Underground Trade-Craft: Tactical Applications of the Defensive Sidearm, Part One, an Introduction
For the UW Partisan, operating as a part of the underground or auxiliary, the preferred use of the rifle for defensive shooting will not always, or even often, be a principal option available. The requirement to function clandestinely, or even covertly, will generally preclude the bulk of even a folding stock Kalashnikov, concealed in the proverbial racquet ball case. Additionally, even the paramilitary guerrilla partisan, convinced of his ability to run-and-gun in the woods or streets, with his Kalashnikov or Stoner rifle (or, God forbid, a fucking M14 variant…), will find it necessary to utilize the concealed sidearm as a primary weapon system until the time comes that he finds himself hiding out in the hinter-boonies. You can be the proverbial Rifleman all you want, but if you don’t know how to run a concealed sidearm effectively, you’re never going to get the chance to get your rifle into action, in the long run.
Sidearm Selection: Models and Calibers
It is absolutely critical, before even beginning to discuss what the “ideal” sidearm for the Partisan is, to understand that, it really just doesn’t matter, within reason. I’m certainly going to look at some scientific explanations behind the arguments I will put forward, but if you’re most comfortable carrying your great-great granddaddy’s .36-caliber Patterson Colt single-action cap-and-ball revolver, more power to you, it’s better than poking a dude with a sharpened stick.
Caliber: Pistol bullets, it has been generally agreed (except of course, by magazine writers looking to meet a deadline, while suffering from writer’s block, and so decide to pen ANOTHER article on the caliber debate, and throw the long-discredited “energy dump” argument out there), kill or incapacitate in three basic ways: central nervous system destruction (i.e. hitting the dude in the brain or the spine), hemorrhage and de-pressurization of the circulatory system (kind of like cutting some hydraulic lines in your vehicle), or psychological shock trauma (the “oh shit! I’ve been shot, now I’m going to die!” response). In the first case, it really doesn’t matter what caliber you use. An ice-pick in the brain will kill you just as dead, just as quick, as a Bowie knife in the brain will kill you. In the third case, likewise, it really doesn’t matter. A dude that thinks a minor wound to the calf is going to kill him will let himself die, regardless of what the wounding mechanism was. You could probably hit that pussy with a Whiffle Bat and he’d be just as dead.
It’s only in the second case that caliber even remotely begins to play a part. The bigger the hole you make, or the more holes you make, the quicker the system will run out of fluid (blood, in this case). At first glance, that means something like a .44 AutoMag or .44 Mag (in a revolver) would be the weapon of choice. Unfortunately, magazine limitations as a result of practical limitations on the size of the weapon (we need to be able to not only hold the fucking gun, but carry it, after all, and preferably concealed. Otherwise, we’d all walk around with .50BMG M107s, right?) mean that limits the number of holes we can make. Five holes three-quarters the size is better than one or two holes full-size. The practical argument has always been that .45ACP was the go-to round of choice. It makes a relatively large hole (amazingly, it’s a hole 45/100ths of an inch in diameter…..ain’t math fun!?). Unfortunately, ample and thorough anecdotal, medical, and experimental laboratory study has demonstrated repeatedly that this only applies if you’re running full-metal jacket (FMJ) “ball” ammunition.
Expansion, in “hollowpoint” rounds, is a function of velocity. Any round traveling less than 1100fps (roughly. I’m not sure if 1095fps would be too slow or not…) will not result in RELIABLE expansion. So, a 230-grain .45 ACP round can be counted on to make a hole roughly 45/100ths of an inch in diameter. A 9mm round, on the other hand, that anemic Euro-Trash round of yore, except in the case of specifically sub-sonic rounds, generally leaves the muzzle well in excess of 1100fps (my 9mm +P Cor-Bon carry loads run right around 1350fps, for example). That means I can generally count on my rounds to expand. If we go all the way back to 1993 and the arguably famous (or infamous, depending on your point-of-view), Sanow and Marshall study that resulted in the well-known tome “Handgun Stopping Power,” most commercially available rounds back then could be relied on to expand into the vicinity of .75 in both gelatin and flesh (remember, those dudes did a bunch of cadaver studies as well). I’m no mathematician, but even this knuckle-dragger is well aware that 75/100ths of an inch is a larger hole than 45/100ths of an inch. Additionally, the anecdotal studies referenced by Mssrs. Sanow and Marshall demonstrated that certain 9mm rounds resulted in a far greater probability of a one-hit stop, for whatever that is worth (not much, in my personal, far from humble opinion. I’m always going to continue shooting a motherfucker until he stops being a threat. One round or ten; it really doesn’t matter to me).
In 1993, of course, the .40S&W round had been recently introduced, so the authors did not have enough evidence to conclusively determine it’s position in the hierarchy of useful handgun cartridges. Today, of course, we’ve learned that it offers the expansion reliability of 9mm, due to expansion, while potentially being even better, since it starts out as a heavier projectile. Unfortunately, while the cartridge has been adopted by innumerable police agencies nationwide, there is ample evidence, if one were so inclined as to conduct the research, that it has the disturbing habit of breaking firearms. The energy of the .40S&W is great enough and more importantly, the recoil pulse is sharp enough, that it actually cracks the frames of guns (I’ve not had this happen to me personally, but I have heard of it, from enough people whom I trust implicitly, that HAVE experienced it first-hand, to believe it’s an issue). Further, the sharpness of the recoil impulse actually makes it a relatively difficult round to fire and recover from quickly, to enable rapid follow-up shots.
Going back to the vaunted, historical .45ACP, there are a couple of issues with the mythology surrounding this cartridge, from both a historical and scientific background. On the historical side, there is of course, the oft-cited fact that the War Department adopted the round during the Philippines unpleasantness, as a result of Moro (Muslim, for those unaware of the etymology of that term) insurgents not being stopped by the old .38 rounds then in use. What is often overlooked, due to either ignorance, or as I and others of a historical bent are convinced, due to the marketing of the .45, is the fact that after-action reviews of the “new” round and its effectiveness cited the exact same problems as with the .38. To whit, those damnable drugged up Mohammedans were still failing to stop when shot with the .45 round!
On the scientific side, there is the old argument that the .45ACP delivers enough energy to “knock a fella flat!” The problem with that argument comes from a basic, fundamental fact of physics, predicated on one of Newton’s Laws. “For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.” If the projectile is moving forward, from a stationary position, with adequate energy to “knock a fella flat.” then according to basic physics 101, the gun must move in the OPPOSITE direction, with adequate energy to “knock a fella flat.” Of course, if that were the case, then not even Thor (the Scandinavian god, not the reader and class participant, in case that needed to be clarified…) would be man enough to handle the round in a handgun. Similarly, from the “energy” standpoint, there is another issue. Many, in my experience, of the old fuckers (and let’s face it, it’s typically you old fuckers that make these arguments, or young guys who take the word of old fuckers as gospel) who voice the “never carry a handgun that doesn’t start with at least the number four” nonsense, because of its vaunted “one shot stopping power,” are the same guys that argue about the 5.56NATO being a poodle-slaying popgun round. Apparently those that make these arguments however, are mathematically challenged. Even the most archaic energy formulas will make it abundantly clear that either .45ACP is no sort of mythic Mjollnir of ballistic magic…or else the 5.56NATO (not that we need to continue pummeling that deceased equine!) is actually adequate. As much as some would like to, when it comes to the scientific approach, you just don’t get to have your cake and eat it too. So solly, Chollie!
Then, of course, we have to look at the realities of application in the modern defensive sidearm. This is not the Wild West of cinematic and pulp-fiction fame. There are no showdowns at high noon in the dusty main street going to happen (If they do, and you know it’s coming, because you’re Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, and the Duke, all rolled into one amazing hero out of a Louis L’Amour or Zane Grey novel, then bring a rifle to the fight, like an intelligent person). Shootings that require the use of a pistol, especially in the defensive role, happen up-close and personal, generally at contact distances, and with more than one bad guy. The more rounds you have, in the gun, the better your chances of shooting all the bad guys with enough rounds each, for you to survive.
For all of the above reasons, I personally carry a 9mm. I’m no Wyatt Earp, by any stretch of anyone’s imagination (unfortunately, not even my own. My suspension of disbelief will only stretch so far…). I have however, shot more than a couple people with 9mm. They’re all still dead. That’s good enough for me. In the long run however, if you’re convinced that .40 is the wunderkind of modern handgun ballistics, then carry a .40 (just don’t come ask me to lend you a fucking pistol when your gun blows up in your face!). If you feel like .45 was good enough for Grandpa when he was slaying 9mm Luger-wielding Krauts at Bastogne, then by all means, carry a .45. I genuinely don’t give two shits. I’m just giving you food for thought on the caliber selection front (and yes, as I mentioned, I’m well aware that most LEAs in America today carry .40. If that’s the route you want to take, for battlefield recovery options in the not-too-distant future, by all means, at least you’ll theoretically have lots of replacement pistols available too). If you want to carry a .999 DeathBeam caliber sidearm, more power to you. It really doesn’t matter. As we’re going to discuss, as long as you shoot the dude, in a place where it’s got the best chance of causing havoc, and you keep shooting him all the way until he no longer poses a threat to you, you could carry a fucking .22LR (and in fact, in certain, very specific circumstances, such as suppressed Ruger MKII, to the back of some dude’s head as he’s getting into or out of his car, or his mistress’s bed, I even advocate it!). Caliber selection just really doesn’t matter.
When it comes to selecting the specific handgun you want to carry, again, with some caveats, it really doesn’t matter. All that really matters is you’ve selected a gun that is simple to run, is relatively ergonomic, in order to enhance handling and shooting, and is so reliable it makes death and taxes look like a sucker’s bet. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, that still love the 1911A1 platform. More power to them. Of course, I’ve yet to see an out-of-the-box 1911 that didn’t need a significant break-in period before even the most devoted acolyte of the Church of John Moses would consider it reliable. Make no mistake, I’m not bad-mouting Elder Browning (for those unaware, JM Browning was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, i.e. a Mormon. It’s a pretty common trait among Utahns, or as the rest of us in the West like to refer to them, Utahrds…It was even more common when Browning was alive). I’ve carried 1911s at various times, and was once upon a time, a devoted fan of the P-35 (more commonly referred to as the Hi-Power).
A lot of guys like the new Smith and Wesson M&P series of pistols. I’ve played with them a little bit, and I really, really, REALLY like the way they fit in my hand. What I don’t like is the god-awful trigger that Smith sends them from the factory with. There are some aftermarket triggers for them that are, by all accounts, vast improvements.
Likewise, the Springfield 😄 has a devoted following, for some fucking reason that is completely beyond me. My limited experience with the 😄 is that Springfield took a Glock, and then added the single worst feature of the 1911 (the grip safety, in case you’re wondering). I know this pistol has a HUGE following in the patriot community for some reason of which I’m completely unaware, but I’ve yet to shoot one that I thought was worth a shit.
Of course, there’s always the much-maligned Beretta 92/M9 that we all know and hate (actually not true. It wouldn’t be my personal choice for a carry gun, and I realize most women hate the mass and size of the gun, but they’re actually pretty accurate, and reliable enough). For anyone unaware, the reason the Army adopted it was political pressure to buy the Italian piece, so Reagan could ensure we’d still be able to base fighters on the peninsula. It’s not horrible, and I’d certainly not feel under-armed if that’s all I could get my hands on. Christ knows, I’ve shot enough of them. The biggest issue with the M9 that most guys have fired in the military, is the same major issue with any military-issue sidearm (and many long-guns): they have been handled and carried and used by entirely too many guys that just don’t know what the fuck they are doing (because contrary to popular mythology, being a soldier/sailor/Marine does not automatically make you a “gun guy.” I’ve known 18Bs who didn’t particularly like guns, and their only knowledge on the subject came solely from Q-Course instruction).
Then, there’s the quintessential “snob” gun, the SIG Sauer. I’ve carried the P226 in 9mm and .40, and the P220 (which is only available in .45ACP, at least last time I checked. Do they offer a 10mm version yet?). I love the feel of a SIG. Seriously, it’s just a sexy fucking gun…and I even happen to shoot it relatively well.
It’s no secret that I’m a Glock carrier. Do I believe the marketing hype about Glock Perfection? Absolutely not. I fired my first Glock sometime around 1989 (I was still in High School. Hell, maybe Junior High. I’ve slept since then, and I’ve been hit in the head a lot). I never felt like fired them particularly well. They were horribly unergonomic in my hands, and the triggers never felt particularly good to me (says the guy who grew up shooting Mr. Browning’s masterpieces. I’m still not convinced that Herr Glock reached perfection with the 1st, 2d, or even 3d generation of his weapons (I’m morally convinced he was closer with the 3d than with the 4th though).
The factory sights, let’s face it, blow monkey dicks. The stock trigger is nowhere near as bad as I once felt it was, but requires practice, or replacement with a lighter disconnector, to really be ideal. Nevertheless, as far as I can discern, I’ve yet to find a pistol that is even close to its equal (if there is one, it’s probably the M&P). Our Glocks are set up with 3.5lb disconnectors, extended slide releases, and better sights (as money allows, which means not all of our Glocks have better sights yet). With the exception of the sights (because tritium illuminated sights are fucking expensive!), that’s generally less than $20 in upgrades, and even when the gun market got stupid, Glocks were available at reasonable prices. I am morally convinced (and I’ll probably burn in the fires of Gehenna instead of feasting on roast meat and mead while fucking serving girls in the after life for even saying this) that if John Moses Browning were alive today, his name would be Gaston Glock.
Apparently, much of the Army special operations community agrees with me as well, since both the Ranger Regiment and Special Forces (according to guys I’ve talked to who are still there) have switched to the G19. 1st SFOD-D (Delta or CAG, depending on your age and frame-of-reference), traded in their custom 1911s for G22s.
So, if you’re undecided on the sidearm of choice? Mosby says, go with a G19. It’s small enough to be an effective concealed carry weapon, but it’s still large enough to function as a service pistol. Otherwise? Just carry whatever you want, as long as it works 99.99999% of the time (yes, even Glocks fail occasionally).
The Modern Isosceles and the Weaver
I’m not about to start diving into the history of the Weaver stance for practical combat shooting. That information is more than readily available, if you’re interested in looking for it. I’m not even going to get into the history of the Modern Isosceles, except as its relevant. What I will point out is that, sometime in the early 1980s, Rob Leatham and Brian Enos pretty much took the IPSC world by storm when they started fucking around with the Weaver stance that was de riguer at the time, and adopted the Isosceles. When Leatham smoked the field at a Gunsite Alumni shoot, the late, great Colonel Cooper is reported to have chalked it up to natural athleticism, rather than eating crow by admitting that the Isosceles was just more shooter friendly and thus more effective.
I’m not the sort of guy who looks at competitive “practical” shooting and considers it the end-all, be-all of tactical firearms training. I think it’s a fun, physical, shooting sport. However, no one, anywhere, shoots as accurately, as fast, as a good practical shooting competitor. Do I think you should learn tactics from them? Of course not. However, if you want to learn to run your gun fast and accurate, you could certainly do worse.
The reality is, of course, that very little you’ll see in an IPSC or IDPA course-of-fire is even a close resemblance to what you’d actually use your sidearm for in a defensive shooting encounter. For the fundamentals of pistol shooting however: sight picture, sight alignment, trigger squeeze, and follow-through/recovery (and looking back on Mosby’s Maxim #783, we know “Advanced skill in any physical discipline is simply a sublime mastery of the fundamentals”), there’s no better way to develop mastery than competition shooting in this format.
The Compressed Ready and the Punch-Out Presentation
The Modern Isosceles is not about how you position your feet, or how your weight is distributed between your heels and toes. It’s about bringing the weapon to bear, on the target, the exact same way, every single time. Nevertheless, at the novice level, on the square range, while learning the methodology of effective combat shooting, the feet should be slightly more than shoulder-width apart. The ankles, knees, and hips should be flexed, with the weight distributed equally between both feet. The hips and shoulders remain squared to the target, whether you’re stationary or moving. Elbows stay down, and tucked slightly in to the sides of the torso. The body is flexed forward at the hips and waist, leaning forward aggressively, but not enough to be off-balanced at all. This forward aggressive lean helps to mitigate recoil, and ensures the gun returns to the same position every single time, enabling faster follow-up on aimed shots (and your shots are ALWAYS aimed). The shooter should remain as relaxed as possible through the shoulders, and his head remains up, providing maximum ability to see all around. Do not “turtle” as too many “tactical handgun trainers” demonstrate and teach. This is not boxing, and your shoulders will not protect your jaw from a high-velocity projectile, the way it will from a left hook.
In the compressed ready position (the modern “new-fangled” replacement for the low-ready position of yore), the pistol is held in a two-handed grip, in front of the upper chest. The firing hand grips the frame as high on the pistol as possible, with the trigger finger remaining outside of the trigger guard. Locate a positive reference point on the frame of the gun (the ejection port is actually a popular one with many guys), rather than simply laying your booger-hook alongside the trigger guard. This will help to prevent negligent discharges in the event of stimulus of the sympathetic startle response if you trip, get hit, or someone smokes a round past your head. The thumbs remain up, parallel to the slide of the weapon, with the firing-hand thumb resting on top of the support-side hand’s thumb.
The heel of the support-side hand should fit in the open space left by the firing hand, in positive contact with the weapon, and butted against the heel of the firing hand. The fingers of the support-side hand are wrapped around the fingers of the firing hand, as high as possible against the bottom of the trigger guard. The support-side hand should, at least in theory, grip with slightly more than twice the pressure that firing hand applies. This is referred to as a 70-30 grip. In practice, it really doesn’t matter all that much, and it certainly doesn’t need to be precise. 70-30, 60-40, even 50-0; the key is that the firing hand does not do all of the gripping on the weapon. Doing so will result in a sympathetic nervous system response that will tighten up the trigger finger and preclude rapid control of the trigger.
The “punch-out presentation” (I’m not sure if I heard that name somewhere, or made it up. If I made it up, I offer it for your use, sans demand for royalties, and with no threat of future copyright infringement) describes the modern method of bringing your weapon into action. When the shooter presents the pistol to the target from the compressed ready position, he will minimize the required movement, as much as possible. The only body parts that need to be moving, as part of the presentation, are the arms. The rest of the body stays stationary (unless, of course, you’re running to cover…). The shooter will “punch” the pistol straight out towards the target. The elbows may be slightly bent at the completion of the presentation, or relatively straight. They should NOT be locked out at full extension. The shooter punches the weapon straight out and up, bringing the weapon’s sights into his natural plane-of-vision. He does NOT lower his head to the sights. Just for the sake of clarity, in this sea of mud, let me repeat that: The shooter does NOT lower his head to the sights.
As this is happening, the shooter may “prep” his trigger by making light contact with the trigger and taking up the slack in the trigger stroke. Once a sight picture is acquired, steady pressure is continually applied to the trigger until the weapon fires. After the weapon fires, if the above-described firing grip was executed properly, the weapon will cycle through the recoil process, and the sights will return to the original sight alignment/sight picture. Visually insure that the sight picture is still correct, and determine whether you need to fire again or can move on to the next target. This is called “follow-through” and it is one of the very few things, when executed properly, religiously, that separates the amateur hour “I’m a fucking ninja, dude!” shooter from the professional.
(On a side note, when the weapon is returned from the firing position to the compressed ready position, the head remains upright, and scans, observes, and assesses the situation, as the trigger finger is removed from the trigger guard and returned to the previously selected and practiced positive reference point. Do not fall into the habit of far too many shooters that I have seen, and turn the scan into a rote, by-the-numbers, tacti-cool routine. LOOK around you. Look at the trees that make up the forest and see the details that actually matter. Who is armed in the area? Who has their hand(s) hidden in a manner that may be indicative that they’re about to pull a weapon out? Who is looking at you? Who is pointedly ignoring you, despite the fact that you just made a metric shit-ton of noise and killed someone?)
The Four-Count Drawstroke
Whether your pistol is serving as a secondary weapon to your rifle, or is your only weapon, since the pistol is, by nature, primarily a reactive weapon, when needed it will generally be needed in a fucking hurry, despite being in the holster. Even if you are using the weapon in an offensive role, the needs of concealment, in order to facilitate getting close enough to a target to be effective with the pistol, means that you must be extremely proficient in drawing the weapon from the holster, and presenting it to a target as rapidly as possible.
The draw from concealment is the slowest, most failure prone draw stroke you will ever have to utilize. If however, you can draw reliably, on demand, from concealment, within the established standards, then you will be able to do so from an open-carry holster of modern material and design, much faster and more efficiently. When presenting the pistol from the holster, it is imperative to minimize how much you telegraph the action. The shooter should use an absolute minimum of movement (with the added benefit that minimizing the movement involved will also generally make the draw faster). The only part of the body that moves for the draw, are the arms.
If you can draw from concealment, within the standards, you will be able to do so much more efficiently from most open-carry holsters of modern material and design.
1.) The shooter performs simultaneous movements with both hands. With the support-side hand, he will grab the hem of his cover garment firmly, and pull it as high up his chest as possible, holding it there (in extreme close-quarters/contact distance situations, this hand will be used to knock the piss out of the assailant, or to grab him. In such cases, the firing hand will have to pull the cover garment clear of the weapon before grasping the pistol). At the same time, the firing-hand will grasp the holstered pistol in a firing-grip. The web of the hand should be as high up on the weapon’s tang as possible, with the trigger finger indexed straight, alongside the outside of the holster. At the same time, if necessary, his thumb breaks away any retention devices on the holster. This is count-one, or “position one” of the four-count drawstroke.
2.) The shooter will draw the pistol from the holster and pull it upward, keeping his wrist locked straight, by driving his firing-side elbow up and back in a straight line. The weapon will naturally point forward and down at the elbow’s limit-of-movement. The shooter should rotate the weapon slightly to the outside, to reduce the chances of the cover garment fouling the action of the weapon. The base of the hand remains in tight contact with the corner of the pectoral muscle. This is NOT the speed rock! This position will result in you being able to put rounds into a dude’s lower abdomen and hips, at contact distance ranges. This is count two, or “position two” of the four-count drawstroke. This is also the “retention” position of choice, because it allows you, while striking, grabbing, or holding back, an adversary at contact distances, to shoot the fucker with a magazine full of rounds, thereby offering the greatest chance of creating space to allow you to transition to sighted aimed fire by side-stepping left or right to create space.
3.) The firing-side hand moves the gun towards the center of the upper chest, and slightly upward, to meet the support-side hand that is holding the cover garment clear of the drawstroke. The support-side hand meets the firing-side hand and a firing grip is established, tight against the body, muzzle forward, in the compressed ready position. This can be used to cover a compliant subject, to shoot at short distances using a body-index aiming method, or it can be punched out to full extension for sighted aimed fire.
4.) The weapon is immediately, space and time allowing, thrust directly toward the target in the “punch-out presentation.” This is count-four or “position four” of the four-count drawstroke. It should be noted that as soon as the hands start pushing the gun out, the weapon can be used to engage close-range threats at any point along the movement track, depending on the level of refinement required in the sight picture/sight alignment by the situation.
Concealed Carry Holsters and Positions
To the best of my knowledge (of course, I don’t know a lot of amateur-level gun-toters, so I could be wrong), the ankle holster has long been discredited as useless for anything but an absolute last-ditch, oh shit, deep concealed piece. You’re sure as shit not going to get it out in a hurry.
Likewise, the shoulder holster has long been relegated to bad, late-night crime dramas on television, urban homicide detectives (that may be an impression derived from the aforementioned bad Hollywood productions however), military aviators, and senior commissioned officers who cannot be bothered to carry an M4 as a defensive weapon in “secured” areas in combat zones. That pretty much leaves us with belt carry. The strong-side hip of course, has been the position of choice for decades. It makes sense too. It can even be relatively fast.
The cross draw makes sense if you’re a woman whose hips preclude successful concealed carry on the strong-side hip, or you ride a motorcyle or a horse all day (that’s why all the old western character actors in supporting roles wore their six-guns in cross-draw. A lot of them WERE real cowboys once upon a time, and that’s what was comfortable for them). For most of us, it’s an easy set-up for the bad guy to interfere with our drawstroke right before he kicks the dog piss out of us.
The small-of-the back carry is a derivative of the strong-side hip carry and is popular with some folks for who knows what reasons. I’ve done it, and if I’m carrying “Mexican” (with no holster), I’m still prone to just tuck the gun there. It’s a scary position though, for a couple of reasons. Number one, if you fall backwards, you’re going to fuck up your back, and if you get knocked backwards, you’re going to play hell getting your gun out before dude starts tap-dancing on your forehead. Number two, it leaves the gun really, really exposed to bad people who may notice you printing. Since it’s behind your back, you have no way of really knowing if you’re printing or not.
The Appendix, Inside-the-Waistband (A-IWB) carry has become hugely popular over the last couple of years, largely due to the efforts of two dudes. Craig Douglas of Shivworks is a former narcotics cop who teaches ECQC (Extreme Close Quarters Combatives). He, who refers to it, or at least used to refer to it, as “vasectomy carry.” Paul Gomez (RIP), was a former Airborne soldier and (I believe) a cop, who taught at Tactical Response for a short time (don’t hold it against his memory. Paul was one of the good guys). Paul, seven or eight years ago, started nagging the shit out of holster makers to come up with a way to carry guns A-IWB after seeing a former SF guys at the NTI (National Tactical Invitational) use it, very, very proficiently.
I initially learned the appendix carry from one of my mentors, long ago, but had never been completely comfortable with pointing my own gun at my own dick, so pretty much stuck with strong-side hip in the three or four o’clock position. Seeing the advances that Craig and Paul made (along with numerous others of like-mindedness) with the carry method, I took another look and started playing with it again, probably five years ago. Now, far more confident in my pistol handling than I was as a junior weapons sergeant, I can’t imagine carrying any other way for concealed carry. A-IWB is, bar none, the single fastest position I’ve found to draw from with concealment. It’s just naturally fast. It also keeps you from inadvertently printing through your cover garment, since you can simply glance at your feet and see if you’re doing so or not. Finally, it offers the most positive control of the weapon against disarm “gun grab” attempts of any position I’ve seen.
If you’re serious about preparedness, whether to confront tyranny at the practical local level, or against cannibalistic San Franciscans in a total grid-down event, you need to know, and be able to execute, the fundamentals of running a defensive sidearm at an extremely proficient level. There is simply no excuse for not doing so. Whether your rifle travels in your vehicle, or is sitting in your closet at home, in order to get to your rifle, you’re probably going to have to rely on your pistol for the journey. You’d better have legitimate, realistic confidence in your abilities with that weapon, based on measurable, well-defined standards of performance, if you need to rely on it.
In follow-on articles to this one, we’ll discuss more specifically, fundamentals of firing in relation to the sidearm, including engaging multiples, and realistically common defensive handgun shooting distances, as well as some other issues that will probably continue to crush delusions and shatter misconceptions. You’re welcome.