Preparing For a Concealed Carry Class


Whether new to training or a veteran to the discipline, there are a few simple things to do in order to improve your overall experience. They are three areas you need to focus on when preparing for class. Notice how I said focus, there are other areas you should put some attention to, but these are the big ones. The first is to review the course information, paying particular attention to the required gear list. Then, go over your logistics. The when and where are what I’m talking about. Last preparation for the class is to double check your gear and plan for some contingencies.

Know the Course Material

Drawing from concealed in the real world

Every school is a little different, but they will all usually have some type of course description. Some students will use this solely as their criterion for decision. Others will have “shopped around” through internet searches or word of mouth. I encourage you to know what you need, not what you want. For instance, if you need a better understanding on the drawstroke. Find an instructor who is known for doing an excellent job on the subject. You may find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what you need, you don’t know what you don’t know and that is perfectly acceptable. Have a broader goal in mind, to expand your knowledge base for example.

Review the Gear List

Read through the course description, all of the available material. If there is something you don’t understand, then do a little research. If there are terminal objectives or goals of the class, do they meet your needs. A good course will be well thought out and have an agenda or curriculum. The curriculum will guide the student towards the terminal objective through enabling objectives. All the information is important, but probably the most important is the required gear list and in this case the importance of your concealment carrying system. A lot of times, students will think of this as a suggestion. It is not, it is a list of required gear to ensure you have the best chance of doing well in the class. Don’t convince yourself you do or don’t need something. Read the list, even print the list out and check each item to make sure you are good to go. Think of this as an IQ test, can you follow simple instructions. Then at class, it is nice to be prepared and of course to not be “that guy.”

Do a Map Study and Plan Your Route

Logistics are a big thing to me. The old saying, “amateurs argue tactics and professionals argue logistics” is incredibly accurate. Start by knowing where you are going and how you will get there. Give yourself a little fudge factor on day one just to cover your basis. Don’t just know where you are going, but know the surrounding area. For instance, are there eateries near by or are you going to be packing a lunch or snacks. Something else to consider is how long is the commute. After a long day of training I suggest you consider the drive home. Be extra alert when going home since the fatigue of the day can affect your situational awareness as you drive home.

Get Your Eyes On Everything

The final preparation for your class will be to review your gear, like literally lay it all out and get your eyes on them. It is one thing to go over the required gear list and say to yourself I have that in my range bag. Only to realize you took it out to clean, replace or repair and failed to return it to your range bag. Some items are less important, a flashlight is not essential to a day light course. But a magazine pouch can make or break your experience in the class. Go over each item and ask yourself is this ‘thing” good to go. Has it been cleaned, or maintenance recently. Are there fresh batteries in use or am I running on empty. The devil is in the details so really go through the list.

Have a Plan and a Backup Plan

Think about the essential items. Your handgun for instance. Even though I have done a good job of picking a reliable model along with routine maintenance, things do break. Having a backup on standby has come to the rescue on more than one occasion. Spare magazines are another example. If you have the minimum as prescribed in the gear list that is great, but what if one of them goes down or you leave it in the hotel. There’s a myriad of reasons, so planning is key. Contingencies can go beyond your gear to your plan. Any physical activity will take its toll on your energy level. If you are planning to get lunch nearby, but all the local places are packed and you have to make a decision between being late or skipping lunch you might consider packing a lunch or some snacks.

Holsters, Be Prepared

Weak Side Carry 2
Be prepared with good, quality holsters

When it comes to our Concealed Carry classes there are three main failures from the gear list. The first is not having an “on the waistband” or OWB holster. You may try to justify you don’t need it because you have an IWB holster. That would be a mistake. The purpose behind the OWB holster is to start from a known and safe condition. Before we dive into the deep end of drawing and holstering from concealed, we have to ensure you have well developed and safe drawstroke from the lowest risk condition possible. That would be open carry, on the waistband.

Bring All The Required Clothing

The second mistake would be in failing to have all of the required clothing. In this class, you will be forced to work from a variety of cover garments. Not your favorite or go to, but a wide array to ensure you are prepared. It never fails, there is always that one person who thinks they know better. Trust me, you don’t. Bring all the clothing listed. Even if you don’t have something on the gear list for whatever reason you can probably borrow it from a family member or friend. Most of the items are pretty normal, but if you don’t have a rain jacket and you don’t want to buy one, they ask around to get a loaner.

Have an Open Mind

Last mistake we see often is when students fail to have an open mind. It doesn’t matter what you think or know, be open to new ideas. If you say to yourself while reading the gear list I don’t need this or that you would be demonstrating someone who has a closed mind. Don’t be that guy. Instead it should pique your curiosity. You should be wondering what are we going to be doing with that and why. Curiosity is your super power as a student. It is the single greatest characteristic that leads to expanded knowledge base. Back it up by understanding the why you are doing something a certain way or why you don’t do things a certain way.

If you take the time to review the course material paying attention to the required gear list, you have the best chance of succeeding in class. Or at least you won’t be held up because you don’t have this or forgot to bring that. Knowing the logistics will help you ensure you are not late or miss any course material. Some instructors will not allow you to participate if you miss the main emergency and medical plan brief so don’t be surprised if you have to sit down initially why the rest of the class trains. Double check and even triple check your gear. Have a system so you make sure you have all the gear you need and it is centrally located so when you load out early in the morning probably in the dark you don’t leave that one bag on the work bench. These are not just suggestions, they are observations over decades of training to help ensure you as the student have the best chance of success in our training classes.

They Are Playing You

Once again, we are lead to believe we must aggressively pursue reasonable gun control. That enough is enough, how we all need to come to gather to recognize this danger to our lives and livelihood.

Predictable As Always

It wasn’t even minutes before the left was foaming at the mouth for more gun control. As predictable as the sun rising, we heard it all once again. I saw it first hand while presenting at this year’s NRA Annual Meeting in Houston. I don’t need to make an obligatory statement about how terrible and tragic the event, as if I need to remind the public. I don’t need to be lectured or as was the case in Houston, screamed obscenities by people who only have one objective. To subjugate the armed citizenry.

Negotiating Terms Of Surrender

That’s it, that is all there is to the rapid almost psychotic rhetoric we are witnessing. And they are playing you! Here’s how and why. Every time a tragic event occurs that fits their narrative there is the immediate confrontation with those who wish to protect their freedoms. Rather than confrontation, think of it in terms of a negotiation. We are negotiating terms of our surrender. Any negotiation to be successful must have compromise from both parties and that is how they are playing you. By immediately taking to the airwaves and demanding more gun control they have the initiative, the proverbial high ground.

Understanding Lost Aversion

The logical outcome of their strategy is to achieve a compromise. Whatever the compromise, it further erodes or in some cases neuters our freedoms. When you enter into these negotiations, there is an implied agreement that will be reached. That agreement means that someone will lose. Because quite simply, a compromise is not a win, therefore it is a loss. Losses will always loom larger than gains. Meaning, lose aversion can be better understood by realizing that bad is stronger than good. It is an evolutionary outcome, we are predisposed to treat bad with a higher priority than good. Winning $10,000 is great, but loosing the same amount has a more devastating result.

The Rationalizing of Negotiations

If you want to safeguard your freedoms the first thing you need to do is not to engage in the existing negotiations since nothing will be gain, only lost. With this theory in mind you are far better to effectively safeguard our freedoms. The strategy should be simple, go on offense. Any negotiation has forced us to be defensive. We rationalize what we are willing to give up. To prioritize what we value more over what we value less. For example, if countries were negotiating the peaceful disarmament of offensive weapons they look at it from a strategic view. What do I not mind giving away as a way of ensuring I can keep what I really want, but still give something away.

Be Strategic In Your Outlook

Common ground if often cited as a solid approach towards achieving a better outcome. Find something both parties can agree to and agree to it hard. We can all agree the needless loss of life is a series issue. When both parties agree to this directive then we can start working towards achieving an effective strategy. In this case, that strategy would have almost nothing to do with gun control since needless loss of life related to firearms is infantile compared to other methods. We are not even talking about violent crimes, we are talking about life. Look up the current causes of death in our country and you will quickly realize the top five all have nothing to do with violence. You stand a higher chance of being struck by lightening than being in an active killer event.

With this in mind, why would we recklessly barter with our constitutional rights. There is no value, not any at all and there never will be. Which is why you are being played.

Micro-Compact Versatility

Professional Development 2

The New Multi-tool

With the growing popularity of concealed carry there are more than ever a broad range of options for carry pistols. While there may be a trend for carrying larger framed pistols, sales numbers show an unprecedented interest in the micro-compact pistols.

Defensive Ammunition 2
Small Is Sometimes Better

The Logic is Undeniable

I’ve been a big fan of these pint size blasters for a while. I’ve talked a great deal about the value they bring to the table. A major obstacle for many is the perceived difficulty some will have shooting these smaller framed pistols. Most of the time, this is a perception based on a few observations. These pistols have a shorter barrel length and frame height, making them smaller obviously. The real issue is how much lighter they are and the effect recoil has with less weight. This perception is backed up by the laws of physics. How many will comment the physics involved is irrefutable.

It is Always The Indian

That may be the case, but science isn’t the only reason. Ignorance or lack of understanding come into the picture. I have been shooting these smaller platforms extensively for some time, at least the last couple of years. My round count log on these platforms puts me at several thousand rounds combined. What I have learned is like anything, this is a learned skill. Once you learn how to adapt your stance, mount and grip along with a few common errors you quickly learn the disadvantages often quoted aren’t as signifiant as once believed.

It’s All About the Size

This allows us to then expand on the versatility of these micro-compacts. There are a couple of these platforms that can cover a broad range of carry options. My original thought process was the smaller and lighter pistol made it easier to carry. Without a doubt this is true. It just makes sense from a longevity point of view. Add some extreme weather conditions and going with these micro pistols is a much easier decision to make than previously considered. When you are in it for the long haul, size does matter.

Not Just a Pretty Face

Being able to adopt other carry options such as pocket and ankle carry is a huge advantage. You may frown upon these methods. You may even talk down to those who choose to carry them because they are different from your own methods. That is certainly your opinion, but it is shortsighted. There are several reasons to consider these lesser known carry methods. Wardrobe restrictions, inclement weather and personal choices are all often the reason when you take the time to ask why they our popular.

Don’t Be That Guy

Some will look at these micro-compact pistols and feel they are out gunned and under supplied with ammunition. Shooting like anything takes practice. Someone who is competent and proficient at the fundamentals will not have a difficult time transitioning. The novelty of the new platform takes a short while to “figure out” then it is full speed ahead. It is those who lack the proficiency or ignorance into these micro pistols capability who are the biggest naysayers.

The tricked out pistols are not going to go away anytime soon, but their popularity is much smaller when compared to the popularity of the micro-compact pistols. Some will look at this as a who’s right type of equation. Truthfully, you’re wrong if you fail to see the benefits of both options.

Our Rights and Responsibilities of Gun Ownership | JEFF GONZALES

Gun ownership is such a polarizing subject. And, with the increasing gun ownership in America combined with the tension and friction we’ve seen between people, it’s only going to become more so. That said, gun ownership is a fundamental right protected by the United States Constitution but that does not absolve us of the responsibility we, as gun owners, have to be safe and make ourselves proficient with our firearms.

Today, I am joined by former Navy SEAL, Jeff Gonzales to talk about both our rights and responsibilities as gun owners. We also cover recommendations for new firearms owners, how much time needs to be dedicated towards training (including training without having access to a range), why the beginners’ mindset will help you become a more proficient gun owner, and metrics for improving your accuracy and effectiveness should you need to use your firearm.

Want maximum health, wealth, relationships, and abundance in your life? Sign up for our free course, 30 Days to Battle Ready.

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The Sloppy Shooting Grip

Not Every Drawstroke Will Be Perfect

At some point, everyone will experience a drawstroke that produces what I call the sloppy shooting grip. The purpose of training is to develop the skill to produce an optimal shooting grip during the drawstroke, but what do you do when it doesn’t.

It All Begins With The Grip

For as long as I’ve been carrying a handgun I’ve preached about the importance of obtaining a crush grip. The crush grip begins with the handgun in the holster. Regardless of the holster’s location on your body, it is imprerative the grip on the handgun while still in the holster be the final firing grip when on target. There are a lot of variables at work durning a drawstroke. Such as, are you open or concealed? Are you standing or sitting? Are you dynamic or static? Every one of these variables can negatively impact the precision with which you grip the handgun. The more precise you grip the handgun, the more likely you will be precise with your aim, with your trigger control and with recoil control.

There Is No Doubt

The question about what to do when you get the sloppy shooting grip is the one we try to answer with redirects or avoidance. What I mean is when you get a sloppy grip the response in turn is “don’t do that” or “grip it correctly”. While I agree those are correct, they don’t deal with the immediacy of the situation. Should you be called upon to use your handgun in a defensive situation and you get a sloppy grip what have you done to prepare. Like anything in the world, if something can go wrong it will go wrong. If the possibility exist you can get a sloppy grip as a result of some of the variables discussed earlier then we need to have a plan. The plan is more about how to deal with the sloppy grip in real time.

You Might Want To Take A Split Second

When we talk about the sloppy shooting grip I break it down into either a catastrophic or workable. A workable sloppy grip means it is something I can improve. I can take a split second to adjust my grip or improve it’s positioning over its current state. It may not be perfect, but it was better than it was when I started. This happens a lot during the drawstroke with subcompact handguns. It is already hard to get a good shooting grip on the smaller handguns because they lack surface area. Add a little speed, concealment and or pressure and it can go sideways real fast. What I have discovered is that by developing a master shooting grip with my compact or full size handguns it has taught my body and specifically my hand how to grip. Over the years, my fingers and thumbs just move to the correct position and apply pressure. When I get the sloppy shooting grip with a subcompact handgun it is usually as I attempt to clear the holster. From there, my hands naturally want to adjust and I just let them. The result is an improved shooting grip that is more than adequate for the scenario.

Dirt Diving Is Fun & Beneficial

Things are a little different with a catastrophic sloppy grip. This means that I will not be able to improve the grip without taking additional remedial action. It could be a result of clearing the cover garment. The hand gets snagged requiring you to adjust your grip completly to free your hand to obtain your shooting grip. Another example might be bobbling the handgun during the drawstroke. It may actually slip or partially slip from your grasp. If you are injured and physically cannot obtain the normal shooting grip I would also consider this catastrophic. Our goal should be to avoid the catastrophic grips and adapt to improving the workable grips. Sometimes working through a few possibilities is all it takes, we call this dirt diving. You discover simple, yet effective ways to avoid or manage through this process. They are taught as contingencies in our curriculum.

While a slopping shooting grip is not ideal, it is not the end of the world. There are little things you can do to adapt and still achieve the desired outcome, effective fire to stop the threat.

An Honest Look At Knives

The Untrained Knife Attacker

Do you understand the use of a knife from both the defensive and offensive side. Have you had an honest look at knives and how the are used against you in an attack.

A Better Understanding

There are many martial arts and specitilities within the edged weapon field. I’ve been fortunate and honored to have worked with many of them. Some to a simple familiarization and others to a more intimate understanding. The most valuable take away I can offer for all of them falls into two categories. How to implement the sharp edge of the blade in the most effective way and the human body’s vital anatomy relative to slashes and stabs. This mere knowledge has provided me with the means to select the best tool, the best method of carry and the best method of use to fit my needs. I enjoy carrying a knife, have since I was a young kid. I have been intrigued by them and their use, but it wasn’t until I was an adult I better understood them.

Safety Starts With You

Here is a major take away from all that knowledge, someone is going to get cut. If you play with knives enough you will probably get cut on accident or worse intentionally. It’s important you have a healthy respect for their damage the same you would with a firearm. Statistically, more people are injured or killed with an edged weapon of some sort than firearms. Some are accidents, others are not. Like firearms, safety begins with you. Don’t draw your knife unless you intend to use and don’t use a knife when another item will do a better job. Be mindful of your surroundings and familair with the knife, how it opens and closes or is sheathed.

The Typical Path Of The Blade

In a self-defense setting we will more than likely be in a reactionary mode. Meaning, we will be responding to our attacker and thus be behind the power curve. A drawn blade is going to be faster than trying to draw a blade or any other tool. You have to recognize the danger of this situation. What and how do you need to prepare. Simple things like how is your attacker holding the knife? Is it point up or point down? This can go a long way towards understanding how they will attack. The vast majority of knife attacks are stabs or thrusts, generally to the midsection. This is very valuable information  since it tells us the general direction the pointy end will be traveling. No matter how much knowledge you have with knife training if you try to exchange stabs for parries or blocks, you will eventually get cut or worse stabbed. Many stabs are quickly recocked and perfomed in rapid succession multiple times. Your best option is to be outside the range of the contact weapon or at the very least place an object between you and the attacker.

Signal Of Impending Attack

Another conern you must be aware of for the previous tactic to be valuable is a high percentage of attacks occur where the attacker will acquire a grip on you with their free hand. This grip, whether your arm, hair or clothing makes it hard to break contact, but it also gives us a heads up on their intentions. While the knife may be drawn, it is the grasping with the free hand that can signal the impending attack. All the more reason to stay out of range. An honest look at knives means not letting them grab you. It will go a long way to not getting stabbed. At some point you begin to apprecaite footwork and quick footwork at that. Moving is critical to your surviaval.

One And Done

What if you cannot move, what if you are channalized or in a confined space. Don’t let them grab you for one. Block all those attempts first and foremost. Eventualy, you will need to confront the live blade. It is by no means simple or easy. Any thrust or stab will come at you fast and if you cannot move your feet, then at the very least try to move your torso. At the same time consider the same side hand defenses. If they are using their right hand, then your left hand would be same hand. Inward parries combined with outboard movement of the torso can create empty space in the knife’s path. But, here is the kicker or small print. You will probably only get one attempt.

Incapacitation Is The Goal

All of those words to say this. An honest look at knives would be produce two options. Don’t be there, so if you can escape it would be your go to move. If not, then moving your vitals away from the blades path would be your next. So, how do you end the attack if you are not attacking, what is your secret weapon? Incapacitation. You have to get it in your mind you have to deliver rapid and accurate blows to soft targets. Injury is good, but incapacitation is the goal. If you parry with your left, then a cross with your right might be all you got. Where do you aim? The chin, the jaw, the throat? What will genearte the most likely outcome you are looking for – incapacitation?

It is going to be ugly, watch any of the hundreds of CCTv videos if you need convincing. Once you get past some of the first obstacles you quickly realize your best defense is not to be in that situation in the first place, but if you are then a few simple tips might make the difference.

Access To Your Firearm Under Pressure

Winston Churchill

The Bad Guy Gets A Say

There is a belief that all you need is a fast drawstroke to stop a threat at close range. There is truth in this view, but it is also less than half the story when you realize access to your firearm under pressure is not nearly as quick as you might think.

It’s All About Balance

One of the great fortunes of being involved in combatives from an early stage in my career was I didn’t have any illussions about what worked and what didn’t work. Playing both good guy and bad guy were almost required to truly understand the balance. The balance I’m referring to is when your opponent is off balance, they have very little success completing their origianl task. This didn’t matter what role you were playing, it was something equally experienced by both sides. This is a huge take away, it says that you must maintain your balance at all times and work to disrupt your oppenents balance with every move.

Action Versus Reaction

Most folks are thinking, how can knocking someone off balance be so valuable. What I’m referencing is not soley about your equilibrium, or the distribution of weight. The balance I’m referencig has a lot to do with your thought process. When we look at one of the most dangerous situations we could face, it would probably look like an ambush at close range. Even worse, would be extreme close range. Sometimes words don’t help paint the picture and we need to assign some measurements. Close range to me is defined as any conflict where the opponent(s) are within five yards. Extreme close range is within a double arms interval. That means if both the good guy and bad guy extended their arm forward the finger tips would touch. At this range it is not about how fast you can draw your gun. It might seem that way, but no matter the situation as a private citizen you will always be in a reactionary mode. Meaning, the bad guys is going to say when.

You Can Touch Them

Why is this important? Because no matter how fast your drawstroke, at this range it is a low probability outcome action when access to your firearm under pressure. Meaning, the liklihood you will be able to out draw his action of drawing a gun or thrusting a knife is often not realistic. Add to the equation, that each sitaution will be different and it makes it far less realistic. Instead, you need to consider how to disrupt the balance to shift the reactionary gap to your side. In my experience, the best way to do that is injury or incapacitation. At the extreme close quarters you as the good guy have one advantage, if they can touch you…you can touch them.

Further Disrupting Their Balance

Striking is not your only option of course. You can attempt to jam up their drawstroke, either through fouling their firing grip or locking the gun in the holster. Both of these are sensible options, but a lot of times to be effective you will need two hands. A natural reaction from your opponent is a reflexive counter. Nothing fancy or taught, just a recognition their action is being impeded and they must do something. That something is simple, use the other hand. So, while this action can sometimes open up a window it is not a guarantee. When both hands from your opponent are occupied trying to complete the original task, you now have the option of disrupting their balance through strikes. Think of it this way, you want your first strike to be effective. If it is effective, you have an even better chance of recocking and landing additional strikes, each further disrupting their balance.

Think of disrupting someones balance not the mere act of shifting their weight, that is a huge part. Disrupting their balance is also about knocking their cognitive weight out of alignment.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England

Texas Constitutional Carry

Signing of the Declaration

A Major Step In The Right Direction

Very soon Texas will become the next state to adopt constitutional or permitless carry. Despite what some are claiming, the changes to our landscape are great and looking to get better with Constitutional Carry.

Stay In Your Lane

Constitutional carry is something I believe all states should support. Not all states do and I’m okay with their choice. I’m not about to interject my nose in another state’s business, just like I’d expect them to keep their nose out of mine. The biggest concern is states need to get back to governing themselves. Constitutional carry is a great example of that notion. I don’t believe federal constitutional carry is a good idea for the same reason I don’t think a federal driver’s license is a good idea. The federal government needs less control, not more. Putting the decision back in the states makes the most sense. Local politics are the key to safeguarding life, liberty and the pursuit of happniness.

The Right To An Informed Opinion

We have decades of living with concealed carry across our nation. The death and destruction landscape the anti-gun think tank tried to convince the public of failed. Outside of an infantile number of incidents the public is safe from this negative opinion. The reality is more guns save lives. If I have to explain how violent criminals choose the time and place to commit their crimes it makes it really hard to expect you to understand what I’m saying in the first place. The right to life is one of the most important rights we get to experience. Nobody should tell someone they do not have the right to defend themselves. Defending oneself with a firearm has been proven countless times to be a game changer for all walks of life.

Constitutional CarryThe Constitution Is My LTC

What does this mean when constitutional carry takes affect? What will change? To be honest not a lot. It means you will not be required to obtain a License to Carry (LTC) to carry a firearm. The state will recognize the Constitution as your carry permit. A huge win in my opinion. However, the small print is often overlooked. In this case, there are some things you need to be aware of that can save you a lot of heartache. The three things are where you can/cannot carry, what is the law and what is your responsibility. I could go into detail about each of these points, or I could encourage you to obtain your LTC. I’m far more inclined to suggest the later and here is why.

Conversation Level Of The Law

Obtaining an LTC will provide you with the opprotunty to become familiar with the law. Not just where you can and cannot carry, but deadly force and the use of deadly force. I strongly encourage you to have a conversation level of the law. While it is now your right to carry, like any right it comes with responsibility. Another advantage to your LTC is being able to purchase a firearm. Possession of a valid LTC allows you to forgo the background check since obtaining the LTC requried the background check be completed and passed. A handy option for desparate times such as a pandemic. Another advantage is while there are many state adopting constitutional carry, it is for their citizens only. If you travel out of your home state, you may not be covered. So, knowing the law in the visiting state is important and you may discover the state recognizes your home state’s LTC.

The Importance Of Continued Education

As we see less barriers to people carrying firearms we will see more responsibility placed on their shoulders. You may never carry, use or need your firearm, but you have it just like the fire extinguisher in your home. What you want to avoid is in the middle of a kitchen fire trying to figure out how to use your fire extinguisher. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of firearm education and the accompanying training. My recommendation is to continue to learn as much as you can about your firearm, how it works and of course how to shoot it safely. As a die hard advocate of your own personal choice, I would hope you recongize the importance behind being competent and safe. There are so many options available these days. It merely takes a commitment from your part.

I’m excited about the new law taking effect for many reasons. The biggest reason being it is not a right if you have to ask permission.

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.

Trident Concepts
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