Self Defense Training Articles
Components To Carry
There are three main components to the physical aspect of carrying a gun:
Let's start by discussing what we want to look for in a firearm. There are several attributes: Quality, reliability, affordability, repairability, shoot-ability and wearability. Every gun sacrifices in one area to increase strength in another. Guns that are comfortable to carry are generally too small to shoot well and vice versa, it's a compromise. Guns that are reliable loose accuracy and vice versa, it's a compromise. However, a quality producer of firearms can balance all these traits well to produce a firearm that you can carry and shoot well while being reliable and accurate.
Quality in a defensive firearm cannot be overstated. We certainly do not want a failure to happen in a gun fight but low quality guns are hard to shoot, difficult to find parts or support for and are generally just not fun to own. Doesn't seem like a big deal for a tool designed to save your life until you realize if it isn't fun to shoot you wont actually get out and train with it.
There are brands to absolutely stay away from, there are brands that make some good guns and some junk, and there are brands that make almost exclusively quality firearms with a few bad models scattered throughout their past (no company is perfect). Because people always ask me my opinions on brands Ive made the chart below to help get you started. In no way do I aim for this to be all inclusive. I also do not represent that every model in the Quality Brand category, or EVERY model in the Poor Quality category is true to its category just that the overall company seems to represent themselves in those categories.
It Is also note worthy that Smith & Wesson along with other large brands have some series of guns that are incredible and others that are so so, along with some crap. As such they might be in multiple categories. The people that test their guns the most are cops, military and competitive shooters, the quality brands listed are the ones we see most often in the those arenas.
Pick quality firearms, pick quality brands and do your research and ultimately be ok with the decision that it is probably wrong and that you will probably upgrade at some point in time. That is ok! Technology changes new guns hit the market, you make more money and can afford higher end guns. Bottom line is life happens. If you are having trouble figuring out what to get I tell people to start with a Glock 19 and buy 10 magazines for it.
From there you can learn how to use it, learn how to carry while becoming proficient and saving and researching for a new firearm as you learn what you look or don't like. A Glock 19 is a respectable gun that anyone can shoot and never hurts to have around even if you change to a different gun later. However, picking a concealed firearm is an article all to itself.
Reliability is the cornerstone of a defensive pistol. So much so that Glock has made their bones off of being the most reliable gun on the market (though there is some debate). People brag about being able to throw Glocks in water, mud, sand, etc. and that they will still fire. And they will but so too will a lot of other guns. But more importantly do you intend to do that with your guns? I don't and even if I going to war and infiltrating into enemy lines I wouldn't be doing that so what's the point of the test?
My Toyota will die just the same without oil as my Subaru, if they are both cared for is the Toyota more reliable? Sure maybe but cared for they are both extremely reliable. So why wouldn't we do the same with our guns. At the end of the day if you care for your guns they will be a functioning tool provided you purchased a quality brand. Reliability is something to consider when purchasing a firearm but it is not the only thing to consider.
Affordability in a firearm is subjective to the purchaser. What a doctor in Seattle finds affordable is different than what a waitress in rural Idaho finds affordable. On the low end I would say it's hard to find a NEW firearm of quality for less than $500. However, Smith & Wesson M&P's as well as Glocks are generally safe to buy used and the law enforcement trade ins are available at pretty good savings.
My personal carry gun is a Wilson Combat SFT9 which is a $3500 gun, but I didn't start there. I started with a Glock 21 I got with a blue label special for $450 (the only gun I sold I wish I had kept). Over the years I upgraded both in knowledge and equipment cycling through a Glock 17, Glock 26, Shadow Systems CR920, Shadows Systems MR920, to what I carry today and will carry for a long time my favorite pistol a Wilson Combat SFT9.
What is important to remember is that the initial cost of the gun is only the base line. For each gun I own I get at least 10 total magazines, i'll purchase 2000 rounds if i'm getting a new caliber, a duty belt holster to go on my battle belt, an appendix holster, and any necessary upgrades to the firearm (usually sights depending on the gun).
Magazines may be $12 for a new Pmag for your Glock or $45 for a Wilson Combat or worse yet $65 for a staccato. If the gun comes with 2 I need 8 or $360 worth for my Wilson or $84 worth for a Glock that already came with 3. Current prices of 9mm are about $0.30 per round so $600 for my minimum load out. plus $300 in holsters and $100 for sights. So it costs money to get in to this. Have you taken a training class yet? Do you have concealed carry insurance? If not you need them.
For those of you really new to this you might think that 2000 rounds is excessive because you heard on CNN that the "shooter had 1500 rounds of ammunition." One range session can easily go through 100 rounds before you've even unloaded the truck. Remember too it generally takes about 400 rounds to 'break in' a new gun. (Even Glocks should be broken in though the manufacturer doesn't require it.)
So before your first trip to the range is done you're down 400 rounds. You took a professional class thats 500 rounds meaning you have 1100 left. At 100 rounds a training session once a month you have a years worth of ammunition on hand. Don't forget to add in your self defense ammunition which is about $1.00 a round.
Repairability is basically what aftermarket or manufacturer support is there for your gun. Not including a doomsday event where support is what parts can you pull of the zombie corpses. But most large producers have pretty decent support. Shadow Systems is superb and so too is Wilson Combats.
1911's and Glock designs (Shadow Systems, Zev, PSA, etc.) all have tons of aftermarket parts for them, to the extent that you can repair a damaged plastic frame! H&K has notoriously bad customer support and they are difficult to get replacement parts for. Which is why they aren't big in the competition community where guns get worn out and repairs are necessity.
New models suck because they don't have a lot of support so be wary of purchasing something that hasn't been on the market a long time. Beyond finding parts sometimes you cant even find holsters which renders the weapon useless except for home defense.
Shoot-Ability refers to the general ease of which the gun can actually be used in an engagement. A pocket pistol like a Ruger LCP is easy to carry but ultimately is worthless in a gun fight, on the opposite end a Glock 34 with a frame mounted optic, weapon light and 33 round magazine might be ideal in a gun fight but it can't practically be carried on a daily basis.
I tend to like what is generally referred to as a compact gun but is really full size just slightly smaller than a duty size. Glock 19s are a compact gun that we even carried as a duty gun in Afghanistan so they fit the bill for a lot of occasions. A subcompact is the next size down and is really about as small as I would ever go for a defensive gun that is what Amandlyn carries and I admit I carry it as well when I get tired of lugging around a true compact.
Sub compact guns or pocket rockets aren't really appropriate as a defensive though it is better than throwing rocks so I would encourage you to carry that as opposed to nothing at all. Duty sized and competition models are generally too big to practically carry but some people do choose to do so and my hat is off to them. A friend of mine from years passed carried a Glock 34, with Surefire 300 Ultra on it with a reflex sight as his daily carry. The more impressive aspect is he did this from an appendix holster!
Within reason the larger the gun the easier to shoot the smaller the gun the harder to shoot and less accurate. Remember what a pistol is for though. By definition a pistol is a compromise if we didn't have to compromise we would all walk around with a rifle slung over our shoulder instead of having a pistol anyways.
Conclusion We will discuss the details of working with your body and the gear required to carry a gun in the next two weeks articles but the bottom line for carrying a gun is to first pick a gun of defensive quality. This takes some research to do correctly and like anything you will continue to learn as you move further into the art. Just like no painter can pick out the best brush on their first piece neither can you.
You have to dive into it a little at first. You can ask other artists and research what brush you would like to start with but the bottom line is that you first have to start painting to see what it is that you like. Use this article as a guide to get started so that you can start learning and developing yourself as an artist... an artist of defensive pistol use.
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.