Test of Time

IMG_0038.JPG

For anyone keeping up with current events, it is a dangerous time. Everywhere. As I write this the London Bridge jihadi knife attacks were only a few days ago. London. Well, the British have accepted thousands (perhaps millions?) of Moslems into their country, many of them have formed virtual enclaves of Islamic communities hostile to western values, law or influence, and, surprise, hosted many militants, or became the breeding ground for jihadi radicalization. The British also decided long ago that guns are bad and ordinary law abiding citizens should not have them, use them or carry them.

Perfect.

A number of knife-wielding maniacs shouting the equivalent to "glory to god" had their way with the unarmed civilians that day until the police managed to intervene almost ten minutes later. Anyone who doesn't understand how bad this is, go stand in the middle of a crowd, like a shopping center on a busy day, and wait there for ten minutes. Use your watch. Think about how many people walk past you. Think about those two bearded youths over by the Microsoft store who might whip out knives and begin cutting people up. Think about how good it would be if there were a number of armed, legal concealed carry people around should that happen.

Things happen fast. I've been doing some training, part of which is to familiarize myself with real scenarios in which civilians and law enforcement must resort to armed force when situations go bad quickly. They usually do go bad quickly and understanding this along with maintaining your situational awareness is very important in being able to react appropriately should something like this happen to you.

One particular thing that is common to most of these quickly developing attacks is that many potential victims, although armed, are not adept at getting their handgun quickly and effectively into play. Poor situational awareness is a problem. Often, insufficient training and muscle memory development is the culprit, but also important is where and how their concealed firearm is carried. I have watched videos in which armed people being attacked struggle to reach and draw their weapon. That is bad enough, but in many cases once the firearm is drawn the owner will extend it to arm's length, sometimes right into the attacker's territory where it can be subject to deflection or a grab, before the defender is able to shoot. Many untrained people also resort to one hand shooting in the heat of the moment which is almost guaranteed to produce misses and injured bystanders.

So, to this I have distilled my carry methods severely. Spending a number of hours in an office environment I formerly resorted to either carrying a small .380 in an IWB appendix holster or occasionally in a pocket holster. But now i have rethought this practice. Even though I spend a greater portion of my work day sitting before a keyboard, screen and window open to the public, I think the appendix carry offers limited, if any, advantages over a more conventional hip carry, certainly where mid-size to larger handguns are involved. While a .380 carried AIWB (appendix in waist band) is comfortable, it is a bit less so than the same gun carried at the OWB 3:00 o'clock position. Carrying a heavier, bulkier mid to large size gun appendix all day is no picnic.

The OWB 3:00 o'clock carry is still easily reachable in a chair, is a bit easier to grasp the gun's grips without interference from one's gut and when being cleared for action does not point at vulnerable anatomy like one's stomach, legs and major arteries. Some people advocate carrying a semiautomatic handgun with the chamber clear for this reason. This is basically stupid. Guns are meant to shoot, and in situations that demand quick reaction from you in order to get your gun into the fight, trying to do so with basically an unloaded weapon is just stupid.

One of the bug-a-boos that too many people harp on, especially those new to concealed carry, is the so-call "printing problem". What is "printing"? Let's say you don your favorite sidearm in an OWB holster, then pull on your snug light sweater or spandex workout shirt, or a snug fitting T-shirt to display your manly or womanly form, the tight fabric will readily conform to the outlines of your gun and holster. Sort of like printing the outline on your clothes. Don't do that. With common sense, meaning loose (doesn't have to be sloppy) shirt, a top garment with a pattern like an "aloha" shirt or just a darker material, a decent size handgun worn OWB can be effectively concealed. The main reason for this is that most people are not looking for a gun. Really.

I've spent a number of hours whilst waiting on one thing or person or another in public places playing the who is carrying today game. I think I may have spotted one or two, but I'm not certain. I live in Colorado in an area where our local sheriff thinks everyone should carry, and where many people do. He's right. Yet, even looking for that concealed handgun, I know they are devilishly difficult to find. I am only sure of one time and that was when a visitor to our local market was leaning over the counter to pick up his package and his shirt rode up revealing a small chrome-plated auto.

One day last week I went to work in my little health facility that is thronging with people. I wore my Ruger SR9c with the 17-round magazine in my D.M. Bullard belt slide OWB holster. All day. I had a loose fitting aloha (Hawaiian) shirt over it. Of course during the day the shirt exhibited a few sharp angles and bumps, but NO ONE noticed. I was careful to not let anyone bump into me, but that should be the rule anyway regardless of where and what you are carrying. My carry of this relatively heavy gun (an SR9 with eighteen rounds on board is not a lightweight regardless of what Ruger may say) was comfortable. The old Bullard belt slide performed as it has over the last ten years keeping my handgun snug, cocked at a good enough angle to disguise the long grips and at ready access all day. While I do own a couple of kydex holsters and like them, whenever I put on the Bullard leather belt slide holster it's like greeting an old friend. I stumbled across some postings on a gun forum the other day lambasting Bullard holster quality and customer service. I was wondering which planet the complainers were living on. Frankly, they came across as entitled cry-babies. I bought my Bullard belt slide about ten years ago. In fact, I think they called this style the "Bandit" back then. It fits the SR9c like a glove and I even used it for a while to carry my M&P Shield when I had one.

These days I'm moving back to a more conventional "hip" carry with my belt slide and will sooner or later get another Bullard Belt Slide for my Ruger LCP II. I'm thinking that for comfort, access and ability to get my handgun into play quickly from different positions and situations this may just the be final answer for me.

I'm supposed to say something like "your mileage may vary", and, of course it may. But taking into account the important factors for carrying a handgun for self defense, mileage doesn't vary all that much. And, besides, I'm old, I'm from Fort Worth and I like old school ways.