I was invincible until my baby-giraffe-like athleticism smacked me down like a club to a baby seal. About a month ago, I broke my wrist on my dominant hand. Stuck with a thumb-spike cast that covered my thumb and forearm, I’ve met unexpected challenges in everyday life.
Thankfully, I still had range of motion in four of five fingers, allowing weak but useful gripping ability with my dominant hand. However, writing with my left hand, opening water bottles, carrying items, showering, and getting dressed all take more time and careful execution. I nearly ripped a favorite t-shirt to shreds on the rough fiberglass cast, and my signature was a generic smudge.
The minor inconveniences, while annoying, do not concern me. The real threat is my limited ability to execute emergency skills such as pulling a knife to cut a seatbelt in a vehicle accident or drawing and firing a pistol with my weak hand. I’ve had to revisit years of practice and habits to safely open a pocket knife, and cutting up a piece of steak was a danger to everyone in the dining room. While the injury was unexpected, it occurred in a benign setting with other people available to help.
Imagine an injury to your dominant hand that renders it useless at a critical moment. Your most useful appendage (outside of the bedroom) is no longer available as you try to fend off an attacker, escape a burning structure, or pull your child out of harm’s way. Below are some lessons I learned through my specific injury, but apply them to how you function in everyday situations.
If you normally carry your knife in a specific pocket, continue to do so. Practice drawing it with your off hand, slowly at first, until you can safely open and close the blade. Do the same with your flashlight, firearm, phone, wallet, etc. Ensure that you can reach and positively extract every item. If you find a better method of carrying EDC items that allows either hand to reach them, consider permanently adopting that setup. When you unexpectedly lose function of your weak hand, you’ll still be able to grab your EDC gear.
I also found that clothing helps keep gear accessible. My favorite general-purpose pants, 5.11 TacLites, previously allowed me to carry an ALICE pack worth of gear, to include a G19 in the cargo pocket inside a wide pocket holster. All kitted up for a romantic afternoon trip to the mall, my wife said I looked like a homeless man stashing food for winter. I found that 5.11’s Ridgeline series offered more pockets up near the belt line, allowing me to carry the bare essentials and keep it all within reach of my left hand. Less oompa-loompa AND more cripple-friendly!
EDC knife selection
I’ve found that my favorite EDC knife of all-time, the Benchmade 530 Pardue, was a terrible weak-hand knife. The Axis lock catch was too small and precise for weak-hand manipulation, and the slick handle scales did not allow enough a secure grip. My monkey brain is slow to adapt; the synapses are firing, but my fingers aren’t doing the same thing my right hand executed well for decades.
A Spyderco Endura with the Wave feature and aggressive grip texture was far easier to manipulate and control, but the four-inch blade was too long to safely deploy and the Wave feature was unpredictable at that awkward angle. It placed the tip of the blade against my right thigh as it opened, an obvious safety concern. I purchased a non-Wave Spyderco Delica, the three-inch version of the Endura, and it’s perfect. The Spyderco lock back and thumbhole are easier and safer to manipulate, the blade length is useful and controllable, and the aggressive texturing allows a solid purchase.
Concealed handgun employment
I’m currently traveling abroad, so I don’t have access to my normal selection of concealed pistols. In Korea I purchased a cheap “GLOCK 36” airsoft pistol that’s actually closer in size to a G42. It serves as an excellent training device, allowing me to practice my draw, presentation, and dry-fire. It mimics my standard EDC pistol at home, a G43, but is also generic enough in its manual of arms to re-learn the basics: charging a mag, manipulating the slide, malfunction drills (the cast serves as a perfect surface to knock a stove-piped cartridge out of the top of the ejection port), and sight picture.
Prior to the injury, dedicated practice with my EDC pistol would involve one-hand drills with at least two mags for each hand. I was confident in using only my right hand in a violent encounter; I was marginal at best with my left. Life just handed me an opportunity to learn new skills.
When I return home, still in a cast, I intend to start with a Ruger SR22. The negligible recoil and light recoil spring will pave the way to solid habit patterns. From there, I’ll graduate to a Browning 1911-380, G43, etc. Stepping it up in recoil gradually, while practicing various actions (DA/SA, SA, striker-fired, etc.) should produce decent confidence in my ability to defend myself and my family.
I don’t know yet which pistol will be my temporary EDC, but likely a medium-sized 380 such as a 1911-380 compact or Bersa Thunder with my favorite 380 carry load, Inceptor ARX.
A note on revolvers: I love the idea of a revolver, with five to seven rounds of potent ballistics, brain dead simplicity, less concern about malfunctions, etc. I’ve tried — good grief, I’ve tried — to become proficient with all size and shape of revolvers: I’ve purchased, carried, and trained with a S&W 642, Ruger SP101 (two-inch and three-inch), Ruger LCR, and even a Ruger Single-Ten and Ruger Vaquero 5-1/2 inches. The long, yet smooth, DA trigger was predictable and controllable in slow fire.
However, speeding up the pace or firing one-handed was laughable. Single action models, though fun to shoot, were cumbersome to conceal and far slower to employ one-handed. As much as I wanted a revolver to work for me, especially that there-inch SP101 with a bobbed hammer, I couldn’t accept the decrease in hits on target at speed compared to my G43 or P2000/LEM. With weak-hand shooting my only option for a while, I don’t see myself carrying a revolver. It’s a shame, because an LCR would be a perfect companion.
I’m hesitant to drop cash on a left-hand IWB holster to mirror my standard carry method when I’ll only have the cast for a few more weeks. Most pocket holsters are ambidextrous, though they won’t hold a Bersa Thunder in my clothing. A shirt holster with pockets on both sides may be an option. I’m open to suggestions—go, TTAG devotees, go!
Prior to the injury, I carried my flashlight clipped inside my left pocket. I was accustomed to drawing and pointing it with my left hand, so I continued to carry the O-Light S10R or StreamLight 1AA Dual Fuel.
TTAG Armed Intelligentsia, I ask for your lessons learned in dealing with all manner of injuries and specific suggestions on my experience. Thanks!