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It’s been a weird holiday. First one without my dad around, which has affected me more deeply and profoundly than I ever would have expected. First one with my life in this much chaos. And first one that I’ve been resolutely carrying concealed as much and as often as possible. And the mechanics, strategies, and tactics for getting my gun accessible brought to mind one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite movies of all time, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead . . .

The Player: We’re more of the love, blood, and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can’t give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They’re all blood, you see.

Guildenstern: Is that what people want?

The Player: It’s what we do.

You see, when I carry, I have the peace-of-mind thing nailed. I know, carrying a concealed weapon, that I’ve covered the bases as far as being prepared (as much as one individual can be) for the bad stuff that can happen to good people. I also have the safety thing down. I’ve trained myself to be consciously competent regarding gun safety. And then there’s the anxiety thing…conceal carrying (especially outside your home state) is a challenge. I’m in a constant state of apprehension, as I don’t want to do ANYthing that violates a law, and risk getting my CHL pulled. THAT would be a bad thing.

Case in point, my New Year’s Day Night. (Sidebar…my daughter is brilliant. As a young child, she’d coin words all the time, many of them incredibly useful. For instance, one day she was talking about something that had happened the previous evening, and she said, “Well, Daddy, yesternight I said…” I stopped dead in my tracks. Yesternight? Then I thought, “I wonder why that’s not a word? We have ‘yesterday’…why not yesternight?” So I think we need a word for ‘New Year’s Day Night.’ I’ll get her working on that, pronto.)

I had a gig scheduled with my band, Agents Provocateurs, that evening, at a local watering hole. Like many clubs, this place has been through a number of name changes over the years, and along with it, a number of changes in the types of bands they book and the types of people they attract.But one thing has been consistent over the years – alcohol + people who drink (a lot) eventually = trouble of some kind or another. And I’m not a fan of trouble.

I’ve learned, over the years, that the best place to be when trouble starts is…somewhere else. So a bar would be the first place I’d want to be concealing my handgun. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s the one place that I CAN’T carry, at least in Louisiana. That leaves me with relying on the heavy prayer method of self defense.

Now, I’m a Christian and proud of it. I believe in prayer. But I also believe in the words of one B. Franklin, who opined that the Lord helps he who helps himself. To me, that means either keep your Alice B. Tookas outta harm’s way, or do a bit to even the odds and level the playing field so that the Lord Almighty doesn’t have to work a miracle to keep yo’ wuthless ass alive. In short, I’m thinking that intentionally putting myself in a potentially dangerous situation and relying only on prayer is the equivalent of relying on the rhythm method for birth control. (Planned Parenthood has a name for those who rely on the rhythm method to prevent pregnancy. They call them “parents.”)

Actually, it’s not the inside of the club I worry about. (As much.) It’s more getting from the club to my car with my gear. Nothing says “jack me up while I’m defenseless” like some guy in an alley, late at night, with both arms full of expensive musical equipment. One solution – keep the gun in the car. That would be marginally workable, except I drive a soft-top Jeep Wrangler, a vehicle synonymous with “lack of lockable storage.” And if you’re gun is locked up (as we’ve pointed out here on TTAG so often), it’s not readily accesible. And in a mugging situation, “not readily accesible” = “might as well not have it.” Sigh…

So I ended up trusting to the the rhythm method…um…the duck and pray method to get me home without harm. Ugh. But since New Year’s is a time when we turn our minds to thinking about the past and planning ahead, I’ve come up with my own list of resolutions that pertain to my personal defense initiatives. I’m sharing them here, to spur discussion amongst yourselves, as well as to get some feedback to see if I’m missing anything.

  1. Lose weight. Love handles are a serious impediment to concealing a handgun on your person. And I’m figuring an additional dividend to losing weight might be to find some comely lass to be a range partner, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
  2. Get to the range more often. There’s just no substitution for keeping your skills up.
  3. Join an outdoor range. This will let me train in other situations that don’t have the same kind of restrictions that indoor ranges have.
  4. Join IDPA or IPSEC. Their training/practices aren’t a perfect solution, but they are far more real-world than just standing there, shooting at stationary targets.
  5. Buy a .22LR pistol. While a .22 just doesn’t duplicate the recoil you experience with a .45 (duh!), it does allow you to shoot lots and lots of rounds without a trip to the poorhouse. And it’s fun.
  6. Buy more ammo. Guns are useless without ammo. And if you’re gonna keep your skills up, it’s best not to be caught without, if supplies tighten up again. Which they will. Eventually. It’s inevitable.
  7. Invest in a reloader. I’ve resisted this so far, but I think it’s time. Either that, or find someone who’s selling reloads. Even with a .22, I’ve got to run some practice ammo through my conceal carry gun, and it’s getting way too pricey to shoot factory loads.
  8. Invest in a variety of carry options. More on this later, but the short version is I’ve determined that there is no one-solution-fits-all-situations for carrying.
  9. Buy more guns. I’ve also determined that sub-optimal situations call for alternatives to my main carry gun.
  10. Relax. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not trying to get you. Sometimes they are. But most of the time, you’re just being paranoid. Stop it. The whole point of conceal carry is to NOT live your life in a state of fear. If carrying’s gonna make you paranoid about it, you’ve already lost.

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  1. I’m a firm believe in the Power of God to save us.

    I’m also a firm believer in that old saying: “Pray to God . . . but SWIM for SHORE!”

    A slight correction if I may: If they ARE “out get you”… You’re NOT paranoid.
    You’re “situationally AWARE”. (I’m sorry, what were you saying about your daughter making up words?)

    Your list of “resolutions” are really good.
    For your “gig protection needs”, you may want to invest in an ASP collapsible baton.
    It’s small, light, and can even be carried in your hand as you move equipment. (Or on your belt for that matter, depending on what you feel the “threat level” to be.)

    For reloading, might I suggest RCBS for single stage loading, and Dillon for progressive reloading.
    I also recommend not to “save money on powder” by using powders like Bullseye (For clarity: DO NOT USE BULLEYE as a new reloader); instead use a powder that fills the cases to the point that a “double charge” will OVERFLOW the case. (This gives a “visual” and not only helps prevent careless double-charges, it helps reduce hang-fires as well.)

    For “protection rounds” I always weigh EACH powder charge to assure consistency.
    (The scariest sound in the world isn’t the trumpet of an enraged elephant, or the growl of an angry lion . . . it’s a “CLICK!” when you’re expecting a “BOOM!”)

  2. The legal implications of using reloads as a carry round are just plain scary. I can hear the prosecutor / plaintiff’s attorney now: “The factory rounds weren’t deadly enough for you? Just had to make your own huh?”

    I see people carrying guns with skulls and other spooky looking stuff on them. It would not be too hard to make these people look like Paul Kersey.

    Just a thought..

    • While I’ve never heard of any prosecutor making such a case or issue; the possibility is certainly there. (Like the old joke says: “They stopped using rats for lab research and started using lawyers. Why? 3 reasons: 1) they breed faster 2) they’re less likable and 3) there are some things a rat just won’t do.)

      As for the skulls, etc that is why names like “Trooper”, “Detective”, “Judge”, “Chief” are so common on firearms.
      While “The Terminator” isn’t seen a lot too much anymore, is it?

      Good comment.

  3. I completely agree about graphics on a gun.

    I have never read about problems using reloads for carry, but I work in hi volume manufacturing and I believe factory ammo from a top tier supplier would have better reliability than any handloader. Their equipment costs many times what a house would. I cannot remember the last time I saw factory cartrige in a functional gun go click, except for bargin 22lr. practice with reloads, carry factory that has proven reliable in your weapon.

    • There is no “magic” involved in producing ammo.
      It’s simply a matter of combining: casing, powder charge, primer and projectile. How conscientiously and consistently those components are assembled is what makes the difference.

      Because you “work in hi volume manufacturing”, you of all people, should see the fallacy of your position.

      A handloader, who is REALLY serious about consistency, reliability and accuracy can: measure length, wall thickness, primer pockets and weigh of EACH shell case, weigh EACH primer, weigh EACH powder charge for perfect consistency, weigh and measure EACH bullet for uniformity and “true”.

      While the “equipment costs many times what a house would”; can the “top tier supplier” AFFORD to follow the same loading regimen?
      Of course not.
      So what all do the “top tier supplier” have, other than shear volume, that the handloaders doesn’t?

  4. Your daughter has a classical mind. I was certain I’d read ‘yesternight’ somewhere, so I looked it up. It is an archaic usage from Middle English and is related to the more common ‘yesteryear’ and, of course, ‘yesterday.’

    It’s also the name of a song by a Finnish band called Skyward (whom I’ve never heard of before).

  5. If you decide to reload, get a Dillon progressive press. Single stage presses are basically worthless for producing enought pistol rounds to practice with. I use my father’s Dillon 650 with the brass feeder. You can easily run 500 rounds an hour. When you sit down once in a great while to run up 2000 rounds (cause that’s how big the free shipping box of bullets from Midway USA is) you need that kind of speed. Besides, no matter how badly your screw something up, nor how stupid the questions you ask them, the Dillon phone support people are unfailingly polite. And they solve your problem. Please don’t ask me how I know this.


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