Current status of my bench. I would try and explain, but…I’m just in the middle of a few things.
If you carry a concealed handgun, it means that you’re committing yourself to a few logical conclusions. In the event of a life-threatening event, carrying means you’re committed to:
- drawing a live weapon from concealment in the heat and chaos of a terrifying moment,
- doing so safely and competently, despite your adrenaline-compromised state of mind and physical mechanics, so as not to injure yourself or those nearby,
- bringing the weapon to bear while avoiding physical or projectile attack upon yourself,
- making the life-and-death decision to fire or not fire as the situation develops, moment to moment,
- putting rounds accurately on your target, should you deliberately choose to fire, avoiding endangering innocents in the vicinity,
- being able to properly decide when and if the threat has been stopped, and if there are other threats besides the initial one,
- and, when the danger has passed, re-holstering your live weapon safely.
Now, how many times/week do you train to do those things, at least the mechanical things? How many times per day do you draw your live, chambered weapon from concealment with speed and deliberate intent and bring it to bear on a target, and then re-holster back into your concealed holster?
What about doing all this with the t-shirt that is longer than others you wear; the shirt that’s a bit more clingy than your others; with the jacket you wear zipped in cool weather; with the heavy coat you have on you during winter; with the gloves you wear while outdoors? How many times do you train to speedily and competently draw your live, ready-to-fire weapon from concealment under these garments…and safely re-holster? How many hundreds of times each month? Because hundreds of times each month is what is required for gaining any semblance of competence.
I wonder if most concealed carriers think about these things. Any of them.
In my experience most concealed carriers imagine that when they feel the need to defend themselves, some nonspecific things will “happen” wherein their weapon will move, safely and surely, from concealment into the perfectly formed grip of their outstretched hands…and, after some quick and easy decision, the threat “will be neutralized.”
I could be wrong. Perhaps I’m prejudiced by the fact that of the people I know who carry concealed, very few of them spend any time at the range training to do or handle or examine any of the things listed above. But they should because unless you have practiced unconsciously correct mechanics and habits, when you try and bring a loaded weapon into play from concealment while under duress—or while trying to perform quickly in a practical training class—you’re likely going to mess up in one or several ways. You might possibly even shoot yourself or someone else due to your negligence in training and resultant incompetence.
I believe this is what will likely happen because gun owners tend to shoot themselves when they “try something;” something they should try time and time again, every week of every month of every year of their lives. But they don’t, so they shoot themselves in the groin or the hip or the leg.
Instead of doing what is responsibly required of someone who carries a deadly weapon, I believe most concealed carriers merely practice drawing and re-holstering at home (when trying out a new holster), with an unloaded weapon, and I believe only a relative few of them visit a gun range to practice more than a couple times a year. And when they do they’re standing statically in a bay, slowly firing ball ammo rounds at a static target 7 yards away. This, anyway, is what my acquaintance, observation, and conversations with other shooters proves to me.
My tone here may seem a bit harsh, but, to take from a political aphorism, concealed carry ain’t beanbag. It’s deadly serious stuff that directly impacts people’s lives and fortunes in all sorts of ways. I therefore believe that those who aren’t prepared to meet their responsibilities with respect to carrying a concealed weapon should stay out of it.
Untrained and incompetent firearms owners seem to shoot themselves or others quite often. I say quite often because that sort of thing should never happen, given how easy it is to be safe with a firearm. Easy, yes, but safety and competence each require work. Lots of work and on a regular basis. It’s easy, but so many don’t seem to bother with it; the required training to forge competence and safe habits, I mean.
A Few Tips
The way to not shoot yourself while drawing your handgun is to do so with your index (trigger) finger ramrod straight along first the holster, then the frame of the handgun. You then keep your finger ramrod straight along the side of the frame until your sights are on your target. You need to do this thousands of times, perfectly, so as to make it automatic. You need to do this so many times that you become unconsciously incapable of putting your finger anywhere else.
If you do not do this thousands of times, you will fail when your conscious mind is occupied by some immediate threat and your unconscious mind is screaming, “Find the trigger! Find the trigger! Shoooooot!” In that case, you’re likely to shoot yourself or the ground while drawing.
The way to not shoot yourself while re-holstering is to
- Look your weapon back into the holster. The whole way.
- Know the habits of your outer garments as they hang and behave while you’re holding them out of the way while re-holstering. Know this from your thousands of repetitions in training. Know this about all of the kinds of outer garments you wear; not just clothing types, but each of the specific individual shirts, jackets, coats, etc.
- Know the habits of your pants and undershirt, if you wear one. Know, from thousands of repetitions in training, how they may try and interfere with the opening of your holster; especially an IWB holster.
- Re-holster slowly and surely, and know (from thousands of repetitions in training) what it feels like when some unseen piece of fabric is in the way.
- Keep your index finger ramrod straight along the frame of the weapon the entire time, and keep your thumb on the back of the slide, so that it won’t be pushed out of battery by the holster or anything else.
- Replace your garments to their normal hang/position and know the feel (from thousands of repetitions in training) of something being a bit out of place.
Do all of these things perfectly for thousands of repetitions in training, all while obeying the 4 rules of firearm safety out of habit (developed through consistent, ongoing training around other people), and you will never shoot yourself. Fail to do things this way and you will eventually shoot yourself. I’d almost bet my mortgage on that.
Last year, firearms trainer Larry Vickers announced that he was banning AIWB (appendix-inside-the-waisband) carry from his classes. Why? Because most people don’t train enough and don’t train correctly. Given the fact that his classes are open to shooters of various skill levels, in his place I would likely do the same. Because unsafe people are unsafe.
In his announcement, Larry observed…
“I know of two different students in two different classes taught by two different instructors who have shot themselves reholstering – I don’t want my name added to that list.”
Indeed. And negligently shooting oneself in the groin area is perhaps more traumatic than shooting oneself in the hip or outer leg. However, what’s at issue here has nothing to do with carry position. Rather, as always, the only relevant issue is safety and competence. Unsafe people are unsafe and incompetent people are incompetent. You may know them by their repeated lack of training and practice.
How To Not Shoot Yourself: Train
The thing that separates safe and competent shooters from unsafe and incompetent shooters is ongoing, contextually appropriate training. By this, I mean training that involves (after sufficient, requisite safety and mechanics training) drills that require drawing a live weapon from concealment while moving off the X and engaging targets effectively…while around other people…and then safely re-holstering the live weapon. Then doing it all over again and again and again. Even better if drills involve moving to and/or using cover, and better still if they involve speed reloads from concealment (you do carry a spare mag, don’t you?).
In the absence of this training, a person lacks competence at every step, which is highly dangerous given that it all involves manipulating a deadly weapon while doing complex things. Drawing a live handgun from an inside-the-waistband holster is not in and of itself dangerous at all. But the fumbling, unsure hands of one whose conscious attention is occupied by an immediate threat or training objective, without benefit of automatic muscle memory and unconscious habits, turn that multi-step operation into a crap shoot (so to speak), fraught with deadly danger.
An Anecdote: My Training
I draw and re-holster my loaded and ready-to-fire pistol at least 480 times every month. At least 320 of those reps are done in live-fire training on the range, where I draw from my AIWB holster and engage one or more targets, then re-holster the still-loaded pistol (Note: it’s a bad idea to holster an empty firearm. If you deliberately or accidentally make a habit out of doing that, it may one day get you killed. Besides, since you MUST treat every firearm as though it is loaded, make damn sure it is always loaded. Any other habit sows the seeds of failure.).
Here’s an example (below) of a concealed-carry competence drill:
Every morning after arming myself, I perform at least two draws of my loaded, ready-to-fire weapon from concealment. Additionally, I perform at least two reps of drawing my replacement magazine. I do this so that, outside of any range training I’ve done, I have a practiced understanding of how these clothes are best manipulated in drawing from concealment, today. I then do the same thing at the end of the day when taking off my weapon. This regimen isn’t enough by itself, but it’s a daily reinforcement of what I’ve forged on the range. It’s like brushing teeth; you just do it.
Now, I mention these facts to present readers with an example of where competence comes from. It comes from training; lots of training on a regular basis. And in the absence of lots of training on a regular basis, the result in every case is an unsafe and incompetent individual. There are and never have been any exceptions to this fact.
So don’t shoot yourself. Train right, train often, and pay particular attention to the draw and re-holster operations. Pay attention to these things a few hundred times a month. Or else.
Premise is: you’re escaping from two active shooters. You run to cover and disable Bad Guy #1 with two rounds to the upper chest, then run to 25 yards away and disable Bad Guy #2 with a head shot.
- At the beep, run to the 10-yard barrel, draw from concealment, and fire 2 shots to torso from cover
- Run back to the 25-yard line and put one round on the 8″ target
My time here was about 8 seconds.
Here’s a drill run from concealment using standard EDC kit.
The drill I concentrated on is a 6-shot drill, using 3 targets at 10 yards, spaced 3 yards apart. My target area is typically a paper plate (as shown below). The drill goes as follows:
- At the beep (time), draw from concealment while moving “off the X”
- Engage each target with one shot (slide locks back, empty)
- Draw replacement magazine from concealment while moving “off the X,” all while keeping eyes on last target
- Reload, rack the slide to charge the pistol
- Re-engage the targets in reverse order
- Check the environment (around and behind you)
Time for the drill should be less than 6 seconds.
My best time today (with accurate hits) was 4.81 seconds.
Above: Three targets 10 yards away, spaced 3 yards apart. The target area for each is one of the paper plates.
My everyday carry complement has changed over the year. As we are currently at war (and will likely be at war for centuries) I carry what will allow me to better respond to a wartime attack by a trained group. This means extra rounds, a larger firearm, and a tourniquet. More on this in my article here.
Here (below) is my EDC kit.
If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for ways to use the range facilities at your disposal in the most productive ways possible. At my indoor range, for instance, I cannot draw from a holster and the narrow shooting lanes prohibit all but the smallest body dynamics. So there I work on mag-exchange drills, hand drills, and plain ol target practice.
When I get to my local outdoor practical range there is very little I cannot do, but I have a hard time settling on specific drills to work. Despite the fact that I’m a competitive shooter, I only ever use my concealed carry holster and pistols when working on pistol drills there (Since my daily carry setup is concealed, that’s how I train.). Even so, I find my pistol drills lack a bit of structure and I’ve not made of habit of measuring my results against any standard; personal or objective. I’ve decided to change that.
After today’s excellent discussion with the owner and one of his instructors at my local practical range, I’ll be using various military and law enforcement qualification courses of fire as training drills. The first one I’ll be using as a drill is the Federal Air Marshal Pistol Qualification.
The Federal Air Marshal Pistol Qualification
The drill is executed at 7 yards using the FBI UIT-CB target. Each string (except #3) is performed twice, using a competition shot timer to issue start signals and to log the string times (and, if you’re really keeping track of things: the time between multiple shots).
|Drill – each is performed twice||From||Par Time|
|One round||concealed holster||1.65 seconds|
|Double tap||low ready||1.35 seconds|
|Rhythm: fire 6 rounds at one target (1x only)||low ready||3.00 seconds|
|On shot, speed reload, one shot||low ready||3.25 seconds|
|One round each at 2 targets three yards apart||low ready||1.65 seconds|
|Pivot 180°: One round each at 3 targets three yards apart – 1x turn left, 1x turn right||concealed holster||3.50 seconds|
|One round, slide locks back, drop to one knee, reload, fire one round||low ready||4.00 seconds|
By recording my hits/misses and times, I’ll be able to find my trouble spots and track progress against an objective pressure standard.
If you’d like to train with this drill and keep track of your performance, here are a couple things you might like:
- my training log performance record sheet (PDF) (feel free to download and print out)
Here’s someone running the drill:
This week’s practical-range drill is run from concealment, featuring and aerobic workout and multiple small targets from three different distances: 7 yards, 17 yards, and 25 yards.
The Drill: Five by Three
- Targets: Three 8-inch steel plates (or paper equivalent), placed 3 yards apart
- Course of Fire: 25-yard range needed. 3 shots from each position – run from concealment – will include speed reloads between positions
- Par Time: 26 seconds.
Use a shot timer and measure your time. The par time is 26 seconds, but aim to improve on each run.
You can see from the drill schematic that you will be moving both away from and toward the targets. Pay particular attention to your muzzle discipline while moving away from the targets—keep your muzzle pointed at the berm (behind you)!
Note also that you will need either a double magazine holder or two magazine pouches or a single mag pouch with the #3 magazine in your pocket (OR both extra mags in your pockets – not recommended).
Set up three 8″ steel plates on stands—or three equivalent paper targets—three yards apart at 25 yards downrange. Place a barrel or some other conspicuous marker at 7 yards away from the targets and another at 17 yards away from the targets. Your main/furthest firing line should be at 25 yards away from the targets.
- Load 3 magazines: 3 rounds, 6 rounds, and 6 rounds respectively.
- Put the 3-round mag in your gun and chamber a round. Re-holster your pistol in your concealed holster. Place the other magazines in your mag pouch(es) and/or in your pocket(s). Your pistol and magazines should all be concealed.
- Start at the targets. Queue your shot timer. At the beep, sprint to position 1 (7 yards from the targets), turn, draw from concealment and fire 1 round at each target. Your gun should lock open, empty.
- Drop your magazine, turn and sprint to position 2 (17 yards from the targets) while you retrieve your next magazine.
- When you reach position 2, turn and reload and fire 1 shot at each target.
- Turn and sprint to position 3 (the 25-yard line). Be sure to keep your muzzle pointed at the berm behind you!
- At the 25-yard line, turn and fire 1 shot at each of the targets. Your slide will lock back as you run empty.
- Drop your mag and sprint back to position 2 as you retrieve your last magazine.
- Reload and fire 1 shot at each of the targets from position 2.
- Sprint to position 1 and fire 1 shot at each of the targets.
Note and record your time. Retrieve your dropped magazines.
Do at least 10 repeats on this drill. The drill will give you a good aerobic workout and test your ability to engage in precision shooting while your heart rate is up and while you have the pressure of the clock.
This is a precision drill, with the target areas being only 8″ in diameter. This is an effective target area for incapacitation and it is the maximum you should ever train to hit no matter your drill. Smaller targets are a good motivation for you to focus when aiming & shooting. Always opt for the smaller target in training.
The par time I’ve set here is 26 seconds, but aim to get below 20 seconds with 100% hit rate. If you compare this to a real-life situation where you’re required to save your own life from 3 armed assailants, note that you have the rest of your life to make accurate hits. Take all the time you require, but know that your life hangs in the balance.
Keep training hard. Training works. Responsibility is a thing™.
I train. A lot. I also keep detailed records of my training and gun-specific data.
In 2015 I trained on 221 of the 365 days of the year. I shot an average of 203 rounds per training session. That amounts to 47,480 rounds fired in 2015 (not counting simunition or dry-fire training).
As I did last year, I put these stats—and several others—into an infographic annual report. Here goes…
Every weekend I’m at the practical range for one or two days working on technical accuracy and/or gun handling drills for pistol and carbine. For pistol, which is what I’ll talk about here, these drills usually involve multi-target drills, barricade drills, weak-hand / strong-hand shoot/reload drills, various mag-exchange drills, high-heart-rate-accuracy drills…or a combination of some or all of those. All are run from concealment.
I train 100% from concealment because that’s the only way I’ll ever deploy my pistol against any real threat. The result of my 2015 training has been 65+ practical-drill training sessions of no less than 200 rounds. Each training session averages 30-60 live-fire draws from concealment and 40-80 magazine exchanges from concealment. I tend to keep my magazine loads minimal for drills so as to maximize opportunities for mag exchange reps.
When I get an entire bay to myself I like to run multi-distance drills. I thought I’d start sharing some of my training drills so here’s the one I ran today, where I got in 10 repetitions. I call it Double Triangle.
It’s a drill for medium-range engagement. This drill allows you to practice:
- sprinting to a position then steadying your platform for accurate shots
- medium-range accuracy
- magazine exchanges
- muzzle discipline
- managing accuracy as your heart rate climbs
Done right, your heart rate should be pretty damn high for the last couple of positions’ shots.
For this drill you need a 25-yard bay and quite a bit of room side to side. You’ll put 2 hits on target (steel–so you can hear your hits/misses) each from six positions. Makeup any misses immediately and exchange magazines as needed. The total required hits is 12 and you’ll have 14 rounds total loaded, so you can’t miss more than twice in the drill. If you run dry or are otherwise unable to put 2 hits on target from each position, that run is a FAIL. I find it’s best if you use steel so that you can hear your hits.
Place one barrel at 18 yards in the middle and two barrels at 7 yards, each 8-12 yards left and right of the target. You will shoot from the 25 yard line and from behind each of the barrels.
Magazine loadout is: 4 rounds in the pistol (1 chambered + 3), and 5 rounds each in 2 mags on your belt or in your pocket.
Use a shot timer. At the beep, sprint to position 1. NOTE: beginners should draw from concealment at the beep and then sprint to position 1. Those experienced at live-fire drills from concealment should sprint to position 1 and then draw from concealment. Put 2 hits on target, then sprint to the next position, etc…
BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR MUZZLE POINTED DOWNRANGE AT ALL TIMES. Be especially careful of your muzzle when running from the 18-yard position back to the 25-yard position. Also KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF OF THE TRIGGER EXCEPT WHEN YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON TARGET.
Do 6 – 10 reps for your workout.
Add one second for each hit outside of the “A” zone.
30 seconds (or better)
- Require left hand only for positions 1 & 2 and right hand only for positions 4 & 5
- Add more difficulty by requiring 1-handed magazine exchanges
- Add barricades and make it a cover drill
Give it a try!
I believe that a Glock is the perfect fighting pistol. I do mean “a” Glock because individuals have varied preference with regard to pistol size and caliber. With a specific size and caliber, though, I hold that Glock is the best pistol to have at hand when self defense against a deadly threat is necessary.
However, while the manufacturer’s promotional phrase is “Glock PERFECTION,” I can agree only in part. The out-of-the-box Glock is by no means perfection. My opinion is that Glock doesn’t so much make the perfect pistol as they make the perfect pistol hobby kit. Specific alteration is required in order to achieve perfection.
While I’d argue a Glock is head and shoulders above any other EDC-candidate pistol, I believe it is very unwise to carry any Glock pistol without a few necessary modifications.
There is nothing wrong with Glock’s stock sights with regard to sighting. If you can’t shoot quickly and accurately with the stock sights, the problem is not with them, but with you. That said, plastic sights are beyond useless to the point of liability when it comes to running a fighting/defensive gun.
Glock’s plastic stock sights should immediately be replaced with iron sights, of whatever configuration works best for you. I’d recommend that the rear sight not be of the sloped variety, but instead have a squared-off profile that is perpendicular to the slide in order to facilitate one-handed slide racking on a belt or table or tree or whatever is at hand when the need arises.
Frame and Grip
There are some who find fault with the finger ridges on the front of the grip of most Glock models. I’m not one of them, as these finger ridges perfectly mesh with my hand and I like that. What is problematic, however, is the fact that only the Gen 4 model’s (and the now-discontinued RTF frame) grip offers sufficient texture for good hand purchase while firing. More disappointing and especially dangerous is the fact that with wet hands (if it’s raining, if your palms are sweaty, or if your hands are bloody from fighting), it’s quite difficult to hold onto and manipulate a Glock pistol in defensive action. Even with the rougher Gen 4 grip.
I therefore hold that it is very unwise to carry a Glock pistol (or any pistol, for that matter) without either sandpaper grips or a stippling job. And I think adding adhesive grips is the wrong way to approach this issue. I stipple the frame of every one of my Glock pistols, as I have found anything added to the grip will come off in a very short time with any significant amount of training use (you do train, don’t you?). Some see stippling as a stylistic embellishment. I find it’s a required functional modification; a deal breaker for EDC. Stippling results in a frame that you can grip wet or dry without fail.
Another necessary modification is rounding off the right hand side (for right-handed shooters) of the area connecting the grip with the trigger guard. This is where the strong hand middle finger is held firmly against the frame and vice-locked even tighter by the force of the support hand. Out of the box, this area is quite squared off and very un-ergonomic and it requires remedy in order to avoid severe discomfort after shooting more than ~20 rounds (if this doesn’t hurt your finger, you’re not gripping your pistol tightly enough).
The Dremmel-driven modification here is not so much an undercutting of the trigger guard as it is a rounding of the side transition, where the middle-finger’s first knuckle will go. The result is a fantastic boon to grip comfort.
I find the Glock trigger to be decent, but by no means great. Some models tend to have better ones, like the Glock 43. The 43’s trigger is perhaps the best Glock trigger I’ve ever felt, but it is still a bit too heavy for my taste. Generally, though, a Glock’s trigger needs some work.
I’ve tried various trigger mods on various Glocks, utilizing connectors, springs, and plungers. What I find is best is to simply replace the stock connector with a 3.5 lb. connector. This replacement brings the trigger weight to around 4.5 pounds, which I prefer (you’d need to install the related trigger spring and striker safety plunger spring in order to get a 3.5 lb. trigger, which I do not recommend). More importantly, though, it gives the trigger a smoother take up and cleaner break and reset.
One caveat: 3.5 lb. connectors are not created equal. Glock’s 3.5 lb. connector is pretty decent, but there are better ones. My favorites come from Ghost Inc. and I favor either the Rocket or the EVO Elite connectors. I prefer the Rocket connector, but either requires fitting with a file, along with several assembly-test-disassembly-refit cycles.
Connector or spring replacement aside, I recommend NO polishing or grinding or other modification whatsoever to the trigger/striker system.
Popular Mods to Avoid
The wide and varied availability of aftermarket components for Glock pistols makes it easy for folks to go overboard and turn their perfect hobby kit into a silly caricature of a fighting pistol, often greatly reducing its practical functionality.
Avoid extended side-lock levers
The extended slide-lock lever was born of the mistaken idea that it’s a “slide release” lever. This mechanism was never meant to function as a slide release, which is why its external component is properly almost flush with the frame. It’s only purpose is to allow for the occasional need for the knuckle of your thumb to press upward on it to lock open the slide. One need never press down on the external lever. An extended lever gets in the way, often preventing the slide from locking open with the last round of the magazine. Moreover, it encourages the bad habit of using the lever to release the slide—which should only ever be accomplished by gripping the slide with the support hand and powering the frame forward with the strong hand to send the slide home.
Avoid titanium striker safety plungers
Titanium striker safety plungers are light and smooth and, therefore, valued by some as an upgrade for their Glock pistol. The opposite is true. These plungers attract carbon buildup which adheres easily and strongly to the top of the plunger, obviating any smoothness that was there. Moreover, they tend to deteriorate quickly with use, turning a vital safety mechanism into a liability.
Never, ever use a slide-plate “safety” device
One of the most important features of a Glock’s superiority to most other pistols is the lack of external mechanisms beyond the flush slide-lock lever. The Glock has three vital and redundant internal safety features that make the Glock perhaps the safest pistol one could carry. External/thumb safety levers on pistols only ever endanger lives because they mislead people into dangerous habits and into believing that safety is enabled or disabled by a lever. This is a fatal fallacy.
A person is safe or unsafe. No pistol is ever safe or unsafe because, quality and internal mechanisms aside, gun safety is a willful human volition. Only the operator can be safe or unsafe with a firearm. Assumptions to the contrary are the cause of every negligent gun death and injury ever inflicted or sustained.
Adding an external “safety” gadget to a Glock is the worst possible modification a Glock owner could make. Doing so transforms the mechanically safest, best-quality firearm available into one that invites irresponsible and negligent assumptions and extra, needless considerations to those manipulating their pistol.
Never rely upon or utilize a safety gadget on a pistol. Adhering to the 4 rules of firearm safety is the ONLY way to avoid killing or injuring yourself or someone else. No external lever can make a negligent person safe. Safety is 100% on people. When people forget this fact, people die.
So there you have it: what I deem to be the required modifications for any EDC Glock pistol, along with a few to definitely avoid. I’m completely serious when I say that every one of them—both the ones to get and the ones to avoid—is a 100% deal breaker.
If you own and carry a Glock pistol, I recommend without reservation that you make all of these required modifications to your carry gun and avoid all of the bad ones. Until the day Glock Inc. decides to do them at the factory, these mods are how you get Glock perfection.