MADE IN THE USA : (Some) “Soft” Goods Makers

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For those who prefer to (or must) buy “Made in the USA,” here are some “soft” goods makers I favor (often after recommendations from full-time military or LEO users), along with my actual purchase examples.  These vendors make quality products with good fabrics and stitching; many are unique designs. Something (maybe everything) from each of their lines will likely interest you and satisfy your mission requirements and personal finickiness. Customer service is also top notch for all. Continue reading

The Return of the 9mm (Part Two: The 9mm Awakens)

The Hornady XTP bullet seen here performs fairly well in ballistic testing, though the newest designs such as the Ranger SXT from Winchester is among the best performing defensive handgun ammunition around.

The Hornady XTP bullet seen here performs fairly well in ballistic testing, though the newest designs such as the Ranger SXT from Winchester is among the best performing defensive handgun ammunition around.

Last week, I wrote about the nine-millimeter’s return to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, who had shunned the performance of that round nearly two decades ago. While perusing some of the comments and emails I received in response, I found a link to an excellent article in POLICE Magazine titled 9mm vs. 40 Caliber. While I don’t enjoy the typical pistol caliber debate, as you can find these ad nauseum on any Internet gun forum, the article goes in depth into wounding mechanisms and the mechanism of “stopping power”. Also of note is that the article was authored by a trauma surgeon. Here are my takeaways from the piece.

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The Return of the 9mm (or Why I Hate 40 caliber)

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One of the results of the fabled and oft studied Miami Shootout of 1986, where two FBI Agents lost their lives when attempting to take down two violent felons, was the conclusion that the 9mm round used by agents at the time failed to adequately perform its job to incapacitate its target. As a result, the .40 caliber round rose from the aftermath and eventually worked its way into law enforcement agencies across the nation, with the notion that it had the “capacity of a 9mm, and the stopping power of a 45.” But this alleged increase in terminal performance did not come for free. Over the years, the louder report and snappier recoil made it hard for many trainees and officers alike to qualify, the ammunition costs more (than 9mm), and there is increased wear on the pistol (as well as the hands and elbows of the shooter.)

Fast forward to 2014, and the same agency that shunned the 9mm two decades ago issued a solicitation for a family of 9mm pistols for its agents. This is not surprising, as I have always found the 40 caliber to have a very snappy recoil that was more fatiguing to shoot for extended periods of time than even a 45 caliber pistol. I found that 40 caliber pistols were more accurately characterized as “the stopping power of a 9mm with the recoil of a 45.” I say that in jest, but what I have learned is that with decades of advancement in ballistic technology, high performance handgun rounds in any major service pistol caliber have performed adequately in testing and the field, given the limitations of handgun calibers as a whole. Continue reading

First Look: Oakley PRIZM Lenses

Oakley Flak Jackets with the new PRIZM TR22 lenses, now available through the Standard Issue program for first responders.

Oakley Flak Jackets with the new PRIZM TR22 lenses, now available through the Standard Issue program for first responders.

For the better part of the past 20 years, I have been a big fan of Oakley eyewear for use on and off the range. They aren’t cheap, but good equipment is rarely inexpensive. Luckily for first responders or military, the price of much of the Oakley lineup is significantly reduced through their Standard Issue program. Those who prefer glass lenses look elsewhere, but I like polycarbonate lenses as the weight of glass tends to give me a headache over time. Oakley glasses are designed to be optically correct and offer industry leading protection against UV and debris. The only downside to polycarbonate lenses are that they scratch more easily than glass, so routine handling should be done with care.

Around the beginning of this year, Oakley released their line of PRIZM lenses, which were advertised to enhance contrast for various activities, including golf and shooting. In the past, I had preferred the VR28 lenses for high contrast, and eventually migrated to Positive Red Iridium, which also has a fancy reflective red coating. Having been happy with the Positive Red lenses, I didn’t rush to go out to try the new PRIZM offerings. Continue reading

Join the NRA

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The title says it all.

If you are not a member of the National Rifle Association, and you are a gun owner, regardless of your political leanings, you should be. I am not a doomsdayer.  I’m not a defeatist.  I’m not the kind of guy that gives the anti-gun-rights movement any more credit than they deserve.  I don’t see every attempt at a federal gun grab as being a serious attempt.  Some are nothing more than politicians pandering to their base. But, every run at gun control, whether it is half hearted pandering, or a serious attempt to take our Rights away, follows the same script.  The demonizing of one organization as standing in the way of “common sense”.  The National Rifle Association.  I swear to you some of the time I hear Washington politicians blame the NRA and they sound just like a rerun of Scooby Doo from when I was a kid.  “I would have got away with it if it wasn’t for that darn meddling NRA” Continue reading

2016: Time to Step It Up

 

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Putting in some training at home with Next Level Training’s SIRT 110.

“I don’t get to the range as often as I’d like,” I hear that a lot these days. Sometimes it’s an honest statement, sometimes it’s an excuse for errors made during qualification courses. If you carry a weapon in any capacity, you owe it to yourself to be proficient. Proficiency can’t be measured with, “good enough to pass quals”. Most basic weapons training is what the title states, “basic”, that includes police academies and basic military training. If you are content with that title, you will never advance in weapons training. Those of us who have attended additional courses should encourage others to do so.

Today we are fortunate to have a lot of very good instructors to choose from; we certainly don’t have a shortage of them. Do your homework and take outside training. During the course of instruction take notes, if you are able to record the class on video even better. Be sure to check with the instructor staff ahead of time to see if video will be permitted. You can reference the material and practice in the convenience of your garage to reinforce what you have learned. Continue reading

The Old Fat Dog and the Curly Wolf

 

IMG_5285I often caution citizens not to expect their domestic pets to be effective guard dogs.  Folks usually don’t like heavring it, but that’s been my experience after a few decades in law enforcement.  Dogs are great alarm systems if properly programed, but are rarely capable of a full-blown attack against a dedicated assailant.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gained permission to enter a fenced-in yard to search for a suspect only to be told by the homeowner that no one could survive their killer canine’s zone of terror.  One gentlemen even told me, “if he’s back there, you’re on a recovery mission [rather than a rescue mission].”  Several of those times, not only did we find the suspect in Cujo’s Corner but one time (I kid you negative), the felon was actually hiding in the dog house.  Still, police work is consistent with anomalies. Continue reading

The Apex Tactical M&P Barrel: First Look

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Several weeks ago, Apex Tactical owner Randy Lee and I were talking on the phone and our discussion turned to new products  coming down the line from Apex.  One of the major items of interest to me was the “Apex Grade” 9mm barrel for the Smith and Wesson M&P. My association with Randy goes back a bunch of years.  I still have the early 2006 M&P that we used for the prototyping of the original Apex Hard Sear that started it all. Well, he prototyped, and I was the ape that attempted to break it.  As the conversation evolved, some hints might have been dropped, and a semi-drop in barrel arrived at my door about three weeks ago. Continue reading

The SIRT 107 M&P Model Has Arrived

The long awaited M&P model SIRT, dubbed the 107, has finally arrived and brings along with it a host of design upgrades.

The long awaited M&P model SIRT, dubbed the 107, has finally arrived and brings along with it a host of design upgrades.

Readers of MSW know that we are big proponents of SIRT training pistol, developed by Next Level Training, for a variety of reasons. Primarily, it allows for a high volume of training, removing many barriers to entry, and removes the possibility of introducing live ammunition into your pistol when performing dry practice. In addition, when integrated into live fire training at the range, it can bring out and correct trigger control issues in an incredibly efficient manner. Up until now, the SIRT 110 model (Glock format) was the only format available. While shooting is 99% sights and trigger, and regardless of the external shape of the tool, the skills developed by the 110 will translate over to any format pistol, there was a continued demand for other common service pistol formats. After clearing more than a couple production and design hurdles, Next Level Training has finally released the SIRT 107: the M&P Model.

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Influences (Folks From Whom I’ve Learned)

Ernest Langdon

Ernest Langdon is the man when it comes to mastering mechanical skills that can be applied in the real world.

As we venture into 2016, I thought it might be fitting to give credit to where credit is due.  The list is not inclusive,  but gives the nod to those who put my shooting, and by extension teaching, where it is today.

A lot of guys in the shooting industry tend to make things about who they are, what they do for a living, or perhaps have done for a living the first and foremost in their resume.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  It lends some credibility that they know what they are talking about in their particular field of subject matter.  The firearms industry is one of those industries that the old adage “Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach” doesn’t hold water. Continue reading

Sharp Things: Knife Makers to Watch

Some Matt Helm Knives, different tools for different uses.

Some Matt Helm Knives, different tools for different uses.

At least when I grew up, knives were a rite of passage. In today’s overly protective, sheltered world that statement alone is probably going to put me on some watchlist. I remember many Christmases and birthdays opening gifts to find another Swiss Army or Buck knife. Every boy should sharpen some stick spears, cut his hand a couple times, learn some lessons and learn to respect a tool for what it is. I’ve lost my fair share of knives I’ve collected over the years, given away a lot to close friends who needed a quality blade, and a few are still tucked in the back of my gun safe to someday hand down to my son. As I moved into my current profession I, like most young men growing up watching Rambo or Commando, started with a large fixed blade knife strapped to my gear in some fashion. Of course you attempt to strap it upside down to a shoulder strap of your load bearing equipment hang it off your belt before you realize that it is the way of any actual functional movement and gets in the way far more then it benefits you in any way.

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A Fracture Well Cured: Coming Back from Injury

 

Shooting skills are diminished by injury. How do we get them back?

Shooting skills are diminished by injury. How do we get them back?

A score of eighty-eight percent on our state’s generous law enforcement qualification course is not acceptable in my book. It had been my first attempt that year just over three months out of my second surgery. I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t shoot a perfect or near perfect score on a qualification round. In a nine-month period, I’d had Ulnar nerve surgery on my left elbow and triple surgery on my right shoulder. It’s hard to say which is more responsible for the lengthy recovery time: the injuries and subsequent surgeries themselves or the years of procrastination. Either way, my days of being useful as a real cop were seemingly over.

Physical atrophy is to be expected after a joint surgery (and even in my prime, I was more slight than might), but the real problem for me was the subsequent emotional atrophy. I was under doctor’s orders not to do even a single push-up for at least a year. That meant an automatic failure of the SWAT team’s mandatory P.T. test. I was a team leader and was forced to resign several years before I had planned. At about the same time, I was removed from my primary position as a shift commander and put in an administrative/supervisory role over non-sworn personnel. The cumulative effects of these life changes were devastating beyond physicality. Continue reading

The Movie Theater Active Shooter Equation

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Active Shooters in Movie Theaters

As we tune in to the news on just about any given week, we see more and more copycat “active” shooters in movie theaters in the United States.  This unfortunately is the new norm.   Because this is the new norm, our tactics are going to have to shift to combat these cowardly acts of seemingly random murder.

In examining the events of past theater shootings, the only constant variable is they occur in the darkness of a movie theater, aside from the constant that the shooter is mentally ill..  The scenarios have presented different targets, different responses by victims, and different guns involved used by the shooters.  The shooters have sat in different parts of the the theater, struck at different times in the movies.  Based upon that, our tactics must be fluid. Continue reading

Gray Guns Sig Sauer P226 Competition Action Package

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Its hard to argue the fact that the Sig Sauer P-series pistols are some of the best combat pistols every produced. Putting the argument or preference aside of double action/single action versus current current striker fired pistols or single action only the reliability and accuracy is well known and respected around the world. With a vast majority of the pistol rounds I’ve sent downrange being out of a p226, I had to have one in the safe. The trigger and action on the sig are designed for reliability, not necessarily a light or crisp trigger pull so I decided to upgrade my personal gun a bit. I made the obvious decision and went to the first and really only serious name in Sig Sauer action work, Bruce Gray of Gray Guns. Continue reading

The Modern Firearms Instructor: Can We Do Better?

 

FIreams instructors have a golden opportunity when teaching concealed carry classes.

Firearms instructors have a golden opportunity when teaching concealed carry classes to encourage their students to seek further training.

It seems everyone is a firearms instructor these days, me included.  As the interest in firearms ownership and concealed carry grow, so must the instructor base.  We are law enforcement, military and private sector firearms enthusiasts who want to share our knowledge and help others.  Most firearms instructors only teach their state’s concealed carry course or other “basic” classes and I’m certain the majority of us do a respectable job with the short amount of time we are allotted.  Still, can we do better?  I believe there are two areas where many firearms instructors just plain fail.

The majority of new shooters or at least new students only attend their first class because their respective states require it to attain a handgun carry license.  I would dare say many of them are certain that this rudimentary training is more than adequate.  That’s not their fault.  That’s our fault as instructors.  An eight-hour, state-mandated safety class is in no way sufficient and that is a point where I feel many instructors fail.  We should be encouraging our students to seek further training on their own after completion of that class.  Granted, it can be difficult for your average person to overcome their fears and finances to attend even a basic eight-hour class.  How do we convince those folks to attend intermediate and advanced training?  It all starts with that concealed carry class. Continue reading