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January ended with more paperwork completed for my Texas CHL (Concealed Handgun License). But, truth be told, I’ve taken few practical steps towards my goal of armed self-defense. The longest journey starts with a single bullet; I’ve fired my fair share in the run-up to the mandatory instruction needed to perform my obligatory Wally walk (walking through Wal-Mart whilst carrying concealed). I’ve discovered that I don’t know what I don’t know, but I know that I don’t know a lot. You know? Well you probably do. As for me . . .

State Required CHL Class

First, I rescheduled for a family event. Then the instructor rescheduled for a family event. And then we rescheduled one more time for an unspecified reason. Nothing new to report other than the people at Amerishield are really easy to work with. I have no idea what their class is like, but the customer service has been amazing up to this point: patient and understanding  with just the right amount of kick-ass underneath.

Skills Training

Karl Rehn from KR Training has been unbelievably generous sharing his expertise via email during the evenings. Between Karl and RF, I’m reminded almost daily that this will be a never-ending quest for perfection. Just about the time that I think I understand something, I get a harsh dose of reality. And because I’m a glutton for punishment, here is some video from my last trip to the range. Feel free to pick apart form and technique. RF has already busted me on standing and shooting instead of moving and shooting. Please pardon the vertical iPhone footage. My GoPro battery had already given up for the day.

I’ll be attending Karl’s Defensive Pistol class on February 18th. To say I’m stoked would be like saying Miranda Kerr is a MILF. I’ll be running a M&P 9mm from Smith & Wesson’s T&A—I mean T&E department. Karl is spotting me a holster. We’re meeting up afterwards to cover some basics about gun selection, holster selection, strategy, techniques, etc. I’ll blog the KR training classes in my next update.

Places to train

Austin has this really nice set of indoor ranges that are open until 9:00pm. In an ideal world, I get practice there once a week. In the real world, it’ll be every other week, and sometimes every three weeks. Last weekend, I made the LONG trip up to Best of the West. For $16, I got my own private bay for a few hours to do whatever I wanted. Full mag dumps? Sure! Holster draws? You bet. Rapid fire? All day long! Want to practice shooting out of your vehicle? Go nuts!

Liberation! The first to say that the 100 or so rounds of .45 ACP that I sent down range were the most productive I’ve shot in the last year. There is simply no replacement for being able to get creative at the range (safely). With and without sunglasses, one-hand, off-hand, it’s all good. I’m lucky enough to live within a reasonable distance of some really stellar ranges. I wish the same for you.

Gun Selection:

I’m in a bit of a quagmire when it comes to gun selection. This may cause some debate, but the 1911 is out. During the holster draw exercises, I inadvertently clicked the safety on twice. I am completely positive that I could work out the kinks with enough practice. I could feel confident carrying the 1911. One day, I might be to that point. Right now, I want something deadnuts reliable in the “point and shoot” department. T minus 10 minutes until Ralph inserts a subtle nudge that I might want to look at S&W’s line of fine revolvers.

RF talked about the whole “don’t get married, just play the field” deal. And then we applied it to firearms (click here to read his post on the topic). At the moment, the Gen4 Glock, M&P, and XD(m) in a calibers TBD are on the table. I’ve looked at the SIGs and I’m warming up.


I’m keeping the faith. Having to keep reschedule my CHL class is definitely a setback, but I feel positive about my roster of gun gurus, including, of course, TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia.

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    • Best of the West. The link in the article should work. Let me know if it doesn’t. It isn’t really in Austin proper, but about 30 minutes northwest of town.

      • Thanks, I misread that you went to a different one in Austin.

        Thanks for the tip on the range. I’m going to have to try it out, looks good.

  1. As far as gun selections go, don’t forget about the tried and true revolvers. You cannot go wrong with something in .357 with a 4 inch barrel.

  2. The horrible grip in the first photo may be the cause of your issues with safety engagement. The thumb should ride on top of the safety, holding it down, while pointing in line with the bore.

    Also, you should be in the habit of scanning for more targets before holstering; instead of draw/shoot/holster, it should be draw/shoot/low-ready-and-scan/holster.

    • +1. Get your thumb up on the safety.

      I’m not so keen on the perfunctory “scan” many self defense instructors teach. People just glaze over and point their guns slightly to the left, and slightly to the right. A proper scan would break the 180, and not be allowed at any range. Rather than indulging in a little bit of useless movement, go to low ready and say out loud, “Where’s the wingman?” Robbery teams – the ones that aren’t dumb – will often send one member (or more) in ahead to pose as a customer. They keep watch for trouble while the other(s) stick up the register. So while you are shooting it out, there’s a guy on your 6… Actually, this is something you should think about before you even clear leather. And take into account when getting seated in any public place. But saying out loud to yourself “Where’s the wingman?” after firing your shots, you get yourself trained to think about that in the immediate aftermath too. In a real situation, you’ll do what’s necessary to answer that question, which is perform a 360 scan, something you can’t do on the range.

  3. Something to remember. If, God forbid, you end up using your firearm to defend yourself. The police are going to take it. Pick a gun that can be easily replaced, or better yet, one you can afford to buy two of. If you’ve had to defend yourself once, it’s not a stretch that you might have to do it again before the police give you your gun back.

    • Sadly, this is an important issue to me.
      My P9s target .45 is by far the most accurate pistol that I have ever fired and it is somewhat rare so I only take it to the range.
      My CCW pistols are utterly reliable and easily replaceable. They’re not above keeping the “good stuff”. (been there)

    • Absolutely agree. You will lose your Wilson Combat 1911 or similar big buck pistol for months or even longer. Go with a utility grade pistol for a few hundred dollars max. Plenty of good choices out there for 500 dollars or so.

      • As they say in motorcycles, “Cheap helmet, cheap head”. Would I consider the loss of a $3000 Wilson a good trade for my life? Absolutely. (Of course you can get an all-forged Dan Wesson for half of that, and a SR1911 for half of that.) But if you can afford to buy it in the first place, you can afford to carry it.

  4. From the video it appears that you are tilting your muzzle and lasering yourself whenever you reholster your pistol. If you can, try to keep it vertical as you reholster to reduce the chance of putting a hole in your butt.

    • As I had suggested in a previous post. Bring the gun back such that the inside of your write touches your body. When the wrist passes your 3 o’clock, transition muzzle down, wrist still touching body, and given enough reps, the muzzle should just slide into the holster. Without risk of putting a round into your hips. No looking either. It’s just there.

  5. I’ve discovered that I don’t know what I don’t know, but I know that I don’t know a lot. You know? Well you probably do.

    Yeah, I do. Florida requires a 4 hour course to get a CWFL. I’m on the fence about the “requiring a training course” debate, but my state requires it, so I took it.

    My course was an absolute joke. A half dozen rounds downrange, and then 3 hours of videos. One of the videos was over an hour long, and the content was 95% what I called a “why guns are good” video. It was a video for my mom, explaining why self-defense was necessary, and why owning a gun could help you, with acted-out scenarios like pretty girl finds intruder in her house… without gun, she ends up raped and murdered, with gun, goblin runs away or gets dead. One quarter of my four hour course spent on a video that offered absolutely nothing of value towards my goal of getting a CWFL. I’m in a class to get a carry permit, so watching a video that tries to convince me to own a gun is the ultimate waste of time.

    My point is, I honestly think I walked out of my CWFL course with no more knowledge about all that goes with carrying than I walked in with. The questions I already had remained unanswered, and now I had more questions on top.

    There was really no way to know that the class was going to be a bad/useless waste of time going in. I don’t have any local friends with permits, so I had no one to ask. I took the class at my most-commonly used local gun shop; the guys there are friendly, helpful, and seem to know their stuff, so I assumed the class would carry on in that vein. Not so much.

    It’s been a few months, and I’ve learned a lot, but my quest for knowledge continues

  6. Anyone have some constructive advice as to preferred carry condition? As most 1911’s (if not all) are single action, I would feel a bit uncomfortable with it, or any pistol for that matter, in condition one. My thought is a pistol with a decocking function and easy double action first shot capability might be best (condition two). What are your thoughts or experiences?

    • Edit: I’m sorry, I mis-read your first sentence. I thought you were requesting other pistol options.

      IMHO if you want to stay close to the styling of the 1911 with the modern conveniences then I would suggest a Sig Sauer P220 Carry. For my buck it’s as close as you can get to a modern 1911.

      If you are trying for something other than a single stack .45 semi-auto pistol. Then there really are too many good carry guns to recommend one over another.

    • I recently acquired a Sig P232 which fits your description and I’m hoping it works well for my carry gun. Waiting on a WKM slim line holster from Mitch Rosen right now. It’s a great shooting gun. I think it’s a bit larger than my lifestyle might support for a concealed gun, but that could just be because I’m not used to concealing one so religiously like is required in Texas. Most people never see my Beretta M9 when I’m with the Marines, but I like to tuck in my shirt in civilian clothing.

      • If you like the Beretta M9 there is a slightly smaller version I carry as my concealed weapon. The 92FS Compact L (or M) model is about three quarters of an inch shorter at the barrel and two rounds shorter in the handle (The M model is a single stack and only holds eight rounds).

        It’s marginally smaller but enough to make it work.

        • I am not wedded to the Beretta. I just have one because it’s similar to my military model and I take the “militia” concept seriously enough that I feel it’s important to keep military style weapons just in case the Soviets come at us.

          But I like your suggestion. I’ll have to keep it in mind for next time I have money to buy a firearm.

    • The 1911 was meant to be carried in condition one. Hammer back, one in the pipe and safety on. I carry mine in this manner as that is how I learned from my dad (Msgt. 82nd Airborne Ranger God rest his soul.)

      Later when I carried for work I used a Beretta 92, so it was not as much an issue with the SA/DA.

    • The Colt 1903 Pocket Automatic hammerless can only be carried in condition one. (It had a hammer, but the hammer is shrouded. If the chamber was loaded, it was cocked.) Colt sold half a million of ’em, largely to women. There’s a good chance your grandma or great grandma had one. It’s still one of the nicest shooting little .380s (or .32s, depending on model) you could hope to find. So when modern males say they don’t feel comfortable carrying condition one, I think of all those little ladies in the early 1900s, and just sigh. We are declining as a nation.

    • When I first started carrying concealed, I was also concerned about carrying in condition one. So I just started carrying with just the mag filled. I realized that it was just the jitters of being a responsible armed citizen.When I started doing draw/move/fire practice, I realized how much time was being eaten up loading/racking the first round. I even went through a few revealing moments when firing and getting that *click* instead of a *Boom* because I had accidentally flipped the safety to ‘safe’. I now carry in condition one and I know how the safety is set at all times. And no more jitters. Experience and practice.

  7. Try to keep your head up and scanning while you reholster. It’ll just take a little practice to develop a feel for the holster without looking at it.

  8. From the video you seem to hunch down while firing, and you keep your feet close together. Try to stand taller and move your left foot back for more stability.

  9. If I could add a gun to your possible list, I would appreciate it. Try out a CZ 75 P-01. It’s a “compact” (based on nearly every review I’ve seen people have said it’s more accurate then it has any business to be) 9mm that is rated for +P loads, has a sweet 14+1 capacity, weighs just 1.7 pounds (made of some crazy airplane grade aluminum alloy) and has three safeties on it-safety stop on hammer, firing pin safety, and a decocking lever (It’s DA/SA so a manual external is redundant). It’ll accept normal and extended CZ 75 mags as well so that’s a bonus.

  10. I recommend a G19 Gen3, I know I always tout the Glock, but I picked it for a very specific reason. I have diminished fine motor skills so any pistol with an external safety will not work for me as a carry piece. Glock’s are very simple to operate and disassemble, reliable OTB, and are unlikely to get hung up on anything during drawing and holstering. One downside, for beginners, is it will only be as safe as you are, so it is a very training intensive gun. Though it seems no problem for you, Tyler, if you continue going to classes and ranges.

    P.S. I would stay away from Gen4’s until the dual spring issues have been fully resolved.

  11. T minus 10 minutes until Ralph inserts a subtle nudge that I might want to look at S&W’s line of fine revolvers.

    You won’t find a more accurate or reliable handgun that a good quality .38Spl with a 5 or 6 inch barrel (I love snubbys, but they’re not easy to master). I’ve seen rank noobs drill the crap out of targets at 25 yards with good full-size DA six shooters, and older Colts and Smiths are especially smooth and accurate.

    However, for the test and for your EDC I’d recommend whatever works for you in terms of concealment, deployment and accuracy. Experiment, my lad.

    The practical shooting test is as easy as your driving test. Relax. You’ll ace it.

  12. I think everyone needs a big, expensive, powerful, high capacity gun so they can shoot Ninjas or a major drug cartel! I thought the Yankee Marshall had great advice.

  13. One of the best aspects of Glocks is that their trigger pull is always the same. Many don’t like it, but the sameness is important.

    I have an affinity for SA’s XD’s. They point perfectly for me. They too have the same trigger pull every time. They have a great reputation for reliability too.

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