concealed carry mistakes
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The truth is, as a concealed carry permit holder, you can carry your gun and do everything “right” in response to an attack and still be killed. By the same token, you could do everything wrong and walk away.

Concealed carry is a game of playing the odds. The better prepared you are, the greater your chances of surviving a defensive gun use. Just how much thought and training you put into carrying your guns is up to you. But here are three common concealed carry mistakes that those who carry a firearm for personal defense can and should avoid if at all possible.

1. Not carrying a gun

You’ve no doubt heard it before: the first rule of winning a gunfight is…have a gun. I know plenty of permit holders who only carry some of the time. They pack a gun when they’re going downtown. Or when they’re carrying something valuable. Or when they’re going out with their family.

It’s not up to you when a bad guy attacks. They make that call. And they don’t make appointments. While bump-in-the-night dangerous situations get a lot of attention — and generate lots of shotgun sales — plenty of assaults happen in broad daylight in “safe places.” This is not a lesson concealed carry permit holders want to learn the hard way.

The obvious solution: carry your gun. All day, every day. That’s right, carry it at home, too.

If everyday carry seems like too much of a PITA, chances are you have the wrong carry handgun. Or the wrong holster. The easiest solution to concealed carry hesitance (at least for men): pocket carry a small, thin, light firearm in a pocket holster. No, they’re not ideal for self-defense, but they satisfy the aforementioned first rule of gunfighting.

2. Not practicing your draw

Gun owners tend to focus, naturally enough, on the gun. Why not? Guns are fascinating. Cool. Fun. But when it comes to armed self-defense, your ability to quickly and efficiently present your gun is more important than the type of firearm you carry. Americans defend themselves with guns over 1 million times each year, the great majority of the time without ever pulling the trigger.

Plenty of gun gurus will tell you that the shooter who hits first is the most likely to win. Which makes the speed of presentation of your carry pistol more important than the speed of firing. Think of it this way: the faster you get the gun out, the more time you have to aim and shoot, so the more accurate you’ll be.

First, make sure you have a concealed carry holster that enables a quick draw. There or dozens of quality holsters out there; IWB and OWB, both Kydex and leather, so find one that works well for your carry pistol.

Truth be told, concealed carry is a compromise. But no matter which holster type and gun you carry (even if you usually pocket carry), practice your draw. You can do it any time you like in the privacy of your own home (and you can combine it with dry fire practice, too).

Be sure to ALWAYS unload your carry gun, safety check it and put the ammo outside the room when you practice. Just make sure to do it, and do it often until you develop the muscle memory needed and your draw becomes second-nature.

3. Talking too much to the police after a defensive gun use

If you’re involved in a defensive gun use, law enforcement will pump you for information. How many shots did you fire? Where were you standing? How did you know he was trying to attack you? Did you give a verbal warning?

As you know from watching TV, you have the right to remain silent. Use that right. Remain silent. That said, there is some basic information you should provide.

Before you say anything, say this: “I was in fear for my life.” Get that out there immediately, before you answer any questions or provide any information. “Are you OK?” the will ask. “I was in fear for my life,” you reply. Those seven words will form your defense. Period.

Then tell the police officer your name. Point out any witnesses or evidence they might miss. Describe any attacker(s) that may have fled. Other than that, say only, “I’ll be glad to provide a full statement after I speak to my lawyer. I want to speak to my lawyer.” Then say nothing else.

Again, there’s a whole lot you can do to prepare for an armed confrontation, from adjusting your level of situational awareness to getting proper training and learning to shoot and move effectively. But if you avoid these three common mistakes, you’ll dramatically increase your odds of survival, before, during and after a defensive gun use.

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    • They only drop a theme if we quit responding. Since you’re responding they will continue. I felt that ElaineD was a detriment to this site. So I do not respond to any of her posts. Enough folks do that and the theme goes away.

      • How to teach:

        1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them
        2. Tell them
        3. Tell them what you told them

        • Preachers practice repetition every week: 1. They tell you what they are going to preach, 2. They preach it,
          3. They tell you what they just preached. Nothing new about repetition!
          Repetition may be boring and dry to some, but it is a method by which one learns. The young and brilliant may learn from one exposure, but some older and less intelligent folk may need exposure more than once. I don’t think one can get too much training or be too safe………

    • And exactly who is “staff writer” and what is their CV? I wouldn’t take a combat pistol class from someone without a CIB.

    • How about as many as it takes to remind everyone of what to do after they’ve protected themselves from the bad guy to protect themselves from the state workers?

      If you have a better more interesting or pressing topic, why don’t you write an essay about it and submit to the management? We’d all be thrilled to hear it.

      Other wise you might ask how many times we have to remind ourselves of our willingness to stand up to the state’s threats of taking away our rights. Or the first and really only rule of guns is a gun is always loaded. Treat like it is and you’re less likely to do unwanted damage.

      • Well said Jake. Not only that, no one is forcing you to read the article. I’m new to the site and found it informative.

    • Just as with repeating of the physical motions of drawing and shooting …practicing the rules of a gun fight should always repeated until they
      are known and done without thinking. There are always newbies joining the firing line daily. They can’t put this out often enough.

    • The original concept of a blog was to post something when you had something to say. As blogs replaced newspapers and magazines they had to fill space on a daily basis. When there isn’t enough new material to support a daily publication you have to post filler. There is staff to pay.

  1. Chris, it can’t be said too often. Besides, just because you’ve read it before doesn’t mean everyone has.

  2. Muscles do not have memory. If that were the case you could disconnect your brain and your heart would continue to beat. You train your brain not your muscles.

    • Joe, I agree with what you said. However, you’re splitting hairs. Everyone knows what “muscle memory” means. You accomplish a task without consciously thinking about it. Like when I wipe the safety off and on on a 1911. Done it so many times it’s hardwired into me.

    • Joe in NC,

      And yet chickens are able to run around the yard — a complex muscular feat which is impossible without a brain according to your claims — after you cut off their head and remove their brain.

      There is some level of function that happens between muscles and the nervous system without the brain being involved. There is also some level of function that happens at a nearly unconscious level. Both phenomena are what we encapsulate in the term “muscle memory”.

      • I cleaned a snapping turtle and it’s heart was beating in my hand, told a river rat friend about it an he said he had one in a jar of water that beat for 3 days( he drinks a lot of whiskey tho) but I believe it. What was that guillotine thing where a guy slapped a head and the guys eyes opened, fck Dat

    • So you have to THINK to sign your name? Do your lips move when you read? Do YOU have to think to walk down the sidewalk, or eat your meal? There are literally thousands of actions that you make every day that are not from conscious thought, like breathing and heartbeat. Muscle memory is what makes good athletes into great ones. The QB doesn’t THINK about throwing the ball, he KNOWS what he wants to do and his muscles do it, otherwise he’s too slow and gets hammered.
      You might want to re-think your reaction and practice, practice, practice.

    • Joe, as a medical doctor I regret to inform you that your heart does continue to beat even when you are brain-dead.

      I will say again what I said in response to previous iterations of this article.
      It is very difficult to find a range that allows drawing from the holster from concealment.
      The only range that allows it in South Florida that I am aware of is Revere Range in Pompano, FL.
      Otherwise you have to shoot on private property out in the country if you want to practice live fire drawing from a holster.

  3. I continue to laugh at the photos. So many gun advertisements, articles, etc. use photos that depict either unsafe or inaccurate handling and holding. The guy in the photo on this article is going to get a nasty slide bite with his revolver style left thumb over wrist grip on that semi-automatic. Scandalous.

  4. I would say crossing state lines, entering a post office, or forgetting about duty to inform (if req’d by state) are pretty big ones, as well.

    • Good point. I almost ran into an issue where my state changed a few days before I happened to get pulled over. I wasn’t carrying, so informing the officer was the last thing on my mind. Thankfully he was super nice.

      Be sure to stay updated.

    • How in the world will anyone know if you are carrying concealed unless your handgun is printing under your clothes or you open your yap regarding same?

      • Right. I carry in the post office daily. The only way they are going to know I have a gun is if I reveal it and use it.

  5. #1 can’t be emphasized enough. The right gun is whichever one you’re most likely to carry everyday without exception. Don’t cave in to “caliber shaming”. If a Ruger LCP is the one gun you feel comfortable carrying and shooting, then that’s the one you carry.

    • Here are some caliber truths. The 22LR, 22 Magnum, 25ACP and 32ACP are all WORTHLESS as self defense rounds. They all FAIL TO STOP THE LETHAL THREAT PRONTO! Under your logic, one should carry a BB pistol if you are likely to carry same.

      • CK, not true. In 99.9 percent of all dgu’s the attacker desists on the presentation of the gun. No shots are fired, so the caliber is immaterial.

        • That’s just idiotic. If that were true, carry a toy pistol. Most people couldn’t tell the difference – cops sure as hell can’t – they’ll shoot you.

          Also, what do you do for the .01 chance you need to actually shoot (not that your stat is true in the first place)?

          You’re simply trolling here.

      • Disagree. They are not “worthless”. They are less likely to stop an attacker than a more powerful weapon, but they do work a significant amount of the times they are employed. That is also a fact.

        I personally carry a .380 ACP, but I have a S&W Model 41 match pistol in 22LR. It’s too big to carry, but I can put a ten round magazine in a golf ball sized group at seven yards with that thing, without even trying. I’ll tell you what, if I were in a hypothetical DGU and I had that handy with CCI Stingers, I would feel extremely confident of stopping an attacker.

        I have a good friend who shoots very well with a .22, but anything bigger and she gets rattled by noise and recoil to the point of hardly being able to hit anything. For her I would recommend a .22 and lots of range time to give her the confidence to get consistent face shots. For her, that’s doable…and then she will have a credible defense.

        • Have you ever put ten rounds into a golf ball sized target at 7 yards while under stress? Real combat level stress? Against a moving target?

          Didn’t think so.

          Bullet placement is not a substitute for adequate caliber because bullet placement is subject to combat stress. Even well-trained soldiers miss frequently in combat and certainly less well trained police officers do frequently. Expect to miss fifty percent or more of your shots, perhaps as high as seventy-five percent – which means only 3-5 of your ten .22 bullets will hit the target – somewhere on his body, probably not his head.

          Will that be enough to actually STOP him from shooting you? That’s a toss up even with 9mm and .45 calibers, let alone a .22.

        • I’m confident that if I can hit a golf ball at seven yards at the range with my .22, I can hit a human face at seven yards in the stress of a DGU.

          I have not been in combat but I did serve in the infantry. I can tell you that experienced soldiers often miss in combat not only because of the stress of being shot at, but even more so, because of the incredible physical exertion that accompanies infantry combat situations; I got a good taste of this in training exercises. Yep, definitely harder to shoot accurately while sweating your balls off and breathing like I just ran a marathon after running/jumping/crawling up a hill with a helmet, and LBE. I don’t expect to have to deal with that particular factor in a civilian DGU scenario, which typically begin and end in the space of a couple minutes or even seconds.

          As to cops, their training varies enormously from one department to another. I have a neighbor who is a deputy sheriff and what he told me about my county cops level of proficiency and training was truly scary. Unless it’s a specialized SWAT team, if you’re talking about rank and file beat cops or patrolmen, many barely train at all; being a cop day-to-day involves a lot of other tasks and responsibilities outside of firearms training. The overwhelming majority will go their whole careers without ever drawing and firing on someone for real. That’s why we hear about so many cases where cops fire several mags worth of rounds and barely get any hits. A dedicated private citizen firearms owner who practices regularly likely is more proficient than a very large proportion of uniformed LEOs.

          As to my friend, ideally, she could handle something bigger, but like a lot of people, that is unlikely. Bottom line is that she’s got a better chance with a .22 she can shoot with confidence, than a larger gun she can’t hit the broadside of a barn with even at the range, let alone under “two way live fire” stress.

      • Well, I was thinking that everyone would use a modicum of common sense when reading my post, but I guess not.

        For what it’s worth, I was commenting more on the physical size of the gun, not the caliber it fired. I figured it was a moot point since there are very few modern carry guns chambered in .22, .25, and .32. The smallest caliber a person who is new to CCW is likely to pick would be .380.

  6. A comment on the article. Point #1 is self evident and needs no elaboration. Point #2. Do not skimp on your support gear. When I taught CCW classes there was always someone with a very high quality handgun in a POS, nylon, one-size-fits-all holster. Good gear is expensive. Get used to it. Dry firing isn’t. Do it. I had a student once that couldn’t hit a Pepper Popper at seven yards if his name was Pepper Popper. No trigger control. Draw, aim, jerk. I stood the rest of the class down. Had him dry fire his Sig over and over and over. Understand, this guy looked like he was born on a weight bench. He was hating every minute of this and I think he believed I was trying to humiliate him. After a while I told him to load up. Timer beeps. Draw. Presentation. Bang! Hit. Repeat. Same results. Over and over. Me, “I know you didn’t like me having you dry fire, but do you now understand why I made you do it?” Him, smiling, “Yeah.” Me, “I’ve been doing this a long time. I might know what I’m talking about.” Point #3. Keep your mouth shut! You are going to want to explain yourself. It’s natural. This is what you say. “Officer, I want to cooperate with your investigation. However, I decline to answer any questions, or make any statements, until I have spoken with an attorney.” When I was working our policy and procedure manuel gave us 72 hours and an attorney before making a statement following an officer involved shooting. Why shouldn’t a citizen involved in a DGU have the same privilege? Bottom line. Good article. Should be reprinted on a regular basis.

    • Nope, that is NOT what you say. You should state your name and point out any and all witnesses along with any evidence the suspect might have tossed. You should also ask for an aid car to respond to check you out for any injuries even if you don’t feel injured. THEN you ask for a lawyer.

      • Worked a lot of shootings have you Clark? Of course, you give your name. An ambulance (aid car?) Will be automatically be dispatched when the call comes in and will examine all parties once L.E.O. secures the scene. I never needed to have witnesses pointed out to me. After all, they were standing right there. Same thing with physical evidence. “Officer, I want to cooperate with your investigation. However, I decline to answer any questions, or make any statements, until I have spoken with an attorney.” That IS what you say. Unless you’re a moron.

  7. Good article and I agree. I can’t holster practice at the ranges around here but do such at home with a Laserlyte training cartridge in the pistol. I also practice shooting two handed and strong hand only with occasional practice weak hand only.

    I find when I want maximum all day comfort my Walther PPS in a single clip kydex holster IWB does the job nicely for me. If I want more rounds I CCW my Glock 19 in same type holster. Beltman leather belt for holster support.

  8. So far I’m doing it right then. I carry and I have practiced my draw until I’m blue in the face. That’s the beauty of appendix carry, it’s fast, real fast and with practice, lightning fast. That instills a lot of confidence that should I be forced into a defensive gun use, I have a greater margin of safety. With formal training, years of shooting, (40+ years) I carry a quality firearm and ammo , I feel that (yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil) Well, pretty close anyway. You still use good judgement.

    As far as talking to cops, they are to be told very VERY little. Cops themselves don’t say much in a DFGU, and they have far more layers of protection than we do. Why on god green earth would anyone say anything other than I had fear for my safety, THEN STFU. Cops are EXCELLENT at getting people to talk. They can lie to us but we can’t lie to them. Resist the urge to explain away at the time. If they threaten you with “going to jail” fine, but that little stay in jail could mean all the difference in the world in avoiding charges and a possible conviction.

      • How it’s done? What’s your issue? Everything I said is 100% valid and endorsed by every competent trial lawyer…at last as far as not talking to cops that is.
        Go away now.

      • Cops do NOT know how it’s done.

        Trial lawyers do.

        Are YOU a trial lawyer?

        Then put up or shut up.

        See how trolling really works?

  9. “3. Talking too much to the police after a defensive gun use”

    Hell, I’m not sure you should ever talk to the po-po — at any time.

  10. Thank goodness I almost always carry openly so none of this applies to me. SMH

    Let’s just focus on privileged carry instead of the unalienable individual right to carry; concealed or openly.

    More division, TTAG?


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