands
  • Swiss Ronda Quartz Movement
  • 10 ATM Water Resistance
  • 316L Stainless Steel Brushed Finish Case
  • Military Markings
  • 2 Year Limited Warranty

S&B Sp0ringfield

Full-Mag Fatigue Drill

I ran this drill 18 times today. “Fatigue drill” is right.

I’m setup here at 15 yards on a 12″ (not 10″) steel plate. The point is to run this drill several times in succession and maintain accuracy as you get more and more tired.

I started out with 1 miss on my first run, then had 2 per, then 3 per, and ended up with 4 misses on each of my last 4 runs. Fatigue is a thing. More training.

Near the end you can hear Gunny yelling at me about my misses. I can always count on Gunny to keep me humble, and every time I miss it seems he’s standing behind me. Usually with a comment at the ready. 🙂

Two Directions From Concealment

Here I’m just working on directional fundamentals here, ensuring that I’m turning from my hips and not my waist to engage targets spaced far apart in two directions.

Using my EDC pistol: Glock 19. I was pretty consistent today with good hits at 2:10 or so, but I was working on getting consistent hits under 2 seconds. It worked out.

New Folder Knife: The Kershaw Flourish

I picked up a new pocket folder knife, the Fourish model from Kershaw. While not a switchblade, it’s a spring-assisted-open pocket knife that is at the upper end of advisable carry size. It is by no means too big, but it is about as large a knife as I’d want to carry in my front pocket. It opens very nicely and quite easily, but not so easy as to come open in your pocket.

The steel is 8Cr13MoV, which is not awesome, but darn good for a budget-priced knife. It should hold an edge fairly well. The blade has a black-oxide wash finish that I find attractive. Mostly, I just like this larger knife as a potential defender (I have another, smaller pocket knife for boxes and such). The Flourish has G-10 grip panels with carbon fiber overlay.

Kershaw Flourish

Kershaw Flourish

Note: (above) This is *not* how you hold a knife, I’m just trying to get my thumb out of the way for the photo.

Kershaw Flourish

Here is the Flourish (on the bottom) as compared to the CRKT Outrage, a Ken Onion design knife, which is of average size (top). The size difference seems minimal, but there is a significant difference in the hand.