Friday, January 20, 2017

32,800 rounds through a Ruger SR9...

It's been almost ten years since Ruger introduced the SR9 and SR9c pistols... and more than eight years since our family adopted the SR9 and SR9c as our primary pistols for home and self-defense.  We own... well, let's say more than six and less than twelve of the pistols covering what I'll call the "three generations" of Ruger SR9's and around here... if we're not wearing one, there's one pretty close by.... like within arm's length.

It may be hard for some to understand why we chose the Ruger SR9 and SR9c pistols... but the key word there is "we"... the gals and I. Some of the many factors included our previous experiences with Ruger products.  Ruger may not always build the prettiest firearm... although many look pretty good... but they are usually built like a brick outhouse and just like a brick outhouse, they function pretty reliably.

Other factors at the time included the grip which worked for all three of us... and while I prefer no external safety, my main gal did.  I'll also admit my bias for all things Ruger. They're a debt-free, all-American made company that builds a solid product at a good price.  Price was one of those considerations because at the time... we needed multiple pistols... looking at options like the Glock Gen3's and the Smith & Wesson M&P9's... the Ruger pistols were the best solution/compromise that worked for everyone in the family.

Now, all that being said... if we're going to trust our lives to a particular firearm... we needed to put it to the test. Typically as a personal rule of thumb, we don't trust a gun for personal defense until I've had at least 500 rounds through it with 300 rounds straight without a single malfunction due to the firearm and 100 of those five hundred rounds being the selected self-defense ammo for that firearm... fired without malfunction - period. I see too many people buy a pistol, shoot a few rounds of FMJs... slap in some self-defense ammo... and start carrying the gun... not us.

So... back to the title of this post. A previous post about our primary "practice" gun passing 18,500 rounds indicated the success we were having with these pistols. That particular gun has now passed 32,800 rounds... and in actuality, probably over 33,000 rounds because there are some occasions when a little bit of shooting here or there doesn't get logged. It still functions reliably with quality ammo... mostly Winchester white box, Federal, American Eagle, and reloads with 115gr. FMJs and either Federal HSTs or Winchester PDXs for self-defense purposes.

Yes, the gun has had some double feeds, stove-pipes, and other ammunition or human-error malfunctions over time, but nothing we could attribute to the firearm directly. As a percentage of total rounds fired... it's less than 0.3 percent overall. While it can be "limp-wristed" into a malfunction, it is actually pretty reliable when I've tried to purposely limp-wrist-fire the pistols. So as far as reliability goes... all told, we have well over 50,000 rounds through multiple Ruger SR9 and SR9c pistols over the years and the lowest round-count pistol has 1,820 rounds through it. If you want my opinion... you can rely on these pistols.

Now as a firearms instructor for many years... people usually ask, "What should I get for concealed carry or self-defense?" While my motto is "I educate, You decide."... if they press... my standard answer is, "Get a Glock or a S&W M&P in 9mm... you can't go wrong." Wait, you're carrying a Ruger SR-series every day... yes I am... and I'm OK with that... not that it's perfect... I don't like manual safeties... I carry it safety-off, yet my thumb indexes on the safety every time I draw to make sure it's off... my gal carries safety-on... her choice.

So everyone has to make their own decisions... and the ol' Ruger SR9 is finally going to get a rebuild... original springs are going in the trash... YES, original springs... and we can't see any visible signs of cracks or potential problems with the polymer frame, action, barrel, slide, etc. So for now... we'll keep the Ruger pistols as our standard family defensive pistol... and we're OK with that... after... 32,800 rounds through a Ruger SR9...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why do you yell at your targets?

The gals and I are fortunate to have our own shooting range out back... it allows us to shoot regularly... pretty much whenever we want. Sometimes friends, students, and others will join us for some shooting fun, practice, and training. Not too long ago, I had a friend over do some shooting and he asked me, "Why do you yell at your targets?"

Thinking outside the box and thinking practically more than tactically, the gals and I try to develop our self-defense skillsets, mindsets, and tools around reality, not some Hollywood fantasy or tactical-fanboy ego strokin'. I see shooters practicing the scan-and-assess head swivels on the range and I see a lot of shooters practice the "step off the X" move when drawing and shooting... but I don't see many, if any, practicing their verbal commands, verbal judo, and communication skills while shooting.

We're big fans of visualization and a great source of material to think through and pre-visualize can be found in the videos over at Active Self Protection's YouTube Channel. Watch some of the videos... consider John's commentary... and think "what would I do" in that situation.  Everything from mindset, to awareness, to marksmanship, to empty-hand, to firearm handling, drawing, and manipulation and many more come into play.

So why not add some practical practice of your verbal commands and verbal judo into your practice work? In addition to what you're going to do... what are you going to say? You stumble onto an intruder in your living room in the middle of the night... what are you going to say? A road-rage driver departs his vehicle and aggressively starts towards you with a thirty-inch steel crowbar in his hand... what you you going to say? Yes, there are situations and contexts where there is little time for verbalization, but if your situational awareness is active... you may be able to counter a problem with some verbal commands, judo, or de-escalation.

When I've taught students simple self-defense scenarios in situations ranging from shooting courses to the NRA's Refuse To Be A Victim program... so many have difficulty deciding what to say when confronted by an adversary. "What are you doing in my house!" Do you really want an answer or have a conversation with this person? A gal has noticed the same guy consistently following her throughout a store, then into the parking lot, down the rows of cars... is "Excuse me, can I help you?" or "Why are you following me?" the best verbal communication? Again, do you want a conversation or do you want them to decide to go a different direction. "STAY BACK, QUIT FOLLOWING ME" with some solid, leave-no-doubt body language might be more effective.

The next time you're on the range, drawing from concealment, or just practicing shooting for self-defense purposes... try visualizing a scenario or context and think about your verbal response. Then practice it... "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! WE'VE CALLED THE POLICE!"... "DROP THE WEAPON, GET BACK!" If you think you'll know what to say or have time to think it through in the moment, you won't. Another benefit to yelling your commands in some situations is that their is a better chance they will be heard by your attacker and witnesses... and the yelling will force you to breath... something many people forget in tense moments or situations.

If you want to develop your verbal skills, there are a lot of good resources out there. One book I've read twice over the last year is "Conflict Communication" by Rory Miller. Another good source are articles written by our friend, Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training including "Insults and Challenges- 5 Tips for Effective Verbalization During a Violent Encounter" and "When the Criminal Doesn’t Obey your Commands".

Be prepared... have some verbal commands and judo ready-to-go in your EDC... and in addition to stepping off the "X", scanning and assessing, moving to cover, or whatever else you've chosen to do to prepare for a defensive encounter... try visualizing AND verbalizing while practicing your empty-hand and shooting skills. Maybe... the next time you're practicing at the range... someone will ask you... Why do you yell at your targets?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fobus Holsters, Blackhawk SERPA, and Car-Jacks...

A while back I had a friend call me for some assistance with a flat tire on his wife's car. He had tried to use the jack he found under the little "rubber donut" of a spare tire and the jack wasn't working right, started to bend, and he thought the car was going to fall right off of it. I grabbed a 3-ton floor jack from out in the barn, some deep-six-point-sockets, a breaker-bar, some wheel-chocks, and headed over to help him.

You see, they carried this jack around in this car every day since the vehicle was new. They never even looked at the jack, read the directions, or even tried it out until they needed it. Fortunately, the car was at home and not along the side of the road or near busy traffic or in an unsafe neighborhood. Like most folks... including most gun folks... he just assumed that it would work when he needed it and he'd figure out how to use it.  

He didn't realize it was probably the cheapest solution the company could provide, or that the little base-plate on the jack would likely sink right into the grass or dirt if he had actually tried it along the side of a road or along the berm or median. He had just never used it to lift the car and change the tire... and put it through the rigors of likely contexts that the jack would be used in... he never "tested" it.

"Test all things; hold fast what is good."
1 Thessalonians 5:21

Folks, this is the exact same situation for many folks who decide to carry a firearm for self-defense. They've never really used their holster beyond maybe daily carrying, or to draw and fire at the range on occasion... let alone drawing under the stress of a shot-timer... or maybe they've never even drawn and fired from their holster since a lot of shooting ranges don't allow it.  

Most of these folks... like many of those "in the industry"... have never faced an actual threat out in every day life where they had to roll on the ground and get dirt or gravel jammed-up in their holster mechanism... or had a thug grab for their gun and tear their holster right from its rivets. They walk into the local gun store, sporting goods store, or Wally World and see Fobus and Blackhawk SERPA holsters for just about any and every handgun made... and they're not too badly priced either.

After recently shooting the GSSF Indoor league match down in Cincinnati at a very popular, state-of-the-art shooting facility... I took a mental note as I looked around and noticed that every single employee... you know, the experts, were wearing sharp looking red polos with the company's logo, tan or khaki tactical pants, and all but one employee was openly carrying a handgun in a Blackhawk SERPA holster.  They MUST be great holsters, right?

I've also noticed that many of our local law enforcement officers carry in Fobus and SERPA holsters while off-duty. If all that wealth of experience dealing with bad guys daily has resulted in selecting a Fobus or SERPA holster for off-duty carry, how could any average person go wrong with a similar choice? Besides, they've never heard of Henry Holsters, Comp-Tac, Raven Concealment, or many of the other quality Kydex makers out there.

Why should they listen to some "in the industry" writer, trainer, or talking-head they have probably never heard of or just "liked" their FaceBoook page... when they've got someone with the appearance of great authority, knowledge, or experience close to home providing them advice.

This is why these "Deplorables" of the gun world give more credence to an NRA Certified instructor, military veteran, or a local police officer when it comes to firearms than some RangeMaster guy named Tom Givens they never heard of before. Unfortunately, many of the best instructors, sources of information, and authorities in this field are either "preaching to the choir" or they... or their followers/commentors... turn them off the instant they dare ask a questions or communicate something that is not the current tacticool standard or flavor. 

With extensive anecdotal proof on social media... and my own experiences and observations... I believe there is a silent majority out there of gun folks who are probably considered "Deplorables" by many of those "in the industry".  These are the over-weight, Taurus Judge in a Fobus paddle holster, under a shoot-me-first-vest... that I see in southwest Ohio... and all over the country. These are the .38 snubby, that's-what-the-guy-at-the-gun-store-recommended, in-my-purse mom's I run into rather frequently.

Many of these folks, if the dare wander into the social media venues or around gun-counter-commandos... are immediately eaten like a pack of coyote-minions on a wounded deer for daring ask a question about... or even mention... their holster or firearm choice that's not the flavor of the day. There is no way for them to discern or verify the information from a Tom Givens, Greg Ellifritz, Rob Pincus, or even an industry-niche market sensation like Ballistic Radio's John Johnston in comparison to what their local police officer friend with 20 years of experience or the guy with two tours in "the sandbox" just told them.

So where am I going with this? I didn't write a blog post during 2016, but I've decided to get back to blogging in 2017 because I enjoy it and at least in my local area and my local region... there are a lot of folks that I can help.  I can meet them where they're at... provide good training at a reasonable cost... and promote firearm safety and self-defense...refer the to other quality training and learning sources.  My motto and goal has always been... and still is... "I educate, you decide!"

Also, last year I really felt like anything I had to say or blog about had already been said by folks more qualified than myself. The thing I have found is that most of those highly qualified folks that I respect... don't reach... or are completely unheard of by the majority of every-day American gun owners and carriers. 

I'm here to meet folks where they're at... with my ellipses.. focusing on my geographical region... educating and assisting folks... about Fobus, SERPA's, and Car-Jacks... the Deplorables.