Zombie AR

The other day I received the latest issue of the Cheaper Than Dirt catalog. Gracing the cover was this firearm.

I was a little surprised. This isn’t an airsoft gun, this is a really AR-15. Someone thought there was a market for a lethal firearm pimped out a a zombie killing gun.

This could be for a number of reasons.

It could mean people think zombies are real and they need to prepare. I don’t think that’s true.

It could be because firearms are just fashion accessories. To some extent that is true as evidenced by everything being “tactical black” when few buyers have any tactical need at all, much less a tactical need for black.

I think the zombie AR shows a fundamental shift in American cultural attitudes toward firearms. We are at the point now where firearms are normal things. Like our power tools, or our cars, they are just part of life. We have such an abundance of choices so all that differentiates one from another comes down to cosmetic design. In that case a zombie motif makes as much sense as a pink AR for the ladies.

Guns and Kids

I recently got the following as a comment from a new mother on my “What Happens After A Gun Fight” post.

There’s just something about guns that don’t fit well with me these days. I guess it’s the mommy in me that’s talking here. My husband has owned a gun since I met him almost a decade ago. When we got married and moved in together, his gun was never much of a problem to me. But as our little girl is now growing up fast and is becoming more curious by the day, I’m getting more and more worried. His safety box does not seem adequate for me anymore. Any tips? – Tammy

Tammy, I’m not sure I can give you an answer that will calm your fears, but I can tell you what I did and what I think about guns and small children.

First, thing I’d like to say is if your husband has his gun locked in a safety box, he’s taken the maximum precaution to limit access. I’m assuming the safety box is one that locks and requires an access code to open. Someone who doesn’t know that code, adult or child, isn’t going to get at the gun. Could you get it without knowledge of the code?

Second, have you shot his weapon? It sounds like you have quite a bit of fear of guns, and generally that is the result of a lack of familiarity. Things are always scarier to us when we don’t full understand them. Even things that actually are very dangerous, whether guns, power tools, or motorcycles, become less scary once we understand them and are use to operating them. I’d suggest you have him take you to a range, or sign up for some woman’s only firearms training.

Third, curiosity and unfamiliarity are the main reasons kids access guns and do stupid things with them. My solution was to sit down with my boys when they were about 5-6 and talk to them about my guns. I explained that a gun was a very dangerous thing and not a toy. I also allowed them to handle the unloaded weapon. I answered their questions and let them satisfy their curiosity. We never had an issue with them and my guns, even though they are generally unlocked and easily accessed in my bedroom.

Some would say you should be able to tell your kid not to touch something and they will do it. But every child is different and while discipline is important, they are all going to test you on something. Strong willed children are going to test you on everything. You don’t want the thing they test you on to be your firearms. So satisfy their curiosity and make guns like your car, its something you have to be a grown up to handle safely and no big deal.

The average urban American doesn’t have the experience rural Americans had growing up with guns. For hundreds of years in our country little boys and girls had their own weapons at a very young age. 5-6 year old boys kept their 22 rifles in their rooms. They were just a tool. One their fathers had taught them to use, respect and even cherish when they were even younger. Guns were just part of life.

During the time leading up to the American Revolution, whole communities would get together ever Sunday afternoon after church to practice with their muskets. Mom’s would bring babies in arms to these social events, and kids grew up with regular exposure to guns.

Hope that helps Tammy. I’m sure some of my readers will chime in on how they’ve dealt with firearms in the home with small children. You’ll find most firearms enthusiasts are very open and quick to help people new to firearms. If you have any more questions fell free comment, or contact me via the contact form.

Carry Ready To Fire

Dr Piazza has an interesting and disturbing gunfight video posted on his blog today.

A few points I’d like to make after watching it.

First a break down of the armed citizens actions.

:07 – He gets shot. It appears he was hit as soon as the bad guys came in.
:08 – He moves, and gets a hand on the gun in under a second.
:10 – Gun is out and moving toward assailants. Then he’s hit again.
:11 – He’s got two hands on the gun and it up where he could see to fire. But he can’t because now he has to rack the slide to get a round in the chamber.
:12 – He’s racked twice and the slide locks back. And he’s shot again.
:16 – Its obvious his gun isn’t doing anything to the assailants, and they are just unloading into him. Then they walk up to him, kick him in the head and take it away.

#1 Carry Ready To Fire

He go the gun out and on target pretty fast. But then he had to get a round in the chamber. If you don’t feel safe carrying your pistol with a round in the chamber, ready to fire, don’t carry that gun.

Really. There is no reason, in this day and age, not to carry a weapon that is perfectly safe to carry ready to fire. And as we see here, it is the difference between life and death.

#2 The Fight Isn’t Over Till It is Over

This guy started out by getting shot and got shot multiple times. At least 3, more likely half a dozen. He was still pointing the gun at the bad guys. If it had been functioning he would have been inflicting damage.

Just because you get shot doesn’t mean you are dead. It also doesn’t mean you have to stop acting.

On the flip side, just because you shoot someone doesn’t mean they aren’t going to shoot back. Keep the fight going till you are sure they can’t shoot anymore.

#3 This Guy Was Really Pretty Good

Ultimately he probably died. But the fact is it was a poor choice of firearm and carrying that killed him.

He drew from concealment in under a second after being shot once. I think most CHL holders grossly underestimate how hard it is to just get their gun out from where they are hiding it and on target.

He got it up and both hands on it. If it had been functioning, he had a good platform to shoot from. He didn’t close his eyes, hold it with one hand and punch as he fired in the general direction of the assailants. At least not until the end.

There Was No Blood

This is more an EMS thing. We are taught to cut someone’s clothes of and look for the bullet holes, both entrance and exit. This guy got shot many times and in the movies there would have been blood everywhere. A big pool under him. But there was nothing. He was bleeding enough to lose consciousness in about 5 seconds, which is a lot of bleeding, but you couldn’t see any of it.

Cut the clothes off medics.

Color Coded Magazines

In our house we have a XD 45, XD 9mm subcompact, and a XDm 9mm. It was the XDm that made me have to figure something out. Going to the range and pulling out the right magazine for the right gun was nigh impossible. The XDm and XD mags look and feel almost identical, and even though they don’t are incompatible, you can insert them in either gun. You could generally tell when you picked up a 45 mag because they were so much heavier, but just visually it wasn’t easy, especially in a black range bag.

Color coded XD magazines
Color coded XD magazines

So I took some colored electrical tape, picked a color for each gun, then cut tiny squares of it and stuck it to the bottom of each magazine. Most of the time, when in the bag, the bottom of the mag is pointed up, so you can glance in the bag and grab the right one. Since my 45 is a bedside gun most of the time, I just wrapped a piece of yellow electrical tape around the grip to know it is yellow. For the other guns I just remember the XDm is red and the XD is blue.

This post started as a comment on a CheaperThanDirt.com blog post about numbering your magazines. I don’t number mine but it wouldn’t take anything to write a number of the tape as well.

Drawing From Concealment

(This post was written in Feb of 2007 right after I went to Front Sight for the Four Day Defensive Handgun course and never posted.)
One of the things you learn at Front Sight is to draw from concealment. Which is good because most of the civilians getting the training are doing it because they have CHL/CCWs. I’ve been carrying a gun for over 5 years and have never really learned how to draw it from concealment before. I cringe now to think what would have happened if I’d tried to draw from under my sweater using the method I’d thought of using.

We did a lot of shooting and most of it was from the holster. We didn’t learn to do it from concealment till day three, but after that, we did most of the time. The end of class test was from concealment, under time pressure.

I learned a couple of things relevant to my carry from practicing for the test. First drawing from under a closed front garment is much slower than from an open front garment. I wanted to take the test like I carry and mostly I carry under a sweater in the winter and a untucked shirt in the summer. But even using the correct methodology it was slower to draw this way. Part of it is because there is an extra step. While open front has a step one that flips the garment back, it isn’t much different than not having the garment there. With a closed front you have to life the garment out of the way with both hands, which is an extra step before getting a grip on the weapon.

I’ve also discovered since I’ve been back that I sometimes have both. I’ll wear a jacket over my sweater over my gun. There is no fast draw from this. I have to flip back the jacket, trap it, then get both hands on the sweater and lift it. Sometimes I’ll actually lift the sweater over the gun when I go outside so I only have the jacket to move.

On further thought the best method might be to use the closed front draw when wearing both. It should work, the grabbing motion would get both garments and let you get a grip on the gun. You’d have more to hold out of the way with your support hand, but you could keep it all out of your way while you draw.

The important take away for all my CHL readers is to dry-practice drawing how you carry.

4Seven’s Quark MiNi AA² Review

For years I’ve heard really good things about Fenix Flashlights. People told me they were as bright and good as a Streamlight but for less money. For some reason I’ve been reluctant to take the step of spending over $50 for a flashlight. Instead I’ve opted for ubercheap lights instead.
Quark AA 2
I was at a gun show recently and walked by a booth and the guy had these 4Sevens flashlights setting out, so I asked him about them. Well it turns out they are the people who designed and made Fenix’s lights. Now they are doing their own line of lights. He showed me the Malstorm, saying it was the most powerful tactical light available today at 300 lumins. That’s a statement we could argue with. But he took the light and aimed it at the far wall of the George R Brown convention center near the ceiling. In day light with windows and lights you could see a distinct pattern of light from the flashlight. I was hooked. But he was sold out.

I turned to the web. And found the 4Seven’s website, which presented me with a plethora of lights and many decisions. I did end up buying the Maelstrom G5 and I like it and may review it in the near future. But I also bought the Quark MiNi AA². I wanted an everyday carry light and the MiNi is pretty small and uses standard AA batteries. I’m not hung up on having AA over C123 but the AA helps with size.

I’m in a love hate relationship with the AA, so I’m writing a review.

Pros

The little light is bright. Put on its highest setting you can light up a car 20-30 yards away at night. The specs say it is 180 lumens, but what does that really mean? I found that my cheap lights compare to it when shining inside my car for example, but they don’t have as much “throw” meaning they can’t light things up far away as well.

The form factor is good. The light is the size of a big pen. Smaller than my Livescribe Wonder Pen, or some of the promotional pens I’ve gotten. It is about as big around as those huge pencils we had in the first grade. Its made of metal and feels solid, I have no worries if I drop it or if I needed to hit someone with it. It fits cleanly into the side pocket of my EMT pants and is only a little bigger than my pen light. It also fits comfortably in my hand.

It has useful modes. There are a number of modes and all of them are useful. Low, medium, and high are the main continuous modes. There is strobe, SOS, and 2 beacon modes which flash at different rhythms. At first I was kind of like, “Why do I want a low beam?” But when you are in the dark, you generally don’t need a huge amount of light. Drop something in the backseat? Low is more than enough. I’ve ended up using it most of the time.

Strobe is also very cool. Supposedly – and I’ve tried it before and it seems to work – if you have your light on strobe and walk toward someone with it on, they won’t be able to tell how far away from them you are. It is also going to put an epileptic in grand mal. 🙂

Cons

No crenelations. Many tactical flashlights have these little up and down protrusions around the glass of the light called crenelations after the jagged top of castle walls. The reason for these is that if you hit someone with the light they provide a more jagged edge. Hitting someone overhand with your light is a very real options and I’d like to have the edge. Not a show stopper but a nice feature.

User Interface Sucks. This is the show stopper and why I will probably get a different light for carry. Remember the light has 6 modes? Well to switch between them you have to turn the head of the light off and on. You turn the light on by screwing the head counterclockwise till it stops and comes on, by default into low light. Then you need to quickly turn it off and back on to go to the next mode, again for the brightest setting. Do it 4 times in a row and it switches to the next mode set, so when you turn it on it starts in strobe.

The biggest problem with this is you need two hands on the light to change modes. You can pretty much turn it on with on hand, though you have to hold it overhand to get your thumb near the front of the light. But I find it awkward to switch modes in this position. Plus no matter what mode you leave it in, if you turn it off for very long, you back to low when you turn it on.

It is just clumsy to use the light, which in the end will make me replace it.

I think a lot of what I don’t like about the UI would be fixed by getting the tactical model. It has an tail switch to turn it on. You only use the front to “program” the modes and its position is what the turn on level is. The Maelstrom works this way. Only negative is you only have 2 modes on the tactical mode, 3 would be nice.

I Got A New Gun

After my class at KRTraining I decided I needed a new gun, so on Buy A Gun Day I ordered one.

I knew I wanted a Springfield XD in 9mm. I decided I wanted the XDm which as a buddy put it is, XD 2.0. Looking around I decided I wanted the Bitone version, though color wasn’t my primary concern, and I didn’t want the 3.8 version, I wanted the full 4 inch barrel. I looked around locally and could only find the 3.8.

I also knew when I bought it I was going to send it to Springer Precision to have new sights and a new trigger put on it. My friend Hosi again gave me good advice and told me to just buy the gun from Springer. So I called them and they had the gun, for less than I’d seen the 3.8 for locally. I ordered it and told them to do the sights and trigger before they sent it to me.

I got the Dawson Precision Adjustable Front Sight and fixed rear site. This front site has a red fiber optic in it and is very easy to find when you are bringing the gun up.

I got the competition trigger at 3.5 lbs, which I may wish was lighter.

They got the gun last week and did the install and shipped it out. I got a call from my buddy at Talon Arms they had received it on Monday. Of course I left work early and picked it up.

Shooting the 9mm seems like shooting 22 after my 45. The magazine capacity is incredible (19). I put almost a whole box of ammo in the 2 mags it came with.

It is very smooth. Which I don’t know exactly how to describe other than smooth.

I was going to post a picture but WordPress is giving me trouble but its a pretty gun too.

KR Training Advanced Training 4: Pistol Skills Development

Yesterday afternoon I drove out to Giddings and took Karl Rehn’s Advanced Training 4: Pistol Skills Development class.

The range is way out in the country making for a beautiful drive. Except it is bluebonnet season, so everyone and their dog, felt the need to go take pictures on the side of the road and for some reason that meant everyone driving had to come to a near halt. I was sure I was going to be late from all the stop and go traffic I had to endure on Highway 290. But I made it with 10 minutes to spare.

This is an advanced course and you have to have had some kind of training before. I was depending on the Four Day Defensive Handgun course I took 4 years ago and I learned how much I have lost. At the end of that course I could draw from concealment and put 2 shots in the center ring in under 1.5 seconds. I couldn’t quite do that some thing from ready at the beginning of this training. I was better by the end, but nothing like as good as I thought I was.

The course was four hours and was almost completely on the range. The two goals were trigger reset and shooting on the move. I think that was suppose to be 50-50, but ended up more like 80-20. Probably because we weren’t as good as Karl expected us to be.

The instructors told us a lot of things we were doing wrong. Which was a good thing and a bad thing. It was a good thing because you just can’t see these things yourself. It was a bad thing because it was a little discouraging and it was hard to be humble and take it. But I did learn lots of stuff I need to work on. Matter of fact so much stuff I need to practice that I’m just going to focus on a couple of things. Mostly trigger reset and proper form is draw and present.

Enhanced hearing. A funny thing I noticed after awhile was the instructors could hear me even when I was talking low enough I thought they couldn’t. I’m sure it was because of their ear protection which, like mine, actually amplifies the sound around you until a loud sudden noise.

Tired. I can’t believe The Mrs and I spend 8 hours a day for 4 days training at Front Sight. I was tired after 4 hours of this course. You were basically on your feet the whole time, except for reloading time. While there was moving, it wasn’t that much of the time. Of course I was a good P90xer and did an hour of Kenpo X that morning, which could have contributed.

Reloading. I need more magazines. Hsoi I take back anything I said about you having too many mags. That is impossible. I’ve got 4 XD mags and that was the minimum you needed if you didn’t want to spend time loading on the range. I also need a better mag holder than the one that comes with the XD.

Compete. Karl said if you want to get good you need to compete. It teaches you to shoot well and teaches you to shoot well under stress. I think I’m going to take that to heart. Now to find locals that compete.

I’m sure I’ll get the inevitable question of comparing KR to FrontSight, so I’ll answer. It isn’t easy to compare because this was an advanced class and my FrontSight class was a beginners class. This was 4 hours and FrontSight was 4 days. FrontSight was more refined. They had everything worked out and down to a science through the whole day. They also had many more instructors. Karl and Tom were as competent as any FS instructor, but FrontSight’s guys were just more polished as teachers.

This is both and good and bad, KR’s training was more relaxed and free form. When I thought I was almost out of ammo I loaded my last but didn’t get into line for another round of shoot and move. When I realized this was the last thing we were going to shoot, I asked to go ahead and shoot it again and Karl said go for it. There was the flexibility to do that. At FrontSight that flexibility probably wouldn’t be there. But I wouldn’t have ended up in a situation where I wasn’t sure what we were doing.

Conclusion

I enjoyed myself and will being going back. It is a bit of a shelp for me from Houston, but not as much as Nevada. I’ve got a lot to learn and KR Training will be a good place to learn it on a regular basis.

I’d also recommend it to any gun owner I know. You learn how true Jeff Cooper’s saying “Having a gun doesn’t mean you are armed.” is. If you can’t hit stuff in a class like this I shudder to thing how much you will miss when your life depends on it.