Power Athlete HQ Podcast, Episode 533

As always, had a great time with my good friend John Welborn and Tex. It was even more badass to have my good friend Craig Douglas on together. We talked about a lot of really cool stuff and got into the weeds on a lot of them. What I was also very happy about was the data dump on the 12 Labors Conference.

Here is a sinipet from the podcast, to download the full podcast use this link: Ep 533 – Fighting, Guns, and Gunfighting with Jeff Gonzales & Craig Douglas

John is one of my oldest friends, he got me through a pretty dark time in my life. His grasp of fitness is bar none one of the bests. Check out some of his programs, I can 100% vouch for them. To learn more about being a Power Athlete follow this link.

Testing Defensive Ammunition

Defensive Ammunition 2

Learn More About Your Defensive Ammunition

There are so many things we need to be thinking about when it comes to self defense. Have I trained enough, is my gear ready am I paying attention to my surroundings so testing defensive ammunition is easily lost in the commotion.

The Nuts & Bolts Of Performance

Over the years I have fired thousands of rounds testing defensive ammunition. These typically are of the hollow point design. The idea behind their design is pretty simple, the hollow point cavity expands through soft tissue. This expansion serves two purposes; creating a larger surface area for more damage as well as helping to slow down and limit penetration. When watching the various defeinsive ammunition review videos this will always be a metric that is collected and evaluated. The other metric commonly collected and of greater importance is the depth to which the projectile will penetrate. While the general understanding is a minimum of 12″ to a maximum of 18″ where did these figures come from.

The Ballistic Testing Origins

The FBI has long been the custodian of all things terminal performance. Dating back to shootout involving some harden suspects it was believed their ammunition failed them and thus began the caliber wars. Truthfully, ever since there has been mulitple calibers, there have been caliber wars. However, this was a watershed moment since it started to standarized how the industry develops and tests the terminal performance of projectiles. Decades ago, this information wasn’t as readily available as it is today so many were left to fend for themselves. There were a variety of test mediums that were believed could replicate or at least provide good feedback. Sadly, they were less than ideal. I used some of these tests myself, the half gallon milk carton test. My family would be forced feed milk and orange juice so I could collect enough cartons to conduct multiple tests. Believe me, you have no idea how good you got these days.

The Dreaded Curve Ball

Testing AmmunitionAs a consumer, I want a quality product for self defense. As a professional, I want to squeeze every ouce of performance I can from the available options. Everything was going well until the subcompact pistols with 3″ barrels or less entered the market. While I was quickly enamored with these little pocket rockets the problem wasn’t well known. These micro, short barrel pistols had a difficult time meeting typical ballistic performance standars we have all come to accept. Penetration and expansion were all suspect or at best inconsistent. As the popularity of these subcompact pistols grew so to did the available self defensive ammunition options. Now, the consumer and professional have some great choies to consider. Many well known ammunition brands have started producing “micro” or “short barrel” choices. After such a positive experience with a particular brand, I decided testing defensive ammunition to update my current subcompact ammunition choice.

Streamlinging To A Couple Choices

Like many others, I can be lazy or maybe I’m too busy to really put the time into research. Plus, with so many different carry pistols it was a pain to have a specific load for this pistol and a different load for that pistol. It would be nice if I could find one that does it all. At the very least for all my 4″ barrel or shoorter the Federal Personal Defense HST Micro 150gr JHP is a great choice. The real question is how does one go about “testing” this load for themselves. You start by reviewing all available resources online when it comes to terminal performance in gelatin. Ballistic gelatin has become the standards for penetration and expansion purposes. But, do you need the projectile to meet all the FBI standards? In my opinion, you do not. Bare and demin covered are more than adequate for the average consumer. Once you have watched several videos and reviewed the data you probably will come up with a couple of loads you might want to try. These loads have at least been through independent testing to meet the minimum requirements for penetration and expansion. Now what?

The Two Tests You Should Use

Testing defensive ammunition is pretty simple. I want to see how well they will perform at close range under rapid fire conditions. Then I want to see how well they will perform at extended ranges under slow fire conditions. The two tests I use are pretty simple and total 20 rounds, the typical single box quantity. Both of these tests are shot in our pistol classes so I have plenty of big picture data for comparison. The first test, the “TC Test”  is a modified version of the excellent “Test” from my good friend Larry Vickers. You will need a magazine of 9 rounds with a reload magazine of 1 round. Starting from the ready position at the 10 yard line at the signal the shooter will fire all 9 rounds, reload and fire the last round. The target to be used is the excellent TCT MK4 or NRA B8 target. The par time is 12 seconds; which is pretty generous and just enough to push the envelope. If you are scoring 80 points or above the take away is the recoil control with this load in a subcompact pistol is managable and appropiate for self defensive situation. The second test, is the “TC Bullseye Qual”. You will need two magazines of 5 rounds and repeat the drill twice. Starting from the holster at the 25 yard line at the signal the shooter will fire all 5 rounds. The target to be used is the TCT MK4 or NRA B8 target. The par time is 10 seconds; which again is generous. If you are scoring 40 points or above the take away is your ability to be accurate enough within a modest time constraint using a subcompact pistol with a short barrel for the extreme range of self defense use.

These two test are great not just for evaluating self defense ammunition, but your skill. While there are many others out there, these two are almost always shot during my own professional development and so should you.

Manners from a SEAL | Higher Line Podcast #98

Former SEAL / Tactical Firearms Trainer Jeff L. Gonzales of Trident Concepts returns! Jeff and Mickey catch-up post SHOT Show, talk about the state of masculinity and go deep on firearms training.


If you aren’t familiar with Gonzales’s back story, definitely check-out Higher Line Podcast 57. *As mentioned near the beginning of the podcast we will be hosting Jeff Gonzales for a class in McHenry, Illiniois June 6, 2020. See TridentConcepts.com for details.

Trident Concepts YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm2b…

You can learn more by visiting TridentConcepts.com, checking out their YouTube Channel and following Jeff on instagram @JL_Gonzales. #TridentConcepts

FULL HIGHER LINE PODCAST PLAYLIST: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list…

— Music Attributions: Intro – “3rd Eye Blimp” by Otis McDonald Outro – “I Want More” by Silent Partner The Carry Trainer Higher Line Podcast is available on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Stitcher and most importantly CarryTrainer.com.

Fastest Drawstroke Sacrafices

Fastest Drawstroke 2

In Search Of The Perfect Balance

There are usually two trains of thoughts in the concealed carry world. Those who must have the fastest drawstrokes and everyone else. The fastest drawstroke sacrafices in other areas, other areas that might be more important.

Its Not About The Gear

Fastest DrawstrokeIn a recent concealed carry class one of the conversations that happened off the firing line had to do with how fast should the drawstroke be in the real world and fastest drawstroke sacrafices. The obvious answer is fast enough. Only, that doesn’t help much when you are trying to provide feedback. I feel there are three ways to look at your drawstroke; repeatable drawstroke, sneaky drawstroke and the sooner drawstroke. Each one of these needs to be practiced to a high degree of skill and then sustained over time. It is easy to go down the rabbit hole when ever we start talking about improving human performance. Naturally, the first place we start is on gear. What gear can I get that will make me go fast, in this case. Truthfully, no gear will help you go fast and conceal well enough for everyday carry.

Don’t Be Fooled

When you are allocating time to practice your drawstroke there is the added complication of concealment. Since this was a concealed carry class some of the students were having a hard time making the par times and still remaining accurate. While this is a training related issue for many, it can also have poor unintended consequences. In this case, when the freedom to choose the holster and its location along with the cover garment many opted for the least concealable holster and location combination. I’m not saying it is a bad way to carry, but carrying on the waistband (OWB) does not conceal as well as inside the waistabnd (IWB). A better way to look at this is IWB allow for mistakes. Your concealed carry mindset has to be on point with OWB, something I think is possible, but not necessary.

Working From Other Common Positions

The whole reason for these decisions was in an effort to make the par times. I understand why it can influence decision making, but it shouldn’t. Yes, you may not have the fastest drawstroke, but is it repeatable. When I say repeatable what I mean is can you repeat the drawstroke as per the par time from any position or condition. In other words, can you still make that par time from your back, a sitting position or when on the move. I would much rather have a drawstroke that is capable of being reliable in those conditions than fastest drawstroke sacrafices. Since we don’t know what the conditions of the deadly force encounter might be we must plan for a wide array of contengencies. Shooting from our backs as if we were knocked down, from a seated position such as at a meal time or on the move as we try to exit the danger area are all real scenarios.

Types of Attacks

Most deadly force situations can be broken down into either an surprise or staged attack. The surprise attack is the most dangerous because we do not see it coming and way behind. While it might seem logical to have a super fast drawstroke for the surprise attacks, chances are you will not have the time and space to draw. You may need to counter attack to create time and distance, then draw. The staged attack happens in phases, you might see some of the signs and as a result are able to take action. Even if that action means running away, it is something. It is during the staged attacks I see the sneaky drawstroke the most valuable. You are either using a diversion or maybe a distraction to carefully draw your handgun while still keeping it somehwat hidden or obscured. Having the gun in hand makes a big difference when the attack is triggered and gives you more options.

Being a Split Second Ahead

We say the fastest drawstroke is when you draw sooner. This has more to do with maintaining situational awareness and being able to detect possible attack signs. It runs a fine line between being in the right and being in the wrong. Brandishing a weapon to intimidate is illegal, even against someone wishing to do you violence. However, if you time it so you are a split second or more ahead of the reactionary gap it might make the difference. The point is, whatever your drawstroke speed, it didn’t matter about the fastest drawstroke sacrafices. What mattered is you had a reliable drawstroke that you were able to execute seconds in advance.

There is plenty of reasons to develop a good and reliable drawstroke, but a super fast drawstroke may not be as worthy as you may think. Considering the greatest investment into this skill is time, how much time are you willing to invest up front then how much time on the back end to sustain. Think about it.

The Importance of Pressure Testing

Pressure Testing Your Gear

Take Care Of Your Gear & Your Gear Will Take Care Of You

Early in my Naval career it was impressed upon me to always evaluate your gear. It is my best method for assessing whether my gear will perform to my expectations. We don’t often appreciate the importance of pressure testing our gear.

Breaking It Down

A lot of times we don’t know how to pressure test our gear. Or, we don’t do a good job. For me, I start by defining what I  intend a specific piece of gear to accomplish. What is its mission. This has helped me keep my sanity since it is so easy to find yourself tumbling down the rabbit hole. When you have some left and right limits it helps you to stay focused on what is important. I have used a time tested method of asking myself three questions; does it work, is it necessary and will it work under stress. The first question is pretty easy. When I say work, this is code for performing to a minimum standard. Is it necessary means, do I have to use it or can I use soemthing else to accomplish the same goal. Will it work under stress is the one most often overlooked. I start by defining “stress”. What is stress to me and how does it help.

Feeling Stress Can Be Good

Stress is any type of change that causes a physical, emotional or physical strain. If I had to go from shooting indoors, to shooting outdoors in the Texas summer heat, that can cause me stress. That stress can manifest in many different ways so what is important is how I deal with that stress. I like feeling a little stress, it helps me evaluate not only my gear, but my techniques and a major reminder of the importance of pressure testing. If you had a little bit of stress to something, you may find it doesn’t work as well as without the stress. Being exposed to cold may make my hands less functional and operating a handheld light as I conduct a search of an area may be more challeing. Stress mostly is associated with a negative outcome, but in truth we should consider the positive.

It Is Good To Be Challenged

Meaning, what happens when I apply a little stress. Does my gear and technique handle the stress or am I left to adapt or modify. I like feeling stress, it helps me to also shut off a part of my brain. That part is normally responsible for overthinking and paralysis analysis syndrome. So, it is not all bad. Recently, I had the chance to attend the first ever Sig P365 EDC Championship held at the Sig Sauer Academy in New Hampshire. The premise was pretty simple, using a Sig P365 or variant and working from concealed navigate over a dozen different stages designed around every day tasks and activities. First, it was AWESOME! I haven’t shot a match like event in so long it is hard for me to remember. My loadout was simple, it was my default gear I carry on a regular basis. I carries not just my handgun, but my other gear such as knives and OC spray. I don’t normally carry a spare magazine, but due to the guidelines provided I opted to have one on me for every stage.

After Actions Review

What I did well. My training. Pure and simple, what I have been doing over the last 2-3 years speficically have really paid off. My focus has been on accuracy primarly. Then trying to be as fast as I can guarantee the hits for the courses of fire. This has allowed me to go fast, not just for the sake of going fast. I’ve seen consistent improvements and what I like is I’m not practicing a test, I’m developing a broad base of skills. When I got to one goal, such as a three round drill at a certain par time, I’d either add a 4th round, extend the distance, reduce the target or lower the par time. Then, I’d work to achieve that as my next goal etcetera. What I did poorly. My first shot. I was not happy with the varying degree of first shot par times. Granted, a lot of this had to do with defeating my cover garment or poor firing grip. These are two areas I see spending more time in the future. My cover garment was simple, but add a little time pressure and you can see the effects of stress in a poor grip. What I want to add. More work from other positions. While we started from a seated position on a couple of stages it reminded me that I’m not doing enough work firing from these positions. That will be added to my future skill development as I continue to value the importance on pressure testing my gear.

Overall, I could not be happier with my performance. I got out of it, exactly what I put into it.

Learning Has Taken Place

Learning Takes Place Where This Is Structure

As an instructor who’s job it is to educate people, I focus on creating the best atmosphere to ensure learning has taken place. One of the most difficult tasks when you consider the variables in play from a single class.

Service Forward

I love my job. I woke up the other day and for the first time a unique thought entered my mind. I realized I get to help people improve their lives. And, I get to do it doing something I really enjoy. On top of that, I find that by doing so I also help safeguard our way of life for future generations. That is a lot to process and while those thoughts have circulated in my head before, not in one congruent thought until then. I consider it a great privilege and weighty responsibility. My goal is to move the needle for everyone I come into contact with both in class and abroad. The key to instructing is learning taking place is structure.

The Key To Structure

As humans, we crave structure. For those of us with military experience, it is a lifestyle for sure. I’m grateful for my military career for providing me with an understanding of why structure is so important. In our classes I try to set the tone early and often about the importance of structure. Here are the the three main take aways that any instructor must be able to master. I am still in the process of mastering, but I have learned a lot over the last two decades of teaching. It all starts with your curriculum, then your delivery and ends with your assessment.

Don’t Waiste Their Time

When it comes to curriculum, you cannot just wing it. You have to have clearly defined goals for what you hope to achieve. These goals will become your objectives. Those objectives will further define what and how you teach. By having this level of structure it allows you to value one of the most important commodities; your student’s time. You have limited time to achieve your goal. Wasting it because you are not organized, have not properly prepared or dont fully grasp the material you are trying to teach equals wasiting your student’s time. While every student will have different goals themselves, if they did their homework and are honest with themselves then they are in the right class at the right time. I’m constantly aiming to achieve perfection in my curriculum’s organization. I will adjust, amend and alter with the specific purpose of improving the overall experience for the students.

Being An Effective Instructor Is The Goal

Deliverying your prepared currcilum is as much an art as it is science. Learning how adults learn is crucial to be an effective instructor. Anyone can call themselves an instructor. Very few can call themselves and effective instructor. Part of your effectiveness is in managing expectations. Providing guidance and objectives to help your students achieve the buy-in needed for learning to take place. These expectations don’t just center on safety, but also etiquite. In the beginning of class I try to explain what I expect from each student. Not just from the learning side, but how to govern themsevlves. How best they can take advantage of the material by explaining how I intend on deliverying the material. How they should pay attention and seek clarification when necessary. Then how best to manage their own training as well as assist with everything from marking targets to cleaning up brass. It is the details that make a difference, when the class works as a team, deliverying the material becomes easier.

The Ground They Walk On

At some point you need to be able to provide feedback to your students. Sometimes that comes at the end of the class in the form of a score. While I do this in all of our classes, it is but one form of feedback. The student will experience both individual an group feedback constantly. At times I will provide the student with the means to evaluate their own performance. For example, I might say I want a minimum of one miss on this drill, or faster than the prescribed par time or to achieve a score of whatever or higher. Giving this information to the student allows the student to take ownership of their own training. That is where the real magic happens, that is where learning has taken place.

I consider myself a work in progress as an instructor. My goal is to be able to help each student achieve their goals and ensure learning has taken place.

Weak Side Carry

Weak Side Carry 2

Backup Guns & Weak Side Carry

Carrying a backup gun comes with its own challenges. One of the biggest is when carrying on the weak side or more commonly referenced as weak side carry.

Old School Carry

When I first started carrying a backup gun the majority was from a weak side carry. At the time it seemed the best balance and those who were carrying backup guns typically carried them this manner. I liked everyhting about weak side carry, it was fast, allowed me to have weak side access and doubled as a close contact option. I first learned about this method from some true masters, an old school group of cops who routinely dealt with violent felons. What struck me the most about their preferred method was how it wasn’t optional, it was mandatory. Due to the nature of their business there was a real possibility they would go to guns. Because it was mandatory and the risk was high, there was deliberate practice and qualification to maintain this skill.

What Are The Odds

Over the years my viewpoint has changed. Not about the legitimacy of the technique, but the likelihood anyone outside of that job description would actually carry in this method. Truth be told, we haven’t seen a weak side carry method for backup guns in our classes for well over eight years. In our Concealed Carry Instructor course there is a block of instruction speficically on backup guns. Nobody has brought a weak side carry. I use to start the demonstration for this block of instruction with weak side carry. It became more of nod to history than practical application. Those I know who continue to weak side carry do so because that is what they know. That is what they have developed to a high skill level.

It Is Not Always About Speed

As I mentioned, it was fast. When executing a transition, it was by far the fastest. The problem, it wasn’t always the most accurate. Unless you invested time into not just developing, but sustaining your shooting skill from the weak side it was questionable at best to meet common accuracy standards. The flip side, most defensive gun uses occur at close range, range close enough that high level accuracy skills are not always necessary. But, should you have to shoot from behind cover and extend your range you are looking at distances that might be more challening off the weak side. Not only did you have to work weak side shooting techniques, but weak hand only shooting techniques. I still find this to be valuable practice since as an instructor it is important to demonstrate off both sides. I don’t need a high level of skill, but I need to be safe and competent.

The Utility Of A Knife

There could be times when you find yourself in a situation you cannot access your primary carry gun because your strong hand is occupied. Typically in some form of clinch, grip or entanglement. In this case, transitioning to your weak side carry can easily be brought to bear. Again, within these typical engagements you are within close range, most of the time at contact range. If you are at contact range, you can use contact weapons such as knives. I believe this is a strong argument for carrying a fixed blade weak side or midline. Should my strong hand be occuppied for whatever reason, the transition to a fixed blade at contact range is extremely effective. When you consider the difference between carrying a backup gun versus a fixed blade, the weight alone is a strong argument. Not to mention, the utility of a knife in other situations.

5-Shot Power Play

Contact Shots With Backup Guns

One good argument for carrying a backup gun on the weak side was should you be in contact range, making contact shots with my backup gun is real possibility. At the very least, near contact and off angle shots. Near contact can be fired from your contact or retention position. Off angles shots come into play when the threat is no longer in front of you or at the same height as you. For contact range work, the best backup gun would be a lightweight snubby revovler. Revolvers have far less potential of stoppages due to being at contact range. Truth be told, the unit I observed was carrying a 5-shot J-frame revovler as their backup.

The Better Options

What you are left with as far as carry locations for backup guns will be pocket carry, ankle carry and deep carry. The commonality about all of these carry locations is how they are strong hand driven. If carrying a backup gun is a requirment for you, but you don’t feel developing the skill on your weak hand is ideal, then staying on your strong side will be best option. You could even go so far as to carry a subcompact version of your primary carry gun to maintain familiarization. The point I’m trying to make is in today’s landscape carrying a backup gun is not frequently practiced. I believe there are a few good reasons why, the biggest being improved reliability and capacity of the primary carry guns.

I’m not overlooking other situations such as your gun being damanged, lost or your strong hand/arm is injured. What I’m saying is the fast majority of folks who are currently carrying a backup gun are carrying for a strong side draw.

3 Tips For Shooting Snubby Revolvers

Shooting Snubby Revolvers 2

Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute To Practice

The trick to backup guns is being competent enough to use them well when you need them the most. That takes hard work and discipline, but using this 3 tips for shooting snubby revolvers well will speed up the process.

Shooting Snubby RevolversThe Close Range Pickle

The first thing I discuss with anyone considering carrying a snubby revolver is do you plan on training. If you don’t, that’s cool, but it might not be the saving grace you thought. On the one hand, they are easy, but on the other, they are hard. What I mean is should you resort to drawing your snubby revolver, chances are you are in a pickle, but it is a close range pickle. So, marksmanship requirements may be less stringent. Plus, the added benefit of contact shots with a revolver can sometimes be reason enough to consider. This by no means is a pass on your shooting skill, you will still need a high degree of controllability to continue to deliver effective fire. It is controability you should put the lion’s share of your training for shooting snubby revolvers.

Perfecting Your Firing Grip

The first tip is to really look at your grip. While it is very possible you can retrograde a semi-automoatic grip to work with a revolver, you would be wise to avoid this temptation. If you are thinking it helps maintain continuity it really doesn’t. What you get is added exposure to injury and poor grip mechanics. While there are some that can shoot these well using their auto grip, they are anomiles and not the norms. Positioning on the available real estate is critical. You have to take up as much useable space, beause you don’t get that much. From there, it’s all about the friction. The more friction you can achieve the better it will help control recoil. I use an over thumb grip, but I do it slightly different than most. I literally point my thumb’s tip downwards. Most don’t get a fully downward pointing thumb, it is more angled. Not terrible, but it doesn’t allow me to take advantage of tip number two for shooting snubby revolvers well.

Shooting Strong Hand Only Provides Gifts

I subscribe to a reverse thumb grip. It is reverse in the sense, my weak hand thumb rests on top of my strong hand thumb. Because I pointed the tip of my strong hand thumb downward there is somewhat of a shelf formed by the second digit. This shelf allows me to rest my weak hand thumb more securely allowing me to apply grip pressure more evenly and consistently. Speaking of grip pressure, I apply inward pressure with my pinkies of both hands. It is very similar to my auto-grip, but not with the same grip force. I make up for it a little by applying pressure downwards from the weak hand thumb. This process produces a firm and secure grip capable of rapid fire. The bonus is when you shoot strong hand only, pressing the thumb down and pinky inwards produces great results.

Downward, Not Rearward

The last tip is the direction of the trigger finger’s movement. Contrary to the norm, I squeeze more downward than rearward. It seems odd, but the curvature of the trigger makes me change the movement direction slightly. Since it is nothing more than a lever and I want maximum leverage making this change helps. As the trigger moves rearward, the angle of the trigger’s face changes. I want to press more downward than rearward once it reaches the apex of it’s movement. It is subtle for sure, but it has made a difference for me.

I do value what a snubby revolver offers me in the form of a backup gun. I carry them more frequently currently than I have in the past partly because I have made huge strides in shooting them well using this tips.

Timing And Space

Timing and Space

You Might Find Drawing Challenging In A Fight

From the shooting world, we talk about the importance of having a quick and effecient drawstroke. How important it is, how much effort we put into developing this in training and practice, but we also over looking timing and space.

Stakes Vs. Odds

The biggest thing to understand is every deadly force encounter will be different. It is dangerous to try and lump them all into boxes. You might hear folks talk about statistics and you should pay attention to them. The problem is building your whole system on something out of your control. You cannot control the time of day, location, distance or even the number of violent criminal actors. All you can control is yourself, the equipment you have chosen and the training completed. So, when someone talks to you about statistics, ask yourself do I have control over them or not. Another way of looking at statiscs is to consider them the odds. Odds are you will find yourself at this distance, this time of day or with this many VCA’s. I am more comfortable with this approach, but I counter with what are the stakes.

Its Okay To Acknowledge Weak Areas

What are the stakes if you invest all your time, talent and treasure into the odds you have selected. While I understand the need to prioritize what folks often forget is your prioritizing is simply to address the initial phase of your development. To give you a foothold, not to be your go to or be all. Instead, you need to be well rounded enough to manage just about any situation you face because remember, you are not in control. When you need to prioritize because your time, talent or treasure is in short commodity, just remember you are leaving gaps in your defenses. There is no two ways around it, you have weaknesses you are choosing to overlook and that is okay…for the moment.

Observable Vs. Surprise

When we start talking about a fast drawstroke, realize the situation has to support that as the right choice. The other piece to this equation, is it has to be at the right time. Here is where we see a lot of disconnect. If we subscribe to the odds are you will be at close to contact range for most of your deadly force encounters (DFE) then we have a problem. The problem is most DFE’s are either observable or suprise in nature. Meaning, you are either ambushed and caught off guard. Or, you recognize cues that indicate something bad is about to happen and are able to take action. Let’s focus on the observable types since this is what most of our training, particularly training from the holster constitutes. It is only in these types of incidents a fast drawstroke is relevant.

First Response Is Not A Gun Response

The first thing to consider is what type of distance are we dealing with, how far away is the suspect or person of interest. We break distance up into four zones, contact, close, intermediate and extreme. Contact is within double arms reach and close is inside the three yard line. Intermediate is outside the three yard to the ten and extreme would be beyond the ten yard line. Observable type attacks generally fall within intermediate to extreme zones, where you have some control over the events. However, the odds favor close range and in where timing and space are questionable. Will you have the time and or distance to effect a quick draw. Harder question to answer, so when we find ourselves in these zones we need to consider the very real possibility the first response will not be a gun response.

First Strike WeaponsDisrupting Their Plans

Anytime we find ourselves in these close range and in zones we need to have other options available. We need to consider first, strike weapon and weapons of opportunity as our immediate response. These types of weapons allow us to weather the immediate attack with the idea we have been able to create timing and space to draw our gun. In this case, our primary carry handgun is not our first response even though we put so much training time into it’s mastery. Very little time is spent on empty hand, edged weapon and improvised weapons. Truthfully, they may be out of range since most of them fall into the “contact” weapon category. Which means you may have to create a cover for action to get closer or distract to close the distance. Consider these two scenarios, you are far enough away you cannot disrupt their weapon system. These means you either try to out draw a drawn gun. Or, you have to create the timing and space to disrupt their plans. This can be in the form of weapon block (knocking and holding the gun off-line) or employing your first strike weapon. Of course, these are not your only response, compliying is also an option you may have to consider.

Integrated Combatives

I’m a big believer in first strike weapons. These can be just about anything, but the three most common are a phone, cup of coffee and car keys. Any of these objects alone may seem benigh, but when considered first strike weapons they take on a new life. Any of these objects can be used to create a reactionary gap that allows you to either disengage or if deadly force is justified to draw and fire. The real question is if the likelihood of being within close range is so high, wouldn’t you expect your efforts towards first strike weapons to be equally high. Yet, it is often overlooked or dismissed. The point is you need an integrated combatives approach to your self defense needs. One that takes into consideration a broader approach to included empty hands, edged weapons and improvised weapons.

Instead of playing the odds, consider the stakes and how can you revesrve the setting to shift the momentum onto your side. It is definitely worth considering since so many DFE happen within close range.

Reasons You Don’t Need a WML

Weapon Mounted Lights

Big Reasons You Might Not Realize

Is there a reason to have a weapon mounted light (WML) on your handgun? Absolutely, but there are more reasons you don’t need a WML than you might think.

Needs Vs. Wants

The good news is technology has advanced far since I was first issued a weapon mounted light on my pistol in the Navy. We had them for a while and were waiting for suitable holsters to use them operationally. The logistical train will always play a game of catch up compared to new product development. They made doing our jobs a lot easier, with a high sex appeal to boot. Today, you can literally mount just about anything to the utility rails common on most handguns. This doesn’t mean you should. There is a big difference between a “need” and a “want”. Most people want one, but they don’t need one. And that is totally okay.

Totally Dark Locations

When do you need a WML? When you can no longer positively identity the target with the available lighting condition. When you cannot see enough to make the decision to employ deadly force. Here is a great bit of trivia to digest. When the lighting conditions diminish enough you can no longer see in color, you are legally blind. It is in these conditions you need additional lightening to be sure of your target. Hours of diminished lighting typically go from the beginning of nautical twilight in the evening to just past nautical twilight in the morning. The problem, most of us live in areas with lighting all day long. It is very hard to find a good reason you would be in a totally dark location in the first place.

Enough Ambient Light

Even in those places, there will more than likely be some form of ambient light. There has to be some form of light for the criminal element to perpetuate their crime. They don’t need enough light to identify their target, they just need to know you are there. Even then, how much light do you need when you are the victim of a violent crime. It is very rare you would be able to draw your handgun to use it in advance of an attack in public. When most violent crimes happen at contact range, how necessary is your WML to positively identity the target. 

Home Invasions

Change the scenario somewhat to low light conditions in your home and things are a little different. If you must investigate a disturbance late at night or diminished light, having a WML is a good idea. As you move from reaction mode, to action mode it will help to have the light attached to your handgun. Being able to work doors, move people or even fight with an intruder make the WML an advantage.

Violating Personal Rights

Would you be forced to use your weak hand to defend while you grip the handgun with your strong hand. Absolutely. However, by the time this part of the situation has developed you are well passed positive target identification. Should you need to carry someone or move people would have a WML be helpful. Possibility, but it is not necessary. You can manage people while holding a handheld light the same as if you had a WML. Another issue to remember is deadly force justification must have been meet for you to draw your handgun. So, if you wanted to use your light because you are not sure about someone or some place, should you be wrong you just violated that persons rights. Reasons you don’t need a WML are pretty varied, but the point is they exist. 

Reasons You Don’t Need a WMLConsidering Long Term Sustainability

Even if you have a weapon mounted light, you still should have a handheld light. The utility of a good handheld light outweighs the times you might need a handgun. It is much easier to deploy a handheld light by mistake than a weapon mounted light. The added advantage of having both is something to consider as well. If your body style, wardrobe and environment allow for the added bulk and weight you are set. Reasons you don’t need a WML might also have to do with sustainability. The question you have to ask yourself is how sustainable is that load out. Can you do that everyday? Maybe, maybe you can. Just remember, if you are involved in a deadly force encounter you are a statistical anomaly. Add hours of dismissed lighting where a light would be necessary to positively identity your target and that statistic shrinks significantly.

There is a big difference between a need and a want. Make sure you know the difference and can support the load out for the long term. 

Trident Concepts
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