You should use a variety of bullet types to first break-in your firearm. This includes ball ammunition as well as popular hollow-point types. This will ensure your defensive firearm will reliably feed when it needs to. Just like a parent must budget for their child, a responsible handgun owner should also budget for scheduled training at an interval appropriate for them. This could be multiple times weekly or monthly at the very least. Ammunition should also be tested and understood based on season and environment. In other words, the rounds used for dangerous game protection will vary from two-legged threats and self-defense situations. You cannot have too much ammunition. Stock up now; buy in bulk instead of purchasing individual boxes one at a time. Learn which rounds work well within 7 yards and which begin to lose accuracy at 25 yards as quality control will affect performance. Store it for longevity in ammunition cans or airtight containers.
A handheld or weapon-mounted flashlight is an absolute necessity. A fight can take place at any time, and night sights are good for low-light situations to acquire a sight picture. A weapon light, on the other hand, will help you identify a threat indoors or outdoors when there is little to no light. Even with black-on-black sights, you can still see the silhouette of the sights to get a sight picture. People who carry their firearm but don’t carry a light assume their fight will take place in a bright location. It’s impossible to dictate the conditions. Know your target and what is behind it. Carry a flashlight.
If you are willing to invest in a handgun for concealed carry, invest in a quality holster and make sure it works for your needs. Consider how much retention is necessary and what is overkill. In other words, don’t purchase a holster with a thumb strap if it will be carried concealed. Concealment is the first rule of weapon retention. Consider your physical build and how your body moves. An appendix holster worn by an athletic and in-shape person will not afford the same benefit for someone overweight with limited range of motion. Consider your holster as a means of defense for your pistol and its components. It should be designed to protect your firearm when squeezing through tight places and navigating unfamiliar terrain.
Weapons maintenance is essential. Cleaning isn’t needed after every range session, and firearms will continue to operate as long as they are lubricated. Shooting an occasional box of 50 rounds won’t warrant a full cleaning. However, you should be vigilant as to the amount of fuzz and lint that accumulates in the action of your carry gun and make sure to protect against rust that forms from contact with body sweat. At the very least, you should have a kit that you carry away from home that keeps your gun online. The kit should include a bore brush, a cleaning jag, patches, a good lubricant, a multi-purpose cleaner and a disassembly tool if you anticipate foul weather conditions. Additional items should help refuel weapon lights, replace parts and so on, but make sure you have what you need to prevent rust, remove debris and lubricate for reliability first.
Some stock pistol sights are made from inexpensive plastic. These sights can be damaged and are less durable than metal sights. Therefore, you should consider getting replacement sights that will hold their zero. AmeriGlo, for example, offers various-height replacement sights to achieve the correct zero. Night sights are generally more durable and aid in target recognition. They are great for taking aimed shots in low-light. Night sights have an expiration date, as they will slowly dim with time, but then again, all sights have a life expectancy. The hard focus on the front sight is limited if that front sight is dinged, mushroomed or has its shiny finish worn off. Any sight should be replaced when it is worn and affects your sight picture.
Most pistols are sold with two magazines, which isn’t enough. Assuming you carry one loaded magazine in your firearm, you should always have a backup magazine so you can refuel your firearm when Murphy’s Law kicks in. Magazines can also fail, with stuck followers and loose rounds, requiring the user to strip them and reload a fresh mag. Magazines run out of ammunition, and they also become damaged on dynamic ranges. A minimum of four magazines should accompany each firearm. Law enforcement officers typically carry three or more. In general, for every magazine you intend to carry, you should have a spare. Additionally, consider purchasing a good magazine pouch to carry your magazines on your belt for quick and easy access.
Responsible citizens are bound to experience moments when they cannot legally carry their firearms. State buildings, drinking establishments, airplanes—these locations may or may not be off limits depending on where you live. A good lockable case will not prevent a firearm from being stolen (as plenty of locked cases are stolen from vehicles), but it will slow down the process if it is locked and cable-locked to a secure spot. You should purchase a good locking device and case for your home and vehicle and use it for traveling. Quality locks with the thickest locking bars should be used to secure the case, and a cable should be used to secure the case to the frame of a bed, a seat post in a vehicle or around any place that is difficult to access and cut.
Firearms are excellent defensive weapons at distance, but up close, they can become a liability. As long as a threat can control the end of the muzzle, he or she can dictate the course of the fight. At grappling range, chances are your best option in a lethal-force encounter is to draw a blade. You should carry a good spear-point blade at least 3 inches long on your support side. This little fixed blade is quicker to deploy than a handgun and can be used on vital targets. While some would suggest using it to cut the hand of a threat reaching for your firearm, there are better targets that will end this life-or-death scenario faster. Folding knives are less preferable as they require an additional beat in time to get into action. A strong fixed blade will never close, but a folder may not open.
Accidents happen. Since force is met with force and the threat you are fighting against more than likely has the desire, opportunity and ability to do you harm, you should prepare in case they do. Therefore, it is important to have a trauma kit and know how to use it. At the very minimum, this kit should include a quality tourniquet like the CAT or SWAT-T. Avoid any tourniquet that requires you to move the extremity being treated as the tourniquet is being applied. A pair of shears, hemostatic gauze and a pressure bandage are all you need to address many of the common injuries sustained on the range. Carry the equipment you need to address your own wounds first, and extra gear for others second.
You should strive to train everyday and train beyond what can be done at a range. This can include dry-fire practice with snap caps and dry runs around the house, learning how to achieve sight pictures while pieing doorways and other architectural obstacles not found on a square range. Consider purchasing a dedicated blue gun, identical in size and shape to your carry gun, and train with it whenever you’re practicing handgun skills against a live training partner. A dedicated training knife should also be purchased to mimic the live fixed blade mentioned earlier. Also, should various combat techniques be practiced, it is more reassuring to drop a $50 blue gun on the ground than a $500 pistol. Aside from a basic NRA pistol course, many handgun carriers will not seek additional training and rely on self-taught instruction. Training with a reputable instructor is essential, as that instructor can instill good techniques and identify weaknesses or training scars. Additional training should include empty-hand and blade combatives. Training for difficult times should reflect reality. Whatever training you seek, make sure you don’t confuse real-world training for sport or competition fighting
Whether you are a military guy, a boy scout or the occasional hiker, chances are you’ve heard about the 10 essentials. In essence, these are the 10 pieces of gear you should always have in your kit. These 10 items vary, but generally they include a knife, a fire-starter, a water bottle, a first-aid kit and other common items found in a person’s rucksack. As experienced outdoorsmen will tell you, these 10 items compose what you should have on you at a minimum, and in reality the “10 essentials” are better understood as concepts instead of a definitive and final packing list. For example, edged tools like a multi-tool, saw or axe can satisfy the “knife” concept.
- RELATED STORY: 4 Accessories to Trick Out Your Smith & Wesson M&P Shield
- RELATED STORY: 12 Do-or-Die Shotgun Training Tips for Personal and Home Defense
This begs the question, if the idea of a conceptual checklist works so well in the survival and outdoors community, how can it be applied to the handgunning world? Follow along as we put our spin on this widely used “10 essentials” checklist.
This article was originally published in “Combat Handguns” September/October 2017. To subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.
The new Magpul GL Enhanced Magazine Well for full-size Glock Gen4s and ensures positive...
by Personal Defense World / Sep 7, 2017