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Educating Yourself about Modifications to Your Handgun

11 Jun

glockSooner or later, you’ll probably want to affect modifications to your handgun. Mods can range from something as simple as different grips all the way to custom sights and metal work.

Many modifications and upgrades can be done at home. At the very least, you’ll need a set of basic tools to remove fasteners.

Many aftermarket upgrade items come with instructions for installation. It’s worth the time to read any instructions and familiarize yourself with what you’ll be doing before you start.

Much of the time, there are also YouTube videos or how-to articles with pictures available online that detail the processes you’ll be going through.

Or, if you know someone who has already made the modifications you have in mind, it may be worth asking them if they ran into any unforeseen problems.

Research doesn’t have to take hours. These days, a simple Google images search for your gun model “+desired modification” will yield hundreds of pictures of the very same modification you’re planning to do.

Image searches are helpful for taking the guesswork out of things and ensuring that you have all the information you need before starting a project.

Internet research is especially important if the gun being modified is your primary carry weapon. You don’t want to have your gun taken apart and in pieces only to find you are missing a part or special tool needed to complete the job.

Some firearm modifications should only be performed by a qualified gunsmith. This is doubly true if metal is going to be removed or added or if work is to be done on the firing mechanism. A good gunsmith will have tools and experience that most people haven’t been trained for.

Research is just as important when picking a gunsmith. If you have a person you trust who has already done good work for you, then definitely stick with them. Even if their waiting list is weeks in advance, it’s worth the wait and a good sign if a gunsmith is busy.

Author Duane A. Daiker talks about choosing someone to do gunsmithing in his article “Ross Sporting Goods Glocksmithing” on

“As good as the Glock platform is, there is a lot of room for improvement and personalization. The basic Glock can definitely benefit from some attention by a quality gunsmith. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who think that owning a Dremel tool qualifies them to start grinding plastic off of your G-17.” (Read more about finding a good gunsmith at

If you don’t have a gunsmith in mind, start by asking around for recommendations. If possible, find someone who has already had the same work done that you want done. Visit a few gunsmiths before making a final decision. Some may even have photo albums of their work for customers to look at.

And of course, if you are a daily carrier you probably don’t want to be without your gun for a week or even a couple days. Plan in advance and invest in a backup gun to carry while yours is in the shop.


Laser Sights: Should You Get One?

1 May

Laser dot sights are tools that allow you to enhance your low light shooting ability. For times when it’s too dark to see, a laser dot will allow you to see exactly where your firearm is aimed.  Image

Laser sights have quite a bit of argument and controversy surrounding them.

Some people see them as unnecessary complications and distractions that take away from basic shooting fundamentals.

Other people are of the opinion that if the technology works, then why not use it? 

After all, being able to project a red dot in the dark can give you a significant advantage in some situations. 

Regardless of how you feel, the fact remains that laser sights should be considered enhancements of your existing skills. They shouldn’t be thought of as a substitute for solid shooting with a pistol that has factory iron sights. 

Another important thing to consider is the issue of shooting at anything you can’t clearly identify. Of course, no two encounters are the same, but if you are shooting at the outline of a person without being fully able to visually identify the threat, you are taking a huge risk. It is a literal shot in the dark.

This is where having a bright tactical flashlight becomes important. A flashlight allows you to illuminate your threat and potential target, and will help remove uncertainties. It will also temporarily blind the other person, giving you the advantage and maybe even the chance to get away. Running is always preferable to sticking around and exchanging shots.

In an interview, instructor author Kathy Jackson gets an expert Marty Hayes to the question of using laser sights in her article “The Importance of Lasers: An Interview with Marty Hayes” on

“…because what I do is I recommend people simply train with their sights and don’t really train a whole lot specifically with the laser—because you don’t need to! You train with your sights. If the laser happens to be there at the moment of truth, that’s a bonus. Otherwise you just carry on as if the laser wasn’t there. (Read more at

Consider a laser sight to be a tool that can enhance your odds of survival in an emergency. Use it as a training aid and don’t let it become a substitute for basic shooting skills. Batteries can die and unlike the TV remote, you don’t have a couple minutes to change the batteries before carrying on with what you were doing.

Checking Handguns When Flying Is Easier Than You Might Think

13 Mar

If you’ve never flown with a gun, you may feel intimidated by the process. You may be worried about getting into trouble by unwittingly breaking some new law, or you may worry that you gun will be lost or confiscated.  Image

Fortunately, many people fly with handguns in their checked luggage every day with no issues.

Before any trip, it is a good idea to check the TSA (Transportation and Security Administration) website to see if there are any new or updated regulations pertaining to firearms on flights.

It’s also recommended to check with the airline you are flying on to make sure you will be in compliance with their regulations, too.

The TSA sets a base standard for guns on flights, but some airlines have adopted their own rules that can be more stringent.

Flying with a firearm means that you’ll have to check it in a bag. Under no circumstances can you carry the weapon onto the flight, whether it’s loaded or not.

When you check in, you must declare your gun to the airline personnel manning the luggage desk.

Your choice of words here is important. Don’t walk up to the ticket counter and say, “I have a gun,” and plop your bags down. Say something along the lines of, “I’m traveling with a firearm today,” at which point, you’ll need to show the agent the case the weapon is in.

Guns must be in hard cases to be considered eligible checked luggage. Spending money on a good padded case will pay off. If you have any doubts about the sturdiness of your case, just ask yourself if it would stand up to being shipped in the mail.

On an airplane, your firearm will be subjected to just as much abuse or maybe even more than it would if you sent it through the US Mail. Other bags will be stacked on top of it, and the case may even be dropped on the ground. You want to be sure that your case can stand up to this rough treatment.

The gate agent who helps you may not be familiar with firearms regulations on airplanes. If this turns out to be true, you may have to politely request that a manager become involved. Most managers are familiar with their airline’s firearm policy.

If you want some extra peace of mind, it can’t hurt to print off the airline weapons policy directly from their website. This can be presented to the ticket agents just in case they aren’t sure what to do with you and your cargo.

You’ll want to allow for a little extra time if you are flying with a gun, but not much. Author Mark Walters explains this in his article “Tink, Tink, Tink” on

“You do want to give yourself an extra few minutes to account for the possibility that the person behind the counter may not be familiar with their own policy or TSA requirements, but the process is a simple one, and most employees are aware of the procedure. (Read more about handguns on airplanes here)

Finally, you will want to thoroughly research the gun laws of your destination. You need to check and see if the city and state you’ll be landing and staying in has any strict regulations that cover handguns.

Airports you are flying through should also be considered in this research. This is especially true if you must retrieve your checked bags and re-check them with a different airline. At that point, you’ll technically be in possession of your gun and depending on where you are at that time, it may be illegal to have a firearm in your possession.

Flying with any deadly weapon will take some extra planning, but it’s not taboo. Make sure to do your homework, comply with local laws both at your take-off point and your landing point. That way, you can have your concealed carry weapon with you and you won’t be confronted with unexpected surprises. 

Ideal Concealed Carry Holsters

5 Dec

An important factor to consider when choosing a concealed carry firearm is the size and shape of your hand. There are actually many types of hands — some are small with thin fingers and others look like they belong to lumberjacks. This is why it is essential to match your hands to the right handgun.  Image

There is a steady rise in popularity of so called “fist guns” in smaller calibers like the .380 acp.

Unfortunately, these downsized guns won’t work for everyone.

Some people will discover their hands are simply not suited to operating these smaller weapons.

Regardless, these small pocket guns do work great for many people and are especially sought after for their low profile and concealment potential.

Author Bob Pilgrim addresses this concealment versus firepower compromise decision in his article “Rapid Access: How Fast Can You Get Your Concealed Pistol Into Action?” on

“Being habitually armed is challenging and can be physically uncomfortable. Hence we have witnessed the proliferation of small, lightweight, sub-compact handguns in .32 and .380 ACP calibers. Citizens have compromised on stopping power in the interest of being armed, almost always, with minimal discomfort.” (Read more about smaller concealed carry holsters and compatible weapons here)

If you do choose to carry a smaller handgun, there are a wide selection of holsters to pick from.

For active lifestyles, there are gun retention systems called micro undergarment holsters.  Rather than leather or other synthetic materials, these are made of soft cotton, and are designed to ride on the front of your body at about mid chest level.

This type of holster excels at holding the gun securely during activities like running, twisting, and bending over.

Then there are pocket holsters. They come in several different designs. Some are simple leather holsters that hold the gun securely and can be worn inside most pockets. They do a good job of hiding the gun and often look like a wallet. This style can grip the pistol securely but it may require an extra second or two to disengage the gun from the holster.

If this is a concern, there is a variation on the pocket holsters called a “shoot- through” holster. This is a holster that stays on the gun. Think of it like a protective case for a smart phone that protects the phone while allowing it to be used at the same time.

The shoot- through holsters offer trigger protection and gun stability in your pocket. There is no need to worry about separating the gun from the holster; you simply shoot the gun/holster unit as a whole.

 And finally we have what is called a neck holster. These are holsters worn around the neck and carried on the front of the body. They work well with lighter, smaller guns. This style of holster can be prone to moving about and becoming intermittently visible through clothes. Despite this, it is one of the quicker ways to access your gun and the carry location lends itself to concealment as most won’t expect a gun to materialize from this area.

As always, surprise is a desirable advantage with any concealed carry gun/holster combo. The great thing about many of these holster designs is they allow the carrier to get a firm and ready grip on their gun without actually pulling it out into the daylight where it can be detected.

How to Maximize the Brief Window of Opportunity After an Injury

7 Nov

The immediate aftermath of a life-threatening injury leaves a brief and critical window of opportunity.

It may be you or someone else who is shot, stabbed or injured by a blunt object. Image

There may be substantial bleeding, broken bones and other physical damage.

Often the injured person won’t feel any pain for a few minutes afterwards as a result of being so shocked. Take full advantage of this time to assess injuries and stabilize them if necessary because once the adrenaline wears off, they will begin to feel it.

One important note — if at all possible take a quick look at the wound(s) and make a mental note of what it looks like and the damage done. Then proceed with the stabilization. This will be very helpful for the soon-to-arrive medical personnel.

They may not want to undo the gauze or t-shirt you’ve pressed over the wound and if you can tell them roughly what it looks like, you will help them make the best choice when it comes to stabilization and transport of the patient.

They can also call ahead to the ER and let them know what to expect when the injured party arrives. All of this is simple information that can make a huge difference in correct and effective care.

Keeping one’s head through an injury is incredibly important. Your mental state can literally determine whether you live or die if you happen to be the injured party. Rehearse over and over in your head what you will think and do if you are injured. What will you say? Who will you call? Who and what will you think of and do to remain conscious and effective?

Author Alan Rose highlights the importance of the mental aspect of survival in his article “Wounded: First Aid to Survive a Lethal Force Assault” on

“Case in point: A woman heard a negligently fired shotgun blast behind her and passed out; then she stopped breathing. Her pulse rate began to slow. She was dying. The medics could not find any wounds, and neither could the emergency room staff. Finally the doctor began yelling in her ear that she was not injured and would not die. Within a few minutes she awoke, and was discharged home in perfect health. (Read more about proper conduct in a shooting incident here)

These skills and preparations aren’t just for criminal shooting incidents. They are just as applicable to any life-threatening emergencies we might encounter, such as car crashes or hunting accidents.

We won’t always have the advantage of being injured in a major metropolitan area with a world-class ER just minutes away. A hunting accident could disable and kill us hundreds of miles from help. These effect, self-reliant coping skills can become useful at any point in our lives.

Premature Pistol Presentation Problem

10 Oct

We get a concealed weapons permit in the first place to give ourselves a tactical advantage over those who would try to harm us, or those we love.    Image

Part of the intention behind deciding to concealed carry is that nobody knows we are in possession of a deadly weapon. The element of surprise gives us that tactical advantage we are aiming for.

Making use of that advantage comes down to timing. The timing of the presentation of that “surprise” can either escalate or contain a threat.

What every person with a license to carry needs to understand is that getting a pistol out of its holster prematurely can be just as problematic—and dangerous—as failing to draw at the critical moment when it’s needed!

Quite simply, a gun is a killing tool. Not an intimidation or a “wounding” tool. Its sole purpose and design is to take a life.

As such, any display of a firearm in a situation that is anything less than life threatening can be looked at unfavorably, by bystanders and law enforcement alike.

Author Tom Givens illustrates the difference between police and citizen firearm usage in his article “The Concealed Carry Presentation” on

“First, police officers often enter potentially dangerous situations with gun in hand. They are usually, however, responding to a radio call that forewarned them of a hazardous situation. The private citizen, on the other hand, is usually reacting to an immediate threat stimulus from an attacker, quite a different situation.

 “Also, if the cop turns out not to need his gun, he holsters it and that’s the end of it. In many jurisdictions, a permit holder can be in serious trouble for drawing prematurely or if it turns out the situation does not call for lethal force.” (Read Tom’s step by step article on presenting your pistol here.)

There are often environments where the arrival of police is imminent. In these cases having a gun visibly in hand puts the holder, even the “good guy”, in vastly more danger and tags them as a threat. When police arrive on the scene, anyone holding a gun stands a good chance of getting shot.

This is one of the reasons why practicing the art of quickly and efficiently drawing our firearms is incredibly important. Knowing that we can have our gun in hand and aimed within 1 or 2 seconds can help us keep our calm. This prevents a premature draw that escalates the situation, or lands the permit holder in legal hot water.

Re-holstering of our weapon is an equally important skill. There are never any guarantees that a situation is resolved. For all we know, that gun might be needed again in 5 minutes. If so, it must be readily accessible, not sloppily holstered or quickly tucked into our waistband.

Confidence in one’s skills goes far in lending an air of calm and collectedness to situations that are otherwise teetering on the edge of lethal violence. This alone is reason enough to hone our pistol presentation and scene assessment skills to a razors edge.

Concealed Weapons Permit Holders Save Cash with these Tips

20 Sep

It’s a common mistake when first choosing to concealed carry to spend a lot of money on a full rig right away.Image

Many beginning shooters will buy what seems to be the best gear out there, featured on the covers of gun magazines. In the process they can drop substantial sums of money. 

This is often done with the good intention of not buying junk, and simply “biting the bullet” and purchasing good gear from the beginning.

The trouble with this line of reasoning is a new shooter simply doesn’t have enough experience and the hours of practice to make a fully informed decision.

Simply put, you don’t know what you want yet, and the only way to find out what is the best gun and holster for you takes time. Time spent practicing holding, brandishing, dry fire and live firing, and holstering a variety of weapons is always time well spent. Time researching guns and gear online, at shows, and by talking to other people about the firearms, holsters and other accessories they have and prefer helps as well.

Peer information is actually one of the best sources of advice new shooters can tap into. Not to say there is a one-size-fits-all solution out there, but often many folks will like a given gun and holster combo for the same or similar reasons. If those reasons fit you, then that gun and holster combo may be a place to start.

Some of your shooting peers may let you strap on their rig and try a few draws and shots as well.

In these ways we can add to our knowledge and make a better informed decision about what we should purchase for ourselves. It’s all well and good to see a gun in a picture and read about it, but it’s another thing entirely, to actually hold and shoot that gun yourself.

Before cleaning out your savings to buy a brand new gun, consider that others who have been in the game longer might occasionally want to upgrade their gun, or simply get something different.

To fund this change in concealed carry weapons they might sell their old rig at a discounted price. If you can snap up one of these deals, it’s quite likely you’ll find yourself in possession of a nicely mated pistol and holster that while used, are completely functional.

And hopefully there is still money left in your bank account for ammo! This is a critical component to factor into your ccw budget, as pointed out by author Kathy Jackson on in her article “Penny Wise and Pound Foolish: The Smart Skinflint’s Guide to Saving Money on Concealed Carry” which talks about the price of ammunition:

 “No matter how much or how little you spend on your firearm, over its life you will spend far more to feed the gun than you did to buy it. Since filling the magazine will eventually cost more than buying the gun, smart skinflints factor ammunition costs into their purchase plan. That old Makarov might be a great bargain at the gun show, but how much does 9×18 ammunition cost these days, if you can get it at all?” (The full article, filled with tips for saving money on concealed carry can be found here)

Bottom line—when you are first getting your concealed weapons permit, don’t only focus on the immediate cost of your weapon. Layout a budget that you can live with, buy a weapon that you can reasonably afford—and afford to keep loaded.