Month: May 2016

Do you have the “necessary” skills to effectively carry?

Using the word “necessary” in any conversation can be a bit dangerous.  Necessary can be very subjective and it can be hard to support your claim.  It is even more dangerous when a good portion of people reading your opinion may very well disagree.  However, I believe that each and every one of us that carries a firearm for defense or has one in the home to protect the family at one point or another need to take a long hard look at our skill set and decide if it is truly what is necessary to get the job done.  My initial thoughts on this originated after meeting numerous individuals that already had their CCW permit, yet couldn’t perform what I would call the necessary basic skills with their firearm.  In this article I will be laying out the skills that I believe are the absolute basic necessities for anyone carrying a firearm for defense.  These skills are listed with the assumption that you are already proficient in and diligently execute the 4 rules of firearms safety and administratively loading/unloading the pistol.  I am also focusing purely on the “shooting skills” as any good instructor will tell you that the proper mindset and situational awareness are just as important as your shooting ability.  Avoiding the gunfight is better than winning it.


Let’s start out by getting the gun out of the holster; The Draw.  You can be the greatest shot in the world but if you aren’t proficient with your draw stroke, clearing concealment clothing, and presenting the gun on target quickly very little else will matter.  The draw can be slightly different depending on your carry position, but the fundamentals are all the same.

If you have a good, clean draw stoke that you can repeat every single time you’re ahead of the game. Putting accurate rounds on target is a given.  The necessary skill is the ability to deliver those rounds quickly, accurately, and on multiple targets if necessary.  Think back, did your CCW class cover multi-target engagements with multiple rounds on target?  I would love it if we lived in a world where every criminal operated solo.  Unfortunately, there could just as easily be 2 or 3.  The ability to put accurate rounds on target each and every time take constant training and practice.


Many statistics show that the averaged armed engagement last between 3-5 seconds. Needless to say, time is of the essence when using a firearm to defend yourself.  One of the skills that takes the longest to perform is clearing a malfunction.  The beauty of modern defensive pistols is that quality ones are very reliable.  That also means if we don’t force ourselves to practice clearing malfunctions our skill at that task will quickly diminish.  Whether applying immediate action or conducting an extended malfunction drill the ability to perform efficiently and correctly may very likely save your life.  Be honest with yourself, could you close your eyes, be handed a firearm with an unknown malfunction, correct the malfunction and get the gun back in the fight?

Reload close up

The majority of armed encounters for civilians only see an exchange of rounds in the single digits.  So admittedly, the need to perform an emergency/slide lock reload as a concealed carrier is pretty slim.  The need for a tactical/retention reload though….pretty high if you’ve fired a few rounds from your pistol.  That malfunction we were just talking about…might require a reload to a fresh magazine.  Or legitimately, what if you do need to reload after shooting those 6 rounds in a G42 or G43?  There are most definitely better ways to reload than others.  Everything from where you carry your extra magazine, how you grip it, and what you’re doing with the pistol in the process comes into play.

It took me some time early on in my shooting career to learn these skills.  The most difficult part is that we don’t know what we don’t know.  I have taken a number of concealed carry and handgun classes over the years.  I can say with firsthand knowledge that some of them were excellent, and others taught the student just enough to be dangerous, as false confidence without the skills to back it up is a very dangerous combination.  If you are serious enough about your safety and protecting your family to take the steps to legally carry, make sure you are serious enough to get well trained.  Evaluate instructors, read bio’s, examine class content, and make a well informed decision.  I say this because it is not out of the realm of possibility that your instructor will be subpoenaed and the content of the class you took scrutinized if you, as their student, are ever involved in a defensive shooting.  If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact Tactical Skills Development at or email us at

Have a plan, get trained, and stay safe.


Draw (Concealment focused)

Quick and accurate multiple shots on multiple targets (Fundamentals of executing the shot paramount)

Reloads (Emergency & Tactical)

Clear Malfunctions (Immediate Action & Extended Malfunction Drill)

The AR15 Pistol…….a useful tool or fun toy?

Before diving into the meat of my post, I first want to ensure everyone fully understands why an AR15 pistol is just that…..a pistol. While utilizing the exact same receiver and action as the AR15 rifle the BATFE recognizes that due to its short barrel, lack of butt stock, and having no vertical fore grip the AR15 pistols are “designed to be fired with one hand”. It is essentially no different than the Ruger 10/22 carbine vs. the Ruger Charger pistol. It just has a lot more punch!

The Sig Sauer arm brace caused a massive boom in the AR15 pistol market. The brace itself is designed to strap around the shooters forearm to help support the weight of an AR15 (and later AK and others) pistol, which is outrageously heavy for any pistol. Each Sig Brace ships with a miniature copy of the ATF Tech Letter confirming the addition of the brace does not constitute a butt stock and therefore does not turn it into a Short Barreled Rifle (controlled under NFA law). Understand that a Tech Letter is not legislation, but the interpretation of the ATF Branch issuing the Tech Letter. Likewise, BATFE has determined that the Magpul angled fore grip is not a vertical fore grip and therefore does not turn it in to Any Other Weapon (AOW) which is also controlled by NFA law.
(Please be familiar with all state and federal laws prior to building/modifying an AR15 pistol. Ignorance will not prevent prosecution!)

Now that the legal jargon and background are out of the way let’s look at the AR15 pistol itself and the viability of using one for defense. With the increased popularity it isn’t uncommon to see AR15 pistols not only in the classic .223Rem/5.56×45 but also 9mm and 300 Blackout. I can understand the advantage of ballistics performance by choosing a .223 or .300Blk, but not sold on the AR pistol in the same caliber as my daily carry; it somewhat defeats the purpose. Obviously none of us (I would hope) are going to try to conceal an AR15 pistol on a regular basis. Even with a 7.5” barrel it would be incredibly difficult to do. So where is the advantage you ask…’s in the law.

In Ohio the CCW permit is in fact a CHL (Concealed Handgun License). It applies in no way to long guns except in the fact that if you have your CCW and have a loaded rifle magazine in your vehicle that is not in the rifle, you are not considered in possession of a loaded weapon. Without your CCW permit, you are. The AR15 pistol on the other hand…is a PISTOL and therefore authorized to be completely loaded anywhere in your vehicle just like your primary carry. With an AR15 pistol you have the ability to carry a rifle round capable, full capacity, optics compatible weapon.

This is about when most people say why would I need anything more than my 9mm or .45? I understand that thought process as the likelihood of pulling an AR pistol out of a case instead of your 9mm is remote at best. Here are the scenarios that are the driving force behind why I carry one in my vehicle at all time.

Taj Mahal Hotel & Oberoi-Trident Hotel

Mumbai, India, November 2008. 10 armed militants carried out a series of complex attacks on 4 different location in Mumbai. Two of these locations were the Taj Mahal Hotel & Oberoi-Trident Hotel. During the 3 day siege of the hotels 61 people were killed.

The great thing about an AR15 pistol is that when carried in a discreet case such as the Troy Ind. Tennis racquet case, Blackhawk Board Bag, Blackhawk Gym bag, or S.O. Tech Go Bag it attracts virtually zero attention. Admittedly, the S.O Tech Go Bag was not designed to be as discreet as the others, but when used in black or even OD green at a glance you would never assume it cases a firearm. I have carried my AR15 pistol into many hotels without turning a single head.

Anyone not burying their head in the sand knows that America will be victim to more violent terrorist attacks that could easily mimic Mumbai, Paris, or Brussels. If I’m in a static location such as a hotel I am much better prepared to handle such an event with an AR15 pistol to compliment my CCW carry gun. It gives me increased range, accuracy (especially if running a red dot), and capacity to defend myself.

Riots / Civil Unrest / Get Home Gun

Riots are nothing new to America. From Los Angeles and Cincinnati to Ferguson, MO they are a legitimate threat to innocent would be victims in the vicinity. Depending on the severity of the riot it could mean blocked roads, overwhelmed law enforcement, traffic jams of fleeing residents, and of course crime. As someone who has traveled a good bit you never know where you may end up stuck. In the worst of scenarios it could even require leaving the vehicle behind and moving out on foot. Imagine visiting a friend in New Orleans when Katrina hit. Would I necessarily have it out, assembled, and slung when walking through a crowd of violent rioters….not likely. It would give them a reason to focus on me instead of all the other stupid stuff they are doing. I’d still rather have that option in a bag on my back than not at all. This same mentality can be applied to the “total collapse” theory if you subscribe to it. If that EMP takes out the power grid and you’re walking home… I want something more than my carry gun with me. If I was still in a car trying to evac out……given the choice I’ll take an AR15 pistol on seat next to me.

Get trained, have a plan, and stay safe.

Blame it on my being an Eagle Scout and taking “Be Prepared” to heart, but just like my reasoning for carrying my G19 on a regular basis…..hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Below is my personal AR15 pistol carried in a S.O. Tech Go Bag Extended. My bag also contains a mag pouch, several spare rifle and pistol magazines, limited medical gear, chem lights, 550 cord, and a few other odds and ends.

Why I carry a 9mm….most of the time


I’d venture to guess that the caliber debate goes back to when two cavemen were arguing about whose spear was bigger before killing a wooly mammoth.  While the weapons have changed the argument is pretty much the same.  This question also comes up quite often in my Handgun Level 1 class.  We discuss the myth of stopping power extensively.  Undoubtedly a student will ask, “What do you carry?”

Before this sparks the holy grail of online debates, understand that this is my personal opinion.  I will share the reasons I believe what I do, but each individual is entitled to carry whatever they want.

I, along with nearly every instructor I work with and know (which is quite a few) carry a 9mm as my primary CCW caliber.  This isn’t to say I won’t carry anything else from time to time as I quite often will carry a G42 in .380ACP when pocket carry is required or G43 when a very slim/light gun in the summer is needed.  However my .380 is the exception not the rule.  Here are my reasons for carrying a 9mm.

  1. Modern Ballistics
    1. I am fortunate enough to have some close friends/fellow instructors that were asked to assist in a trauma lab for OSU Medical Center. 50 pigs were killed with calibers ranging from 380acp to 50BMG.  The firsthand accounts from every single person I know that was involved, excluding the 50BMG, had they not labeled what caliber was used it would have been impossible to tell by the wound cavity and internal damage to the pig what caliber was used to kill it.  Having the ability to view several pictures of the damaged tissue I would agree with each of them.
    2. The advancements of projectiles over the last 10 years have provided excellent defensive rounds in the “smaller” calibers such as .380acp or even 9mm if you consider it “small”.
  2. Cost of practice
    1. We all know ammo isn’t cheap. If you are serious about your shooting skills and practice frequently that cost can become even more burdensome. With few exceptions my practice is with good ole’ FMJ range ammo.  9mm is significantly cheaper than other defensive calibers and therefore allows me to increase the frequency that I practice without breaking the bank.  A 1911 in 50GI might punch a big hole, but if I can’t afford the ammo required to stay proficient I’m doing myself a disservice and my skills will deteriorate.
  3. Recoil Management
    1. Before someone tells me I should just hit the gym more, let me explain. We all know recoil varies with caliber.  I have/have had several 1911’s in .45ACP and they are a joy to shoot. Smooth, accurate, and classic they also have a higher recoil pulse than a 9mm.  .45ACP, .40S&W, etc…..are nothing most of us can’t handle but it is hard to argue that the recoil of a 9mm isn’t less than a .45 or .40.  Less recoil equates to sights back on target sooner, which leads to faster and likely more accurate follow up shots for most people.  I’d much rather get 5 shots of 9mm accurately on target fast than 2 or 3 shots of .40 or .45 in that same time.
  4. Capacity
    1. Anyone familiar with LTC (Ret.) Dave Grossman is likely familiar with the Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs analogy. Those that would do us harm are the wolves…and like in the wild, wolves tend to travel in packs. Unfortunately life is not a movie. We all miss at some point.  Under the extreme stress of a life threatening situation that likelihood of a miss is increased.  I’d rather have the rounds necessary to deal with the threat in that situation.
    2. If my situation involves 2 individuals acting in such an aggressive manner I have to use my firearm. If I miss 2 shots I’m already down ¼ of my capacity. Knowing that it may take 1 to 3 to 5 rounds to stop an attacker depending on what narcotic he may be on I’m going to be out of ammo real fast. I’ll take my G19 with 15rd capacity and a 17rd reload mag.

You could say “he’s obsessed with having as many rounds as possible” but I accept the reality that it takes more than 1 shot to stop a bad guy threat.

What about the G42 then? Or even G43? Depending on my attire I may be forced to carry a smaller gun such as these with limited capacity, but it’s better than no firearm at all.  Given the choice I’ll take my G19 every time.

As stated at the start, what you carry is your choice.  But it is always work examining from time to time to ensure it is the best choice.  Here are a few parting articles to conclude with that are EXTREMELY informational and well done.  The first is from friend and fellow instructor Greg Ellifritz, and the second is a study done by

Alternative Look at Handgun Stopping Power Handgun Self-Defense Ammunition Ballistics Test