Anyone who has gone through the process of obtaining a concealed carry weapons permit has heard the lecture about the importance of training. Unfortunately for many, training becomes an afterthought rather than a priority as soon as they leave the class with their freshly printed certificate of completion.
Without training, muscle memory disappears and reaction time dwindles to the point of being dangerous. There are several reasons why training is so easily put off.
The first is the time factor. In today’s busy world, very few people have the spare time to dedicate the needed hours to range training. The other big reason for procrastinating is money. The cost of ammunition isn’t cheap and range fees add up quickly as well.
The range is the ideal place to build up basic skills as a beginning shooter and learn more advanced techniques as your competency increases. But during the mundane interim training periods where you’re honing your technique, there’s another way to improve form that will save you time and money — dry training.
Dry training involves going through the routine of drawing, aiming and firing, but without the firing pin hitting the hammer. “Snap caps” are also made for this purpose, which are basically dummy cartridges designed to cushion the blow of the hammer and/or firing pin. This allows for an endless number of practice rounds without the expense of live ammo. Another advantage is that dry training can be accomplished in just about any setting so that you can actually simulate a close quarters encounter in the comfort of your own home.
Author and U.S. Concealed Carry Magazine editor Kevin Michalowski describes other advantages to dry fire training in his article “Range Time vs. Dry Fire…and Why?” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“With dry training, you can (and should) practice hundreds of perfect draws that include elements like a big step to the side to get you off the X and a verbal challenge to turn bystanders into witnesses.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
By practicing with various scenarios, dry fire training allows you to get away from the rote routine of draw, fire, shoot, and gives you the opportunity to assess your surroundings and make better decisions before opening fire on a potentially unarmed citizen.
No amount of training will completely prepare you for a real-life attack, but through a combination of range training and dry-fire training, your odds of surviving an attack will dramatically increase.
One of the most significant and effective tools introduced to law enforcement around the turn of the century has been the Taser. The Taser is an electroshock weapon that fires two small dart-like electrodes into the attacker with the intended purpose of disabling him through “neuromuscular incapacitation.”
The original Taser used gunpowder to fire the darts and was declared to be a firearm by the ATF bureau. Current models use compressed nitrogen cartridges to fire electrically charged darts into the attacker from a distance of up to 15 feet.
Despite its success as a firearm alternative, the Taser does have several limitations with one being the steep learning curve, especially if you aren’t in law enforcement where training is ongoing. Author Dan Stahlnecker explains some of the issues with Tasers in his article “Taser Tactics: Four Simple Rules” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“The Taser isn’t an end -all bodyguard. It won’t do all the work for you. You still have a part to play in the action. To this end, I offer you four rules of effective Taser usage.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Many people who are newly armed with a Taser suddenly feel a false sense of bravado. They know that they possess the power to incapacitate someone without killing them. Unfortunately, these same people often fail to realize that while their attacker may be down, they definitely aren’t out.
The Taser is a temporary stop-gap that gives you precious time to get away, not time to observe how long it takes the thug to recover and renew the attack. Some late model Tasers are now equipped with up to three charges, but even with the backup bolts, the first rule and main objective should still be to get far away from your attacker as quickly as possible.
If someone threatens you, using a Taser to protect yourself shouldn’t be a defensive move expected by the attacker. It should come as a complete surprise, which gives you a significant tactical advantage in the ensuing melee. Achieving the advantage of surprise also means that it shouldn’t be public knowledge that you carry a Taser.
When you purchase a firearm and obtain a concealed carry permit, it is assumed that you’ll spend time at the range honing your skills, yet new Taser owners often follow a completely different track. They either assume there’s nothing to learn, or worse, they assume operating the Taser will be self-explanatory when needed.
Both of these mindsets will get you into deep trouble and possibly killed. Read the instructions, watch the DVD, and measure out the 15 feet so you have some type of mental baseline. You may want to waste one cartridge by firing a test shot just to see the effect.
And like your firearm, if you don’t have it when you need it, it’s worthless. Obviously, some areas are more crime-ridden than others, but criminals are smart enough to figure out that so-called “safe havens” are often easy soft targets. In neighborhoods more prone to crime, keep the Taser in hand. For other settings, keep it easily accessible. Remember, the ultimate goal is to get back to Rule 1.
If you aren’t comfortable carrying a firearm or prefer to exhaust other options first, a Taser could be a solid option for you. For those who carry daily, it makes a potent backup. If you’re serious about packing a Taser, prices range from about $400 for the compact Taser Pulse to $1,400 for the double-barrel X2-Defender.
Any law enforcement officer worth their salt knows better than to go on patrol carrying nothing more than a single pistol, although it may sometimes appear that way to the casual observer. However, cops know that keeping back-up weapons concealed gives them the element of surprise during any confrontation.
While modern day devices such as tasers and pepper spray can be very effective in subduing an attacker, there are still a lot of police officers who cut their teeth on old-school persuasion techniques through the use of batons, nightsticks, blackjacks, and a handy little weapon called the “sap.”
The Sap was developed as a less lethal version of the popular blackjack. It’s a small club that was essentially a lead weight wrapped in leather and attached to a shaft with a spring coil. The Sap on the other hand, has a flat profile compared to the tube-shaped blackjack and spreads the force of impact over a broader area, thereby lessening the lethal potential — especially with blows to the head.
As effective as it was, the Sap slowly disappeared from law enforcement’s approved list. Author Scott W. Wagner explains why this happened in his article “Old School Intermediate Force — Nevada Gunleather Zap” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“It’s simple: even with the flat surface of the Sap, a strike to the head could be lethal. Fine, but a shot to the head with a three-cell aluminum flashlight or a baton can do the same. Apparently, that scared many police administrations of the 1980’s.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
But in today’s society, where concealed carry is commonplace and “stand your ground” is a legal defense in many states, the Sap has seen a resurgence in popularity. Nevada Gunleather has taken advantage of market conditions and introduced its version of the Sap to the 21st century, calling it the “Zap.”
The Zap is crafted with stitched leather that covers a lead core in the rounded end and steel spring handle. A leather wrist strap is attached that adds additional torque when used correctly.
The Zap and the Sap operate in a nearly identical fashion. When the wrist is snapped, the backward action stores the energy in the spring, which is then released onto the subject when struck with the Zap. Simple, yet extremely effective.
Nevada Gunleather’s Zap is an ideal secondary defense weapon. It isn’t dependent on the elements like a taser or pepper spray, requires no maintenance like a knife, and it never needs to be reloaded. The Zap is also easily carried in a pocket, purse, or vehicle. Nevada Gunleather even offers a holster for the truncheon. It is available in either Russet Brown or Black and retails at $39.95
Holsters come in all shapes and sizes and it isn’t uncommon for a gun owner to literally collect a drawer full of holsters while attempting to find the perfect match for any number of firearms. Even holsters custom designed for specific firearms are sometimes uncomfortable to wear due to chafing, heat, or shape. Those issues may become a distant memory as holsters made from Kydex are becoming more and more popular.
Kydex is a relative newcomer to holster production, but it’s taking the market by storm. The versatile material is showing up in holsters for virtually every handgun make and model.
Originally developed as a moldable substance for use in airline interiors, a host of industries in the late 60’s figured out that Kydex could be configured into any shape by applying heat.
Kydex LLC was formed in the 90’s and now manufactures the material under the Sekisui SPI brand in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.
YetiTac is a custom holster maker that has embraced the Kydex phenomenon and now works exclusively in the material with the goal of providing various holster types for most handguns. One of their most recent creations is the OWB Quick Claw.
Like other Kydex holsters, the Quick Claw uses friction to keep the firearm in place and the draw is smooth, unlike leather where there may be snaps to unfasten and other hand contortions to maneuver before the gun can be safely removed.
The YetiTac is a combination of a paddle holster and belt holster. Author Scott W. Wagner explains why a paddle holster alone is no longer a viable option for a concealed carry holster in his article “YetiTac Custom Quick Claw Kydex OWB Holster” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“Current rigs offer good retention of the gun and holster as a unit, but are more difficult to remove, and sometime require undoing the pants to remove the rig.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
On the YetiTac Quick Claw, two claws are attached to the back of the holster which then interlock with clips on a double-thick trouser belt. The clips firmly secure the holster, but also allow for easy release by alternately pushing and pulling the clips, instead of undoing the belt.
The only issue with the Quick Claw riding on the belt may be with larger weapons where greater care is needed to avoid printing issues. It’s also important to remember that guns are less secure in Kydex holsters and garment coverage not only hides the weapon, but is also an effective deterrent to potential gun thieves.
The YetiTac Quick Claw comes in many color and pattern choices for personal customization. In addition to that, the combination of a 90 hardness on the Rockwell R scale and the ability to flawlessly match weapon shape assures that the holstered firearms will have high abrasive resistance, resulting in negligible wear on the finish.
Pick up a personalized Kydex holster for your gun for about $60.
The decision to purchase a gun for concealed carry usually involves several decisions. Some of the more important include looking into a weapon’s caliber, weight, magazine capacity, and print profile. Yet one important consideration that often becomes apparent after a few hours at the range is firearm recoil.
The perfect lightweight gun with impressive stopping power is out there in the form of a .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver, but unfortunately, the recoil on these Holy Grail pistols is intolerable to many shooters.
Luckily, a happy medium exists in the Smith & Wesson 351PD AirLite .22 Magnum snub-nosed revolver.
This lightweight revolver is on the way to becoming a heavyweight player in the concealed carry market. The frame and cylinder are constructed of a matte black aluminum alloy and tips the scales at a mere 10.8 ounces unloaded. The 351PD fires using a single-action cycle made possible with the exposed hammer.
The grips on this gun are another nice feature. They are made of wood and ergonomically designed with finger grooves. The only thing this model is missing is the traditional S&W emblem that’s usually emblazoned on the grips.
Since the Smith & Wesson 351PD AirLite doesn’t have the formidable appearance of some of its heavy-hitting counterparts, author Scott W. Wagner explains how to boost the 351PD’s first impression in his article “S&W 351PD AirLite .22 Magnum Revolver: Zero Recoil Seven-Shot Defender” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“…I decided to give every tactical advantage to the 351PD and mounted the CTC LG-350G Green Lasergrips that I reviewed in last week’s column. Not only does the bright green laser beam enhance the psychological intimidation capability of the 351PD, [but] the ability to adjust the Lasergrips proved quite handy as well.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
For targeting purposes, the sighting system on the 351PD is fairly intricate. The rear sight is the standard S&W black channel sitting atop the frame, but the front sight is a HI VIZ Fiber Optic setup. This device is attached to a square bracket and comes with a high-visibility orange insert that allows for easy eye-to-sight transition when practicing rapid-fire scenarios.
At the range, the Smith & Wesson 351PD AirLite proved to be reliable and accurate. Using two different types of ammo, Hornady 30-grain V-Max and CCI .22 Magnum Maxi Mag, groupings were consistently in the 3-inch range from 30 feet with negligible recoil. There were no malfunctions, though the trigger pull was slightly heavy. Muzzle velocity averaged about 1107 fps.
Smith & Wesson’s .22 Magnum 351PD proved its mettle at the range. For personal defense concealed carry, its light weight, reliability, and accuracy make it a viable option. As a home defense weapon, the capability to mount a laser light gives the shooter an additional psychological advantage during any confrontation. The 351PD AirLite will serve well as a multi-purpose firearm. It’s also priced reasonably with an MSRP of $759.
Pepper spray has always had the reputation of being a highly effective, easy to use, first line of defense with virtually no learning curve. Yet for many, the most important feature is the low price that allows these self-defense tools to be in just about anyone’s budget.
So when Piexon put a $319 price tag on its JPX Jet Protector Pepper Gun, several people were asking a lot of questions, mainly “What can it do that my $20 can of Chemical Mace can’t?”
Well, the answer is…plenty.
One of the most important features on the JPX is its shape. Not only does the device look like a gun, it operates in the same fashion. The double-barrel setup encases an 11-milliliter charge of a liquid containing 10 percent Oleoresin Capsicum (OC). OC is the active ingredient in traditional pepper spray and is preferred by law enforcement because unlike tear gas, OC is generally effective against all human attackers — even those under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
On top of the handy pistol grip setup, the Piexon JPX is also pressurized to propel the OC at an astonishing velocity of 569 feet per second for distances up to 23 feet. And unlike the common aerosol canisters which simply coat the skin, the blistering speed of the JPX actually penetrates the skin pores, allowing for a deeper and longer lasting incapacitation.
In addition to penetration of the skin, the stream causes the eyes to instantly close. Author Scott W. Wagner describes the effect of being sprayed with OC in his article “Piexon JPX Jet Protector Pepper Gun: Hi-Tech Swiss OC Defensive System” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“I’ve tested the previous Kimber version of the JPX during training in my police academy. The effect of the JPX OC is instantaneous and miserable for the recipient with no cross contamination for the user.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Most hand-held pepper spray canisters are “one and done.” When it’s gone, it’s gone, but this isn’t true with the Piexon JPX. The unit is fully reloadable and the quick release magazine allows for a quick return to action. Another nice feature is that the double-action trigger switches automatically between each barrel while firing. There is also a small Picatinny rail housing a laser light operated by a switch under the trigger guard.
Accuracy is also not a problem for the JPX. During testing to the maximum effective range of 20 feet, the spray covered the target silhouette. The noise and smell also replicates an actual firearm, which gives the user an added psychological advantage. The high density of the liquid means it will stay where it lands with very little cross-contamination.
The Piexon JPX is an excellent firearm alternative in areas where guns are prohibited. It is also suitable as a first response. The cost is steep, with MSRP for the laser option being $319, but it provides a level of protection second only to a firearm. The weapon can also be reloaded many times. Accessories such as holsters and magazines are also available.
When Montie Gear introduced its Ultra-Light Knife, company officials anticipated the question most knife aficionados would be asking: “Why would you buy a $400 knife?”
The Ultra-Light Knife is a top-of the line defensive weapon that doubles as an emergency tool and can be quickly and easily accessible. The fact that the Ultra-Light has a futuristic sci-fi design doesn’t hurt its appeal either.
The high-tech aluminum sheath disguises the traditional knife shape and the knife looks like it could have been on the set of Star Wars.
In his article “The Montie Gear Ultra-Light Fixed Blade Knife” at USConcealedCarry.com, author Scott W. Wagner describes how the sheath not only protects the blade, but acts as a safety as well:
“The holster features a steel thumb release lock which is actuated by a natural draw grasp. The thumb release cams a lever when pushed down, clearing the notch on the top of the blade.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Additionally, the release is designed to use the laws of physics to actually help push the knife out of the sheath, allowing for a quicker, smoother, one-handed draw even with gloves. Screwed into the sheath is a polymer BladeTech clip designed for durability and rugged activity.
It opens completely and clamps firmly to belts, backpacks, and other gear. The clip attaches in a way to keep the knife parallel to the ground and when clipped on a belt, it keeps the blade and sheath from rubbing against the leg, impeding the draw.
The Ultra-Light Knife is also pocket-friendly. The latch mechanism allows the user to deftly draw the knife while leaving the sheath securely in the pocket at the same time. Although the attaching clamp can be adjusted to various positions, the Phillips screws that fasten the plate to the sheath should be checked periodically.
Montie Gear handcrafts only a few knives at a time and the quality is obvious. The three-inch blade is fashioned from Chrome Vanadium steel with a Rockwell Hardness of 58-62. Each Tanto style point is honed to a razor sharp edge that will cut whenever and wherever you need it. And the grips for the Ultra-Light are customizable. You can choose the plain style or a paracord wrap that’s available in several colors.
The Ultra-Light definitely won’t slow you down on the trail. Its weight fully loaded with sheath and paracord wrap is only 3.7 ounces. Yet it’s rugged and durable enough to be an integral part of your personal defense plan while functioning as an emergency tool at the same time.