Self Defense Training Articles
I recently read an article on this topic from a huge gun association and with the exception of 2 points out of their 10, I disagreed. From a legal aspect, I understand why they wrote what they did, but let’s just say they’ve lost their edge on standing up for not compromising on out 2A rights. This article is in response to their soft, ill-advised advice but politically correct advice.
Family functions can be the most stressful periods of time for us. I think my situation is unique because I have the most amazing in-laws and my side of the family has completely disowned me because of differing political views so there’s virtually no holiday stress! Certainly not going to complain but I do remember plenty of gatherings with my family that were very stressful and I wish I had had the guts to stand up earlier for my beliefs. Yes, the obvious stressor is when you’re conservative/libertarian and they’re progressive left. And yes, even with everyone agreeing not to mention politics or religion, someone inevitably will -so you might as well be prepared.
First rule that should always be followed: never drink and carry a firearm. Be the designated driver. Know the laws in the state you are in regarding alcohol consumption while carrying a firearm. Expect more holiday check points with police and we want to set the best example for responsible and safe gun ownership. Don’t drink, drive and carry a firearm. Period. Keep your firearm safely locked away if you choose to drink over the holidays and certainly don’t drive. We want to live a life of no regrets and the consequences of mixing alcohol with firearms and driving are severe.
Second: While hanging around family who simply don’t understand your rights and desire to conceal carry, try to keep your gun and holster as concealed as possible. Expect to eat a lot and hug a lot so be mindful of how you carry. There are so many options to keep your firearm concealed so that no one knows you have it on you unless you directly tell them. It’s always best not to start something that can be avoided by being mindful of something we can control - how we dress and what we say. I personally wear leggings and a sweater that will comfortably conceal a belly band while allowing for plenty of food consumption. Men can easily conceal under a loose enough shirt or vest either appendix or at 3 o’clock without anyone knowing. Not a fan of clothing that you carry your firearm in because then you can’t take that outer garment off without locking it up. (And I never carry in my purse at family events because of the other children who might access it accidentally.) Be strategic in how you dress for the company you will be with.
Third: Avoid bringing up controversial topics but be prepared knowing someone probably will. I try to stay informed of the latest bills, Supreme Court gun cases in review, new laws in liberal states and general stats that are often misquoted/favorite liberal talking points - ie: gun deaths are the number one death for children. Be knowledgable on the topics you care about so that when the occasion arises, you’ll know what’s really going on and not just propaganda being regurgitated.
Fourth: Be kind and respectful during potentially heated discussions. Realize there are always people who just won’t admit they’re wrong or believe the truth and facts no matter what you say. You can present data and information and your beliefs as respectful as possible without being belligerent or rude and ‘in your face’. Nobody likes a know-it-all, even when they’re right. And if it’s the other person being rude, walk away and go talk with someone else. Don’t waste your time on family who insist on antagonizing and dominating the conversation based on an emotional argument. There are plenty of other conversations you can join, ignore or steer to more neutral conversations without being a pushover.
These are the rules I try to live by - there are articles that say to get your host’s permission to conceal carry before doing so and maybe that’s the best legal advice. I’m not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice. I personally don’t care what my host says as long as I can legally conceal carry in the state I’m in, my husband and I will do so. I do not think it’s anyone’s business if I’m safely conceal carrying for the protection of my family and myself. It’s certainly not ideal to leave your best means of protecting yourself locked away in your car or worse yet, at home. Honestly, it’s not anyone’s business other than your own if you choose to conceal carry. Be discreet, don’t drink, drive and conceal carry and certainly don’t show anyone how or what you carry when you’re in company that doesn’t have the same values as you. It is better to have your firearm with you and not need it than to keep it locked away and be in need. Of course, train hard, train smart and carry on. Enjoy the holidays with your family and friends and be safe. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Discussing how to carry your conceal carry firearm can be a touchy subject. Ladies who every day carry generally have their opinion on which way is better and why. It’s important to remember that there is no one size fits all for every person and occasion. However, the short answer is; on the body is always best whenever possible. Now let’s dig into the nuts and bolts as to why and how.
I carry every day and buy my clothing in order to fit this lifestyle choice and for the most part, I can fairly easily conceal carry on my body. (The only time I had trouble with on the body EDC was when I was pregnant - it’s really hard and expensive to keep accommodating a growing belly.) It is important to remember that your firearm must be in a secure holster that protects the trigger and is able to be concealed. We do not want to alert the general public that you have a firearm hidden on your body. It must be secured in a way that it will not fall off during the course of your normal activities and is not able to be taken off ie: in the pocket of a jacket is not considered on the body. Your firearm must be easily accessible in the time of an emergency and while there is debate over what it means to be easily accessible - remember, you want to be able to get to it as quickly as possible. Items often used in on the body conceal carry are inside the waistband holster on a gun belt, comfort carry belts, belly bands, ankle/thigh holsters. There are various shirts, sports bras designed specifically for this as well but finding one that will accommodate concealing anything the size of a Glock 43 or bigger is hard to do so without looking like you have a third boob. I’ll write a blog later on my favorite ways to specifically carry on my body (think comfort and safety with style!) but on the body is by far the best way to be able to protect yourself the fastest and most securely because you have complete control of the firearm when it is physically on you.
Off the body carrying is a bit complicated and is certainly not my favorite choice. Off the body means the firearm is held within another device such as a backpack, purse, brief case or even coat jacket pocket in a secure holster (secure holster is key!). Each of these methods is susceptible to theft or heaven forbid, a child having access to it. If you choose to carry your firearm off your body, whatever bag you are using must absolutely be on you in the most secure fashion as possible (across the body for a purse, backpack on both shoulders etc) and not draped across the back of your chair, checked at a coat closet, left under a table or casually left in your vehicle unattended. Your firearm must have its own dedicated holster and empty compartment within the bag for maximum protection against a negligent discharge. If you cannot physically keep it near you, as a last resort, place the bag in a locked drawer. For obvious reasons, carrying off the body is the least secure option with the added downside of having a much longer draw time.
However you choose to every day conceal carry, make sure you take the time to practice with your gear. When you hit that gun range, after your formal training session, add an additional period of time to practice drawing from your conceal carry positions. Bring the purse or back pack you keep your firearm in and practice wearing them and drawing from that concealed position. If you have an infant or toddler that you haul around, take a bag of flour or rice that’s an approximate weight and practice drawing while holding that practice bag (not your child). And while I certainly don’t advocate being in a gun fight while holding your child, you might not have an option but to defend yourself and your children and it’s best to be as prepared as possible. If you carry inside the waistband (which I highly recommend), wear an undershirt/tank under your shooting clothes and practice drawing without fear of flashing everyone around you. (In a real life attack, no one is going to care who you flash if you are drawing to defend yourself.) If you choose to use a purse or backpack, bring it to the range and time your draws. Bring a bag you can shoot through for additional practice - I buy practice bags from the thrift store and modify them to accommodate my firearm for range practice and real-life use. There will always be exceptions for any situation - yes, I generally wear on the body but earlier this year, I went to an awards ceremony in an evening gown and had to carry in my special purse. While pregnant, I outgrew all my belly bands and didn’t have pants with belt loops, so for a few months, I used a conceal carry purse. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and no matter how you carry, be sure to train often and regularly. The main point is to carry and to do so in the safest, most reliable manner that fits your needs and lifestyle
So you’re ready to buy body armor. Maybe you’ve been running and gunning for a years now and it’s simply the next logical step before night vision. Or maybe you’ve seen the writing on the wall that things are going downhill fast and a little extra protection in this society is pricking the back of your mind. Or maybe you just think it’s wise to have a set of armor to go check on those bumps in the night.
Whatever your reason, it’s hard to argue with any of the logic. The simple fact is everyone should have body armor and truthfully everyone should probably have two sets (but more on that in a minute). But what kind of armor do you need? I get asked this all the time and it’s truthfully a hard question to answer because just like picking a carry gun; the answer is “it depends.”
To begin, we need to recognize there are two basic types of armor. One: a hard armor which is typically steel or ceramic plates. Steel can be hit multiple times but doesn’t generally stop as high a caliber rounds as ceramic. Ceramic is also a lot lighter but the internals can fracture causing failure of the armor so it needs to be checked periodically for internal stress fractures often caused by slinging it around nimbly bimbly.
Hard armor is what we think of we envision soldiers running and gunning in Afghanistan. It usually has magazines, medical pouches, or other gear attached to the molle webbing. It used to be that steel plates were all that was available but modern ceramic plates are much lighter and provide more protection for the solider who is not financially responsible for the replacement of the armor.
Soft Body Armor
Soft armor is what cops wear under their uniform. We grew watching shows like Magnum P.I. or Tango & Cash where it seemed like cops wouldn’t be outside without it. Riggs would have died in the first Lethal Weapon had he not been wearing it for the shotgun blast that knocked him 5 feet back.
Soft armor usually has a stab rating as well since they can be penetrated with force and are really only designed to stop bullets and blunt force attacks. The rating itself will be measured in joules of force.
Armor Levels And Ratings
Body armor comes in various levels; the lowest level is not level one for some reason but is level IIA. Apparently when level 1 was discontinued in the 1970’s it was just replaced with a slightly higher end level IIA.The National Institute of Justice requires level IIA to be rated for a 9mm at 1165 f/s and a .40cal at 1065 f/s.
Level II jumps the notch up (why we don’t just call IIA level I is beyond me) and must stop a 9mm at 1245 f/s and a .357 Magnum at 1430 f/s. These are easily concealable vests that provide substantially more protection that IIA making IIA virtually obsolete.
Level IIIA jumps the notch up once more and must stop a .357 Sig FMJ moving at a rate of 1470 f/s or a .44 Magnum at 1430 f/s. This is still in the soft armor category but is harder to conceal. I would liken this to what we see amongst a lot of our patrol cops. They aren’t yet in full battle rattle like a swat team but they aren’t concealing it like we’d think of an investigator or detective doing.
It’s interesting to note that modern technology has allowed IIIA to get a lot lighter and more concealable making level II almost irrelevant and harder and harder to find. I was actually looking at new armor for me and Amandalyn while I was writing this and I had a hard time finding level II and certainly at a reasonable price with the same company offering level II for $1200 and level IIIA for $500 while it only weighs a half pound more.
Level III is generally where we start seeing plates though some IIIA will have it or have the option of adding it. Steel plates must be able to stop a .308 cal bullet at 2780 f/s. These are extremely heavy weighing in at just under 10 pounds. Ceramic plates are available that will weigh 1/3 that and are much nicer to wear all day. However, they are only good for a few rounds where steel (though not approved for use again) can be used indefinitely. This comes in to play if you’re planning for the apocalypse more so than a home invasion. However, a home invasion would be over fairly fast and I’m not sure it matters since you’re not patrolling in those heavy weights.
Finally we bump up to level IV which offers the highest protection designed to stop one armor piercing round. It’s important to note that III is designed for multiple hits so depending on your mission IV is not necessarily better. To my knowledge there’s no hard and fast rule and with technology changing so fast this could be inaccurate by the time this is published but I’m not aware of any steel level IV plates and the only ones I’ve seen are ceramic.
Before moving on, it’s important to designate one more option that is sometimes seen and that is the + options such as level III+ which is not actually rated by the NIJ but is an independent designator done by manufacturers with no standard. Do I think it’s worth paying for? Only from reputable manufacturers. Personally my main plate carrier is Level III+ from Ar500.
Lastly, it should also be noted that the rating system is changing and the new publication came out two days before this article (so I’m outdated before publishing). The new ratings have similar requirements but level IV is no longer on the list and instead everything is changed to Handgun Level I and II, and Rifle Levels I, II and III.
Armor Use In The Real World
Alright, so that’s the down and dirty on body armor but what do you actually need. Well my argument is always that everyone needs two sets of armor. One hard and one soft armor set per person of fighting age in the family. Let me explain.
First the hard armor; everyone wants to play with hard armor and go out with their AR15 pretending to be Rambo and running and gunning with their buddies but the simple reality is that it is highly unlikely you will ever use it in that sense. Even in some non permissive environments it isn’t appropriate to wear full body armor.
We see this in natural disaster areas and economic collapse world wide where citizens may setup safe havens with armed guards but they are short lived and often over taken by government forces where armor and guns are confiscated.
Hurricane Katrina is a great example of this where groups of individuals setup safe spaces with armed guards but eventually the National Guard and Police Departments started confiscating weapons and gear at road blocks all in the name of “public safety. “
Does that mean you shouldn’t have hard armor and train with it? absolutely not. In fact I think it’s very important to train some for the worst case scenario which could see you in full body armor for short periods of time or maybe just for a night of fighting off looters intent on taking over your home.
But the simple reality is that that day will likely never be in your future but what may be in your future is a day where you’re in a semi permissive environment and the need for body armor that can be worn under your daily clothing presents itself. For those of you screaming how wrong I am I want you to think about Argentina, Katrina, Minneapolis during the George Floyd riots, any number of civil unrest scenarios that take place in our post modern societies. These scenarios happen at local, state, and national levels across the globe leaving citizens begging for soft armor to be legal.
The scenarios are certainly present for both armors being needed and in some instances during the same disaster, such as the conflict in Israel happening right now where citizens are demanding the right to private ownership of firearms. But we can see much more application of soft armor in that it can be used as a safety protocol during range training, can be worn in degrading societies or natural disasters and is generally far more applicable as civilians than hard armor so it should be your first purchase.
Our general recommendation for students seeking body armor is to get level II or IIIA soft armor along with a pancake style pistol holster and two magazine carriers for your belt. This can all be concealed under an oversized button down shirt and can be worn in permissive, semi permissive and non permissive environments. Train how you fight and work movement with this equipment. A load bearing vest (LBV) can be thrown over the top with shot shell holders or Ar15 magazine carriers for home defense and some models have spare pistol mag carriers built in defending on how you desire to set it up.
We sacrifice some defense stopping power for conceivability and usability during the most likely course of action we would end up engaging. Admittedly this sacrifices some in the most dangerous course of action but still provides protection. Keep in mind at a later date the ideal situation is to get level III, III+ or IV body armor. Level IIIA used to be reserved for more law enforcement purposes but modern technology has made it more affordable and closes the gap on comfort between Level II and IIIA.
Ultimately you need to be comfortable with your decision but a quality soft vest is far more versatile than hard armor and though it may not perform as well in highly dangerous environments it would be unusual and exceedingly rare that we would find ourselves needing the higher end armor as anyone other than swat teams and military patrols.
is an entrepreneur and content creator. He lives on a small homestead in central Alabama where his wife and three children raise livestock and enjoy the quit life on their farm. He served as an Infantry Officer in the United States Army from Alaska to Afghanistan and currently owns, along side his wife, Timberline Security Solutions LLC based in Birmingham Alabama.
Amandalyn has spent her professional career doing a little bit of everything from being a licensed real estate agent, to a Private Investigator. Currently she operates, along with her husband, Timberline Security Solutions LLC to train civilians, military and police officers for the battle they may one day face. Together with Mackay they work as Private Investigators and conduct executive level protection details.