Will you be able to recognize danger, not the glaringly obvious type, but the subtle easy to miss type? Don’t overlook these types of dangers and pay them the respect they deserve.

See the forrest for the trees

In our recent Concealed Carry Tactics class we discussed the importance of holster requirements. A big one is protecting the trigger from unauthorized access, such as your trigger finger, clothing or other foreign objects. I cannot emphasis this enough, the trigger must be protected at all times. So, while we look for certain design features to minimize unauthorized access you still need to follow safety protocols while reholstering. One such protocol is visually observing the holster mouth as you insert the muzzle. You observe during this stage of the reholstering to ensure no foreign objects have entered your holster’s mouth that can potentially lodge in the trigger guard then on the continued downward pressure of reholstering place sufficient pressure on the trigger to discharge.

Don’t be lazy

We see it happen a lot, enough we take extra precautions to minimize the risk. When you factor in the number of times you will reholster in a class the risk is even higher. Add some fatigue and the risk increases even more. We place a huge premium on teaching the correct reholstering protocol early on then we have a zero tolerance for violating the protocols. Even then we still see some mishaps, luckily with uneventful endings. The culprit we see often enough to urge caution is the undershirt. While we have seen various cover garments this clothing has lodged so far into the holster we had to remove the holster from the student’s body in order to ensure should a discharge occur we could control the muzzle. It took two other people to facilitate this process.

Mitigate risk

I have read before on the subject of holster selection the only object that can discharge the firearm was the trigger finger. I literally had to reread the part twice to make sure I didn’t misunderstand the author’s intent, but I’m pretty sure he meant to exclude foreign objects.  It would be grossly negligent to exclude foreign objects so take that into consideration. It became readily apparent that even with the safety protocols in place we may still have problems with certain holster locations. In particular, the small of the back. It is literally impossible for the student to visually observe their holster for foreign objects and while they may have a solid trigger index position, they have no way of seeing their holster or any obstructions.

Eliminate risk

In our last class we had a student who on training day three opted to change to the small of the back holster location. I agreed for two reasons, the student is a very competent gun handler and a return student. The big reason was to watch the holster location in action in an almost side by side comparison. I have compared my baseline times in the past and my best times barely overlapped my worse times from strong side. On more than one occasion the student struggle getting the pistol back into the holster; which was frustrating I’m sure.   While we have not come out and banned this holster location in the past, after seeing the performance side by side coupled with the higher inherent risk I have now made an official ruling and they are no longer allowed in our classes.

Get over it

I am sure this will upset some people, but the honest truth is this holster location is the worse of them all. Since we are discussing concealment, it does the poorest job of concealing. While you may have the sense it does a good job because you cannot see it from the front; it’s doesn’t mean it vanishes, just you cannot see it from behind. Then the slower draw time when you are already working from a deficit makes me wonder. Finally, add the increased risk of a negligent discharge due to foreign objects and the inability to visually clear your holster and I feel it is an unnecessary risk. While I consider appendix to have the highest risk regarding injury or death, the small of the back typically points the muzzle at the interior of shooter’s weak leg. Not good from an injury perspective.

Leadership is not an easy position and it takes courage to truly lead. The rewards in this case are not worth the risks.

"Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands." Col. Jeff Copper, American Firearms Pioneer

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