“If your head tells you one thing, and your heart tells you another, before you do anything, you should first decide whether you have a better head or a better heart.”                                                                                     Marilyn Vos Savant

I framed the SHOULD element of my deadly force paradigm as — do you employ deadly force and risk everything you are/have and will ever be/have. It often presents as whether you should come to the aid of another person. As suggested in my prior paradigm posts, the SHOULD analysis likely goes to the “core of your being.”  So, don’t expect the answer from another (including me (HERE) ).  Moreover, your answer will be part of a complex split-second decision you will likely make alone. Thus, it behooves you to give it serious thought and make the necessary analyses ahead-of-time.  (If you’re an LEO, you have agency requirements and training imperatives — and case law trends — to factor in as well). The key is mental preparation. Before the event, you have one or more “plans” —  if this particular balloon goes up, I disengage/leave/summon help, or I respond with X, Y, and/or Z.

Continue reading

Another 1911 Armorer’s Class in the Books


Here I am blending a grip safety for a student. This is normally far beyond the scope of the class, but this student has been carrying this pistol on duty and I couldn't bear to see the frame cutting into his hand any longer.

Here I am blending a grip safety for a student. This is normally far beyond the scope of the class, but this student has been carrying this pistol on duty and I couldn’t bear to see the frame cutting into his hand any longer.

Last month, we trekked out to the last frontier known as the State of Alaska, to do a 1911 Advanced Armorer’s Course to the fine folks at Anchorage PD. I enlisted the help of Colt 1911/M16 Armorer Instructor Dean Caputo to help me out with getting some of the guns to run correctly. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that though the agency authorizes the carry of 1911s to folks who meet their requirements, the vast majority of the SWAT guys in our class chose to carry something a bit more modern and forgiving of the extreme elements in which these guys work.

As usual, the class began with an overview of the 1911 pistol, its variants, and basics on how to detail strip the pistol to its component parts and put it all back together. Since we had different makes throughout the 24 student class, the varied approaches different manufacturers use to build the guns (e.g. different FP block devices, built in locking devices, etc.,) required many students to modify their approach from what John Browning originally had in his mind.  Continue reading


Let’s revisit the MAY element in detail, as I promised in a recent MSW post on my use of deadly force paradigm. (HERE)

MAY: The inquiry — whether the use of deadly force is within the law.  (We live in political correctness infected and curious Rule of Law interpretation times; so, that inquiry is to be distinguished from the distinct and less easily answered —  can/will I be charged with a crime).  In earlier posts I urged the importance of knowing “the law” beforehand, what sources to study, and to be mindful of “trends” (the inclinations of prosecutors, juries, and judges . . . good luck with that) in the law of justified deadly force. Here’s sources, in my (but not necessary the only) order of research, usually available free — online or in every law school library:

  • Current year state statutes (caveat, even unambiguous statutes can be subjected to surprising judicial interpretation these days)
  • Jury instructions (often termed “pattern” or “standard,” possibly officially promulgated by state highest court, required or suggested in criminal cases and all trials, not always consistent with or limited to language of related statute)
  • Appellate case law (including opinions of the court over your locale’s trial court, the state’s other intermediary appellate courts, and the state’s highest court for criminal appeals)
  • Local prosecutor’s memoranda on use of deadly force by LEOs and nonsworn in cases not prosecuted
  • Federal case law commentary on state statute or common law use of force principles, or on Constitutional rights bearing on state criminal proceedings
  • State law legislative history and enactment commentary (may or may not exist)
  • Other state(s) interpretation(s) (highest state court opinions) of similarly worded statutes

Continue reading

Raven Concealment’s Eidolon AIWB Holster

Raven Concealment’s Eidolon holster is one of the few concealed carry products that have actually lived up to its Internet hype.

Appendix-In-The-Waistband AIWB carry has been all the rage on the Interwebs and social media for quite a while now, and for good reason. It is fairly easy to conceal in this manner and it is extremely easy to deploy from the position. Though retention is a little different from this position than traditional strong side or behind the hip IWB, the carry position is viable if it is comfortable for you. Unfortunately, after trying about half a dozen different holsters, I have yet to find AIWB anything less than extremely uncomfortable. That is, until now.

Most of you have already heard of the Eidolon by Raven Concealment Systems. While AIWB holsters are certainly not new, RCS has taken a new modular approach and incorporated some innovative features into an amazingly comfortable design. When I first read about it, I was skeptical as to its claim as a game changer, especially since AIWB has always been uncomfortable for me. For whatever reason, after carrying the Eidolon in AIWB format every day since picking one up at SHOT Show this January (2015), I am continually surprised to find that this holster is quite comfortable to carry day in and out. Continue reading

AAR: Jerry Barnhart 2 Day Tactical Pistol

The Burner…I’m not talking about the little Bunsen burner we used many eons ago in Chemistry class (gen Xrs and up) but the guy named Jerry Barnhart who burns down stages and is one of the most winning competitive shooters out there.  I had the pleasure of training with Jerry recently for a 2 day Tactical Pistol course.  Now before the inter webs go a blazing on “competition will get you killed!” and such, please direct your anger to my four part series here at MSW and see why I don’t agree with that fallacy.

Anyway, bottom line, shooting is shooting.  Period.  The competition or tactical drills that follow are secondary if you can’t make the shot.  This includes: shooting for accuracy, shooting on the move, head shots, 50 yard shots, etc.  So, can it with the “yee gads, that there is foolish training” talk and learn how to shoot under pressure and maybe we can have a coffee.  But I digress… Continue reading

Pelican 1910B LED Flashlight

The Pelican 1910B is just slightly bigger than the Streamlight Microstream. It still disappears when clipped to a pocket or in your waistband. A convenient carry spot is in the dead space on the waistband directly adjacent to your holster.

Continuing with my never ending search for an ultra low profile, easy to carry, yet functional off-duty handheld light, we will be taking a look at the Pelican 1910B. Last week I wrote about the Streamlight Microstream, which worked well enough to get out of most jams. Some commenters on the social media page turned their nose up to Microstream’s meager 35 lumen output. While puny compared to some of the 500 lumen beasts out there today, let me point out that not all that long ago we carried lights powered by D-cell batteries that didn’t put out much more light than that of the Microstream, and with a crappier beam.

Continue reading

Quick Look: Streamlight Microstream

The Streamlight Microstream is a small and functional flashlight that is significantly easier to carry than many other popular options.

As I get older, injuries from overall wear and tear pile up. Coupled with the strong desire to be able to enjoy day to day activities without carrying 20 pounds of bulk with me wherever I go, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to streamline my day to day load out. I am a strong proponent of carrying some sort of white light everywhere I go. In addition to any potential “tactical” uses, I find it at least as handy from a utilitarian perspective than a folding knife. For the past couple of years, I have been carrying the Surefire E1B Backup, which has served me well. It is durable and bright, but due to its width, I still find it somewhat cumbersome to carry when wearing casual clothing that isn’t made by a brand whose name starts with a 5 and ends with an .11.

Continue reading



Well, that was quick.  And a unanimous decision (9-0) no less.  I wrote in detail about Henderson v United States (HERE) in March, so go there for the facts of the case, related statutes, and parties’ arguments. (Note you are still good to go with the “Lessons Learned” discussion there). The actual 10-page May 18th opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court is HERE.  (I endeavor here not to confound you with any lengthy legalisms or scholarly analysis).

While the Court rejected almost all of what the Government argued, it did not — as I hoped it would — limit or reject the “constructive possession” theory, or give detailed guidance on the mechanisms for firearms dispossession.  The decision is nevertheless important to firearms owners who may run afoul of federal law which makes certain persons forever (felony conviction) or temporarily (mental/drug issues, pretrial release, probation, supervised release) barred from firearms “possession.”  But note, the Court stated (in a footnote) “. . . our decision here . . . addresses only . . . court-supervised transfers of guns.” Continue reading

Beretta 92FS/M9 Safety Deactivation: An Easier Way

Here’s an easier way to disengage the Beretta 92FS safety, thanks to Ernest Langdon. I’ve been doing it a much harder way all these years.

A couple months ago, I attended Ernest Langdon’s Advanced Tactical Pistol Skills class. It was a good reminder that this thing called “practice” is required to maintain the proficiency at which I have become accustomed to performing. Suffice it to say, I had an eye opener. Last week, Ernest came back to do another class and I was one of the first in line to attend. Among the many little nuggets of information I picked up over the past two classes, one that particularly stood out was the safety manipulation on the Beretta 92FS. While I haven’t had a ton of time on the pistol, I had shot it a little since it is the standard issue pistol at work. I had always deactivated the safety (should it be inadvertently engaged or during de-cock process) by flicking it in an upward arc motion with my thumb. Of course, this compromised my grip and was not a particularly efficient or comfortable movement. During class, Ernest mentioned the proper way to deactivate the safety, which is simply to swipe the lever in a downward arcing movement with the strong thumb and the lever will snap up into fire position. Maybe I had been living in a cave for all these years, but this was new to me, so I am sharing it with all of you.

In the meantime, consider training with Ernest at any of his upcoming courses. You’ll have a great time and learn a ton.

SOURCE: Langdon Tactical

Dark Star Gear AIWB “Casual Carry”

SP101 w/Pachmayrs in DSG Casual Carry. Corbon 357 Magnum 125gr DPX in Safariland Comp I.


I can admit that I am guilty of just grabbing a snubby, a speedloader and my keys to run errands.  I’m not promoting the practice.  I recently went  almost exclusively to carrying Ruger as my revolver of choice.  A Wiley Clapp inspired SP101 bumped my longtime custom 642 out of the rotation.  That meant I needed a new holster to tote my little blaster.  A thread on Pistol-Forum lead me to Dark Star Gear.   DSG bends some pretty nice Kydex with some interesting options.  The DSG AIWB “Casual Carry” with its simple design and optional toothed spring steel IWB clip seemed perfect.  Just one problem.  DSG didn’t list my little SP101 as an option.  So I emailed Tom of DSG and asked if he could make one for me.  A few emails back and forth to make sure he had found the correct molding prop and I was getting a holster made.  Tom was great to deal with and only asked that I pay up front due to having to purchase the molding prop for the project.  Knowing I had the HiTS Close Quarters Pistol class coming up Tom bent over backwards to get my holster shipped in time.

Continue reading


In a 2012 year-end post, I offered a decision paradigm on the use of deadly force. (HERE). The paradigm consisted of four elements — usually considered ad seriatim.  My paradigm remains a work-in-progress. I write now to restate it in a stand alone post, and to add some broad thoughts on the elements.  (I expect to tackle the elements in more depth in future posts).

Deadly Force Paradigm

CAN –  do I possess (to a reasonable certainty) the necessary equipment, skills, and mindset to accomplish the task (i.e., WIN)? This element should be addressed objectively, long before the moment-of-decision presents. Common sense in “equipment” selection, and repeated training and practice are essential.  Being physically fit is definitely part of this element.  (HERE).  Have you done all you can to be truly prepared to respond in a deadly force encounter?  By the way, which is paramount — equipment, skill, or mindset? Always? Continue reading

Your Next Weapon Mod: FITNESS

I’ll bet you don’t see this at your next carbine course.

An observation of mine in recent months looking at pictures of people online attending competitions, shooting courses, training events etc is the there is a huge variety of fitness levels represented in our sport. I use the word “sport” lightly as obviously that means something different to different people. This would seem as an obvious observation but then again lets take a few steps back. I grew up playing traditional sports such as baseball and football, where fitness is a direct contributor to you ability on the field. I then carried on into college and again to play sports we had strength coaches and trainers focused on keeping us conditioned enough to compete at a high level. I have no experience with professional sports but I would take an educated guess to say that it only becomes more important at that level as well. Continue reading

Robar to the Glock Rescue

Robar grip work, 10-8 sights and mag base pad, slide work done by Mars Armament. Axe is an RMJ Shrike

It would be safe to say that the Glock as a pistol is almost, or dare I say as big an “icon” as the 1911. Glocks are being used by law enforcement and military personnel all over the world as well as being one of the best selling pistol manufacturers in the US. A good majority of gun owners, especially those who frequent shooting courses or instruction, all seem to own at least one Glock. With its popularity comes an exploding aftermarket with an endless list of companies making parts or modifying/machining the guns themselves. Some are worthy of mention and many are hacks with a hot piece of metal deforming the frames almost to the point of failure on unsuspecting owners looking to emulate the professionals for a fraction of the cost. I personally had a Glock stippled by a friend, and while not a hack job by any means I found the texture too aggressive and didn’t quite know how remedy it without just buying another frame. This is the point where Robar comes in. Continue reading

How to Draw From a Safariland SLS Holster

The Safariland 6004 is likely the most popular holster for modern law enforcement professionals.

With the prevalence of the Safariland 6004/6280 duty holster in modern law enforcement applications, it still shocks me that there are so many LE folks that still draw from an SLS equipped holster in the most inefficient manner. The Self Locking System (SLS) is the commonly seen rotating hood system that largely eliminated traditional snap holsters in modern holster systems. Technically classified as a Level II retention system (meaning it requires two actions to defeat the retention device), the SLS has pretty good security and can be disengaged with a single motion. Unfortunately, I still commonly see officers whåo draw from an SLS using two or more motions to disengage the hood before ever lifting the gun out of the holster. Continue reading

Gear review: PHLster holsters

Yes, there is another great alternative in appendix holsters. In my quest to find a great appendix holster, I’ve search and tried pretty much all that’s is out there..until a friend recommended to me a new holster from a Philly area company called PHLster (pretty catchy).

I tried two of their holsters for my Glock 19.  One, full size named the Access and the other, more minimalist called the Skeleton.  Both are inside the waistband and designed for appendix draw.

I’ll start with the more minimalist Skeleton.  I was very happy when I opened the package and saw my thoughts realized in a holster without me talking with the designer.  On my last holster review (The Q-Series) I liked the fact you could carry with basically a trigger guard cover and some belt retention device (clip or strap).  The benefit of the Q-Series was the ability to re-holster the firearm.  Of all the choices (at that time) I couldn’t find anything as good…until now. Continue reading