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Underground Trade-Craft: Tactical Applications of the Defensive Sidearm, Part One, an Introduction

August 7, 2013

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.

Conclusions

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.

DOL,

John Mosby

American Redoubt

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70 Comments
  1. RangerRick permalink

    Very nice job of getting the info out there so we all can understand it.
    Be Blessed, give the family a hug, Ranger

  2. Tater Salad permalink

    In this day and age, with scientific data so easy to get your hands on via the interwebs, I still cannot believe I have ‘gun’ people try to tell me that a 45 ACP “will knock a man down even if you hit him in the hand” or will say “45 ACP, because why shoot twice?”

    Good stuff, and you mentioned some references that I either forgot I read or never read, going to look ’em over.

    As for the A-IWB carry: I am still trying to find a holster that I like. Until then it’ll be strong side, though there is a tendency to print which would not be good in the scenarios you mention. I think you mentioned it once before, but I do not remember, what holsters have you found comfortable for appendix carry for a G19?

    • I’ve got a Dale Fricke that I stole from a buddy that I like quite a bit, especially for training, because I can reholster safely with it. I LOVE my Raven VG-2 though. It’s become my EDC holster. I can even get away with using a very lightweight, very worn UnderArmour t-shirt as a cover garment with the VG-2 on, which I’ve not been able to do with any other A-IWB holster I’ve tried out.

  3. Yankee Terrier permalink

    Hello John Mosby, Your excellent article has convinced me to buy a Glock 19 for me and my son (still teenage so it can’t really be his). That said and since I enjoy your writing skills and wicked sense of humor and sarcasm I am willing to step up and get in line for the stocks.(ala pilgrim era) And ask the following (largely because I know the answer will be informative and very humorous) I really like Glocks in 10mm,,,I like to carry them on a thigh rider, and since they are a bit big, a thigh rig works particularly well,,,And for versatility a 10mm Glock can digest 40SW just fine (yes I know I shouldn’t know that)..So if I show upat one of your classes with 10mm is that as bad as showing up with an M-14? They shoot really nicely by the way.

    • Dude,
      Don’t overthink it. I don’t kick guys out of my class for showing up with an M14. In fact, I really don’t say much, since by the end of the class, they’ve starting figuring shit out on their own. If you wanna show up with a 10mm, more power to you. I’ve thought about getting one for bear country hiking. I have several friends in my network that carry them as their EDC gun. Of course, they’re all in excess of 230lbs, but……
      The problem with the 10mm is the same problem with the .40, it’s just way more gun than necessary, and the recoil is a cunt.
      Thanks for the compliments, by the way.

  4. JoeSteaks permalink

    Damn if I don’t love my Sig. Too heavy for concealed though. I have a G19 too, but that F’n trigger drives me up a wall. I always shoot left with it, which I know is me and not the gun. But, it’s the only gun I’ve ever done that with, and it irks me I have to think about it…with just that gun. It’s that triangle/steeple trigger, man. It really is a great gun…but that TRIGGER. Arrgh. The upshot? I can totally take your right ear off with it. Sadly, I’m aiming for your left eye, but still…

  5. Mike DeVere permalink

    Greetings,

    An excellent article and I thank you for going into detail on a number of points I’ve often thought about. I do have a few questions though. I have a Steyr M40 A1 (I liked the ergonomics better than the Glock) and would like to make some mechanical “tweaks” to it – namely the trigger and sights. You mentioned disconnectors and seeing as how I’m not an armorer, I was hoping you might elaborate a bit as to what they are and how they work. Sights; Outside of tritium and or trijicon, what would you recommend?
    Lastly, I am intrigued by the A-IWB set up that you spoke of, but for some reason I cannot picture this in my head, how does this work? Thanks again.

  6. Reblogged this on Reality Check and commented:
    Read….train….prepare….resist.
    Or in other words, Prepare for the worst, hope for the best – but make sure you help yourself along towards the “best”.

  7. B.R. permalink

    Mr. Mosby,
    What do you think about using FMJ instead of HP’s. One bullet two holes-two bullets four holes= faster blood loss, possibly..

    • I’ve carried ball a lot, and every single person I ever shot with 9mm was with ball. It’ll do. The problem with your hypothesis is this….where is the projectile going after it exits their body? Into a kid down the street?

  8. Gm2011 permalink

    I’ve been very impressed with your articles- thanks.

    I have trained with tactical response and have been especially impressed with jay Gibson and Russ kolkman. Good dudes, great training.

    Their handgun training incorporates a sidestep into the draw, and they simplified any slide manipulation in favor of racking the slide every time for every situation (even when replacing a partial mag with a full mag). I think these have merit.

    Overall that’s the only point of disagreement I think you might have with their teaching methods

    What concerns do you have with them?

    • I don’t have a problem with TR honestly, I just think Yeager does a lot of really stupid shit that give the rest of us a black eye in the public image. From the Hero of Route Irish challenging people to duels (I don’t, for the record, think he was/is a coward, I just think he was horribly un-qualified for the contract. That’s largely the fault of his employers, but I know for a fact that at least one or two SF guys he asked about before the contract, told him as much), to his well-publicized rants on YouTube (not that I can be said to be completely innocent of making unpopular remarks…)
      I don’t like the slide rack over the slide stop lever release for most things. It’s just adding extra steps in some cases, like the tac-reload you mentioned, and it’s slower in others, like the speed reload (if you doubt this, practice both, the same amount, for a week, then test them on a timer….).
      I actually am a huge advocate of moving, at least one step, during the draw, if possible. I just think you’d be better off, if that’s possible, to run to cover, then engage from a covered, protected position. I don’t know Jay or Russ from Adam, though.

  9. Terry permalink

    Here’s a little more about Paul Gomez and AIWB.

    I was at that NTI years ago and met that SF soldier (I’m terrible with names and forgot his) for a few minutes while taking a break between seminars and we discussed holsters. Both He and I were carrying AIWB (his was much better than mine and made by a custom maker, whose name I have completely forgotten but was famous for his quality pocket holster). That soldier was extremely competent (various ROs had commented on how smooth and relaxed he was during all the scenarios -by contrast I was quite terrible and learned an awful lot). Paul was not yet carrying AIWB and had a given an excellent lecture on the AK which enabled me to be less of an ass (but still pretty bad) during one of the scenarios where an AK served as “battlefield pick up”; it was the first time I had ever handled an AK.

    I had met Paul just a few days before at a John Farnam instructor’s class (I was then a newly minted, very wet behind the ears, instructor in John’s method) and he was rather interested in my AIWB holster (a cut up Spark’s Summer special that I had adapted for AIWB -Later on I found out that I had, by pure luck, sort of recreated Bruce Nelson’s original Summer Special design which was AIWB). I don’t claim that I am the one that influenced Paul towards AIWB (he was too smart, savvy and knowledgeable to have his mind changed by a newbie like me), but it would be nice to think that I had a little effect on his thoughts. Paul was a superb shot and a thinker in all the drills we did.

    I had come across AIWB many years before during my first John Farnam class, where one one the support instructors was a, I believe, retired DEA agent, whose name I won’t mention in public. He was carrying a P220 in an adapted Alessi Talon. I found out later from Lou Alessi (RIP) that a small group of DEA guys (including that instructor) had asked him to adapt his Talon design for AIWB for their undercover work. Lou made me two (one for a 1911 and one for a G19) replacing the plastic tab with leather belt loops, and changing the rake of the holster.

    AIWB rigs have changed a lot since (adding thickness a various places on the holster to better tuck the gun in) and Kydex has pretty much replaced leather.

    I have been out of the ” shooting and training game” for years due to bad health problems, deaths in the family etc.., in other words life, but am slowly making my way back and am glad I found your blog which is teaching me a whole bunch of things I never knew.

    Anyway, I thought you might be interested in a little anecdotal history about Paul, AIWB and that NTI.

  10. Hillard Foster Jr permalink

    John you need to shoot the XDM. It has a match trigger like a Gold Cup, but with the weight and much better feel than the Glock. I know you do not like the grip safety, I like it. As I have seen pics of people who shot themselves with a Glock when the trigger caught on something.
    I have run many rounds through my XDM .45 and never had an issue. Not one, which surprised me.
    Give it a try, and you may end up liking it, even with the grip safety.

    • Jake permalink

      How exactly is the trigger going to catch on something all on its own? Explain that to me and maybe I will find reason not to discard your comments entirely.

    • Anyone who shot themselves because their trigger caught on “something” is a fucking idiot. They probably cleansed the gene pool a little bit. I’ve shot the platform a lot, and it does dick for me that a Glock doesn’t do just as well, except one-handed, support-side only shooting, which the Glock does significantly better.

  11. Merk permalink

    The thing I like about the😄 is reholster.

    Thumb comes off grip and covers striker pin, like reholstering a revolver – thumb on hammer, and that negates possibility of a ND.

    • Tater Salad permalink

      Sorry man, it is a mechanical piece of equipment. There is no possible way a mechanical safety of ANY kind is going to, 100% of the time, ever ‘negate the possibility of a ND”

      Maybe it REDUCES the possibility when it works properly, but having seen an XDm on the range that stopped firing after a pin or a spring or something broke on the grip safety (it was not my gun), This may not be a common problem, but I think I will continue to take my chances with a Glock.

      • Hillard Foster Jr permalink

        You are right, it is a mechanical piece of equipment, and any mechanical piece of equipment can break. Glocks have broke, even revolvers have broke. I am fixing a single shot .410 right now.
        Like I have said, I have ran many rounds through my pistol and have not had one issue.
        It might crap out on me when I need it, but so might your Glock. When the angle blows the powder off your loading pan on your flintlock it is going to be a bad day.

    • Yes, Glocks do break. They just do it less than others. Like, significantly less. As far as the “safety” for re-holstering. It’s a horseshit argument. Look at your fucking holster and weapon when you re-holster, and visually ensure that it’s not going to discharge for some reason. If you feel the scene is too un-safe to look down at your holster, then the scene is too un-safe to be putting your weapon away……

      • Chuck permalink

        This +1. I just don’t get the whole “tactical” re-holstering thing. If I’m putting my gun away it’s because I’m done shooting at stuff.

        Also, as far as Glocks breaking, most of the small parts that might break are cheap and easy and quick to replace. If you aren’t smart enough to figure out how to detail strip a Glock (YouTube anyone?) buying another polymer Glock knockoff probably isn’t going to help much.

  12. Tazz permalink

    Well done Mose. What is most important to me in this post, is that you speak from meatspace.Not school house.

    Thanks!

  13. Winston Smith permalink

    Holster: I also am exterior, 3-4 o’clock carry. However, when hiking around or working in the woods and need to take a dump, there is Nothing nicer to have on than a shoulder holster. It also works well on a MC and I would assume, a horse. Still, I am a side carrier 99+% of the time.

    Stance: I consider shooting stance to be like bowling; so long as you can consistently take down your targets, you are doing it Correctly. By all means, try all the flavors of the day, but If it works, you are doing it right.

    40S&W: John, what 40kbooms are you referring to? Gotta be the metal 1911 styles???

    Yankee Terrier: get your son a Glock 23 with a 9mm conversion barrel from Lone Wolf. You’ll need caliber dedicated mags, but that’s a small price to pay for the versatility imo. (and I stand with you on the 10mm(Math is Important). I carry a G29 and have 40 and 357SIG bbls for it)

    • Actually, at least one guy I know of has had two Glocks and one M&P go boom on him. The recoil cycle is sharp enough to even destroy flexible polymer frames.

      • Orion permalink

        JM, don’t own a Glock or M&P in .40, but do own some 226 and 229 in .40. Also, carry a HK USP Compact in .40 as a piece of issue gear for work. You are definitely right about the .40’s bark, especially in regard to the smaller, lighter, HK compact, not so much with the 226, which is bigger and metal, but not really meant for concealed carry, except if you carry AIWB and are trying to impress the ladies.

        Did a quick search of .40 blowups. Didn’t find anything. Since I consider you the Burning Bush, at least in respect to weapons issues, I would like to know , since .40 is what I carry, and would make a move post haste to another platform.

      • Any specifics on the Glocks that had the problems, like what kind of round count through the gun, factory loaded ammo or home grown, which generation? Just curious.

      • Taz permalink

        mg…I am freaking out now! I have two P229s and a G27G4. All in 40 S&W. I called Glock and SIG and asked them if they had any reports of 40s causing the guns to break. They both denied it, of course. And I do NOT question what you are telling me. I just wonder if I now have to re-tool my completely. It will be damned expensive.

      • Switchman permalink

        Glocks in .40S&W up through 3rd gen (not sure about 4th Gen) had issues with severely rebated chambers that only gave marginal support to the base of the cartridge. It’s actually pretty visually apparent if you compare the chamber on the stock Glock barrel to the chamber on one of the high-end replacement/competition barrels. Granted it allows for easier, more reliable chambering of a wide range of ammunition, but combine the lack of support for the case with +P defensive ammo it can turn your pistol into a hand grenade. If you do a google search for “40 cal glock kaboom” you’ll find plenty of info to search through on the topic. Pay particular attention to the pics of brass that ruptured/bulged at the base.

      • didn’t think they offer plus p options for 40 S&W because it would be unsafe in that cartridge, with that said, I’m not a reloader.

      • Switchman permalink

        I know Buffalo Bore makes +P ammo in 40S&W, and at least one of the instances I read about with a catastrophic failure was using this ammo. Several other instances were using “remanufactured” ammo IIRC. So the quality of the ammo is definitely a concern.

  14. Badger permalink

    A fine article overall; everyone’s different for different reasons and folks are often invested in what they own as to the hardware, especially if it works for them. I’ve seen Glock coil trigger springs break (after a buttload of use & the gun will run without it) and I’ve seen someone actually manage to flip all the switches right, get the stars aligned, and get a 1911’s grip safety defeated on a presentation that ended up having a 230gr hardball chew a nice piece of ass-cheek out of them. If someone can’t be bucked of their favorite horse then they should just ride that horse well.

    In my view I’m much less concerned with re-holster as I am with the need that got the gun out in the first place. Not being in the business of having to quickly reholster & cuff someone or attend to something else, *generally*, re-holstering is something done with some deliberation, which is available because there is no longer a threat. Even if I need to attend to a buddy, that brief re-holster time should get some thought put to it – I’m of no use to him having done a damn-damn on my femoral. Full disclosure: Lotsa Glocks, nearly all with non-OEM sights, & typically a G19 AIWB.

    Tater Salad: Sir, I’ve found the CompTac 2 O’Clock to be workmanlike for daily use. You should also check out the offerings from Dale Fricke. Good luck.

    Thanks again JM.

  15. Personally, for resistance doctrine, I prefer the Witness line with a purchase of several 22LR uppers. The 22LR is an excellent killer, with the added benefit that the entire used upper thing can be tossed in a lake, river, Ocean, etc and the pistol caliber (say 10mm/45ACP/9mm) upper can be put on in seconds to assist in “shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up”. Different units will have different philosophies, of course. 1911’s can be equipped with .22LR uppers as well. I have even heard that the (Gag)-Glock can be as well. The less evidence, the better. A full power 10mm load is flat out to 100 yards and can be used as a hunting weapon if the rifle is unavailable. The .22 can be used for small game as well.

    • “Lieutenant,” this makes no sense to me whatsoever…..I’m curious if you actually read the fucking article, or are just blathering about what you THINK the article might have been about, because nothing in your comment was at all relevant to the article’s content.

  16. michael permalink

    I’ve carried a Sig 220 concealed in an IWD platform and never had a problem in over 20 years. My tests on 230 pr. Golden Saber show it opens well in ballistic gelatin as do the Hydra Shok. Its a low pressure round and recoil is minimal. My wife is 4′ 10″ 89 lbs and carries the same and shoots it better than I do.

  17. Yank lll permalink

    Outstanding article on the obvious for the oblivious that most never touch on.
    We agree on the gun, G19, and the ammo.. 9mm Para has been killing folks for more than 100 years using plain old ball ammo.. if it aint broke dont fix it.

    Thanks
    Yank lll

  18. Reblogged this on disturbeddeputy and commented:
    THIS IS GREAT INFO. STUDY AND APPLY.

  19. DAN III permalink

    Where the hell did I discover this website http://pointshooting.com/index.htm ? Was it from one of Mr. Mosby’s essays ?

    Anyway, http://pointshooting.com/index.htm this site discusses extensively the shooting of one’s pistol by using the social finger to pull the trigger. Seems odd but I’ve tried it out with my M&P 22. Hit center of target at 7-10 yards.

    As a right-handed shooter I’ve experienced the low-left POI on my pistol shooting for YEARS. Have made so many efforts to correct this failure in my pistol shooting. Seems like using the social finger to pull the trigger with the index finger running along the slide is the solution.

    Thanks Mr. Mosby for this recent essay. As always you provide good, “no bull” comments and instructions.

    • You absolutely did NOT find a link to pointshooting horseshit on my blog, nor in any article I’ve ever written. I teach to ALWAYS aim the weapon.
      And, the middle finger to operate the trigger is so horrible it’s not even funny. That’s coming in the follow-up articles though.

  20. Chris permalink

    Just an insight on holsters. I’ve been carrying AIWB for around 6 or 7 years now and the one holster that Id walk through the NYC police station with on national kill a gun lover day is JM custom kydex’s AIWB holster in .93 kydex. Dales holsters are top notch, but when carrying a 17 (6’5″ 290) it’s fast, but not all that concealable. It barely conceals a 19 for me to be comfortable enough to go in some NPE’s. It lacks the “wedge” that pulls the butt of the gun in that the other 2 makers utilize. The shaggy from CCC is a nice holster and is extremely discrete but I’ve broken 3 so far, maybe if he had them in a thicker kydex. The breaks don’t leave the holster unusable, but they do leave the trigger exposed through the underside of the holster. JMCC holsters are the beez kneez (that I’ve found). Its a thicker more durable kydex, it has a wedge for extra concealment, and presents the gun slightly higher than the shaggy for a easier grip and faster presentation (.7 sec to first hit @ 7 yards). There’s a ton more holsters out there that I haven’t tried, but that the best one I’ve found, so far.

  21. Will permalink

    There are three good reasons for the popularity of the xd series of pistols. The grip safety is one of those. Why? Try carrying a glock in a purse, backpack etc— in any unconventional manner-no holster, like a partisan would. Good way to ventilate yourself- especially with a light connector. Then in .45 it’s grip is much smaller than the Glock. Glock designed their large frame around the longer 10 mm, Springfield kept their pistol in .45 only. Lastly the xd uses a cut rifled barrel that will better handle cast ( cheaper) bullets.

    • The grip safety was a feature added to the 1911 at the behest of the USG. Nothing more, nothing less. The problem with the grip safety is that it’s easy to miss having it gripped adequately, especially if you’re stuck shooting with one hand for some reason, and are small-handed or have a weak grip (you know, like a female or under-fed partisan might be….). Throwing ANY firearm in your purse or backpack, in Condition One, without somehow protecting the trigger is fucking retarded. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Glock or a😄, or a BHP. Period. The grip safety as a reason for the popularity of the😄 is fucking retarded.

  22. With my CZ75, when I try support hand thumb under firing hand thumb (rather than locked over it), my support hand thumb lies directly on top of the mag release. That makes me nervous – don’t want to turn my gun into a single shot! I may have to play with this some but I think I’ll stick with left thumb locked over right.

    • Chester permalink

      I was waiting to see if anybody mentioned CZ’s and what Mosby’s opinion of them were.

      • I’m not personally a fan, although there is genuinely nothing wrong with them. IIRC, Team Sergeant was carrying twin CZs on his kit. That’s a pretty fucking high reference in my book.

      • Chester permalink

        In reference to the compressed ready and “punchout” the two concealed carry instructors
        that I had, active duty .mil , tutored the class on it after lambasting us old school Weaver stance mf-er’s on its merits, your instruction reflects theirs exactly. They were proponents
        of the Glock as well, and snickered at the😄 owners. So you are definitely not alone in that.
        If I remember correctly they also extolled the virtues of A-IWB.

      • That’s because great minds fucking think alike. LOL

  23. You made me think of a picture I saw at taurusarmed.net. It said “arguing about caliber effectiveness is for people who can’t hit the 10 ring. talk less. Practice more.”

  24. Thomas Howard permalink

    Mr. Mosby,
    First, thank you for what you do. The information & training you are providing, both in person and via your blog, is going to save lives.
    I know this is far afield from the topic at hand, but would you be so kind as to share with us your assessment of the BHP as compared to some of the other pistols you discussed? I have always found them to be, for me, fantastically ergonomic. In my ham-sized dick beaters, they feel and function like a natural extension of my arm. Having said that, I still carry a G-19 every day. I look forward to your comments.

    • The problem is, the BHP is a subject worthy of an article all it’s own. I absolutely, positively, without reason, rhyme, or hope of recovery, adore and worship the BHP. It’s an amazing gun, and if I could fucking afford one, I’d probably carry it as often as I carry my Glock. Seriously. I LOVE THAT FUCKING GUN!

  25. Dan permalink

    In truth there is likely never going to be an end to the “which is the better caliber” argument.
    And as many have stated over the years NO handgun loading is ideal for the job….they are all
    compromises made for times when a long gun can’t be kept at hand.

    However….I can say from personal experience that size DOES matter. And I make that
    statement based on more than 35 years in medicine…..ALL of it in radiology, most of it
    seeing patients in the ER setting….and the first 15 years of that in the jungles of Boyle
    Heights/East LA, Compton, Watts, So. Central etc. Meaning that I worked ER’s in areas
    that saw LOTS of gunshot victims, ALL of whom had x rays done as part of their care.

    I can say I have seen a LOT of people show up in ER with .22 rounds in them, with .32,
    .380, 38spl and even a fair number of 9mm rounds in their bodies. Many survived…..many
    only made it to the ER only to expire there. What was NOT seen often in the ER were
    survivors who had been shot with .357, 45acp or shotguns……shootings by rifle were far less
    common when I worked those neighborhoods so I won’t comment on them….other than to
    say that millions of deer would attest to the efficacy of rifles if they weren’t dead. And my
    days in the “hood” ended about the time that 10mm/40SW started becoming widespread so
    I won’t speak to these loadings.

    My personal take on the matter is fairly simple……I saw LOTS of people with GSW’s over the
    years. The smaller the caliber the greater the chances of them making it to the ER with a pulse.
    Not a guarantee of survival but an indicator of which calibers are more or less likely to put an
    end to a persons ability to act badly in a timely manner.

    From a self defense perspective it does no good to put several rounds into a bad guy to
    find out that he’s pissed off enough to beat you to death before he’s carted off to die in
    some ER somewhere. The goal of a bullet is to make a person stop what they are doing.
    More often than not a bigger piece of lead does this better than a smaller piece of lead….
    and NO pistol round goes fast enough to provide the “shock” of a rifle bullet so they ALL
    do their damage by causing destruction of tissue by direct contact.

    • And ultimately, the subjectiveness of our experiences is the defining aspect in caliber selection arguments and debates. I’ve seen far more people killed, on the spot, with 9mm than with .45….It’s irrelevant, which was the point. If you wanna carry a .22LR, more power to you.

  26. Quinnotaur permalink

    What’s your opinion on carrying “Mexican” A-IWB? I’ve done it for 15 years ( last 10 with a .40 Uzi eagle). Maybe it was because of the movie “lethal weapon” I saw as a kid…. Definitely need to make sure your pants fit properly, but like you say it’s “inside my workspace” which was decidedly a plus one particular evening. I didn’t even realize they made holsters for just such a thing until reading this piece.

    • I’ve done it, and don’t have a problem with it, per se….with a 1911, BHP, or other guns with a heavy, long double-action trigger or an external safety, it’s ALRIGHT at best. With a Glock? Not in a million fucking years (although I know one guy who’s nervy enough)! The problem with not having a holster is when the fight turns into a grappling match to create space to get your gun out and into action, and because there’s nothing holding the gun in place, it falls out and you kick it across the Wal-Mart parking lot, on accident. So, I’ve done it, but I don’t recommend it. Especially when there are decent holsters affordable, very inexpensively.

  27. Quinnotaur permalink

    And thank you for helping me yet again in my battle against my case of (hopefully not terminal….) ignoramusitus.

  28. spartanmonkey permalink

    Just some thoughts that went through my head when trying to decide on a caliber:

    1) A .45 will always be AT LEAST .45 inches. And if it does expand, as modern ammunition does, it’ll be even bigger. A 9mm will get bigger IF it expands. I’m not trying to knock the 9mm, I’m just sayin..

    2) If buying a Glock, I’d buy a G23/22 for flexibility since you can sling .40 or .357 SIG/9mm with conversion barrels/mags. A G23 can use G22 mags, the reverse is not true. You can CCW your G23 with its regular compact mag, and carry a couple G22 mags for a higher round count at reload.

    3) If you live in a state where you’re limited to 10 or (gasp!) 7 rounds per magazine, the 9mm (and even the .40) loses its edge WRT being able to carry more rounds per mag. In such a case, carry extra mags and practice reloading them.

    4) If you’re planning on having a full size and a compact in the same caliber, you may want to reconsider the .45, since in a compact’s shorter barrel, it loses a not insignificant amount of velocity which could negatively affect its ability to expand. Then again, it’ll always be at least .45 inches. Yes, you can carry +P to make up for the loss of velocity, but you should train how you’ll fight: are you buying +P in bulk for all your range time/courses?

    5) In the winter, regardless of caliber, I load mags with rounds alternating between HP and ball, with HP in the pipe. That way heavy clothing that may clog HPs and undermine expansion will not affect ball. I’ll have to do a test with newer HPs to see how they do against a heavy leather jacket compared to the standard layers of denim.

    6) What matters most is that you can reliably hit your target in your expected environment. Whether it’s psychological or physiological (or both), some folks just shoot certain guns/calibers better than others. Use what works for you.

    I ended up with both G23 and M&P 45. I love the Glock’s add-on market, its ubiquity and its utilitarian design. When I hold the M&P, it makes love to my hand, and not that it matters, but it’s a freaking beautiful work of art. A trigger job is a must for both of them..

  29. Blake permalink

    Your article here made me question my choices, specifically when you are talking about ballistics. This is one area I have not spent enough time researching. I live in the people’s republic of NY. Now, before everyone jumps down my throat with the “Just move out of that fascist hellhole!” Rhetoric, I will just say, I run a martial arts school here that I’m VERY passionate about, I really care about my students and would feel terrible to abandon them. Plus, if every person who stands for liberty decided to just up and leave the state, it would fall much much more quickly.

    Anyway, I first bought a G19 figuring, at the time, that all your reasons were spot on-concealability while maintaining fightability (is that a word?) and I could still buy pre-ban mags with 15 rounds for capacity, even though they were like 70 freaking dollars a pop. but, before I had the chance to secure some pre-bans, Cuomo went and passed his ludicrous “safe” act, thus saying we had to sell any pre-bans, and we can’t load more than 7 rounds into a 10 round mag outside of the range. I won’t get into that. So, I bought an M&P .45. Being lefty, the controls are far easier to operate. Not that I have trouble with the glock, but the M&P definitely blows it away for lefties. My thought was, given the choice between 15 9mm rounds and 10 .45 rounds, I’d rather have 15. But, now it’s basically a decision on 7 9mm rounds or 7 .45 rounds, so I figured that the bigger the hole, the better.

    But what you’re saying is that the .45 doesn’t produce enough velocity for proper expansion? So, if I shoot really expensive .45 hollow points its basically no different than shooting .45 FMJ? In that case I might as well keep rocking out with my glock out. Please don’t criticize my lack of understanding, I’ve spent much much time on learning how to beat people with my hands and feet, and only over the last 3 or 4 years have begun extending my range. So did I get that right, that a 9mm hollow point will make a bigger hole than a .45 FMJ or a .45 hollow point?

    • I’d stick with 9mm personally, but it’s an individual call….

    • Californian behind the Lines permalink

      Look for Dr. Gary Roberts (USNR, in addition to IWBA and Stanford Med) and his discussions of JHP ammo.

      In short, there are a bunch of reliable JHP loads in basically all the “service” calibers these days.
      9x19mm, .40S&W, .45ACP, .38Spl, even .357Sig.

      Here’s a condensation of a lot of Dr. Roberts’ writing: http://www.ar15.com/ammo/project/Self_Defense_Ammo_FAQ/

      In short, all the loads listed in the recommendations there have passed the FBI Ballistics Research Lab testing, meaning consistent, reliable expansion in bare gel and gel with up to 4-layer denim covering, including winter-coat simulants. Also means that it penetrated a minimum of 12″ into calibrated ballistic gel after both defeating any barrier AND expanding, with an ideal maximum of 18″ penetration to reduce the hazard of over-penetration.
      It’s worth the time to read the notes, or at least do a slow skim, to know why the criteria are the way they are, and what the test protocols entail. Helps in making an informed decision.

      My point is, good JHP are out there, any good JHP is better than any ball, and the 1000fps expansion threshold isn’t so true anymore.

      Cheers, all. Really enjoying the blog, and hoping to make a class someday.

  30. Tater Salad permalink

    A good read:

    http://www.firearmstactical.com/ammo_data/ammodata.htm

    they have lots of references listed for the wound effectiveness as well. Have not read all of them yet.

  31. I wanted to add to the caliber debate and hopefully end it. (Yeah, right.) I’m a firearms instructor for a LE agency in N. VA, and as such, have had the opportunity to attend classes at the FBI’s Academy at Quantico. Recently I spoke with the agent in charge of their ballistics uni,t who in my opinion are the authority on the topic. They have recently concluded a two year study on the very topic of which is the best handgun caliber for eliminating a human threat. Their conclusion is the the bonded 9mm in 115 grain is THE preferred round for stopping a human threat. Rumor has it that the bureau will be switching over to that round in the near future.

    Anyway, their research compared 9mm, 40 and 45ACP. It is important to remember that “stopping power” is a flawed thought process when talking about handgun rounds. Unless you hit the CNS, most threats are eliminated because of blood loss. Even a direct hit to a person’s heart will allow a motivated individual to function for up to 15 seconds. (How many shots can you get off in 15 seconds?) Meaning, the more holes the better. It is also flawed thinking to assume that a 9mm round will make a bigger hole than a 45ACP. According to the FBI, interviews with surgeons who have extensive experience with operating on gunshot victims revealed that they were not able to tell the difference in the hole made by 9mm, 40 and 45ACP. Interviews with pathologist recorded the same results.

    So, if we want to stop a threat, assuming we don’t hit them in an area that tuns off the CNS, a target no bigger than your fist, we need to put as many holes in them as possible in order to increase the amount of blood loss in the shortest amount of time possible. A 9mm will do this effectively and as a plus, the recoil is less than a 45 allowing the shooter to re-aquire the target more efficiently between shots, and will generally allow you the ability to carry more ammo. Remember, the more holes the better.

  32. RangerRick permalink

    Great article brother,
    thanks for all your work and effort, RangerRick

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